Meditation in Thailand
There are many meditation temples in Thailand, some of which hold meditation classes and retreats in English for foreigners (farang). Some retreats are run by Westerners. It is mainly vipassana ('insight') meditation which is taught in Thailand. This means observing every sensation, feeling and experience very closely. It is a system of meditation which is specific to Buddhism, particularly Theravada Buddhism, which is the school of Buddhism followed in Thailand. The other meditation system taught in Thailand is samatha which calms and focuses the mind.
There are sessions for beginners and experienced meditators. It is possible to do one-off courses in Bangkok rather than committing to one of the longer retreats over a few days or weeks. The longer retreats in more remote parts of Thailand have to be arranged in advance. When ringing to book courses which will require an overnight stay, check the dress requirements and rules.
Visitors to a meditation centre should dress appropriately, ie neat, clean clothing with legs and shoulders covered. White or non-brightly-coloured clothing is preferred. Many wats (Buddhist temple complexes) insist on silence throughout the retreat. Men and women are welcome but are separated. Visitors must adhere to the rules of the wat which generally include rising early in the morning, fasting until midday and abstaining from alcohol, smoking, illegal substances, and sex. Remember when sitting or kneeling not to point your feet at anyone as this is considered impolite. Images of Buddha are sacred so you should also take care not to sit with your feet pointing at an image of a Buddha. Women can not have direct physical contact with a monk so be careful to not touch a monk by accident.
Meditation courses or retreats in a wát or meditation centre are usually free with a small fee for accommodation and food. Donations are accepted.
Long-term students, who wish to stay longer than the non-immigrant visa allows, can become ordained as monks or nuns. They are often allowed to remain in Thailand as long as they continue to wear robes.
See Thailand religion for more information on Buddhism and appropriate dress and behaviour for tourists.