8 Best Vipassana Meditation Retreats in Thailand
A Vipassana meditation is recognized as one of the most ancient techniques of meditation. It was originally practiced in India and eventually lost in transition. Until 2,500 years ago, it was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha and was taught as a mean to reach the resultant highest happiness of enlightenment. The word “Vipassana” has derived from Pali ancient language which means to see things as they really are. The Vipassana meditation retreat focuses on the activity of sustaining clear awareness on one thing for a purpose of peace and understanding.
Unfortunately, the art of Vipassana meditation vanished from India for several centuries because of the fall on Buddhism. However, it is continuously handed down from generation to generation and has finally flourished in Thailand. Today Thailand has been recognized as one of the best countries for Vipassana meditation retreat. This article will introduce 8 best Vipassana meditation retreats for practicing Vipassana meditation in Thailand.
1. Wat Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage
The core of Vipassana meditation retreat in Wat Suan Mokkh aims to lay down the groundwork for Anapanasati or mindfulness with breathing. The participant will be taught the concentration meditation by focusing on breathing. Wat Suan Mokkh International Dharma Heritage has offered 10-day meditation retreat course on the first day of each month. The participant is required to register in person at least 1 day prior to the beginning of each course. A non-refundable registration fee of 2,000 Baht will be charged upon arrival. The fee will cover all expenses during 10-day meditation retreat with no additional cost
Wat Suan Mokkh International Dharma Heritage is situated in Chiya district, Suratthani province, about 640 km south of Bangkok. The retreat center locates about 1.5 km from the main monastery on the opposite side of Highway 41 in a quiet area by a hillside. The institute can be accessed from various means of transportation such as train, bus, or air.
The institution is often crowded during the peak season starting from December to April. It is advisable to avoid coming in that period if you want a calm and more peaceful place to practice. For more information, please contact the official homepage at http://www.suanmokkh-idh.org Facebook: suanmokkhbangkok
2. Wat Rampoeng, Chiang Mai
Wat Rampoeng (official name—Wat Tapotaram) is one of the most famous Vipassana meditation retreats in Chiang Mai. The monastery is teaching the practice of Vipassana meditation which develops self-understanding through mindfulness training. The practice is based solely on 4 foundations of mindfulness which are the contemplation of the body, feeling, mind (thought), and objects of the mind.
Wat Rampoeng offers 26-day basic course in Vipassana meditation retreat. The participant will be trained under the supervision of the selected teacher on an on-going basis. Those who complete a basic course will be eligible for an advanced 10-day insight meditation retreat. The registration can be made either in person or by phone. No registration fee is required.
To join the meditation, the participant must submit the documents as follows;
- A valid passport and visa
- 2 passport photo
- The photocopy of your passport and visa
The participant is also required to bring along at least 2 sets of white cloth and other personal toiletries. For more information, please contact the temple’s head office: (66) 53-278-620 or (66) 53-810-180 or the official website: http://www.watrampoeng.net
3. Wat Phratat Srichomtong, Chiang Mai
Wat Phratat Srichomtong is another monastery in Chiang Mai province that is offering the course of Vipassana meditation retreat on Anapanasati or mindfulness with breathing method. The monastery is located in Chomtong district, Chiang Mai province. There are plenty regular bus services from Chiang Mai town to Chomtong district every hour. Like Wat Rampoeng, Wat Phratat Srichomtong also offers 21-day basic Vipassana meditation retreat course for a beginner.
The participant will engage in the practice of concentration in mindfulness with breathing. At the end of each day, the participant must consult with the teacher for clarification of problems or questions that may arise during training.
The registration can be made in advance by phone or in person at Vipassana meditation retreat center, Tel: (66)53-342-184 to 6. The registration is free for all participants. The foreigner must submit a passport with valid visa to the monastery. Please bring along 2-3 sets of white cloth and other necessary personal toiletries. A mobile phone is not allowed to use in practicing area at all time. Meals are served twice a day in the morning and before noon. Having dinner is prohibited by the rule of Vipassana meditation but the participant may drink some light beverages such as coffee or tea.
4. Wat Tam Doi Tohn, Chiang Mai
The monastery is situated at Ban Mae Sapok village in Mae Win district, about 67 km south of Chiang Mai town. There is no direct bus service from Chiang Mai town to the monastery. The participant must take yellow line mini-pickup truck bound for Ban Kad district and get off the minibus at Ban Kad market. Then hire a private driver to the temple (cost approximately 200 Baht). Alternatively, you may take a private taxi from Chiang Mai town to the temple directly (cost approximately 900-1,000 Baht).
The monastery provides 7-day basic Vipassana meditation retreat course and all participants must stay for the entire period of the course. The participant must comply with rule and regulation for the duration of the course under the supervision of teachers. The main focus of meditation is to observe noble silence which is the silence of body, speed, and mind. The interaction either in oral or gesture between each participant is strictly prohibited. The participant is allowed to only speak with the teacher at the end of the day for assessment purpose.
