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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Buddha’s Birthday Guide

It is that time of year again. Ulsan city and temples across the nation are decorated with beautiful lanterns. We have put together a short guide to some of the temples around the area that you can visit to view the beautiful lanterns and take in the festivities.

While Ulsan may not be on the map for the most exciting places to visit during this time, it is located extremely close to many important temples which you can get to easily by bus or train. There are also a number of decent temples located right in the city.

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Junggwansa

This temple is located near mugeodong and the Taehwa River. Chances are that you probably passed it when heading from Sinbok Rotary to Shinae. It sits right before the intersection where the two road merge and follow the river. This temple has several floors and ton of lanterns surrounding the building. The roof also has the main hall and give a great view over mugeodong.

I visit this temple every year. I get the feeling sometimes that the monk have even started to recognize me.

I visit this temple every year. I get the feeling sometimes that the monk have even started to recognize me.

The temple also has the dragon that some may have seen at the lantern festival. Chances are that parking will be a problem this evening and I would suggest going either early or taking public transportation. However, it is a nice temple to visit if you are looking to stay in this city for the evening.


Baekyangsa

Offering one of the better fews of the city, this temple located in Seongandong is really nice. walking through the grounds you can see several lantern-lined paths leading off into the darkness. As well at the main grounds are really well decorated. Turning right, once you get inside the gates towards the big bell will give you a great view of the city.

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There is also a new lookout just a block down from the temple that is worth checking it. It is a really nice view and a nice little walk as well. There are also some great cafes around there too. Remember to take your shoes off before going up to the 2nd floor of the lookout. Also, just in front of the temple is a charming cafe bene built inside of a hannock-style home. While I don’t normally recommend chain cafes, this one is rather nice.

Baeyongsa

There is tons of parking in front of the temple if you drive. The bus stop to get off at is “Baekyangsa-ahp” then all you have to do is turn left and walk up the hill.


Jeongtosa

Jeongtosa in Ok-dong

Jeongtosa in Ok-dong

Located next to the cemetery in Ok-dong, this temple offers a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of ok-dong. While not really that big it does have some interesting floats from the lantern festival. There are quite a few different styles of lanterns packed into this small temple. So, it is worth checking out, if you are located in the area.

Jeongtosa

Jeongtosa

 

There are also numerous temples around the city that you can check out own your own. If you have a way to get around or are familiar with the public transportation systems here are a few temples outside of Ulsan that are worth the visit. This temple is in that green space between Ok-dong and Mugeodong, on your way out to Munsu Stadium. If you are taking any bus from ok-dong to mugeo, they will usually stop there.


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Seongnamsa

Located just on the outskirts of Gajisan, this temple is primarily run by Buddhist Nuns. Consisting of about 30 buildings, the main courtyard and three-story pagoda are decorated with lanterns for the special day. The walk up from the main gain is something to really take in. The gentle flowing stream gives a nice soundtrack for you walk and the road is also lined with lanterns. The entrance fee is 1,700 won for adults which is paid at the entrance before you walk up the road.

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There are regular buses that run from the Eonyang terminal to Seongnamsa regularly. If you are driving just take HWY 24 past Eonyang and follow the signs. There is parking opposite to the gate.


Tong dosa

Tongdosa Temple Lanterns

Tongdosa

This is one of my favourite temples to visit. The long walk in is perfect for those seeking a little bit of exercise. However, you can also drive in and park closer to the temple. The lanterns cover most of the grounds creating a beautiful scene against some of the oldest temple buildings in the country.

Bell rings at 6:30 pm every night. Also has a drumming session.

Bell rings at 6:30 pm every night. Also has a drumming session.

There is a lot of stuff going on at Tongdosa and so you’d better go there early. The temple closes at 6 pm, so you’d better get there before then and look around. You can take your time after, they won’t kick you out but they just stop letting people in around 6 pm. However, they may have extended hours for the events.

