Koh Samui Muay Thai -Thai Boxing

Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and Koh Samui has two venues where you can see this popular sport, as well as several training camps that are happy to offer lessons to Westerners.

Thai Boxing is promoted proudly as being a dangerous and intense sport, but for those of you more familiar with alternative forms of martial arts, 'Muay Thai' bears little resemblance to kick boxing as we know it. The Thai version of this is slower, far more ritualised and with virtually no use of the floor at all, the boxers remaining stiffly upright throughout. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining sport to watch for the first time, with the colour and ritual and pageantry being an intrinsic part of it all and very camera-worthy.

Thai Boxing Chaweng Stadium

The main venue for Muay Thai Boxing on Koh Samui is the Chaweng Stadium, close to the Reggae Pub. The match is preceded by a wai khru dance performed by each of the contestants, where they formally ask their ancestors and the Spirits for help and favour beforehand. This stadium is the one of biggest in Thailand and serves as a venue for many major boxing championships.

The fights are held twice a week on Mondays and Fridays all matches start at 9:00 p.m. and last for three hours. Live commentators are present in the stadium who give a detailed account of the match, along with the continual screeching of the traditional Thai music which plays non-stop throughout.

This is a serious event, and not cheap to attend – tickets are around 800 baht.

Thai Boxing in Lamai

A far more entertaining and far cheaper alternative to this is the 'Lady Boxing' in Lamai. The name is slightly misleading, as the evening will also feature bouts between young men, some of whom are excellent and look like they are on the road to a professional career.

This originally began as a crowd-puller that featured bar girls that work in the 'Round Bars' are of Lamai. The bars are gathered together in a jumble around the ring which is in the middle of them. Originally this was an opportunity for the girls to settle scores (a stolen boyfriend, cheating at cards etc). But then it spread, with the chance of the girls being able to collect some prize money, too.

The girls go into an intense period of training beforehand to ready them for the bouts. But it is fascinating to see how each opponent develops as the rounds (just three rounds per match) progress. Often it is the littler and skinnier ones who turn out to have the heart and stamina, with their meatier opponents left gasping on the floor.

Attendance here is free - but with all the bars adding 10 baht per drink onto their prices for the night. The winner of each bout circulates amongst the crowd afterwards, seeking a tip, which most are only too happy to donate. The atmosphere is superb, with all the girls yelling, shouting and booing their heroes and villains, and often the crowd is on its feet - a very different feeling to the comparatively placid professional bouts in Chaweng!

Matches are held each Saturday, but they do not always feature lady boxers, so make inquiries at your resort or with Thai friends before you go.

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