World's Best Buddhist Monasteries and Meditation Retreats

Here are the best Buddhist monasteries and Meditation centers all over the world:Temple Forest Monastery

Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, Myanmar


Pa-Auk Forest Monastery (Pa-Auk Tawya in Burmese) is a forest monastery in the Theravāda tradition, with emphasis on the teaching and practice of meditation.

Founded in 1926, Pa-Auk Tawya (“the Monastery”) is situated in a forest near the village of Pa-Auk, 15 kilometres southeast of Mawlamyine, capital city of the Mon State, southern Myanmar. Extending over 500 acres of land, Pa-Auk Tawya is a full monastery with resident monks, nuns, lay meditators and volunteers. The number of residents varies seasonally from 500 to 1000.  Presently, there are over 100 foreign meditators, originating from over 20 countries, residing in the Monastery.

Since 1998, four branch monasteries have been established, coming under the name of International Buddhasāsana Meditation Centre, in Than Lyin to the south of Yangon, in Mandalay, in Hpa-An and in Dawei.

It is worth noting that Pa-Auk Tawya, Mawlamyine is the only centre with facilities for the accommodation and teaching of foreigners. The information on this website refers therefore mainly to Pa-Auk Tawya, Mawlamyine.

Wat Pah Nanachat (WPN) The International Forest Monastery, Thailand

Wat Pah Nanachat is a Buddhist monastery in Northeast Thailand, in the Theravada Forest Tradition.

It was established in 1975 by Ven. Ajahn Chah (1918-1992) as a branch monastery close to his own traditional forest monastery Wat Nong Pah Pong in Ubon Rachathani province, withVen. Ajahn Sumedho, an American disciple of his, as the first abbot. 

The monastery aims at providing English-speaking people the opportunity to train and practise the simple and peaceful lifestyle that the Buddha taught his monks in the forests over 2500 years ago.

Plum Village, France

For Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk whom Martin Luther King Jr. nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, cultivating lucidity is a means to connecting with yourself and others.
Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated by Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize.
"When you are mindful of something, you are concentrated on it, and the power of mindful concentration can help you see things as they really are and you discover the nature of interbeing," he recently told Shambhala Sun.
The monastery in southern France that he and about 200 monks and nuns call home welcomes visitors of all ages and features one lazy, unstructured day per week.

Wat Suan Mokkh, Chaiya, Thailand

Coconut grove
Starting on the first day of each month, this forest refuge offers 10-day meditation retreats.
All levels are welcome, but the conditions are rugged; in the words of Ajahn Buddhadasa, who founded the hermitage: "Live plainly, aim high."
At registration, you turn in your cell phone; beds are a straw mat and wooden pillow.
The wake-up bell is at 4 a.m.
The Garden of Liberation regularly attracts foreigners and is a good choice for those seeking an authentic forest monk experience with instruction in English.

Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, India

Dhamma Giri, meaing 'Hill of Dhamma' is one of the world's largest Vipassana meditation centres. It is co-located with the Vipassana Research Institute at Igatpuri in Maharastra, approximately three hours drive from Mumbai. The center offered its first course in 1976.  Today tens of thousands of students study here every year.  The centre's pagoda has over 400 cells for individual meditation.

Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK

Amaravati Temple in Spring 2014

Amaravati is a Theravada Buddhist monastery situated at the eastern end of the Chiltern Hills in south-east England. It is near the Hertfordshire village of Great Gaddesden. The nearest towns are Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.
Established in the early 1980s, the monastery is inspired by the Thai Forest Tradition and the teachings of the late Ajahn Chah, a Thai monk, a Thai monk and renowned Dhamma teacher, who encouraged Ajahn Sumedho to settle in England and found monasteries in this country. In Autumn 2010 Ajahn Sumedho handed over the position of abbot to the English monk Ajahn Amaro, for the previous fourteen years co-abbot of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.
The purpose of Amaravati Monastery is to provide a place of practice for monastics in the Forest Tradition, whose shared intention is the realization of Nibbana, freedom from all mental suffering. It is also open to guests and visitors who wish to come and stay in a place where there is the opportunity to develop mindfulness, to explore spiritual teachings, and to contribute to the life of the community.

