I think Seokbulsa is definitely the coolest temple in Busan. Maybe the coolest in Korea. It’s really small, with only a few buildings, but it’s completely different from any temple I’ve visited. It doesn’t feel at all like a Korean temple, really. First of all, the buildings are all made of stone and laid out in front of huge rock cliffs. Many guardians and buddhas are carved into the side of the mountain behind the temple buildings. It’s also high up on the mountain, so there’s a nice view.
My personal favorite thing about the temple is that despite being so cool, and being right in Busan, not many people seem to know about it, or put the effort into finding it. It requires a pretty strenuous hike to get to, but it’s definitely something everybody in Busan should try to see. It’s just so unique with a very “Indiana Jones” feel to it.
Getting there is the tricky part. From the entrance to Geumjeong mountain (where the amusement park and stuff is) we took the cable car up (6,000 won roundtrip or 3,500 won oneway). You can hike up if you’re hardcore, but it’s a pretty good hike from the top of the mountain even. At the top follow signs for Nammun village. You’ll arrive at a village with a bunch of badminton and foot volleyball courts. When we went there was a rousing game going on. You want to turn onto the path to the left before entering the village. From there you’ll start the downhill walk. There’s a bunch of rocks, as long as you stay in the general path you’ll be fine. Eventually you’ll reach a semi paved road. There’s are marker sign pointing toward Seokbulsa. You want to turn right onto the road and follow it as it curves up the hill. The temple is at the very top of this road. Enjoy it while you’re there because the uphill climb on the hike back is pretty rough.
Altogether, with a large group of 10 people the hike took us about 4 and a half hours from Oncheonjang station. You can do it much faster or slower depending on your speed and how many pictures you like to take.
Directions: Take the Orange line metro to Oncheonjang station exit 3. Turn left across the pedestrian bridge toward Homeplus. Look for the big mountain and just kind of walk toward it. I know the 100 and 100-1 buses go there from Haeundae, not sure about the others.
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