Zen tourism, a new travel trend in the global tourism industry
Nowadays, besides types of classical tourism, Zen tourism has been the favorite type in countries which have the high degree of urbanization. Spiritual balance, relaxation, and environment friendliness are basic characteristics of this type of tourism.
Zen tourism has been developing strongly in many countries in the world. Asian countries are the cradle of this type of tourism. Every year, Zen tourism brings great revenue to Japanese, Chinese and Thai smoke-free industry. Millions of tourists has come to monasteries for Zen practice.
Zen tourism in Korea
Japanese National Tourism Organization’s Statistics show that Zen tourism’s annual revenue doesn’t raise only from domestic tourists but also from Western European, North American and Northeast tourists. While China is famous for tourism programs of visits, practice martial arts and discover about the life of Zen teachers. In Thailand, the “Thai Zen tour” program attracts millions of tourists come to practice Zen at monasteries. Many tourists have found that Zen tourism helps them relieve stress and release tension, come to recovering goodness, beauty and truth so that they can develop a positive attitude toward life, nature and human. Some tourism agencies has organized tourism programs to exploit the good values of Zen such as Zen tours, Spiritual tours … This kind of tours allow tourists join Zen cultural activities by practicing yoga, visiting the monasteries, other architectures for meditation; living the life of Zen teachers; enjoy and admire numerous Zen arts’ features such as flower arrangement, Japanese tea ceremony, bonsai, hanami (flower viewing), gastronomy, …
According to the statistics, Vietnam now has about 120 monasteries, some of which are famous pagodas such as Ba Da Pagoda (chùa Bà Đá), Tran Quoc Pagoda (Hanoi), Truc Lam Tay Thien, Bich Dong (Ninh Binh Province), Truc Lam Yen Tu, Tu Dam, Thien Mu Pagoda, Tu Hieu, … Those ancient pagodas with quiet monasteries in peaceful places are rich resources of Zen tourism.
In particular, Vietnam has various types of arts which are influenced by Zen philosophy such as art painting, sculpture; tea culture; gastronomy; garden art installation; furniture; … All of which are the basis of Zen tourism development.
Zen tourism demands are increasing greatly in developed countries such as US, Japan, Korea, Germany … Meanwhile, there are only a few countries which interest in developing this type of tourism, including Vietnam.
Vietnam has received domestic tourists as well as foreign tourists traveling for Zen tourism. Zen tourists attracts a diversity of tourists: the old, the young, the retiree, businessmen, … . The old and retiree travel for relaxation, healing retreat, … while the young and businessmen travel for stress relieving, work-life balance. In Vietnam, Zen tours usually include yoga classes, psychological treatments, spa treatments and visits to pagodas, monasteries and other spiritual places. Through the visits, tourists can experience directly Buddhism culture.
In Ho Chi Minh City, travel agencies has been focusing on creating tourism programs combining with destination of relaxation and close to nature. Besides visits to tourist attractions such as pagodas, tranquil river, gardens, tourists also have opportunity of getting advices about age-related health problems like diabetes and hypertension treatments from experts, doctors.
Some traveler enterprises organize guidance about discussing about life issues, joining group activities and guidance about breathing exercises — Zen’s first level.
In big cities, Zen cafés, Zen tea, Zen Parks or Zen Spas has been attracting more and more tourists.
Vietnam has great potential in Zen tourism. With Buddhism culture, Vietnam will certainly be the promising destination of ZT for tourists all over the world.