Top Spiritual and Meditation Vacations in Asia
Asia has always been the centre of spirituality, yoga and meditation, but lately, it also started attracting tourists looking for peace, wellness and Nirvana. There are more spiritual teachers (gurus, ashrams, sadhus and yogis) in Asia than in the rest of the world combined. What this huge and mesmerizing continent offers ranges from super lux spiritual resorts to frugal monasteries run by monks and amazing attractions you can explore on your spiritual journey. Basically, no matter which country in Southeast Asia you visit, you will find not only interesting religious sites and relaxing retreats, but also a variety of natural riches that will help you reach Zen. Sounds like something you want to experience? Here are a few spots that will definitely quench your thirst for spirituality and peace.
This ancient Indian city is one of the oldest cities in the world that’s still inhabited. The city itself is brimming with life, but you can always find peace in one of its many temples. The city is also blessed with the River Ganges, one of the holiest elements in Hinduism, and it flows right through. Aside from many temples and ghats, Varanasi area is speckled with retreats that will offer a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are also many yoga classes, ashrams and unique rituals you can respectfully observe. Not that far away from Varanasi, you can find Sarnath, a place where Buddha gave his first speech after finding enlightenment.
Dharamsala is the current home of the Dalai Lama of Tibet and it’s a very famous pilgrimage spot in India. Just in the last forty years, more than 200 new monasteries sprung out in the region becoming home to over 20,000 devotees. Naturally, Dharamsala will provide you with everything you need for your spiritual healing, but you can also learn a lot about the culture of the region. If you visit the library of Tibetan artwork, you will get to see all kinds of ancient literature and religion artefacts. And the best thing about Dharamsala is that it’s very safe, even for solo women travellers.
While most people know Bali as the ultimate honeymoon destination, this island has so much more to offer, especially for those looking to relax, detox and heal their body and soul. Bali is home to more than one thousand temples dedicated to local deities, however, those you can’t miss are definitely the Big Ten. If you’re coming for pilgrimage, these should definitely be on your radar.
Another thing that has to be seen and experienced when visiting Bali is Mount Agung. Both Hindus and Buddhists consider this mountain a sacred place and all the temples in the region face its hills. If you’re looking for a way to challenge your spirit and body, you can trek up the mountain and pay your respect to the Balinese Goddess. Just make sure to be well-prepared. Find a good fitness blog like this one – walkjogrun that will give you plenty of information about gear, nutrition and accessories you need for such a feat.
The entire country of Tibet, but especially its capital—Lhasa, is an important pilgrimage area full of monasteries and religious sites. One of the most famous ones is definitely Barkhor Kora where you can walk a circuit around the holy Jokhang Temple. When visiting Tibet, take it easy and don’t try to complete all the circuits you come across—the weather can be quite hot and you will be too exhausted. Tibet has a wonderfully hospitable culture and some monasteries are even open for tourists to meditate, relax or stay the night.
Known for its amazing food, wild parties and lovely beaches, Thailand is also a paradise for all people looking for wellness and relaxation. There are various yoga, wellness and meditation retreats in Thailand where you can Zen out, enjoy pampering and become one with yourself and the Mother Earth. If you’re looking for a spiritual yet luxurious vacation, this will be the perfect destination for you, no matter which island you pick.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
This is probably the most famous archaeological site in Asia and one of the most beautiful and spiritual spots. Angkor Wat is the largest temple complex in the world and rich with history, both spiritual and secular. The place is very well conserved and even restored in some place, so make sure to be respectable during your visit and ensure this place remains an inspiration for many future generations. One of the best things you can do is wake up early to avoid the crowds and meditate as the sun rises over the temples.
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Malaysia is a wonderful country perfect for all travellers who want to relax, unwind, enjoy beautiful nature and practice their yoga and meditation skills. While every part of the country is special, you just mustn’t skip Kota Kinabalu. This city is most famous for its Kota Kinabalu mosque AKA the floating mosque. Built just beside a lake, the water creates an illusion that the mosque is standing right on the glistening surface of the lake. All in all, pilgrims won’t have any trouble finding a place to visit, but those looking for natural beauties will also love Malaysia. The place has various national parks, bird sanctuaries, beaches and other sites rich with flora and fauna.
If you’re looking for a place that will provide you with a better understanding of Buddhism and monk life, you can visit Taiwan and have a mini overnight retreat experience in a real monastery. Places like Fo Guang Shan welcome pilgrims from all over the world and allow them to stay and enjoy monastery life. During your stay, you can meditate, practice yoga, talk and eat with the residents or look for a private nook where you can be alone with your thoughts.
While not many tourists visit Japan for its spiritual side, those looking for relaxation and wellness will definitely have something to enjoy. For instance, Koyasan is one of the most important Buddhist schools in the last one thousand years. Also Mount Koya is home to more than one hundred temples. If you want to practice meditation, yoga or tai chi, feel free to do so in any resort or even public space. In general, Japan is a super safe destination for women travellers, so when visiting this country, expect no problems on your trip.
The tea ceremony is a very important part of the Japanese Zen Buddhism and it carries a lot of different intricate meanings. In Kyoto, you can visit a temple (or machiya) and take part in a gorgeous tea ceremony. While being guided through the ceremony, you will notice all the different notes of the tea and start to understand why this ceremony is so important in Buddhism. It links the nourishment of the body with the nourishment of the soul using a ritual similar to meditation. You can even follow your ritual with a relaxing Zazen meditation in order to get the whole experience.
As you can see, Asia is a perfect destination for travellers who crave inner peace and physical health and wellness. So, no matter which country you choose from the list, expect to come back home completely reborn and regenerated.