Pilgrimage Around the Buddhist World

September 17–October 7, 2020

Pilgrimage Around the Buddhist World with Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and Dr. Miles Neale

September 17 – October 7, 2020

21 days. 6 countries. An unprecedented immersion into the living practice of Buddhism’s major schools.

Limited to just 12 explorers. 

$21,999.

KYOTO Japan  

BOROBUDUR Indonesia 

SINGAPORE  

SIEM REAP Cambodia

BANGKOK Thailand

LADAKH India

KYOTO Japan  

BOROBUDUR Indonesia 

SINGAPORE  

SIEM REAP Cambodia

BANGKOK Thailand

LADAKH India

KYOTO

BOROBUDUR

SINGAPORE

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

BANGKOK, THAILAND

LADAKH

Your Trip Includes

All internal flights from Kyoto to Delhi • All meals • All hotels • Full time teacher, Dr. Miles Neale • Full-time escorts (BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours) • Tricycle representative • All site entrance fees • All tips to local guides • Triple carbon offsetting • Laundry (in 3 cities) • Money for snacks and incidentals in each local currency • Photo book of your trip • and more!

Itinerary at a Glance

This is a brief introduction to our Buddhist focus in these destinations; please read the full itinerary below for a more detailed description of our cultural activities in each location. 

September 17–19     Our journey begins in Kyoto, the cultural center of Japan & a city of 1,600 Buddhist temples! We’ll explore the iconic dry gardens and temples of Kyoto, as well as participate in Zen meditation, a tea ceremony, and engage in discussion with a Zen monk. 

September 20–22   Next on our journey is the biggest Buddhist temple in the entire world: Borobudur. This 9th-century mandala-inspired Mahayana temple is truly a work of art and a testament to the Dharma; sunsets and sunrises from its terraces are not to be missed. 

September 23–24   Singapore is an excellent place to witness the style of Buddhism that is practiced by the largest number of people in the world. We’ll explore the exquisite Temple of the Tooth Relic in Singapore‘s vibrant Chinatown, as well as Singapore’s largest Buddhist Monastery, Kong Meng San Phor Kark See. It is also the perfect layover for us, traveling from Borobudur to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

September 25–28   We’ll slow down in Siem Reap, Cambodia to take in all of the ancient and modern aspects of Khmer Buddhism. Engage with modern Theravada Buddhism while marveling at the astounding Mahayana relics of the 12th century Khmer Empire. Sunrise at the ponds of Angkor Wat and sunset on the moat of Angkor Thom are delightful ways to mark the midway point of our pilgrimage. 

September 29–30    Thailand has a strong Buddhist identity, with time in the monkhood practically mandatory for all men. We’ll discover the highlights of Thailand’s Theravada Buddhism in our own neighborhood, the “Old City” district, directly along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. 

October 1   On our way to Ladakh, you’ll enjoy one afternoon in New Delhi to relax or to explore the National Museum and its priceless relics of the Buddha. 

October 2–7   The Tibetan Plateau in India provides a perfect backdrop to explore the ins and outs of Vajrayana Buddhism. Ladakh, India, high in the Himalayas, is the ideal place to learn more about the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism firsthand, visiting monasteries from every sect–Nyingma, Gelug, Kagyu, and Sakya.  

Pilgrimage is one of the most exciting and transformative experiences one could ever have, a true hero’s journey, which allows us to connect with the mythic dimension of life. We depart home and comfort, undergo an initiation into a new way of seeing the world, and return home transformed for the benefit of others. Add the fact that this particular trip around the Buddhist world is unprecedented in its scope and what we are talking about is an extremely unique, once in a lifetime opportunity.

~Dr. Miles Neale

About our Practice on this Journey

This pilgrimage weaves together many threads into a unique tapestry.

Practice

A daily guided meditation practice led by Miles or guest teachers will showcase the various techniques emphasized by various Buddhist traditions and ensure an experiential learning dimension on our tour.

History

Our guides will offer you a window into the historical dimension of the sites and temples along the way to give you a flavor of the richness and diversity captured in the sacred architecture.

Cultural

Guest teachers and Miles will lead you through Buddhist rituals, chanting of texts, and other art forms such as calligraphy and tea ceremony related to each culture we enter.

Dharma

Miles will offer a daily Dharma discussion inviting you to consider the manifold teachings of Buddhism and how they might be relevant to transforming your life.

Personal Process

Time for personal reflection combined with casual group discussions will help us debrief and integrate each day and ensure we return home transformed.

About our Practice on this Journey

This pilgrimage weaves together many threads into a unique tapestry.

Practice

A daily guided meditation practice led by Miles or guest teachers will showcase the various techniques emphasized by various Buddhist traditions and ensure an experiential learning dimension on our tour.

History

Our guides will offer you a window into the historical dimension of the sites and temples along the way to give you a flavor of the richness and diversity captured in the sacred architecture.

Cultural

Guest teachers and Miles will lead you through Buddhist rituals, chanting of texts, and other art forms such as calligraphy and tea ceremony related to each culture we enter.

Dharma

Miles will offer a daily Dharma discussion inviting you to consider the manifold teachings of Buddhism and how they might be relevant to transforming your life.

Personal Process

Time for personal reflection combined with casual group discussions will help us debrief and integrate each day and ensure we return home transformed.

Why an “Around the Buddhist World” Journey?

A trip of this scope is a rare and exciting endeavor! Although not a true “Around the World” itinerary geographically, we’re covering a lot of ground in the “Buddhist World!”

