The temples in Busan are just as good as those all throughout Korea and there a wide range of Temples to see in Busan. There are temples overlooking the ocean and some way up in the mountains. Others are located only minutes from downtown Seomyeon which make it possible for everyone to enjoy visiting a temple in Busan.
Visiting Busan Temples
If you are looking for things to do in Busan or have a thing for visiting temples then you’re in luck. Busan has some really great temples and the good thing is they are pretty conveniently located in that you won’t have to travel to far to find a picturesque temple in Busan. Getting to temples in Busan can easily be done via subway or bus depending on which temple in Busan you are visiting.
Apart from the popular temples such as Haedong Yonggungsa Temple 해동용궁사 and Beomeosa Temple 범어사 I would say the other temples are definitely unique things to do in Busan as they are a lot less visited then those two. Another thing to consider is the time of the year you visit some of these temples. For example in Spring you will have Cherry Blossoms 벚꽃 lining the paths and in early May you will have the lantern festival at Samgwangsa Temple 삼광사. So there are a few things to think about before you go. Some of the temples like Seokbulsa Temple 석불사 require a decent hike as they are located on the mountain top and therefore the warmer months are best (fall is also a great time to see the autumn leaves).
If you plan on traveling by KTX in Korea, you may want to check out the Korea Rail Pass (KR Pass) to save money.
Samgwangsa Temple 삼광사
Samgwangsa Temple 삼광사 is famous for its Lantern Festival 삼광사 연등축제 and with good reason. There are over 3 million different types of lanterns and the festival brings in over 1 million people. The festival usually lasts at least a week so it actually isn’t as crowded as it sounds.
We were able to move around freely and take the photos we wanted. The temple is actually quite large consisting of multiple buildings which allows for the crowds to somewhat mix freely. I have had some people ask “Do you need to book in advance to visit Samgwangsa Temple?” the answer is “No”, you don’t need to book in advance, simply show up and enjoy the festival. Parking can be tight so if you intend to drive, just be prepared to wait. The Samgwangsa Temple opening hours are 24 hours and quite a few people come there later in the evening around 9 or 10pm.
How to get to Samgwangsa Temple
Samgwangsa Temple 삼광사 is probably the most centrally located temple in Busan as it is not far from Seomyeon. It is only about 20 minutes by bus (Bus #15 / #81 / #133 / #54) from Seomyeon Station 서면역.
For a detailed guide on Seokbulsa Temple, see my in-depth post HERE.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple 해동용궁사
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is definitely the most famous temple in Busan and one that should’t be missed when visiting Busan even for those who don’t like temples. If you visit during early Spring (start of April) you should be in for some Cherry Blossoms which makes the trip even that more worthwhile.
The temple is located literally at the edge of the water which makes for a fantastic view. If you’re wondering about Haedong Yonggungsa Temple’s history, than it was originally built in 1376 however destroyed by Japanese in the 1590’s and then rebuilt in the 1930’s. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple’s operating hours are from 5am til sunset (around 7PM depending on the time of the year) 365 days a year.
How to get to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
If you are wondering how to get to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple then there are a few options. From Seomyeon Station 서면역 you will need to take the subway to Jangsan Station 장산역 and then get a bus (Haeundae-gu #9 – 해운대구9).
How do I get to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple from Haeundae Station 해운대역? Simply catch bus #100 or #181 or 해운대구 #9
For a detailed guide on Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, see my in-depth post HERE.
Beomeosa Temple 범어사
Beomeosa Temple 범어사 in Busan is a lot more peaceful and less visited then Haedong Yonggungsa Temple which makes for a more relaxing and slower feel. The grounds are fairly large and it also sits halfway up the side of a mountain (as you will know from the bus ride up or car depending on how you get there). Opening times for Beomeosa Temple are from 8:30am to 5:30pm and it is free.
Beomeosa Temple is located along the Geumjeongsanseong Fortress 금정산성 (once the largest fortress in Korea) and therefore provides the chance for some fantastic hiking. One Hike would consist of a hike to Godang-bong 고당봉, the highest peak in the region, standing at 801 meters on the city limit between Busan and Yangsan. This can be done by hiking to Geumjeongsanseong Fortress North Gate 금정산성 북문 and then turning right and follow it up to the top (about a 2-4 hour return hike depending on your condition).
Fancy a Temple Stay in Busan, then Beomeosa Temple has a great Temple Stay program. You can find out more details at this website. It is ₩70,000 for a 2 day/1 Night stay.
How to get to Beomeosa Temple
Getting to Beomeosa Temple 범어사 is pretty straight forward and can be done by catching the subway to Beomeosa Station 범어사역 and then catching bus #90 all the way up the mountain.
