Mysterious Unjusa Temple of 1,000 Buddha and Pagodas

unjusa temple hwasun

View of Unjusa in the Spring on our first visit

The South Korean temple, Unjusa in Hwasun County is a bit of a mystery. No one is quite sure who the founder is but it is estimated to have been built sometime between 57 BC and 935 AD. Originally the temple had more than 1,000 Buddha statues and 1,000 pagodas but today only 91 stone statues and 21 pagodas of various sizes remain. They can be found around the temple grounds and in the surrounding fields and mountains.
child looking at buddha statue unjusa hwasun korea temple
small statue unjusa hwasun temple korea
pagoda in mountain at unjusa temple
Buddha statue under large stone hwasun unjusa south korea temple
multi cylindrical pagoda unjusa south korea hwasun
A few years ago when our son was only a few months old we took a trip to Unjusa. We hadn’t researched much before we went. We enjoyed our time but when we got home we found out that we had completely missed the giant statues of Buddha lying down. We knew we would need to return!
Painting on the temple roof
many little gold colored buddha
Temple door carvings and painting lotus

We have just returned to Unjusa and were pleasantly surprised! Since our last visit they have invested in creating beautiful trails and stairs to the main attractions in the mountains. The stone or wooden paths are steep in parts but are some of the best I have seen in my 11 years in Korea! When we visited before my husband and son had to wait at the bottom of the mountain as I climbed to get a good photo because the trail was rather slippery when wet. This is no longer a concern!

walkway at unjusa temple
Stairs going to the reclining buddha
This visit we were sure to get a pamphlet (in English!) and checked the maps so we knew where we were going. The paths are well labeled and there are signs at the major monuments in both Korean and English explaining the significance. We had missed the giant reclining Buddha statues the first visit because we had taken the trail up behind the temple rather than the trail to the left. It is clearly marked and was entirely our mistake.

We didn’t make the mistake again though! After you climb the stairs to the top of the hill there is no missing the reclining Buddha statues. Carved out of the stone in the ground, one is nearly 42 feet and the other around 34 feet. The carvings are rather crude but it is still impressive. I have never seen anything else like it in Korea.

Buddha lying down carving from rock
reclining buddha unjusa temple

The hikes around Unjusa are easy and not very crowded. It’s quite far from the city with few restaurants or other services around. It’s best to bring your own food! Some guided tour groups do make it out to the temple but with such a large area to explore it never felt busy. With so many treasures to search for it’s easy to discover something new each time you visit Unjusa which is why it’s one of our favorite temples in the region.

Cost

  • Adults 3,000 won / Teenagers 2,000 won / Children 1,000 won

Hours

  • Summer 08:00-18:00 / Winter 08:00-17:00

Transportation

  • From Gwangcheon Bus Terminal (USquare) in Gwangju take city bus number 318 or 218. The ride takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Confirm with the driver that the bus will stop at the temple (운주사). 

Gwangju International Community Day!

The Gwangju International Center is yet again helping to organize the Gwangju International Community Day (GIC Day). It will be held October 15th and 16th, 2016 at the Gwangju International Center (Saturday) and the Asia Culture Complex (Sunday) downtown. Put on by both local and international residents of the city, this multi-cultural event is now in its 22nd year in Gwangju, South Korea and features a talent show, concert, cultural and community booths as well as food booths. 

Day 1
Time: 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: GIC Hall & Global Lounge, Gwangju International Center
Events: GIC Market, Special GIC Talk, GIC Concert, GIC Day Talent Show Trial

Day 2
Time: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Location: ACC Democracy Plaza (downtown Gwangju)
Events: Global Food Booths, Global Culture Booths, Global Community Booths, Talent Show, Flea Market

By far our favorite thing about the Gwangju International Community Day is the food booths! Gwangju residents from different countries make some of their traditional foods and sell them for only 1,000 won – 3,000 won a serving. Since it is so affordable we sampled food from more than 10 different countries one year! This year the food booths will include representitives from Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Syria, Indonesia, Japan, Camaroom, Canada, Thailand and Philippines. We will be there representing the Philippines and selling maja blanca (coconut custard with jackfruit), flan, buko pie (young coconut pie) and brazo de mercedes (soft meringue with custard filling). Come on by and say "Hello"!