After the resounding success of our Around the World itinerary in 2018, we (Lauren & BJ, owners of RetreaTours) decided to focus our efforts on similar journeys. In addition to offering our cultural Around the World 2020 trip, we thought it would be thrilling to focus a similar itinerary on Buddhist sites. We offer a variety of single-destination Buddhist Pilgrimages in partnership with Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and we thought that marrying these two styles of travel was a grand idea!

These itineraries are enjoyable and efficient ways to see remarkable sites that have been on your “to see” list for way too long. They are also a good way to test the waters in certain regions of the world to gauge if future, longer trips would be of interest to you.

These journeys are a perfect way to take advantage of our professional travel expertise and experience; you’ll enjoy some of the most spectacular spots on the globe without worrying about which hotels to choose, figuring out transportation, and juggling schedule logistics. Not only have all of these details been taking care of ages in advance, but we are with you on the trip to ensure a seamless, unforgettable experience.

If you’d like to read (or watch!) testimonials for our 2018 Around the World journey, please head over to RetreaTours.com/RTW2020

Who is this trip perfect for?

The short answer: this trip is appropriate for ANYONE!

The longer answer: this trip is well-suited both for beginners to Buddhism who want a practical, real-world introduction to the different sects, traditions, and practices of Buddhism, as well as long-time Buddhist practitioners who want to engage with modern Buddhism on an intimate, deeper level with a ‘mobile’ Sangha. 

An interest in Buddhism is most likely what initially drew you to this journey, but also consider that this trip is great for Buddhists (or Buddhist-curious people!) who are also:

    • History buffs who want to explore important sites such as Borobudur, Angkor Wat & more
    • Foodies who want to try authentic, delicious cuisine around Asia
    • Photographers, both amateur and professional, who will enjoy the gorgeous glow of “golden hour” around the world
    • Seasoned travelers who are tired of researching & making their own travel arrangements
    • New travelers who want to get their travel feet wet in a kind, like-minded group setting
    • Human beings who are curious about the world around them and want to engage–with themselves and others–authentically

Itinerary Details

Itinerary Details

Kyoto, Japan

September 17–19

For specific information on hotels and flights, please visit those respective tabs below the itinerary.

Konnichiwa & welcome to Japan! Buddhism has been practiced in Japan since the mid-6th century, when it was introduced by Korean monks.  Japan is home to the world’s third-highest Buddhist population, 46 million people (36.2% of the population).  Although only about a third of the population identifies as Buddhist, 75% of the population practices some form of Buddhism and about 60% of the population has a Buddhist shrine within their homes.

We’ll begin our journey together in Kyoto. Kyoto, with its 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, is Japan’s cultural center. The city was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868, and was spared in World War II due to the U.S. Secretary of War’s fond memories of Kyoto, which had been his honeymoon destination. Because of this, many priceless ancient temple structures and artifacts survived.

The bad news: we won’t have time to visit all 1,600 Buddhist temples! The good news: we’ll visit some amazing highlights (and if you wish to arrive early, we can help you arrange an itinerary to see some iconic Shinto shrines and visit Buddhist temples that we will not see on this journey).  Some of the highlights of our journey will be Sanjūsangen-dō temple with its breathtaking Thousand-Armed Kannon (Avalokitesvara). Completed in 1164, this temple also houses one thousand life-size figures of the Thousand Armed Kannon, standing in rows on both sides of the main statue.

We’ll enjoy the expertly curated moss gardens at Saihō-ji, featuring over 120 types of moss. We’ll explore Daitoku-ji, a large complex of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. In 1958, Ruth Fuller Sasaki was named the temple priest at Ryosen-an temple, in the 14th-century lineage of Daitoku-ji; this acknowledgment was so unusual for a Westerner and a woman that it warranted an article in Time magazine.   

In addition to temple visits, we’ll experience the culture of Kyoto, including a tea ceremony. We’ll spend time practicing Zen meditation with a monk and have the opportunity to ask him questions about the practice of Zen. Our hotel is centrally located in the Kawaramachi Sanjo area of Kyoto, allowing for plenty of exploration; we’re just minutes from the historic Geisha district, Gion, as well as the famous fresh food market street at Nishiki Market.

Borobudur, Indonesia

September 20–22

Selamat siang! Indonesia is our next destination–specifically Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist Temple. UNESCO’s listing for Borobudur highlights its status as a ”masterpiece of human creative genius.” We’ll visit this iconic Mahayana monument, constructed in the 9th century, in the afternoon on our first full day there, and we’ll enjoy the colors of sunset from the top.

The temple at Borobudur was abandoned in the 14th century and lay hidden for centuries within the jungle, covered under layers of volcanic ash. It was only brought back to the world’s attention in 1814 by a British statesman, informed by local Javanese. Small restoration projects took place shortly thereafter, but the largest restoration project took place between 1975 and 1982. This project, sponsored primarily by UNESCO and the Indonesian government, saw over one million stones dismantled, cataloged, cleaned, and treated for preservation. 

Borobudur is still a functional place for Buddhist worship and pilgrimage, with Vesak (celebrating Siddhartha Gautama’s birth, enlightenment, and death) being a particularly festive affair. 

The temple itself is a single large stupa, built in the shape of a mandala. It contains 504 statues of Buddha and 2,672 relief panels (which would stretch over 6 km [almost 4 miles] if laid out linearly). These panels are a mix of narrative stories illustrating the Dharma, intended to guide pilgrims on a spiritual journey; devotees circumambulate clockwise along walkways that gradually ascend to the uppermost level. In fact, some call Borodubur “a three-dimensional guide to Enlightenment.” The three upper terraces house 72 stupas, each containing a seated Buddha within a stone latticework. At the temple’s apex sits the large central stupa, a symbol of the enlightened mind.

