Thailand gap year

Thinking about embarking on a life-changing Thailand gap year?

We provide Martial Arts Gap Year Adventures in a land of Mountains, Monasteries and Mist!

  • Are you looking for a unique cultural experience in a little travelled part of the world?
  • Would you like to share it with like-minded people from around the globe?
  • Do you feel that learning proven self-defense and meditation skills would be a sensible preparation for travelling?
  • If so, begin your gap year in Thailand learning the ancient martial art of Shaolin Kung Fu with an exhilarating stay at the Nam Yang Mountain Retreat!


Thailand gap year cultural experience

Shaolin Kkung Fu dates back to the year 520AD when the wandering Indian monk Bodhidharma (Tat Moh) settled at the Shaolin temple in China. He taught his disciples there unique physical and spiritual exercises. Through generations, these exercises have been treasured, carefully preserved and passed on to a select few. They involve breathing methods, known as Chi Kung, strengthening the tendons to produce explosive power and a clever knowledge of body mechanics which allows you to play to your own strengths and your opponent’s weaknesses. An amazing gap year experience in Thailand.

Mae Hong Son, ‘the land of mist’ is Thailand’s most northwesterly province. It takes its name from the fact that its mountainous ground is usually cloaked in mysterious bands of mist until late in the morning. Until recently it had no paved roads and hence was extremely difficult to get to. Most of its inhabitants are not ethnic Thais but hill tribes such as the Lisu, Lahu, Karen and Hmong, Shan from Burma, and remnants of the Chinese nationalist army who fled after the Chinese civil war. It abounds in eerie caves, breathtaking waterfalls and remote villages, the ideal setting for gap year adventures.

The Nam Yang Mountain Retreat, located close to the cosmopolitan town of Pai, is self-contained and provides:

  • a complete, effective training program
  • comfortable accommodation
  • delicious meals carefully prepared to local recipes
  • wireless internet access
  • specialized training facilities
  • maximum safety and security
  • some of the most enchanting views in Thailand


With easy access to surrounding areas, the Nam Yang Mountain Retreat provides an ideal base for exploration and an unforgettable Thailand gap year experience.


Thailand gap year new friends

Students from regions as diverse as Europe, America, Australia, Russia, India, Singapore and North Africa are switching on to the magic of the mountain retreat. The fascinating culture of Shaolin brings together a diverse array of people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet each other. A gap year experience at Nam Yang is an opportunity to make solid, lasting friendships with people of like minds but very different backgrounds to yourself.

Learning Self-Defense

One Of the Smartest Things To Do In A Gap Year. Can you think of a better, more sensible way to start your gap year adventures than by learning some of the most time-tested, effective self-defence skills? Many people learn self-defense before setting off on their gap year experiences, but not in such a unique and enriching place such as Nam Yang.

We will be happy to help you plan your stay.
Just email us at letting us know your age, nationality and previous experience (if any) in martial arts.

Remember, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Take yours today.

Thailand gap year journey

As featured on :

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What our students say about us :

National Geo

The retreat is located – not by chance – in an harmonious place that fills you with its peaceful glow and even a sea dependent, who grew up by the coast and can’t spend one week without longing for the sounds and smell of the ocean (only people raised by the seaside know what I mean), feels completely at peace there! This truly is a life sanctuary that will replenish you with a magical vibration attuned to all living things! There aren’t many places with this vibe. I felt this in the Pacific Islands, especially Rapa Nui and Bora Bora, and both the Pacific and Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat were the only two times in my life when I felt like crying when leaving a place…

(Read more) Natália C. – 3 March 2018


While they suggest staying for a week or more my boyfriend and I were only able to stay for 2 days. They welcomed us in even for this short stay and made us feel just as important as students who were there for months. The training was well rounded, and the instructors were knowledgeable, patient, and all spoke fluent English. Training starts at dawn and is almost all day long which made our two days feel like a week on our body. We felt like we were at a true Kung Fu training camp with bamboo structures, great nutritional food, amazing mountain scenery, and incredible instructors. Everything was better than we expected…

(Read more) Kockununa – 9 February 2018


A most satisfied student here....after learning 'Chi Gong' in UK by authentic Chinese masters I practiced this arts teachings for many years, benefiting in all it has to offer to prepare for Kungfu. What I quickly realised in Nam Yang is that I was doing many incorrect postures causing me pain in the long term. Learning 'Chi Kung' from Master Ian and his team was without question what I needed to truly learn this ancient art. All the team individually helped me fine tune key areas of my life physical, mental and spiritul…

(Read more) Serksta – 1 February 2018


I booked initially for 1 week but extended twice, until I had to return to my country. I never thought i would have such an interesting time. The combination between qi kung, kung fu, strong warm ups, meditations, strechings, weapons, sanda... makes the experience so complete for body, mind and spirit, as they say. It’s a healing place, in any sense, physical or mental. The instructors are one of the most remarkable things of the retreat: since they love the kung fu as a way of life, that feeling is transmitted on the trainings. They are serious with their job, and friendly on the treatment, patient and strict at the same time. The way of teaching is based on explaining the reason why of every movement, so everything makes sense. You find easily the motivation for learning and enjoying, and wanting more…

(Read more) Lara A. – 10 November 2017


Master Iain and his instructors cater for all types of students at differing levels and grades of either internal or external kung fu. I am mid forties and fairly fit yet the retreat in Pai made me feel healthier and rejuvenated in such a small space of time without the usual 'thrashing' or 'beasting' you may have faced in other martial arts / boxing .. why? It was down too the good balance of hard / soft training that was conducted in a mature and intelligent manner - all of which is built on respect for each and every person at the retreat...

(Read more) Chris – 15 February 2018

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