Buddha’s Birthday is a glorious national holiday in Korea (+ many other Asian countries) that allows us all an official day off right in the peak of Spring. I spent the 4-day weekend camping at Geoje Beach and didn’t actually remember how rad the temples look for this holiday until Tuesday morning (Buddha’s birthday this year). What was supposed to be a day of recovery turned into convincing the gang to come to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple with me to check out the festivities.
Haedong Yonggungsa was originally built in 1376 and is a rare coastline temple, while most other temples are in the mountains (yongkungsa.or.kr).
As usual, pictures are much better than words:
It doesn’t get anymore picturesque than this. Thousands and thousands of vibrant lanterns were strung up around the temple, all with personalized tags attached to each one with a wish or prayer somebody wrote. Giant Buddhas and other statues towered over us. Staircases weaved around to different balconies and viewpoints. Tunnels and steep steps lead you into dark, candlelit rooms underground. And yeah, this ocean view didn’t hurt either.
We were a bit worried that it was going to be super busy but it was actually pretty mellow. Lanterns are up a week(ish) prior to Buddha’s Birthday and are taken down either the night of or the day after. I originally planned on staying longer to see all of the lanterns lit up, but these boys were too “cold” [insert eye-rolling-emoji – how does that not exist, btw? One where the eyes are actually rolling. And perhaps an exasperated-sigh sound effect as well]. Luckily, I went to a temple in Ulsan last year during the evening to see them lit up (see pics below). Happy Birthday Buddha!
How to get to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (Busan, South Korea):
You can take a bus to Songjeong Beach (the 1001, 139, 142 and a few others go there) and then take a cab from there. It’s only about 2km so you can also walk (north). From Haeundae, it’s about a 10 minute bus ride or a 10 minute, 6,000-ish won cab ride if you want to skip the bus altogether.