Gwangju International Community DaySetting up 2014

You can also enjoy watching the performances at the talent show, pick up a treasure at the flea market and meet people from all over the world who you might not realize live in Gwangju too! At the Global Culture Booths you can learn about the home cultures of some of Gwangju's international residents through their traditional games, clothes, handicrafts and songs. The Global Community Booths will introduce visitors to a variety of local organizations, clubs and services such as "English Language Childbirth Services" by Vanessa Reid – Birth & Breastfeeding Services. Another group that will be there is Global Families of Gwangju (GFOG). GFOG will have information about their organization as well as a preview of their upcoming Halloween party including games, prizes and a photo zone. You will also find Gwangju Animal Care Humane Institute (GACHI) at the event with information about the first animal welfare non-profit in this province and a doggie photo booth.

Gwangju International Community DayPhoto via GIC

GIC Day holds a special place in the hearts of our family as it was where Danny and I had our first official date back in 2007 at the 13th Gwangju International Community Day. We hit a tiny bit of a snag though as Typhoon Nari happened to make landfall at the Southern tip of Korea that same weekend. The 13th GIC Day still continued and so did our date! Everyone who showed up was given a free rain poncho and we huddled under the tents chatting and eating. Not a bad beginning to a relationship I think! If we’ll brave a typhoon for a first date, we can take on anything!

Gwangju International Community Day typhoon nari

Over the years we have made a point of attending each GIC Day. We started off as attendees but more often than not Danny would get pulled into a food booth to help with cooking.

Gwangju International Community Day

Photo via GIC

Gwangju International Community Day

In 2012 we decided to help run the food booth for the Philippines with some of our friends from the Gwangju Filipino community while I was 8 months pregnant! A year later we were back with our son as visitors only for his first GIC day in 2013. It was where our son first tried some traditional Filipino games and was able to run and play with other children from international families who call Gwangju their home as well.

Gwangju International Community Day
Gwangju International Community Day

Photo via Farther East Photos

The following year all 3 of us were back working at a food booth! Whether running a booth or just enjoying the event, the Gwangju International Community Day always promises to be a good time to make new friends, experience different cultures and eat your fill of foods from around the globe!

Gwangju International Community DayPhoto via GIC

7 Must See Places Near Gwangju this Fall

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This summer has been a long and unbelivably hot one but fall is in the air! Maybe you're looking for a place to see the fall colours or somewhere to visit over the Chuseok holiday. The Damyang House, Compass Korea  and Family in Faraway Places  have you covered with our favorite places to visit near Gwangju, Jeollanamdo during the autumn season in Korea!

1. The Gwangju Lake Eco-Park (광주호수생태원)

eco park 3

The interconnecting boardwalks and walkways inside the Eco-Park offer spectacular views of the lake and are designed to accommodate visitors of all ages.  The park is very popular and can get busy, especially on the weekend during mid afternoon.  The secret is to arrive just before dusk when 90% of the visitors are leaving, sneak in a bottle of wine and your dog, and enjoy the sun setting behind the mountains on the far side of the lake.  Better yet, arrive in the afternoon and explore the rice paddies adjacent to the park before catching the sunset.  Follow the service road behind the 7-11 in the parking lot into the rice paddies and enjoy the uninhibited views of Mundeung National Park and the surrounding mountains.  Not only are these small farming service roads pet friendly, they are virtually empty except for the occasional farmer.   Even still, for some of the best views of the lake and Mudeung Mountain, you can walk up road 887 (main road following the lake) and find one of several trails used to access the lake by the local fishermen.  Bring your camera AND your fishing rod because the bass fishing is just as good as the views.  


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Check out more about Gwangju Lake Eco Park, from The Damyang House here!
Fishing Trails


2. Baegyangsa (백양사)

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Part of Naejangsan National Park, Baegyangsa was established in 632 AD. Once you arrive it is a short and easy walk from the parking area to the temple. The walkway takes you along the river and past little shops selling fresh persimmons and roasted chestnuts in the fall. As you approach the temple you are greeted with the spectacular image of the temple at the end of the river with a backdrop of red, orange and yellow leaves framing the mountain’s rock formation. This spot is a favorite location for tourists and locals during the autumn season and during the best weekends to view the fall colors it can get busy! There is plenty of space to find a nice little quiet place to yourself and paths to hike but take the crowds into consideration. The first time we went we were a bit naïve about how bad the traffic would be on a peak weekend. The trip that usually takes 35 minutes to an hour, took us nearly 3 hours! Arriving early or on weekdays can help you to avoid the crowds nearly all together.


