You’ve decided that you want to participate in a Templestay at Geumsunsa temple on Bukhansan? Fantastic! Use the online booking system to send a request for the program here, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are instructions on the website, but I found them slightly confusing. Here is my walktrhough of how to arrive at the temple.
Start: Seoul Station
Take the 4 Line (Light Blue) in the direction of Oido. Then transfer to the 6 Line (Brown) after two stops at Samgakji Station. Take the 6 in the direction of Eungam, and hope that you get a seat, because it’s fifteen stops to Bulgwang.
At Bulgwang, exit the station via Exit #2. Straight ahead, you will see an intersection with many bus stops. This is NOT where the 7212 bus that goes to the temple stops! Instead, cross the road and turn left at the Police Station.
The sign for the 7212 bus is a small green one a few yards up the street.
The bus comes every few minutes, and the fare is 1700 won. You will ride the bus for about fifteen minutes, through a tunnel and up a large hill. The bus will turn left at an intersection and head up into a neighborhood.
When the bus makes a U-turn, it’s time to get off. The stop is called Yibukodochung(이북오도청).
Once you are off the bus, continue up the same road. You will pass some very nice houses and it will lead you up the mountain. It’s a lot farther than their website indicates, about 15-20 minutes on foot. Always take the left fork at an intersection.
At a certain point, you will pass a restaurant and then reach a parking lot. Continue up the path on the right (up the mountain) until you reach a fork in the path.
Take the left fork, and cross the creek. Continue up the path until you see the temple on top of a cliff. You will need to climb through the cave for praying (watch your head on the stairs). When you come upstairs turn into the temple’s main courtyard and approach the office, the first room you’ll be able to see.Overall, the trip should take you about an hour, perhaps longer. This should be about the same for anyone who begins in the center of Seoul from any other subway station (i.e. Yongsan, City Hall, Chungmuro).
Some advice about the templestay experience:Turn off your cell phone. Too many were attached at the hip to theirs and missed out. Bring layers. You’ll be outside when it’s cold, hot, and everything in between. Bring a journal. Geumsunsa allows you to take pictures, but they also provide a picture service so that you can download them all later. Don’t expect to be in silence the whole weekend. This templestay is just the right amount of strict, but they aren’t overly so. The food will be all vegetarian, and mostly gathered from the mountain. Don’t take more than you need. You will do 108 bows at some point in the weekend. Don’t give up, don’t cheat! This is the best part even though it is very hard.