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roosh19

Banchamek Village or Fairtex Gym for Foreigners?

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Hi guys!

So I am currently planning my trip to Thailand but it all depends on the gyms I choose. 

I want as much of a thai experience as I can get, being a UK foreigner (male, southpaw) that doesn't speak thai. I have some kickboxing experience so know my way around punches and kicks, knees and elbows less so, but consider myself a beginner at clinch and sweeps.

I don't have any personal recommendations to go off, so I have only chosen gyms based off fighters I follow. I'm thinking of:

2 weeks at Fairtex
3 weeks at Banchamek.

(And maybe a drop in session at Yokkao, or a 1 on 1 with Saenchai if I am lucky.)

Does anyone have experience in training at these gyms? My questions are:

1. Should I book the gym accommodation or look for nearby hotels?
2. How are the shared rooms vs single person rooms?
3. These gyms seem expensive due to how famous they are. Would you recommend anywhere else?

Thanks so much for your help!

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8 hours ago, roosh19 said:

I want as much of a thai experience as I can get

 

8 hours ago, roosh19 said:

2 weeks at Fairtex
3 weeks at Banchamek.

(And maybe a drop in session at Yokkao, or a 1 on 1 with Saenchai if I am lucky.)

These are some of the most tourist-oriented or at least non-Thai oriented gyms in Thailand (outside of Phuket). There is nothing wrong with that, they give positive experiences to westerners all the time, but what do you mean by "a Thai experience"? How you imagine a Thai experience is really important because it will probably determine how satisfied you feel by your time there.

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There is nothing near Banchamek, as far as I know, so you cannot book accommodation other than what they offer. Fairtex is in Northern Pattaya, so there's other accommodation nearby but you'll just have to find it when you've already arrived. 

I don't see any Thais training at Banchamek, and as far as I've heard (and these things change all the time), there's almost nobody training there regularly at all. So you might experience a more or less 1-1 training experience with whatever trainer you have, or you might feel like you're in a ghost town. Fairtex is quite busy, has Thais and westerners training all the time. You might get really good work with "the team" or you might be given very little individual attention because of capacity. It's really hard to know how any of that's going to go, but be prepared to figure out what you want to do in any of the possible scenarios.

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On 5/24/2019 at 7:07 AM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

 

These are some of the most tourist-oriented or at least non-Thai oriented gyms in Thailand (outside of Phuket). There is nothing wrong with that, they give positive experiences to westerners all the time, but what do you mean by "a Thai experience"? How you imagine a Thai experience is really important because it will probably determine how satisfied you feel by your time there.

Thanks for this. I'm going to Thailand to experience how thai's train and experience muay thai in the country that birthed it. I'm not going for partying and a side of muay thai, and i have been to thailand before so even sightseeing will take a bit of a backseat.

That being said, I chose those gyms because of Buakaw and Yodsanklai, and because they're quite known hopefully there's a good investment into equipment etc.

On 5/24/2019 at 8:23 AM, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I don't see any Thais training at Banchamek, and as far as I've heard (and these things change all the time), there's almost nobody training there regularly at all. So you might experience a more or less 1-1 training experience with whatever trainer you have, or you might feel like you're in a ghost town. Fairtex is quite busy, has Thais and westerners training all the time. You might get really good work with "the team" or you might be given very little individual attention because of capacity. It's really hard to know how any of that's going to go, but be prepared to figure out what you want to do in any of the possible scenarios.

Wow, I didn't know this. Is there a reason Banchamek is so empty right now? 

 

What I find difficult is booking accommodation vs not wanting to pay ahead until I've seen the gym/area. Do I book a hotel for a day or two after getting off the plane and then book the rest of my stay once I've looked around and decided?

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Hi Roosh, 

Not been to Banchamek, but trained at Fairtex a long time ago. Way over priced in my opinion, and wasn't the best. For my money I'd well recommend Petchyindee. Petchyindee is not cheap either, but top name fighters and flexible training packages. Very nice accommodation/food you'll be well looked after. The gym is in a non-touristy part of Bangkok though, so just a heads up - there isn't much around. If you make it there, be sure to train with Kru Wat - its an experience 🙂  

 

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Thanks so much Smossy! Really helpful answer and I'll definitely check it out. I think Sylvie had a blog post on training with Sagat there so I will definitely do my research.

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5 hours ago, roosh19 said:

What I find difficult is booking accommodation vs not wanting to pay ahead until I've seen the gym/area. Do I book a hotel for a day or two after getting off the plane and then book the rest of my stay once I've looked around and decided?

Not paying ahead for the full period will be the best. Because if you dislike the gym/area but already paid it you can't do anything about it (or loose money). So I would recommend starting with 2 days or something like that.

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Yes, just book a room nearby so that you can get to the gym for a day of training to see how you like it, then decide whether you want to stay. For Banchamek, if you go there, just book one day and night at a time or whatever and decide whether to book a few weeks after that.

If you expect to be training WITH Buakaw and Yodsanklai, you will be disappointed. If you're lucky you'll see them walking around, but they're not at these gyms all the time. Yodwicha is at Buakaw's gym now and if he has a fight coming up might be training, but fighters like these aren't training all the time (or even often). You're more likely to see Yodsanklai at Terminal 21 mall across the street from Fairtex than you are in the actual gym... my husband and I see him there when we are eating dinner, hahaha.

