I'm now on a one year, Muay Thai visa in Bangkok and I'm going to explain how it works and what you need to know if you're looking for a long term way to stay in Thailand that is both fun and beneficial.
Yes, you can enroll at a gym to study the combat sport of Muay Thai. The requirements for this visa are that you have to train 3 days a week for 1.5 hours for group classes or 2 days a week for private classes. There are multiple gyms in Bangkok offering this visa, so you have some flexibility depending on where you live in Bangkok.
You get to choose which enrollment you want as well. Private classes are more expensive at around 120,000 Baht for a year enrollment compared to 100,000 Baht for group classes. I prefer group classes because it's a great way to make friends with high quality people.
The application process breakdown
Find a gym in Bangkok offering this visa, then go to the gym itself and tell them you want to enroll to study. You'll have to pay a down payment on the 100,000 Baht enrollment fee of roughly 20,000 Baht for them to begin the process of applying.
They will require numerous documents from you in order to process your visa application with immigration. Once everything is submitted, it takes roughly two weeks for your letter from immigration to be approved.
Once you have this letter, you'll have to fly out of Thailand to change your visa from a tourist visa to an edu visa at a consulate. I was told to go to Hanoi Vietnam as my gym has a good relationship with that consulate.
You'll need to budget roughly a week in Hanoi to give yourself time to get the visa. Once you do get the visa, you're good to go back to Thailand within 90 days of approval. So if you've been wanting to travel a bit outside of Thailand, now is a good time as you have a valid visa.
The documents needed for your visa approval letter
- Valid passport.
- Proof of payment for enrollment.
- Recent passport sized photographs.
- Signed documents from the gym.
This part pretty straight forward. Just go to the gym with your passport, apply, pay and sign a bunch of different papers then wait for the letter from the education department.
Documents needed for the consulate
- Proof of funds (20,000 Thai Baht).
- You need a copy of the signed lease agreement of where you're living.
- Photo of your landlord's ID signed by them.
- Documents outlining your enrollment.
- The letter from immigration.
- Completed visa application process.
- $80 USD (for Vietnam).
Once you have your letter from immigration, you're good to fly out of Thailand and apply at a consulate depending on your nationality. Some nationalities like South Africans have to fly back to their home country to apply.
Most nationalities however can go to a consulate. Your gym should inform you on what you need to do. As I was told to go to Hanoi, everything here applies except for the $80 which is specific to going to the consulate in Vietnam.
Vietnamese currency is not usable or exchangeable outside of Vietnam so you'll need to buy United States dollars and pay the visa fee in US dollars at the consulate in Vietnam.
If you go to a consulate in a different country like Malaysia or Indonesia they will accept the local currency. Since I needed dollars I exchanged my Thai Baht at "Super Rich" at Suvarnabhumi airport before flying out.
Your gym should prepare everything into a nice, easy to submit package. Yes you do need to show funds from the last 6 months that total 20,000 Thai Baht at a minimum. Ask your bank for a bank letter showing this or be prepared to print out 6 months worth of bank statements.
You will also need your landlord to photo copy their ID and sign it as well as the signed lease agreement for where your staying. I know all of this seems a bit excessive, but I don't make the rules. Just get all these documents because they are required.
Begin training and have fun
Like I wrote in the beginning, once you get your visa approved you have 90 days to enter Thailand. Fly in within this time and begin training.
My gym offers classes Monday to Saturday from 8am-9:30am or 5pm-6:30pm. 15 minutes of a warm up and 15 minutes of stretching so it's only an hour of actual punching, kicking and elbowing.
It's great fun and I'm going to become a monster with this whole learning how to fight thing. Since I exercise regularly anyways, this visa is a perfect fit for my personal goals.
Muay Thai Gyms in Bangkok that offer a visa
The most popular gyms are Master Toddy and Chakrit. Chakrit is located down a side street near Emquatier. Great location but they only offer a 6 month visa, after which they put you on a 6 month language visa.
If you want to keep training then you have to go to Master Toddy's gym which offers a 1 year visa which you can renew for 5 years. However, Master Toddy's gym is located near Bearing BTS so it's a bit far from where most foreigners tend to live.
How much does this cost?
The visa fee is 2000 Baht. After 3 months you need to extend your visa which costs 1,900 Baht. If you want to leave Thailand for a quick trip and come back in you'll need to pay for a re-entry permit which costs 3800 Baht.
Then you need to pay the gym for it's fees. My gym costs 100,000 Baht for 1 year with all visa services included for group classes or 120,000 Baht for private classes. This is roughly the going average for a Muay Thai visa. Not to mention flight and hotel costs for visiting a consulate.
Private class vs group class
I prefer group classes as it's a good way to make friends with high quality men. But you do have to attend three classes a week and group classes are at specific times.
Private classes are more efficient for your time as you only need to attend two classes a week and can choose whatever time you like.
Can you skip classes?
Within reason. We all get sick, sometimes you want to travel somewhere in Thailand and explore this beautiful country. Most gyms are reasonable, just don't abuse their good will.
If they are accredited by the Education Department, that means they expect you to meet your visa requirements because they are audited in order to maintain their accreditation.
For example, I asked my gym if it was fine if I fly home for 3 weeks to visit family for Christmas and they informed that it is no issue so long as I was attending training regularly.
Do you need to be in shape?
Yes, if you're out of shape I strongly suggest getting into decent shape before you begin training. It's combat sport and is quite exhausting with punching an kicking for an hour or more.
Get to a point where you can comfortably run for 20 minutes nonstop. You should have enough endurance to keep up in a class at this point.
How long is a Muay Thai visa?
It's a 1 year education visa and you can be on a Muay Thai visa for up to 5 years max. You can leave Thailand as you like so long as you maintain your training.
Muay Thai visa in Bangkok
So there you have it, if you want to get a combat visa and study in Bangkok you can. Not everyone wants to live in Pattaya, Phuket or Chiang Mai. Bangkok is an international city where all the action is and now you can stay here for a year or two and study Muay Thai.