1 Week Authentic Kung Fu Retreat in Thailand

  • 116 M5, T. Mae Na Toeng, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

1 Week Authentic Kung Fu Retreat in Thailand

  • 116 M5, T. Mae Na Toeng, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

Chinese Martial Arts Training in Thailand

If you are considering training Jung Fu, Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat's The Shaolin Warrior Program is the one for you. The program is their most popular one. Refined and developed since the school's opening in 2008, the program packs in the best elements of Chinese Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and meditation in a way which has proven to give students just what they want. Since most students are complete beginners in Kung Fu, the Shaolin Warrior Program will get beginners off to a strong start from day one. For those with experience, this program is still the best choice although the masters will push you ahead faster.


  • Training 3 times a day
  • Flexible training schedule available
  • Kung Fu, Chi Kung, meditation, and Sanda training
  • 2 days a week free to explore the local area
  • Breakfast and dinner provided
  • 6 nights accommodation
  • 5 days with instruction
  • English
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You will stay on site, at Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat. The rooms are very comfortable with private bathroom and toilet. Rooms are shared between two people. If rooms are not full, you will be offered a room to yourself at the shared room price. If they are full, you can pay a surcharge for your own room.

In a one week stay you will immerse your self in the culture and lifestyle of Shaolin Kung Fu and experience for your self what it is all about. You will learn:

The basics of Sum Chien (3 wars) – the famous Shaolin internal strength routine. (Video)

The Tong Ling Chi Kung routine for health, relaxation and energy. (video)

Bodhidharma’s Vein Tendon Chi Kung for tendon power.

The walking meditation and four step routine from the Sun Frost White Crane Internal Art. (video).

Some good insights into self defence.

Some basics of Chinese Boxing.

Pushing hands: a safe introduction to practise with a partner.

Basic meditation.

After 1 short week, you will feel fitter and healthier, enhance your confidence, experience a small weight adjustment, improve your flexibility, de-tox your body, and enjoy your self.

Training is 4 days a week, with morning, mid-day, and afternoon training sessions. Wednesdays and Saturdays are days off.

Weekly training schedule


  • Morning session.
  • 6.00 - 7.00 Chi Kung.
  • 7.00 - 7.35 Shuang Yang.
  • 8.20 - 8.45 Sum Chien training.
  • 8.45 - 9.05 Old style training with partner. Grinding, clashing, stability testing, block – punch drills.
  • 9.05 - 9.15 Stretch.
  • 9.15 Breakfast.
  • Mid day session.
  • 11.00 Warm up.
  • 11.10 Kung fu routines – freehand and weapon, training in gym, conditioning etc. Free practise time.
  • 12.15 Sticky hands / pushing hands practise.
  • 1.00 Meditation.
  • 13.15 Finish.-Afternoon session.
  • 15.30 Warm up and lower body stretch.
  • 16.30 Sum chien and tiger crane routines.
  • 17.00 Tea.
  • 17.10 Shaolin weapons.
  • 18.00 Dinner.


  • Morning session.
  • 6.00 - 7.00 Chi Kung.
  • 7.00 - 7.35 Shuang Yang.
  • 8.20 - 8.45 Shaolin weapons.
  • 8.45 - 9.05 Defense against weapons.
  • 9.05 - 9.15 Stretch.
  • 9.15 Breakfast.
  • Afternoon session.
  • 15.30 Upper body stretch.
  • 16.10 Masterclass. Different subject in each week.
  • 17.45 Vein Tendon Chi Kung.
  • 18.00 Dinner.


  • Morning session.
  • 6.00 - 7.00 Chi Kung.
  • 7.00 - 7.35 Shuang Yang.
  • 8.20 - 8.45 Basic attacks and defenses.
  • 8.45 - 9.05 Drills / combinations with a partner.
  • 9.05 - 9.15 Stretch.
  • 9.15 Breakfast.
  • Mid day session.
  • 11.00 Warm up.
  • 11.10 Kung fu routines – freehand and weapon, training in gym, conditioning etc. Free practice time.
  • 12.15 Sticky hands / pushing hands practise.
  • 13.00 Meditation.
  • 13.15 Finish.
  • Afternoon session.
  • 15.30 Warm up and lower body stretch.
  • 16.30 Kicking
  • 17.15 Tea.
  • 17.25 Meditation class.
  • 17.50 Vein tendon chi kung.
  • 18.00 Dinner.

Wednesday. (Rest day)

  • 9.00 Breakfast.
  • 10.00 extra sticky hands training, (optional).


  • Morning session.
  • 6.00 - 7.00 Chi Kung.
  • 7.00 - 7.35 Shuang Yang applications.
  • 8.20 - 8.45 Sum Chien training.
  • 8.45 - 9.05 Exercises in the gym.
  • 9.05 - 9.15 Stretch.
  • 9.15 Breakfast.
  • Mid day session.
  • 11.00 Warm up.
  • 11.10 Kung fu routines – freehand and weapon, training in gym, conditioning etc. Free practise time.
  • 12.15 Sticky hands / pushing hands practise.
  • 13.00 Meditation.
  • 13.15 Finish.
  • Afternoon session.
  • 15.30 Warm up and lower body stretch.
  • 16.30 Traditional fighting skills.
  • 17.15 Tea.
  • 17.25 Pushing hands / sticking hands
  • 18.00 Dinner.