Panditarama Forest Meditation Center, Myanmar

Located about forty miles north of Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) on over 100 acres of landscaped forest, the Panditarama Forest Meditation Center has all the requisites to support your meditation practice. In a beautiful, natural setting, the center offers:
  • Separate meditation halls for men and women
  • Dining halls
  • Interview rooms - where you get instruction from your meditation teachers
  • Comfortable, well-constructed cabins for single accommodations
  • Ample space for walking meditation.
This region of Burma has a special connection with Sayadaw U Pandita’s early spiritual training. He first studied as a young monk at the nearby Mahabodhi Forest Monastery. For many years, Sayadaw U Pandita thought of building a forest meditation center in this area, and due to generous donations from Sayadaw’s local and international devotees, Panditarama Forest Meditation Center has become a major practice center for both foreign and Burmese yogis.

The meditation center is open year-round for meditation practice.

From December 1st to January 31st, the Forest Center conducts the annual Sixty Day Special Retreat which hosts over 100 meditators from around the world for a silent, intensive meditation retreat.

Bhavana Society, USA 

The Bhavana Society was created to preserve the Theravada forest meditation tradition within the context of Western culture.
Our vision is as follows:
  To provide a forest monastery where ordained monks and nuns can live while cultivating Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom)
  To provide training to suitable lay candidates who are seeking ordination and to ordain those candidates at the end of the training period.
  To provide opportunities for monks and nuns to become future Dhamma and meditation teachers.
  To offer organized meditation retreats on a regular basis to members of the society and to the general public.
  To provide space for a limited number of lay people, who will assist in the running of the center, to live as long-term residents.
  To provide facilities for a limited number of lay people to undergo private long-term retreats.

Metta Forest Monastery, USA

A photo of the monastery wrapped in morning fog
Metta Forest Monastery is a meditation monastery in the lineage of the Thai Forest Tradition. Founded in 1990 by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, it has been under the direction of Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Ajaan Geoff) as abbot and meditation teacher since 1993. Their Dhamma teachings and more information about Buddhism, meditation and the Thai Forest Tradition can be found at
The Monastery is outside of Valley Center, California at the end of a road in an avocado orchard surrounded by the mountains and chaparral of northern San Diego County.
Being a monastery, its primary purpose is to give men the opportunity to ordain as bhikkhus to practice in line with Dhamma and Vinaya (training rules) taught by the Buddha over 2,500 years ago. Currently there are nine American monks and one Thai monk in residence.
Laymen and laywomen are also welcomed at the Monastery to practice in line with the Buddha’s teachings. Please see the visitor Information pages about day visits andovernight retreats.

Temple Forest Monastery, USA

Temple Forest Monastery

The primary purpose of Temple Forest Monastery is to serve as a place where Buddhist forest monks are able to live, and where those interested can become monks and receive a traditional training. In addition the monastery acts as a religious center, or ‘church’, for local and regional Buddhists, and also as a resource for those of any faith or none interested in learning from traditional Buddhist monastic life, teachings, and practice, where one can receive guidance and find opportunities for meditation and quiet reflection. The monastery aims to provide an accessible contemplative sanctuary for anyone interested in this way of life.

Abhayagiri Forest  Monastery, USA

Abhayagiri Monastery provides an environment in which individuals, families, guests and residents are given the opportunity to be in contact with the principles of the Buddha’s teachings and to cultivate those same qualities in their own lives. The monastery's origins are in the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism. We are open and respectful to all traditions that embody the central elements of the Buddha’s Path: generosity, virtue, mental cultivation, wisdom, and compassion.

With traditional monastic practice as its foundation, Abhayagiri provides an opportunity for men and women to live the forest-dwelling life of simplicity, meditation, and self-discipline, thereby supporting all to fully enter upon the Buddha’s Path to Enlightenment.

Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places in the World

Buddhism is a major world religion, and propounds a philosophy that is based on the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddhists venerate Buddha as the supreme enlightened being who sought out enlightenment not for himself but for everyone. It is regarded as one of the most practical religions in the world, and is also among the most popular. The roots of Buddhism date back to the 5th and the 6th century BC India. Buddha was born as  Siddhartha Gautama at Lumbini (now in Nepal) to Suddhodhana, a Shakya chieftain. Buddha’s teachings spread to different parts of Asia. Great temples, shrines and monasteries dedicated to the Buddha and Buddhism were built all over the Asian continent. The most revered of the Buddhist holy places are spread across the Gangetic plains in India as it was the birth place of the Buddha. Let us take a look at the top 10 Buddhist holy places.
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10. Bagan:
Bagan is an ancient town in Myanmar that stands on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River. This ancient place was a collective result of the temples built by ancient Burmese kings. The town has the largest area in the world dedicated to Buddhist temples numbering at around 4000. The spread of Buddhism among the Asian countries is well documented through the many temples that kings have built across the Asian continent. The majority of the temples at Bagan were erected in between the 10-12th century AD.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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9. Borobudur:

Borobudur is one of the most well-known places for Buddhist pilgrimage. It is located on the island of Java in Indonesia and is has some of the largest Buddhist temples in the world. More than 2 million blocks of stone were used in the construction of the temples that took 75 years to complete. The place dates back to the 8th century AD and they were mysteriously abandoned in the 14th century AD. Scientists believe that a large volcanic explosion led to the destruction of the temple which was found buried under volcanic ash.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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8. Sanchi:

Sanchi is the name of a small village in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The place is well-known for its Stupas which date back to the 3rd century AD. Hundreds of thousands of Buddhists and people from other faiths visit this small village every year. The great Stupa at Sanchi is among the oldest architectural structures in India and built during the reign of Emperor Ashoka who was a devout follower of the Buddha. It is considered as one among the eight holiest places for Buddhists.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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7. Sravasti:

Sravasti was one of ancient India’s largest cities, and also the place where the Buddha spent most of his monastic life. It is believed that the Buddha spent as many as 25 rainy seasons in this ancient city out of which he spent the maximum time serving at the monastery known as Jetavana. Every year thousands of Buddhists come to this city to pay homage to the Buddha and his life. Different sects of Buddhism are allowed to build their monasteries in the modern-day Sravasti as the place holds great importance to the Buddhists all over the world.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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6. Boudhanath:

The Boudhanath stupa is a holy place of worship for Buddhists all over the world. Located around 20 kms from the city of Kathmandu in Nepal, the Boudhanath stupa is one of the tallest Buddhist stupas. Boudhanath is one of the holiest places for Buddhists in Nepal and the world, and it is also among the top tourist attractions of the country.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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5. Swayambhunath:

Swayambhunath is one of the holiest places for Buddhism outside of India. It is an ancient religious complex built on the top of a hill in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The complex consists of a stupa, known as the Swayambhunath stupa, and has many temples and shrines from different dates in history. It is also home to a library and a Tibetan monastery. Swayambhunath is one of the oldest Buddhist places of worship in Nepal and is believed to have been commissioned in the 5th century AD. The place holds religious followers of Hinduism, too, as thousands of Hindus visit this hallowed place annually.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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4. Kusinara:

Kusinara, which is known today as Kushinagar, is the place where the Buddha achievedparinirvana after his death. Some of the ruins in this area date back to the 3rd century BC. Legend has it that the Buddha chose this place as the place of his death for a variety of reasons. This small town in the Kushinagar district in Uttar Pradesh is one of the holiest places of Buddhism.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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3. Sarnath:

Sarnath is the place where the Buddha delivered his first sermon. The Sarnath village is around 15 kms from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India. This place was mentioned by the Buddha himself as one of the four holy places for pilgrimage for the Buddhists. The Turk invasion laid waste to most of the structures at Sarnath; only ruins of several stupas and temples stand here. The Sarnath Museum located here houses the famous lion pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka which India adopted as its National Emblem.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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2. Lumbini:

Lumbini is the birth place of the Buddha. It is one of the four main places of pilgrimage for Buddhists all over the world. Located in Rupahdehi district in Nepal, Lumbini is the place where the Buddha spent the first 29 years of his life. The current day Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. It is visited by thousands of Buddhist pilgrims every year and is among the most visited places in Nepal.
Top 10 Buddhist Holy Places
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1. Bodh Gaya:

Bodh Gaya is famously known as the place where the Buddha received his enlightenment. It is in the Gaya district in Bihar, India and is home to the Mahabodhi Temple, the Diamond Throne and the Bodhi Tree. The Bodhi tree was the tree under which the Buddha meditated and realized nirvana. Emperor Ashoka is said to have laid the foundations of the temple around 250 years after the enlightenment of the Buddha. The city was forgotten and buried under ruins until it was excavated in the 19th century AD by the British.

