Thailand is one of the best destinations in the world for yoga lovers. On the one hand, it offers natural landscapes of great beauty that are an ideal setting for practicing yoga, either in front of postcard tropical beaches or next to spectacular landscapes of rice fields and limestone mountains. On the other hand, for decades a large community of yoga lovers has been forging in Thailand, and this has favored the emergence of a lot of centers and studios devoted to yoga, in many cases led by excellent professionals, both locals and foreigners who have established in Thailand.
And do not forget that Thailand is a land of Buddhist culture, a religion of Indian origin in which meditation is of great importance. Until relatively recently, almost all men spent a period of their life as novices or monks in a Buddhist monastery, where they dedicated a significant part of their days to meditation. Therefore, meditation is part of Thai life from an early age, and this certainly contributes to making Thailand a very good destination for yoga lovers.
And you don’t have to be a veteran yogi to practice yoga in Thailand: most yoga classes, courses and retreats are open to everyone, with no prior experience required, unless otherwise noted.
The best places to practice yoga in Thailand
The islands of Thailand
The Thai islands of the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea are the favorite choice of many yoga lovers. Mainly for having a natural environment with beautiful views and a leisurely pace of life, a combination that invites contemplation. Although in almost all Thai islands with a notable tourist presence there are yoga centers, among all of them it is worth highlighting Koh Pha Ngan. A notable community of yoga practitioners gathers in this island, and there are numerous yoga centers, some of them internationally renowned. Although there are also inexpensive options, many of the island resorts dedicated to yoga retreats are quite expensive.
► The Sanctuary Thailand: this is a resort on beautiful Haad Tien beach, Koh Pha Ngan island, which offers a wide variety of yoga sessions and other relaxation techniques daily, which can be done sporadically or in programs and courses of different durations. They also offer accommodation within a very wide price range, from the equivalent of about € 10/night to about € 150/night.
► Samahita Retreat: a resort on the island of Koh Samui dedicated to the practice of yoga, with a lot of classes and activities on offer, and different meditation spaces overlooking the sea and its gardens. It is not an economical option: the minimum stay is 3 days, and the price per day varies between 150 and 200 US $, including accommodation, food and activities.
► Island Yoga: they offer yoga and meditation retreats with a wide range of activities, on the beautiful island of Koh Yao Noi (Andaman Sea), in a resort with varied accommodation options, from beds in shared dormitories to beautiful wooden bungalows with a/c.
The capital of northern Thailand is another of the most popular options among those who want to practice yoga in Thailand. Despite being the main city in the north, Chiang Mai maintains a calm rhythm of life close to nature, and in its old town there are many yoga studios, some of them excellent. But the good news is that you don’t have to go too far from the city to find yoga centers in traditional wooden houses, surrounded by rice fields and beautiful mountains. Urban yoga studios mainly offer classes and courses, while centers in rural settings further afield offer retreats.
► Wild Rose Yoga: this is one of the yoga studios in Chiang Mai old town, a good option for those who already have a minimal knowledge of yoga and want to drop in a sporadic group session. Joining a 90-minute yoga session costs THB 250-300 (€ 6 or € 7).
► Suan Sati: a yoga center located in a beautiful rural setting 35 km southwest of Chiang Mai city. It offers yoga retreats of 6 days/5 nights for a price between 10,000 and 16,000 THB (275-450 €) all inclusive, which makes it one of the cheapest options that can be found in Thailand for this type of retreat.
The capital of Thailand, famous for being a megalopolis where bustle, noise and pollution reign, might seem at first the least suitable place to practice yoga. But seen from a different angle, yoga is a great way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the big city, and although beautiful and quiet open spaces are scarce in Bangkok, there are plenty of excellent quality yoga studios that manage to create little oases of peace and tranquility.
► Absolute You: one of the most popular yoga studios in the Thai capital, so popular that it has expanded so much that it currently has over a dozen venues in the city. They offer a ton of classes of different types of yoga for all levels, and the price for a single group session is 650 THB. We mentioned this one as an example, but actually in Bangkok there are hundreds of options of all kinds!
Types of yoga centers in Thailand
Urban studios for yoga classes
These are the places where anyone who wants to do a sporadic yoga session during their trip should go. They are usually found in the main towns of Thailand, especially the most popular among expats and tourists. In cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai there are many yoga studios, and also in tourist coastal or island towns such as Krabi, Phuket or Koh Samui. Yoga sessions usually last 90 minutes, and the price of individual group classes is usually around THB 300 in the simplest places, up to around THB 600 when it comes to studios with more spectacular views or located in more exclusive areas.
Yoga retreat centers
They are all over Thailand, but especially abundant in some Thai islands, and also in northern Thailand. These centers are expressly conceived for yoga retreats of several days or even weeks, and offer both accommodation and an extensive daily program of activities related to yoga, meditation and well-being. They ask for a minimum stay of a few days, and many of the yoga practitioners who attend stay for one or even several weeks. Long stays and community practice of yoga and other activities lead to a close relationship between the participants. One of the most popular options among those who want to practice yoga in Thailand.
They are mainly found on some Thai islands and other coastal beach areas. These resorts are somehow halfway between the yoga retreat centers described above and a conventional tourist resort, and in addition to practicing yoga, they offer more comfort, more entertainment options and certain luxuries. Some of these resorts offer accommodation to conventional clients who do not practice yoga, while others only accept yoga practitioners. Although there are quite cheap resorts, most are rather expensive (or really expensive) in relation to prices in Thailand.
On the other hand, there are those who seek to live a spiritual experience practicing Vipassana meditation in a Thai Buddhist monastery. Obviously, although it bears a certain connection, this falls into a completely different category from everything we have discussed so far. This is the most spartan option, without comforts, definitely not for posers. Meditation is part of the routine of Buddhist monks, and some monasteries in Thailand accept foreign laymen to join their meditation sessions and retreats. If you are interested in it, take a look at this article on vipassana meditation in northern Thailand, where our friend Elena Ruíz told us about her intense experience.
Some Thai temples that accept foreigners on their Vipassana retreats are:
► In Bangkok: Wat Mahatat and the Young Buddhists Association of Thailand (they have several centers).
► In Chiang Mai: Wat Ram Poeng and Wat Phra Dhatu Sri Chomthong monasteries (0 5382 6869).
► In Pathum Thani: The Middle Way Meditation Retreat