One of my favorite places for a meditation retreat is Wat Suan Mok, in the Surat Thani province of Thailand. Just an hour’s drive from the planet’s oldest rainforest and Khao Sok National Forest, this gorgeous retreat center holds a monthly 10 day vipassana retreat for westerners from the 1st to the 10th of each month. You can’t make reservations–just show up the last day of the month and you can spend the night for free at the monastery next door. Registration happens early morning on the 1st.
The living situation is simple, but there’s everything you need: private rooms, natural hot springs, lots of nature to walk around in, afternoon teachings with a seasoned western monk– he guides you step by step through the approach to shamatha and vipassana meditation–and some of the best vegetarian meals I’ve had in Thailand, created with organics from the garden.
Oh, and it’s the only meditation retreat I’ve ever found where you have two full free hours dedicated to yoga practice each and every morning. There are led classes for beginners, one for men, one for women; and there are also two open spaces reserved if you have your own practice: one for men, and one for women. At the time I was there, I was the only one practicing in the women’s hall, so I had glorious silence (punctuated by crickets) as I practiced each dawn. So inspiring.
After the retreat you can make your way south to the pier and hop on the ferry to Koh Phangan for some transition time on the beach.
19 thoughts on “My favorite vipassana meditation retreat center in Thailand”
hi there!! i found your post very interesting, im actually looking for a retreat in thailand for this summer. my boyfriend is going to be working the full summer in bangkok so i thought that instead of doing a vipassana retreat in my country, i could travel there. probably much better that in spain, dont you think so?? anyways, i would like to know how i do proceed. there´s´no need to make a reservation? can i just, show up as the post says??
i was thinking in going to the kanchanaburi centre, but if you suggest this one, probably i will go there. I cant access to the website you post, do you know any other web adress of that centre? is it free (hold by our donation) as all the other vipassana centres or is this one different? i´ve never heard about doing yoga in a vipassana centre, so im concerned about the diferences….
any thought will help me.
Wat Suan Mok is not a traditional vipassana center in the Goenka tradition–it’s a bit radical in the Thai tradition as well. They’ve earned a very respectable reputation, and have high quality teachers. They teach simple shamatha and vipassana meditation and yes, nearly 2 hours each day to practice yoga!
It’s not free, the whole program costs 2000THB, and they do not take reservations. Just show up early on the registration day.
I”m not sure why the link is not working, they might be having trouble with their site, as it is busy season here. Maybe try again in a day or 2.
Safe travels and enjoy!
Greetings! This is my first visit to your blog!
We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the
same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on.
You have done a outstanding job!
i have the following query———– I am an old student of vipassana having already done three 10 days and three 3 day retreats. in India.
i want to do 3 day retreat out of the 10 days in Thailand to coincide with the beginning of 10 day retreat as stated in your post and shall pay full fees of 2000 bahts as stipulated. Is this permissible as my total stay in thailand from india is a limited period of time as a tourist.
Also if you will kindly tell me as to how to reach this centre from bangkok airport.
And lastly you are welcome to stay with me free in india at delhi gurgaon if you are planning to come on a tour to north india.
Ajay Gupta email@example.com 0091-9811925993
Do the beds have mattresses? In the photos it looks like you sleep on cement beds!
It’s true! The beds are made of cement! hehe. That said, I brought my own bedding–including a foamy mattress– which is available at many of the local markets.
Hard cement surface for sleeping is the most recommended for a strong back and sound sleep. You have to get used to it. Mattresses are very dangerous for the back bones.
I got recommended by an Italian guy who had been doing Vipassana yoga 10 days. not in Surathani. somewhere else not to far from Bangkok. I really want to do it. but its always fully booked at least 5 months. how can I do?
You don’t need to book at Wat Suon Mok – in fact you can’t, you just show up early on the morning of the registration day (the last day of the month.) If you are there early, it’s almost sure you will get a room. Good luck!
Sounds great. and that fee of 1,500-2000Baht right. I like yoga but I have hard to concentrate sometimes and easily disturbed. that’s why I want to learn it and hopefully use it in my daily life. do they only accept 10 people each month?
It is mostly a vipassana meditation retreat–with yoga in the mornings for 1-3/4 hours. It is a huge place, and can accommodate I think up to 150 people.
Hey Kim, I was just wondering if you felt safe travelling there? It sounds amazing but I’m a little hesitant travelling there on my own. Thanks 🙂
yes, it was completely safe! that said, things have just changed dramatically because of the King’s passing last week. Still I would have no qualms about traveling there. it’s an amazing experience. the biggest danger I experienced was fear of spiders and snakes. you do have to watch out and have a bit of courage! good luck!
Hi, I have one question… (because i love to eat)… how many meals a day? Are there at least 2? I have heard some have only one, and that would be a serious meditation for me! 🙂
Hi, I’m curious how many meals they serve per day? Is it just one, or is there breakfast & lunch? Thanks!
Oops. Answered my own question at http://www.suanmokkh-idh.org/idh-registration.html 🙂
It seems you have done more than one retreat.
How does this course compare to the Goenka` one?
I read on the Internet that this one is much lighter, touristy and more for backpackers who got tired of constant parties. is it right?
Do you know any good Vipassana retreat near Chiang Mai?
Hi Kim, I really appreciate your blog post.
I am Celiac and obviously gluten is going to be a problem. Do the meals contain gluten or breads or wheat flour do you know?? I would ask them directly but they say on the website that they can’t do special meals, I can’t bring food in, and they won’t answer emails.
Please and thank you.