No doubt about it, tourism in Thailand is still on the rise after it recorded astonishing tourist arrivals of 21 million in 2012 – a record-breaking figure and the most for the kingdom. This year tourism authorities are targeting somewhere in the region of 25 million tourist arrival.
There are two main reasons tourists flock to Thailand – amazing and exotic tourist destinations and Muay Thai. Most of the western tourists that have visited Thailand the first time have come back the second, third, fourth time and so on. The country is just full of surprises especially when it comes to undiscovered and unexplored locations in Thailand. The finest stretches of beaches are found in the kingdom. From one island to another, one will never get enough of the beauty and charm of the place. The kingdom boasts of some of the most spectacular tourist attractions and the friendliest and warmest people that go with the places. No reason for foreign tourists not to fall in love with the country.
But beautiful and fantastic sights and friendly people are not the only reason why Thailand gets that many visitors every year. The popularity gained by Muay Thai – Thailand’s national combat sport, have crossed thousands of ocean miles and people from other countries have grown an insatiable interest and love for the sport. Fortunately, a lot of Muay Thai training camps in Thailand had opened its doors to foreigners who have expressed a desire and interest to learn the basics of Muay Thai. The foreign tourists get as much information about Muay Thai training in between spending their holidays in the beautiful beaches of Phuket or other islands in the kingdom. By the time they depart, they know which Muay Thai training camp they will enlist in for training when they come back to the country. See here one of the most renowned Muay Thai training camp in Phuket.
Those in the Muay Thai industry are making changes in their training programs to accommodate the emerging market for foreign Muay Thai trainees. They have included short-term training programs that will allow the foreigner to learn all the basic techniques in Muay Thai. Some of the training camps even help the tourists find suitable accommodations, which are conveniently located, near the training camp since foreigners are not allowed to stay the nights in the camp while on training.
And while tourism authorities are gearing their efforts and marketing drive for Thailand to become a destination for luxury holidays, with five-star getaways catering to European and American travelers, Muay Thai authorities are beefing up their promotional activities to lure more foreigners to enroll in the Muay Thai training program packaged with their holiday tour. Some Muay Thai gym, especially those located in premier tourist destinations in Thailand such as Phuket and Bangkok organize regular Muay Thai fights where tourists are welcome to watch. Other Muay Thai training camp in Phuket have tie-ups with travel agencies around the world, offering a holiday tour package that includes a minimum two-week training program aside from the air tickets, accommodation, local tour arrangements made by the travel agency.
And since Muay Thai is an important component of tourism, more activities from the Muay Thai community will be expected this year as they step-up their efforts and campaign to attract more Muay Thai trainees and fighters and the plain Muay Thai enthusiasts to go to Thailand. And Thailand’s tourism authorities should appreciate such efforts and provide support and assistance to the Muay Thai community to continue making the sport more known to more people around the world.
Phuket, an island province in the Kingdom of Thailand wherein 33 islands lies in an area of 570 square kilometers making it the largest island in the country. Phuket generates huge tourist arrivals every year, and its not surprising at all with its gorgeous beaches, marvelous landscape, world-class resorts, villas and hotels and being on the list of the favored vacation and retirement place world wide. Furthermore, Thailand is also the home of the most famous Muay Thai fighters and trainers.
A Brief History
Muay Thai is a combat martial art from ancient Thailand stretching back to the era of wars with the Burmese in the 15th century. It is characterized by the combined use of the eight weapons namely the fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet.
During the 16th century, Muay Thai started to gain popularity in Thailand. As time passed, Muay Thai being a combat martial art used for winning wars has changed considerably – changes that were initiated to make the sport safer, reducing the incidence of serious injury and death. This physical and mental discipline is associated with good physical training and mental preparation – all important in making a very efficient full-contact fight.
During the 20th century, Muay Thai gained international recognition as a combat sport after several Muay Thai fighters won consecutive victories over opponents from other martial arts.
Today, the professional league is governed by the World Muay Thai Council while the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur governs the amateur Muay Thai sport.
Muay Thai Fights in Phuket Gyms and Stadiums
Muay Thai offered in Phuket has an unprecedented presence as evidenced by the numerous Muay Thai Gyms and training camps that are located all over the island / province. Countless visitors in Phuket who only wants a pristine holiday now includes in their itinerary the chance to see a real Muay Thai fight up close and in person via Muay Thai boxing shows. Some foreign tourists even spend months of in-house training in renowned Muay Thai gym in Phuket.
In addition, foreign visitors who are getting enthusiastic over the sport grabs every opportunity to visit Muay Thai training camps in Phuket and see how intense the training is. Plus, the statistics of foreign nationals enrolling and staying at training camps in Phuket is increasing.
Muay Thai gyms and training camps coordinate and organize Muay Thai fights at prominent Phuket locations or commercial stadiums. In Patong, for instance, open pick-up trucks drive around announcing the details of the fights while promoters hand out flyers around crowded places like Patong Beach. What makes these fights interesting is the fact that it sometimes features foreign Muay Thai fighters who trained in Phuket training camps. The audience becomes a mixture of local and foreign Muay Thai lovers. To see other Muay Thai stadiums outside Phuket, you can click here.
At the very least, watching a local Muay Thai fight will provide an interesting experience for anybody visiting Phuket. It gives you the chance to appreciate the artful and creative sport.
For foreign tourists in the Patong Beach area, nightly displays of Muay Thai Boxing are witnessed by cheering crowds in specially built stadiums on Soi Sai Namyen.
Muay Thai Traditions and Ceremonies
Foreign tourists watching a Muay Thai fight in Phuket may be amazed at the traditions and ceremonies that envelop the fight. A special pre-fight dance known as the “ram muay” is performed as the fighters enter the ring, wearing a headband given by their trainer – said to be a talisman earned after several years of dedication to the craft. “Wai Khru” is how the dance is started – each boxer on his knees and bowing three times – symbolizing respect to his teacher. Only after the dance is completed will the fight begin.