Situated in Seoul’s stylish Gangnam district, Bongeunsa Temple was founded in 794. Though it has been rebuilt many times, the temple remains an important center of Seon (Zen) Buddhism in South Korea. Panjeon, the oldest hall in the complex, is home to some 3,000 woodblocks carved with Buddhist scriptures and religious art.
Though it’s not the most famous temple in Seoul—that distinction belongs to Jogyesa Temple—Bongeunsa Temple is featured on many tours of the city’s ritzy Gangnam district, along with Garosu-gil Road, COEX Mall, and the Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tombs. Visitors can also opt to book an overnight temple stay, which typically includes monastic meals, a traditional tea ceremony, a temple tour, and guided meditation. Overnight stays must be booked in advance.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The temple is worth a trip for spiritual travelers or those visiting the Gangnam District.
- Wear comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Remember to dress respectfully, as the temple serves an active Buddhist community.
- Restrooms are available on the temple grounds.
How to Get There
Bongeunsa is centrally located in Samseong-dong, Gangnam, and is easily accessible either on foot or by public transportation. Take Seoul subway line 9 to Bongeunsa Temple Station and leave through Exit 1.
When to Get There
The temple is open daily year-round, but the best time to visit is Thursday when the complex hosts a Temple Life program for visitors. Visit during the Lotus Lantern Festival in April to see the temple fully decorated for the celebration of Buddha’s birthday.
Jeongdaebulsa, A Celebration of Scripture
Each September, Bongeunsa Temple plays host to a Buddhist ceremony called Jeongdaebulsa. Visitors to the temple complex during this single-day event can see monks marching through the grounds carrying scriptures on their heads and reciting the Buddhist rites.