Spirituality is more than a practice—it’s a way of life. Spiritual travelers often know that you can’t change who you are no matter where you venture. If spirituality is a big part of your life, you’ll want to bring it with you.
One of the best ways to celebrate your own spirituality—and learn about how others celebrate theirs—is by visiting countries that have rich spiritual roots and practices. For your next divine retreat, consider Bali villas for rent, hotels with their own shrines or remote lodges.
No matter where you stay, these eight spots offer the most spiritual experiences.
Possibly the most spiritual place on the planet, Nepal has plenty to offer those looking to keep things sacred. Traditional Buddhist monasteries, hilltop temples and the extreme solitude of the Annapurna Circuit are all incredibly important to the country. Combining unreal picturesque views with stunning religious sites makes for an incredibly spiritual trip.
Highlights include Pashupatinath Temple, a sacred place for Hindus located just outside the capital of Kathmandu.
The many islands of Indonesia are perfect for spiritual travelers, though Bali obviously takes the cake. This prominent island—one of the most traveled in the world—is home to many different yoga and meditation retreats. Even if you’re not there for a retreat, the many festivals, opportunities to experience traditional song and dance, local food and lush landscapes offer a divine trip every time. It’s no surprise Bali is a popular honeymoon destination.
Explore the rich spirituality of this island by catching sunrise at the ancient Ulu Watu, or escape from the trials of tourism by meditating in one of the island’s secluded caves.
There are quite a few places in Peru that spiritual travelers will want to visit. An obvious choice is Machu Picchu, a hard-to-reach ancient sacred site on top of a mountain. Surrounded by other peaks, the green spaces are gorgeous—and offer plenty of history.
The historic Incan town of Cusco is another prominent spot, which is home to the Qorikancha temple ruins. Natural areas like Lake Titicaca and Aramu Muru are also perfect for that journey to inner peace.
History plays a major role in any trip to Ireland—and with history, comes religion in this country. Faith was incredibly important to the Celtic people, and they believed that God was everywhere. And when you see rolling green hills, wild coastline and towering cliffs, it’s not hard to believe why they believed that.
Dublin and Cork, Ireland’s two main cities, boast beautiful cathedrals amidst their hustle and bustle. Meanwhile, the medieval city of Kilkenny houses some stunning churches and castles. For a wilder experience, head west to Connemara or Kerry, where Celtic beliefs are still intertwined with everyday living.
If you happen to in Ireland during the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21st), go to the ancient burial site of Newgrange. On this day every year, sunlight enters the tomb and lights the way through its ornate passages.
Home to Angkor Wat, Cambodia is a must on any list of spiritual countries. This Buddhist city is made entirely of temples—and also contains the largest religious temple in the world. Exploring the temples’ various corridors, staircases and architectural designs along with unique statues and shrines will showcase the temple-city’s diversity. Other spiritual spots can be found at the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen, the ruins of Prasat Ek Phnom and the pagodas in Battambang. If you do visit Cambodia, be sure to check out Kampot – it’s a really cool place to get off the beaten track for a while and soak into a slower pace of travel. Check out this Kampot travel guide for more info.
6. United Kingdom
While all of the U.K. isn’t necessarily a spiritual experience, there’s no denying that there are some mysteries in the English countryside. Stonehenge is an important site for many across the globe. Even now, modern-day pagans flock to the ancient site to celebrate sunrise during the Summer Solstice.
But there are other sites that deal with the historic divine as well. The King’s Men ceremonial stone circle, on the border of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, dates back to 2,500 B.C. The standing stones at Avebury in Wiltshire are even older, and the area is also home to various crop circles.
India is another space where a spiritual journey is going to be met with endless excitement. There are so many ways to celebrate here, a place where devotion is above nearly all else. Gurus can be found all around the country, meditation retreats are plentiful and there are plenty of temples for spiritual travelers to visit.
Varanasi, a sacred Hindu city, is a must-see – simply explore its colorful, winding streets to see why. Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, is also home to some of India’s finest temples. If you’re looking for a longer trip, consider tracing the route of the Ganges – India’s most important and sacred river.
Another must on any list for spiritual travelers is Thailand. This top destination sometimes gets a bad reputation for raucous parties and excess in its cities, but don’t forget how important Buddhism is to local culture. You’ll find thousands of temples dotted across this beautiful country. This is no surprise, considering more than 90 percent of Thai citizens practice this ancient religion.
Because the divine is so important to Thai culture, it is evident in architecture as well. With so many temples, monks, palaces and lotus flowers in Thailand, anyone even remotely in tune with their own spirituality will feel right at home here.
The Dragon Cave in Phang Nga, Wat Pho in Bangkok and the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi are among the highlights for a dedicated spiritual traveler.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on idyllic places to spend your next vacation, check out this post from Spa Travel Gal.