This might be an incomplete list. Because there are some important places in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and other countries.


What is your impression of the day-to-day of a Buddhist monk? Your visualization may make it appear that the monk-life is a vast departure from modern society, and you’d be pretty close to the truth. However, we can draw inspiration from the way they live their lives.

If you are looking to bring more mindfulness and peace to your days, then we can look to these simple Zen Buddhist-inspired rules to live by, no matter what your spirituality or religion.

One Thing At A Time.shaolin-monk-tips

Take steps, rather than multi-tasking.
For example: when eating, just eat. When bathing, just bathe.
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” –  Zen proverb.

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Now that you’re doing one thing at a time, don’t rush it. Instead, take your time, move slowly, and act deliberately. Focusing like this is surprisingly difficult for someone used to rushing around doing a million things at once. Practice makes perfect, though.

Follow Through.

You’re doing one task slowly and deliberately, now make sure you follow through and finish it before moving on to the next.
If it is impossible, at least try to put away and clean up the unfinished task so that it doesn’t interfere with your next movements.

Do Less.

The Buddhist Monk’s day starts early and is filled with work. However, the task list is not unending. Today has its tasks, and no more. If you are completely filling your day with ‘to-dos,’ you’ll be rushing around from one thing to another without being mindful at all.


Now that you’re managing your schedule to allow time for finishing tasks mindfully, try to leave room in between things.
You can rest here, meditate, or even finish something that took a little longer then expected.


To the Zen Buddhist, rituals exist for everything from the sacred to the mundane. Rituals surrounding cleaning are as important as the rituals surrounding meditation. Actions are done because they are important to do, and if they are important enough to take time out of your day, then they are worthy of your entire attention.

Make Time.

Certain times of day in the Monk life are for certain activities.
For example, bathing, working, cleaning and eating all take place in their time to make sure they are done regularly.
You can designate time like this for your own regularly-occurring activities.


Sitting meditation (zazen) is vitally important in the life of a Zen Buddhist. Slices of every day are set aside for this practice, and it will teach presence and living from moment to moment.

Smile and Serve.

Monks spend parts of every day in service to others. This teaches humility and helps leave selfishness behind. In the same way, the practices of smiling and kindness help to improve the lives of those around you, and your own.

Meditate While Cooking And Cleaning.

Besides zazen, cooking and cleaning are the next two most important moment of the Zen Buddhist Monk’s day.
Both are good practices in mindfulness. If you find these boring or a chore, try to surround them with meditation and ritual.
Put your mind to them, focus, and do them completely. You may change your mind about these tasks.

Live Simply With Your Necessities.

While we are not Zen Monks, it is good to look at how they live as an example. There is little in their lives which is not necessary – clothing, shelter, utensils, tools, and simple vegetarian food. While extreme, their example allows us to think about what we have that we don’t need, and whether we can jettison some of the excess weight of our possessions.

Live Without.

The other side of the topic above is that if something is unnecessary, you can live without it.
Try to make it a goal to rid yourself of as many unessential things as you can. Remember, it’s up to you to decide what is essential.
So if you have a vast library that you study, this is probably essential to you. If you have a collection that is your passion, this is probably essential.
Even though another person may see that as clutter, it’s not up to them to decide.
The point is keeping what’s important, and ridding yourself of excess weight.


Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935 and was formally recognized as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism just four years later.
In addition to being a great spiritual leader for a major world religion, Gyatso is an outspoken activist for many secular world issues, such as: the environment, human rights, non-violence, interfaith dialogue, and reproductive health, in addition to Tibetan sovereignty.
He has given countless talks to both Buddhist and non-Buddhist audiences worldwide on a large variety of subjects, and remains quite active to this day despite his advanced age. He is also the author of numerous books.
Here are a set of instructions straight from the source on how to lead a life of karmic positivity:

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

Follow the three R’s:
-  Respect for self,
-  Respect for others and
-  Responsibility for all your actions.der-14-dalai-lama-in-huettenberg-a27956182

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.dalai-lama_5312

When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Spend some time alone every day.

Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.dalai-lama

Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.

Be gentle with the earth.

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

Russell Brand and Dalai Lama : Stand Up and Be The Change [USA ONLY]

Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.


