Travel in Korea

The 7 Most Hauntingly Beautiful Temples in Korea: An Unforgettable Spiritual Journey

1. Bulguksa Temple (불국사), Gyeongju: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Located in the ancient city of Gyeongju, Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases the beautiful Silla architecture. The temple’s intricate wooden structures and two stone pagodas are truly mesmerizing, particularly in autumn when the landscape is painted in vibrant hues of red and gold.

  • Location: Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province
  • How to get there: Take bus no. 10 or 11 from Gyeongju Station or Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal
  • Ideal for: Photography, history, autumn foliage

For foreigners: The temple offers a “Temple Stay” program, where you can experience Buddhist culture through activities like Seon (Zen) meditation, tea ceremony, and Balwoo Gongyang (a traditional monastic meal).

bulguksa Temple
bulguksa Temple

2. Beomeosa Temple (범어사), Busan: Nestled Amidst Nature’s Embrace

Perched atop the Geumjeongsan mountains in Busan, Beomeosa Temple provides stunning views and a tranquil environment. The temple, dating back to 678 AD, is especially charming in spring when wildflowers and cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

  • Location: Busan, South Gyeongsang Province
  • How to get there: Subway line 1 to Beomeosa Station, then bus no. 90
  • Ideal for: Mountain hikes, spring bloom, serene retreats

For foreigners: English-speaking volunteer guides are usually available during weekends.

Beomeosa Temple
Beomeosa Temple

3. Haeinsa Temple (해인사), Hapcheon: Home of the Tripitaka Koreana

Nestled within the scenic Gayasan National Park, Haeinsa Temple in Hapcheon is famous for housing the Tripitaka Koreana, the most comprehensive and oldest intact version of the Buddhist canon in Hanja script. Its beautiful natural surroundings become especially vibrant with colors in the fall.

  • Location: Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province
  • How to get there: Bus from Hapcheon Bus Terminal to Haeinsa Temple
  • Ideal for: History buffs, fall foliage

For foreigners: Haeinsa Temple offers a “Temple Stay” program where you can experience Korean Buddhist culture.

Haeinsa Temple
Haeinsa Temple

4. Bongeunsa Temple (봉은사) , Seoul: A Serene Oasis in the Bustling City

Tucked away in the heart of Seoul, Bongeunsa Temple is an island of serenity amidst the city’s hustle. Over 1,200 years old, this temple provides a fascinating contrast against Seoul’s modern skyscrapers.

  • Location: Gangnam, Seoul
  • How to get there: Short walk from Bongeunsa Station (Line 9)
  • Ideal for: City escapes, historical tours, spring festivals

For foreigners: The temple offers a “Temple Life” program which includes a temple tour, tea ceremony, and Seon meditation.

Bongeunsa Temple
Bongeunsa Temple

5. Seokbulsa Temple (석불사), Busan: The Temple of Stone Buddha

Seokbulsa Temple, also known as the Temple of Stone Buddha, is a hidden gem nestled in the mountains of Busan. This unique temple isn’t just built on the mountain; it’s intricately carved into the mountain’s stone face, offering an enchanting experience with magnificent stone carvings of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

  • Location: Busan, South Gyeongsang Province
  • How to get there: Subway to Mandeok Station (Line 3), then take a bus to Sanggye-dong followed by a scenic hike up to the temple
  • Ideal for: Adventure seekers, hiking, Buddhist art and sculpture

For foreigners: While the temple doesn’t offer organized programs for foreigners, the journey to the temple itself is an adventure. The hiking trail provides an immersive experience into Korea’s beautiful landscapes. It’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes and bring a Korean phrasebook or translation app, as the locals are friendly and often keen to help, but English might be limited.

Seokbulsa Temple
Seokbulsa Temple

6. Magoksa Temple (마곡사), Gongju: A Temple Unscathed by Wars

Nestled in a river bend surrounded by mountains, Magoksa Temple in Gongju offers a breathtaking view. The temple’s unique history of surviving the numerous wars in Korea’s past stands as a symbol of resilience.

  • Location: Gongju, South Chungcheong Province
  • How to get there: Take a bus from Gongju Intercity Bus Terminal to Magoksa Temple
  • Ideal for: History enthusiasts, peace seekers, autumn views

For foreigners: English brochures are available for visitors, and the temple’s “Temple Stay” program is an enriching way to delve into Korean Buddhist culture.

Magoksa Tmple
Magoksa Tmple

7. Jogyesa Temple (조계사), Seoul: The Heart of Korean Buddhism

Located in the heart of Seoul, Jogyesa Temple is the center of Korean Buddhism and Jogye Order. The temple’s grandeur is best witnessed during the Lotus Lantern Festival in spring, where thousands of colorful lanterns are hung in celebration.

  • Location: Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • How to get there: A short walk from Jonggak Station (Line 1)
  • Ideal for: Cultural immersion, lantern festivals, city tours

For foreigners: English guided tours are available, and during the Lantern Festival, the temple offers lantern-making sessions for foreigners.

Jogyesa Temple
Jogyesa Temple


These captivating temples provide not only spiritual enrichment but also offer insights into Korea’s rich history, architecture, and natural beauty. Each temple visit is a unique cultural immersion and an unforgettable journey through the heart of Korea.

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