Templestay – a very unique experience in Korea

Buddhism already came to the Korean peninsula, at that time in Goguryeo-Kingdom, from China in the 4th Century AD. It spread out quickly through other Kingdoms and today it is still one of the biggest religions in Korea. About 15% Korean are believing and practicing Buddha’s teaching. That’s why you can find a lot of Buddhist temples, statues, arts and events in many places around the country. Did you know that in Korea you can not only visit temples, but also experience the life of Buddhist practitioner yourself? The so called “Templestay” program makes it possible.

View to the south sea from Boriam in Namhae

What is Templestay?

Originally, the Templestay was offered as an interim solution for the accommodation shortage during the Soccer World Cup in 2002. Visitors could stay overnight in a temple instead of a hotel or motel. However, even after the World Cup, there were so many visitors who are interested in the program. Hence it continued and remains until today.

Bongeungsa temple

In general, anyone, independent on nationality, religion or gender can attend the Templestay. Herewith guests will have a chance to spend one or two days attending many activities of a Buddhist practitioner and discover many new aspects in Korean culture as well as tradition.

Sunset at Naksansa Temple

Additionally, in the calm temple ambience, visitors find a place to escape the busy daily life. It’s finally time for more relaxation and “finding your True-self”.

Why should you try a Templestay?

When you pay a visit at a temple in Korea, you can see its beautiful architecture and will be impressed by its atmosphere as well as tradition. Staying at a temple through the Templestay will indeed help you to feel the spirit of Buddhism, experience the teaching and be fascinated by it.

Naksansa Templestay uniform

Gain deeper knowledge about Buddhism

First of all, you will gain deeper knowledge about the history of Buddhism, as well as the way how the teaching is interpreted and practiced in Korea. The well-trained admin will introduce you to the history, routine, ceremonies and etiquette inside the temple.

For example, it is very important to know how to bow and when. A half-bow with palms together is used to greet the monks or nuns, as well as the Buddha statue. But a full bow, with knees, elbows and head touching the floor, is required when you pray or partake in a Chanting ceremony.

Attend cultural and traditional activities

In addition, numerous temples offer special activities, in order to you can experience more Korean culture and tradition during your stay. It can be a handicraft class for making lantern, prayer bead or wood block printing. It can also be a tea ceremony or a vegan cooking lesson with the monks. You can also join a meditation session, walk or try Buddhist martial art (Sunmudo).

Temple food

Having temple food is also a great part of the Templestay. Temple food is only made of vegetarian ingredients, truly vegan food. Sometimes the ingredients come directly from the temple’s garden.

Having food and achieve enlightment

In the Buddhist teaching, eating is also to achieve enlightenment. Each spoon should be relished slowly, with respect and thank to all people, who have brought you this food.

Find your inner peace

And last but not least, a templestay is a great treat to yourself. Get away from the rush and noisy city life, turn off your mobile phone, just sit down and perceive the silence. When was the last time you’ve done that? It’s time to calm down, breath in the Buddhist atmosphere around you, relax, recharge the energy and find the peace inside yourself.

Enjoy yourself on a rainy day in Naksansa

How to make reservation?

All information about templestay is listed on the Homepage on Templestay (available in English and Korean). You can choose among more than 25 stunning temples around Korea various focus, length and activities for your stay. You will have to make a reservation and pay before you go.

The price for a stay varies from 10.000 to 150.000₩. Students and pupils may get discount at some temples. Some temple programs are not suitable for children. Please double check with the temple’s admin if you have any concerns.

Other things you should know prior your stay

  • In general, the Templestay living quarters are separated in gender. That means, if you are a couple or family, you may have to spend the night separately.
  • The whole quarters are usually in Hanok style, which means you will sleep on a mattress on the floor – authentic Korean style.
  • Since you will have to hand over your mobile phone during the stay, don’t forget to take a camera with you.
  • Something to read and to record your thought at the temple would be something I recommend bringing with.
  • You can always contact the Templestay admins for more details. They can speak English quite well and are very happy to assist you.
  • For more reviews of Templestay’s visitor, click here.

I wish you will achieve the enlightenment…

🇻🇳 Mai Nguyen

Global citizen, engineer, traveler, blogger, rock climber, photographer and Korea lover. Hope you will enjoy this country as much as I do. Find me on Instagram @mydaysinkorea