Bongeunsa Temple

Escape the busy streets of Seoul with a visit to this tranquil temple, which has existed for over 1,000 years. 

Bongeunsa Temple is a welcome oasis of calm within Seoul’s hectic Samseong-dong business district. Come to this beautiful and spiritual place to enjoy a moment of peace and to appreciate the beautiful building that dates back about 1,200 years. Consider the possibility of staying overnight and gaining a true insight into what life is like for the monks who live and pray here.

Find Bongeunsa Temple just north of the vast COEX building, which houses a conference center as well as an immense underground shopping mall. The contrast between the modern neighborhood and the ancient temple could not be more clear. Construction on the building first began in 794, although it was rebuilt in 1498 and moved northeast of the original site.

Today, tradition remains rich here. Come in September to witness the ceremony known as “Jeongdaebulsa,” in which monks march with the temple’s sacred scriptures held high. Observe a traditional tea ceremony and appreciate the true complexity of this seemingly simple ancient custom. The features of the temple building itself also offer insight into Buddhist tradition. Look for the woodcarvings that show the Avatamsaka Sutra.

Join the templestay program to get an even deeper insight into the Buddhist religion. Visitors are invited to stay overnight and participate in various daily rituals, such as a dawn service and a meditation session. Eat traditional meals served in old-fashioned bowls and learn how the monks go about their duties each day.

Admission to Bongeunsa Temple is free. Visit on a Thursday to benefit from the Thursday Temple Life session. English-language demonstrations are held to help foreign visitors understand the daily lives of Buddhist monks. To see a grand spectacle held once a year, come on Buddha’s birthday in May, when the temple’s monks organize festivities around the local area. Reach the temple by taking the subway to Bongeunsa Temple’s own station, which is easily accessed from every major area of the city.