When the perfect holiday comes to mind, you might imagine white sandy beaches or dancing the night away in a foreign country. But if you’re looking for a retreat that will reawaken your spiritual self, look at places that are less obvious and accessible.
With its rich colours and distinct cuisine, Bali isn’t just an escape for the senses. This Far East destination has had a spiritual allure since time immemorial. Dotted across this Indonesian island, which is known as the “island of the gods”, are ancient temples such as Tanah Lot, which many who seek enlightenment travel to see. Awareness of self is a central principle of yoga, which the region is famous for. There are various yoga retreats to visit, where new forms of meditation can also be learnt.
The mountain range makes up the mountain system of Asia and is nothing short of breathtaking, inspiring travellers from across the globe to tread its dips and summits in a spiritual voyage. There are several meditative tours and sacred walks to places where you can revitalise mind, body and spirit. Some routes offer travellers the opportunity to observe monks lead a measured, peaceful existence. As the bedrock of the highest mountain peak on Earth, it’s no wonder the Himalayas conjure a sense of spiritual wonder.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africe
Right here on our shores in KwaZulu-Natal is a world-renowned meditation gem, the Buddhist Retreat Centre. Nestled in the lush, rolling hills of KZN, and a mere 90-minute drive from Durban, this spiritual oasis offers unsurpassed stillness, 300 paths to explore and 160 species of birds, one of which is the majestic blue swallow. In fact, late president Nelson Mandela declared the region a natural heritage site. Book your stay at one of the lodges or cottages to find your centre.
North of San Francisco is the Green Gulch Farm Zen Centre, which teaches scholars the art of Zen meditation. If you’re looking for a longer retreat, you can work in the community for extended periods, up to a few months, which gives travellers the opportunity to learn more intensive meditation techniques. There’s also the option of joining the apprenticeship programme.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The largest religious monument in the world is Angkor Wat in beautiful Cambodia – it even appears on the country’s national flag. It was originally built as a temple in honour of the Hindu god Vishnu, and later came to be used as a Buddhist temple. This is perhaps testament to it being a space that welcomes everyone, regardless of faith. Various tours are offered to those who are on a path of self-discovery or who are simply looking for a place where there’s peace and quiet in a culturally and aesthetically rich destination.