  • Morning session.
  • 6.00 - 7.00 Chi Kung.
  • 7.00 - 7.35 Shuang Yang.
  • 8.20 - 8.45 Sum Chien training.
  • 8.45 - 9.05 Combatives, chin na.
  • 9.05 - 9.15 Stretch.
  • 9.15 Breakfast.
  • Afternoon session.
  • 15.30 Warm up and upper body stretch.
  • 16.10 Sum Chien and tiger – crane routines.
  • 16.35 Shaolin weapons.
  • 17.10 Tea.
  • 17.20 Pushing hands / sticking hands.
  • 18.00 Dinner.
  • Saturday. (Rest day)
  • 9.00a Breakfast.

Elements of training - the Shaolin arts

Workout and stretching

Conditioning and flexibility are vital for any martial artist. At Nam Yang Mountain Retreat, morning meditation and soft arts are complimented by approximately 1 hour of active workouts and stretches in the afternoon to improve endurance and elasticity. Conditioning routines are borrowed from various martial and athletic disciplines to maximize stamina, cardio, and strength improvement while maintaining safety and a mind for technique.

Stretching routines employ methods from both Kung Fu and yoga to greatly improve joint and muscle flexibility and teach body relaxation. Students often notice significant improvements in flexibility and elasticity after leaving the mountain retreat.

Martial Chi Kung

Martial Chi Kung goes a step beyond Chi Kung for health. It develops abilities well beyond those of normal people. Mastery of this type of Chi Kung is what enables martial arts masters to perform such "super human" feats as punching the ends off bricks, washing in broken glass, rubbing red hot metal, and being hit with hammers and axes. There are a number of different systems of martial Chi Kung:

Vein Tendon Chi Kung is a simple but effective system which tones all of the tendon in the body and increases its elasticity so that it can store energy.

Tat Moh Chi Kung is a straightforward system which emphasizes reverse abdominal breathing and therefore trains elasticity into the internal organs, energizing them and making them resilient to injury.

The Sum Chien routine from the Tiger - Crane Combination Art is perhaps the most powerful exercise for martial Chi Kung. It involves building elasticity into the whole body and then using it to store energy in the lower tan tien (the lower Chi energy center of the body), releasing it in explosive bursts down to the hands, and then returning it to the tan tien to be used again. It incorporates reverse abdominal breathing and exercises absolutely all of the tendons in the body.

Iron Shirt Chi Kung involves several sets of exercises which train the tendon to be elastic and store energy for explosive release. It also incorporates reverse abdominal breathing. It serves as a good supplement to the Sum Chien training.

Martial Chi Kung can be learned by people of reasonable fitness, male or female. It takes regular training over a period of time to achieve a high level of skill, but the exercises can be learned in a relatively short space and then practiced anywhere.

Martial Chi Kung has the following benefits:

It packs chi into the internal organs, strengthening them, energizing them, and making them resistant to injury/disease.

It replenishes essential chi in the kidneys, combating ageing and greatly increasing vigour.

It builds springy, explosive strength which can be released at short range to produce large amounts of power

Tiger - Crane Kung Fu

Fast, accurate and deadly, the tiger - crane combination is a classic southern Shaolin style which emphasizes intricate hand techniques thrown from a solid, stable stance.

Being close to the original Shaolin white crane, this style emphasizes the use of touch sensitivity to connect to an opponent and feel their movement and intention, countering them immediately when they initiate a move - before it can become dangerous. It also uses "springy" power generated from the tendons rather than the muscle - the hallmark of genuine Shaolin Kung Fu.

The tiger-crane stance is fairly high allowing for mobility and fast stepping. The hand techniques are thrown from close range so as to maximize their chances of success and generally target weak points where they will have the greatest effect. At an advanced level, springy power from the tendons can be used to generate a power which penetrates deeply into the body and affects the internal organs - ask an instructor for a safe, controlled demonstration!

Benefits of practicing the tiger crane art include:

Toughening of body to resist blows

Packing chi into the internal organs so as to rejuvenate them and make them healthy, resilient, and resistant to being struck

Building elastic power into tendons so as to be able to deliver fast, super powerful blows

Expansion of lung capacity leading to greater stamina and a healthier body

Replenishing of essential chi in kidneys which counteracts aging

Manipulation of the spine: opening of joints and chi flow

Training of the eye to keep vision sharp

Rejuvenating facial muscles and pressure centers to look healthy and young

Developing positive body language

Sinking chi to the lower tan tien (chi center) to give clearer thinking, calmer attitude, and less stress

Training the use of the most advantageous body mechanics so that skill can be used to overcome strength

Development of touch sensitivity and training to react to touch for fighting

Sun-frost white crane (Shuang Yang)

Usually referred to as ‘Shuang Yang’ for short, this is the internal form of the white crane art. It is performed in a very soft, relaxed way, gently opening the chi flow in the meridians, training elasticity into all of the tendons and massaging the internal organs. Whilst superficially very similar to Tai Chi, it is part of the Buddhist Shaolin tradition, rather than the Taoist Wutan tradition.

Many people practise the Shuang Yang primarily to benefit their health, vitality, and longevity. Whilst the slow, gentle nature of the training make it ideal for older or less fit people, make no mistake: this is a genuine martial art.

The Shuang Yang art uses mostly the bow arrow stance - a longer stance than the tiger crane art. Weight is sunk down and movement is generated from the core of the body, moving out to the limbs like a wave through water. Training connects all of the tendons in the body into one resilient, elastic network with incredible strength. All movements are performed with the whole body. Shuang Yang training is particularly suitable for China - the Chinese art of twisting joints, pressing pressure points, and sealing off the flow of breath or blood.

