Getting to know Thailand’s sports culture is a great way to experience a different aspect of the country. From Muay Thai to rock climbing!
5 Ways To Enjoy Thailand’s Sports Culture
If you’re traveling to Thailand, you’ll find there’s plenty more to it than the much-publicized beaches, shopping markets, and dining options. And one aspect of the country in particular that doesn’t get enough attention is its thriving – and somewhat unique – sporting culture.
The country boasts a range of different opportunities to watch and play sports, from conventional team competitions to more individual athletic endeavors. All of them can help make your vacation more enjoyable though, so we’re taking a look at five diverse and exciting ways to enjoy Thailand’s sporting culture during your travels…
1. Muay Thai
The biggest sport in Thailand is Muay Thai, a form of boxing that uses each body part as both weapon and shield. This sport is so popular in fact that there are daily competitions in Bangkok, each lasting the standard five rounds (three minutes each).
Try the popular Lumpinee Boxing Stadium or Rajadamnern, which hold fights on alternating nights (making it easy to fit a trip to one or the other into your schedule). And if you can, read up on the sport a little bit before you go so that if you’re not familiar with Muay Thai already you understand what’s going on, and why everybody cares so much.
The sport has roots in the 18th-century conflict between the Konbaung Dynasty and Siam. It has since become a national pastime and a great way to get to the heart of Thai culture.
This is a budding hobby in Thailand, with the local population seemingly more interested in the sport with each passing day. Although the country first embraced soccer in the early 1900s, it hasn’t been too big on the international scene until fairly recently.
These days the national team, the War Elephants, is more active and competitive, and as of this writing is even making a push to qualify for the 2022 World Cup! Beyond Thailand’s own national team though, local fans also take a great deal of interest the internationally popular soccer leagues around the world.
Anyone can follow the big leagues of Europe, and 88bet notes that millions around the world, including some in Thailand, choose to bet on the action from afar as well, so as to get even more fun out of following. Ultimately though, whether you’re joining some of these fans watching the international leagues, or it works out that you can attend a live national team match, you should make an effort to enjoy some soccer while in Thailand.
Scuba diving isn’t always thought of as a sport, and the truth is that it can be a strangely calming physical activity, given the relative silence you experience under the water. However, it’s still a fairly popular activity among those visiting Thailand though, making it in a sense part of the country’s sporting culture.
The country actually has some of the best diving schools in the world, including the popular Big Blue Diving Resort on Koh Tao, which has different courses for people of all different experience levels. There are other dive schools as well though, including those that offer re-certification (if you’ve learned before but need a refresher) or help with specialty skills and techniques.
4. Rock Climbing
This is another activity that despite not being associated with conventional competition is part of the sporting fabric of Thailand. There are plenty of cliffs along the country’s coast that afford visitors the chance to climb, including at island locations like Koh Tao in the Samui Archipelago (popular for diving too, like we mentioned above).
Koh Yao Noi is another, and this one is less popular with tourists, meaning there’s less of a crowd to contend with. It’s also near Phuket, which is a fairly popular stop on trips to Thailand anyway, so it might be convenient for your schedule anyways.
For more novice climbers, however, Koh Phi Phi (comprised of six islands) is a great place to start. The area offers a range of activity for visitors, including some adventures not relating to climbing.
But the Tonsai Tower provides excellent beginner courses for new rock climbers. According to Mountain Project, the climbing wall includes nearly 30 moderate routes, making for a great deal of practice opportunity (perhaps before one tries one of the two routes to the 450-foot summit!).
Sailing around the islands can be a great way to take in the gorgeous ocean views and unique marine life, all while enjoying another thrilling sporting opportunity. You can look into renting a sailboat if you’d like to do the work yourself.
However, if you’re looking for a more relaxed activity, there are also a myriad of charter services you can hire, some of which offer particularly luxurious experiences. Some of the available yacht lines pride themselves on small trips, with a maximum of six people or so, and others are more affordable and accommodate larger groups.
However you choose to approach a sailing excursion it’s sure to be a memorable experience, whether you’re taking a ride on a luxury charter, or you’re in command of your own boat.
Pro Tip: Another great way to get to know Thai culture is through it’s food. Consider taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai!
Final Thoughts On Thailand’s Sports Culture
From thrilling fights in Bangkok to island adventures in diving and sailing, taking an active, sport-based approach can help you see the best of Thailand. Watching or participating, on your own or in a crowd, you’ll enjoy some unforgettable experiences through Thailand’s sports culture.