While in Chiang Mai, I checked out a couple of the gyms – Siam No 1 being one of them. Prior to arriving, I had high expectations for this gym because most of the trainers at my favorite camp (even my own trainer) were brought up at Siam. Not only that, but one of my buddies had been training there for a few months at the start of his trip (as he’s a student at the branch in Toronto) and he had nothing but good things to say about the place.

The gym is located in Sankampaeng – which I guess is an outskirt of Chiang Mai – and it takes about half an hour via motorbike to get there from the center of the city. I imagine it would have been tough to find had we not been with someone who had previously trained there.

When we arrived at the gym, I was surprised at how empty the place was. Siam No 1 is a pretty historical gym and I was under the impression that a lot champions have been brought up there (as indicated by the stack of trophies). But on this day, however, there was a couple trainers sitting ringside and a few little girls shadowboxing – and even they were just sort of playing around rather than undergoing a serious training session.

I wrapped my hands and did some skipping/shadowboxing to start things off and by the time I finished my warm up, a couple other people (guy from Holland and a girl from Germany) had returned from their afternoon run. So, in addition to myself and my two friends, there was only two other foreigners training there.

Before I go any further, when my friend was describing his experience here, he said everything was great (he even fought for the gym), but he said that during one of his pre-fight workouts, some random old guy just showed up and trained him. He saw him that one time and never again.

Well, apparently that “random old guy” was there again that day and he was the one who was training us. He told me he has been doing Muay Thai for 35 years, that he was a champion of the North and a Lumpinee champion as well. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure. You just never know in Thailand. I’ve had taxi drivers claim to be Lumpinee champions before (I’ve even had one guy prove it by showing me photos of himself in the ring with the belt via his cell phone).

Anyway, Lumpinee champion or not, this guy had a strange method of teaching. Sometimes you vibe with a trainer; sometimes you don’t. This time I didn’t. Actually, none of us did. He trained all 3 of us and we all had the same “is this guy serious?” expression on our faces. He would tell us to bob our heads up and down and throw knees without putting any sort of guard up – basically welcoming a counter-strike to the face.

That’s the downside to only spending a limited time at some of these gyms. I can hardly judge Siam No 1 as a whole based on a single pad-work session with a wacky trainer. Sure, I wasn’t impressed with the training I got that day, but apparently that trainer isn’t there on a regular basis. My friend Ian swears by Kru Pon and Kru Doe’s training (as does the guy who was training there from Germany).

This is one of those instances where I can’t recommend a gym (based on my personal experience) but I wouldn’t discourage you from going ether (based on recommendations by people that I trust). If you happen to be in Chiang Mai, then check it out and form your own opinion. Maybe YOU can let ME know how it went for you there – just don’t train with that old dude. Here’s a video tour that I took of the place..


I’ve developed a 70 page guide that profiles everything you need to know about training in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. In the manual, I discuss the visa issues, the Muay Thai camps, the different areas, the transportation, the food, the culture and customs, the girls, the scams, the safety issues and most importantly, how to save a ton of cash along the way!




  1. The guy walkin from left to right in the video is Kru Doh, he is an expert teachin knees, elbows and clinch. I can´t believe why they let that other guy teach? He was never a great fighter and he usually works at a gym in central Chiang Mai. Kru Doh And Kru Phon is Number 1 trainers, really!

  2. I am training there right now, for the last 3 weeks and I am staying another 3 weeks.
    That guy is Kru Yoi, from Chai Yai Gym in Chiang Mai.

    He is a bit weird. I was watching the SA vs Mexico (I’m from Mexico btw) game last night with him at the gym and with Kru Udo and some of the young fighters as well. Anyway he was telling me that the methods of the Kru Udo and Kru Pon where not good. This is while Kru Udo went to the toilet or something, also he told me that the other Krus do not let him talk while they are training some one. I wonder why? Now that I bump into this article everything makes sense.

