Thailand is known for its food, parties, beaches and lovely people but did you know it is also world famous for its wellness retreats?
Since the 60s, many foreigners have trained at monasteries in Thailand, and while most have only stayed for a short time, many have also taken monastic ordination. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see farang(foreigners) monks at monasteries, especially those located in rural areas in the north and north-east of Thailand. Two famous Thai monks who have enjoyed influence overseas are Ajahn Chah and Buddhadasa Bikkhu.
Here, we list the best meditation retreats in the Land of Smiles for you to connect with your inner self.
The Kamalaya is an award-winning luxury meditation resort, on the beautiful island of Koh Samui. This resort specialises in only the best holistic packages and offers customized treatments by medical professionals. Retreats include meditation, yoga, massage and health treatments as well as private consultations. The Kamalaya, 102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang , Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand, +66 77 429 800
Dharana Meditation and Retreat Centre
Located on the beautiful island of Phuket, Dharana Meditation Centre and Retreat Centre claims to offer one of the best meditation experiences in Southeast Asia, by combining a relaxing holiday with a truly authentic retreat program. They offer meditation classes, yoga, Qi Gong and even counselling services to their guests. Dharana Meditation and Retreat Centre, 69/509 Moo 1, Tambon Chalong, Phuket, Thailand, +66 87 279 7655
Dhamma Kancana Vipassana Meditation Centre
Dhamma Kancana is dedicated to the practice of Vipassana meditation, or mindfulness meditation, which focuses on purifying the mind and removing negative attachments. They offer 10-day introductory meditation courses, where the practice is broken down into each stage. They have courses starting every day of the month and each day consists of approximately 12 hours meditation, a 1-hour 30-minute video and 7 hours rest with meal breaks. The Dhamma Kancana is a 6-hour drive from Bangkok and retreats are by donation only. Dhamma Kancana, 20/6 Moo 2, Ban Wang Kayai, Prang-Pley, Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi, Thailand, +66 34 683 065
Dipabhavan Meditation Centre
Dipabhavan Meditation Centre offers week-long English language retreats between the 3-10th and 20-27th of every month at their secluded location in the hills of Koh Samui. As with most traditional meditation retreat schedules, each day starts at 4.30am and the meditation sessions are mostly in 30-minute increments, shifting between walking and sitting meditations. Dipabhavan Meditation Centre, 101/18 Moo 3, Maret, Ko Samui, Surat Thani, Thailand, +66 96 993 6955
The Pavana Resort
The Pavana Resort is a secluded resort located outside Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. They offer a three-day introduction to meditation course which is a great beginner’s option. This includes 9 sessions of private meditation, 3 sessions of walking meditation and 3 sessions of Buddhist philosophy, as well as a Thai massage, 3 sessions of Thai herbal steam or infrared sauna and meals. The resort’s restaurant features raw food from their own organic garden and you can arrange a raw food cooking class. They also have various detox packages on offer. The Pavana Resort, 196 Huaysai, Huaysai, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, Thailand, +66 53 920 888
New Life Foundation
New Life Foundation is a community, which originally started as a place for recovering addicts. It is now a centre for mindfulness that runs meditation and other wellness-related retreats for everyone. Their facility in Chiang Rai, North Thailand includes a lake, a teak tree forest, rice fields and orchards which offer a unique and peaceful environment. New Life Foundation, 49 Moo 1, Don Sila, Wiang Chai, Chiang Rai, Thailand, +66 85 714 2834
Jungle Yoga offers meditation retreats as well as their regular yoga retreats. The schedule includes meditation, talks, individual and group meetings and mindful movement classes. Set within the incredible natural beauty of Khao Sok in Southern Thailand, this stunning setting is literally a floating paradise, as all the buildings float on the lake and are connected by bridged walkways. Jungle Yoga, Khao Phang, Ban Ta Khun District, Surat Thani, Thailand.
Wat Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage
Wat Suan Mokkh hosts 10-day silent retreats on the 1st of every month. This is a serious retreat and you are required to stay for the whole duration. The daily schedule consists of meditation sessions, talks on Buddhism, yoga and daily chores. This can be a challenging yet rewarding experience; however, the accommodation is not for the faint-hearted, as you will be sleeping on a concrete slab with only a straw mat, wooden pillow and a thin blanket. Wat Suan Mokkh is approximately 600 kilometres from Bangkok. Wat Suan Mokkh, Lamet, Chaiya District, Surat Thani, Thailand.
Thais are pretty flexible by nature and so readily make allowances for foreigners who are not familiar with their customs. However, there are a few rules that should be observed when visiting a monastery:
- Never sit with the soles of your feet facing a Buddha image or a Buddhist monk. The feet are considered dirty, and so it is considered disrespectful to sit with them facing an object of respect.
- Women should never touch a Buddhist monk. If a female wishes to make an offering to a monk, she should place it on a table and allow the monk to retrieve from there.
- Do not climb on sacred objects and do not hug Buddha statues.
- Do not take photographs of meditating monks as this obviously disturbs their practice.
Meditation is the gift that keeps on giving: not only is it a great way to unwind, but mindfulness may also improve sleep, combat anxiety, and possibly even help people who are suffering from chronic pain. Having a meditation practice is especially important during times of stress (in other words, the entire holiday season).
Spend your beautiful holiday, relaxing and calming yourself in a better way by meditating with stunning landscapes and a plethora of Temples.