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


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 Asia

Once 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 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.


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

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’s author: Benjamin Edwards

Edited: Image Earth Travel

Disclosure: This guest post earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps to pay for this website.

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

Related posts






31 responses to “The Best Spectator Activities in Thailand”

  1. Avinash Sahu Avatar

    very nice article it’s full filled nice great

    1. Avinash Sahu Avatar

      in the whole article i most like ladyboy show


      1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        It looks very opulent with fabulous costumes!

    2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Avinash, thanks for the feedback. This was a guest post. 😉

      1. Avinash Sahu Avatar

        oh guest post!!! but nice….most welcome…. can you give me a chance to write guest post

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hi Avinash,

        Email me through my contact form and we can talk about it… 🙂

        Cheers, Nilla

      3. Avinash Sahu Avatar

        i was tried in the blog but can’t find your email address… this is my email address please send me your address

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Go to the “Say Hi!” option in the nav menu and there you will find my contact form but also my email below my contact form.

      5. Avinash Sahu Avatar

        oh… thanks

  2. mayetsworld Avatar

    This post has me feeling nostalgic. Damn i miss Thailand

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, so do I, especially the traditional food! Must re-visit soon…

      1. mayetsworld Avatar

        The fried rice & tom-yum soup was absolutely amazing. I know many foreigners go crazy for the Pad Thai – that dish just didn’t vibe with me

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I love Pad Thai (all varieties) but much prefer the spicy Tom-Yum soup.
        Also love the traditional dishes in Laos

  3. esailor5 Avatar

    I am visiting Thailand next summer! Thanks for these tips!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi there, you’ll have a ball! Are you visiting other countries in SE Asia?
      Check out 12 more posts on Thailand that may help, we even volunteered a couple of times in Thailand. First time for a couple of months and the second time for 3 months. Enjoy, cheers, Nilla

  4. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    I’ve been seeing so many blogs, videos and photos of Thailand…I’m thinking its a sign! The Khon looks really interesting!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thailand is a popular destination for many travellers. Maybe it is a sign Lulu…

  5. gillmorris Avatar

    Aw, I miss my Thailand 🙂 x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Gill, bet you do…I especially miss the food. x 🙂

  6. latestworldnews123blog Avatar

    How are you admin,
    I Am Katewinstly. I visit this website on a daily basis to read this blog quality and unique posts, This website provides quality and valuable information which helps in the specified field. This website is all about the facts of great information. Good Work Keep it up.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Katewinstly, many thanks for your feedback – much appreciated, cheers, Nilla

  7. the eternal traveller Avatar

    Yes, we went to a Ladyboy show in Pattaya and it was excellent. The costumes, singing and dancing were fantastic and it was very entertaining and classy. Highly recommended.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Carol, although I’ve seen many ladyboys in Thailand, I’ve never been to a ladyboy show. But, after Benjamin’s post, think it could be on the cards next time I’m in Thailand. 😉

      1. the eternal traveller Avatar

        Definitely worth going to one. They’re a lot of fun.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thanks for the heads-up.

  8. Retirement Reflections Avatar

    I love Thailand. The colours, the people, the festivities (and the weather)! Thank you for bringing back wonderful memories!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for the great feedback and Benjamin did a great job of highlighting some of Thailand’s activities. 🙂

  9. Margaret and Neal Avatar

    Thailand is definitely on our list! Thanks for sharing this info!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi guys, Thailand is a great destination and Benjamin Edwards did a good job of sharing a few activities in this post.

  10. Mohamad Toutounji Avatar

    VERY VERY nice post
    I really enjoyed reading about Thailand and especially that you included the most famous martial arts style around the world “Muay Thai”

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Mohamad, thank you for the great feedback although I only edited this post and the author is Benjamin Edwards, but knew that you would enjoy reading about ‘Muay Thai’. 😉

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Own one of my Limited Edition photographs or prints. Click this #saatchiart icon for my page.

Saatchi Art


Follow my blog by email!
Never miss out on a fabulous photo deal or travel update.

Join 7,894 other subscribers

I'm currently in Ukraine

Global visitors since February 2017 - thank you!


Visitors since May 2016 - thank you!

Flag Counter

©2015-2023 Image Earth Travel

This website's content cannot be copied and/or published in any way without written permission from Image Earth Travel.

Feel free to use excerpts and links, provided that you give full and clear credit to Image Earth Travel, with appropriate and specific direction/links to the original content.

Follow me on...

pinterest logo circle P in Red png