Traveling to the world’s great spiritual destinations is the kind of adventure that dreams are made of. Visiting far-off temples, praying in majestic cathedrals, searching for the answers to life’s great questions on a windswept beach or mountaintop... there's no end to the myriad ways you can explore the world's spiritual places.
Taking a spiritual tour is an excellent way of making sure that you’re able to experience these sites while gaining a deeper understanding of their history and significance. A good spiritual tour will balance time for both sightseeing and spiritual contemplation.
No matter your background or your reason for engaging in spiritual travel, the world is full of moving, spiritually significant experiences. Here are some amazing places around the globe where you can take a spiritual tour to find your inner self.
Where To Go
India is one of the top destinations for spiritual tourism, and it’s easy to see why! Dotted with Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist holy sites across the entire country, India also features numerous ashrams where you can study yoga and meditation. Bathe in the Ganges river, meditate atop a mountain, and visit incredible temples in a country where spirituality is truly a part of everyday life. The best time to visit India is October through March.
Thailand’s rich Buddhist history and incredible temples make it an excellent destination for spiritual tours. Some temples, like Wat Pho in Bangkok, feature Thai massage classes on the temple grounds -- Thai massage being considered an important spiritual practice. In addition, the array of yoga centers on Thailand’s beautiful beaches provides the opportunity to make your spiritual trip incorporate physical and mental practices as well. The best time to visit Thailand is December through March.
Turkey features the world-famous Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, which has been both a church and a mosque at various points during its existence and is a beautiful place for spiritual contemplation. In addition, the tomb of the Sufi poet Rumi in Konya draws thousands of pilgrims and poetry lovers each year. Spring and autumn are the most popular times of year to visit.
France’s holy sites are among the most recognizable in the world. From the incredible stained glass of Chartres Cathedral to the healing spring of Lourdes where hundreds travel each year in search of healing, France is a beautiful place to take a spiritual trip. France is a wonderful year-round destination, but spring and fall are the most popular times to visit.
Planning Your Trip
What to Look for in a Spiritual Tour
When planning a spiritual trip, as with any organized tour, you should start by looking at the itinerary and make sure that it incorporates the sites and activities that are most important to you. Whether you want to meditate for hours in an ashram, visit beautiful temples and practice yoga on a beach in Thailand, or contemplate poetry in Turkey, make sure that your tour’s itinerary matches your priorities, both spiritual and sightseeing.
Average Spiritual Trip Length & Cost
Most organized spiritual trips are about one week long, though you can also find spiritual retreats that are longer or shorter. For a one-week organized tour, you should expect to spend $1,000-$2,500 depending on where you go and how many amenities are included in your tour.
The main thing to keep in mind when packing for a spiritual tour is that many spiritual sites have strict dress codes. In general, you should plan to cover your shoulders, your knees, and everything between. Check with your tour guide in advance to see if there are any more specific requirements for the places that you plan to visit.
Qualification & Training
You don’t need any specific qualifications to take a spiritual trip, but you should come with a desire to learn. In addition, a basic knowledge of the spiritual traditions whose holy sites you’re planning to visit is a good idea, so you may want to do some reading about the places you’re visiting in advance. In particular, make sure that you know the dress code and etiquette for visiting the temples and shrines that you’d like to see.
Some shrines and spiritual sites are located atop mountains or other difficult-to-access areas. You may wish to ask your guide in advance about any difficult terrain and bring sturdy shoes to prevent accidental slips and falls.
When planning a spiritual trip, you want to take the same safety precautions that you would for any international vacation. Check the US State Department or similar warnings. As with any other type of travel, check the visa and immunization requirements for your destination.