Cheap accommodation and flights have become very accessible, making already crowded travel destinations even more crowded. Places like Paris, the Pyramids, Stonehenge or the Tower of Pisa have almost lost their historic and cultural meaning, becoming no more than a gathering place for huge crowds and consumerism. But travel should be more than waiting in line and buying overpriced souvenirs. It should be a mindful experience that helps you meditate, reconnect with your roots and nurture your spiritual self. If you’ve had enough for mass tourism and you are looking for a destination where you can truly learn something, these 10 ideas will inspire you.
Just a few hours away from Cancun, the party capital of the world, lies a place much tranquil and isolated. The old Mayan city Tulum is one of few remaining historical sites with Mayan ruins and temples, a true landmark for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of Central America or simply spend a few days away from the noise of the city. Surrounded by lush forest and crystal blue seas, Tulum offers many awe-inspiring sights, as well as spiritual activities such as yoga retreats and dance courses. You can also interact with the locals to find out more about their culture or have steam baths.
The Japanese call Shikoku their holy land and have even created a 1,200 km-long pilgrimage road leading to it, where travellers can see 88 sacred places. These are all places where monks and important spiritual figures used to train and meditate. Once in Shikoku, make sure you stop by the Forest Therapy Pass, a natural spot of great beauty and positive energy, and the Botanical Gardens, where you can see rare plant species.
Langkawi Island, Malaysia
Malaysia is a beautiful place as can be seen from the beautiful cultural sites of the Langkawi Island highlighted above and today; it enjoys a great influx of visitors daily. As a result, the authorities have put in place a relatively flexible visa policy that allows nationals of many countries to enter there easily and now it easy to process application for a Malaysia visa
India is one of the most popular destinations in the world for spiritual tours and self-discovery. If you want to go on a life-changing trip that will completely redefine what you know about the world, the universe and yourself, start in Rishikesh, India. Holy City and Yoga capital, Rishikesh is known for its ashramas, which are retreats for meditation, yoga and chants. Rishikesh is by far the best place in India to learn about Hindu culture, no matter if you choose to discover it’s indoors and outdoors. In addition to the ashramas, you can explore the nearby hiking trails and wildlife.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Another location that should be on your list if you want to go on a spiritual journey is Angkor Wat, in Cambodia. A fascinating and enigmatic cultural jewel, Angkor Wat has one of the highest concentration of temples in the world. Although in the past years Cambodia has become very popular among adventurous travellers, it has not become an overcrowded destination. Most operators who organize tours here don’t usually allow more than 10 people at a time, so you will still be able to enjoy peace and tranquillity.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
The Arctic Refuge in Alaska is the largest wildlife refuge in the country, home to many endangered species of plants and animals such as the Dall sheep and porcupine caribou. Why would you consider this for a stop on your spiritual journey? First, it is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places in the country, a place of silent majesty that we oftentimes take for granted. Secondly, in light of the many dangers that threaten the future of our planet, the Arctic Refuge reminds us why we should protect nature and save endangered species from extinction.
Lovers of spirituality and the great outdoors will find in Sedona their natural home. It used to be a Native American settlement and the locals say that the red rocky landscape has spiritual powers that enlighten visitors and rejuvenate their spirit. People from all over the world visit Sedona to discover their path in life, recover after a traumatic event, meditate or talk to spirit healers.
The origins of Taoism can be traced back 2,500 years ago and the five Taoist Mountains in Henan, China are still here for those who want to discover it. Symbolic of the five cardinal directions, the mountains have a rich spiritual and philosophical history.
Although Uluru, or Ayers Rock, as the locals also call it, is very popular and well-known among locals, few people actually know that this Australian gem is one of the most sacred places in the world. It is a must-visit destination for members of the New Age movement, according to whom this location helps travellers reach enlightenment. Awe-inspiring up close as it is from afar, Uluru is also a great place for climbing and trekking.
Plum Village, France
In the heart of Southern France lies the small Plum Village, an unexpected island of Buddhism in a Catholic country. Here, the local Buddhist community still practices ancient meditation rituals and you can come here to observe them or live with them for a short period time and help them out. Plum Village is a great choice if you would like to know more about Buddhism but can’t travel to Asia or if you’d like to combine your European vacation with a little exotism.