Looking for exercise?
In a country where almost, every street corner is devoted to the cooking and eating of food, visitors could be forgiven for wondering how Thais manage to stay in such good shape. Moreover, Thai people love hanging around in air-conditioned mega-malls on weekends and if they stay home, a lot of them become lazy and addicted to watching series on Netflix and other streaming services.
It seems like the Thai people are not sports or exercise enthusiasts judging from how they spend their leisure time, but that has changed a lot now. The 24-hour gyms are everywhere, especially at urban office premises. People are so crazy about running that there are many marathons with more and more people joining.
Many expats may find it difficult at first to find places where they can work out. Just join in the conversation with local colleagues, you’ll definitely find some sports clubs to join, i.e., football, running, and other outdoor sports, as well as membership gyms. There, you can engage in your favourite workout and make new friends.
Here, we look at just some of the sports you can join.
Walking, jogging or running
Bangkok and Thailand’s other major cities are not short of parks with enough space for joggers and runners to get their daily cardio workout. Many stroll around public parks to stretch their muscles and breathe in the early morning fresh air Most parks open early and close shortly after sunset though some remain open until as late as 9 p.m.
You are also allowed to cycle in most parks, and many have a track dedicated to two wheels. Exercise groups form in the morning and evening, some practising yoga or aerobics, and others the slower but no less exacting tai chi. Some of the larger parks, including Lumphini, Rama IX, and Bueng Nong Bon have fitness corners with weight-lifting equipment.
A nation of cycling enthusiasts, Thailand has seen a wide range of tracks open over the past 2 decades. Cycling in the open air, alone or with a group of friends, is fun and, for many, beats working out on a stationary bike in the gym. It is also a great way to get to know the country. Well worth exploring on 2 wheels is Bangkok’s ‘Green Lung’ on Bang Kachao in Samut Prakan province. Other places for a relaxing ride include Benjakitti Park and Bueng Nong Bon, both of which have dedicated trails. Don’t have a bike? Then rent one! Rental is not expensive, and the bikes are well maintained. You’ll pay just 50 Baht for 2 hours of cycling pleasure at Bueng Nong Bon.
For those into cycling as a sport, the “Happy Healthy Track” near Suvarnabhumi Airport is a must (open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays, and 6 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekends). The 23.5-km. two-lane cycle track is suitable for those wishing to train as well as an experienced rider, while novice cyclists can opt for the Jogging Track and Small Track (open daily 6 a.m.-9 p.m.), a 1.5-km route that’s a generous 5-metres wide. Admission is free.
Swimming pools are fairly common in Bangkok, and many of the mid- and high-end apartment buildings and condominiums have their pools. Most, though not all, are well-maintained.
You can find very affordable swimming pools too in some parks; such as, Benchasiri and Lumphini. Admission starts at 15 Baht.
If you’re looking for an affordable pool and true stadium inspiration, head to the Sports Authority of Thailand’s pool in the SAT Complex at Hua Mak on Ramkhamhaeng Road. Open 6 a.m.-8 a.m., closed for cleaning on Monday, it offers a 50-metre outdoor pool with a roof to protect you from the sun, a 25-metre outdoor pool that is also covered and a diving pool. No membership is required.
Another affordable pool is located in the Lawn Tennis Sports Club in the Muang Thong Thani complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, the venue for the ATP Thailand Open. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., the 30-metre pool is slightly smaller than SAT’s but comes with the bonus of a suburban setting and an occasional covering of flower petals from the nearby plants that give it a luxury spa feel.
Learn Muay Thai
Muay Thai, also known as Thai kickboxing, is well-known the world over and there’s no place better than Thailand to learn the moves. There is a range of training centres in Bangkok and the provinces, and the number continues to grow. Excellent for core strengthening, several white-collar workers also use this sport to reduce stress. Many venues offer free Muay Thai classes including the Muay Thai Conservation Centre of Thailand (MCCT) near the National Stadium BTS Station (Tel. 02 214 0120 Ext. 2900-1), Bangkok Youth Centre (Thai-Japan)
Muay Thai camps around the country offer fee-paying courses for walk-in enthusiasts. Alternatively