The meditation venue is far from the village and no shop service in the monastery. Therefore, the participant must bring along sufficient personal items. Even though the registration to the course is free of charge, it is advisable to make some donation in order to help to finance the monastery’s operation and other expenses. For more information, please click the official website at http://www.vimuttidhamma.org/en
5. Wat Marp Jan, Rayong
Venerable Ajahn Chah has been widely recognized for his practice of the strict monastic discipline and single-mindedly perusing meditation as the path to the realization of truth. Many westerners came to study Vipassana meditation and way of life under Ajahn Chah’s supervision. Today Ajahn Chah’s teachings and disciples are dotted across the globe. Wat Marp Jan is part of a large community of associated monasteries founded by Ajahn Chah’s disciple.
Venerable Ajahn Anan, the abbot of Wat Marp Jan and one of Ajahn Chah’s disciples, decided to found a new monastery in a dense forest of Rayong province which was later named Wat Marp Jan or monastery of the moonlit mountain. His way of practicing insight meditation has attracted a large number of foreigners coming to practice under his guidance.
Wat Marp Jan welcomes all practitioners from all over the world. The participant who is interested in Vipassana meditation retreat at Wat Marp Jan for multiple days should contact the monastery via e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. The participant must submit following documents;
- A self-introductory letter
- A complete personal detail form
- A passport photo
- A reference letter from monastic or lay supporter affiliated with Wat Marp Jan or Associated monasteries of Ajahn Chah. Alternatively, the applicant may provide a certificate of good conduct issued by government officials from home country.
The registration for meditation is free of charge. For more information, please click http://www.watmarpjan.org/en
6. Dipabhavan Meditation Center, Koh Samui, Suratthani
Dipabhavan Meditation Center is situated on the hillside slope of the high mountain in the southeast of Samui Island. Most visitors may find it very difficult to get to the center by themselves. Therefore, Dipabhavan has set up the foundation office in the “Icon” building at Hua Thanon and another office in Utopia resort in Lamai Beach. Upon arrival, staffs will take visitors free of charge to the meditation center.
Dipabhavan Meditation Center offers 7 Day Vipassana meditation retreat course on the 3rd and the 20th of each month. The course has focused on Vipassana meditation using the method of Anapanasati or mindfulness with breathing and Dhamma talk with teachers. Since the former abbot of Suan Mokkh is the founder of Dipabhavan, hence, you may find that the teaching method of meditation is similar to that of Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage.
The visitor who is interested in participating may apply online at http://dipabhavan.weebly.com/retreat-booking.html. Please be advised that the participant must attend all activities throughout the course. The registration is free of charge but it is advisable to make a donation to the center in order to keep this program running for the next group of participants.
7. S.N. Goenka Meditation Center
Mr. S.N. Goenka is a famous Burmese Vipassana practitioner of Indian descendant. He was born and raised in Myanmar and he had an opportunity to learn Vipassana meditation from Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Over the period of 45 years, the teaching method of Vipassana meditation from Mr. Goenka has attracted thousands of followers around the globe. Mr. Goenga set up Vipassana Meditation Centers in all over the world. There are 9 meditation centers that teaching Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka in Thailand. An absolute beginner should start with a 10-day introductory course of Vipassana meditation retreat. All Vipassana meditation retreat courses are run on a donation basis. There is no charge for teaching or accommodation. Anyway, it is recommended you make a donation to keep the program running.
The visitor who is interested should apply online at https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/courses. Please also note that the student must stay for the entire period of the course.
8. The International Forrest Monastery, Ubon Ratchathani
The international forest monastery is publicly known as Wat Pah Nanachat. It was established in 1975 by venerable Ajahn Cha himself to facilitate training and practice the art of Vipassana meditation in the English language for foreigners from overseas. Unlike other monasteries, the international forest monastery doesn’t provide a Vipassana meditation retreat course to the participant but rather let the participant experience the challenging lifestyle of forest monk and eventually learn from that. Generally, the practitioners will engage in studying and practicing meditation on their own. Therefore, the participant should have some basic knowledge of Vipassana meditation from elsewhere.
The participants must commit themselves at least 7 days in training. In the first 3 days of training, each participant will be assessed whether he is fit to continue his practice or not. The maximum stay of 30 days is allowed for lay guest.
The participant who is interested to stay at Wat Pah Nanachat is required to send a self-introductory letter to the guest monk informing the arrival date and length of stay. The letter should be sent in advance to secure the place. Upon arrival, the participant must contact the guest monk office for registration. Please bring along a valid passport and visa. The participant must prove that he is in good physical and mental health. It is advisable to have insurance coverage and sufficient fund for the emergency. The monastery will provide food, bedding, and mosquito net but guests have to bring their own flashlight, alarm clock, sandals, mosquito repellent, and personal toiletries. There is no charge for staying in the monastery. The application letter should be sent to the following address;
The Guest Monk, Wat Pah Nanachat, Bahn Bung Wai, Warin Chamrab
Ubon Ratchathani 34310, THAILAND
For more information, please click http://www.watpahnanachat.org