Thai islands like Koh Samui and Phuket are the perfect places for active pursuit, whether on land or at sea
The Laguna Marathon is a family-friendly event that comprises a variety of races
While divine Thai islands like Phuket and Koh Samui have become a cherished haven for beach bums, there’s plenty more to do than lie around on a sunbed – especially if you like to challenge your body with some physical pursuits.
From intense Muay Thai training sessions to more relaxed island-hopping sailing trips there’s something for everyone to try during a villa stay on these breathtaking islands and for those travelling with kids, there’s also a vast choice of family activities to enjoy, spanning from cycling tours to games of frisbee on the beach.
Engaging in a physical activity can also be a fantastic way to explore off the beaten track, or even to immerse yourself in some traditional Thai culture.
We’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite active pursuits to check out in Koh Samui and Phuket.
Muay thai – Thai boxing – is Thailand’s national sport
While you can easily be a spectator at one of Thailand’s live boxing tournaments; booking yourself on a Muay Thai training session is an excellent way to immerse yourself in Thai culture. A wide selection of strenuous programmes is available, from two-hour beginners’ workshops to fully immersive weeklong camps, which means you’ll be able to pick up the basics of this fiery martial art, learning the techniques for attack and defence.
Unlike other forms of hand-to-hand combat, the focus in Muay Thai is heavily on striking and defending with fists, knees, elbows, forearms and shins – so be prepared for a challenging physical journey. Depending on your level of experience, your Muay Thai workout might even include a sparring session with one of the local champs.
Koh Samui and Phuket are home to a choice of top-quality Muay Thai gyms, all of which offer varied training programmes and classes. ON Samui, check out the Jun Muay Thai Camp in Lamai Beach or the Superpro Samui Muay Thai and MMA training camp in Chaweng. In Phuket, head to Patong Tiger or Sinbi Muay Thai near Nai Harn beach.
Swinging an iron
Phuket’s Loch Palm Golf Club benefits from spectacular views
Phuket and Koh Samui boast an array of awe-inspiring golf courses, many of which enjoy incredible sea views – perfect for a pleasant morning out on the greens. The courses range from world-class championship venues to glorious tropical escapes overlooking the ocean, and all of them been designed specifically to maximise the natural landscape.
If you’re visiting Koh Samui, head to the Santiburi Country Club for a memorable round of golf. Featuring wow-factor seascape panoramas across coconut plantations and shimmering creeks, this fabulous course is also one of the courses on the Asian PGA Tour.
Phuket is home to several excellent golf courses, including the Blue Canyon Country Club, Loch Palm Golf Club and Mission Hills Golf Club. However, one of the most popular spots for an afternoon on the greens is Laguna Golf Club. Formerly known as the Banyan Tree Golf Club, a stunning course that has become one of Thailand’s premier golfing destinations – and has even been praised by legend Nick Faldo.
Fun on two wheels
Cycling is a fantastic way to explore Thailand’s tropical scenery
If you’re keen to explore the nooks and crannies of Phuket and Samui, then hiring a bicycle is a fantastic way to get off the beaten track and get around in an eco-friendly way. The rural north-eastern corner of Phuket is home to a selection of fabulous cycling routes, winding through tiny local villages, lush jungle scenery and expansive coconut plantations. The terrain varies from rugged paths cutting through the jungle, to wide tarmacked roads, so riders can expect an entertaining and challenging course, with a surprise at every turn. Phuket’s Amazing Bike Tours follow a route past the Phuket Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, too, so this is an excellent excursion for animal lovers.
Koh Samui is also a great destination for keen cyclists, and Lamai Beach is one of the easiest places to rent a bicycle and peddle off into the tropical interiors. Many routes wind through a labyrinth of intriguing jungle paths, shaded by tropical flora and fauna. You’ll also be treated to ocean views and quaint Thai coastal villages on your cycling adventure, while burning calories at the same time.
Best of the beach
A sporty afternoon could be as casual as a game of family frisbee on the beach
For a casual afternoon of sporty activities with your family, why not head down to the local beach for some games? Those staying at a private villa in Koh Samui, Phuket or Phang Nga may well have direct access to the beach. That means you’re able to pop in and out of the property as you please, sipping drinks and snacking between games.
When it comes to active beach pursuits, Frisbee is one of the classic choices. A fun activity for the whole family, Frisbee sessions can fill an afternoon with pure outdoor entertainment. If there are enough people, you could even set up a game of beach football on the sand. After all that running about in the fresh air, you and your friends are certain to build up an appetite for a delicious meal prepared by the Thai chef.
Out at sea
The Ang Thong Marine Park offers some stunning cruising grounds, just a short sail away from Koh Samui
Gleaming miles of golden coastline, shimmering sapphire oceans and beaming sunshine make Thailand a favourite destination for sailing enthusiasts, whether you’re just learning the ropes or are already a seasoned pro, the friendly trade winds and a plethora of idyllic island retreats make the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand ideal cruising grounds for those who enjoy marine adventures.
Holidaymakers based on Phuket are ideally positioned to explore the delights of Phang Nga Bay. This stunning region is one of Thailand’s scenic jewels, and you’ll often see the bays iconic craggy limestone karsts pictured on postcards of the Kingdom. The area is home to over 100 islands, so there’s plenty of places to moor up and enjoy a delicious lunch. If you’re based on Samui, the Ang Thong Marine Park is just as spectacular. Spread across an area of 100km2 just north of Samui, this stunning stretch of water is home to no less than 42 pristine tropical islands – and an array of excellent anchorage points.
Sailing enthusiasts will also be delighted to know that Thailand is home to several international sailing events, including the Phuket’s King’s Cup Regatta and the Samui Regatta, each of which takes place annually.
The Laguna Marathon includes a 42km marathon, a 21km half marathon, a 10km run and a 5km community walk
Of all the annual events in Thailand, the Laguna Marathon and Laguna Triathlon are two of our favourites. The marathon, which usually takes place in June, features an impressive selection of events including a full marathon, half marathon, 10km race, 5km walk and a kids’ run. Set in a beautiful location, it’s great fun for spectators, too. The Laguna Triathlon usually takes place in November. Comprising a 1.8km swim, 55km cycle ride and 12km run, this sporting event is not for the faint of heart.
If you’re engaging in physical activity in Thailand’s tropical climate, it’s important to stay hydrated. Here’s how:
- Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and keep sipping on it throughout the day.
- Try and avoid doing extreme physical activity at the hottest times, between 11am and 3pm.
- If you’re going to be outside, make sure you’re kitted out with all the right gear, including a sun hat and sun cream.