The Best Spectator Activities in Thailand

One of the best things about travelling is often getting a feel for what a place’s culture is really like – savouring spectator activities in Thailand is revealing…

Post’s author: Benjamin Edwards

Travel

You can learn a great deal about various attractions, activities, and traditions by reading about any destination. But, it’s only by actually going can you truly experience the intangible, indescribable events that make travel unique.

Thailand, SE AsiaOnce you arrive at your destination, there are innumerable ways to dive into the culture. I find, however, that taking in spectator activities can be one of the best.

Whether it’s a stage play, a sports contest, or another activity, joining in entertainment alongside hundreds or even thousands of fellow spectators throws you “in” with locals, unlike other activities you experience.

You’ll enjoy authentic encounters that locals enjoy or celebrate regularly, whilst interacting neck-to-neck alongside locals – few things are more communal or unifying.

Considering this, I wanted to share with you some of the best spectator activities every traveller needs to experience in Thailand – a place where the culture is so unique and vibrant that it’s difficult to understand.


Muay Thai

Muay Thai is sort of the unofficial “home sport” of Thailand. A sport that’s become popular in other places but is bigger, better, and more significant in this country than anywhere else.

Essentially, Muay Thai is a form of boxing that involves the whole body, whilst using knees, shins, fists, and elbows for striking, and takes place all around the country. You can learn Muay Thai in small clubs and also in professional stadiums.

Muay Thai, Thailand, SE Asia
Photo credit: Bangkok Lumpinee Boxing Stadium (Wikimediacommons)

Because of this, it’s not necessary to visit Bangkok to see the action or whilst taking lessons, if you’d rather explore another part of the country.

Phuket is a quieter alternative to the capital of Bangkok and is known for excellent Muay Thai spectating opportunities.

Wherever you see Muay Thai, you can expect an artful combat sport, knowledgeable and enthusiastic viewers, and sometimes, active betting on the outcome.


Khon

Khon is a performance art dance-drama genre’ that started in the 14th-century.

Khon incorporates dance, music, singing, and to some degree storytelling, whilst performers are dressed in colourful ornate costumes and masks.

Khon, Thailand, SE Asia
Photo credit: Unknown

Practised and developed over centuries, Khon is an art of profound meaning and religious symbolism, whilst delivering a form of entertainment.

The National Theatre and the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre in Bangkok are the best venues to partake in a Khon performance during your travel tip to Thailand.


Horse Racing

Horse racing was introduced to Thailand – Siam, at the time – in 1897 and quickly took hold as a popular spectator activity for aristocrats.

Over the 20th century, horse racing became widely popular because betting on the races was one of the only legal forms of gambling in Thailand. Although in recent years, some of this popularity has faded, because other forms of gambling are readily accessible.

Sites for online slot gaming are available and direct Thais to casino games that are enjoyed digitally. Some of these games are free to play although there can be a gambling component, and also, many Thais find ways to bet on Muay Thai or football.

Horse racing, Thailand, SE Asia
Photo credit: Dietrich Ayala (Wikipedia & Flickr)

Even if these expanding gambling options in Thailand have sapped some of the attention from horse racing, events are still well-attended around the country and also carry an air of nostalgia.


Football

Another spectator popular sport is football – an alternative option for locals wanting to bet in Thailand – although football in it’s purity is a form of entertainment. Locals refer to Muay Thai as the country’s national sport, but football is still often cited as Thailand’s most popular sport.

The main competition is in Thai League 1, which is the top tier of the national football league system. This consists of 16 teams – though each season the bottom three teams are relegated to Thai League 2, with the top three from League 2 moving up – and, the most successful of the modern era being Muangthong United and Buriram United.

Football, Thailand, SE Asia
Photo credit: THAI-FUSSBALL.COM

Support for league clubs is strong throughout the country and a match is fun to attend, though check the national team schedules so you don’t miss a game. The Thailand men’s team is on the rise and in recent years the women’s team is becoming very strong.


Ladyboy Shows

There is a lot of misconceptions surrounding Thai ladyboys.

As far as tourism is concerned, Thailand’s ladyboys are at the core of some of the most exciting, unique, and elaborate shows in the country.

“Ladyboy shows,” as they’re often called, are essentially flamboyant cabaret shows and draw crowds of adoring tourists and locals. To some extent, they almost function as a Thai city’s alternative to mainstream stage theatre.

Lady Boy Shows, Thailand, SE Asia
Photo credit: John Shedrick (Flickr)

You can catch a show in many places whilst you explore Thailand, although a guide to Bangkok’s best options reveals the best ones to add to the top of your travel list. The Calypso Cabaret, Playhouse Cabaret, and the Golden Dome Cabaret are some of the most high-quality ladyboy performances in Thailand.

Post author: Benjamin Edwards

Edited: Image Earth Travel


Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images of Thailand. More blogs on Thailand at Image Earth Travel.

12 thoughts on “The Best Spectator Activities in Thailand

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