So I’ve been at Tiger Muay Thai for about 2 months now – which is a little longer than I had originally planned on staying. During my first couple nights, I’ll be honest – I wanted to leave. It had nothing to do with the training either – it was the location.
I remember using my laptop outside (since I wasn’t getting any connection in my room) while getting eaten by mosquitoes. It was about 20 minutes after 9 and the restaurant had just closed. The camp is in a very isolated area and after about 9pm, the food selection is limited.
So, as you can imagine, I didn’t find getting multiple bug bites – as a result of having to spend hours outside due to the poor internet connection – and going to bed hungry very appealing. Especially considering I had come from Pattaya – where a 7-11 and a 24 hour Thai food restaurant are fixtures on every block.
But you know what? While I was a little frustrated the first couple nights, I’m writing this – about 58 days later – and I’m still here. Once you get used to it, the location isn’t so bad. Actually, the way I see it, if there’s nothing around – there’s no temptation. No temptation to party, no temptation to drink, no temptation to do anything but train and in my case, get some work done.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so productive. I just train, watch the stacks of 50 baht DVD’s that I buy from the market and write for websites. I’m watching the 5th season of entourage right now actually – Ari Gold is awesome by the way! I’ve even used the location to my advantage. I’ll purposely avoid buying food for the night which forces me to run about 6km to a place that sells plates of chicken, rice and soup for about a dollar.
Tiger Muay Thai Review – The Training
The training here is a lot better than I expected. Every single pad-holder that I’ve worked with – and I’ve worked with about 8 different trainers – has been amazing. The thing about Tiger Muay Thai is that they probably have more students than any other camp in Thailand. More students – in most cases – equates to more money and since they do so well here, they can afford to pay their trainers an attractive salary.
So, it comes to no surprise that they have a lot to pick from. That’s not to say that you won’t find good trainers at some of the less financially stable camps. There’s actually a couple lumpinee champions over at Sityodtong without foreign students to train. That’s just their loyalty though. A lot of times, if a camp brings up a fighter, they’ll stay there for decades and help train the younger students coming up. When they fight, a lot of them even take on the camp name as their surname. Yodsanklai Fairtex, Buakaw Por Pramuk – get the idea? Although, for the record, Yodsanklai wasn’t brought up by Fairtex – but that’s besides the point.
What’s unique about Tiger Muay Thai is that they implement a lot of western training methods with the traditional Thai way of doing things. Each class begins and ends with a great warm up/cool down and a lot of time is spent on flexibility. They also have a free weight area – which is currently undergoing expansion – and a personal trainer available to help students out with their form and answer questions. In the new free weight area, I’ve been told that they’re getting all sorts of new equipment – even a full set of kettle-bells.
The students here are split into classes based on their skill level. There’s beginner, intermediate and advanced. There’s plenty of beginners so if you’re just starting out, don’t even worry about it. There’s plenty of people here that have never even thrown a kick before getting on that flight to Thailand – at least that’s what it looks like anyway.
The advanced class is run drill sergeant style. The trainers push you hard. They’re the sort of workouts that you hate doing at the time, but feel good for getting through them when they’re over. When you’re doing pad-work and you’re pushed to exhaustion, the trainers will just say “come on man!” and start hitting you with the pads. It sounds bad but it’s not, it’s great actually. They really push you.
In 2 months time, only twice have I been completely overlooked by the trainers and skipped over for pad-work. I was obviously disappointed at the time seeing as how the pad-work and individual attention is what people (myself included) come for. If I just wanted to skip and hit the bag, I’d stay home – save myself thousands of dollars – and just train in my basement.
But in all fairness, that was 2 workouts in 2 months. The other 50 or so training sessions have all been pretty good. No gym I’ve ever been to is perfect, they all have their flaws. There was a point here (before the airport protests) when I found that the place was just too packed. It was during that period though that the owner of the camp was really pushing for a big expansion to accommodate the influx of guests.
The expansion – which is going to see the camp almost double in size – should be done in a couple of weeks. Although, in Thailand – you never really know. So while the place was way too busy for a while, effort was being made to fix the problem and that’s really all you can ask for.
As for the MMA program, to be honest – I haven’t really done any of the MMA classes. I’ve just been focusing on the Muay Thai while I’m in Thailand but from what I’ve seen, the instruction is pretty good. Ray Elbe is the head MMA instructor here and he certainly knows what he’s doing. He’s a BJJ purple belt but I’ve watched him roll with BJJ black belts here and surprisingly, it looks pretty even – at least from my perspective anyway.
Just the fact that there’s BJJ black belts and UFC vets that come here to train says a lot about the calibre of fighters you’ll have to spar with and learn from. While it’s unlikely that you’ll get to spar against one of the UFC guys while they’re here – since they’re usually off getting private lessons – there’s still plenty of other high level guys on hand.
Tiger Muay Thai Review – The Accommodations
I’ve been staying in one of the “budget style fighters rooms” that are advertised on the site for 4000 baht per month but for some reason, the price was jacked up to 5000 baht when I arrived. The website still actually says 4000 baht. The room is good enough. Its got a TV, DVD player, mini fridge, bed, dresser and a fan. It gets pretty hot here but surprisingly, a fan seems to do the trick.
The site says that the rooms here have “high speed wireless internet” access. Well, the truth is that most rooms don’t. Most of the students here have to bring their laptops to one of two locations – near the office or near the restaurant. When I first got here, I was living in one of the budget rooms near the back of the camp and since I couldn’t get a connection, I had to switch to a room that was closer to the restaurant.
