There were a few things on my to-do list in Thailand. Seeing a Muay Thai boxing match was high on that list. Not that I’m into MMA, or boxing, or bloodsport at all. Seeing a Muay Thai match was just something that I hoped would feel authentic.
We debated whether we should try to see one in Bangkok or wait until we were in Chiang Mai. After some reading up on the venues, it seemed a more authentic experience could be had in Bangkok, specifically at the Rajadamnern Stadium.
At the popular stadiums in Chiang Mai, many people reviewed that while entertaining, the matches were definitely catered towards the tourist. Fights were rigged and fighters who were “knocked out” would hop back up and walk out of the ring after it was over. I didn’t want to see someone legitimately get hurt, but I wanted to see real Thai boxing. Muay Thai has a history that dates back well before the US Declaration of Independence was signed, and I wanted to see something that would pay homage to that deep heritage.
Rajadamnern Stadium was established in 1945. It is the oldest boxing stadium in Thailand. They hold fights every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
Getting To Rajadamnern Stadium
We were staying in an Airbnb about 9 miles from the stadium and after a long (and very hot!) day walking around Bangkok, we decided we weren’t up for more walking and public transportation. Since we hadn’t tried it yet, we opted for Thailand’s iconic auto rickshaw: the tuk-tuk.
Our driver was extremely friendly and eager to help us get our tickets before we arrived at the stadium. Due to some language barriers, we first arrived at a Thai travel agency so we could conveniently purchase our tickets ahead of our arrival. Don’t do this. We kindly thanked our tuk-tuk driver and told him we already had our tickets (we didn’t).
This is common in Thailand and pretty much anywhere else in the world. Transport drivers will have a relationship with a company or someone who can provide attraction tickets. The driver will get a kickback on anything you buy. That isn’t to say that this is malicious, you’ll just typically end up overspending.
Rajadamnern Muay Thai Tickets
After zipping through the busy Bangkok streets in the three-wheeled tuk-tuk, we arrived at Rajadamnern Stadium and were dropped off right out front. We were a few minutes late and upon heading inside, we were immediately greeted by stadium workers who were more than happy to help us buy the tickets we wanted.
You can also buy tickets online via their website, but buying them in person was quite easy. It’s cash only, but they have an ATM inside.
Where to Sit at a Rajadamnern Muay Thai Match
These are the seating sections for the Rajadamnern Stadium
- Ring Side – 2,000 THB – This is on the floor in padded seats. You’re not going to find locals sitting here, just tourists. Unless you are in the first two rows, visibility wouldn’t be all that great. You would be looking up at the ring with rows of people in front of you.
- Club Class – 1,800 THB – Plastic seats mounted to concrete steps on one side of the stadium. The views are great and eye-level. You’ll still only find tourists sitting here.
- 2nd Class – 1,500 THB – This section wraps around the entirety of the stadium with large concrete steps to sit on. This is where the majority of the action is, outside of the ring. You’ll find tourists and locals sitting here.
- 3rd Class – 1,000 THB – Same as 2nd class, just higher up and separated by a chain link fence. I’m not sure any tourists were sitting up here the night we were there, but I can’t imagine there were.
I wanted to sit in the 2nd class, up with the locals and among all the excitement and betting that happens during the fights. Despite requesting 2nd class seats, we were upgraded to Club Class seats for free. I’m not sure if this is common or just because we showed up a bit late and they wanted to fill the seats.
A host showed us to our seats and another quickly came over to see if we wanted drinks. A few minutes later, we had a couple beers and were happily watching Muay Thai fights from our comfy club class seats. There was nothing wrong with the seats, but in hindsight, I still would have preferred sitting in the 2nd class seats to be closer everything going on in the stands.
The Muay Thai Fights
They start the fights with the younger kids (all of whom could have readily whipped my ass). They then work their way up the weight/age classes and experience levels. Everything I read said these were real fights and with my limited knowledge of Muay Thai, I would absolutely agree. There were no pulled punches or kicks and no one was taking falls to please the crowd.
The pre-fight rituals were fascinating, there was a lot of cheering and yelling while drums and bells banged along to the rhythm of the fight (it wasn’t until we were leaving did we actually notice that the music was live and not played by some recording). The later it got the livelier the crowds got. Those betting were yelling even louder and waving their hands around in support of the fighter they backed. Each opponent had their team and support crew clapping and yelling on either side of the ring. The fights aside, this was arguably the best spectacle of the evening.
We skipped out on the last fight to go see what Khao San Road was all about. All in all, I would absolutely recommend seeing a Muay Thai boxing match, even if that isn’t something you immediately think you would be in to. The music, the yelling, the clapping, cheering and the betting was all just a much a show as the actual fights. Not to take away from the athletes, the fights were all very intense and exciting. For me, watching a Muay Thai Fight at Rajadamnern was absolutely a high point of Bangkok