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Check out more about Baegyangsa from Family in Faraway Places here!
Baegyangsa


3. Guemseong-Sanseong Fortress (담양 금성산성)

Damyang Country 11

I’ve hiked and traveled all over South Korea – and lots of Asia – and the Geumseong Fortress in Damyang is a spot that continues to impress me to this day. I can still vividly remember climbing out the trees the first time years ago – not knowing what to expect – and coming face to face with the imposing stone gate towering over me. Just awesome. The appeal of Guemseong is that the reward is so high for such a short hike. After 30-40 minutes on a gradual ridge you get to explore an impressive mountain fortress. I definitely recommend it to everyone coming to the area.


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Watch a video of Damyang and the Geumseong Fortress by Compass Korea here! 
Geumseong Fortress


4. Shikyeongjung (식영정)

shikyeongjung 3

Shikyeongjung is a small group of pavilions just across from the Eco-Park and right next to the Poetry and Literature Museum.  This small park doesn’t look like much at first glance, but keep in mind these are functioning pavilions.  Grab some snacks from one of the cafes or a bottle of makoli from the 7-11 and find an empty pavilion to relax in and enjoy the fresh air.  The pavilion on top of the hill even has a working Hwangto-Bang during the colder months (red clay brick room heated via small cast iron stove under the floor).  This park is especially popular with the local photography clubs during the fall months when the trees offer a colorful backdrop for the traditional pavilions.  What most visitors don’t know is that there is a pet-friendly trail behind the aforementioned pavilion on the hill that leads up the mountain to a scenic overlook offering beautiful views of Mudeung National Park and the surrounding valley.  It’s a steep 25 minute climb, but well worth it.  


damyang

Read more from The Damyang House about what you can find around Shikyeongjunjg here!
Jishil Valley


5. Suncheon Bay (순천만습지)

SuncheonBayBoat

One of the best day trips in all of Jeollanamdo is to explore the beautiful eco park of the Suncheon Bay. Stroll on boardwalks just above the mudflats and listen to miles of reeds swaying and rustling in the breeze. In the summer the six-foot reeds are a vibrant green, but in the fall, when the feathery seed heads are full, they change to brown and gold, looking more like wheat than tall grass. Plus, if you go in the fall you get to see the flocks of migratory birds that rest and feed in the Suncheon Bay.


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To see Suncheon Bay upclose, watch this video by Compass Korea here!
Suncheon Bay


6. Songgwangsa (송광사)

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Songgwangsa is one of Korean’s best known temples! Found in Jogyesan Provincial Park, the temple is only about a 45 minute drive from Gwangju and is a popular destination to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday, join a temple stay program or to just enjoy the autumn scenery. When you arrive at the parking area you will find some small restaurants and vendors where you can grab a meal or a snack. The main gate where you purchase your ticket is also there but the temple is about a 15 minute walk away! We were not expecting such a long walk but the pathways follow a beautiful river and take you through a quiet pine forest. We found ourselves wishing that we had packed a picnic lunch to enjoy under the trees like many hikers were doing. Songgwangsa is quite large with many buildings to explore and lots of space to spread out in and so it never seemed crowded. 


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Check out more about Songgwangsa from Family in Faraway Places here!
Songgwangsa


7. Sosaewon (소쇄원)

sosaewon 2Descriptions of this private garden tend to be overly dramatic, but the fact that's it's 500 years old, has been passed down for 15 generations, and the current owner lives in our village just two doors down is pretty impressive.   It’s also included on just about every “top 10” list focusing on Damyang so it’s worth checking out.  The entire garden is surrounded by a bamboo forest and is split by a small stream, with pavilions on either side.  Small walkways and bridges connect everything and guide you through the park.  It's not big and is unfortunately made even smaller by the unusually large crowds.  Sosaewon is only about 1km from Shikyeongjung, but walking along the main road isn’t always the most comfortable.  To avoid this, start your afternoon here and after checking out the park exit Sosaewon via the little-known and underused back entrance.  This trail will follow the ridge up the mountain and around the valley and take you to the overlook previously mentioned and ultimately down to Shikyeongjung and the Eco-Park!  


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Check out more near Sosaewon, from The Damyang House here!
Rice Paddies


A big thank you to The Damyang House and Compass Korea for collaborating on this article!

Photos of Songgwangsa Temple in Fall

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  • Website: http://songgwangsa.org/
  • Admission: Adults 3,000 won, students 2,000 won, seniors and children under 7 free
  • Address: 100 Songgwangsaan-gil, Songgwang-myeon, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
     
  • Travel Time: Car 45 min – an hour. Bus 1 hour and 30 min. The direct bus to Songgwangsa leaves from Gwangju Express Bus Terminal (U Square) every hour. 


