Thousands of tourists visit Thailand with the main purpose of training at a traditional Muay Thai gym. They are so popular that you can find these centers in almost every single city throughout Thailand. Our most important advice is the following – don’t have a chip on your shoulder or you’ll be quickly corrected during your first fight.
There are some other crucial pieces of information that one should consider before deciding to begin their Muay Thai experience. We will teach you what you need to know prior to your arrival. This article will cover the best camps, the religious aspect of Muay Thai, expected costs, and everything else one should know about Thai fighting boot camps.
How do you know what camp is right for you? Are you experienced or are you really more along the lines of an intermediate skill level? Most importantly, have you ever seen how fast these Thai guys can punch?
What to Expect
On my flight to Thailand, I decided to watch a movie named ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’. The entire premise of the movie is centered around a young British fighter who ends up in a Thai jail. He fights his way through hardship to earn the respect of his fellow inmates. The movie is intense – to some, it inspires them to join a Muay Thai gym (but for others, it keeps them very far away from the brutal sport).
If you’re expecting to train in a Muay Thai gym that is air-conditioned, extremely clean/nice-smelling, and located just beside a gorgeous white sand beach, then wake up and welcome to something very different. Men train in these boiling-hot gyms for hours every single day, and it smells exactly like that. The center will likely be painted black and in an industrial part of your city. I believe this difference in expectation makes the process all the more fun.
While many refer to Thailand as the ‘Land of Smiles’, you shouldn’t expect this if you unexpectedly drop-in to a Bangkok gym. The majority of these training centers are a far cry away from a welcoming yoga studio. However, an increasing trend amongst these boot camps is to include activities like yoga. This has prompted a large spike in the number of females who participate in Muay Thai camps.
Muay Thai isn’t necessarily Thai boxing because half of the entire sport is centered around using the lower half of your body. As such, you’ll spend a formidable amount of your day practicing kicks against kick bags. If the gym is serious about helping you get better in the ring, they’ll make you run (a lot) to increase your overall stamina.
There are plenty of false expectations about your time in a Thai fighting camp – you won’t have an old Muay Thai master who takes you and you alone under his wing (though, that would certainly be nice). You won’t fight against anybody who has surgically implanted titanium plates into his shins (though, a Thai man was recently arrested in Chiang Mai for doing this). Nobody will ask you to break concrete slabs with your fists (it’s a good way to end up in the hospital).
Many of the newer Muay Thai gyms in Thailand offer Train & Stay packages. Some of their facilities are even so nice they could be considered a resort of their own. It is very common for foreigners to come to Thailand to learn Muay Thai, and live and work while they do so! Amazing what the internet can do. We will show you some of the best places to train and stay in Thailand.
There are tons of great camps to stay and train in Thailand, most of them with some pretty beautiful scenery. Whether you want to be in the jungle or on the beach, cross-training with yoga or focussing solely on Muay Thai, there is something for you in here.
The first camp is probably the most famous Muay Thai training camp in Thailand, and maybe even the world. This gym has produced many world class athletes in both Muay Thai and MMA fighting and has been featured on many documentaries, travel shows, and other mass media outlets. It is called Tiger Muay Thai & Mixed Martial Arts gym located near the beach in Phuket, Thailand. This gym offers a wide range of classes including fitness, yoga, MMA & BJJ, strength & conditioning, Krabi Krabong, and beach boot camps to allow for cross-training if you are interested.
When staying at Tiger Muay Thai camp, you have many different types of accommodations to pick from. If you are looking for a more luxurious stay, they have several different villas to choose from with both private and public pools. If you are looking for more budget accommodations, they offer basic rooms that still have Wifi and AC. There is also a grill on-site that cooks up healthy and protein-packed food after a long day of training. And of course, the beautiful blue waters of Phuket are just around the corner.