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The fastest way to get there is is by car, however the roads maybe backed up due to the event. Take the #1 expressway to Busan and get off at the Tongdosa exit. From there just follow the signs. There are also regular buses that leave from the Eonyang terminal as well.


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Hongryeongsa

One of the more tricky places to get to in the area. Hongryeongsa is nestled deep in the mountains outside of Yongsan. However, it has a magnificent waterfall on the temple grounds that makes this temple my all time favourite to visit. Being so far away from the city, the sights and sounds are truly calming. The temple itself is quite small but the waterfall and surring forest make up for it.

Simple beauty at Hongryeongsa

Simple beauty at Hongryeongsa

To get there by car, take the expressway #1 and get off at the Yangsan exit. After the tollgate turn right and follow the road about 5 minute. Look for the 2nd brown sign and follow the road over the expressway, past the village and up into the mountains.


A filled with lanterns

Beomosa Lanterns

Beomosa

One of the more famous temples in Busan, this is a great place to spend an evening. While the displays are not as grand as some of the other temples in Busan, it is still worth the visit. The main courtyard is completely covered with lanterns and with a short hike up the mountain, you can get a bird’s eye view of the temple grounds. The possible downfall of this location could be the crowds that will come for the Buddha’s birthday celebrations. Talking to one of the people staying at the temple, they said that you will most likely have to either walk up to the temple or take a shuttle bus as they won’t be allowing people to park near the temple.

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When leaving there are a number of great little coffee trucks that line the road which are an interesting way to get a snack. If you drive a few more blocks toward Busan University of Foreign Studies you will find a great area for food and drink just across the street from Namsan High School. My favourite cafe is on the corner next to the high school called “Route Coffee” It is not easy to miss as it is a white brick building right on the corner. Their americanos are strong and their daily coffee is cheap and delicious.

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To get to Beomosa from Ulsan is quite easy. take any of the numerous buses that go to Nopo Station including some of the city buses. Jump on the subway and get off at Beomosa Station. Then take exit 5 or 7 and walk to the Beomosa Bus Stop and get on Bus 90 to take you to the Temple.


Feel free to pray inside

Hongbubsa

Probably one of the newer temples on the list but it shouldn’t be overlooked. It is one of the most noticeable temples in the area and is located just minutes away from Beomosa. This temple has a giant seated Buddha on top of the temple and you can actually go right inside the statue as there is a prayer hall located inside it. The temple grounds are nice but head up to the 4th floor and you can get a nice view of the area.

Located near Busan, this particular temple can been seen even from the more well known Beomosa temple.

Located near Busan, this particular temple can been seen even from the more well known Beomosa temple.

To get there head in the opposite direction from Beomosa. If you have a car, drive in the opposite direction from Busan as if you were heading back to Ulsan. Turn right at the 3rd set of lights. This is the entrance to “Dugu-dong village” After cross the little bridge immediately turn left and follow the narrow road to the temple.


Haedong Yeonggunsa

Haedong Yonggunsa

Haedong Yonggungsa

This is the famous temple by the sea. It is even more popular now as there is a Lotte Outlet shopping mall built directly behind it. Thus the area is quite busy these days and I would imagine that the crowds heading to the temple will be insane. Temple is one of the few temples located along the ocean. This one is extremely beautiful and a favorite of mine. There will be tons of lanterns and people there this year. probably more people than in previous years due to the development in the area and the Lotte Outlet Mall.

golden buddha

To get there that the train to Songjeong and then take a taxi or bus and get off at Yonggungsa Temple (용궁사). By car head to Gijang and follow the signs either the the temple (brown signs) or to the Lotte Shopping mall.


Obviously this is not a complete or comprehensive list but it should help you decide where to go. The directions are vague but if you have a smartphone or navigation system all of these locations should be found easily. For more information on the temples themselves check out Dale’s Blog and for times and fees check the Korea tourism website and/or click the titles in this post. If the temple has a link or english post it will take you there.

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