Frequently Asked Questions

1. I’ve never done martial arts before, is the mountain retreat only for experienced people?

No, anyone is welcome to join us at Nam Yang! Everyone trains and practices meditation at their own pace, stays as long as they want, and learns as much they want.

Most of our students are complete beginners so we are used to getting everyone off to a strong, fast start.  If you have a little experience it will be very useful and put you ahead of most of the group.  Different people certainly learn at different speeds.  If you are a fast learner you will progress at a quicker pace.

2. How do I get to the Mountain Retreat?

You will need to arrive in Thailand, head for Chiang Mai, the capitol of the North, then on to the town of Pai.

_MG_0437_8_9_tonemapped I. To Thailand: First, the best way arrive in Thailand is to 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.  There are usually a lot of good deals available at  Otherwise, search individual airlines and check what deals they are offering.

II. To Chiang Mai:

  • For flights, check or they should come in at 1000-2000 Baht each way and take a little over 1 hour.
  • You could get an overnight sleeper train from Bangkok’s central station, Hua Lam Pong, 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.
  • If you are on a very tight budget, you can go to Kao San Road in Bangkok and get an overnight coach for about 300 Baht or so.  This is the least comfortable way to travel.
  • We recommend the flight, especially if you have not spent much time in Thailand before.

III. To Pai: 

  • You have a choice between flying, taking a minibus or taxi.
  • Flights take 25 minutes and have awesome views.  To book tickets: Before booking, check when you arrive in Chiang Mai and leave at least one and a half hours to collect your bag and check in to the next flight.  For most of the year there is only one flight a day which leaves Chiang Mai mid morning.  In the high season (December / January) there may be up to 3 flights a day.  The airport is very near to the Kung Fu Retreat so look out for us when you come in to land.  We can usually arrange to pick you up from the airport – do please check with us.
  • The 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.  To get there from the airport, take a taxi with a meter.  It should take 15 – 30 minutes depending on traffic and cost very little.  Once you arrive, 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, we recommend 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.
  • Taxi.  We can arrange for a taxi from Pai 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 we arrange a taxi for you we will need to pay in advance so please 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 yu do want to give a tip, 100 – 250 Baht would be about right.

IV. Pai to the Kung Fu Retreat.  When you first arrive in Pai the easiest way to get to us 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 200 – 250.  Ask for Kung Fu or Kun Iain / Kun Pu.  If in doubt, ask the driver to call 0864286739 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.  We are the first turn on the left, about 400m down the road, on a right hand bend.  We have a prominent sign.  🙂

If you need help planning your journey, please email us.

3. What will I need during my stay?

Most of what you need when in Thailand can be bought here cheaply.

You should consider bringing:

  • Your kung fu uniform, if you have one.  We supply uniforms for all who want them.
  • Small selection of comfortable clothes.  Generally you will need light clothes for warm / hot weather and something which you can train in while you uniform is in the wash.  Long sleeves are useful to prevent sun burn.  Clothing is cheap in Pai and not only of excellent quality but also really attractive.  In fact Pai has its own unique fashion industry.  During December . January nights can be chilly so bring a pullover and some other warm things.  The absolute lowest temperature we experience is about 7 C.
  • Shoes.  We train in bare feet except on cold mornings.  You will need ‘flip flops’ or similar which can be bought very cheap in Pai.  If you intend to go running bring running shoes.  You wil really not need anything else.
  • Laptop or tablet for internet access.
  • Memory stick / external drive.  We will give you a huge amount of free video etc to help with your training.  If you have a device with a USB port you will be able to take the data straight off a memory stick.  Otherwise we should be able to copy it onto your stick / drive.
  • Camera
  • Weapons.  You may want to bring your own weapons but we can supply training weapons.
  • Wash kit, toiletries etc.

4. Am I going to get hurt if I come train?

While we can’t guarantee that accidents won’t happen, the experience at the Nam Yang Training Center is designed to completely safe.  We have never had a serious accident, and everyone who comes here is encouraged to push themselves only to a level they are comfortable with, and only end up increasing their health, stamina and flexibility. We also teach many forms of meditation that are designed to increase vitality, and these are techniques that anyone can take with them. Additionally, we have tea breaks during training and often discuss the value of different foods and teas during meals.

We do not encourage hard sparring since it often leads to injuries.  When people attend one or two classes a week as is common in the West, having to miss a few weeks’ training because of an injury is no big deal.  When you have flown all the way to Thailand and invested time and money in attending a Retreat like ours it would be much more serious.  This is why we are purposely very protective of our students.

