If you are a keen sportsperson or you simply feel like some exercise to break up your holiday, then you will be well served in Bangkok.
Although it doesn’t necessarily have the range of outdoor pursuits that are available elsewhere in Thailand, Bangkok is unsurpassed in the way of state-of-the-art gyms, sports teams and other facilities. Many find these a great way of escaping the lifestyle associated with spending time in a large, dense city.
Fitness and swimming in Bangkok
The majority of midrange and top end hotels have swimming pools, as do many condominium blocks. If you don’t have one where you’re staying then there are a few public pools around such as Sivalai Clubhouse. (168 Soi 33, Itsaraphap Road, Tel: (02) 412 4000)
There are also gyms all over the city; again, many located in hotels and condo complexes. A few of the best include the Fitness First in the Platinum Landmark Plaza which is right by Nana BTS station. (Open: 06:00-22:00 (Mon-Fri). 4th Floor, 138 Sukhumvit Road, Tel: (02) 653 2424)
Golf in Bangkok
With Tiger Woods being half Thai, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that golf is a popular activity among Bangkokians, as well as expats and visitors. Thus, there are many good golf courses in Bangkok.
Pattaya is a particularly good destination for golfing weekends and it is a mere two-hour drive from Bangkok (traffic permitting). See a list of golf courses in Pattaya.
Tennis in Bangkok
The emergence of Paradorn Srichaphan and other promising Thai tennis players, such as Tamarine Tanasugarn, has created something of a tennis boom in Thailand and there are many Bangkok tennis courts and clubs. Try the Rungsang Tennis Court (Bangna-Trad Road, Tel: (02) 393 8276) or the Sun Tennis Court. (Sukhumvit Soi 40, Tel: (081) 875 9285).
Snooker and pool in Bangkok
Many bars throughout the city have pool tables – Gulliver’s on Sukhumvit Soi 5 (Tel: (02) 629 1988) have loads, but on busy nights you may have to comply with the ‘winner stays on’ house rules as all tables are likely to be taken.
For a slightly more relaxing game, try the Bulldog (Sukhumvit 23, Tel: (087) 798 9878), just past Soi 2, in which the attentive staff will rack every frame for you and bring you drinks on demand. Tables in all of these places are of American dimensions, not British.
For snooker, some of the best tables in town are to be found on the 4th floor of the Payathai Plaza (near Phaya Thai BTS station). In this plush place you can also order food while you play and there is a massage parlour next door.
Muay Thai in Bangkok
In the home of Muay Thai or Thai Boxing, there are many training camps throughout the city.
Most of these will take on only Thai students unless you can show that you are very determined and will stick to their strict regimen, or are experienced in the sport already.
Jitti Gym specialise in taking on foreigners, so that may be your best bet if you want to learn one of the toughest sports around. (12, Soi Ratchadapisek 19, Vibhavadee Road, Tel: (089) 069 5026)
Muay Thai Institute is perhaps the most professional outfit for Muay Thai in Bangkok. Recognised by the World Muay Thai council and boasting several respected kru (teachers), it’s a busy facility in Rangsit for Muay Thai professionals and amateurs. Fighters from around the world come here for training and tuition. (323 Soi 119, Pahonyothin Road, Tel: (082) 985 1115)
Bangkok Fight Club is a well-respected training camp that is Bangkok’s only place to learn the following: muay thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts, international boxing, self defense, combat fitness and women’s kickboxing. The Muay Thai program is taught by Mr.Nakentr (Ken) Nilnan: former SEA games boxer, professional muay thai fighter, while the MMA & Self Defense course is taught by Mr.Sukpong (Noom) Na nakorn: MMA fighter, BJJ purple belt and special forces hand to hand (HTH) combat instructor. (Asoke Road, Tel: (081) 846 2010)
Cycling in Bangkok
You probably wouldn’t immediately associate Bangkok with cycling, and when you arrive downtown in the city you certainly won’t. However, there is a great service provided by Bangkok Bike Rides, whereby you can get away from the choking smog of the city centre and out into the patches of jungle which surround Bangkok with surprising ease.
You really will discover a new side to Bangkok if you embark on one of their trips and we highly recommend this service, which can pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and have all the bikes and equipment ready to use. Day trips into the countryside start for as little as 1,000 Baht.
Bangkok Hash House Bikers is the local chapter of the popular international expats social club. Instead of regular weekly runs they embark on monthly biking weekends at resorts within a few hours drive of the city. This enables mountain biking enthusiasts to get out and discover new trails, by following the shredded paper trials that makes this hash concept unique.
Football, rugby and other team games in Bangkok
There are many football and rugby teams in the city and the standard of Bangkok leagues is quite high – to hold down a place in a Bangkok team you’ll need to be reasonably fit and healthy. If you fancy joining a team, the many expat pubs are a good starting point as most of them sponsor a team. Try the Winking Frog on Sukhumvit Road (Soi 7, Tel: (02) 254 2890).
Rainforest canopy tours
Flight of Gibbon is a memorable escape from the madness of urban Bangkok, and within 90 minutes you can find yourself among the giant rainforest canopy swinging between trees on ziplines. This company are pioneers of ziplining in Thailand, operating a big, professional and safe experience that includes abseiling down lofty tree trunks, negotiating sky bridges and hanging out with the wildlife on platforms 30m above the Southeast Asian tropical jungle in the Chompoo Widllife Sanctuary near Pattaya.