When I first came to Korea, I learned about doing a temple stay. Temple stays, as I was told, offered a more unique and intimate experience with the history of Korea and Buddhism.
|Some buildings at Magoksa Temple|
How to Sign Up
Basically, there are some temples in Korea where you can do a temple stay. There are options of staying for just a day, or staying for a night or two. In theory, you can sign up and go on your own, but that might be tricky if you're not fluent in Korean.
A common option is to do what I did, which was sign up for a temple stay with other foreign tourists and residents through a travel group or agency. These sorts of agencies make everything simple. I was able to sign up and send them money to confirm my spot. After that, all I had to do was show up at a location in Seoul at a certain time, and board a rented bus going straight to our destination. It's much easier because you don't have to deal with figuring out how to get there or even simply communicating with temple representatives due to the language barrier. A popular agency is Adventure Korea. There are also groups available on Meetup that do similar trips and organize temple stays.
|We all had a chance to bang this drum|
I did my own Temple Stay at Magoksa Temple (Korean: 마곡사). It's located in Gonju city in the Chungcheongnam province. I went with an agency now called Wink Travel and Culture Group with William Cho as the organizer. I actually wouldn't recommend them, as I've had a couple of negative experiences with the group related to two different trips. I'll explain that later. The Magoksa Temple, however, was wonderful... I would certainly recommend doing your stay here. To clarify, I went when I first arrived to Korea back in 2010.
|One of the Shrines|
To learn more or organize your own trip yourself, go here for contact information and instructions on how to get there. It's a bit of a trek from Seoul, but it's not too bad or complicated.