Monastic and temple stays are not always the easiest to find but are a unique and spiritual experience that you’ll remember long after you have returned home. Our latest blog post will cover all the information you need about to understand what a temple stay in South Korea is like and recommend a couple of options to consider for your next trip.
Why a temple stay?
A South Korean temple stay is a unique cultural program which allows the visitor the chance to experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at traditional temples which have preserved the 1700 year old history of Korean Buddhism.
What are the benefits of a temple stay?
Apart from a chance to relax and unwind, a templestay is a cultural experience program for a better understanding of Korean traditional culture and Korean Buddhism. A short temple stay including chanting, meditation, conversation over tea and Buddhist meals which will give you a new perspective on your life.
Experiential temple stay VS Relaxation temple stay
Experiential – If you are looking for an opportunity to experience the Korean monastic life, then an experiential program might be for you. Typically, done on the weekends with one overnight stay, major traditional Korean Buddhist ceremonies include attending the morning chanting, 108 prostrations, Buddhist meals with traditional bowls, and meditation. And it also provides some cultural activities such as making a lotus lantern or prayer beads.
Relaxation – Do nothing but relax. The temple will become a shelter for your fatigued mind and body and will give you renewed energy. With the rest-oriented temple stay program, a stress-free vacation for your mind, you can have a chance to centre yourself. Away from your busy daily routine, breathe in nature and restore your life force through meditation and Buddhist ceremonies.
The specific contents of programs will vary with the temples, the season, and the interests of the participants, but the ultimate goal of any temple stay is to help people centre themselves so that they can eventually find their inner peace.
Woljeongsa Temple located in front of Manwolsan Mountain shows the beauty of what mother nature has created. In front of the temple is Keumgangyeon, which is the crystal clear flowing stream and offers the visitor magnificent views. Woljeongsa Temple was founded in 643 by Monk Ja Jang (590-658) during the reign of Queen Seondeock, the Silla Dynasty.
Woljeongsa Temple is also the site of Seongbo Museum, displaying artifacts and treasures from Buddhist culture of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), including a nine-story octagonal pagoda, also called as the Sari-Pagoda (relic pagoda), and a Stone Seated Buddha figure. Also there is the Jeokmyeolbogung where Buddha’s bones are said to be preserved. The Woljeongsa Temple of today was restored after many buildings burned down during the Korean War.
Woljeongsa Temple offers the visitor the chance to experience daily life as a Buddhist. All participants will take Buddhist tonsure on the first day. They will stay in the temple and will be immersed in Korean Buddhism. Woljeongsa Templestay is a unique opportunity to experience Korean Buddhism, its lifestyle, rituals and spirit. It generally entails staying at a traditional Buddhist temple, and engaging in daily monastic activities.
Insider Tip: Be sure to allow time to walk through the one thousand-year-old Fir Forest – it won’t disappoint! And don’t be afraid to go in winter to see this beautiful temple and surrounds covered in a white blanket of snow.
Naksansa Temple is known as a sea temple for its location on a scenic cliff overlooking the East Sea. The Goddess of Mercy answer the prays of all who pray here. The temple is famous for the breathtaking sunrise, the 16m tall standing Bodhisattva statue facing the sea. Although Naksansa was greatly damaged by the large-scale wildfire in April 2005 and the scenery that boasted its beauty was seriously damaged, the Naksansa Temple has been lovingly renewed with the support of the local people and Buddhist community.
Bulguksa Temple has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the temple that best exemplifies the Buddhist culture of the eighth century. The temple stay program allows visitors the chance to adjust their own schedules except to times for offering and Buddhist services. The experiential program affords guest the opportunity to learn about the cultural assets of the temple and take walks around the pagodas.
Bulguksa Temple, which literally translates to Temple of the Buddha Land, is considered a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art in the Silla kingdom. The temple is classified as the number one historic and scenic site by the South Korean government.
Make this experience yours! Get in contact with our Tours By Design team today and allow us to create the perfect templestay program for you!
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.