While there are plenty of amazing gyms and camps around the world, many martial arts have specific, regional roots. In the case of Muay Thai, those roots trace back to Thailand, where they are still growing strong. Many dedicated Muay Thai enthusiasts and competitors go to training camps in Thailand to hone their skills and understand the core of their chosen discipline. The idea of going to another country or spending so much time under the tutelage of strangers may seem daunting, but it is an invaluable experience for anyone dedicated to understanding Muay Thai.
Unfortunately, this challenge appears even greater in the eyes of a beginner, and it’s little wonder. Some camps require or “suggest” specific fitness criteria from their students. These standards often have to do with endurance, which can only be built up over time. Since most gyms are staffed by experienced Muay Thai fighters, and many have their own competitive teams, it becomes easy for new students to feel self-conscious about their skills. More importantly, it can be dangerous for beginners to go up against professional fighters, especially if there is a language barrier. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best training camps in Thailand for newer students.
Muay Thai Camps for a Beginner Reviews
Situated near the beach in Phuket, this camp has a distinctly American flavor. It offers training for several different disciplines, including MMA and beginner, intermediate, and advanced BJJ. There are two Muay Thai classes every day in addition to strength and endurance training. Since it’s a fairly new school, it doesn’t have many internationally known trainers, but this actually makes it a less intimidating option for beginners. The camp is planning to build onsite accommodations, but have yet to do so. In the meantime, they have teamed up with several local providers and provide further details about available options on their website. Multiple training packages are available, and the price you pay is determined by what you plan to study.
- New school, less intimidating
- Near a beach for relaxation
- Multiple Muay Thai classes per day
- Offers other martial arts for variety
- Not 100% dedicated to Muay Thai
- Missing local feel due to American influences
- No accommodations onsite
Rattachai Muay Thai
Another Phuket gym, Rattachai is owned and operated by a champion Muay Thai fighter. It is dedicated solely to Muay Thai. There are two training sessions per day. Each includes a mix of shadowboxing, pad work, technique instruction, and conditioning exercises. The gym is very new, but it has already garnered international attention. It has a very laid back atmosphere and does not appear as strict as other schools. There is no accommodation on site, but there are apartments available literally next door to the gym along with many nearby hotels, guest houses, and other rentals.
- Dedicated to Muay Thai
- Owned/operated by a Muay Thai champion
- Relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere
- Multiple training sessions per day
- No onsite accommodations
Lanta Muay Thai
Situated in Krabi, this gym is owned and operated by a champion Muay Thai boxer. Unlike many other gyms, Lanta divides trainees based on skill and experience. This means beginners will not suddenly find themselves going toe to toe with a professional boxer. It also allows beginners to learn from each other, as well as the teacher.
There are two training sessions per day, but beginners can choose to train at a different time of day if they are more comfortable away from advanced students. These special beginner sessions focus heavily on technique and limit sparring and clinching. If you want to stay onsite, you’re in luck. Lanta offers a wide variety of training packages, including room and board. Be careful to read the details, however, as some discounted rooms are cheaper because they do not have air conditioning.
- Dedicated to Muay Thai
- Onsite accommodations
- Separate beginner training sessions
- Skill-level segregation
- Founded by a champion
- Seasoned gym that knows how to get the most money out of students
Jun Muay Thai
This gym in Koh-Samui is one of the least expensive tourist-oriented gyms available. It is run by a former top fighter from Bangkok’s major stadiums. As is standard in Thailand, there are two training sessions throughout the day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Although they are fairly standard, those who want to clinch or spar must do extra rounds and reps first. There are rooms available onsite, and plenty of hotels provide guests with secondary options. Although you will pay for luxuries, there do not appear to be shared rooms, which is a plus.
- Used to training a variety of skill levels
- Familiar with foreigners
- Onsite accommodations
- Owner is an experienced Muay Thai fighter
- Owner is not a Muay Thai champion
The only way to know for sure that a gym is a fit for you is to visit. Obviously, however, this is grossly impractical for international travelers. So, how should students choose a camp? First of all, it’s important to assess your own abilities. Are you physically ready for twice daily training? Most Muay Thai students can handle this kind of training, but it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor first. These sessions usually last two hours or more, and that doesn’t count extra activities like running. Setting ambitious fitness standards is good, but be sure you aren’t biting off more than you can chew before you go crossing any oceans.
Although all the options above would be fitting places for beginners to train, Lanta Muay Thai or Rattachai Muay Thai might be best. Lanta offers a special kind of structure for beginners who need particular instruction. Rattachai provides the ultimate non-threatening atmosphere in which students can grow and thrive. Both gyms are very familiar with international students, which helps limit culture shock. This is one less thing beginners need to worry about. Remember, everyone had to begin somewhere. Why not launch yourself towards the next step?