I hope you all aren’t getting too tired of all our temple trips yet because I wanted to share about one of our most recent temple visits from our trip to Busan over Thanksgiving. Busan plays host to one of South Korea’s most beautiful – and unique – temples, as it’s built on the coast of Busan. While most temples are built high in the mountains (hence hiking around many of them), the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is situated right by the sea, offering incredible views of the water while sitting at the edge of the city.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사)
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was first built in 1376 by Naong, a Buddhist teacher, during the Goryeo dynasty. The main temple was reconstructed in 1970 with painstaking care, featuring the same bright colors we’ve seen on almost all Buddhist temples we’ve visited. This temple, like many, has multiple buildings, as well as a cave, four lions to represent joy, anger, happiness, and sadness, 108 stone steps, a three-story pagoda, and a statue of the Buddha lying down.
Because of its unique location, Haedong Yonggungsa is one of the most popular and visited temples in South Korea, and while it’s open all year, it’s most popular times to visit re New Year’s Day to watch the sunrise and wish for health and happiness in the new year and cherry blossom season.
Busan’s Seaside Temple
We expected Haedong Yonggungsa Temple to be busy when we visited, but it was busy. Before you enter the temple location, itself, you pass through a street lined with petite cafes, coffee shops, trinket shops, and more. That was crowded, but once we reached the statues lining the entryway to the steps, which then lead toward the temple, it was packed. We’re okay with crowds, but it was so packed that we were in lines walking down the steps to get to the bridge and beyond.
We visited the temple on a Saturday afternoon, and it was about a 35 minute drive from Songdo Beach. By the time we reached the temple, it was beyond crowded, and the free parking was nearly full. It was a beautiful place to visit, but while we made our way from the top to the bottom, we made sure not to linger because the crowds kept coming. Was it worth it? Yes. Was it completely overwhelmingly crowded and jam-packed though? Also yes. Since reading more about the temple after our visit, I’ve discovered that visiting once the sun has set often lends to less crowds and even more spectacular views, as the temple grounds are lit by hundreds of lanterns.
Visiting Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan
Cost: Visiting the temple is free, but I recommend bringing Won to purchase a treat or two at the shops beyond the temple! We ended up trying silkworms because they were there and, lawd y’all…10/10 don’t recommend that. Parking nearby starts W3,000
Accessibility: The temple grounds are not accessible. From the rocky cliff area to the hundreds of steps, neither strollers nor wheelchairs are recommended. It was a lot just carrying Mieke.
Dress & Behavior: While most temple behavior and dress errs on the side of more moderate and reserved, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was so crowded, it didn’t seem like there was much of that going on at all.
Hours: The temple grounds are open to the public from 5 AM to sunset all year round, and the Yakasajeon Hall and Bangsaengteo sites are open 24 hours.
Address: In Waze – 86, Yonggung-gil, Gijang-gun, Busan; In Kakao or Naver – 부산광역시 기장군 기장읍 용궁길 86