We are often asked ‘why did you choose Pai as the location for your kung fu school?’
There are in fact 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 our 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.
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. We believe it offers the best value for money.
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. We take 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 centre 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 favourite way to get around for most is to rent a small motorcycle for about 80 Baht ($2.50US) 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.
Pai acts as a hub for activities and excursions, for example 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.