Golgulsa Temple Stay In Gyeongju
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.
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.
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
HALF DAY VISIT
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.
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.