We’ll have the opportunity to visit a local monastery, as well as explore village life and Indonesian cuisine during our stay. In addition, an early morning visit to Borobudur is included for those that wish to experience sunrise here. Our beautiful hotel offers wonderful spa services for those that wish to take advantage!

Singapore

September 23–24

Hello & Nǐhǎo! Our next stop on our journey is Singapore! This island city-state is perhaps better known for its incredible wealth, its stunning skyline, and perhaps even its Changi airport–voted the world’s best airport every single year since 2013. But Buddhism first appeared in the Singapore Straits in the 2nd century and today, 34% of Singaporeans consider themselves Buddhist, with Mahayana being the predominant school. Buddhism is gaining in popularity so quickly with the younger generation that some stats have the percentage of Buddhists as high as 42%! The Mahayana Buddhism practiced in Singapore most closely resembles the Buddhism that is practiced by the largest number of people around the world. 

Our first evening in Singapore we’ll pay a visit to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. This mandala-inspired temple may have only been built in 2007, but it houses an ancient relic. It is said that this temple contains the left canine tooth of the Buddha, recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India, and most recently recovered in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar in 1980.  The relic is housed in a giant stupa that weighs 7,715 lbs (3,500 kg), of which 705 lbs (320 kg) is pure gold.

This evening we’ll visit nearby Maxwell Road Hawker Center for dinner, an uniquely & deliciously Singaporean dining experience. Maxwell Center is directly across the street from our wonderful hotel, which makes for easy exploration of this charming Chinatown area after dinner.

The next morning we’ll visit Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, the largest Buddhist temple in the entire country.  This temple houses one of the largest Buddha statues in Asia (at almost 46 feet/14 meters), as well as a Bodhi tree cultivated from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree in BodhGaya (via Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka). We’ve also included some downtime in our Singapore itinerary, to allow for rest, reflection, or exploration of this lively city!

Siem Reap, Cambodia

September 25–28

Next on our journey is Cambodia! Buddhism is the official state religion of Cambodia, and 96.9% of Cambodians consider themselves Buddhist. During our time in Siem Reap, we’ll experience living Theravada Buddhism in local wats with our expert guide who was a monk for 16 years. 

Although Theravada has been the prevailing form of Buddhism since the 13th century, Mahayana existed for brief periods within Cambodia’s rich history, with Buddhism first arriving in the country between the 3rd and 5th century CE. The Angkor Empire saw the rise of a few Buddhist kings, the most prolific being Jayavarman VII the Great. His Buddhist temples are among the most spectacular of the ruins of Angkor and include Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Angkor Thom, and Bayon. Bayon was the only Angkorian state temple to be built primarily as a Mahayana Buddhist shrine. The 200 smiling faces that tower over you are said to be that of Lokesvara (Avalokitesvara), although some say the faces bear an uncanny resemblance to Jayavarman II himself. 

We adore Siem Reap, and we can’t wait to share the beautiful ruins of the Angkor Empire with you. The royal facades were caught in a tug-of-war between Hinduism and Buddhism over the centuries, to say nothing of their current (picturesque) struggle with the encroaching jungle. And, of course, no trip to Cambodia is complete without laying eyes on the crown jewel of Angkor Wat at sunrise, its distinctive silhouette emerging as the the night sky turns to dawn. This complex was originally dedicated to Vishnu when it was constructed in the first half of the 12th century, but Mahayana Buddhism prevailed here in the later 12th century. Hinduism briefly made a resurgence in the mid-13th century, before Theravada Buddhism arrived, remaining until the modern-day.

As we engage with monks and witness the flourishing Buddhist culture in the local wats, it’s hard to imagine that the Khmer Rouge almost wiped out Buddhism entirely in the late 1970’s. It is estimated that there were 65,000 to 80,000 monks in Cambodia before the Khmer Rouge’s ascent to power; in the early 1980’s, that number was closer to 3,000 Cambodian monks.  We’ll pay our respects to victims of the Khmer Rouge at Wat Thmey, a Buddhist shrine that was co-opted as a Killing Field.

We’ll have downtime in Siem Reap for independent exploration to further temples, shopping, or rest. There are some fantastic foot massages to be had in Siem Reap!  Our hotel is centrally located, only a 15-minute walk (or 3-minute tuk tuk ride) to lively shopping and entertainment districts, but far enough away to enjoy peace and quiet at our resort. On our last evening, we’ll enjoy a leisurely sunset boat ride on the moat of Angkor Thom.

Bangkok, Thailand

September 29–30

Sawasdee! We’ll take a short hop (1 hour flight) to Bangkok and get settled at our accommodation set on the Chao Phraya River, directly across from Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn). We are perfectly positioned to visit all of Bangkok’s Buddhist highlights, including Wat Po’s breathtaking reclining Buddha in all its 151-foot (46 m) glory. Wat Po is also regarded as the first center of public education in Thailand and it houses mural paintings, inscriptions, and statues that educated people on various subjects, including literature, archaeology, astronomy, geology, meditation, medicine, and the origin of Thai traditional massage.

We’ll get an early start to explore the vast grounds of the Grand Palace, which houses the Emerald Buddha Temple, Wat Phra Kaew. The invaluable Emerald Buddha is carved from a single piece of jade & its temple is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in all of Thailand. The 26-inch statue has a golden wardrobe for each season, and the statue’s clothes are changed by the King himself.

