Golgulsa Temple Stay In Gyeongju, South Korea

Golgulsa Temple is located in the outskirts of Gyeongju at the foot of Mt. Hamwol. The famous Buddhist temple is known for having the only temple cave in Korea and for being the only sunmudo martial arts temple. You can easily visit Golgulsa in an afternoon but the best way to experience the temple is by doing a Golgulsa Temple Stay.

Gyeongju is a city located in the southeastern region of South Korea. It is known for its rich history, ancient architecture, and cultural heritage. Gyeongju was once the capital city of the Silla Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 57 BC to 935 AD.

The city is home to numerous historic sites and relics, including ancient tombs, temples, and palaces. One of the most notable landmarks in Gyeongju is the Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 8th century.

The temple is known for its intricate architecture and beautiful natural surroundings. Another popular attraction in Gyeongju is the Cheomseongdae Observatory, one of the oldest surviving astronomical observatories in East Asia. Visitors to Gyeongju can also explore the city’s many museums, parks, and traditional markets. Overall, Gyeongju offers a unique glimpse into Korea’s rich cultural heritage and is a must-visit destination for history and culture enthusiasts.

Quick Facts About Golgulsa Temple

  • The Korean temple dates back to the 6th century and literally translates to Stone Buddha Temple as it has a seated Buddha carved into the Golgulsa lime stone grotto.
  • The seated rock carved Buddha is facing the underwater tomb of King Munmu located at the Gyeongju coast line.
  • Golgulsa Temple is running the sunmudo temple stay program since 1992.

Golgulsa Temple is a historic Buddhist temple located in Gyeongju, South Korea. The temple was founded in the 6th century during the Silla Dynasty and is considered one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Korea. Golgulsa Temple is famous for its unique architecture, which includes a series of stone pagodas and Buddha statues carved into the rock face of a mountain.

The temple was also known as a center for martial arts training during the Silla Dynasty, with monks using the surrounding mountains as a training ground for physical and mental discipline. Throughout its history, Golgulsa Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times due to various wars and conflicts.

In the 1970s, the temple underwent a major renovation project to restore it to its former glory. Today, Golgulsa Temple is a popular tourist destination and a designated national treasure of South Korea. Visitors can explore the temple complex and witness the unique combination of Buddhist culture and martial arts history that has made Golgulsa Temple an important part of Korean heritage.

About Golgulsa Temple

The seated carved Buddha is the main Buddha of the temple and can only be reached by climbing a steep flight of stairs. The Buddha is displayed with a calm smile, narrow eyes, and his hair in a topknot and with a long narrow nose.  A glass roof has been built to protect the Buddha from being damaged. Around the main Buddha are a couple of small caves with smaller Buddha statues in them.

Golgulsa is part the Yogyeo order which is the same order as Bulguksa Temple also located in the outskirts of Gyeongju.

The Golgulsa Temple Stay Program

Golgulsa is a Sunmudo practice center which focuses on teaching martial arts to Koreans and international visitors. The program starts in the afternoon at 13:30 with sitting meditation or archery. At 15:30 visitors (even if you’re not doing the temple stay program) can enjoy the Korean Traditional Arts Performance & Sunmudo Demonstration. Dinner is served at 17:00 and is followed up with evening chanting and a 90 minute Sunmudo training.

The dinner is served in buffet style, with rice, soup, fruit, rice cakes and vegetables from the temple or local farms. The tables in the dining hall are gender segregated.

Wake up time is at 4:00 which is followed by morning chanting, sitting meditation and breakfast. Next is tea time with one of the Golgulsa Monks and 108 bows. After lunch time, the temple stay program is finished.

It’s possible to stay for a couple of days or even months, if you really want to master Sunmudo. Or you can just join the program for the afternoon –  up to you.

Price of the Golgulsa Temple Stay


Visiting Golgulsa temple and watching the Korean Traditional Arts Performance & Sunmudo Demonstration is free. Joining for dinner, chanting and the Sunmudo training costs 10 000 won.

On arrival go straight to the visitors office to sign up for the half day activities. You will also receive a temple stay outfit which you have to wear until you leave.

The performance starts each day at 15:30 (except on Mondays) on the temple grounds just next to the stone carved Buddha. The performance platform has a stunning view, facing the mountains and the Gyeongju coastline.

Golgulsa Temple Stay Gyeongju Seonmundo Demonstration


Doing the whole temple stay program costs 60 000 (in a shared room) or 80 000 (for a private room). The rooms and eating tables are gender segregated, please keep this in mind when visiting the temple as a couple. The price for this temple stay Korea is cheaper compared to other temple stay programs.

If you’re planning on staying a day you will have to book in advance by email. More info can be found on the Golgulsa website.

** This is one the best temple stay in Korea I have done. Some days, especially during the week, the temple is not touristic at all which makes the program extra special. The monks and staff are extremely friendly and welcoming. **


Golgulsa also offers training programs for people who wish to stay for weeks or even longer. These programs are mostly free but require some you to help run the temple stay programs in return.

How To Get To Golgulsa Temple

Take bus 100 or 150 from Gyeongju Bus Terminal in the direction of Gampo. The ride should take around 1 hour and cost 1500 won per person. Get of at the bus stop ‘Andong/Girimsa/Golgulsa’. From the bus stop it’s a 20 minute walk to the entrance of the temple.

Address: 101-5, Girim-ro, Yangbuk-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

You can also take the Gyeongju tour bus, which takes you to all the highlights in Gyeongju. Tickets can be bought in any tourist information center in Gyeongju or online, which is 20% cheaper.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Golgulsa Temple Stay Program?

The Golgulsa Temple Stay Program is a cultural and spiritual experience that allows participants to live and train like a Buddhist monk in Golgulsa Temple, located in Gyeongju, South Korea. The program includes meditation sessions, Buddhist teachings, communal meals, and various temple activities such as lantern making, tea ceremony, and Buddhist chanting. The program offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Korean Buddhism and gain a deeper understanding of Korean culture and traditions.

How can I join the Golgulsa Temple Stay Program?

To join the Golgulsa Temple Stay Program, you need to make a reservation in advance through the temple’s website or by phone. The program is available throughout the year and is open to anyone regardless of their nationality or religious beliefs. The temple offers various programs, ranging from one-night to seven-night stays, and participants can choose the one that fits their schedule and interests. The temple provides all necessary equipment, including bedding, towels, and traditional temple clothing.

What are the benefits of participating in the Golgulsa Temple Stay Program?

Participating in the Golgulsa Temple Stay Program can offer many benefits, including spiritual growth, stress relief, and cultural immersion. The program provides a unique opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and focus on inner peace and mindfulness.


Have you been to Golgulsa? How did you enjoy your visit? Have any questions about the Golgulsa temple stay? Let me know in the comment section below.

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1 Response

  1. MaraExploresJapan says:

    Great photos. I miss living in South Korea. I like how you write about life there.

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