Another wonderful place to stay and train in Thailand is at the Diamond Muay Thai gym in Koh Phangan. This gym is located on a small island in Thailand and is an amazing place to post up and train, as well as cut-loose after practice. Koh Phangan became famous for hosting the Full Moon Parties, where 50,000 people travel to party on the beach once a month. But don’t worry, if you are not there during Full Moon time, there are weekly parties found all throughout the island.
Diamond Muay Thai is another world-class training gym that welcomes international students of all levels to learn traditional Muay Thai. They have dedicated trainers who will work with you on a one-on-one basis. At Diamond Muay Thai, they offer two housing accommodations: The Gym Huts and The Delux Apartments. The Gym Huts are more basic, while The Delux Apartments have hot showers and AC. Diamond Muay Thai is big on community, and often host events and attend island parties as a group!
If you want a more jungle experience, then you should train at the Battle Conquer Gym in Petchabun. This gym is located a few hours North of Bangkok in the heart of Thailand’s farmland and offers a full range of Muay Thai Train & Stays, as well as Wellness Retreats and Detox Camps. The camp is run by The Keawma family, who have been involved in Muay Thai for hundreds of years.
At Battle Conquer Gym, you won’t just have a simple Stay & Train. Their all-inclusive packages include Muay Thai training classes, three meals per day, yoga classes, hikes, trips to Nong Pye lakes, tours to the nearby farms, group runs, and much more. Battle Conquer Gym prides themselves on providing a holistic training experience that allows for social activities and cross-training. They also host fight nights and let the students practice in big social settings.
The food at Battle Conquer Gym is all-inclusive and served to you by an affiliated restaurant, Noi’s Cafe 6. The meals here are organic, and there are vegetarian options as well. Depending on the retreat you select, you can receive a raw, vegan food all week long. The detox camp also includes meditation and mindfulness practices, as well as trips to some of the nearby temples.
If all of this sounds a bit “plush” for you, and you are just looking for some good old-fashioned, disciplined Muay Thai training, then might we suggest the Sityodtong Gym located in Pattaya City. This gym has been open since 1959 and has produced 57 Muay Thai champions. To date, this gym Sityodtong has been the most successful training camp in the history of the sport.
This gym is not for the faint-of-heart or beginners. Foreigners are welcome, and you will need to pay the 250 baht training fee per class. This price has not increased in years, and this place is an incredibly authentic gym to learn Muay Thai in. As a foreigner wanting to train here, you just need to book your time with a trainer. With the 250 baht, you get pad time with the trainers and are able to run, skip and do bag work before you get called for your lessons.
There are no on-site accommodations for this gym and no on-site cafe. You will have to find your own housing and food throughout your training time at Sityodtong, but it will be significantly cheaper. Pattaya City is known to be a seedier party scene in Thailand, and if you are here to train, you might not want any distractions. The gym recommends staying on Sukhumvit road, which is a good mid-point between the gym and the city.
All in all, there are many amazing, world-class Muay Thai gyms to be found in Thailand. No matter what city you end up in, there is sure to be a Muay Thai gym. If you are looking for a worry-free training holiday, then a Train & Stay package is probably best. If you are looking to train hard and cheap, then you can show up in most cities in Thailand and find a place to train and reasonable accommodations upon arrival.
When traveling to Thailand for Muay Thai training, there are a few different costs that you need to account for. Also, whether you choose to do a Train & Stay package or create your own will likely affect the cost of the overall trip.
The first expenditure will be your airfare. When flying from the US, you can usually find airfare for $800-$1200 round trip. The rainy season usually has cheaper flights. The rainy season in Thailand is from May until October. Depending on where you fly to, there are different low seasons. Islands like Koh Samui and Koh Phangan experience their lowest (and cheapest) seasons in October, November, and December, while Phuket, is cheapest during the late summer months.
