With its world-class nightly, low drinking prices and all-night beach parties, you might be forgiven for thinking that Thailand is for hedonists only. In reality, however, Thailand is a hugely popular destination for those who wish to work on their fitness, whether it be through yoga, Muay Thai, or working on their mental fitness through meditation and mindfulness exercises. Here are some well-recommended fitness vacation destinations to check out on your travels.
FA Group Muay Thai Camp
From the outside, the FA Group gym doesn’t look like much to write home about. The equipment is bare and battered; the space not only looks too small for the number of people that uses it but also like it’s seen better days. However, shiny equipment never made great fighters, and this place is home to a few of them. Thailand’s most decorated Thai boxer ever, Petchboonchu, trains at this gym, as do many fighters who also still fight at Thailand’s Lumpinee stadium. As a result, the level is quite high, and it’s not for beginners. For a taste of an authentic, champion-producing Muay Thai camp, this is the spot.
Chiang Mai Muay Thai Gym
Whilst it may seem intimidating from the outside, Muay Thai isn’t anything to be scared of. Most of the time, you’ll discover that the instructors are extremely friendly – and that’s the case at the Chiang Mai Muay Thai Gym. With education visas provided, you can stay for up to six months and really study the arts of Muay Thai, with classes for beginners, intermediates and advanced level fighters, as well as for aspiring trainers and referees. The cooler air of Chiang Mai will make for more comfortable training than in other locations, and it’s also a fun city in which to base yourself.
The Pavana, Chiang Mai
The Pavana is a great place to not only work on your fitness but to learn about it too. As well as yoga and meditation classes, there are also hiking, running and cycling tracks nearby to burn off any extra energy you might have. What’s more is that they implement a gentle fast with a focus on raw foods to cleanse your system, as well as providing cooking classes to make sure you can bring some of this fitness retreat home with you.
The Pavana, 196 m.4, HuaSai, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180, Thailand, +66 53 920 888
Southern Andaman Coast
Tiger Muay Thai, Phuket
Widely regarded as Thailand’s number one Muay Thai camp, Tiger welcomes prospective learners of all skill levels and several disciplines, such as western boxing and other, more niche forms of martial arts. This camp has a proven track record when it comes to weight loss, with some losing over 100 kilograms (220 pounds), and so it’s fair to say they’ll work you hard. However, with plenty of gorgeous beaches to recuperate on, you may feel a little more motivated to work harder than you did back home. Local accommodation is available too, which will save you money when compared to staying in a hotel and paying for taxis.
Sanctuary Yoga, Koh Lanta
Sanctuary is what one might describe as a no-frills venue, but that’s not a bad thing; rather than a fancy yoga studio, they teach yoga on a sala overlooking the beautiful Andaman Sea – views which are worth much more than you’ll pay here. Sanctuary specialises in the Ashtanga, Power Flow and Yin forms of yoga, which, when coupled with its low cost, makes it a perfect place for beginners to find the right path in their yoga journey. Koh Lanta itself is a sleepy, quiet island, and a great place to relax.
Southern Gulf Coast
The Sanctuary, Koh Phangan
Given that it’s on the same beach as the famous Full Moon Party, you might consider The Sanctuary to be the yin to the Full Moon’s yang. Here you’ll experience yoga and meditation in some truly unbeatable settings; the island itself is relatively untouched and unspoiled, adding to the overall vibe of peacefulness and self-discovery. Also available are detox programmes and Pilates classes, and you can learn to become a yoga teacher here too.
The Sanctuary, Haad Tien, Koh Phangan, Surat Thani, Thailand, +66 86 478 4213
Jun Muay Thai Camp, Koh Samui
Jun is a former champion boxer with over 200 fights behind him – though don’t let that intimidate you. He’s a friendly and warm character who’ll motivate you to reach your potential. At Jun Muay Thai Camp, visitors of all levels can learn all about Muay Thai, and if you’re up to it, you could even fight at Samui’s Lamai stadium against a Thai fighter. However, there’s no obligation or expectation to do so, and those who want to will have to get the go-ahead from the coaches. Whether you’re an aspiring fighter or a holidaymaker looking for fun and fitness, you can find it here.