All images © 2013-2016 Jessica Solomatenko

Imagine Your Korea! Beautiful Autumn Baegyangsa Temple

고불총림 백양사
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Website: http://www.baekyangsa.or.kr/
Admission: Adults 3,000 won, students 1,200 won, children 700 won, babies FREE

Address: 1239, Baegyang-ro, Bukha-myeon, Jangseong-gun, Jeollanam-do 전라남도 장성군 북하면 백양로 1239 (북하면)

Travel Time: Car 35 min, bus 1 hour. It is considerably longer during peak season! Take heavy traffic into consideration.

Bus: From Gwangju Express Bus Terminal (U Square) there is a direct bus to Baegyangsa which takes around an hour. During the peak season it is best to book your tickets in advance!

All images © 2013-2016 Jessica Solomatenko

Hampyeong’s Herptile Eco Park

hampyeong herptile eco park

Hampyeong which is about an hour away from Gwangju, Jeollanamdo, is well known across Korea for its annual Butterfly Festival. Few people, even locally it appears, know about Hampyeong Herptile Eco Park (함평파충류생태공원 ). It’s hard to miss though once you arrive into the area of the Eco Park as the building is shaped like a giant albino Burmese python (they have a live one inside!).

I have not been able to confirm this, but I believe the Herptile Park opened only a few years ago in 2013. The facilities are new, well maintained and clean. The temperature is closely monitored and so on a hot summer day it was lovely and cool inside! There is a collection of more than 600 local and foreign snakes, frogs, toads, turtles, tortoise, and lizards primarily housed on 2 floors of the main building. Inside the main building there is also a theater area but there was no information about shows when we went. There is a separate building outside for some anaconda as well and a nice petting zoo and park area in the back as well.

hampyeong herptile eco park

I am not a big fan of zoos but the animals in these habitats seemed to be well cared for and the workers professional. We arrived at Hampyeong Herptile Eco Park at 9:30am on a holiday Monday and were the only visitors there at the time. They were still setting up for the day and it happened to be feeding time for the pythons. Upon seeing our 3 year old son heading their way the workers discretely put away the bucket of dead mice until he had moved past. Had he been older I’m sure he might have been really interested but I appreciated that they were sensitive to his age.

hampyeong herptile eco park

hampyeong herptile eco park

In the downstairs area there is a small climbing wall, and play and activity area for children. There are also some animals for them to interact with:  couple of birds out on a tree, a horned lizard, some iguanas and a tub of frogs. The frogs were upsetting. I’m sure they were very stressed with the kids reaching in. There was also an area where children can use nets to catch goldfish in two tanks and then rerelease them. Poor fish! Several times a day the Burmese python is also brought out for people to take photos with and interact with. It’s a lovely snake and the handler is good but a lot of people coming to see the snake were acting like idiots, screaming and yelling. The caretakers really need to inforce more calm behavior so as not to stress the snake out! But other than those things, everything and everyone at the place seemed to be working towards making sure the animals were well cared for.

hampyeong herptile eco park

In the back of the building is a small petting zoo with sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits. It was the cleanest petting zoo I have ever seen! It’s free to enter and for 1,000 won you can buy food to feed the animals. The rabbits seem to have figured out that parents tend to give the food to the children and so one rabbit in particular kept chasing after our son. He was completely thrilled about this rabbit who wanted to run races with him. On your mark, get set bunny. Go!

hampyeong herptile eco park

hampyeong herptile eco park


Hours

0:900 to 18:00 (Regular)

09:00 to 17:00 (November to February)

Closed

Every Monday, New Year Day, Seollal and Chuseok

* If a public holiday is on a Monday the park will be open but the next day (Tuesday) it will be closed


Price (Discounts for groups)  
Adults 3,000
Children 1,000
Kindergarten 1,000
Under Korean Age 4 Free

Website: http://ecopark.or.kr/hp_snake/ (Korean)

Address: 전라남도 함평군 신광면 가덕리 306-1번지


Bus Schedule

* This schedule is subject to change. Call the Hampyeong Bus Terminal at 061) 322-0660 to confirm.