Theravada is practiced widely in Thailand–in fact, Thailand’s population is 93.2% Buddhist, the 2nd highest percentage in the world.  The latest count in 2016 had the temple count at 39,883 temples in Thailand, and 298,580 monks (and an additional 59,587 novice monks). In Thai tradition, almost all young men enter the monastery for a short time (from 3 days to 3 years), and a period as a monk is seen as a prerequisite to many positions of leadership. Even the King of Thailand enters the monkhood for a short time!

We’ll have time to explore the mouthwatering cuisine of Thailand, as well as spend time along the Chao Phraya River, the lifeblood of Bangkok.

Ladakh, India

October 1–7
  • Often refered to as “More Tibetan than Tibet,” Ladakh offers a rare chance to engage in Tibetan Buddhism and experience the culture of the Tibetan Plateau outside the influence of the Chinese government.

Namaskar & Jullay! On our way to the Rooftop of the World, we’ll spend one afternoon and night in Delhi. You can choose to rest at our comfortable hotel by the airport or you can take a visit to see relics of the Buddha at Delhi’s National Museum. The next morning we’ll take an hour-long flight, but our destination will feel lightyears away! Located on the Tibetan Plateau in India, Ladakh is a Buddhist-majority Union Territory of India, and is home to all four schools of Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism: Gelug, Nyingma, Kagyu, and Sakya.

Our home base will be Thiksey Monastery, a stunning Gelug monastery often referred to as “Mini-Potala” with its white walls and red temples poised on the side of a small mountain. Ladakh (Thiksey, specifically) is Lauren and BJ’s specialty and general home away from home, and for years it has been the destination that captivates and inspires our guests the most. During our time here, you’ll get familiar with the rhythms of Thiksey, including morning puja in the main prayer hall every day. Meet and engage with some of our longtime friends who are monks at Thiksey, and see how Thiksey monks live in their tashoks. We’ll also be welcomed into a family home for a delicious Ladakhi meal!

We’ll visit at least one monastery from every school of Tibetan Buddhism during our time in Ladakh. One highlight is the Nyingma monastery of Takthok, home to a meditation cave said to have been used by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Padmasambhava is credited with bringing Buddhism into Tibet; his efforts succeeded where others’ failed because he incorporated local Tibetan religions with tantric Buddhism. Practitioners of Vajrayana believe that one can achieve enlightenment in a single time, as opposed to the many, many lifetimes that most Theravada and Mahayana practitioners believe is necessary to accrue the good karma necessary for this step.

The Nyingma tradition was founded by Padmasambhava and is the oldest sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Perhaps the most visible sect to many Westerners is the Gelug, or ‘Yellow Hat,’ sect, led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Kagyu sect is the third largest school of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Gampopa, in the lineage of Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa. The Sakya sect is represented in Ladakh by Matho, a beautiful monastery on a picturesque ridge visible from Thiksey.

Interested? Have Questions?

Please click on the yellow boxes to expand them.

Price, Inclusions & Payment

The trip cost is $21,999 USD (double-occupancy price) when you register before December 31, 2019.  January 1, 2020 and beyond, the cost is $23,999.

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $1499 and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you may be responsible for the single supplement.

Payment Plan & Dates:

  • A $2999 deposit holds your space.
  • The second installment of $4999 is due February 10, 2020. 
  • The third installment of $4999 is due March 15, 2020.
  • The fourth installment of $4999 is due April 20, 2020. 
  • The balance is due June 1, 2020.

Payment types:

Payments are accepted by credit or debit card (processed via PayPal, but you do not need a PayPal account), check, bank wire, or TransferWise for our guests that reside out the U.S.  We will send invoices before each due date by email (via PayPal).

Price Includes:

  • All breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, starting the night of September 17 through the morning of October 7, including water at mealtimes
  • All accommodation
  • All transportation, including airport transfer upon arrival in Japan
  • All site entrance fees
  • All local guide fees and tips
  • Triple carbon offsetting for trip (including your flights to Japan and from India)
  • Laundry in Borobudur, Siem Reap, and Ladakh
  • Custom made photo book of our journey together
  • Online access to all of our trip photos; let us serve as your own professional photographers during this journey!

Price does not include:

  • International airfare to Kyoto, Japan or from Delhi, India (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Snacks
  • Alcohol, specialty drinks, and beverages other than water at mealtimes
  • Travel medical insurance (required)
  • Visa fees for a total of ~$136 (Cambodia @ $36; India @ $100)
  • Photography fees inside the temples of Kyoto

 

Cancellation Policy

Our full cancellation policy can be found in our contract. In the event a guest’s cancellation request is received prior to 150 days, all money will be refunded except the non-refundable deposit. Cancellations received 76 to 149 days prior to departure are subject to a penalty of 50% of the total cost of the trip. Cancellations received 75 days or less prior to trip departure will forfeit the entire cost of the trip. 

We do not require trip cancellation insurance but we do highly recommend it. Please see the Travel Insurance tab on this webpage for more information.

NOTE: 

  • There is a minimum of 6 guests that must register in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.  
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 90 days prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money, including the deposit.
Why aren't we going to....?

 You may have already had the thought, “Why aren’t we going to [      ]?!”