This is not to dishearten you, you can train anywhere you want. But be realistic about your expectations and be flexible in your plans so that you don't get stuck. If you land, check out the gym and like it, then that's awesome and you will be happy where you are.

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Well, I would be careful about wanting the "thai experience", for that is exactly what I sought and that disappointed me about training in Thailand. Unless you speak Thai fluently, and you are only and exclusively into fighting, you won't enjoy being surrounded by Thais only in some camp in the outskirts of Bangkok. I went to train at Sitsongpeenong (Bangkok) for a few weeks, thinking that its isolated location, its huge stable of Thai fighters, the lack of any distractions around the facility, would lead to the ultimate Muay Thai experience. It turned out, however, that mine was a foolish way of reasoning: the eastern outskirts of Bangkok became rapidly boring after a few days, the Thai fighters wouldn't really speak to me or any of the other students, while the trainers barely spoke a few words of English; it was impossible to socialize, and that, added to the fact that there was nothing in terms of distractions outside the training hours, quickly made my stay very different from what I expected. I learnt that distraction from training, as long as it is not intended as drinking and partying, is equally as important as training itself.

For what concerns Yokkao I can strongly recommend it.
Not only is the gym located in the heart of Bangkok, in a beautiful area in which you won't feel isolated, but the training and the vibe around it are great. The vibe, in particular, is what struck me most pleasantly: there is a sense of joy during training; everybody laughs, smiles, has a good time; you see Manachai smashing pads, Singdam coming back from his daily run, and Saenchai arriving at the gym looking for the first victim to prank. The quality of training is high, the level depending on your skill: I have seen lazy tourists doing the minimum required and professional fighters being pushed to their limit; you will have to show interest and motivation, for you will only get what you are willing to give. But no matter what, Yokkao has nothing deserving criticism. I had a private session with a trainer named Sak, and found him a great coach, highly experienced, patient and motivated. Please consider training with him if you are at Yokkao. 
For what concerns privates with Saenchai, I recommend you to book them in advance and be ready to pay 200$ per hour. Saenchai is not only the legend of this gym, but also the head of it: it was my impression that the type of Muay Thai taught at Yokkao resembled very much Saenchai's style on the ring: clever, elusive, fun.

That would be it about Yokkao, but there is another gym I want to recommend to you, though it is located in Ao Nang, in the South of Thailand. It's called Khunsuek, it opened only recently and is a state-of-the-art facility. It certainly caters towards westerners but there is a trainer here, named Peteak Sor Suwanpakdee, who is by far the best coach I have ever had, who will tear your technique apart, and push you hard; one class with him is worth the entire trip to Ao Nang.

Hoping it helps, I wish you a good trip.

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Do you want to train mainly or are you looking at fighting as well? If you haven't fought yet, but want to, you might want to look at Phuket. From what I've heard training might not the greatest everywhere, but quite easy to get fights as beginners. Bangkok has many good gyms, but getting a fight as beginner can get tricky.

I heard great stuff about PK Saenchai gym where Tawanchay, Rodlek and many others train and you also see them there regularly. There's also FA Group (very clinch focused) in Chatuchak which is not far from Ari a very nice neighborhood sort of hipster area of Bangkok. They have many great fighters such as Yothin. Mixed thai fighters and foreigners with a higher skill level. For a "true" thai experience there's Numponthep gym in Klong Toey (sort of regarded as the slum of Bangkok, but not bad at all and close to Sukumvit) very simple facilities but good training. Nonsai who many westerners know come there to teach now and then. Sitjaopho in Hua Hin I also heard should be really great. And there's Lionheart on Koh Samui run by a nice Irish fighter and his family. Bit touristy and many beginners but still very nice.

But I want to make you aware that if you want a true Thai experience the way I understand it, this means you won't be important. The Thai fighter is the focus and foreigners a side business. That doesn't mean you won't get good training, just that focus is not on you. At gyms where the foreigner is main figure well...it won't be the most thai experience I guess you would be looking for. 

Most gyms regardless of what they are will have great teachers that take pride in teaching their art. But also, they see thousands and thousands of foreigners of all skill levels come and go and that's just the way it is... It's difficult to build relationships in a short time. 

My advice would be to find a nice gym in a nice area/town you also like. Not pay in advance. Get a room close-by and make sure you are comfortable and happy so you can enjoy and learn as much as possible. 

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Wow, such helpful posts! Thank you guys so much.

 

@SunAndSteel, I really appreciate that you mentioned how your reasoning changed and what was wrong with it. That is/was exactly what my reasoning was: I wanted a full holiday with a pure MT focus. But, you can only train twice a day and I do want to experience all of the beautiful culture and nature Thailand has. 

 

I'm thinking, pick two locations, and find gyms in those areas.

 

Regarding Yokkao, your experience sounds great! There isn't too much on the internet so it can be difficult to do research. However, I have seen that people say the Yokkao gym is in need of a clean and sometimes health and safety is an issue. I have no idea how accurate this is: what would you say to that? Was there any thing negative about your time there?

