Haedong Yonggungsa Temple on Busan’s Coast

Posted by on Jan 19, 2017 in Destinations, Korea, Travel Photo Thursday | 18 comments

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

After welcoming 2017 on Busan’s Haeundae Beach, we headed to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, the city’s most famous. Welcome to week 311 (1/19/2017) of Travel Photo Thursday.

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Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

Located in the north-eastern part of Busan, The Water Temple as it’s sometimes known is one of the unique temples in Korea. The majority of the country’s temples are in the mountains, but Haedong Yonggunga Temple overlooks the East Sea. Built by the great monk Naong, the temple dates back to 1376. Destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion it was rebuilt again in the 1930s and was repainted in 1970. Because of the temple’s motto “At least one of your wishes will be answered here through your heartful prayers.” many Koreans visit on New Years Day to make wishes for a lucky year ahead.

If you arrive at the temple by public transportation (bus 181), you’ll be walking up a rather steep road for 10 -15 minutes. A taxi can take you directly to the entrance, where the first thing you’ll encounter is this pagoda.




I laughed when I saw the sign at the base of the pagoda ‘Traffic Safety Prayer Pagoda.’ Considering the number of traffic accidents in this country (one of the highest in the industrialized world) the prayers don’t seem to be working.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Visitors enter the temple through this intricately painted archway flanked by golden lions. Visiting on New Years Day meant crowds of people visiting to make customary new year wishes for good luck. I waited for the exact moment to take this shot.
Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Many make their wishes here and throw coins with the hope that they will land in one of the large bowls. My coins came close enough that I’m positive 2017 is my lucky year. 🙂


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


The colors and the detail are a feast for the eyes.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Colorful lanterns decorate the main building ceiling.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Standing and gazing at these intricately painted dragons on the outside temple wall it’s easy to imagine these mystical beasts defending the temple from the plundering of early invaders.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Then we have this gorgeous fella on guard in front of and slightly to the side of the main temple hall.
Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Around the base of the dragon are hundreds of these gaily painted monk figurines.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Many visitors pay their respects to the laughing Buddha.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


The hypnotic chanting of a temple monk in one of the smaller temple buildings helped me to forget the crowds momentarily.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


And of course,  we have the stunning sea views with the winter sun beaming down to give the water these beautiful blue hues.


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Haedong Yonggunsa Temple, Busan


Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is open daily from 5 am. You can catch bus 181 at exit 7 Haeundae Beach Subway (line 2) for the 25-minute ride to the temple (the stop is announced) plus 10-15 minutes to walk to the entrance. If you want to avoid the hill, a taxi is your best bet. Admission is free.

New Years Day is particularly crowded, so go early. I want to go back again when it isn’t as crowded so that I can see some of the things I missed.

Have you ever visited a temple on New Years Day? Let us know in the comments.


Please welcome our co-hosts this week: Jan from Budget Travel Talk Ruth from Tanama Tales Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations


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  1. I never get tired of temples and monks!

    • They make for some fantastic photo opportunities.

  2. What a stunning temple. I particularly like the painted dragons. I would like to try and toss a coin into one of those bowls. 🙂

    • The coin toss was fun, and there are so many dragons. My camera got a good workout.

  3. It was a great decision to build the temple in this beautiful location. I believe the purpose of places like this are elevated when surrounded by nature. The driving safety prayer area is so funny but I think a lot of people need good judgement (and prayer too) to make good decisions while at the wheel. #TPThursday

    • The mountain temples are beautiful too, but a temple by the water makes my heart sing.

  4. I haven’t been to Korea, but these photos make me want to visit. The dragon is so cool. And as for the prayers, here’s a scary thought, maybe they are working and it would be even worse without them.

    • Ha Ha, Rhonda. I like you’re thinking. This temple has some awesome dragons. I couldn’t stop with the photos.

  5. The dragon is amazing, but I love the beautiful sea views the best!

    • The views add a magical element to this temple.

  6. Love places of worship like this! You can’t really go wrong with monks, interesting architecture, a laughing buddha and even a dragon. What a neat place! It’s great that it’s by the water too.

    • I agree! I couldn’t have asked for anything more. That’s not quite true. I would have liked a smaller crowd!

  7. Such a peaceful feeling just reading this post so I can imagine how lovely a trip there would be. It is such a stunning spot – temples, statues and vistas!

  8. Hi, Jackie. Perfection, right? 🙂

  9. What I like about the temple is that there are so many components to it — dragons, monks, Buddhas and pagodas — all in a waterside setting. I can see why people want to start the new year here.

  10. What an interesting place! (I love those dragons.) I’m also impressed by how many pictures you got without too many or any people in them!

  11. A traffic safety prayer pagoda? Love it! Looks like your timing was great as it would be hard to guess at the crowd size from most of your photos which show all the marvelous color and beauty of the area. A great beginning to 2017 and a wonderful place to make your wish for the new year! 🙂

  12. You are right, the sea views are stunning and the traffic prayers aren’t doing much haha! What a beautiful insight to the Korean customs and culture. The golden lion looks beautiful and I really love the temples.

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