There are so many amazing Buddhist countries and sites in the world–Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia….the list goes on. We wish we could visit them all in one journey! However, this itinerary was carefully designed with two things in mind:

  • to keep flight layovers to an absolute minimum (not an easy task!)
  • to leave some amazing sites for the next incarnation of our Pilgrimage Around the Buddhist World

If you don’t see your bucket list Buddhist destination on the itinerary this time, stay tuned for the next one! Or, check out one of our one-destination Pilgrimages, such as Pilgrimage to Sri Lanka or Pilgrimage to Mongolia! 

Do you have more time to spend in India with us after this trip? Around the Buddhist World Pilgrims receive $1500 off our Walking with the Buddha 2020 journey, tracing the footsteps of the Buddha throughout India and Nepal, October 7–19, 2020. The website still being finalized for our 2020 journey, but you can see our Walking with the Buddha 2019 journey details here.

 

About RetreaTours

It’s nice to know who your traveling companions are, but even more important to know your trip organizers. After all, they are the ones who carefully craft your voyage based on firsthand experience and are largely responsible for the trip’s success and your enjoyment. That’s why we think it’s important for you to understand that RetreaTours is at heart a two-person operation, created with compassion and skill by husband-and-wife team BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon. 

You’ll be working with us personally every step of the way, and we are only an email, text, or call away to answer any questions or concerns. We really do become like family, even before the journey technically begins! 

While we are supported in every destination by a hand-selected team of awesome locals, we are the ones who put our heart and soul into making these experiences come alive for you from the trip’s inception to completion. If you’d like to get to know us personally a bit better, please take a click over here. If you’re more interested in the origins and the “abouts” of the company, click over here.

Our Mission: We create itineraries that are authentic, accessible, and affecting. We craft each trip to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number, including our guests, our partners, and the local community.

 

About Dr. Miles Neale

Dr. Miles Neale, PsyD, is a Buddhist psychotherapist in private practice and founder of the two-year online Contemplative Studies Program. Author of Gradual Awakening (Sounds True, 2018) and co-editor of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy (Routledge, 2017), Miles is a faculty member of Tibet House (US) and Weill Cornell Medical College. With more than twenty years integrating the mind science and meditative practices of Tibetan Buddhism with psychotherapy, trauma research and neuroscience, Miles is a forerunner in the emerging field of contemplative psychotherapy, and leads pilgrimages around the Buddhist world.

About your Tricycle Representative

We’ll be joined by a representative from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review—stay tuned for details!

About Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

Established in 1990 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization, The Tricycle Foundation is dedicated to making Buddhist teachings and practices broadly available. In 1991 the Foundation launched Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, the first magazine intended to present Buddhist perspectives to a Western readership. Tricycle soon became the leading independent journal of Buddhism in the West, where it continues to be the most inclusive and widely read vehicle for the dissemination of Buddhist views and values. Our readership includes longtime practitioners, those who are curious about Buddhism or meditation, and those who do not identify as Buddhist but value the teachings of wisdom and compassion that Buddhism has to offer.

By remaining unaffiliated with any particular teacher, sect or lineage, Tricycle provides a unique and independent public forum for exploring Buddhism, establishing a dialogue between Buddhism and the broader culture, and introducing Buddhist thinking to Western disciplines. This approach has enabled Tricycle to successfully attract readers from all walks of life, many of whom desire to enrich their lives through a deeper knowledge of Buddhist traditions.

Tricycle has been recognized with the prestigious Folio Award for Best Spiritual Magazine three times, and has twice garnered the Utne Media Award, most recently in 2013. As part of our commitment to our readers who are seeking to implement or sustain Buddhist values and practices, Tricycle accepts advertising only from teachers, programs, centers, and businesses whose offerings we believe will support those aims. Because of this selective policy, we depend on donations to support ever-rising printing and production costs, content updates to our website, and life-enriching programs. The Foundation also hosts occasional pilgrimages that provide opportunities for new and experienced practitioners to explore sites of importance to Buddhist history and practice.

Donations in support of Tricycle’s work may be made by mailing a check made payable to Tricycle at 89 5th Avenue, Suite 301, New York, NY 10003, or by visiting us at tricycle.org/donate.

Mission Statement

The mission of The Tricycle Foundation is to create forums for exploring contemporary and historic Buddhist activity, examine the impact of its new context in the democratic traditions of the West, and introduce fresh views and attainable methods for enlightened living to the culture at large. At the core of the Foundation’s mission is the alleviation of suffering that Buddhist teachings are meant to bring about.

Tricycle is an independent foundation unaffiliated with any one lineage or sect.

Why “Tricycle”?

A three-wheeled vehicle aptly evokes the fundamental components of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism itself is often referred to as the “vehicle to enlightenment,” and the tricycle’s three wheels allude to the three treasures: The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, or the enlightened teacher, the teachings, and the community. The wheels also relate to the turning of the wheel of dharma, or skillfully using the teachings of the Buddha to face the challenges that the circle of life presents.

About our Practice on this journey

Our tour is an immersion into the living practice of Buddhism’s major schools, and we will recite relevant texts and perform rituals at each site in the way Buddhist pilgrims have done for centuries.

In every destination we will share in group meditation, led by Dr. Miles Neale or a local practitioner. We will engage with local monastics and laypeople, enjoying dharma discussions and Q&A about the local practice of Buddhism.

Our group discussions will help you personalize, process, and integrate your experiences so that the pilgrimage serves as a catalyst for personal transformation.

About the Flights

Air travel has made Around the World adventures much more pleasant & efficient than the infamous 80-day trip posited by Jules Verne.

We will be taking commercial flights for each leg of this trip. They have been very specifically chosen to be the most comfortable way of getting from one location to the next at the most reasonable times of day!

