I Went Looking For A Fight In Thailand

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After visiting Thailand multiple times across several years, it finally happened. I finally got to see a live Thaiboxing event in Thailand!Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui match

On the drive from the airport to the Intercontinental Koh Samui, I’d noticed numerous signs advertising Thaiboxing that night (a Saturday). We were too tired to make the 45 minute trek into Chaweng, but I was hoping I’d get another chance since my friend said she’d also be interested in going. We saw a sign for fights a few nights later, so once we checked into the Conrad, I contacted the concierge.

They weren’t sure — usually fights were only on Fridays or Saturdays — but they promised to look into it and follow up. Eventually they got back to me. The event wasn’t at the usual Petchbuncha Stadium but at the newer, smaller Chaweng Stadium I’d read about. Regular seats were 1500 baht (~$50), VIP 2000 baht (~$67).

Used to the outrageous prices that UFC charges for even nosebleed bleacher seats, I jumped on the VIP and figured out the transportation. If we were willing to go early we could take the complimentary hotel shuttle to the stadium and then catch a cab back which would likely be cheaper than 2,500 baht for the hotel car.

When we boarded the shuttle, the driver was instructed to drop us off at the stadium. Which he did. The wrong one! Within seconds I realized it was Petchbuncha not Chaweng and went running after him. He didn’t really want to stop for me and I forced my way back in the van.

He insisted this was the stadium and he didn’t know of any other. After a pointless protest we finally asked him to drop us off at the main shopping mall where we could grab dinner and regroup. I was hot, tired, and frustrated. One of the reasons I stay at nice hotels is so they can make it easier to do special things in unfamiliar cities. If I’d be ok with this kind of service, I’d have stayed at a hostel!

As we were dispiritedly eating at some high end chain restaurant, we kept seeing trucks with loudspeakers going by advertising the event, so clearly they hadn’t gotten the date wrong. So after dinner we hailed a cab who knew exactly where to take us.

Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui entrance

The stadium was not quite what I expected. Set in a trendy area, it was small and looked as much like a nightclub as a sports venue.

Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui ring pre fights

The VIP seats weren’t really necessary as it was a very light crowd on a Tuesday night, but gave us a relatively unobstructed, eye level view of the ring. Pretty much everyone there was clearly a tourist.

Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui VIP seats

Waitresses came around to take drink orders (minimum of 2), and the prices for beer and wine were similar to the hotels. They also had a fairly extensive hookah menu!

Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui seating

The fights started a bit later than the advertised 9PM time but I found the whole experience as interesting as most of the fights. The fighters walked into western pop music (though most of it was surprisingly Emo) but they had live traditional Thai music playing for the opening Ram Muay ceremonies and for key parts of the fights.

Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui live music

Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui Ram Muay

It was interesting to see how they cooled down the fighters in between rounds — setting a giant trash can lid underneath their seats in the corner and dousing them with water.

Chaweng Stadium Ko Samui between rounds

The quality of fights wasn’t all that impressive, even accounting for my previous experience only being K1, until the last few. And that’s when the crowd swelled with locals and ex-pats, many coming to support the handful of European contenders.

Getting a cab home wasn’t quite as easy as it had sounded back at the hotel, but fortunately I’d asked the stadium manager about my options when buying tickets. He and his wife were waiting for us when it was over,  they lived out near our hotel and would be happy to take us back for a price.  It took some determined negotiations on my part to get the price lower than the 2,500 baht they wanted. We finally settled on 1,500 when it was clear I was willing to look elsewhere.

The experience was great, but not worth the hassle trying to set it up with the hotel and then find the place. And in hindsight, I probably should have held out for a weekend with bigger names or gone in Bangkok or Khao Lak where it’s more serious and less about the tourists. Still, very cool and something I’d been wanting to try for awhile.

If you do decide to go, just make sure your driver is clear on what stadium is holding the match!


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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