    He told me as well that he is not in Chay Yai Gym anymore. You can see a pic of the guy in the trainers section of Chay Yai Gym webpage. Anyway, he made some points on the way they are training me but also like you mentioned, he told me the same example with the front kick, leaving an open guard, which kind of start questioning myself like you guys did” Is this guy serious?”. He told me that he was going to train me next monday, but I guess I would stick to Kru Pon and Kru Udo, where Udo , he is AMAZING on teaching clinch technical moves and elbow strikes, and Kru Pon on Kicks and knees.
    This gym so far has been excellent, I am the only falang there now, I guess I am having the 100% attention, which I think is really good. I will come back here for sure.
    The only excepetion is that I am the only falang and I weight 90 kgs, so there is no one to spar with. But I guess is beacuse of the whole thing that happened in Bangkok, and scared everyone, but guys seriously there is nothing wrong everything has calmed down, and flights are CHEAP, now so take next plane and come and train. You wont regret it.

  3. Kru phon is famous in thailand and Kru Doh was also a really good fighter. Kru Yoi is a terrible trainer. He’s not part of the gym, he’s just some homeless bum that hangs around and takes advantage of the owners kindness. Last i heard he has been kicked out of the gym and isn’t there anymore.

  4. Hello all, firstly, siam no.1 is no longer, and has been reopened as “Santai Muay Thai”, and is now under new management. Siam was having financial issues, and could not sustain its business. Now under the new owners, the gym has been refreshed and renovated, and is now the cleanest gym in Chiang Mai. Also, the awesome and talented kru Do and kru Pon are still the head trainers at the new gym, Santai Muay Thai.

    Kru Yoy does not teach at the gym anymore, so you guys don’t have to worry about him giving you weird training techniques as he has in the past 🙂

    and just to clear the air regarding Mr X’s comment- whatever kru Yoy told you about Kru Do and Kru Pon is not true. They are excellent trainers, and everyone what has been trained by them has always been very happy. In fact, many students say that they are the kindest, and most technical trainers they have had in thailand. Yet on the flip side, people who have been trained by Kru Yoy at our gym have always complained about him, and did not like him. This should speak for itself.

    Anyhow, Kru Yoy is not at Santai Muay Thai anymore, and the good trainers, kru Do and Kro Pon are here to stay 🙂


    Santai Muay Thai
    http://www.santaiboxinggym.com / http://www.santaimuaythai.com

  5. Hello! firstly I love this muaythai training journal! what a great idea.
    I’ve just been at Santai boxing gym and absolutely love it.
    The two main trainers Kru Do and Kru Pon are excellent. They are so thorough, and have a great sense of humour. Language barriers don’t matter here, they are so determined that you learn that they find a way round it and they do speak some english anyway.
    The set up is freindly and welcoming. You feel part of the ‘clan’ sitting and eating all together at night. If this isn’t your thing, you can rent an appartment nearby and chose from the fine array of eateries.
    The area is lovely too, a total break from touristy Chiangmai. The locals are all very genuine and freindly. I only came for a weeks break from Bangkok as a holiday, had intended to train at one of the other bigger gyms but so glad I found this place (thanks to this website!) I am coming back to train here as the whole experience has been so positive. In a week I have learnt so so much.
    I have been training previously in a bigger gym in Bangkok (I also do like a lot), which is great for watching other fighters, and if you want to fight for them I’m sure you get appropriate training, if you don’t express the will to fight though the training you get can be inconsistant. In Santai, regardless of whether you are a tourist or serious about fighting, the training is consistantly great if you are enthusiastic and willing to work and learn, this place is second to none.
    As a girl it tends to be a little more tricky at times, both home and in thailand for training. That doesn’t apply here, you are treated just the same, and the onsite thai fighters are skilled enough to spar with you and teach you rather than throw you about and laugh (which happens elsewhere). They laugh with you not at you here, and there is plenty opportunity to go watch fights in town or be matched up yourself.
    I think anyone serious about improving their skills, from basic footwork to figthing tactics and more advanced stuff should head here, especially girl fighters. (though part of me wants to keep the place to myself!)
    plus, it is a very clean gym!!!