Travel times (all flights are nonstop except Japan to Indonesia):

  • Kyoto, Japan to Borobudur, Indonesia: 6.5-hour flight to Bali; 2.5 hour layover in Bali; 1.5 hour flight to Jogjakarta
  • Borobudur, Indonesia to Singapore: nonstop 2-hour flight
  • Singapore to Siem Reap, Cambodia:  nonstop 2-hour flight
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand:  nonstop 1-hour flight
  • Bangkok, Thailand to New Delhi, India: nonstop 4.5-hour flight
  • New Delhi, India to Leh, India (Ladakh): nonstop 1-hour flight
  • Leh to New Delhi: nonstop 1-hour flight
About Airport Lounges

For this trip we hope to provide VIP lounge access to all the guests on the tour during the time we spend in airports (before take-off and during layovers). These VIP lounges allow for a much more relaxed and enjoyable time at the airport and there is free food and drinks (including alcohol). BJ and Lauren will be able to get 4 guests into the lounges with our Priority Pass cards. We would like to encourage other guests on the trip to get a Priority Pass card through the Citi Prestige credit card to ensure that everyone can get into the lounges; toward that end, we will give the first three guests who receive a Citi Prestige Priority Pass a $100 stipend toward the annual fee. 

  • Benefits of Priority Pass card
    • You can read all about the Priority Pass card here. To us, it has been life-changing (quite literally, considering how much we travel). Relaxing in the lounges makes air travel so much more enjoyable. On this Pilgrimage Around the World, we’ll be spending a bit of time in airports so we hope this will make it more pleasant for you.
  • Benefits of Citi Prestige credit card
    • This is a card with some great benefits–most of all, getting a Priority Pass card that allows for 2 guests in addition to yourself.
    • The card looks on the outset to be expensive with a $450 annual fee. But, you are immediately credited $250 the first time you purchase a flight with the card (thus bringing the cost down to $200). You can also earn 50,000 miles/points if you spend $4000 in the first three months after receiving the card. You also earn 5x points/miles for spending on airfares and at restaurants. There are a slew of other great benefits ($100 credit for Global Entry; 4th night free at many hotels; etc–you can read more about the card here).
    • When you receive your card, we will give you $100 toward your fee. If you get a 2nd card for your spouse/partner who is joining on this trip, we’ll give you another $100 [a 2nd card only costs the primary cardholder $50]. The catch is that for each Priority Pass card you get, you can bring yourself and 2 guests into the lounge for free. We would ask that you allow one of the other guests on tour to join you when entering the lounge.

Here is how you would apply for this card:

  1. You would apply for the Citi Prestige credit card (here is the official link–we do not get a commission for people applying or getting the card). Please let us know if you are applying!
  2. Once you get the card they will send you the Priority Pass card automatically; we recommend downloading the Priority Pass app on your phone in order to also have a ‘digital card.’
  3. You can choose to get a 2nd card for your spouse/partner/friend who is also joining on the trip [and we’ll give you another $100 for that secondary card!].
  4. Let us know when you have the Priority Pass in hand and we’ll give you $100 for each one you get (for the first three guests that receive one). 
  5. Use your card to purchase a flight within the first year and Citi will automatically credit you $250.
  6. If you’re interested in earning miles with the card, be sure to spend $4000 in the first 3 months after receiving the card. You might want to think about using it to purchase your flight to Japan for the start of this trip.
  7.  
About Jet Lag

Am I going to feel jet lag every time we move to a new location?

The most challenging portion of this trip in regards to jet lag will be your initial flight to Japan (which is why, if you are able, you may choose to arrive a day or two early). We can provide tips and ideas on how to reduce jet lag as much as possible.

However, the rest of your trip will include much more gentle time changes that will not be difficult (the greatest time change is 2 hours, one time). For the most part, jet lag actually works in our favor for some of our early mornings on this trip, such as sunrise at Borobudur, Angkor Wat, and morning pujas in Ladakh. We’ll find it easy to embrace our inner early birds!

Time differences between our destinations

GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time, the solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London (0° longitude).

  • Kyoto, Japan (GMT+9)
  • Borobudur, Indonesia (GMT +7)  (2 hours earlier than Kyoto)
  • Singapore (GMT + 8)  (1 hour later that Borobudur)
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia (GMT+7)  (1 hour earlier than Singapore)  
  • Bangkok, Thailand (GMT +7)  (same as Siem reap)
  • India (GMT+5:30)  (1.5 hours earlier than Bangkok)

We will advise you on some methods to lessen jet lag as much as possible before the journey!

About Carbon Offsetting

The short story: we are providing a TRIPLE CARBON OFFSET for this journey. That means that we are compensating three times over for our carbon footprint on this journey (including your flights to Japan and home from India).

The longer story: The jet set life can take a toll on the environment—heck, even daily life at home takes its toll.  Each flight we take emits CO2 into the atmosphere, but luckily there are ways to mitigate that effect.

We have chosen to partner with Carbonfund.org, whose motto is “Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t.”™  In a nutshell, we tell Carbonfund.org how many miles we are all covering (including to Kyoto and from Delhi) and they figure out how many pounds of CO2 that travel creates (air travel and ground transportation).  We have chosen to pay for our carbon footprint three times over, which includes Radiative Forcing. 

Then, they take our donation and fund projects around the world to offset that amount of carbon, from the Truck Stop Electrification Project which reduces tailpipe emissions from freight trucks, to supporting wind power and hydroelectric facilities and reforestation projects around the world. You can read more about their current projects here.

