The program began in 2002 when South Korea ran out of hotel rooms while hosting the Soccer World Cup. Buddhist temples were asked to open their doors, and when visitors who stayed in them later raved about the experience, Korea tourism officials realized that they had discovered a wonderful new travel program.
Some temples accept only group reservations, but others are open to individuals.
The basic program at most temples includes Buddhist rituals, Zen meditation, tea ceremonies, and barugongyang (a traditional Buddhist meal). Additional activities may including mountain trekking, lotus lantern making, and rubber stamp making.
Many of the temples are centuries old. Accommodations are likely to be spartan, but the rich cultural experience they offer is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. A temple stay will likely be a high point of your trip to South Korea.
And you just might end up starting a meditation practice once you return home, too.
General information on the Temple Stay Program in South Korea
Visit Korea Tourism Organization
Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of the Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper and Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. Her website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.