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You can learn a lot in Bangkok. In half a day you could learn enough to impress your friends with a firey home-cooked Thai meal. Taking a course in traditional massage will undoubtedly be well received by your special friends or, if there’s someone you don’t like, then a week in a Muay Thai school might help. With more time you could even learn how to talk your way out of trouble.

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Tuition at most Thai language schools averages around 100B to 200B per hour for group classes, more for private tutoring. We recommend the following:

AAA Thai Language Center 0 2655 5629; www.aaathai.com; 6th fl, 29 Vanissa Bldg, Th Chitlom, Pathumwan; Chitlom) Opened by a group of experienced Thai language teachers from other schools, good-value AAA Thai has a loyal following.

AUA Language Center 0 2252 8170; www.auathai.com; 179 Th Ratchadamri) The most intensive language course in Bangkok, with rolling classes for listening only, from 7am to 8pm Monday to Friday; go when you like.

Thailish Language School 0 2258 6846; www.thailanguageschool.com; 427 Th Sukhumvit, btwn Sois 21 & 23; Asoke; Sukhumvit) This small, personal school looks like an antique shop and has private or small-group classes concentrating on conversation.

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Meditation & massage

Most Buddhist study centres in Bangkok specialise in vipassana (insight) meditation. Dharma Thai (www.dhammathai.org) has a rundown on several prominent wat and meditation centres, or speak to the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB; 0 2661 1284; www.wfb-hq.org; 616 Benjasiri Park, Soi 24, Th Sukhumvit; 8.30am-4.30pm Mon-Fri; Phrom Phong), which also hosts occasional meditation classes.

International Buddhist Meditation Center (0 2623 6326; www.mcu.ac.th/IBMC/; Vipassana Section Room 106, Mahachula Bldg, Wat Mahathat, Th Pra Chan) Holds regular lectures on Buddhist topics in English, and meditation classes.

Wat Mahathat (0 2222 6011; Section 5, Wat Mahathat, Tha Maharat; Ko Ratanakosin) Separate to the IBMC, the monks here practise meditation between 4am and 2pm most days, though call ahead to make sure the English-speaking instructors are in town. You can stay in the wat, in basic dorms, or stay outside and visit for instruction.

Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School (0 2221 3686; www.watpomassage.com; Soi Phenphat 1, Th Maharat, Ko Ratanakosin) By far the best place to learn traditional massage. Courses are held at the school headquarters across from Wat Pho on Soi Phenphat, just off Th Maharat. A 30-hour course costs 8500B.

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Muay thai

Many foreigners come to Thailand to study muay thai (Thai boxing). Training regimens can be extremely strict. See www.muaythai.com for more information.

Fairtex Muay Thai Camp (0 2755 3329; www.muaythaifairtex.com; 99/8 Soi Boonthamanusorn, Th Theparak, Samut Prakan) Training from 500B a session to 7700B-a-week residence.

Sor Vorpin (0 2282 3551; www.thaiboxings.com; 13 Trok Kasap, Th Chakkaphong) Just around the corner from Th Khao San; offers daily and weekly training schedules for foreigners. More serious training is held at a second facility outside the city. A half-day costs 500B, the weekly rate is 2500B and a month is 9000B.

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