Hampyeong Bus Terminal → Herptile Park Herptile Park →Hampyeong Bus Terminal
6:50 7:35
7:50 8:35
9:05 9:30
10:20 10:45
11:10 11:50
11:30 12:30
12:00 13:35
12:55 14:45
14:05 15:35
14:30 17:05
16:20 18:05
17:25 19:40
19:00  

 

Manduca Baby Carrier Traveling With Kids Review

When our son was 3 and a half years old we made a trip to Vietnam.  As I start to pack there is noticeably less “stuff” that we are bringing this time. Our stroller is staying at home. We don’t really use it any more. Completely toilet trained, there are no diapers. No booster seats, sippy cups or travel sterilizer bags. And I have become aware that this would likely be the last trip for our Manduca baby carrier.

7 month 7 unjusa templeBabywearing isn’t really a trend in South Korea where we live. It’s more just a normal, everyday thing that parents do here until the baby can walk. The city roads are busy, sidewalks bumpy and a lot of businesses are completely wheelchair or stroller inaccessible. I’ve had to carry my sleeping son in his stroller up 10 steps just to get to the bank machine! Carrying your baby without the stroller just makes a whole lot more sense sometimes.

It’s also very much tradition in South Korea. It’s not uncommon to see 70 or 80 year old grandmothers carrying their grandchildren on their backs in a modern style podaegi (blanket wrap style carriers) like they once did with their own children. So, when I became pregnant back in 2012 finding a good carrier was much more on my mind than checking out the latest trends in strollers.

The very first baby iten that we bought for our son was our Manduca baby carrier. As an excited new mom I shared the news with my friends and family who are online just to have one friend pipe up and tell me that I could have bought a similar Korean carrier for half the price. I was confident though that the quality wasn’t the same. After all these years I still consider it the best investment in an item for childcare that we bought and worth every penny spent!

The Details

The Manduca carrier can be used for newborns up to children weighing 20 kg. One of the things we liked about the carrier was that the newborn insert is sewn right into the carrier. There was no need to buy an additional insert! The back also extends to give older children more support. It has wide belts at the hip and shoulder and is adjusted to fit the person doing the carrying easily and quickly. The carrier fit both my husband and myself comfortably and we could switch the carrier to the other parent in seconds. It can be used on the front, back and hip. We never found any need to carry our son on our hips but that option is there if desired.

23 month 23

Travel

I don’t think there is a carrier out there that I would have liked more for traveling. Every country we visited we ran into other parents who were also using the Manduca baby carrier in their travels. At one point we purchased a metal frame hiking carrier. It fit my husband fine but cut into my back and it took up so much space in our baggage. The Manduca carrier though was nearly always comfortable to wear, weighs only 600 g, took up about as much space as a pair of jeans in our luggage, and it held up fantastically after many many many washes.

26 months 2015 indo (3)

Quite some time after we bought it I accidentally closed the buckle for the waist strap in the car door. It cracked but still held up perfectly! When our son was 3 years old we decided to buy a new (used) Manduca from a friend. We were going to be climbing up temples in Bagan, Myanmar with our son on our back and were a bit concerned about all the weight on the crack now that he was older. At that time, other than a little fraying at the edges and fading of the fabric everything else about the carrier was still fine.

38 months DSC_4107

38 months DSC_4163

This trip will likely be our last one with the Manduca carrier. Our son is tall for his age and is reaching the upper weight limits. It’s going to be a whole different experience when we can no longer just put him on our back, grab our bags and go! We’ve hiked mountains in Korea, climbed Borobudur in Indonesia at sunrise, and visited the snow monkeys in Japan all with the help of our Manduca carrier.

Like this review about the Manduca baby carrier? Pin it for later!

manduca baby carrier

Gamami Beach – Great Beaches in South Korea!

*Update June 21, 2016* – Photos of the new water park added!

Nearly every weekend, especially once the snow is gone, we try to take a road trip locally. Traveling with a 3 year old who has a ridiculously early wake up time, we usually head out early, travel 1-2 hours from Gwangju and spend the morning at our destination. After lunch when it starts to get too hot and the crowds arrive, we head back to town as our son takes his afternoon nap in the car.

We spend a lot of time in the summer exploring local beaches and this past weekend we finally made it out to Gamami Beach. We had been in the area before to visit other sites but this was our first trip to this section of the coastline. I’ve been hesitant to write about it for fear that it might become too popular. Gamami Beach is by far our favourite family friendly beach close to Gawngju to date!

It is easy to make a trip to Gamami Beach an all-day affair. The drive to the beach takes you through Beoseong Port in Yeonggwang where the specialty is gulbi. The dried fish can be found hanging from ropes on either side of the street and restaurants abound. Either stop for a meal or grab some fish to bring with you to the beach!

