Before embarking on my trip through Asia, I read about Phuket’s Soi Tad-Ied Road, which is also known as the famed “Fight Street” for its numerous martial arts gyms over a small stretch of road. In the United States, martial arts schools, especially Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools prefer to open up shop with a few miles of distance between its closest competitors. This isn’t the case in Phuket, where a 3/4 mile stretch of unassuming, semi-rural road is lined with Muay Thai and mixed martial arts academies and businesses to service the academies’ students. I started my morning on the road with a BJJ class at Phuket Top Team and then walked down the street to tour the martial arts camps, tattoo shops, guest houses, restaurants, yoga studios, cross fit studios, gyms, martial arts supplies shops, and massage parlors.
While many come to the island to soak in the sun and party on Bangla Road, the tourists coming to “Fight Street” are looking to sharpen their martial arts skills and live like a full-time fighter. Many of the larger camps have many amenities and features to cater to this burgeoning segment of tourists by providing vacation packages complete with training schedules, yoga classes, meal plans, laundry service, ice baths, apparel, massages, and on or off-site housing arrangements ($15 to $30 a night) within close walking distance to the gyms.
The most modern, state of the art facility is the new Tiger Muay Thai campus, which features, three large, semi-covered training areas for Muay Thai and Cross Fit classes. There is also an indoor weight room and an indoor BJJ room is currently under construction. Once you are done with your workouts, you can kickstart the recovery process with on-site athletic trainers and a restaurant with healthy dining options. There is money to be made from fight tourism as the facilities for multiple gyms were filled with tourists from around the world for Muay Thai, BJJ, and MMA classes.
In addition to Tiger Muay Thai, here are the other gyms I spotted during my walk down Fight Street.
Phuket Top Team: The gym is affiliated with Carlson Gracie and Bang Muay Thai and offers BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA, and boxing classes. There is an semi-outdoor training area for Muay Thai and an indoor area for MMA and BJJ. The facility has on-site dorms with amenities that include laundry service, ice baths, and on-site restaurant/grill. I attended the BJJ class taught by Olavo Abreu which had 25 to 30 students from around the world. Some were staying for 1 to 2 weeks, while other vagabonds signed up for a 3-month stay at the camp.
Unit 27 UTFF: Unit 27 is a massive Cross Fit, strength and conditioning, and fitness facility with multiple buildings. I walked past their semi-enclosed, state of the art gym and was very impressed with the quality of the equipment. In addition to the martial arts tourism, there is also a segment of fitness enthusiasts and tourists signing up for weight-loss and fitness camps. Across the street from the main facility, is a new indoor training center offering Muay Thai, BJJ, MMA, and boxing classes.
In addition to the gyms offering MMA and BJJ classes, there are also three additional gyms that offer Muay Thai and western boxing classes. These gyms also offer on-site housing and other amenities that will allow you to solely focus on training and recovery from your workouts. These gyms include Chokchai Muay Thai, Celtic Muay Thai, and Dragon Muay Thai.