As a crane art, the Shuang Yang develops touch sensitivity and encourages sticking to an opponent, neutralising their attacks and then countering decisively.

Benefits of the Shuang Yang art:

Shuang Yang training gently stretches and releases the body’s tendons in a slow rhythmic fashion, increasing its strength, and stimulating chi to flow.

Shuang Yang practice involves a great deal of flexing and twisting in the torso, as well as opening the meridians and energizing the tendons, which strengthens muscles which we do not usually use. It also wrings out and cleans the internal organs, pushes fluids along their course and manipulates the joints of the spine, keeping them moving freely to promote a healthy spine and body.

Shuang Yang training is performed in a meditative state and is a genuine "meditation in motion". It requires sinking of the chi, calming of the mind, and breathing from the core of the body. Regular practice greatly improves health, vitality, and combats aging.


Meditation forms an intrinsic part of the training program. Generally you are taught how to perform simple, safe meditations and then encouraged to practice them in their own time, quietly and comfortably. On nights of the full moon, a special meditation together at midnight is practiced directly under the full moon.

The meditation taught include:

Chi Kung focusing on circulating the body’s chi microcosmic orbit

Relaxing the whole body

Fostering internal awareness

Improving vitality and life energy

These can be combined with natural or reverse abdominal breathing. Full moon meditations take advantage of the pure yin energy which emanates from the moon at midnight (the most yin hour) when it is full (the moon’s most yin phase). These special meditations give us an amazing charge but are best practiced under supervision, at least to start with! The complement to the full moon meditations is the practice of Chi Kung just at sunrise on the day of the new moon, taking advantage of yang energy

Soft Chi Kung

Many of us are vaguely aware of the great benefits of Chi Kung meditation to our health and longevity but don’t really understand how it works. Here is an overview:

Chi circulates around our bodies, in a daily cycle, mainly but not entirely through pathways called meridians and vessels.

Chi is stored in energy centres / reservoirs called tan tiens.

The two main sources of chi are the Earth (yin chi) and the sky (yang chi).

When the chi in our bodies is circulating freely, and is balanced between yin and yang, we will enjoy good health.

Opening the meridians through stretching exercises and guiding chi through them facilitates strong, smooth circulation of the chi.

Drawing in fresh chi from the earth and sky keeps our chi plentiful and allows us to balance yin and yang.

Expelling stale or excess chi keeps our chi fresh and prevents it becoming excessively strong.

By its nature, Chi Kung (also known as Qi Gong or Ki Gung) is simple and easy yet amazingly effective. Anyone can practice it successfully, regardless of age or fitness. The essential requirements are a properly trained instructor and good, fresh air. The basic Chi Kung system taught is Tong Ling (clearing and circulating) Chi Kung. The system can be learned in one month - less with intensive private tuition - but takes time to practice. However, benefits can be felt immediately.

Practical self-defense

The self defense training is very practically based and can be tailored to suit the individual. What is emphasized is avoidance as opposed to confrontation (it’s much safer) and techniques which do not inflict serious injury (killing or maiming an attacker is likely to get you into very serious trouble in most countries, especially if they are a local).

Practical self defense involves forward planning, awareness, positive body language, quick thinking, diplomacy, and confidence. Physical confrontation is a last resort. If it does get physical, take downs and restraints are both good options - they prevent an opponent from hurting you without inflicting injury on them. It may be necessary to disarm them first. The defense techniques that are taught are based on Kung Fu, Chinese boxing and a great deal of experience. The training, which is simple and effective, will enable you to travel without fear.

Shaolin weapons

Weapons have always featured strongly in Shaolin Kung Fu training and are one of the most popular parts of the syllabus - even in the modern era. You can try your hand with knives, swords, axes, hammers, spears, and a variety of unique pole arms. Training starts with simple basics such as how to stand, grip the weapon etc. and extends to cover simple and advanced moves, strategies, tactics, target areas etc.

The weapon training is not just ‘show style’. The genuine art of weapon use for combat will be taught. Unlike in many other cultures, the Shaolin weapons were still used for war very recently, such as by the Chinese army in WWII and by Kung Fu groups as recently as the 1970s. Many of the teachers here at Nam Yang have direct experience with these weapons - this is not something which you will find in many schools.

Benefits of Shaolin weapon training include the following:

Weapon training teaches us to extend our concentration and our energy (chi) beyond our bodies into the weapon. This means that when we go back to freehand training, it is very easy to get our energy right down to our hands and feet.

The training works like a sort of weight training: performing with weapons, especially heavy weapons, strengthens our muscle and tendons and conditions us to exert more power.

Many techniques are complex and intricate and develop our co-ordination: this is particularly true of the double weapons.

Heavy weapons require a great degree of stability and balance so as to be able to wield them with speed, power, and accuracy. This provides excellent stability training.

Advanced practitioners train to project Shaolin springy power (‘geng’ in Chinese) through their weapon. The emission of ‘geng’ is considered to be one of the highest skills in Shaolin Kung Fu: to be able to transmit geng to the hand or foot fluidly and effectively shows a high level of achievement. To be able to project it right to the end of a weapon is a very high skill and means that the practitioner can very easily bring their ‘geng’ to their hands feet for freehand techniques.

