Bulgapsan and Bulgap Temple (Yeonggwang) Photo by Joe Wabe
Bogyeong Temple (Gyeongju) Photo by Simon Bond
If temples in Korea leave you feeling a little blasé, pack yourself down to Pohang for an eye-opening experience at Bogyeongsa, a refreshing place embosomed in the piney foothills of Naeyeonsan. The temple itself is impressive: hall after hall, Buddha after peaceful Buddha and enough intricate paintings to make your eyes glaze over. Bogyeongsa’s real magic, though, is in the valley just behind it, accessible on foot only. Thirteen waterfalls plunge down Naeyeonsan in a shining frozen spectacle that increases as you get deeper into the valley, with the towering Yeonsan Falls at the end of this 7-kilometer trail.
Bulgapsa Temple is the oldest of its kind in Korea and attracts swarms of visitors in the summer months. But those looking to convene with contemplation, snatch a few special photos or take in a fantastic sunset behind a 2,000-year-old temple will have an easier time of it in the quiet of wintertime. With tourists far gone, the grounds are peaceful, and the area’s true mystique emerges uninhibited. When you feel it’s time to move again, pick up the pace and haul yourself up the 516-meter-tall Bulgapsan. If the stairs upon stairs on the 30-minute trail don’t leave you breathless, the 360-degree view of Gwangju and its surroundings will. Getting there Buses leave from Seoul’s to Yeonggwang every 40 over three hours. From jjump on another bus
Express Bus minutes and Yeonggwang bound for
Terminal take just Terminal, Bulgapsa.
Getting there The journey is a matter of several buses and several bowls of ramen, so pack extra. Start at the Express Bus Terminal in Gangnam and take a bus to Pohang (4 hours 40 minutes), then hop on the 510 bus to Bogyeongsa from there. Rumor has it there are two 510 buses, so make sure you jump on the one that reads “Bogyeongsa” (보경사).
Groove is Korea's English magazine for Insight, Travel, Culture, Dining and Shopping