One thing that was a bit of a shocker for Yeison and I when we were in Seoul was that many of the cultural and historical landmarks were located right smack in the middle of the city. We’d be walking the streets during rush hour and had absolutely no idea that we just strolled right past one of the oldest palaces in Korea. Most of the time we were so focused on fighting the crowd for space and scoping out the best street food!
Perhaps it was the magnitude of the city that exaggerated our shock since there are cultural sites (not as old) in the middle of San Jose in Costa Rica but the population is not even close to Seoul. We didn’t feel nearly as crowded in Busan thankfully and on our last day in Korea we chose to visit a rare find in the country: a temple by the sea.
Haedong Yonggung Temple
Since most of the temples in Korea are located in the mountains, Haedong Yonggung temple is a unique find in South Korea and is a popular tourist destination. Located on the north east coast of Busan, the temple is situated in a beautiful area with bright blue waters and a stunning view.
Haedong Yonggung temple was built back in the 1300’s by an important Buddhist teacher complete with a shrine, sanctuary, pagoda and sanctum. The main sanctuary was built in the 1970’s and there are various viewpoints around the temple looking out to the ocean. It takes 108 steps to the main sanctuary area which makes for a nice walk.
We went on a Saturday in September and it was a gorgeous day out, sunny with a nice breeze. Although Yeison and I are pretty good about going early to avoid crowds, we didn’t make it that day and went to the temple around noon with all the tour buses. Even so, it wasn’t so crowded it was annoying and we were still able to spend quality time in the most sought out areas.
As you walk down to the temple, you see 12 statues lined up according to the animals of the Chinese zodiac along with a pagoda.
As you walk down the steps, head to the left first to get a nice view of the entire temple by the coast and one of the Buddha statues.
After being away from the ocean for nearly a month, Yeison and I felt so at peace smelling the sea and hearing the waves crash against the rocks again. The ocean is definitely our happy place!
Go back to the main steps and walk across the bridge to get into the main sanctuary area. Below the bridge there are a couple of statues holding bowls that you can try your luck to throw coins into! We actually saw one girl make it in there on the first shot.
The main sanctuary area has a big Buddha statue, a cave with a Buddha sanctum, dragon statues and the main temple area has a gorgeous view of the ocean.
I could definitely see why this temple is famous and why so many people like to visit it. The builder, Naong a Buddhist teacher chose the ideal location to build a temple surrounded by the striking turquoise waters of the ocean and stunning scenery.
Tips for visiting
- Go early in the morning to avoid crowds
- Bring water and good walking shoes
- No entrance or admission fees
Haeundae Station, Busan station line 2, exit 7
Right outside the exit is the bus stop to Haedong Yonggung Temple
Take Bus 181 for about 20 minutes and the bus will drop you off right at the entrance. You will need to walk up the street about a kilometer
Or read about more things to do in Busan