Fixed sparring with weapons develops timing, distancing, and observation. It also conditions us to having weapons swung at us at high speed from all angles; to react rationally against an attack with a weapon requires that we do not panic, but this takes practice.

A broad range of genuine weapons skills means that you understand how to defend against weapons generally, including improvised weapons, and that you can use more or less any weapon that you pick up.

Weapon training is fun and motivates you to work harder.

The following weapons are included in the training syllabus:

Staff (straight pole)

Tan tao (single knife or Chinese broadsword)

Shuang tao (double knife of double Chinese broadsword)

Kwan tao (General Kwan’s knife or Chinese halbard)


Double axe

Double butterfly knives

Double thumb hook knives

Double daggers

Chinese straight sword

Monk’s spade

Monk’s crescent

Hook spear

Snake head kek

Double short kek

Water carrier (peddler’s staff)

Single ended staff

Tiger fork

Double crutch (tonfa)

Double small trident (sai)

Double iron ruler (tee pit)

Double thunder hammers

Double tiger hooks

Nine ring big knife: long handle

Nine ring big knife: short handle

Horse cutting knife

Shield and knife

Three section staff

Nine section chain whip

Rope dart

Meteor hammer


Three section staff vs spear

Single / double knife vs spear

Double knife vs three section staff

Single knife vs freehand

Stool vs hoe

Staff vs staff

Double dagger vs freehand

Pushing hand/sticky hand

You will spend a lot of time practicing these touch sensitivity drills. It is time very well spent. They greatly improve reactions, teach a great deal about sensing balance, allow you to get used to physical contact without creating a great risk of injury, and train you to sense where an opponent’s strength is and then work around it following a path of least resistance.

You usually practise three different drills, although there are many more variations:

Fixed step pushing hands: Feet are kept firmly rooted to the floor; each partner tries to upset their opponent’s balance so as to dislodge their feet from the floor (uproot them); no striking is employed, only pushing, pulling, levering etc. Touch contact is maintained throughout.

Moving step pushing hands: Each partner is free to move about the area but must maintain touch contact with their opponent. The objective is to throw the partner off balance, drop them to the floor or send them out of the area. No striking.

Sticky hands: Keeping touch contact, each partner tries to strike, unbalance, throw, lock and restrain their opponent. Strikes are controlled so as not to cause injury. Upper body techniques are mainly used ( i.e. hand, forearm, elbow, shoulder, head etc.), but sweeping with the legs is permitted.

Sanda (Chinese boxing)

Chinese boxing is particularly famous for its take downs, sweeps, and throws. Chinese boxers are recognized as some of the best fighters in the world when it comes to catching kicks or dodging punches, and then dropping their opponent to the floor. Training differs according to the level / experience of the fighter:

Basic level: mastering punches, kicks and takedowns; building power, accuracy and stamina; conditioning to take blows.

Intermediate level: co-ordinating with an opponent; reading intention; feinting; evading.

Advanced level: sparring with a partner.

Typical training sessions involve:

Evading / blocking / countering an opponent’s techniques

Punching / kicking focus mitts / punch bags / tire dummies

Applying sweeps, throws and takedowns

Strength, stamina, flexibility training

Body conditioning exercises in preparation to take blows

At Nam Yang, Chinese boxing is taught together with Shaolin Kung Fu and Chi Kung. Kung Fu provides body toughness and explosive power, while Chi Kung speeds recovery after hard training, which both complement Sanda.

Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat

The Nam Yang Pugilistic Association is one of the world’s oldest Traditional Chinese Shaolin Temple Martial Arts schools. Nam Yang teaches Southern Shaolin Martial Arts styles, including Tiger-Crane Kung Fu and Shaolin Weapons systems, Hard and Soft Chi Kung, Lion and Dragon Dancing and Shuang Yang Pei Ho or the Sun and Frost White Crane Soft Internal Art. Nam Yang has trained students to become world ranked martial artists and their Lion and Dragon Dance teams perform around the world.

  • Iain Armstrong

    Master Iain is a Kung Fu philosopher and author with 36 years of living Kung Fu. Trained personally by Grand Master Tan Soh Tin in Singapore, he’s a two-time world champion and veteran of real street battles. Famous for his high-quality Kung Fu teaching, his instructional films and magazine articles, and for his demonstrations of Iron Shirt Chi Kung, Master Iain is a mine of information but retains a very practical, down to earth, and realistic approach. Most people who meet him are struck by his air of calm, patience, and wisdom.

Kung Fu Retreat School

The mountain retreat is designed to be the ultimate martial arts training and meditation venue. It is set on 2.1 acres of land on the side of a mountain spur, bordering the jungle and maintaining awesome views across the Pai river valley to mountains which rise steadily to the Himalayas. In the early morning, when you begin training, the mountains are usually shrouded in mist which gradually clears as the sun rises. The school is built in the local Shan style architecture according to Chinese Feng Shui principles.


Why did Nam Yang choose Pai for their location? There are several reasons. Thailand is a great country. It is one of the most popular destinations for international travelers. If you are going to stay somewhere, why not stay somewhere really nice? Thailand is close enough to Singapore that their top masters can travel easily.

The North of Thailand has some of the very best chi in the world. It flows down from the Himalayas. This makes for a perfect place to practice Chi Kung and seriously boosts health and vitality. This was the primary reason for choosing the location of Nam Yang.