Please do understand that we do not accept liability for any injuries sustained whilst staying with us.  If in doubt, please take out travel insurance.

5. I am a female travelling alone, is it safe for me to come by myself?

Yes, Thailand is an extremely safe place. Thai culture is one based on politeness and social harmony, and as such, the crime rate is extremely low, if present at all. So females travelling alone should not worry about any danger.

6. What kind of Visa should I get?

Visa regulation are constantly changing.  We try to keep our information as up to date as possible.  If in doubt please check with us.

Short Stays (up to 30 days)

Thailand operates a ‘visa on entry’ system whereby people from most countries can simply turn up and be given a visa.  People from most but not all western countries get 30 days on arrival at an airport.  Some nationalities get only 15 days – this includes people with an Indian passport.  When arriving in Thailand by land it is usual to be given a 15 day visa.  Much more detailed information can be found here:

If you are unsure as to whether you will get a long enough visa on entry we strongly advise that you apply for a tourist visa from your home country.  Please see below.

Medium stay (up to 9 months)

Before travelling to Thailand, apply to your nearest Thai consulate, or maybe embassy for a tourist visa.  These come in single, double and triple entry varieties.  They are generally issued automatically and are inexpensive.  You will need to fill out an application form and since you are applying for a tourist visa you should state your reason for entering Thailand as ‘tourism’.  When you enter Thailand on one of these visas you will be given a 60 day stay.  You can easily go to the immigration in either Chiang Mai or Mae Hong Son to get this extended to a total of 90 days for a cost of 1,900 Thai Baht.

If you posses a double entry visa, after 90 days you will need to re enter Thailand.  You will be able to book a minibus trip for this purpose in Pai town. It is not expensive and does not require a further visa application.  You then have another 60 days which can be extended to 90 as above to give you a total stay of 180 days.

With a triple entry visa you will be able to do a second border run to give you a total of 270 days.

Not all embassies / consulates issue triple entry visas but most do.

Long Stay (over 9 months).

We will advise you how to extend your visa.  Since regulations seen to change so
frequently at present, we will need to base our advice on the latest
information available.  At the moment for most people extending their stay is very easy.  If you are intending to stay long enough that you will have to renew your visa you may want to contact us for some help and advice.  🙂

Applying for visas from within Thailand.

Despite what anyone might have told you, applying for a visa after you have entered Thailand is almost impossible unless there are special circumstances.  It is much easier o get your visa before you arrive.

7. What is the student-teacher ratio at Nam Yang Mountain Retreat?

We try to keep the groups small and the lessons intimate to maximize learning and enjoyment. The general ratio is about 6 students to every one instructor.  This will vary according to how many students we have.  The number of teachers present is usually 2-4.  Student numbers tend to vary between 5 and 16.

8. Do the masters really speak fluent English?

Many martial arts schools will claim that their masters speak English, when in fact there are only a couple of translators on the premise, and masters who know little to no English. At Nam Yang, the majority of our instructors are native English speakers and all of our masters speak fluent English and regularly interact with all visitors.

9. Do I need insurance?

You are strongly advised to take out travel insurance.  Whilst it is rare that anyone claims it, it is often best to be on the safe side.

10. Check In At the Kung Fu Retreat.

We like to have someone waiting ready to meet you when you arrive, show you to your room, answer questions and generally help you out. Hence we need to know when you will be arriving. Preferred check in time is 2.00pm on a Wednesday or Saturday. This allows for you to settle in comfortably, be given a guided tour of the Retreat and have tea and a conversation with a senior teacher (who will speak with you about what you want to achieve in your time at the Retreat) before going for dinner in Pai town.

For stays of a month or more, we can also arrange check in at the following times:
Daily: 11.30am or 2.00pm.
Daily except Wednesday / Saturday: 6.45pm.

Please make sure to let us know in advance when you will be checking in. Check in is at reception, which is signposted from the car park.

11. Can I arrive before the check in time, drop my bags and wait or take a look around?


12. Can I change my check in time?

Yes. If you are running late or have had a change of plan, please let us know at least 3 hours in advance so that we can re arrange your check in. If you do not tell us in advance it means that someone will have been hanging around waiting for you needlessly so there will be a re booking charge of $20 US.

13. How do I change my check in time?

If at least 1 day in advance, please email If less than 24 hours notice please telephone: 0613154180

14. Can I arrange a special check in outside of the usual times?

Generally speaking yes. Please email us. There is a charge for this.
Daytime 9.00am – 8.00pm $30 US,
Night time (8.00pm – 9.00am) $50 US.

Obviously you can avoid paying this charge completely by just checking in at the next scheduled time.