Selecting the destination for your Muay Thai endeavor may depend on your own set of criteria.
Are you looking for a training “holiday”? Are looking to train as the Thai’s do? You need to find your fit. What level of distraction can you deal with? Are you looking for site seeing between training sessions, or simply eat, sleep and train?
I have trained in a variety of destinations within Thailand, from your touristy areas to the remote areas. Each has their pros and cons. Thailand is one of the best holiday destinations with amazing food, beautiful beaches, temples and the buzzing night life.
Match your destination to your set of criteria
Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand, is a destination that offers a wealth of culture, mountainous views and less hustle and bustle. There are numerous elephant sanctuaries and gems of nature, such as the Mae Rim waterfalls and mountain trekking. For me, training in a remote area is great, with the biggest distraction being whether your post training massage should be one hour or two.
The gyms in Chiang Mai are fighter based and less commercial. You can take your training seriously while being submerged in a more laid back environment. Your runs are scenic and the air is cleaner, with the exception of the burning season (March/April). Moreover, everything is less pricey than in other parts of Thailand. It’s an unsolved mystery, but many females choose Chiang Mai as their training destination. Gyms hosting females generally attract other females.
Bangkok, home to many current and ex Channel 7, Rajadamnerm and Lumpinee champions. Here you will find some of the best Muay Thai gyms in the world. They are less commercialised, but not as tailored to beginners. Training is rigorous and catered to Thai fighters, you are more likely to get good quality fight match ups. Gyms with good connections can even present the opportunity to fight at one of the above mentioned stadiums.
On the down side, Bangkok is one of the most congested cities I’ve visited. While the BTS allows for hassle free travel, not everything is accessible by rail. The air pollution is heavy too. Although there are more distractions with the massive shopping malls and buzzing nightlife, if you have the self-discipline to maintain your focus, then training in Bangkok might be for you. This is no beach paradise, but Bangkok but is well worth a stopover.
Phuket is the most popular tourist destination, with Patong being one of the biggest attractions on the island. You are surrounded by people from all walks of life, great networking opportunities. However, with Phuket being filled with international travellers, you are not truly exposed to the Thai culture, merely a taste of it. The Muay Thai gyms are catered to foreigners and are more commercial than in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
The many beautiful beaches and nearby islands present themselves as distractions. Being a tourist destination, things here are also pricier than in Chiang Mai. Most gyms are female friendly and cater for all fitness enthusiasts, not only Muay Thai. So, if you are looking to tack training onto your holiday, then this is the place for you.