The Pai valley is an area of incredible natural beauty. High in the mountains, it epitomises the Kung Fu dream of training in pure, fresh air with awesome views well away from the distractions of modern life and the pollution of modern cities. It is easy to grow and prepare healthy, natural food in the farmland around Pai and this allows you to eat the sort of diet which best supports our training.

Thailand is a fairly economical country in which to operate. It is not the cheapest in the world but is very cheap compared to western countries, yet just as fun. Pai is a really fun town. Whilst Nam Yang is set in quiet, peaceful surroundings, many westerners like to party now and again, and Pai is the perfect place.

The Pai district is popular with tourists because there is so much to do here. You will have two days off each week and have a fairly long break from training in the middle of the day - hence a stay at the mountain retreat can be a holiday as well as a training experience.

Nam Yang Mountain Retreat is located in the foothills of the mountains overlooking the Pai river valley in the northern part of Mae Hong Son, Thailand’s remote North Western province. Mae Hong Son translates as ‘the land of mist’. It is dominated by fairly high, forested mountains and is sparsely inhabited, mainly by Thailand’s famous hill tribes.

It is about a 15 minute walk from the outskirts of the town of Pai to Nam Yang, and about a 30 minute walk from the town center. Motorcycle taxis can be used to travel to and from town and cost very little. Hence living at the mountain retreat gives a feeling of isolation in a very rural, mountain community, but fun adventures are always right around the corner.

Surroundings / Environment

To the South and West forested mountains rise steadily. To the North East, the mountain retreat overlooks the wide Pai river valley which houses much lush farmland and, of course, the town of Pai as well as many small farming villages. Past the valley, the mountains rise again. North and South more foothills rise from the river valley towards the mountains.

In practical terms, this means getting up in the morning to practise your Chi Kung facing East over the valley, which is often shrouded in mist, towards the rising sun and breathing in cool, fresh mountain air; continuing until the sun gets too hot; resting during the hottest part of the day then watching the sun set over the Western mountains as you begin your evening training session. For most of us, this is pretty much the Kung Fu ideal.


The seasons in Pai are quite distinct and vary as follows:

November - January

Winter season. Dry. Warm in middle of day and afternoon. Night time cold enough to require hat and scarf. Mist hangs on the mountains later in the mornings than at other times of year. Views in the morning amazing! A very good time to come.

February - April.

Hot season. Dry. Daytime becoming progressively hotter, peaking in mid April (Songkran,Thai new year). Air cooler at night and before about 10.00am, middle of day hot. Land tends to look a bit dusty and at its least green. Can get smoky from farming activity. Pai is at its least attractive at this time of year.

May - June.

Early rainy season. Occasional rain. Air a little more humid. Daytime can be cooler if there is cloud cover, night time warmer because of higher humidity. Land looks beautifully green. Clouds often sit on the mountains creating awesome views.

July - August.

Peak rainy season: about half of the days will see some rain but may only be for a short time. Rivers and streams at their highest, waterfalls most impressive. Temperatures moderated by cloud cover and humidity. Training will often have to take place under cover. Plants at their most green and lush. Arguably the best time of year to come.

September - October.

Late rainy season. Rains dying down but land still beautifully green, streams and rivers full. Warm and humid. Views still awesome. A very popular time.


November to January dry, hot in day but cool at night. Most popular time of year to visit Pai. Perfect if you do not like rain.

June to October rainy, but not everyday. Humid. Not too hot in daytime, warm but not hot at night. Views at their best, particularly later in the rainy season.

February to April hot and dry.

May intermediate between hot season and rainy season.

Pai is the main tourist center in Mae Hong Son province and ideally suited to receive and entertain foreigners. It has a population of about 3000 who, at peak times, are heavily outnumbered by tourists, mainly backpackers (for whom Pai is almost a compulsory stop) and the more adventurous Thai and foreign tourists who have braved the minibus ride through the mountains.

Pai acts as a hub for activities and excursions, such as trekking (usually with overnight stay at a hill tribe village), elephant riding, caving, ox cart riding, rafting, off road driving/motorcycling and visiting waterfalls, temples, hill tribes, etc. The favorite way to get around for most is to rent a small motorcycle for about 80 Baht (2.50 USD) per day.

It contains a multitude of bars and restaurants, all very reasonably priced (modest meal for two less than 100 Baht), many market stalls selling local food and goods, and shops selling any supplies you are really likely to need - and even a few small super markets. Of particular note are stalls run by local hill tribe people selling clothing, handicrafts, fruit, etc. As you would expect in Thailand, the town also boasts a number of beautiful Buddhist temples run by monks.

  • Caving nearby
  • Elephant riding nearby
  • Hiking nearby
  • Massage nearby
  • Mountain walking/trekking nearby
  • Off road driving/motorcycling
  • Ox cart riding nearby
  • Rafting nearby
  • Trekking nearby
  • Waterfalls nearby
  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Meditation garden
  • Multilingual staff
  • Night club nearby
  • River nearby
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Scooter rental nearby
  • Toiletries

Breakfast and dinner are provided. Since there is usually a rather long break mid-day, and students can use that time to go out of the Retreat and explore the local area, lunch is not included. However, lunch can also be arranged for you for a surcharge.

Quality food is essential for martial artists in hard training. The Retreat have their own kitchen garden, herb garden, and fruit trees. They are fully self sufficient for rice and papaya and largely self sufficient for vegetables. They also produce a fair amount of fruit, according to season. What they don’t grow ourselves, they choose carefully. They prepare local style food but use selected medicinal herbs to improve its value.

