Bangkok is where the “real Muay Thai” experience is, I read. Bangkok is supposedly where you can experience Muay Thai (aka Thai Kick Boxing) like a real local as opposed to other tourist traps, mainly on the islands. I immediately became skeptical of this narrative once I looked around my section at Rajadamnern Stadium and realized it was whiter than Minnesota in February.
Muay Thai is an extremely popular sport in Thailand. You don’t have to walk too far around town on a fight night to realize this as you start to see several local groups of people crowded around a small TV screen outside watching that night’s entertainment.
A few rounds into the fight, I started to see more of the local magic of seeing a Muay Thai match live. Yes, there were a lot of westerners in my section but that is by design. Foreigners generally buy online (like my wife and I did) and are kind of funneled into a specific place. Most of the locals either sat near each fighter’s corner (a lot of them seem to be friends or family members of each fighter) or in a specific section where most of the gambling action takes place.
And it’s not hard to tell where the locals are.
With every landed kick or punch, each fighter’s corner erupts. It’s a really cool experience that made it worth seeing the fight live. I suppose you could find a similar local appeal to simply watching a fight night with a few locals at a bar but hey, you can watch TV anywhere in the world. Plus, there is a live band that plays music during the fight and the rhythm is dictated by the speed of the fight. If it’s too slow, the band will speed up the beat.
“See Muay Thai, see Thailand” is what trucks blare throughout town, advertising fights that night and I would have to agree with that declaration. If you have an opportunity to see a Muay Thai fight live in Thailand, it’s a great way to spend a couple hours experiencing a cool part of local Thai culture.
If you do find yourself in Thailand (particularly Bangkok) wanting to attend a fight, here a few tips from my experience at the fight:
- You can buy tickets online or at the venue. We bought online but we probably shouldn’t have. The arena had plenty of seats available and I have read that you can haggle the price down, especially some of the early fights already finished.
- Go for “second class” tickets. The view is great and you can move around freely. You can splurge for ring side just to say you sat there but they didn’t seem worth it, in fact those seats almost looked hard to see that action because you’re staring at the boxers’ feet. Third class is behind a cage so skip that area.
- There are a lot of fights and the most popular one (judging by crowd size and interest) was the second-to-last fight so you don’t have to arrive early or right on time unless you want to.