A fighter reels back from a hard blow, stumbling into the railing. He slowly raises his gloves, staggering forward, his body swaying unstably. Another blow finds his stomach. He collapses back again, limply falling onto the ground. The spectators loudly scream words of encouragement. He attempts to stand, but his legs crumple beneath him. His body is covered in sweat, and his eyes droop from exhaustion. The bell reverberates loudly throughout the ring. The first match has just come to an end.
I get out of my seat, and go over to a nearby bar. As I walk back, cold Coca-Cola in hand, I notice other boxers preparing for their fights. They hop nimbly on their feet, practicing jabs and punches. A small crowd of people surround them, sitting on the floor and on concrete benches. Electronic music blares in the background. The spectators loudly converse. Bright lights suddenly dim and the music stops. Two new fighters are on the mat. I rush back to my seat excitedly. The boxers’ are fully illuminated by the overhead incandescent lights. They slowly walk around the mat, performing a pre-fight ritual. The bell rings, and the fight begins. Round after round they swing, dodge and duck, swiftly maneuvering around the mat. The time is eventually up and neither is victorious.
When I first decided to go to Thailand, I never thought I’d attend a boxing match. I also didn’t realise just how popular boxing is throughout the country. This fact quickly became evident to me though, as there are numerous Muay Thai gyms all over Chiang Mai. If you want to see Thai boxing, and you definitely should, there are three main stadiums in the city. Each one is unique and different, but they all still offer truly a memorable experience.
Thapae Boxing Stadium
The Thapae Boxing Stadium is usually frequented by tourists. If you’re going for the authentic local experience, then this isn’t the place to go. But despite this, it’s quite a fun venue, and there is a wide array of drink choices. The boxers come from varying gyms all over Chiang Mai. Expect to pay 400-600 baht for the tickets. There is also a VIP section, which of course, is more expensive than the regular seats. Each night there are usually five fights, and both men and women jump on the mat. The music and lighting really add a lot to the experience in this smaller venue. And betting is an option, if you’re willing to take the risk. Thapae Boxing Stadium is located very close to Thapae Gate, so it’s quite easy to find.
At 1 Mun Muang Road, T. Phra Sing
Open 9-11.30pm (closed Sundays)
Tel. 089 434 5553
Facebook: Thai Boxing Chiang Mai – Thapae Stadium
Loi Kroh Boxing Stadium
This boxing stadium is in one of the busiest nightlife areas in Chiang Mai. The matches begin at 9.30pm and go until midnight. Expect to pay 400 baht per ticket. Women and men both fight, and the fights typically occur between westerners and Thai boxers. There are multiple bars surrounding this venue, and pool tables also. The boxing at Loi Kroh Stadium isn’t really the local Muay Thai experience, as this venue is geared more toward tourists. But if you’re looking for a fun night out, then this is definitely the place to go.
At 96 98 Loi Kroh Road Soi 3, T. Chang Klan
Open 8am- midnight
Tel. 089 755 9884
Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium
This venue hosts professional Muay Thai fights, as opposed to being designed just to entertain visitors. Because the fights here are real, tickets may be harder to get. The tickets are also more expensive at Chiang Mai Stadium. The lowest priced tickets usually cost around 600 baht. For great seats expect to pay around 1500 baht. The range in price is fairly significant, depending on where you want to sit. Many of the locals go to this stadium to see the big fights. If you’re looking an authentic local experience, then Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium is the place to go.
177 Chang Puak Soi 4, T. Sri Phum
Tel. 081 594 4151