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Learning Muay Thai in Chiang Mai (Best Gym For Beginners)

I will say from the outset that this post is not about the best Muay Thai camps in Thailand or anything like that ( although I will highly recommend one gym), this is about Muay Thai classes in Chiang Mai, and specifically for beginners.

Because that’s exactly what I did.

That being said if you were thinking of doing serious professional Muay Thai training in Thailand (Chiang Mai) then the gym I recommend towards the end is perfect for that as well.

First a quick bit of background on how I got into Muay Thai and my history of martial arts and fitness.

I was 40 years old when I started Muay Thai training in Thailand (still am at the time of writing) and apart from hiking I did almost no other fitness regime before I started, and I had never done any other martial art before.

So if you are looking for Muay Thai lessons and are a complete beginner don’t worry, so was I and I survived.

I had always liked Muay Thai and I signed up to a one-month Muay Thai camp in Thailand that got me into it.

After all Muay Thai is one of the most intense cardio workouts you can do.

I’ll admit it – I was totally destroyed after the first lesson. I had messed my big toe up from kicking wrong and the exercise level was insane (for me).

Yet a few days later I found myself going back for more.

I’ll cut a long story short for now and say that after a few lessons I wanted to continue.

A few weeks later I headed to Chiang Mai in the north where I found a Muay Thai training gym and started classes almost every day over a several week period.

For me, it wasn’t about fighting primarily, but getting into shape.

Let’s be real I’m 42 now and no way in hell I could do any serious fighting.

But if you’re in your teens or twenties you could seriously get into it.

My fitness levels improved dramatically, I was enjoying it.

I liked the history and culture behind it all as well. At the same time, I had quit drinking alcohol and stopped eating meat.

Muay Thai has helped transform my lifestyle and I’m feeling a lot better for it. It can help you as well if that’s what you’re looking for.

I felt the best I had in a long time.

I left Thailand for a few months but came back and have spent more time training at the same gym in Chiang Mai and will continue for longer.

Before I get into the training regime and what it’s like, and my recommendations for how to get into it yourself, I will give you some quick history behind Muay Thai.

If you know all this or don’t care so much then skip to the next section.


Muay Thai Chiang Mai thailand



The Tradition of Muay Thai

Muay Thai Chiang Mai

Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is known as the “art of eight limbs” due to using the shins, knees, fists, and elbows (eight points of contact).

It’s a serious fighting force, and one of the main striking techniques used in modern-day mixed martial arts.

The Muay Thai we know goes back to the 18th century with the wars between the Burmese and Siam (Thailand).

A fighter called Nai Khanomtom was captured and was an expert in hand-to-hand combat and was allowed to fight Burmese professional fighters for his freedom.

He won all the fights and was greeted as a hero upon his release and return to Siam.

His fighting style was adopted by the Siamese and became known as Siamese-Style boxing. This later turned into Muay Thai.

As well as being used in war the fighting style became popular as a sport to watch.

During the time of peace that followed these wars, Muay Thai was continued for physical fitness and self-defence by regular Thai’s.

Fast forward to the 20th century and Muay Thai fighters defeated many known practitioners of other martial arts, cementing its place worldwide as one of the best martial arts you can do.



Learning Muay Thai as a Beginner in Chiang Mai

Muay Thai Chiang Mai

Ok, that picture above is not near the level I got to!

But if you train hard enough that’s what you will be able to do.

The gym I went to in the south of Thailand wasn’t that great. It was run by a foreigner, had only foreign students there, and was small.

By comparison, when I got to Chiang Mai I realised this was the place I wanted to train in.

The main reasons it was the best gym for me?

The gym is very modern and huge.

It’s run by local people.

Although it is mostly foreign students (when I’ve been there) there are some locals that come as well.

The trainers are all ex-Muay Thai fighters from Thailand and speak a reasonable level of English.

The classes are never to big (average of 5 students from my experience) and there are 2 trainers per class.

It’s very beginner-friendly as they will take you aside from any advanced students to train you by yourself or with other beginners.

The trainers will push you hard but are fun with it.

The gym in question is very simply called the Chiang Mai Muay Thai Gym and is conveniently located in the old city (link to their website at the bottom of the post with other recommendations for Muay Thai stuff).



What it’s Like Training in Muay Thai in Chiang Mai (Or Thailand in general)

Muay Thai Chiang Mai

I’ve done a few Muay Thai lessons outside of Thailand and to be frank the experience was very different.

Instead of a large modern gym and many Thai trainers like the Muay Thai gym in Chiang Mai, I found most of the time to be in a small gym with many students and just one instructor.

If you’re in Thailand and want to learn some Muay Thai then do it while you’re there and have the opportunity.

This is what you will do in an average 2 hour Muay Thai lesson in the Chiang Mai gym.

The first 10 minutes they will have you running around the full-size fighting ring. This is followed by several minutes of warm-up stretching.

Then 3 times 3 minutes of shadow boxing facing the mirror with one minute breaks in-between. An instructor will observe and correct you if you’re doing something wrong. If you’re a total beginner they will be just showing you some basic techniques, no shadow boxing.

I should just say now that all of the things you do will be 3 minutes of training 3 times with 1 minute breaks in-between, then you switch what you are doing.