Even here, the connection is still pretty weak and I get signed in and out every 5 minutes or so. There’s nothing more frustrating than constantly getting logged out of msn when you’re in the middle of a conversation with your friends from back home or writing up a detailed email, then trying to send it off only to realize that you’ve lost connection and even worse – lost your work.
The camp offers accommodation to suit all budgets. Even if you don’t want to stay at the camp, you can stay in one of the nearby resorts that were built specifically to accommodate the Tiger Muay Thai guests. Truthfully, the pricing on all the nearby rooms has been jacked up for the foreigners. There is no way that a Thai would be charged – nor would they pay – 12,000 baht for a basic room with a basic washroom.
Staying nearby the camp is certainly more convenient but if you’re on a budget and you don’t want to stay in one of the budget rooms, you can go a little further out and find a room with hot water and a washroom for about 4000 baht a month – the budget rooms at the camp don’t have a washroom. It’s really not a big deal though. You don’t really need your own washroom, the public facilities at the camp will do just fine.
If you’re only staying for a month or so – or if you’re a baller and money isn’t an issue – some of the nearby resorts are awesome. Here are video tours of both the rooms at the camp and the nearby accommodations. I didn’t film these by the way. I had planned to go around and film them myself but TMT beat me to it. So, to save myself time, I’ll just use their tours..
Budget Room at the Camp (where I’ve been staying)
Family Bungalow at the Camp
Willow House (Looks pretty nice actually)
Ruam Mai Bungalows
I-Com Hotel (Boxer Bar)
Tiger Muay Thai Review – The Food There’s a restaurant on site at the camp and it’s decent I suppose. I eat there every now and then just for the convenience of it although just down the road, there’s a place called “country restaurant” that’s a lot better. The portions are bigger and the prices are a bit lower. Everyone just calls the place “mommas” and a lot of the guests live and eat there. The food is great but the rooms are overpriced for what you get in my honest opinion.
There’s also a place in chalong circle that’s amazing. The portions are huge and the prices are more than fair. I’ve actually once gone there once since I don’t have a motorbike and it’s a bit out of the way but now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll have to go back there once more and get the giant chicken salad before I leave chalong and move on.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, I usually run late at night to a Thai food stand that sells chicken, rice and soup for 30 baht – which is under 1 USD. I’ll eat a couple servings there then bring a couple servings back to the camp to eat throughout the night (I’m a night owl).
Since the food selection is so limited after 9pm, I mentioned to Will (the owner) that he should look into getting a microwave so students can heat up their meals and about 2 days later, there was a brand new microwave sitting on the restaurant counter with a sign saying that students are welcome to use it. That really impressed me. A perfect example of an owner who is always looking for ways to try and improve his services.
I’d also recommend that if you’re planning on coming to Tiger Muay Thai (or Thailand in general), you should bring your own protein supplements from back home. They’re much more expensive here. A small 2 pound container of most likely poor quality protein will run you around 3000 baht or so – which is almost 100 bucks.
Tiger Muay Thai Review – The Pro Shop
There’s a pro shop here that sells shirts, shorts, gloves, hand-wraps etc. The prices here are cheaper than back home but compared to what I’ve seen throughout Thailand, they’re a little jacked up. They sell twins gloves for about 1950 baht and hand-wraps for about 375 baht. I’m using Fairtex gloves at the moment and while they’re normally a little more expensive than the Twins – I bought them for about 1450 baht in Pattaya.
You can scoop a pair of Twins gloves for about 1400 baht in Bangkok or Pattaya as well. I’ve noticed that the Muay Thai gear in Phuket to be a little more expensive all around but there’s a shop in Patong that sells the gloves for around 1600 baht. It’s not that big of a deal though, most people – even knowing that they can get the gloves cheaper elsewhere – would just end up buying them at the Tiger Muay Thai pro shop for the convenience of it.
They also sell Tiger Muay Thai shirts for just under 500 baht – which is expensive for Thailand – but I’ll probably end up buying one anyway because they look sick and you can’t get them anywhere else. A couple of my buddies from back home actually want me to send some shirts back (even though they don’t train) so they can wear the shirts at the bar and look tough. Whack yes, I know!
Tiger Muay Thai Review – Final Thoughts
After having spent 2 months here, I can certainly recommend it. The trainers are excellent and the entire staff – the owner included – seem to do whatever they can to help you out. They have a guest services manager who will organize trips & visa runs for you, they have a laundry service that is the cheapest I’ve seen so far in Thailand and a personal trainer that seems eager to answer questions and help people out.
For first timers who have never been to Thailand and are a little nervous, you want to pick a camp that has good guest relation services so that if anything were to go wrong, you wouldn’t be alone. Tiger Muay Thai is also a good place to make friends since on average, there’s around 100 guests from all over the world training here at any given time.
That being said, since Tiger Muay Thai is a very isolated, foreigner oriented gym – it has a summer camp feel to it. You’re in Thailand, but you’re surrounded by people from western countries. For that reason, I also recommend eventually going off on your own (once you feel comfortable) and putting yourself out of your element so to speak.
Doing so will enable you to experience a completely different culture and training alongside Thai’s – even the 8,9 and 10 year olds – can be very motivating. Travelling to foreign countries is all about new experiences so if you’re planning on staying long term, I recommend that you train in a few different gyms and environments.
I’m about to move on now but I know I’ll be looking back on my time spent at Tiger Muay Thai with fond memories. The bottom line – Tiger Muay Thai is a well equipped gym with awesome trainers. Certainly worth checking out..
THINKING OF GOING TO THAILAND TO TRAIN?
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!