There are all sorts of reasons why people travel to Thailand. Meditation is no longer what the mainstream will talk about when it comes to travelling to Thailand. Considering the sheer number of Buddhist monks and temples across the country. There is serenity to be experienced all over Thailand. Considering you are reading this, I will take it that you are looking to meditate in Thailand.
There are not many places on the planet that offers the opportunities that Thailand does when it comes to meditation. If you are looking to improve your technique, you can join experienced meditators to level up. For the brave among us, attending a monastery would be ideal. It is incredibly challenging to attend one of these. They are not for the faint hearted. There is not much of a weaning period
Meditation in Thailand for foreigners
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Most travellers may want to meditate with monks in Thailand. If you are going to meditate, best go all the way right? The one challenge that you will find is the language barrier. If you do not speak or understand Thai, your options drop quite significantly. I am not saying you won’t find anything.
Another thing to consider is the gender that the monastery accepts. You will find that even the ones that take both sexes, insist on splitting you on arrival. This is done to make sure there are neither temptations nor distractions during your stay.
What to expect
Meditation in Thailand temple is not for the weak. If you choose to stay at a monastery you will start your day at 4am. This is usually kicked off with a group meditation session. After this session and chanting, you will also have time for personal reflection and your allocated chores. Part of being a monk is not letting anyone carry your slack.
Meditation Thailand retreat
There are expectation that you have to live up to when you are at a meditation retreat. An easy way to guide your way around this is to familiarise yourself with the 8 Buddhist precepts.
- Refrain from causing harm to living creatures
- Refrain from stealing, taking what is not given to you
- Refrain from all sexual activity
- Refrain from saying negative things or harmful words
- Refrain from drugs, alcohol and other substances
- Refrain from eating after noon
- Refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to concerts, using perfume, wearing jewels or using cosmetics.
- Refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.
Staying at a wat is relatively cheap. You will only be expected to cover the cost of your accommodation and food. Do your research to make sure you don’t fall into the wrong hands. There are all sorts of people looking to take advantage of naive tourists. The best tip in this case is to always speak to the monastery directly. Avoid going through middlemen.
You will not have trouble finding a place to meditate. If you are looking for a retreat or temple to go to, here are some to consider:
This is located in Bangkok. There are English sessions on various Sundays. To avoid giving you the wrong information, I will provide you with their contact details. There are also opportunities for week long retreats. Reiki courses are also on offer, as is access to the Bhuddist library on site.
Telephone: 02/511 0439
The Thailand Vipassana Centre is a fairly international one. They have centres in other parts of the world, including the UK. The word vipassana is of Indian origin, meaning “seeing things as they are.”
There is a 10 day retreat course run at the centre, among other activities.
Wat Khao Tham
The name means “Temple of the Mountain Cave”. If you are looking to meditate in nature, out of the craze of the city, this may be the place for you. Wat Khao Tham is a very small temple that is set in a forest. The temple is famed for serenity and peace. It is not much to look at, so don’t go looking for architectural genius here. The beach is very close to it.
It is right above Baan Tai, on Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand. The view is amazing, overlooking Thongsala forest, the Gulf of Thailand, Samui island and the Angthong Marine Park.
You are advised to park outside the ground of the wat. There will be sticks there, pick one up. You may need it hahaha.
Be as quiet as possible, there are people meditating or just living their lives.
Your body should be covered from knee to neck. Watch what you wear.
No shoes are to be worn in the temple.
There will be no physical contact on the grounds
Do not stick next to or stand on or next to statues or images.
Do not take photos of people without their permission.
Wat Mahathat stretches all the way back to 1374. It is known as the “Temple of the Great Relic”. It the Ayutthaya Kingdom, this was one of the most important temples. It was constructed by King Boromma Rachathirat I. It’s prang collapsed in the 17th century. Not only did they restore it. They made it bigger and better!
It would collapse again at the hand of the Burmese, who set the temple on fire in 1767. The collapse would come later in the 20th century. It is yet to be restored.
The temple is open between 8am and 5pm.
It costs 50 Thai Baht to enter, which is about USD 1.57 at the time of writing.
Wat Suan Mokkh
Wat Suan Mokkh offers a 10 day retreat. It starts at the beginning of each month. To register for this, you need to be there on the last day of the month to reserve your spot in person. It cannot be done online or remotely. You will not be allowed to sign up for less than 10 days, as the curriculum is designed to go all the way.
You will have a private room that has a mosquito net, a straw mat, a blanket and a hard bed.
There are two meals a day, which are both vegetarian. No special diets can be provided.
You will need your own toiletries, a mirror, loose t-shirts, loose pants and slippers. As a rule of thumb, the clothes should cover your body from knee to neck.
An umbrella or raincoat will come in handy, during the rainy season.
Registration is done at a donation fee of 2000 Thai Baht, which is about USD60 at the time of writing this.