Buriram transitions from backwater outpost to Thailand’s sports capital
The mid-sized city of Buriram, located in Thailand’s northeastern region of Isaan, is not on many traveller’s itineraries, even though it has its fair share of temples, as well as a market and a few nice restaurants to enjoy local specialties. However, for sports fans this lively locale has become a destination of choice after positioning itself as Thailand’s sports capital—with the presence of its famous football club, the Buriram United F.C., as well as the Chang International Circuit motorsport racetrack.
Not surprisingly, skepticism greeted the decision of former politician and businessman Nevin Chidchob—who had been an owner of the local Buriram football club since 2009—to build a giant stadium and invest massively in the city’s football team, with the aim of turning it into a champion club both in Thailand and across Asia. In 2011 the I-Mobile Stadium—known as the Buriram Thunder Castle—opened its doors, making it Thailand’s largest stadium, with a capacity of 32,500 people.
“The stadium has not only transformed Buriram, injecting a new dynamism in its economy, but it also changed the perception of the city in the eyes of most Thai people,” noted Mod Dang, the stadium’s managing director. “This would represent roughly 850,000 visitors a year to the stadium. We receive on average 3,000 visitors per day to the stadium while football events attract some 25,000 spectators on average. And the more trophies for Amari Buriram United Football Club, the more followers and friends.”
Sports tourism continued to grow after the 2014 opening of the Chang International Circuit motorsport racetrack, the first FIA Grade 1 and FIM Grade A circuit in Thailand for motorcycle races (and another project initialized by Nevin Chidchob). Due to its exposure nationwide, Buriram has finally become an increasingly attractive destination with a tourism boom further fuelled by direct flights from Bangkok on both AirAsia and Nok Air.
Where to Stay
9Located near the football stadium and speedway race circuit, the X2 Vibe Buriram Hotel offers a hotel experience like no other, designed with both sport fans and trendy travellers in mind. There are three different room types to choose from, including 56 Deluxe rooms, 10 Grand Deluxe pool access rooms, and 2 One-Bedroom suites. All accommodations are decorated in contemporary style, with sport motif decorations adding a touch excitement. Facilities include a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, the 4K Café (providing a range of drinks and refreshments), and a race car themed rooftop bar.
By Luc Citrinot