information for global expats

Fitness and Sport for Expats in Thailand

Submitted: August 2014

Football has been a popular sport in Thailand ever since it was introduced over 100 years ago. Nowadays it is also the most popular spectator sports, and you will find many Thais who are keen supporters of teams in the English Premier League. For expats who want to play football, finding a game should not be too difficult, many of the expat pubs and bars sponsor football teams, so they might be a good starting point. Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) is the second most popular spectator sport and is also practised by a large number of Thais. Muay Thai has also become popular among expats as a route to fitness, and there are a growing number of training establishments available. Golf is very popular in Thailand and there are over 50 courses within easy reach of Bangkok alone, and over 200 world-class courses in the country as a whole. Bangkok also has a number of city centre golf driving ranges available. It should not be difficult to find an expat club devoted to any of these in your local area.

For newly arrived expats, one suggestion is to join the local Hash House Harriers, this has many advantages; you get some exercise, you see parts of the local area you might otherwise miss, you get to meet people, many of whom may have an interest in sport and will be able to advise you on where to play other sports, and you get to have a drink somewhere at the end of the run.

Most cities and major towns are well-equipped with both independent and commercial chain gyms which may offer not only standard gym and weight-lifting equipment but also swimming facilities, massage, yoga and other classes. Often personal training is included in the package.

Thailand has a lot of open water, so sailing, canoeing and other water sports are also very popular and readily available. Thailand’s long coast and pristine beaches mean that sports such as surfing, water-skiing, diving, kitesurfing and kayaking are all readily available.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can try some of the native Thai sports, which include:

  • Takraw – a game involving a rattan ball which can only be hit with the feet, knees, chest or head. The most popular form of this game is sepak takraw, and introduces a type of volley ball net to separate the players. This game is played at international level, and is a popular spectator sport in Thailand, you can also watch it being played in many of the parks in Bangkok. There is some good footage of the skills necessary to play the game here. There is another version called Takraw Lod Huang features a hoop, set about 20 feet above the ground, as a goal for the ball. Points are awarded depending on which technique was used to get the ball through the hoop. There is some footage here and here.
  • Kite fighting  – competitive kiting with the aim of snagging an opponent’s kite with your own and dragging it down into you portion of the field. There is a good description here, and some footage here.



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