Muay Thai, or Thai kickboxing has really gone international. There are enthusiasts all around the world and fighters are no longer just Thai nationals. You also don’t need to train in Thailand any more as there are world renowned boxing training camps in America, Europe and Australia. However, some people do decide to opt for something a bit more authentic and train in Thailand. You will find it can also be a lot cheaper. In San Francisco, you could find yourself paying up to $100 an hour for a trainer. In Thailand, $35 gets you two training session per day, two meals, and also accommodation! But, where to train? If you google something like “boxing camp thailand” or “muay thai camp thailand” you will find yourself a long list of training camps. However, one name that stands shoulders over the rest is Fairtex Muaythai Fitness in Bangplee, Samut Prakan.
Like Red Bull, the name Fairtex is well known around the world. Maybe it is even more famous in America than its home country of Thailand. Mr. Bunjong Busarakamwongs, the founder of Fairtex, opened his first gym in 1975 in Bangkok. He now has branches all around the world including Japan and America. In Thailand, there are two branches. One at Bang Phli near the airport and the other in Pattaya. As I live in Samut Prakan, I was happy to receive an invitation from the management to go over to the Fairtex Muaythai Camp Bangplee to see for myself what they had to offer. I found the kickboxing camp down a quiet soi off the main road. Some people might find it too quiet. But, if you don’t want the temptations of the nightlife that can be found near their other camp in Pattaya, then Bangplee is the perfect choice for you.
December and June should be their peak period at the camp. But, due to the recent closure of the airport and the street protests, there were only about ten foreign students compared to about 25-30 students. This probably means it is actually a good time to come. Unlike other gyms, if you go to learn Muay Thai at Fairtex, you get a personal trainer for a one-to-one session. And at the moment, the odds are high that you will have another one looking on offering comments! To their credit, Fairtex is managing to survive this depression in tourism. They have diversified which means money comes in from other sources. They have a fitness center which is used by local Thai people during the evenings. And surprisingly, they have a small onsite factory where they make muay thai boxing equipment such as muay thai shorts, gloves and pads. They have their own shop too but from what I saw, they do good business in exporting around the world. Fairtex is certainly a quality brand name.
Fairtex has had some good press in recent years that has helped give it a good reputation and a steady stream of students. A couple of years back, Jack Osbourne went to Thailand to do a detox course in order to help quit his drug addiction. He also signed up at Fairtex to learn Muay Thai. What many people may not know, is that Muay Thai is considered a perfect sport for not only giving you good personal fitness, but also for weight loss. This is apparently the main reason that Osbourne signed up for. And apparently it worked for him. You can see his photos in the above picture. Another big name from the Fairtex stable this year was of course Yodsaenklai Fairtex who was the first champion of Contender Asia earlier this year. This was filmed in Singapore and did a great job of promoting Muay Thai worldwide.
Not everyone at Fairtex Muaythai Fitness Bangplee is a foreigner. The ratio is about 60:40. Thai people come to train in the evenings and weekends. There are also some junior fighters as well, who will undoubtedly be serious contenders in the future. Foreigners come from all over. Popular countries include America, Australia, UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. Not all are serious fighters too. Many are just interested in learning the basic techniques or just want to get fit. Quite a few are women these days and also couples come to this training camp with their children. It is a very safe environment and also very relaxing. Shared fan accommodation starts at 1,100 baht per day which includes two training sessions and two meals. Air conditioned rooms start at 2,600 baht per day and go up to 2,100 baht per day for the most luxurious rooms. In between sessions, students can have a Thai massage or just relax beside the swimming pool.
I have posted more information and more photos of the boxing camp over at our ThailandQA.com Forums. If you have any questions then please post them over there. Thanks to Chano and Tian for showing us around the camp. If anyone else runs a museum or tourist attraction and would like to invite us for a site insepction, then please send me an email. There is a contact form at the www.PaknamWeb.com website.