If thinking of a city break gives you more cold sweats than a hard week at the office and you’d rather stay at home than visit another overcrowded European landmark, you could probably really benefit from a spiritual retreat. You won’t have any tubes to catch in these destinations, nor sit in long queues to take selfies next to a glamourized building. Instead, you will be able to experience a simpler way of life, enjoy some peace and quiet, connect with your inner self and discover the art of slow living:
India is the top destination that people choose when they want to find themselves and escape the vicious circle of modern life. As one of the most exotic and culturally compelling countries in the world, India is a destination that never ceases to amaze. No matter what you are looking for in the best spiritual retreat, India can offer it. Here are just a few ideas:
Bodh Gaya – a large temple complex built on the spot where Gautama Buddha found enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.
Varanasi – an ancient Indian city on the bank of the river Ganges, where you can visit hundreds of Hindu temples and yoga retreats. If you’re in India on a longer stay, head north towards the small village of Sarnath, one of the main holy sites of Buddhism.
Although Bali is known as one of the hottest spots for honeymoons and beach holidays, it also has a quieter side where mindfulness and yoga enthusiasts can find themselves. There are hundreds of amazing retreats and eco sanctuaries in Bali where you can meet other like-minded souls, enjoy authentic local cuisine, meditate and discover an unspoiled natural paradise. Best part yet? Most of these retreats are incredibly affordable, because mindful travel shouldn’t be expensive.
3. Koya San, Japan
Ancient forests, mystical Buddhist temples and a dreamlike scenery await those who go south from Osaka and visit the sacred Mount Kōya (Kōya-san). A place of intense spirituality and serenity, Koya San is the destination for those tourists who want to discover Japan beyond westernised clichés. Okunoin Cemetery, Kobo Daishi Mausoleum, the Hall of Lamps, and the Daimon Gate are just four of the things you have to explore while staying in Koya San.
4. Lhasa, Tibet
Also known as the Land of Snows, the city of Lhasa in Tibet is a major Buddhist pilgrimage site and a revelatory experience for everyone who explores it. Located on an altitude of 3,600 metres, Lhasa translates as the place of the gods in Tibetan, but that’s not all it has to offer. Here, you will find the most sacred sites in Tibet, such as the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, and the Ramoche Temple.
5. Leshan, China
Few landmarks are as impressive as the Buddha state carved out of stone in Leshan, China, located against the amazing backdrop of the Lingyun Mountain. Leshan’s history goes back 3,000 years and if exploring its amazing culture is not enough, you can also find solace in the tranquil beauty of the Wuyou Temple, Jinkouhe Grand Canyon, and Lingyun Temple.
No matter which one of these destinations you choose, remember that spiritual retreats are a different, mindful kind of travel. Leave your worries at home, forget about strict schedules, and use this vacation as an opportunity for self-reflection.