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The unique cultural program called Temple Stay allows you to experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at a traditional temple in Korea. During your overnight stay at Geumsunsa, you’ll discover the ancient cultural heritage of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, with a concentration in Seon (Zen) meditation.
After hotel pickup in the morning, your knowledgeable guide takes you on a sightseeing tour before driving your small group to the temple. Pass the Blue House en route to Gyeongbokgung Palace (Deoksugung Palace on Tuesdays) to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Built in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty, this most beautiful of the Five Grand Palaces features traditional architectural elements.
Next, you’re taken to the National Folk Museum of Korea (Museum of History on Tuesdays). On a museum tour with your guide, gain insight into Korean life throughout the centuries, from ancient times to the 20th century. Then continue to the popular Jogyesa Temple for an introduction to the historical and cultural roots of Seon Buddhism in South Korea.
After lunch (own expense), you’ll change vehicles in Insadong and head to Geumsunsa. Standing in front of Mt Inwangsan, the 600-year-old temple is located in the center of Seoul but feels far away. Here, a clear stream flows from mountain peaks and passes under Hongyaekyo (Bridge of Nirvana) in tranquil Bukhansan National Park.
Upon arrival in the afternoon, you’re outfitted with modest attire: comfortable pants and a vest to go over your T-shirt. After registration, your guide provides an orientation and information on temple etiquette. You’ll sleep in a shared room, with separate quarters for men and women. Each day’s schedule differs, depending on whether you stay during the weekend or on a weeknight, as noted below in the Itinerary.
Temple Stay: Weekend Itinerary Day 1: Seoul – Geumsunsa (D) Upon arrival at Geumsunsa, start with an afternoon orientation and then embark on a 1.5-hour guided temple tour that includes learning about the Buddhist script that monks read while chanting. After dinner, participate in the evening bell ringing followed by 30 minutes of a Buddhist ceremony where you'll learn how the sunims (monks) pay respect to the Buddha as you listen to their rhythmic chanting. Before retiring to your room for the night, complete your day like a monk, with a 2-hour meditation session. Through the practice of 108 prostrations, you can learn the Seon Buddhist technique of putting aside your inner desires and attachments, allowing you to clear your mind before sleep. Overnight: Geumsunsa Temple Day 2: Geumsunsa – Seoul (B, L) Rise in the dark hours before dawn as the temple bell tolls to awaken the universe, and prepare for a full day’s schedule at Geumsunsa. After washing up, begin with 20 minutes of a Buddhist chanting ceremony, followed by 40 minutes of morning meditation. Clear your mind while you learn the right breathing method and posture. You’ll have almost an hour of free time before a traditional monastic meal called baru gongyang. As you practice the Buddhist method of eating mindfully and ecologically, you’ll appreciate the formality of the meal that allows one to live in harmony with nature. Once you’re fortified, you can participate in almost an hour of communal work with the monks as you learn about temple life firsthand. Then, you’re provided the opportunity to hear about Buddhist precepts and ask any questions during a conversation with a monk over tea. Through the practice of dado (tea ceremony), you can discover stillness and tranquility as you slowly sip a cup. At midmorning, enjoy a 1-hour hike on Mt Bukhansan (weather permitting). While walking along a peaceful forest path, listen to your inner voice and pay attention to the sounds of nature. After a closing ceremony at the temple in the afternoon, your guide drops you off at your hotel or other location of your choosing in Seoul. Temple Stay: Weekday Itinerary Day 1: Seoul – Geumsunsa (D) After your orientation, you have 2 hours free to walk around the temple on your own. Following dinner, you can participate in 30 minutes of a Buddhist chanting ceremony. Your evening is free for you to relax at your leisure, perhaps exploring the temple grounds or meditating in the hall (if available) before you retire to sleep. Overnight: Geumsunsa Temple
Day 2: Geumsunsa – Seoul (B, L) Awaken before dawn to attend a 30-minute Buddhist chanting ceremony before breakfast. Afterward, you have 4 hours free to enjoy on your own. If you’d like, embark on a hike around lovely Mt Bukhansan or take time to meditate by a mountain stream. After lunch and a closing ceremony in the afternoon, your guide drops you off at your hotel or other location of your choosing in Seoul.
Meals as per itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Monk trainee outfit (a vest and pants)
English-speaking guide and monk
Hotel pickup and drop-off
All taxes, fees, public transportation and handling charges
Food and drinks, unless specified
Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
A minimum of 2 people per booking is required
A maximum of 8 people per booking
A moderate amount of walking is involved
Recommended to bring: toiletries, a personal water bottle, loose clothes for sleep, and extra t-shirts, comfortable walking shoes and socks
Please note that you will be sharing a big room with everyone, however, rooms are separated by women and men
From your Seoul city hotel
8am to 8:30am (depends on your hotel location)
Hotel pickups commence prior to this time
Concludes at your Seoul city hotel (Please advise the local operator staff)