Carbonfund.org has a great FAQ if you’re looking for more information.

We chose Carbonfund.org because of their Third-party Quality Assurance Protocol.

Fitness Requirements

Although this is a 21-day journey, we’ve designed this trip specifically so that you can have some downtime in each destination (and of course, ALL activities are optional).

It will be a rare case that you will have to stand on your feet for extended periods of time. Even during our day tours, you’ll have time to recharge in a vehicle as we travel from site to site.  However, as a guideline, you’ll want to feel comfortable walking for 2-3 miles unassisted, over the course of the day. Again, it will most likely not happen that we will ever walk an uninterrupted 2 miles, but that is a safe guideline to follow if you are wondering about your fitness levels.

Many of these sites include stairs; as a guideline, please feel comfortable climbing 3-4 flights of stairs at a time (but at your own pace).

Some of these ancient sites, like Angkor Wat and Borobudur, will have stone staircases hundreds of years old, and they will not always have consistent heights or handrails. The key here is to feel comfortable going at your own pace. 

If you intend on attending all offerings on the itinerary, you will be participating in 5-8 hours of activity each day; however, “activity” does not mean difficult physical activity, just that we are out of our hotel and exploring. This includes time on a bus, meditating at sites, or even eating meals outside the hotel.

Please see the “About the Altitude” tab on this page for more information about altitude on this trip in Ladakh, India. 

You may wish to bring an umbrella/parasol, not only for the possibility of rain, but because being out in the sun can certainly cause fatigue. We’ll make sure there is always water available for you to refresh and recharge.

Passport & Visa Requirements

Passport

Your passport will need to be valid until at least April 5, 2021 (6 months from the end of the scheduled trip). In addition, you’ll need at least  6 or 7 blank pages in your passport to accommodate your visas and stamps and still allow for the 2 blank pages required upon arrival in India.

Visas

This information is for U.S. citizens only; please check your country’s own official government website for details, or we can help you with specific information for your country.

You will be responsible for paying for some of your visas on this trip. You will have ~$136 USD in visa fees you are responsible for along the way.

The only visas you will need to apply for beforehand is your Indian visa and your Cambodia visa. We will advise you on how to apply for the Indian e-Tourist Visa on Arrival and the Cambodia visa, in great detail. 

In summary (all prices in USD): 

*Note on the India Visa: A 180-day eTourist visa for India currently costs $100. For those guests that think they will return to India even once in the next ten years, it may be worth it to consider a ten-year visa from Cox & Kings, which is approximately $190 + shipping. We can discuss this more with you after registration. 

About the Altitude

Almost all of our locations are at or around sea level, with the exception of our home in the Himalayas: Ladakh.

Your first encounter with high altitude will be in upon arrival in Leh, Ladakh, at 11,000 feet, and our home base of Thiksey monastery rests at 10,600 feet. We will explore Ladakh and our Vajrayana sites in a gentle, relaxed fashion. We have brought hundreds of guests to Ladakh with no problem, a combination of our advice and our slow-paced itinerary.

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to worsen at high altitude, so it is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition(s) with your physician.

Certain medications are utilized to aid acclimatizing to high altitude, such as Diamox (generic: Acetazolamide); please discuss these options with your doctor or your local travel physician.

Here are some resources for you to read about altitude sickness, its symptoms, prevention, and treatment:

The following is taken from traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm:

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

AMS is very common at high altitude. At over 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) 75% of people will have mild symptoms. The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatisation process. The symptoms usually start 12 to 24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity around the third day.

The symptoms of Mild AMS include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea & Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disturbed sleep
  • General feeling of malaise

Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within two to four days as the body acclimatises. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip.

You may consider using ibuprofen as a preventative (if this is something that is safe for you and you have discussed with your physician). “Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medication often used as a painkiller, was found to significantly reduce the incidence of altitude sickness in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 86 men and women, according to the study, published online March 2012 in Annals of Emergency Medicine.”  [Source: https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2012/03/ibuprofen-decreases-likelihood-of-altitude-sickness-researchers-find.html]

We recommend that, if it is safe for you, you start taking ibuprofen 24 hours before your arrival to Ladakh (take as often as instructed on the bottle).

It is important to keep us informed about how you feel and we will be checking in with you regularly.

Sleeping pills are respiratory depressants and should be avoided, as they slow down the acclimatization process.

Click here to read Lauren’s suggestions to natural therapies to begin before your trip. Lauren is a Board-certified Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine with a specialty in the world of dietary supplements.

 *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical healthcare provider.

About Vaccinations

There are no required vaccines on this trip. However, the CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date on their routine vaccinations. Please consult the CDC’s recommendations (or your nation’s equivalent) and confer with your physician or local travel doctor to make the best decision for yourself.

Here are links to CDC recommendations for:

We are also big fans of the Scottish NHS site’s recommendations (click here).

 

About Malaria

There is no vaccine for malaria, zika, or other mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue. We encourage the prevention of mosquito bites as the best solution, through the use of insect repellent and wearing long sleeves/pants at dusk and dawn. We are traveling at a time of year where we do not expect mosquitos to be a problem. However, you must consult with your physician or local travel doctor to do what feels best for you.

Here are links to the Scottish NHS’s malaria maps of each country. We find them to be an excellent visual resource. You’ll find that our trip locations are all in the “low to no risk” sections”:

About the Hotels

We will be staying at 4 to 5-star hotels throughout this trip. All hotels have hot water, wifi access, and private, en suite bathrooms with western-style toilets. All hotels in the warmer climates will have air-conditioning. 

