Temple Trails: Discovering Asia's Spiritual Heritage on Foot
Date Published: 01/10/2023
From majestic mountain temples to tucked-away shrines on worn stone paths, the beauty of Asia’s spiritual heritage has captivated and rejuvenated souls for generations.
Walking offers an access to these sacred sites that is both active and contemplative: by slowing down, we step out of the chaos of daily life and into our deepest selves, reflected by the serenity around us.
Your Salt-Water Sandals are designed for such journeys on foot: simple and timeless, strong and sturdy. So strap on your Salties and prepare to leave it all behind—and find yourself along the way.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia's Angkor Wat is a testament to the grandeur of ancient civilizations. Built in the early 12th century, at the pinnacle of Khmer architectural and artistic splendor, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers easy walks through the temple ruins, allowing you to explore at your own pace. Each temple’s intricate stone carvings and towering spires have a story to tell. Plan your visit to catch a sunrise or sunset here; the temple's reflection in the nearby pools creates a mesmerizing sight.
Penang Hill, Penang, Malaysia
Malaysia’s Penang Hill is home to several temples, including the Kek Lok Si Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. Established in the late 19th century, this lush hill station served as a retreat for the British colonial elite. The hike up Penang Hill is beginner-friendly, with well-paved paths and a funicular railway option for an easier ascent. Discover beautiful temples, lush gardens, and panoramic vistas of Penang Island and the mainland. Penang Hill’s tranquil atmosphere and cool mountain air breathe new life into weary souls, making it a perfect escape from big city life.
Borobudur, Central Java, Indonesia
Another enchanting temple trail is Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia. This awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site is the world's largest Buddhist temple and a jewel of Indonesia's rich cultural heritage. The complex consists of nine stacked platforms adorned with intricate relief panels and crowned by a central dome. As you ascend, stone carvings whisper ancient stories from Buddhist scriptures.
More than an architectural wonder, Borobudur is also a place of profound spiritual significance. Like the Angkor Wat, sunrise or sunset here is simply unmissable.
Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto, Japan
Fushimi Inari Taisha is an iconic shrine famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates that form a mesmerizing tunnel-like pathway. Founded in 711 AD, this sacred site in Kyoto, Japan is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and prosperity. The hike up Mount Inari is great for beginners, with well-maintained trails winding through a lush forest. Along the ascent are sub-shrines and fox statues, who are considered messengers of Inari. Celebrate with panoramic views of Kyoto from the summit, especially during sunset.
Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Turn your eyes skyward to Doi Suthep, a mountain near Chiang Mai and home to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a stunning temple with a golden chedi (stupa) that gleams in the sunlight. Founded in 1383, this temple houses relics of the Buddha and is a significant pilgrimage site. Begin your journey by climbing the 306 steps of the Naga Staircase, surrounded by greenery and birdsong, Buddhist shrines and statues. At the temple, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Chiang Mai and the surrounding countryside beyond.
Intrigued by the spiritual heritage of Asia? Start planning your temple trail adventure to immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of these sacred sites. Remember to respect local customs to ensure a meaningful and memorable journey.