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Keeping Fit in Bangkok for Expats Guide


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For expats, keeping fit in Thailand is about the same as in the country they came from. However, the distinct advantage is that most of the country enjoys warm weather year-round and the northern parts are relatively mild as far as cold weather is concerned. With all of the delicious food in this country, keeping fit is crucial to preventing weight gain and other negative effects from lack of exercise. Here are some fitness options for you as an expat living in Thailand.

Fun Runs in Bangkok

In cities such as Bangkok, there are organizations that sponsor marathon, walk-a-thon, and other “fun run” types of events. For example, a company known as Jog and Joy Thailand sponsors these types of events and they have a website where you can get all the latest information on those upcoming.

General Running in Bangkok

You will find that unless you go to a park with a running path, jogging in a city such as Bangkok will be quite difficult. The sidewalks are uneven and you are at great risk for twisting your ankle. Basically, you have to search a little harder for good places to run. Lumpini Park near Bangkok's Silom Financial District is one such park with an excellent running path and there are others. You should never attempt to run in the streets because of the many motorcycles that crowd them.

Fitness Centers in Bangkok

Fitness centers can either be expensive or bare-bones yet effective for keeping fit in Thailand. For example, in Bangkok, there is the Racquet Club on Sukhumvit 49. This is one of the long-time popular gyms among both Thais and foreigners alike but it is quite pricey. Do some shopping around as you can find places with promotions or back-street gyms in some narrow Bangkok alley. Places like Pattaya and Phuket also have gyms that are affordable and sometimes run by retired foreigners. It just takes some shopping around.

One service that you will find in many of these fitness centers is the trainer service. You can hire a personal trainer who will call you up on the phone and motivate you to show up for a session and then work you hard when you get there. Many of these trainers are fitness certified. Some can be rather pricey as well so, here again, it takes a little shopping around.

Protecting against the Thai Heat

Some like to go running in the tropical heat of Thailand. It depends on your condition but if you are a beginner at this then beware. It is best to go running early in the morning. When you run, you should take care to replenish your water supply frequently. Wear a cap while running to avoid the direct rays of the sun. Dehydration is your worst enemy here.

Aerobics at the Corner

Thai people like keeping fit in Thailand. One activity you will see in cities such as Bangkok is the aerobic session at the street corner of a busy shopping center and sometimes even in the shopping center itself. For example, in the car park at the Lotus Tesco Center at the corner of Sukhumvit 50 and Sukhumvit in Bangkok, a group of aerobic enthusiasts meets and an instructor leads them from a stage. They meet every weekday at 6:00 P.M. You won’t see many foreigners in these groups and the instructor leads in Thai but everyone will warmly welcome you. You will get quite a workout as well.

Walking in Bangkok

Many senior expats in Thailand are retirees and some should exercise caution when doing intense high-impact workouts for keeping fit in Thailand. This is mainly because of the knees. Keep in mind that once you get a knee injury, it can take what seems like forever to heal. This is why for seniors, walking is the best activity because it is easy on the knees yet keeps the blood flowing and promotes cardiovascular health. There are many interesting sights in Thailand which makes walking a lot of fun. Walking is great for keeping blood pressure in check as well.

Cycling in Bangkok

Unfortunately, the cities in Thailand have not put a lot of development effort into creating bicycle paths such as you have in the country where you came from. While you will see the occasional bicyclist on the busy streets, it is not recommended. There are too many cars and motorcycles and this activity is dangerous on city thoroughfares.

Swimming in Bangkok

Another way of keeping fit in Thailand that is easy on the knees is just walking up and down the length of a pool. The resistance of the water and your attempt to maintain balance provide a good workout. The nice thing about the southern parts of Thailand is that you can go into an outdoor pool year-round.

Dieting in Bangkok

Exercise without the proper diet is futile. One advantage that you have living in Thailand is that there are many Thai dishes that are filled with vegetables. Just take it easy on the rice. You can order vegetable dishes with or without rice in just about every eating venue. In fact, Thailand would rather that you not waste the rice if you are not going to eat it. Therefore, a food vendor will ask the question “laad keow?” which means do you want the dish on rice or not. All you have to say is “Mai ao keow, ka/khrup” which means no rice (ka is the polite ending for females and khrup is the polite ending for males).

It is too easy to fall into the pub trap here in Thailand. The pub trap, that many a foreign expat has fallen victim to, is to spend numerous leisure hours sitting and drinking beer while eating fried foods. Don’t let this happen to you because there are so many opportunities for keeping fit in Thailand.

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