Cliffside Temple in Busan: Haedong Yonggungsa

If there is one temple to visit in Busan, it is without a doubt Haedong Yonggungsa (해동용궁사). Its location is right by the sea, along a cliffside which makes it one of the most unique and stunning temples in Korea. For many, Haedong Yonggungsa is considered the most beautiful temple in South Korea.

Introducing Yonggungsa

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is located on the northeastern coast of Busan near the famous Haeundae Beach. In addition, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple offers a fantastic observation point of the beautiful east sea. Most temples in Korea are located in the middle of the mountains and it is therefore rare to find a temple along the coast.

For this reason, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is a must-see in Busan.

History of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

The great monk Naong built Haedong Yonggungsa in 1376 during the reign of King U of the Goryeo dynasty.

The mantra of the temple is “At least one of your wishes will be fulfilled through your sincere prayers”. This temple is located by the sea, while Buddhist temples are generally remote inland. It is said that the Great Buddhist Goddess of Mercy lived alone in the sea. She then appeared on the back of a dragon. This is why this temple was built near the ocean. And, she is the main deity of this temple.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was founded by monk Naong. The god of the sea appeared in Naong’s dreams. So, he went in search of a place to build the temple. It was then that he found the location of Haedong Yonggungsa.

Unfortunately, Haedong Yonggungsa was partly destroyed during the Imjin War (1592-1598) but was fully restored in 1930.

Haesu Gwaneum Daebul (great Buddhist goddess of the sea) who faces the sea, the main shrine of Daeung-jeon, the shrine of Yongwangdang, the Buddhist shrine of Gulbeop, and the three-story pagoda with its four lions form the essence of the temple. The main shrine of the temple was rebuilt in 1970 respecting the original colors used for this type of construction.

Above all, Haedong Yonggungsa is a magnificent Buddhist temple, set on a cliff facing the sea. The temple offers sublime stone bridges, huge statues of Buddhas, and various other sculptures.

What to See at Haedong Yonggungsa

The Entrance

At the entrance to the temple, I was greeted by a small festive market, There was street food and souvenir stalls. Once past the market, the statutes of the protective spirits in Buddhist astrology welcomed me. Then, I went through an archway, before finally being able to begin a small descent to the entrance of the first altars.

Buddhist Astrology

Before arriving at the temple, there are twelve statues bearing the effigy of the Buddhist zodiac signs. Often these are referred to as the Chinese zodiac in western countries. They consist of 12 animals that correspond with the year of your birth.

The Pagoda

A little further on I saw an immense and sumptuous seven-story pagoda with details of rare finesse. The pagoda was decorated with four lions each symbolizing a different emotion: joy, anger, sadness, and happiness.

108 steps

Then I descended 108 steps which symbolize in Buddhism, the 108 illusions proper to the mind.

The view was breathtaking, after passing through a small bamboo tunnel, we found ourselves facing the sea. It was large and majestic, imposing itself on us, and freeing us from all negative thoughts. You can see the main temple in the middle of the cliffs, and on the other side, a golden Buddha with its back to the sea.

The Golden Statue of Buddha

After going down the stairs and heading left to a small path leading to another cliff, we found a magnificent golden Buddha. This is the sumptuous statue of the Great Goddess Buddha Gwaneum Daebul. On the way to the buddha is where you can get the best view of Haedong Yonggungsa temple. The panoramic scene was perfect, with the temple, the sea, the rugged coastline, and the forest all around.

Among the various statues of this temple note Yaksayore-bul (Buddha of medicine) and Jigang-bosal (Bodhisvatta after death).

The atmosphere of the place was light and joyful, I immediately felt calm and peaceful. We took the time to observe everything and really enjoy the scenery.

The Main Temple

After crossing a wonderful stone bridge, we arrived at the main temple. At the door, it said “The Most Beautiful Temple in Korea”. Here, we saw several buildings and various Buddha Statues.

On the right, we saw a gorgeous lying Buddha in its separate room. Continuing our visit, we saw the main smiling Buddha Statue.

The Observatory

To catch the best view, we went up a few stairs after passing the big Buddha Statue. We then crossed a little bamboo forest which lead to a platform where we could see Haedong Yonggungsa temple from above with the perfect sea view.

If you have the chance to go to Busan, don’t miss the opportunity to visit this temple!

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동용궁사)

Address: 86, Yonggung-gil, Gijang-gun, Busan
Korean Address: 부산 기장군 기장읍 용궁길 86 해동용궁사
Opening Hours: 05:00 AM - 07:00 PM

Want more recommendations on places to go during your stay in Busan? Click Here for some great recommendations from locals!

🇧🇷 Rayssa

Graduated in Business Administration and Marketing. I love producing content on social media and I am addicted to writing. Writing is one of my favorite hobbies. A person passionate about music, world and South Korea. I am discovering all about living in Korea and all the wonders of this country and I want to share it all with you. Shall we travel with me? Follow me on my instagram @rah_hayashi ♥