Experience the life of a Korean monk with the Temple Stay program at Geumsunsa, a 600-year-old Buddhist temple situated in Bukhansan National Park in Seoul. During your overnight stay at the Seon (Zen) mountain temple, you have the opportunity to practice Buddhist chanting, bell ringing and meditation; enjoy a monastic meal; converse with a monk over tea; and engage in communal work. Before your weeknight or weekend stay, visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, the National Folk Museum and Jogyesa Temple with a knowledgeable guide. Enjoy personalized attention in a small group limited to eight.
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.