Located in the beautiful Gurye valley just west of Jirisan National Park, Saseongam Hermitage is as mesmerizing as the view of the surrounding mountains. Near the top of Osan Mountain, this hermitage allows visitors to explore this truly unique and atypical Buddhist compound. With giant columns holding aloft a small prayer hall at its center, it’s clear that this place is special.
Wandering the temple, basking in the afternoon sun while peacefully observing the surrounding area, and hiking to the bonus shrines near the mountain’s summit are all prime activities for visitors to Saseongam. Bonus points are awarded to visitors who hike all the way to this beautiful hermitage instead of using the taxis waiting at the bottom.
Weighing in at 60 tons, a giant bronze sitting Buddha welcomes visitors at the top of 203 stairs at Gakwonsa Temple in the city of Cheonan. Devotees kneel on a platform in front of the mammoth statue or follow the ritual of walking around the Buddha three times while praying.
A relatively new temple, it was built in 1977 at Mt. Taejo with the specific purpose of focusing prayers for the reunification of North and South Korea. The temple’s layout stretches at the foot of Mt. Taejo with various halls and altars of worship.
The Bongeunsa Temple is the biggest, richest, and most visited temple in Seoul and is situate right in the heart of the city. The area the temple is in, Gang Nam, is actually one of the country’s most swanky and opulent boroughs, so the temple provides a quiet resting place for tourists and locals alike in and amongst Seoul’s shopping malls and skyscrapers.
The temple itself was founded in 794 for the Zen sect of Buddhism. Bongeunsa is home to the tallest stone statue of Buddha in the country, which stands at 23m. The temple grounds provide a serene and refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
This small temple sits near Pohang’s Chilpo Beach. It is incredibly unique, however, in that you literally have to walk into a dragon’s mouth to access the inner sanctuary. The building is basically a long tunnel that winds up the hillside, and the outside of it is decorated as a dragon’s body.
The effect is stunning, a huge dragon coiled around the hill with its jaws gaping to swallow any who enter. The inner sanctuary is just inside, while continuing up the hill will take you through a dragon’s belly filled with Buddhist paintings and statues. Do not miss this temple if you are passing through Gyeongsangbuk-do.
This temple in Jeollanamdo is beautiful all year round but seems to be on everyone’s list of places to visit when the fall leaves start to change color. The mountain and walkways come alive with yellow, orange and red leaves. The temple grounds have an impressive backdrop of a large mountain rock formation. Follow along a tree lined path next to a winding river to the temple grounds.
Photographers and hikers flock here during the fall and whenever there is a beautiful coating of snow so it can get really busy on the weekends at these times. For a more quiet visit try to make your trip during the week when there are fewer crowds.
The Sudeoksa Temple is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and crucial in the country’s Buddhist history. Its main hall, erected in 1308, is a designated national treasure.
The 1,500-year-old temple sits in the Deoksungsan Mountains in the western Korean city of Yesan and has a regular schedule of temple stay programs to bring zen to visitors. Temple stay visitors rise to bells at 3am and start the day with chanting. Prepare to find peace in prayer services, meditation hikes and hot spring baths.