Seoul is the city I currently live in, so naturally, I have a lot of great things to say about it. Here are three more things to do in Southern Seoul using the Express Bus Terminal Subway Exit as a reference point. I am using that station as a starting point because it is a good central location in the South side of Seoul, and a likely location for visitors who take the long distance buses to locations outside of Seoul to places like Yeoju (King Sejong’s Tomb). However, you can of course see these any time you are in southern Seoul. This is essentially a “part 3” post, so in case you missed the first two articles, they are here, and here.
1) Bongeunsa Temple and Temple Stay
Bongeunsa is always decorated with lanterns. (credit wikipedia)
This is the main Buddha statue in the temple (credit: Wikipedia)
While it feels calm inside, you are still in the heart of the city. The sky scrappers of Seoul are clearly visible. (credit: Wikipedia)
Many temples in Korea have stone pagodas in the front. This temple has been around for hundreds of years. (credit: Seoulistic.com)
While this is a different temple, the picture is meant to show a temple stay experience. Here, the monks are doing their afternoon prayers in Haeinsa Temple.
Bongeunsa is one of the largest Buddhist temples in Seoul. Despite what websites like tripadvisor might tell you, it is actually quite easy to find a Buddhist temple in Seoul. However, just like you wouldn’t tour just any regular church, most Buddhist temples are meant for meditating or praying, not tourism. This one however is quite impressive for its size and history given that it is in the heart of Seoul. Most of the other important temples in Korea, such as Haeinsa Temple near Daegu (article coming soon) or Bulguksa Temple near Gyeongju (also coming soon) are quite far from the city and are deserving of a trip in their own right. Bongeunsa however, is perfect for people on a “time budget” who don’t have an extra day to visit far away temples.
Since the Tomb of King Sejong the Great (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) requires a bus ride from Southern Seoul’s Express Bus Terminal, why waste the rest of the day? When I travel, I find myself trying to maximize my time with things to do. While I enjoy lounging around and just relaxing as much as the next guy, traveling for me is mostly a time to explore, explore, explore! With that in mind, here are three things to do when you return from your trip to Yeoju to visit King Sejong the Great or when you find yourself in the southern side of Seoul.
1) See the Musical Fountain on the Banpo Bridge
One of the reasons I started this blog was to promote places I find incredible, as well as cry foul when I think something is overrated. The Banpo Bridge Musical Fountain touts itself as the longest musical fountain in the world, and Listverse (one of my favorite websites) even ranks it as #10 in a list of best fountains in the world. It isn’t and it is not even close to as beautiful as the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas, the Wynn Casino Fountain in Macao, or the Wild Goose Fountain I wrote about on a previous article. It is however worth a visit, especially if you are already in the area. Although I have never seen it at night, I have seen pictures that it lights up. While I normally don’t offer directions, this is a bit confusing to get to:
Opinion and Background:
This was definitely more interesting to me than it would be to the average person who doesn’t really know Korean history (or lived in Korea for that matter). I must note that this is a bit of a cheat. The UNESCO inscription includes all 40 tombs of the Joseon Dynasty, scattered all over Korea in 18 different sites. While I have visited other Joseon tombs, I decided to review only this site that includes three tombs because:
a) It contains the most important king in Korean history (Sejong the Great).
b) It is easier to give an assessment about something that is in a single location.
c) It is the best of the Joseon Tombs that I have visited.
The tombs are very well kept and the entrance is full of replicas of accomplishments by King Sejong. However, most of the things displayed are not originals, as they have been lost by repeated Japanese invasions. In addition, considering that King Sejong is THE most important historical figure in Korean history, I expected this site would have more, grandeur.