 

I will also definitely check out Khunsuek.

 

Regarding private lessons, is there anywhere online where you can check the fighters schedule/upcoming fights, so you can try and deduce if they'll be in the gym?

 

Thanks so much for the helpful responses guys!

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On 6/9/2019 at 1:03 PM, roosh19 said:

Wow, such helpful posts! Thank you guys so much.

 

@SunAndSteel, I really appreciate that you mentioned how your reasoning changed and what was wrong with it. That is/was exactly what my reasoning was: I wanted a full holiday with a pure MT focus. But, you can only train twice a day and I do want to experience all of the beautiful culture and nature Thailand has. 

 

I'm thinking, pick two locations, and find gyms in those areas.

 

Regarding Yokkao, your experience sounds great! There isn't too much on the internet so it can be difficult to do research. However, I have seen that people say the Yokkao gym is in need of a clean and sometimes health and safety is an issue. I have no idea how accurate this is: what would you say to that? Was there any thing negative about your time there?

 

I will also definitely check out Khunsuek.

 

Regarding private lessons, is there anywhere online where you can check the fighters schedule/upcoming fights, so you can try and deduce if they'll be in the gym?

 

Thanks so much for the helpful responses guys!

You can book private classes on the Yokkao gym's website. Just pick a trainer, or a fighter, select a date and proceed to payment;)

In regards to Yokkao's cleanliness, I can only say that it is not any dirtier than the average Muay Thai gym in Thailand, which means not very clean for western standards, but all in all passable.

I remember reading a review of someone saying that the gym was incredibly dirty and that potentially deadly infections lurked in the dusty corners: nonsense. Imagine that at Sitsongpeenong I witnessed the little dog of one of our trainers pee (and worse) around the heavy bags, where we walked around barefooted. I never saw anyone disinfect the area. 

The only downside I could think of is in the fact that there is little clinching trained at Yokkao - which for me was a good thing as I hate clinching, although I must admit that it is a fundamental part of Muay Thai.

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Hey Guys!

I know it has been a long time since I posted, but I am now back from my trip and I AM GRATEFUL.

 

I ended up at Yokkao and was kind of aiming to wing it for maybe a week, 10 days if it was really good. Well, I ended up staying for almost 3 weeks - the gym is great, the people are even better - so welcoming and playful. It was an amazing experience. I even ended up having food and beers with the man himself (Saenchai).

I then heard bad things about Banchamek, so went to Manop Gym in Chiang Mai. What a hidden gem! This was easily the best muay thai instruction of the trip, and my life. Manop is such a youthful and caring individual - it's like being with an uncle who drives you around and is all-round badass. Sylvie was even due to turn up while I was there but then couldn't make it.

I then went to Diamond MT, which wasn't bad but was very western compared to the former two gyms. My thinking was to wind down the intensity so I enjoyed the islands and safe to say I spent time in paradise. Sapphire beaches, powdered sand, great food and drinks and cool people.

I also went to Vietnam but that isn't MT related, albeit being breathtaking.

 

Overall, thank you so much for your help and advice. I could never have been as comfortable without you guys or Sylvie's website. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Alsooo, I decided to start creating videos from my time there, centred around MT & food. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

http://tiny.cc/o0ijdz

That's a link to the channel - please subscribe if you like it and you'll be able to see what I've described above.

Chok dee and peaaace!

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Banchamek gym was great. I rented a bike from chiang mai for a week and drove up the highway until you get to the countryside. You end up driving through a small town before finding the dirt road to buakaw village.

I think the place is still in the early stages of development and they have plans to greatly increase the gym size.

When i was there, yodwicha was training along with 2 or 3 other thai fighters. Their farang fighter alex was stil there as well. 3 other guys from around the world were staying there as well.

There were 2 thai trainers- one being alex, who holds pads and i had a great time working with.

When i first got there, Buakaw was napping on the patio. He would coast by on his crazy motorcycles every now and then, and he sat in the gym for a couple sessions giving some feedback on training.

Its not so much a busy and active gym and feels more like a country resort still early in the making. You may not get the traditional active thai gym experience, but you will get the feel of rural north thailand and the lifestyle there. Really it seems like a small self sustaining resort farm village with muay thai.

One evening i had left for pai and got lost trying to find accommodations outside the gym, but it had gotten too late. I was wandering the dirt roads after dark on my bike and some locals found me and were extremely helpful and friendly and found me a place with beds. I gave the guy who guided me there 20 baht and he gave me the most genuinely love filled mega hug i ever received. Another night i got waved down at a small grill/bar in the town outside buakaw village and was invited for drinks and food where the banchamek trainers showed up to party which was pretty surreal after previously picturing them as pristine old masters. Keep in mind there is very little english in this area and you will be getting a very authentic thai experience.

Overall, you can get very good training at banchamek, though if its your first time, i wouldnt go for more than a week- even just a few days is enough. When i go back i want to go there for a week to hopefully get to work with buakaw, and i enjoy the country life, though for more serious and populated training grounds with more prospect for getting a fight booked, i will go back to charnchai in pai.

 

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