Here is a list of the hotels we are scheduled to stay in on our journey, if you would like to check them out for yourself!

 

About the Food

What if I don’t like the local food?

Do I have to eat ‘weird’ things?

What about my food allergies?

The short answer: Unlike the Buddha, you won’t have to eat whatever it is you happen to find in your bowl, and we will be eating after 12 noon!

The longer answer: If you’re not a big fan of a certain region’s cuisine, you’ll always be able to find a more familiar substitute (usually in the form of Italian food/pasta, sandwiches, pizza, and ubiquitous french fries). Even if you are loving the food in an area, you might still crave familiar comfort food and that is A-OK. We’ve had some of the best Italian food in the world in Southeast Asia! 

If you are interested in this trip, we’ll have a conversation that will include any food allergies or sensitivities. Generally speaking, all but the most severe allergies or austere preferences will not pose any problem.

And the biggie: do you have to eat weird things? There are two answers to this question:  1)  Of course not!  and 2) What do you consider weird? One of the things you’ll learn on our RetreaTours adventures is that cultural “norms” vary widely, especially in the kitchen. And besides, I know several people who would make a strong case that lima beans are weird (and they are, of course, wrong 😉 ). 

We don’t seek out bizarre foods “Fear Factor” style, but if an ingredient is a part of the actual local diet, we’ll often give it a try. If you are feeling adventurous, there are plenty of unique local specialties to try, from interesting fruits (mangosteen, rambutan, and the infamous durian) to the offerings at Siem Reap’s famous “Bugs Cafe.” 

Food on this tour is designed to be FUN and you’ll never feel pressured or judged for anything you choose to eat or not to eat. But we’re happy to be providing an opportunity to try the best cuisine of each region! 

About the Weather (Temperature & Rainfall)

Why is the trip in September-October?

Temperature

This was a very intentional choice! When we made a grid of all of these great locations and charted the best times to visit according to temperature, precipitation, and “high season,” this was the “middle path” toward pleasant circumstances in all destinations.

Below is a table of the average highs and lows for each location during our time there (in Fahrenheit and Celsius). We’ve also included the historical record highs and lows to give you an idea of the most extreme conditions ever seen in that area during that timeframe.

For the most part, you’re looking at typical warm SE Asian temperatures, with lows of 79°F and highs of 86°F. The outliers are Kyoto (67°-78°F) and Ladakh (40°-65°F).  As a high-altitude desert, it can feel much warmer in the sun in Ladakh, and you’ll have plenty of blankets to cuddle in at night. A fleece jacket/light down jacket as layers should prove enough for our time in Ladakh. Plus, you’ll be able to use those warmer layers on our flights (especially your flight from and to home). Packing layers for this trip will make it easy to enjoy any weather we encounter. 

Rainfall

We know Longfellow said, “Into each life some rain must fall,” but we try to minimize that prospect. We don’t expect any serious rain, but it is possible to catch a shower in SE Asia. Nothing a handy travel umbrella or light shell jacket can’t handle!

Please see the table below for average lows and highs (middle columns), as well as extreme temperature on the sides.

This table is best viewed on a laptop, computer, or tablet.

LocationExtreme LowAverage LowAverage HighExtreme High
Kyoto61°F (16°C)67°F (19.5°C)78°F (2.5°C)85°F (29°C)
Borobudur71°F (22°C)74°F (23°C)86°F (30°C)90°F (32°C)
Singapore77°F (25°C)79°F (23°C)87°F (30.5°C)90°F (32°C)
Siem Reap78°F (25.5°C)79°F (26°C)86°F (30°C)89°F (31.5°C)
Bangkok76°F (24°C)79°F (26°C)88°F (31°C)92°F (33°C)
Ladakh32°F (0°C)40°F (4.5°C)65°F (18.5°C)75°F (24°C)
Packing List & Luggage Suggestion

Coming soon!

About Travel Insurance

We require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. 

We highly suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, as we understand it can increase premiums dramatically.

Please familiarize yourself with our Pilgrimage Around the World journey guest cancellation policy (found in the contract). 

Below you will find some options to start your search. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

Please see RetreaTours.com/travel-insurance for some ideas of where to start!

Trip Extensions (and Discount)
  • Arriving early to Kyoto

  • Post-trip India options

    • Taj Mahal

    • Walking with the Buddha 2020 ~ $1500 DISCOUNT!

Arriving early to Kyoto

You may wish to arrive to Kyoto early, to adjust to the timezone before the journey or to visit some iconic Kyoto sites we won’t be visiting on this itinerary, such as the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine, the Arashiyama bamboo forest, or the Kinkaku-ji golden temple, as well as other Shinto shrines, historic palaces, and Buddhist temples. We can connect you with our travel partners in Kyoto to arrange a tour, if you wish, or we can give you tips on how to visit these sites independently.

 

Post-trip extensions in India

  • TAJ MAHAL  Before you depart India, you may wish to see the Taj Mahal! We can connect you with a trusted India travel partner to help organize a visit for you.
  • WALKING WITH THE BUDDHA  Have more time to spend in India with us? Around the Buddhist World Pilgrims receive $1500 off our Walking with the Buddha 2020 journey, tracing the footsteps of the Buddha throughout India and Nepal, October 7–19, 2020. The website still being finalized for our 2020 journey, but you can see our Walking with the Buddha 2019 journey details here.

Interested? Have Questions?

Ready to Register for your Pilgrimage Around the Buddhist World?

Interested in a “World Wonders” Around the World trip in 2020?


 

 

 

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