Gulbi Jeongshik yeonggwang

Gulbi Jeongshik. A table full of Korean side dishes where gulbi is the feature.

Gulbi yeonggwang drying

Rows of drying gulbi

Also along the way is Beopseongpo (법성포) which is the birthplace of Baekje Buddhism.

Beopseongpo Baekje Buddhism

Beopseongpo, the birthplace of Baekje Buddhism

Gamami Beach has a pine tree camping and picnic area and a large sand beach. Kids can run freely, a game of volley ball or soccer can be played or just sunbathe on the beach without worrying much about getting in the way of others. Even when the tide is still out the water can be reached if you are willing to walk a bit. At low tide digging for clams is a popular pastime. We saw people quickly gathering full buckets of large clams to bring back to their camp. When the tide is in, the water near the shore is only 1-2 meters deep for quite a distance.

Gamami beach yeonggwang

Tide is still out. The rocks directly in front are covered when the tide comes in.

Gamami beach yeonggwang

Exploring the rocks

There is no amission fee to use the beach and during the off season camping is available for free on a first come, first served basis. Starting in July the fees for camping range from about 10,000 won – 50,000 won depending on the site you want to camp in and the size of your tent. During July and August making a reservation ahead of time is recommended.

Gamami beach yeonggwang

The site is also currently going through some renovations. One of the shower and toilet areas is being repaired and a new playground and waterpark are being built. It is expected that they will be completed by July.

Gamami beach yeonggwang water park
Gamami beach yeonggwang water park

Gamami Beach is around a 1 to 1.5 hour drive from Gwangju, Jellonamdo. Alternatively a bus can be taken from Gwangcheon Bus Terminal (U-Square) to Yeonggwang. From the Yeonggwang terminal a local bus can take you to Gamami Beach.

Address in Korean: 전라남도 영광군 홍농읍 가마미로 355
For more informaiton visit Yeonggwang-gun's English website here!

Click here to find out about World Nomads' 2016 Travel Writing Scholarship!

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Hwaeomsa Temple in South Korea for Buddha’s Birthday

buddha's birthday hwaeomsa temple lanterns

On the weekend of Buddha's birthday each spring, festivities are held at the temples all across South Korea. The temples around the country hold events for the entire family. There are performances, ceremonies, free food and lots and lots of colorful lanterns!

buddha's birthday hwaeomsa temple lanterns

Though all temples, big or small, will have some sort of event or lantern display, some are better than others. After recieving a recommendation from a friend, we made our way this year to Hwaeomsa Temple near Gurye, Jeollanamdo. It takes about an hour and a half to drive from Gwangju city to the temple.

buddha's birthday temple Hwaeomsa
buddha's birthday temple lanterns Hwaeomsa


The temple did not disappoint! Traditional music and chanting could be heard throughout the complex. Visitors offered prayers and lit incense but there were also vendors selling ice cream and popcorn as children ran and played. We were also incredibly lucky to catch a bell ringing ceremony which we had never witnessed before!​

buddha's birthday temple monk ringing bell korea
buddha's birthday temple lanterns koreaBub dancing to the chanting from the monks

buddha's birthday temple lanterns korea

hwaeomsa temple roof south korea
hwaeomsa temple buddha birthday lanterns korea

buddha's birthday temple monk ringing bell korea

Admission Fee

  • Adults 3,500 won 
  • Youth 1,800 won 
  • Kids 1,300 won

Transportation

From Gurye Bus Terminal take the bus headed to Hwaeomsa Temple. From the station the ride is about 10 to 20 minutes to the temple bus stop. It approximately another 20 minutes walk from the bus stop to the temple.

Free parking closer to the temple is available for people heading to the temple by car.

Gwangju South Korea Lantern Parade for Buddha’s Birthday

lantern festival

I love the lanterns that are put up around Korea around temples for Buddha's Birthday each year. Quite a few cities across the country also hold lantern festivals and parades. Over the years in Korea I've made it up to Seoul twice for the big lantern parade and I've also seen the lantern festival once before in Gwangju. The Gwangju event is hard to catch. Outside of the temples it doesn't seem to be advertised very much.

We really wanted to take our son to see the parade this year since he is old enough to really enjoy it. In the weeks leading up to the event I had asked around at different organizations to see if and when the parade would be happening this year but noone knew. We just happened to be lucky enough to come across it the day of the event. Here are some of the highlights:

Free food!


Decorated Taxis usually begin the parade










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