Cheap Thai Travel

Sports and Activities in Thailand

From bungee jumping to elephant polo there is an incredible variety of sports and activities on offer in Thailand. This reflects the variety of vacation options in general. Every resort area will offer mainstream activities such as badminton and tennis. Excellent golf courses can be found all over the country and hotels and apartment blocks will have a gym and a swimming pool.
Two spectator sports dominate in Thailand. Soccer, especially English premier league, is one. The other is the martial art of 'Muay Thai', or Thai kickboxing. This differs from western style boxing in that the protagonists can use their feet, knees and elbows to strike their opponent. The home of Muay Thai is Lumpini stadium in Bangkok, but in every town and village fights are staged. A ring will be set up in the middle of a field around which a crowd will gather. They can be quite rowdy events since there is a lot of furtive gambling and tensions can run high. Before the fight each boxer does a ritual dance to pay homage to the spirits of boxers and trainers past. When they actually get down to business it is an awesome sight. The fights may appear brutal to the onlooker (they are) but they are always conducted with mutual respect between the opponents.
It is perfectly possible for foreigners to train in Muay Thai and for those who reach a certain level it is also possible to compete. Lanna training camp in Chiang Mai is a laid back place run by a Canadian/Thai couple. It was from here, in 1998, that Thailand's first transgender boxer, Parinya, took the world of Muay Thai by storm. He is now a she and in retirement, but the camp is still thriving and it remains very popular with both Thais and foreigners alike. Por Pramuk near Bangkok is also often recommended as are Fairtex and the Galaxy Gym.
With such a huge choice of beach destinations available it is no surprise that Thailand is an excellent place for water sports. Although it can't offer the waves found in Indonesia, Phuket has some beaches that are perfectly adequate for surfing. Karon and Kata Yai suit the experienced surfer whilst Kalim and Kata Noi are good for beginners.
Windsurfing is available in most beach resorts as is water skiing. For those who want to go the extra mile parasailing, or kiteboarding, is growing increasingly popular in Thailand's busier resorts.
Jet skiing is very popular. It is now also heavily regulated which is reducing accidents and noise pollution at quieter beaches such as those on Koh Samet. It is a legal requirement to wear a life jacket with a whistle and going further than 500 meters from shore is not allowed.
In Phuket seafarers seem to have taken the lyrics of Beatles songs to heart and now run tours in a yellow submarine. This is no tiny, psychedelic, cartoon submersible. It is a luxurious, air conditioned chunk of maritime technology that seats 48 passengers and provides spectacular views of the world underwater for those who don't want to get wet.
For those who don't find the Bangkok traffic frightening enough there is always further self imposed terror available. Bungee jumping (that is flinging yourself into midair from heights of 50 meters and above, attached to an elastic chord that prevents you from making contact with solid earth at speed) is available in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Northern Thailand is one of the best places in the world for motorcycle touring. A Mecca for bikers worldwide Chiang Mai is a great starting point for some of Asia's greatest rides. The Mae Hong Son Loop encompasses spectacular mountains, misty paddies, tribal villages and remote temples all on excellent roads. Equally stunning is the drive to Mae Sot via Mae Sariang taking you past Karen settlements just over the river from Burma. Heading the other way to Nan takes you past the lake town of Pha Yao and on to remote, mountainous provinces on the Lao border. There are many other great rides in the north. Bikes of all sizes can be hired in Chiang Mai.
Also in the north trekking is very popular. Any number of agencies and guest houses in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai offer tours of various lengths. They take you to ethnic 'hill tribe' villages and typically include a spell of elephant riding. Some are better than others. It is always a good idea to ask around before committing yourself.
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