Education is one of our core values here at Collective Evolution. By education I don’t necessarily mean the acquisition of a degree, however; education takes all shapes and forms. Simply being alive and experiencing life as we do every day is worthy of the name education. We receive an education when we interact with others, and we receive an education when we do independent research. Formal schooling is a different beast entirely, and it’s unfortunate that our society equates diplomas and degrees with intelligence, since obtaining a piece of paper has nothing to do with intelligence at all. Albert Einstein himself said, “I never let my education interfere with my learning.” He also told us that “everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This practice of judging everyone based on the same criteria is a major flaw in the education system, for which many children suffer unnecessarily.

From the day we enter into the education system, we are made to feel as if getting good grades means we are smart, and not getting good grades means we are not. In many ways, however, good grades are simply a measure of obedience. The list of problems plaguing the education system is extensive. Not only do we measure intelligence using narrow parameters, we also ignore and fail to nurture emotional intelligence.  This is something many of us have felt, and it was good to see the Dalai Lama bring up this issue in a recent Facebook post. On May 16th, he wrote:

Modern education with its focus on material goals and a disregard for inner values is incomplete. There is a need to know about the workings of our minds and emotions. If we start today and make an effort to educate those who are young now in inner values, they will see a different, peaceful, more compassionate world in the future. (source)

This really gets at the heart of the matter. Modern day education focuses almost exclusively on material goals. From the day we are born, we are shown how the world (supposedly) works and what we need to do to make our way through it. These things include gaining a piece of paper (degree), mostly through memorization, in order to make more pieces of paper so we can have a roof over our heads and put food into our mouths. As a result, we never develop the ability to think critically, and we never learn to question the world around us. Indeed, questioning authority and the status quo are discouraged at every turn. We are instead encouraged to follow identical paths, with material wealth being the marker of our success on this path.   The worst part about it is that many people feel like ‘failures’ or ‘unsuccessful’ if they are not able to reach this level of wealth, and fear being perceived as not smart, educated, or successful as a result.

This unreasonable fear is one example of the ‘inner workings’ the Dalai Lama is speaking about. Modern day schooling disregards, and even discourages, emotional development. It does not teach a child how to deal with their ego, how to recognize their own behavioural patterns, and the result is that most adults cannot even recognize when their actions are being driven by suppressed emotions. It does not teach self awareness. It does not teach children how to handle intense emotion or even that having emotions is okay. It does not teach them about humility, about letting go, about how to manage stress, or about the importance of self love and self care, and it does not teach them about the positive effect self love can have on their life and on the lives of those around them.

If we were taught these important things about life rather than being left to learn them on as adults, if ever, our world would be a much more peaceful and compassionate place, as the Dalai Lama himself says.

Chasing material wealth rather than nurturing the self also makes us incapable of listening to our own hearts.  We are forced into obedience and to do things a certain way, and we learn quickly that to do otherwise will have serious consequences. In my opinion, school teaches many how to be followers, but few how to be leaders.

All those years of being unable to say ‘no’ forces us into conformity, and, according to Dr. Kelly M. Flanagan, a licensed clinical psychologist, this has dire consequences for our agency in the world:
When we can’t say “No,” we become a sponge for the feelings of everyone around us and we eventually become saturated by the needs of everyone else while our own hearts wilt and die. We begin to live our lives according to the forceful shouldof others, rather than the whispered, passionate want of our own hearts. We let everyone else tell us what story to live and we cease to be the author of our own lives. We lose our voice — we lose the desire planted in our souls and the very unique way in which we might live out that desire in the world. We get used by the world instead of being useful in the world. (source)
Our education system needs to focus less on making everybody the same and more on nurturing the individual. The problem is, individuals have opinions, and as John. D Rockefeller himself said, he “wants a nation of workers, not thinkers.” It is in the interests of many to manufacture a working class that does not think for itself. When we are forced to work ourselves to exhaustion simply in order to survive, we have no time to worry about bigger issues, like the environment or corporate greed. We can do much better than this. We are infinite potential and we have amazing solutions for almost all of our problems. One thing is for sure, if our school system does not start to teach these ‘inner values,’ our children will continue to focus on material wealth and look for happiness in external things. They will not learn to consider their emotions and those of other people, or how to manage the stresses of life.

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