Richard McCully

Playing sport in Thailand

What opportunities exist to keep fit?

When I lived in England I used to play football once a week and have the occasional round of golf but I thought those days were over when I moved to Thailand. However, the exact opposite is true, Thailand offers you the chance to play lots of different sports, live a healthy lifestyle and meet new people.

As a teacher your students will ask you to join in during your lunch break or even after school. You will learn new games like chairball and Takraw as well as play popular games like volleyball and football.

For around 400 Baht a week I play sport 3 or 4 times. I want to show you how much it costs and the sports you can play here.


Badminton is one of the most popular sports in Thailand. There are numerous badminton courts and at around 100 - 150 Baht per hour per court it is a great, cheap way to get a workout.

It's a sport I played at school and is actually quite easy to pick-up and play again. Another benefit is that it's a sport which can be played by men and women together. You can buy a cheap racket for around 400 Baht or rent at around 30 Baht a time.


Football is huge in Thailand. People love watching football and most people's first question to me is "which team do you support? "

I spent my childhood running around muddy pitches but I thought those days would be over in Bangkok. Well I guess the muddy pitch part is but there are lots of opportunities to play football here.

5 and 7 a side football is popular and there are many 3G football pitches which cost around 1,500 Baht an hour so about 100 - 150 per person.

Also Takraw is a football based game using a small wicker football where the idea is to stop it hitting the floor and to hit it over a net (think volleyball meets football).


Some condos and housing estates have swimming pools for their residents. These might be free or you might have to pay a fee (more likely for sports clubs in housing estates). My old housing estate charged around 500 Baht a month for unlimited access to the swimming pool.

Also if you are lucky enough to live near the sea or a lake then you can enjoy swimming in beautiful surroundings.

The Gym

If you live in a condo you may well have your own fitness centre. Although it may not be world class it does give you the opportunity to work out and stay in shape.

Many places have treadmills, bikes and free weights as well as mats.

From international chains to local fitness centres there are also many private gyms you can join. These gyms range from a bargain 30 Baht per session to 3,000 a month. The more expensive places offer fantastic facilities and service you would expect from back home but they are very expensive.

I have a local gym where I live which charges 30 baht per session and is actually well stocked with decent equipment but no air conditioning.


Playing golf in Thailand can be cheap if you know when and where to play. Also walking around for 4 hours is great exercise.

The green fee and caddie fee can be as low as 900 Baht if you play on the midweek sport days. For this money you get a half decent course and probably an unhelpful caddie. If you want to play at one of the more famous courses expect to pay around 2-4,000 Baht which admittedly isn't so much of a bargain but not unreasonable for the quality.

The other option is to hit the driving range where 100 balls will cost around 100 Baht.

Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)

The national sport of Thailand is famous around the world. A Martial art which takes years to master, it is becoming increasingly popular due to the success of the UFC and other MMA events.

Although it is a combat sport with potential injuries numerous people move to Thailand with the main goal being to train and fight. There are options for training such as a fitness based regime ( no fighting) or a full intense schedule with the goal of entering the ring in a famous stadium.

Private sessions start at around 200 Baht an hour with discounts being given for multiple hours. I know people who live at their gym and have daily lessons which costs around 15,000 a month for a basic setup.

Finding People to Play With

So now you need some people to play with. This can be difficult as I found out when I first arrived. Playing football with your students is ok but maybe you want to play sport to socialize. I think your best opportunity is with your colleagues and maybe other people who live in your building.

I play badminton with my girlfriend once a week and with my work colleagues on another night. My language school does a football trip every 2 weeks where about 30 of us play - a mixture of students and staff.

I play golf maybe every 2 months and normally go alone and get paired up with other people. Most of my friends don't like golf but I guess there are expat golf clubs out there if you want to play with others.

So as you can see there are lots of sports you can play here. There are also many expat clubs which offer sports such as cricket, rugby and hockey.

You should be excited about living in Thailand and the sports opportunities are another benefit - I certainly feel healthier living here than in the UK!

If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country 

Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

Planning your new life in Thailand isn’t easy. There are many hurdles to jump and potential frustrations galore. From practicalities through to cultural issues, from finances to fitting in and making friends, there is so much to learn. Luckily, you will find all the basics explained in this 282 page book. 

Settling in Thailand takes a broad, insightful and balanced approach – neither too cynical nor evangelical, this book sets a precedent in terms of presenting a positive but realistic and non-judgemental description of Thailand life for foreign residents. 

Written by two British expats in Thailand, and with interviews with another 13 expats from around the world, you will get first-hand experience, advice and explanations of expat life in Thailand. With a combined 150 years of Thai experience this book is the ultimate guide to making sure your move and settling in Thailand goes smoothly.

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Yep, good article. The opportunities for staying fit and healthy are endless here in Thailand. The weather usually means that you have to time things a bit better than you would in other climates, but that said, there's ways to stay healthy and get physical exercise everywhere.

Less than a few hundred yards from my house is a great golf course on a military base. It's kept immaculate. The green fees are cheap and the clubhouse has a good restaurant.

But that's not all. There are beautiful jogging trails, tennis courts and a massive swimming pool that anyone can use for a very small fee.

Stocking your own gym couldn't be easier, either. Every mall has a shop or nearby market with all manner of exercise equipment at rock bottom prices.

By Mark Newman, Thailand (23rd November 2015)

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