They mix things up next depending on the size of the class. You will either be put on bag training, punching, kicking, kneeing and elbowing the bag. Otherwise one of the instructors will have you practising techniques against him. He uses punching pads for you to do this.

Next, you will switch to doing the opposite of whatever you did before. So if you did bag training last you will switch to practising against the instructor and vice versa.

Then you will put shin guards on and practice leg work more.

If you are a beginner you should be feeling the pain by now. Even if you are fit it is a serious workout and you will be around one hour and fifteen minutes into the lesson.

The final ending is the real fun part. If you can keep up.

This is where you get to spar against another student of a similar skill level. Or if you’re the only one in the class (happened to me a few times) then you will go up against the instructor. I was wiped out the first time I tried that.

After that, it’s several minutes of stretching and then over.

You will feel exhausted but it’s the best workout I’ve ever done. I didn’t feel pain the next day, but after another lesson, my muscles were feeling it.

That got easier over time as I trained more. Plus in Thailand, a Thai massage only costs around $8 so you can always soothe your muscles that way.



The Best Place to See Muay Thai Fighting in Chiang Mai

Muay Thai Chiang Mai

When you’re in Chiang Mai there are a lot of options on where to see a Muay Thai fight and advertisements everywhere for it.

There have been problems before with staged fights and you seem to never know if you’re going to get the real thing or not.

The best is to ask the staff at the Chiang Mai Muay Thai Gym and see if they know where the best fights are.

The ones I went to were at the main Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium. It is mostly tourists that go there (mostly the same everywhere) but is a lot of fun and normally good fights.

Buy the cheap seat tickets as you get exactly the same view as the more expensive VIP ones.



Learn Muay Thai

Muay Thai Chiang Mai
Me with two of my Muay Thai instructors in the Chiang Mai gym.

If you are interested in learning Muay Thai or just trying out a lesson then the gym in Chiang Mai is perfect on all counts.

There are many gyms and camps all around Thailand but this gym is all you need. It caters for all experience levels and Chiang Mai itself is a nice relaxed city to stay in, and it’s cheap enough.

It costs 390 Thai baht per lesson, but if you buy 5 – 10 lessons upfront you will get a discount.

The gym has several lessons a day. One at eight in the morning (never 😛 ) then on the hour between 2 pm and 6 pm.

You don’t need to reserve, you can just show up 10 minutes before the lesson starts and join in.

Also if you’re interested in mixed martial arts there is a ju-jitsu (a common grappling technique used in mixed martial arts) gym in Chiang Mai.

Go to Chiang Mai and learn Muay Thai and enjoy the culture that comes along with it.

Tip for Thailand travel and Muay Thai:

Take travel insurance!

Seriously if you get injured you will be glad you have health insurance. I recommend using SafetyWing Travel Insurance for your trip, just in case, it’s best to be prepared.

Get an insurance quote:

Useful links for Muay Thai in Chiang Mai

If you want to get pumped up for a Muay Thai fight or training then watch what in my opinion is the best Muay Thai movie – Ong Bak – The Thai Warrior

This is the Facebook page of the Chiang Mai Muay Thai Gym.


If you’re going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok this is a great post on the best way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

If you liked this post about learning Muay Thai in Chiang Mai a share would be appreciated! – 

13 thoughts on “Learning Muay Thai in Chiang Mai (Best Gym For Beginners)”

  1. Oh my gosh… I’m not a boxer, but this reminds me of the time I went to a super-upscale spa on Koh Phangan. In the middle of my body scrub I started hearing this weird noise… thwack… thwack… thwack… and it was distracting me from what was supposed to be a blissful experience. When I left the spa, I realized they were located next to a boxing gym and I’d been hearing the sound of the boxers hitting the bags! Don’t they have any respect for spa-going ladies?

  2. Hahaha! I feel your pain. It’s not just ladies that need a peaceful “relaxing spa/massage” time 😉 Whenever I go to a massage place I check the surrounding area to see if it’s going to be peaceful or not. Learned my lesson after getting a massage next to a music concert area that started up halfway through a coconut oil massage. Thwack thwack 😛

  3. Awesome post! I’d love to study some Muay Thai. I’m in Bangkok now – do you have any recommendations here?

  4. Great! I didn’t do that much training in Bangkok simply because I like the vibe in Chiang Mai more, but I did go to Legend Boxing in Silom area. It was around 500 baht for a lesson if I remember right. You have so many choices in Bangkok. If you make it to Chiang Mai get in touch, meet for a drink. I’m around a few more weeks. Glad you liked the post and good luck with the Muay Thai!

  5. Awesome. I’ll check them out. If I’m not in the best shape, will I survive this? 😀
    I’m headed back to San Francisco on Saturday, so I will most likely miss you in Chiang Mai, unfortunately.

  6. Brilliant post ive been looking for weeks on the net for a post like this well done and thanks

  7. Thanks for the info
    So I am also middle aged…but have boxed and trained Muay thai, etc in my younger years…I may be going to thailand (bangkok, and maybe Chang Mai), and hoping to train there before I get too old for a week or 10 days. Any recommendations for a somewhat experienced mid life crisis man?

  8. The gym I recommend in Chiang Mai is still perfect for a middle aged man with some experience. They train those levels as well and I have seen some very experienced foreign Muay Thai trainees there.

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