The diet is calculated to best support your Kung Fu training. Food prepared on site is as fresh, organic, and healthy as possible and is usually delicious local Thai or Shan style, or sometimes Chinese or southern Thai style.

Meals start with one or two types of fruit and possibly some salad, then typically two main dishes with rice. Most dishes are vegetarian but some meat and fish are also served. There will always be at least one vegetarian dish with each meal. The Retreat try their best to cater for specialist diets. For most of the guests, the food is one of the highlights of their stay. Drinking water is supplied free with meals and is available from the kitchen free of charge at any time for resident students.

The instructors eat in the dining area, together with the students, which is testimony to the quality of the food and helps provide a good ethos for the school. Meal times are therefore ideal for discussing Kung Fu and asking questions.

Almost any style of food can be purchased in Pai (Italian, western, middle eastern, Chinese, Indian, etc). The local diet is based mainly around rice, meat, fresh-water fish, vegetables, fruit, and spices. However, seafood is relatively expensive in the mountains. Local fruit and vegetables are great, fresh and very cheap.

Buddhist temples

Local activities: trekking, hiking, elephant riding, ox-cart riding, etc.

Thai massage


  • 6 nights accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner, fresh and healthy
  • Free drinking water any time
  • Training daily in Kung Fu, Sanda, Chi Kung, meditation, etc.
  • Airfare travel
  • Lunch
  • Miscellaneous expenses (including excursions)
  • Travel insurance

Arrival by airplane

Fly to Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is much nearer to the Kung Fu Retreat but Bangkok has more flights and is usually cheaper. There is an abundance of hotels, guest houses etc in Bangkok to suit all budgets, should you need to arrange an overnight stay. Once in Bangkok, you can book another flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Once in Chiang Mai, take the 25-minute flight to Pai. When you first arrive in Pai, the easiest way to get to Kung Fu Retreat is simply to book a taxi. The taxis are a little way up the main street from the AYA service office. Motorcycle is the cheapest taxi and should cost less than 100 Baht. For a minibus/car, it will be 200 - 250 THB. Ask for Kung Fu or Kun Iain/Kun Pu. If in doubt, ask the driver to call 0864 286 739 for directions in Thai.

Directions: Head out of town towards the airport/Mae Hong Son. On the far side of the airport, turn right, parallel to the runway. The Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat is the first turn on the left, about 400m down the road, on a right hand bend with a prominent sign.

Arrival by train/minibus

Arrive in Bangkok. Once there, you can get an overnight sleeper train from Bangkok’s central station, Hua Lam Phong, for a little over 1000 Baht each way.

Booking in advance is recommended. Please be aware that trains in Thailand often run very late. The trains are very comfortable and afford great views of the Thai countryside. Once in Chiang Mai, take a minibus to Pai.

Minibus trip costs about 200 Baht and has awesome views. It takes about three and a half hours, most of which is spent on amazing winding roads through mountains the like of which you have probably never seen before. The views are breath taking and the journey is an adventure in its self so we recommend that you travel during daylight. The most popular minibus provider is AYA service. Their office in Chiang Mai is opposite the train station. Book on to the next available minibus if you have not booked already.

Minibuses run between about 7.30 am and 5.00pm. If you arrive in Chiang Mai later than about 3.30pm, you are likely to need to either stay overnight in Chiang Mai or get a taxi to the Kung Fu Retreat. If staying overnight, which is the cheapest option, it is recommended that you still go to the AYA service office when you arrive and book on to a minibus for the next day. Then look for a guesthouse nearby. You should get a nice room with fan for 400 - 500 Baht.

Once in Pai, it's easiest to take a taxi to the retreat.

Arrival by minibus

Arrive in Bangkok. If you are on a very tight budget, you can go to Khao San Road in Bangkok and get an overnight coach to Chiang Mai for about 300 Baht or so. This is the least comfortable way to travel. Once in Chiang Mai, take a minibus to Pai.

Minibus trip costs about 200 Baht and has awesome views. It takes about three and a half hours, most of which is spent on amazing winding roads through mountains the like of which you have probably never seen before. The views are breath taking and the journey is an adventure in its self so we recommend that you travel during daylight. The most popular minibus provider is AYA service. Their office in Chiang Mai is opposite the train station. Book on to the next available minibus if you have not booked already.

Minibuses run between about 7.30 am and 5.00pm. If you arrive in Chiang Mai later than about 3.30pm, you are likely to need to either stay overnight in Chiang Mai or get a taxi to the Kung Fu Retreat. If staying overnight, which is the cheapest option, it is recommended that you still go to the AYA service office when you arrive and book on to a minibus for the next day. Then look for a guesthouse nearby. You should get a nice room with fan for 400 - 500 Baht.

Once in Pai, it's easiest to take a taxi to the retreat.

Arrival by taxi

Arrive at Chiang Mai airport. Nam Yang can arrange for a taxi to come to the airport to meet you. Alternatively you could speak with drivers in the taxi rank outside the airport. Recently taxis have been charging about 3,200 Baht for the trip. This does vary and will likely be higher if late at night or in December/January. If you arrange a taxi through Nam Yang, they will need to pay in advance so do not pay the driver otherwise he will think that he has just got the best tip of his life and likely take a week off! If you do want to give a tip, 100 - 250 Baht would be about right.

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 50% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.

