Such is the national obsession with muay thai, or Thai boxing, that when Wijan Ponlid returned home from the Sydney 2000 Olympics with the country’s only gold medal (for international flyweight boxing), he was paraded through town at the head of a procession of 49 elephants, given a new house and over 20 million baht, and offered a promotion in the police force. Belatedly perhaps, muay thai has recently entered the canon of martial-arts cinema: Ong Bak (2003), Tom Yum Goong (2005) and their various sequels were global box-office hits, and their all-punching, all-kicking star, Tony Jaa, who performed all his own stunts, has been appointed Cultural Ambassador for Thailand.

Though there are boxing venues all around the country, the very best fights are staged at Bangkok’s two biggest stadiums, Rajdamnoen and Lumphini, and are well worth attending as a cultural experience even if you have no interest in the sport itself (see The media & Thai boxing).

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Thailand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

11 Aug 2017 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
Why Thailand is the wine destination you never knew existed

Why Thailand is the wine destination you never knew existed

Asked to name the world's best wine country and you'll most likely tout the undulating vineyards of Italy, France or California. But Thailand? With its smo…

26 Jun 2017 • Tamara Hinson local_activity Special feature
Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim benea…

15 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month