Is there something telling you it’s time to disconnect from this crazy, maddening, hectic life?!
Well, until not too long ago I would have recommended the following: pack your bags and head towards a Japanese Shukubo (Buddhist temple), because in this magical spaces – away from the busy tourist areas – you’ll be able to lose yourself in the peace of its austere facilities and daily mystical routines.
Now, I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen any longer.
Because on June 15 of this year (2019), a new law was introduced in Japan that allows Buddhist temples to promote themselves as businesses to attract foreign tourists.
And now the Terahaku platform has become the Airbnb of temples throughout the country!
What does that mean for you, the traveller over 50?
That means that what once was sacred and exclusive, it no longer is.
It means that a once authentic and genuine cultural experience will now only provide a partial taste of zen life in Japan.
And it means that you will be surrounded by visitors from all over the world such as yourself, looking for isolation and disconnection.
And possibly, prices will soar exponentially.
So if you still keen to travel to Japan and participate in the wonderful experience that is being part of the daily life of a Buddhist temple, keep reading!
What other mystical places afford you peace and silence away from mass tourism?
Agustin Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic
Built in the thirteenth century, the exterior of this monastery is a wonderful reminder of its medieval past, in contrast with the decoration of its 100 rooms renovated under 20th Centurty Czech cubist style.
I won’t lie to you, if you are looking for austerity and minimalism, you will not find it this Marriott owned hotel.
However, if what you want is luxury and a high standing experience in an incredibly well-preserved environment with medieval nuances, Augustine Prague is what you are looking for.
Monasterio Zen Bailin, China
The Zen Bailin monastery is one of the few Zen temples in China that allows foreigners to live with the monks.
Located in Shijiazhuang, three hours south of Beijing, this monastery offers weekend stays during which you can share the daily routine of the monks, prayers and meditation.
You’ll even share meals with them while learning the basic principles of Zen philosophy.
If you are worried about not having certain comforts in this area of China, keep in mind that most rooms have western elements such as comfortable beds, hot water and toilets.
Fontevraud Abbey, Loire Valley, France
Another example of a beautiful restoration of a 12th-century monastery that focuses on luxury and ostentation.
Although, in this case, the price factor is not as steep as it was in the first of our properties.
The Abbey of Fontevraud in the vicinity of Anjou, Touraine, and Poitou offers a serene and quiet experience in modern facilities for a fairly reasonable price (but please bear in mind that you’re still looking at about €150 a night!).
The French-Canadian designer duo Jouin-Manku (Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku) has managed to perfectly combine slate roofs, vaulted halls and a maze of Romanesque cloisters with a contemporary style, always maintaining the historical and serene spirit of the abbey.
Wat Pah Nanacha, Thailand
This is it!
If you’re looking for a truly Buddhist experience without any filters…
And you want to bathe in the silence of the forest in Thailand…
This temple is a must!
Located in northwestern Thailand, in Wat Pah Nanacha you will be asked to refrain from using any type of luxuries such as music, makeup, technology, and games.
Eating afternoon it’s a no-no as well.
So if this sounds more like a nightmare to you than a peaceful holiday, forget it, my Nomad@50 friend!
But if you don’t shy away from challenges, why not?
Because this challenge will afford you the incomparable opportunity to experience the very real life of the community that follows the Dhamma-Vinaya teachings of the Buddha.
And that’s something worth a little effort, don’t you think?
Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City, Canada
The Agustines Monastery was the first hospital of this order founded beyond the Mexican border.
The building still retains much of the original character of the seventeenth century and keeps original religious works of art, antique furniture and, above all, the Sisters’ belief in healthy and conscious eating.
Even breakfast is eaten in silence.
But interestingly, all you need to do is go out the door and the silence fades into the beautiful streets of Quebec.
Only a few blocks away you have Saint-Jean street, buzzing with shops and restaurants and daily life.
The Dufferin Terrace, with panoramic views of the San Lorenzo River, is just a 15-minute walk away. From there you can take the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec (or walk it if you have the energy!) to the charming Petit-Champlain district.
A night in this wonderful environment will cost you approximately €100-150 depending on the season.
Kopan Monastery Nepal
Located about 7 km from the Nepalese capital, the once property of the King of Nepal’s astrologer is today home to 360 monks, lamas, teachers and workers.
Dominated by a magnificent Bodi tree, in this monastery you will live with monks of all ages who come from all areas of Nepal and Tibet and who dedicate their lives to the study and practice of the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, with special emphasis on the teachings of Lama Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Gelug Lineage.
You will breathe the pure air of the Himalayas, enjoy the magical view over the rice terraces of the Kathmandu valley, and rejoice in the incomparable opportunity to live a few days of seclusion and reflection in an extremely serene environment.
Tabo Monastery, India
Supposedly founded by a Buddhist king with a 1000-year-old lineage to Tibetan royalty, the Tabo Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the world.
A uniquely serene place, the Tabo Monastery was built in clay in the ninth century at a height of more than 3000 meters.
So can you imagine the imposing views of the Himalayas as a backdrop?
The Sarai building offers accommodation for visitors as well as a small library and a quiet environment, reflection of the ancient lifestyle of Buddhist monks.
If you are looking for an authentic and genuine cultural experience to disconnect 100%, I hope these 7 wonderful places are what you are looking for or at least they inspire you to start planning your next escape!