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: 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, Helpful Tips, Photography, South Korea, Tour and Travel, Wordpress

Seoul Must-Dos – Palaces, Secret Gardens and River Cruises

See the transformation of Seoul from medieval city to modern metropolis.   Here are the Seoul Must-Do’s:

Seoul Must-Dos — Ultimate City Guides.

seoul, tower, autumn, Namsan
Asia, Blog, Photography, South Korea, Tour and Travel

Spectacular Seoul

October is peak fall foliage season, which means there is plenty of beauty happening all over Seoul and the peninsula.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Asia, Blog, Photography, South Korea, Wordpress

Enjoy Spring Blossom Roads in Seoul | Official Korea Tourism Organization

Korea Tourism Organization Official website provides various information on all things about Korea. Take your time to get correct guide each.

Source: Enjoy Spring Blossom Roads in Seoul | Official Korea Tourism Organization

Asia, Blog, Helpful Tips, Photography, South Korea, Tour and Travel, Wordpress

5 Reasons Why You Must Visit South Korea in February

In terms of weather, the most favorable times to visit South Korea are March ~May and September~November. However, February can be a fabulous time for travelers to visit South Korea. Here are 5 great reasons why:

1. Save Your Travel Expenses

incheon-international-airport-680402_1920.jpgWant to save travel expenses? We strongly recommend you visit South Korea in February if you’re considering a budget travel because during the winter season, hotels prices and airfare drop as temperature drops! 😉

2. Awe-inspiring Winter Landscapes

allowto_freedownload_snap_1531.jpgThough the cold winter season has kicked off a little bit late than last year, you can still enjoy the amazing landscapes of snow-capped mountains and frozen rivers as well as a winter hike at beautiful national parks around South Korea. allowto_freedownload_landscape_1521For instance, Seoraksan Mountain (Seoraksan National Park), located in Sokcho, which is the eastern part of South Korea, boasts magnificent natural scenery in winter. It is where you can enjoy both winter hiking and the beautiful East Sea situated nearby.속초 (1).jpgFor free…

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Yongma Land, carousel, Seoul
Blog, Photography, South Korea, Tour and Travel

Abandoned Yesteryear of Yongma Land | Seoul

Yongma Land in Seoul.  A closed, but not forgotten amusement park full of funny and slightly creepy abandoned rides.

Every day it’s visited by dozens of curious passersby, photographers, professional production companies and K-pop idols.

Getting to Yongma Land is simple.  A 10 minute walk from the Mangu Station, Exit #1,  you will walk until you see Yongmasan Ro #115 and turn left. Walk a short distance until you see Mangu Ro #72 and make a right. Follow this road through the neighborhood markets and keep walking.  You’ll pass a place with temple lanterns on your right and continue walking a short distance until you see a short, steep hill with parking lot and entrance sign.  Call the phone number listed at the gate and the proprietor will come to meet you. Pay the 5,000 Won entrance fee and you’re in!

If you’re in a crunch for time, hail a taxi, it’s a famous place and the taxi drivers will know where to go.

Yongma Land, fire truck, Seoul
A bright, red fire truck is one of the first things I noticed upon entering.
Yongma Land, carousel, Seoul
A classic merry-go-round is one of the highlights at Yongma Land.
Yongma Land, genie, Seoul
The big, blue genie will make you smile!
Yongma Land, octopus ride, Seoul
The aging, rusted giant octopus tentacle ride was quite creepy.
Yongma Land, piano, amusement park, Seoul
This weathered piano sits in the middle of the amusement park. Can you imagine hearing the haunting sounds of music playing?
Yongma Land, Seoul, amusement park
Michael Jackson keeps a watchful eye over the once thrilling disc spinner.
Yongma Land, amusement park, Seoul
For a great view of the amusement park and Seoul, make sure to climb on the rooftops.
Yongma Land, Seoul, amusement park
A flower, an old disco sign and a beautiful view of the mountainous skyline can be seen from the rooftop.

If you love to visit off the beaten path places or just love a great photo opportunity, then this place is a must see.  If you go in the evening, for an extra fee, the proprietor will even turn on the merry-go-round lights.

Have you been to Yongma Land?  What impression did this place leave you with?  Leave me a comment below or connect with me on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Asia, Blog, Photography, South Korea

Celebrating Liberation Day (Gwangbokjeol) | Seoul Korea

August 15, 2015 will be National Liberation Day of Korea or Gwangbokjeol, marking the 70th anniversary of South Korea’s liberation from Japanese occupation (1910-1945), and the national flag is seen everywhere in the country. Even after many decades, the tension between the two countries still linger to this day.

Despite the ongoing tension between the divided Koreas on the peninsula, this year’s 70th anniversary of Liberation Day is cause for celebration. Many art galleries, museums and performance venues in Seoul prepared a variety of cultural events and light shows for the public to mark the painful yet joyous memory of this special day with family and friends.

Here are a few of my images of the fantastic fireworks!  Hope you enjoy.

travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, Gangnam, Express, Bus Terminal, Seoul, Korea
Asia, Blog, Helpful Tips, Photography, South Korea

To Travel or To Shop: Express Bus Terminal Station (고속터미널역) | Gangnam Bus Terminal | Seoul

Express Bus Terminal Station (고속터미널역) | Gangnam Bus Terminal | Seoul

travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, Gangnam, Express, Bus Terminal, Seoul, Korea
                         Gangnam Express Bus Terminal

Seoul Sub→urban

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

It always takes me a while to get my bearings when I arrive at Express Bus Terminal Station, whether I’m there to catch a ride out of town or on my way to somewhere in the neighborhood.  Three lines merge here, one bus terminal is two terminals, there’s a department store, two shopping malls, maybe more, and jammed in between all that are shoe shops, makeup boutiques, salons, and even a sauna.  I could live here.  A couple times I’ve been so turned around that I thought I might have to.

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Express Bus Terminal by Meagan Mastriani

Probably just about everyone in Seoul has been to this station before, check that, probably a solid majority of Koreans, full stop, have been here, as the Express Bus Terminal (고속터미널) is the biggest bus terminal in the country, linking the capital to pretty much everywhere on the mainland.  The terminal is divided into two separate buildings…

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