Asia, Blog, Expat, South Korea

Bongeunsa Temple | Seoul, South Korea

If you are a newcomer or just visiting Seoul, you will want to put Bongeunsa Temple on your must see places in Seoul list.  When I first moved to Seoul in 2014, my neighbors invited me along on a visit to this temple and I fell in love.

travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, flowers, Bongeunsa, Temple, Gangnam, Seoul, Korea
Beautiful Bongeunsa Temple entrance

My first impression was seeing all of these yellow mums lining the walkway leading up the entrance way.  Next, I noticed a number of statues. Then quickly, realization set in that these weren’t just any statues but representations of the year you are born.  A tiger, a mouse, a snake, and many more!  I’m a tiger.  How cool.

On your right before you enter, pick up a brochure/map outside at the information center. The brochure will tell you what each building and temple stands for and will enhance your experience with much more meaning.  As you wander the grounds to see the multiple temples and pavilion houses, you may smell the aroma of incense, hear the beat of a drum from a ceremony, see worshipers at prayer, and feel the genuine peaceful, calming atmosphere of nature all around you. It is not uncommon to see monks wandering about the grounds.

Every September 9th of the lunar calendar, the Buddhist ceremony is held, where monks march carrying the scriptures on their heads and recite the Buddhist rites (Beopseongge).

A little history…Bongeunsa Temple (originally known as Gyeonseongsa Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Gangnam, Seoul. Built in 794, during the reign of King Wonseong of Silla, Bongeunsa became the head temple during the Seon sect of the Joseon Dynasty when the government supported Confucianism while oppressing Buddhism.

Around 1550, Bongeunsa was expanded and became the head monastery of national Jogye Seon Order and was the main Buddhist Zen temple from 1551 to 1936.

In 1939, and again during the Korean War (1950-1953), fire heavily damaged or destroyed most of the temple buildings.  Between 1941-1982, repairs and renovations were made to restore the buildings.  The oldest standing building is the library which was constructed in 1856.  The library contains over 3,400 Buddhist scriptures and contains Flower Garland Sutra woodblock carvings.

The temple’s highlight is the 28 meter (91 foot) stone statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, and is one of the tallest stone statues in South Korea.

This temple was the birthplace of the Buddhist youth movement.  Today, Bongeunsa has established itself as the center of Buddhist practice, a place of peace and tranquility in the center of one of the wealthiest and busiest places in the heart of Seoul.  This makes Bongeunsa Temple an interesting cultural mix of both traditional and modern Seoul.

Bongeunsa, temple, prayers, monk

Bongeunsa, temple, prayers

Bongeunsa, temple, prayers

If you are new to the area or just visiting, put this 1,200+ year old temple in the heart of a modern Seoul on your bucket list of places to visit. If you desire to experience a taste of both the Korean and Buddhist culture, Bongeunsa can provide a two-day and one night Templestay program on the premises.  You can experience the unique opportunity of the daily monastic way of life at a traditional temple, enjoy the peaceful sound of wind chimes in the fresh air, taste the fragrance of their tea all while spending time with a local monk.  A place to soothe your mind and your body.

Bongeunsa, temple, tea, Korea

travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, Bongeunsa, Temple, Temple Stay, Gangnam, Seoul
Bongeunsa Temple Stay

For more information about Bongeunsa or their Templestay, please call or email the temple directly.  Reservations for a Templestay should be made three weeks in advance. Grounds are open daily to visitors and admission is free.  Interpretation services are offered in English and Japanese.  Pets are not permitted.

82-2-3218-4895 [English]
82-2-3218-4826 [Korean]

Email:  bongeunsa@templestay.com or Bongeunsa Templestay

How to Get There:
Subway – Line 2 Samsung (Exit 6)
– Line 7 Cheongdam (Exit 2)

Parking facilities are available.  Free first 30 minutes.  3,000 won for every one additional hour after.

*There are no programs during the New Year and Chuseok holidays.

Bongeunsa, Buddhist, temple, templestay

Asia, Blog, South Korea

Heart of Seoul | Hustle and Bustle

travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, Seoul, City hall,
Seoul City Hall

City Hall is located in the bustling heart of Seoul, the city’s cultural showpiece in an area filled with both old and new.  Seoul City Hall, founded in 1926, is a Renaissance-style stone building and considered the city’s central cultural showpiece.

Seoul Plaza is a well-known place where tens of thousands of Korean soccer fans came to cheer during the World Cup games.   Located in the main downtown, across from the Plaza Hotel, here you’ll find the majority of landmarks that symbolize Korea’s past and present. After hundreds of years of Joseon Dynasty in Seoul, it’s only natural that this part of Seoul exhibit the essence of classic Korean culture, architecture and natural beauty. The spectacular view from Sejong Street puts nature, beauty and culture into perspective with Gyeongbokgung Palace’s main gate.  Taking center stage, the hustle and bustle of the city lifestyle and in the background is the breathtaking Ingwang Mountain. Within walking distance you’ll find numerous shopping opportunities with the Myeongdong shopping district in the main downtown area and the highly traditional and popular street, Insadong.  There are many palaces, deluxe hotels, department stores, arcades and boutiques, all within walking distance.  

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Changing of the Guards

The Seoul City Bus Tour stops in front of every major site-seeing tourist attraction including the City Hall area.  Here you can watch the Royal Guard changing ceremony at Deoksugung Palace, famous for its elegant stone wall road and beautiful natural beauty, located right next to City Hall.  The ceremony lasts approximately 15 minutes and afterwards, stand by and have your picture taken with one of the stoic guards. Wander around the area and if you return at 6:00 pm, listen for the graceful bell sounds coming from the nearby Angelican Church of Korea, the main palace during the Daehanjeguk period of the late Joseon Dynasty. 

In the Spring you’ll be pleased to see beautiful cherry blossoms and in the Fall, the gingko trees cover the palace in leaves of striking shades of yellow and orange.  In the Winter, you’ll find an ice skating rink for your enjoyment.   Come take a visit and enjoy the City Hall and plaza area any time of year!

Telephone:   +82-2-731-6611

Directions:      City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 2), Exit 5.

Pets Not Permitted