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Last updated : Nov 2009
Thailand Sports
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Water sports

Thailand has 2,710 kilometres or 1,694 miles of coastline, on both the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, including its many offshore islands make it a favourite tourist destination for water sports, especially diving and snorkelling. 2 of the major diving centres are at Pattaya, a 2-3 hour drive from Bangkok, and Phuket, both of which have easy access to many offshore islands and coral reefs. Good for reef diving is the Andaman Sea, and the most popular sites are the renowned Similan and Surin islands. Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao in the Gulf of Thailand also pull in many divers from all over the world, while Ko Chang and the Trat area are the most recent destinations to have opened up to sports tourism.

The islands off Trang Province and the Burma Banks have become recent diving areas. Certified diving courses, equipment rental and live-aboard dive cruises can be obtainable.

Numerous beaches are ideal for windsurfing, especially Hua Hin, Jomtien in south of Pattaya, Karon and Kata on Phuket island, and Chaweng and Lamai on Koh Samui. The windiest months are from February to April in the Gulf of Thailand while in the Andaman Sea during September and December. For more details about beaches, see also the Resorts & Excursions section.

In the past few years, sea canoeing and kayaking have become popular among tourists. North of Phuket, the coastal limestone islands in Phang Nga Bay are the favourite, which give travellers the chance to explore the half-submerged cave systems known as hongs.

is a good way to reach the islands in Thailand, and Phuket is the principal destination for sailing trips in the Andaman Sea, where the yearly Kings Cup Regatta is held in December. Sailing cruises in the Gulf of Thailand ordinarily depart from Pattaya. Tourists can hire yachts with or without a crew. The presence of big game fish, such as tuna, barracuda, wahoo, swordfish or marlin, pulls in game fishing lovers, who hire fully crewed boats from most chief coastal resorts. Travellers can also arrange seasonal inland raft trips on various rivers.


There are the best trails in the isolated provinces of Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Travellers will have a chance to visit the well-known Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet and where much of the world's opium begins.

Treks run for 3 or 4 days through a landscape comprising forested mountains resided by hill tribes whose small villages provide standard lodgings for trekkers. Although guides are available, tourists should make sure that, apart from English, they speak some of the hill tribe languages and contact the tribal communities. Trekkers should also keep in mind that the area is normally un policed and hold ups and robberies have been reported.


There are many temples and meditation centres specialising in vipassana (insight) meditation in Thailand. Places to stay along with instruction are commonly free, but donations are expected. Different meditation techniques and dress codes apply. Upmarket resorts providing mind, body and spirit packages are also available, with alternative therapies included in the package. Larger retreats are for the more serious minded only. Male and female English speakers are welcome, but the segregation of the men and women is strictly enforced and many observe a vow of silence.

Thai kick-boxing

Thai Kick-Boxing, also known as Muay Thai, is a traditional sport widely seen daily throughout the year at the main stadiums in both Bangkok and the provinces. Thai boxing matches begin with elaborate ceremonies and accompanied by lively music. There are more than 60,000 full-time boxers in Thailand. Foreign visitors may sign up for a traditional "Muay" training camp, some of which specialises in training western people. There is strong spiritual and ritualistic dimension to Muay Thai, adding grace to this otherwise brutal sport.

Spectator sports

Horse racing is held every 2 weeks at the Royal Turf Club on Sundays and at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club on Saturdays. Another spectator sport is Takraw, occasionally called Siamese football, in which a small woven rattan ball is kicked around by players standing in a circle and performing spectacular moves. The aim is to keep the ball off the ground, and to do this players can use any part of their bodies apart from the hands.
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