Top 5 Zen Spots

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Prince Siddhārtha Gautama - you might know him as Buddha - is one of history’s greatest spiritual leaders, and Buddhism continues to play an important role in the global culture. Amongst the many teachings of Buddhism, the concept of zen is perhaps one of the most commonly found in today’s world – you don’t have to be a Buddhist to apply this idea to your own life, and find a little peace. Here’s our run-down of the top five places to find your zen in Asia – tranquil spots where you can rejuvenate mind, body and soul...

Kyoto temples, Japan

Ginkakuji temple, Kyoto

Okay, maybe this is cheating, but we couldn’t narrow down one spot in Kyoto. There are over 1,600 Buddhist temples in this city, each as gorgeous and serene as the last. Zen gardens surround the structures, blooming flowers bringing stunning colour and delicate bridges spanning tranquil streams and ponds. This is the ultimate Zen city.

Taking you there: Ancient & Modern Japan | Mt Fuji & the Japanese Alps | Cycling in Japan

Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)

Inle Lake at sunset


High in the Shan Hills lies one of Myanmar’s greatest treasures. Inle Lake is a shimmering expanse of fresh water, bordered by sleepy towns and green banks. Little boats drift across its surface, rowed by locals using their legs rather than arms, allowing them to stand and see clearly over the thick vegetation as they row. Beneath the surface numerous species of fish, which are unique to the lake, dart to and fro, scales flashing in the sunlight.

Taking you there: Highlights of Myanmar Discover Myanmar | Cycle Myanmar | Trekking in Myanmar 

Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan

Tiger's Nest, Bhutan 

Paro Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, is a magnificent temple complex perched high on the side of a towering, craggy cliff. Said to have been the site at which Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tiger before meditating and emerging in eight holy forms, the monastery offers stunning views of the misty, forest-covered valley below.

Taking you there: Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon | Festivals of Bhutan | The Bumthang Valley

Mongolian Steppe

Dawn in a Ger. Mongolia 

At the end of a long day’s cycling through Mongolia you’ll lay down your bike amongst the traditional gers. Your camp will be in the midst of the vast expanse of the steppe, with golden grasses swaying in the cool wind in every direction and mountains sketched across the horizon. The sun sets the sky alight before giving way to sparkling vistas of starlight. This is ultimate relaxation.

Taking you there: Cycling in Mongolia | Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads

The Tibetan Plateau

Tibetan highway


Sometimes called the “Roof of the World”, the Tibetan Plateau extends for thousands of kilometres. Massive mountain ranges border this stunning region, a sparse but stunning space inhabited by nomadic peoples and punctuated by sky-blue lakes. It’s the silence that’s most striking – the background noise of modern life is completely absent. The world seems endless and still from up here.

Taking you there: Highlights of Tibet

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