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Thailand Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations
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Thailand Sports and Leisure – with Wired Destinations
Thailand Participant Sports
Thailand has developed its outdoor sports facilities to a considerable degree and air-conditioned the ones played indoors. Nearly every major Thailand hotel has a swimming pool and a fitness centre; some have squash courts and jogging paths.
Canoeing is slowly catching on in Thailand. In the north, trips are available on the Kok river. Try Track of the Tiger, 108/2 Thanon Charoenphratet, tel: 0 5381 8641; fax: 0 53818221; www.track-of-the-tiger.com, which offers various adventure trips. Several operators in Mae Hong Son also organize Thailand canoeing trips.
Sea Canoe, based in Phuket, tel: 0 7625 4505-7; fax: 0 7622 6077; www.johngray-seacanoe.com, pioneered sea-canoeing in the country, notably to the sea caves around the island. Several similar operations have since opened in Phuket and Krabi, mostly notably.
Paddle Asia, also based in Phuket. Tel: 0 7624 0952; fax: 0 7621 6145; www.paddleasia.com. Well known for their multi-day trips into Khao Sok National Park.
Thailand Deep Sea Fishing
For deep-sea fishing, go to Phuket or to Bang Saray south of Pattaya. At Bang Saray, marlin, king mackerel, cobia, yellowjack, barracuda, bonito, giant groupers, red snapper, rays and black tip sharks lurk among submerged rocks. Boats, tackle and guides are available for very reasonable fees. There are small Pattaya hotels, but most fishermen spend the night in Pattaya and head out early in the morning.
The waters off Phuket offer sailfish, barracuda, albacore, marlin, wahoo, tuna and king mackerel. The fishing around Phi Phi Island is also supposed to be quite good, and there are a handful of operators on the island who rent boats and equipment.
Some charter operators in Phuket
Aloha Tour Tel: 0 7638 1215, 0 7638 1220 Fax: 0 7638 1592 www.thai-boat.com
Phuket Big Game Fishing Tel: 0 7620 2679, 0 1676 2629 www.bluewater-anglers.com
Wahoo Big Game Fishing Tel: 0 7628 1510 Fax: 0 7628 0775 www.wahoo.ws
Thailand Fitness Centers
California wow Experience, located on Thanon Silom near the Sala Daeng skytrain station. Tel: 0 2631 1112; www.californiawowx.com, open Mon–Sat 6am–midnight, Sun 8am-10pm, is one of the most popular of many to be found with a number of branches around the city. The Asia-wide Clark Hatch has a branch in the Thaniya Plaza, off Thanon Silom. Tel: 0 2231 2250; www.clarkhatchthailand.com, open Mon–Fri 6am-9pm, Sat–Sun 10am-8pm. All the top Bangkok hotels have well equipped fitness centers.
Thailand Fitness Parks
There is a fitness park in one corner of Bangkok's Lumphini Park. In Chiang Mai, the free fitness park on Thanon Nimmanhaemin, is open 5am-10pm. In Pattaya, the fitness park is located on the slopes of Pattaya Hill; in Phuket, it sits atop Rang Hill in the middle of town.
Thailand Horse Riding
There are no public horse-riding facilities in Bangkok, but in Chiang Mai riding can be arranged through Travel Shoppe, tel: 0 5387 4091; www.horseriding.chiangmaiinfo.com
Thailand Ice Skating
One of the more unusual tropical pursuits, ice skating has a certain popularity in Bangkok. Try it at the World Ice Skating Center, Central World Plaza, 8th Floor, 4 Thanon Ratchadamri. Tel: 0 2255 9500. Daily 10am-2.45pm, 3.30pm-8.30pm.
In Chiang Mai try Bully Ice, Kad Suan Kaew, tel: 0 5322 4444. Daily 10am–1am.
Bangkok has several jogging sites for those wise enough not to challenge the city's traffic for right-of-way. These include Lumphini Park, Queen Sirikit Park at Lad Prao, Benjasiri Park between Soi 22 and 24 Thanon Sukhumvit, and Chatuchak Park. The Ambassador hotel - among others - has jogging a path.
In Chiang Mai, many joggers run uphill to Doi Suthep and catch a minibus back. In Pattaya you can jog up Pattaya Hill. In Phuket, try Rang Hill, a 1 ½ km (1 mile) jaunt. There is a fitness park at the top.
Thailand has some excellent snooker players who are now nipping at the heels of world champions. As a result, parlors have sprung up everywhere in Thailand, as aspiring champions focus their eyes on complex shots and potential riches. In Bangkok, there are numerous snooker parlors around the city. The "Rooks" chain is the most popular, with dozens of establishments around town.
Thailand Spectator Sports
Despite the hot climate, Thai men and women are avid sports enthusiasts, playing and watching both their own sports and those adopted from the West according to international rules.
The king of foreign sports is soccer and is played by both sexes. Following a close second is badminton, with basketball, volleyball, rugby, track and field, swimming, marksmanship, boxing, tennis and golf trailing only a short way behind.
Check the English-language newspapers, e.g. www.nationmultimedia.com, for schedules of the latest events.
The principal sports venues in Bangkok are the National Stadium, on Thanon Rama I just west of Mahboonkrong (MBK) Shopping Center; the Hua Mark Stadium, east of the city next to Ramkhamhaeng University; and the Thai-Japanese Sports Center, at Din Daeng near the northern entrance to the expressway.
In Chiang Mai, games are played at the Chiang Mai Stadium and at Chiang Mai University; in Phuket, at the Phuket Stadium on Thanon Vichaisongkhram.
Thailand has also created a number of unique sports and these are well worth watching, as much for the grace and agility displayed by the players as for the element of fun that pervades every competition.
Thai Boxing (Muay Thai)
One of the most exciting and popular Thai sports is Thai boxing. In Bangkok, Lumphini Boxing Stadium, on Thanon Rama IV, stages bouts on Tuesday and Friday at 6.30pm and on Saturday at 10am and 5pm. Ticket prices run between 500 and 1,000 baht for ringside seats (depending on the quality of the card), running downwards to 100 baht. The Sunday matinee at 6.30pm is recommended, as it has the cheapest seats.
Ratchadamnoen Stadium on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue offers bouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 6.30pm and on Sunday at 6.30pm. Ticket prices are the same as at Lumphini, and, as above, weekend afternoon matinees are the cheapest. There are also televised bouts on Saturday and Sunday, and at 10.30pm on some week nights. For many visitors this will be sufficient introduction to the sport.
For details of matches, visit www.muaythai2000.com, or www.bestmuaythai.com, this is the website of Suwit Boxing Camp in Phuket.
The Rose Garden and Phuket's Thai Village offer short demonstrations of Thai boxing but these are played more for laughs than for authenticity.
Thai boxing bouts in Chiang Mai can be seen at the Dechanukrau boxing ring, on Thanon Bumrungrat, on the weekends. Bouts are staged each Friday at 8pm at the Phuket Boxing Stadium at Saphan Hin (to the right of the tin dredge memorial where Thanon Phuket meets the sea). Most large rural towns have their own boxing gyms and stage weekly bouts by young hopefuls.
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