The next Temple is a BONUS when visiting Beomeosa Temple.
Geumgangam Hermitage 금강암
I found this amazing temple by chance on my hike to Geumjeongsanseong Fortress 금정산성 from Beomeosa Temple. There is a small stone sign towards the entrance which notifies hikers of the temple and I was so happy I took the time to take a look. This was virtually empty when I arrived which made the place extremely relaxing and peaceful.
You will be greeted by this amazing colourful woodwork all throughout Korea when vising temples and for me it never gets old, it always seems so impressive. Once you have arrived, simply take some time to relax and wander around the small temple grounds. Occasionally you will see some people praying and even then it remains very quiet and tranquil.
How to get to Geumgangam Hermitage
Getting to Geumgangam Hermitage 금강암 is very easy and only takes about 10 minutes from Beomeosa Temple. Simply go to the South-West area of Beomeosa Temple and you will find a well-used hiking trail (which can be used to hike along Geumjeongsanseong Fortress 금정산성) which you simply need to follow to Geumgangam Hermitage 금강암. Link to how to get there to Geumgangam Hermitage 금강암.
Seokbulsa Temple 석불사
Seokbulsa Temple 석불사 is one of the many hidden gems in Busan that not a lot of tourists let alone expats living in Busan get to see. That is because it isn’t really well known among foreigners and until recently didn’t have that much information available in English.
The opening times for Seokbulsa Temple 석불사 are 7am to 4:30pm and make sure to give yourself plenty of time as the hike to get there from the Cable Car near Oncheonjang Station 온천장역 takes some time (around 2-3 hours round trip from the Cable Car Station at the top). If you like Hiking in Busan, then this is a great place to check out. Also, along this journey you will come across the South Gate of Geumjeongsanseong Fortress 금정산성 남문 which is the same fortress as the one close to Beomeosa Temple.
How to get to Seokbulsa Temple
Seokbulsa Temple 석불사 can be accessed a few different ways. The most popular route and the one I recommend is to access Seokbulsa Temple through the Cable Car located near Oncheonjang Station 온천장역. A detailed guide on How to get to Seokbulsa Temple can be found HERE.
The other way to access Seokbulsa Temple is to drive or catch a taxi there by following this route.
For a detailed guide on Seokbulsa Temple, see my in-depth post HERE.
Looking to visit temples outside of Busan? Then I can recommend Seonamsa Temple in Suncheon below.
Seonamsa Temple 선암사
The name Seonam (‘Heavenly Rock’ or ‘Immortal’s Rock’) is derived from the legend that a heavenly being once played the game of Go here. With 19 National Cultural Properties in its halls and museum, there are few Korean Buddhist temples with more treasures than Seonamsa.
The above photo is a look at Gangseon Pavilion through the arc of Seungseon Bridge 승선교 (Seungseon means ‘the ascending immortals’). Monk Hoan built this Joseon Era bridge over a period of six years beginning in 1713. Seungseongyo is considered to be amongst the most beautiful of the old stone bridges in Korea.
Looking through Seonamsa Iljumun (first gate) upon the entrance to Seonamsa Temple. This place is amazing and really provides a truly special experience. The walk up to this temple is fantastic and the temple grounds are just as spectactular.
How to get to Seonamsa Temple
Seonamsa Temple can be reached by bus (#16) from Suncheon Station 순천역 or if you are driving it takes 32 minutes by car/taxi.
For a detailed guide on Seonamsa Temple and other tingsto do in Suncheon, see my in-depth post HERE.
Need to a Sim Card while in South Korea? You can purchase them HERE.
Other Guides for South Korea
If you are looking for other places in Korea then you might like relaxing on Jeju Island. Here is my detailed Jeju Island Travel Itinerary which was recommended to me by my brother-in-law who is a Jeju local.
If you’re coming to Busan then you will want to check out my detailed Busan Travel Itinerary which was created from my time living in Busan. During that time I had numerous visitors and therefore put together this article on the Best Areas to Stay in Busan. Not sure what to eat in Busan, then check out my 10 must eat restaurants in Busan.
Additionally, if you have some extra time in Busan or are coming back to Korea and want some new places to explore, these Day Trips from Busan are an excellent choice. It includes a detailed Gyeongju Travel Itinerary which I used when my family came to visit.
Still deciding whether to base yourself in Seoul or Busan? You may want to check out my article (Seoul vs Busan) which compares the difference between Korea’s two largest cities.
The most important thing (for me at least) is the food. What should I eat in Korea? Here are the Korean foods I crave the most when someone mentions Korean food.
Attending a wedding in Korea? Or maybe you are planning a wedding in Korea? If so, you can see my guide about Getting Married in Korea for a lot of useful tips and information.
As usual should you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer it 🙂