Located on the coast of northeast Busan is an ancient temple – Haedong Yonggung Temple (해동 용궁사). Most temples in Korea are located in the mountains but Haedong Yonggungsa, first built in 1736 during the Goryeo Dynasty, is a rare find of a temple along the shore line. Thus this stunning religious site is a popular destination amongst tourists.
It was founded by the great Buddhist teacher, Naong, who was the consultant to King Gongmin. As with many historical buildings & monuments, the temple was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion. But it was not until the early 1930s before the monk Ungang of Tongdo temple rebuilt the temple. The main sanctuary was built in the 1970s with several lookouts boasting stunning views of the temple overlooking the sea.
I took a taxi outside Hard Rock Cafe which is located just a few blocks away from the famous Haeundae Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa, so as to save time. The ride took about 15-20 min & costed KRW 7,700 (S$9.20). As I walked into the temple, I was greeted by the sight of the 12 animal statues lined in order of the Chinese zodiac along with a Pagoda & the temple signage.
Behind the Pagoda, visitors will find the 108 steps down the rocky landscape that leads to the main sanctuary area where the ancient temple sits. Although it’s only my 4th day in Korea, I think I had walked so much that my knees already felt like jelly haha. Fortunately the steps here were pretty manageable & it didn’t feel like that many steps, or maybe because the view ahead was simply too gorgeous for me to remember these tiresome steps I needed to take! 😛
The views from the main sanctuary at the temple were indeed gorgeous & I couldn’t resist taking numerous photos here! This place somehow reminded me of Dragon Head Rock (Yongduam Rock, 용두암) in Jeju island, both equally stunning. I took about an hour to tour the entire site, although I didn’t go down the steps to the underground prayer cave. Neither did I climb all the way up to the peak of the temple, despite pondering for a long while at the start of the stairway, because the steep flight of stairs up just looked too scary to me haha.
To get to the temple by public transport, take bus 181 from Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2) Exit 7 & get off at the bus stop outside the temple. Note that it is about a 10-min walk from the bus stop to the entrance of the temple. If you are visiting the temple in the beautiful spring season, I guess you wouldn’t mind the walk though, because you will be able to marvel at the lovely cherry blossoms greeting you along both sides of the road! Maybe you will even find the walk too short as you wish you can see more of the cherry blossoms! 😉
Personally, I must say this is a site not to be missed, definitely worth your time exploring its beauty if you are in Busan! Furthermore, this site is free admission for all & open all year round, isn’t it great? Visit Haedong Yonggung Temple soon, & get at least one of your wishes answered through your prayers! 🙂