Your next expenditures for training in Thailand will be your accommodations and your training classes. At many of the gyms, the accommodations and training are bundled together into one. At the Diamond Muay Thai gym that we listed above, they offer Train & Stay packages anywhere from $500-$1000 per month, depending on the type of accommodation that you would like. At the Battle Conquer Gym, they charge anywhere from $200-$400 per week, depending on the type of retreat/program that you select.
On top of travel, lodging, and training, you will need to budget for food and miscellaneous purchases. At many of the gyms, food is included with your Train & Stay Package. If your food is not included, budget about $5 for each meal while you are there. If you eat classic Thai street food for most of your meals, then budget about $3 for each meal. Beyond that, you may want to rent a motorbike where you go, and if you do, expect to spend between $50-80 for the motorbike for the month.
If you don’t want to do an all-inclusive Train & Stay package, you may save yourself some money. Most gyms charge anywhere from $7-$15 per Muay Thai class and usually offer deals if you buy many classes in bulk. Depending on the type of accommodation that you want in Thailand, you can find a room anywhere from $10-50 a night. If you are on a budget, find a nice hostel near your gym. If you have some money to spend, book and AirBnB or villa online!
Overall, if are looking to train at a gym in Thailand for a month, you will probably spend between $2,000 – $3,500. Of course, more luxurious options are available if you can spend more than this. When compared to the expenses one incurs while living in America, you might even save money by traveling to Thailand and training for a month!
Why Train Muay Thai
There are many reasons why one would learn and train in the ancient art of Muay Thai. Muay Thai is a combat sport known for its tremendous power, maximum efficiency, and raw simplicity. Muay Thai is sometimes referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” because it utilizes the body with kicks, punches, knees, and elbows with power and grace. It is the most effective striking art in the world. If you are into any other form of fighting or martial arts, learning Muay Thai is essential for increasing strength and technique.
Beyond fighting, Muay Thai is an incredible exercise. This sport burns over 1,000 calories an hour. It is both an aerobic and anaerobic workout. With continued practice, Muay Thai can improve your strength, precision, and cardiovascular performance.
As we mentioned earlier, the Muy Thai trainers will have you running and exercising quite a bit between pad time. Between burning fat, increase muscle strength, and improving core functionality, Muay Thai is the perfect workout. Mix in some yoga for flexibility, and you will be feeling great.
Another great reason to train in Muay Thai is that is relatively easy to pick up. This martial art is known for its simplicity. Kids in Thailand start learning Muay Thai at ages 3 and 4. Anyone can learn this sport with enough practice. Since it is relatively easy to learn and utilizes techniques that maximize power, this sport is also great to know for self-defense.
Muay Thai is a sport of discipline and honor. Rooted in many Buddhist principles, this sport teaches patience, humility, tolerance, and respect. When Muay Thai fighters step into the ring, they perform the wai kru, a traditional dance that shows their respect for the sport, their opponent, their family, their gym, trainers, and higher entity if they so choose.
Beyond the physical work out that you will get, you will work out your mind and spirit. Many people report feeling more confident and performing well in other aspects of their life as a result of their Muay Thai training. Since Muay Thai instills in its practitioner’s qualities like courage, humility and a warrior spirit, there is no doubt that Muay Thai helps unleash the greatest potential in all areas of life for these devoted fighters.
Overall, Thailand is an amazing place to train in Muay Thai. When you are not training, you can see all of the beautiful places that Thailand has to offer and try all of their unique and delicious dishes. And, of course, there is no better place to learn Muay Thai than where it was invented!
Where is the best place for a yoga retreat in Thailand?
There are many wonderful places in Thailand to attend a yoga retreat. The most common places to visit for yoga in Thailand are Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Chiang Mai. Thailand has both beach and mountain destinations for your yoga retreat.
Where can I watch a Muay Thai fight in Thailand?
Although almost every town in Thailand has a Muay Thai arena, there are more stadiums to watch Muay Thai fights in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. Bangkok is home to the world’s most famous Muay Thai gyms, and this is where the sport grew into fame.