Introduction to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Haedong Yonggungsa is one of the rare Korean temples situated on the seaside. The temple sits along the east coast shoreline of Gijang-gun, Busan, offering a breathtaking view of a wide-open ocean and rocky coastlines.
The history of Haedong Yonggungsa temple has been controversial: the people on the temple side claim that the great monk Naong built the temple in 1376 during the Goryeo Dynasty. Later, the temple was destroyed during Imjinwaeran, the Japanese invasion of Korea in the 16th century, and it was rebuilt in the 1930s in a different name. The temple got its name, ‘Haedong Yonggungsa,’ in 1974.
On the other hand, a local newspaper reported that Haedong Yonggungsa temple was just established in the 1970s, and the report was based on historical studies and testimonials by the local residents.
Whether the temple was a recreation or it was newly built in the 1970s, it wouldn’t really matter once you start absorbing the awe-inspiring moments that the temple offers.
86, Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan, South Korea
Take Busan Metro (Subway) Line 2 and get off at Haeundae Station (해운대). Take Exit 7 > Transfer to Bus No. 181 > Get off at Yonggungsa Temple (용궁사) bus stop.
If you take a taxi from the Haeundae station, it will take about 25 minutes and cost 9,000 Korean won (time and fare can change depending on traffic conditions.)
5 a.m. – sunset
Admission (Entrance Fee)
Website: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple website (Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese available)
What to See at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
The trip to Haedong Yonggungsa practically begins from the bus stop or the parking lot. The street to the temple is dotted with food vendors and souvenir shops. If you expect more serene and isolated surroundings like Seokbulsa temple, you may feel it’s too touristy. In fact, Haedong Yonggungsa is one of the most visited destinations in Busan. Don’t be disappointed too soon and keep walking.
The Road to The Temple
Near the entrance of the temple, 12 stone Chinese zodiac statues welcome you first (If you wonder about your Chinese zodiac sign, click here.)
Right in front of the entrance, you will find a tall pagoda standing. Interestingly, an automobile tire sits in front of the pagoda. This pagoda wishes for traffic safety for everyone on the road.
Here comes Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
After you enter the temple, you will see the Happy Buddha statue on the wall. The statue has a dark-colored belly because people have rubbed it so many times. The statue has the name, ‘Buddha of Granting a Son.’ The myth goes that you will have a son if you pray while you are rubbing the belly of Happy Buddha (Podaehwasang). Just like touching the shoe of the John Havard Statue at Harvard University for luck.
On the way, you will see a sign that says “the most beautiful temple in Korea.” I can’t find any legit resources that support this claim, but it’s not easy to dispute its claim. I am not sure if it is the most beautiful temple, but, for sure, it is a beautiful temple.
From the bridge to the temple, visitors toss coins to these wells wishing good luck, just like Trevi Fountain.
Daeungjeon Main Sanctuary
Daeungjeon (대웅전) is the main worship hall.
More sections of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Haesu Gwaneum Daebul stands looking over the temple and East Sea. This is the goddess bodhisattva of mercy. You will see people prostrate in front of the statue.
On the other side of the main temple ground, the statue of Jijangbosal (Kṣitigarbha) sits on the top of the rocky cliff. You can see a complete view of the main area of Haedong Yonggungsa temple from here.
The number of the stairs to the temple is 108, which is a sacred number in Buddhism.
When to Visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Haedong Younggungsa is famous for its amazing sunrise so the place attracts quite a crowd on New Year’s Day and Lunar New Year’s Day. In addition, blooming cherry blossoms make it even better from late March to mid-April. Of course, around Buddha’s birthday (April 8th on the lunar calendar), the numerous lanterns decorate the whole temple.
These are great times to visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. But, on the other hand, these days are times you want to avoid if you want a “relatively” quiet and spiritual experience.
Things to Do near Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple sits in Gijang-gun, Busan. Gijang district recently has become one of the hottest destinations in Busan. The area offers a full slate of famous restaurants, hip cafes, and other points of interest such as Jukseong Church and Dongbusan Outlets. Although the temple is technically in Gijang, it is quite close to Songjeong so you may want to find and enjoy some of Sonjeong’s places as well.
- Planning a trip to South Korea? Click here to find more destinations here.
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