Verified BookMartialArts.com reviews

  • V
    Review by Victor Laurent from France

    2017-Mar-31 12:24:57

  • Review by Andrew W. from Australia
    8 out of 10

    "Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in Pai, Thailand, was a fantastic experience. I attended the Retreat for two weeks with the intention of learning more Kung Fu, new meditation practices and 'getting out of the rat race and slowing down'. Did I achieve this at Nam Yang? Yes. Master Iain is very experienced and freely shared his knowledge and understanding of Kung Fu. Whilst Master Iain does not lead all the classes, other trainers or student instructors take most classes. The daily schedule is broken up into training periods: try to have a decent level of fitness if you can before you attend as it an be up to eight hours of training per day. A beginner, or 'unfit' person would manage, but you will get more out of the training with an increased level of fitness. The accommodation is basic (as cited), I would recommend a private room if your budget permits. The meals are mostly vegetarian dishes with rice. If you're a meat eater, or usually consume more protein, consider a supplement or taking in protein powder/bars. Town is a short scooter ride away or twenty minute walk for coffee, beer or an alternative meal. The people I met were from all corners of the globe and truly amazing people. Check out their website and consider calling Master Iain or Dave to discuss your training needs/requirements and go from there."

    BookMartialArts.com website, edited


  • Review by Zander S
    10 out of 10

    "We were only able to join Nam Yang for 2 days, and it was 100% worth it. The classes were well-taught, we received personalized attention from all of the instructors, and learned an incredible amount in just two days. If you able to join for at least a week, I would highly recommend doing so, but even a day or two will forever change your perspective on kung fu, martial arts, and the way the human body moves. Thanks you to all of our instructors!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Richard Outhwaite from Singapore
    10 out of 10

    "We randomly decided to spend a few days at Nam Yang retreat, having had no previous martial arts experience. "


    "The classes were excellent, a nice mix of physical training, fighting and weapon techniques with some chi gong, stretching and meditation. The classes were suitable for people of all fitness levels and martial arts experience. "


    "Food is delicious and very healthy, a lot of it grown on the retreat too. "


    "Having never seen any Kung Fu in real life, Master Ian is truly inspiring. Amazing technique, flexibility and all round wise Zen master! "


    "We booked to come back and spend at least 2 weeks here after. Something different that you won't regret! "

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Australia
    10 out of 10

    "I had no martial arts experience and stayed at Nam Yang for 2 weeks in February 2017. I had a private room which was basic yet comfortable and the food was extremely nutritious, low fat and filling with a clear display of freshness and taste."


    "I am 41 years old, overweight and have not been overly active for the past 10 years as my employment has become more managerial as apposed to physical aswell as wrong diet and lifestyle choices."


    "Throughout the 2 weeks I felt more energetic, flexible, stronger both physically and mentally as each day went by. Over the 2 weeks I lost 7kgs and gained muscle and flexibility."


    "The training was interesting and could be as demanding as each individual could handle fitness wise. In saying this I would recommend Nam Yang to anybody regardless of physical ability or age to be of benefit to both body and mind."


    "The instructors were at different levels but all we're professional and displayed 100% dedication, patience and skill in their delivery of all lessons, training and knowledge to all students."


    "Overall Nam Yang is a professional outfit and is a true credit to Master Ian for his knowledge, motivation, training procedures and the foresight for setting up Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in such a beautiful and appropriate location."


    "The only mistake I made was not staying longer, but plan on returning sooner rather than later as the experiences I received there we're both memorable and life changing."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Fernando Barata Russo
    10 out of 10

    "My wife and I spent almost a month at the retreat. An amazing experience. Highly recommended even if you are a complete beginner like us."

    Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat Facebook page, edited

  • Review by John-Michael Sookias from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "There was a time when Thailand would spring to mind adventure and spiritual discovery. Now, you’re more likely to be flooded with images of 18 year olds face down in their own sick at a full moon party or sunburned families taking full glutinous value out of their all inclusive packages in their beach front resort. Sadly, the mystery of the raw Thai islands are long gone. Don’t fret, what the South of Thailand lacks, the North of Thailand makes up in abundance. So where does one head when in search of said spiritual discover and adventure? Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in Pai."

    "When we were searching for an escape from the relentless pace of professional life in London we were attracted to the selling points of the retreat; stay in bamboo huts on a hilltop retreat in the middle of jungle mountain town, eat homemade Thai food all day, clear the head with some meditation and kung fu, then go explore the obscene amount of waterfalls and jungle trails nearby. Sold."

    "Nam Yang was everything we wanted. In fact, it actually caters for anyone looking to get some rest or detox all the way to aspiring Kung Fu masters. We met people stay for a week and some that had been there for 6 months. We could have stayed that long too if we didn’t have life calling us back. You wake up at the crack of dawn with Qi Gung/Thai Chi and meditation overlooking the rolling hills of Northen Thailand. After a tea break you crack on with a bit of kung fu before breakfast is ready made by the lovely thai cooks. After a little break you get back down to the practice area for some more kung fu, sparring and even some weapons training. On some days they might squeeze in a third session. Doing this all day everyday apart from Saturday and Wednesday gets you feeling something. You feel a whole new link between body and mind. It a feeling that doesn’t really come naturally to Westerners. You manage your thoughts better. See things within that you never allowed yourself the time to do. You just generally feel better physically and mentally. Its a holiday that you don’t need a day to recover from when before you get to work. So next time you need a holiday, look for relaxation here instead of the usual booze-fueled rager (although they are fun once in a while)."

    Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat Facebook page, edited

  • Review by Bryan Flowers from Thailand
    10 out of 10

    "Excellent place! I will be back. It was a great introduction to kung fu."

    Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat Facebook page, edited

  • Review by Channy Wild
    10 out of 10

    "Great instructors, had so much fun, met lots of lovely people, looking forward to doing a proper 6 months at Shaolin in the future"

    Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat Facebook page, edited

  • Review by Beko Kaygee from United Kingdom
    10 out of 10

    "A must for anyone interested in Martial Arts, Exercise, Health & Wellbeing!!!"

    Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat Facebook page, edited

  • Review by a traveler from New York, USA
    10 out of 10

    "I finally visited the Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in Pai, Thailand in February 2016 (just last month) after almost a year of research and online exchanges with Master Iain Armstrong, Chief Instructor and head manager of the Retreat. There are a lot of critical minds in the traditional martial arts community, and some might doubt that an institution like this can truly offer as much as it appears to claim. What I experienced at the Retreat has turned out to be one of those rare cases in life where something that seemed too good to be true, not only wasn’t, but actually exceeded expectations."

    "The programs available at the Retreat are truly comprehensive, with something to offer everyone - and for longer term students in particular, an obviously very well rounded martial training. As an on-and-off student and amateur researcher of traditional Chinese martial arts and energetic/meditative practices for over 15 years, I can say the arts taught here are highly traditional in the core curriculum, with authentic lineages to Fujian and Hokkien styles passed in family and master-disciple lines from legendary southern Shaolin sources. "

    "Modern reconstructed acrobatic forms of “Wu Shu Kung Fu”, with superfluous dramatic movements, are not what is taught here, but profound and practical traditional Chinese Kung Fu. The styles taught here are actually famous for their influence on later and more wide spread systems, but are themselves actually much harder to find, and rarely taught in as complete a form as found here. At the same time, every effort is made to round out the overall training with principles and practices based on hatha yoga, PT, and practical self defense disciplines."

    "A stay of even one week here will be potentially life transforming - it’s not only a place for those seriously interested in martial arts and inspired to pursue a potential long term, rigorous training (although indeed it is that!), but also very much for even the merely curious who are willing to absorb some simple yet profound practices leading down the path of holistic wellness offered by traditional Chinese energetic work. Traditional Chi Kung offers, for example, many of the benefits of yoga without the sometimes intimidating demands the latter sometimes seems to present to those who have been less flexible or active. "

    "The basic Chi Gung sequence taught here is in broad strokes reminiscent of more well known sets such as “Eight Pieces of Brocade”, but slightly more complex and developed for specific progressive areas of focus. It can be learned by anyone of any age or level of fitness, yet is still powerfully invigorating for athletes and experienced people. Persistence in practice afterwards seems likely to yield surprisingly real health benefits."

    "The facilities and layout of the retreat reflect practicality, natural beauty, good “feng shui”, and a transcendentally contemplative aesthetic, all at once. This attention to detail is all-encompassing without being heavy-handed, and is uplifting and calming in its effects on the spirit. I don’t know what originally motivated the choice of Pai in northern Thailand for the location, but it seems to have been a stroke of genius. "

    "A more perfect setting cannot be imagined, and the town and valley of Pai are a wonderful gateway for the traveler to experience the natural serenity and cultural richness of the region, and beyond that, much of Southeast Asia - and it is just a fun place to be! And I would encourage anyone passing through Pai, even and especially those with no experience with martial art, to look into the benefits to mind and body of a stay here - even if you are just curious! There is nothing pressured about the experience - one of the many things that makes the atmosphere here so special."

    "Above all, I have to give my respect to Master Iain Armstrong, not only for executing the vision that has made this place a reality, but for setting the tone of the Retreat as a place of wholesomeness and personal development with his calm, grounded energy and patient, attentive (yet not in any way intrusive) style of instruction. The Nam Yang Kung Fu retreat is a treasure for all who value these traditional arts, and for any thoughtful travelers through Northern Thailand whose path goes this way."

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Monika Muse from Lithuania
    10 out of 10

    "Very harmonic, peaceful place to get in tune with yourself and your environment. Perfect combination of fight techniques, physical exercises, meditation, discovery of Chi energy, and delicious and powerful food."

    "Kung Fu is more than martial art, even a bit more than a life style and master Ian and his team are more than willing to share it with you. I never imagined that I could get so passionate about something. Definitely will be back for a longer stay. Discovery of a lifetime. Thank you Nam Yang team!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Tsahi
    10 out of 10

    "This was a bit weird. Not your ordinary attraction. I had no experience in martial arts. We did one class and it was great. I really recommend to do more if you have time. "

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by a traveler from Amsterdam
    10 out of 10

    "My best experience in Pai. As a personal trainer and nutritional coach, I learned a lot of posture and balance movements for better breathing and stability. All the trainers and students are warm and welcoming. Thanks again!"

    TripAdvisor website, edited

  • Review by Andreas Fabricius
    10 out of 10

    "The month I stayed in Pai was a milestone on my way to myself. It was unique in terms of professional training combined with the right spirit and hospitality. Thanks to Master Iain and his team to give me the privilege to be with them."

    Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat Facebook page, edited

Pai, Thailand

Nam Yang Kung Fu is a residential martial arts training and retreat, offering Kung Fu for combat and self-defense and Chi Kung and meditation for health.

  • Availability: The Training Camps of this organizer are available 0% of the time.
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7 days / 6 nights

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