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[PyeongChang 2018] 5 temple stay programs offer exclusive experience for visitors to PyeongChang

The Korean Buddhist Cultural Foundation’s head monk Won-kyung selected five temples in the greater Gangwon Province area where foreign visitors can join special temple stay programs during the Winter Games: Naksansa, Baekdamsa, Samhwasa, Sinheungsa and Woljeongsa Temple.

Individuals, who carry tickets to the Olympics and Paralympics, will be able to take advantage of the special temple stay program, receiving an 80 percent discount for a one-night stay including one additional person. Visitors can also experience the program for a day at a reduced cost.

The majority of Korean temples are located in the mountainous regions across the nation, surrounded by serene nature. Temple stay programs offer a wonderful channel of escape from the urban chaos and busy lifestyle, while enlightening the soul and body.

(Photo courtesy of Templestay)
(Photo courtesy of Templestay)

Newcomers to the program do not have to be familiar with Zen, meditation or Buddhism as a religion. Packed with various events, the five selected temple programs are furnished to provide guests with a glimpse into life at a Buddhist temple.

Each temple has its own set of planned events that vary from rigorous spiritual practices to relaxed programs geared toward cooking temple food or meditating.

Standing on the slopes of Korea’s famous Mountain Obong, Naksansa is well-known for its “follow your dreams” activity, sunrise observation and search party for the golden three-legged money toad, which is known to bring good fortune. 

(Photo courtesy of Templestay)
(Photo courtesy of Templestay)

Visitors to Baekdamsa can participate in the act of prostrating or bowing 108 times, meditation sessions awakening one’s five senses and meditation sessions in the forest. Monks will also teach guests how to build a “hope tower” out of stones.

Lying on the coast of the East Sea, Samhwasa temple stay offers a beautiful sunrise view, bell-ringing ceremony, spiritual walking exercise along Mureng valley and paper arts and crafts.

Considered the oldest Zen Buddhist Temple in the world, Sinheungsa is located on the slopes of Mountain Seorak in Sokcho, Gangwon Province. Participants can enjoy making Korean paper crafts and embellishing the main halls and pillars with “tanchong,” or a particular way of print. Tea ceremonies with monks are also available. 

(Photo courtesy of Templestay)
(Photo courtesy of Templestay)

Located in the forested valley east of Odaesan in PyeongChang County, Woljeongsa is the perfect place for visitors to go for a nature walk in the moonlight. Guests at the temple can choose from various arts and crafts, such as making paper lotus-flowers and malas of 108 beads. 

Also, monks will teach participants the wisdom of “non-possession” through “balwoogongyang,” or process of eating a monastic meal. Food is prepared equally in a clean environment. It is custom not to leave any food waste.

In high-hopes for a successful Winter Olympics and Paralympics, all five temples will offer participants to make use of the “slow post office.” Individuals can receive the letter in one year with no restrictions on one’s destination. 

(Photo courtesy of Templestay)
(Photo courtesy of Templestay)

Visitors with tickets to the Winter Games can also indulge in monastic meals at 2017, 2018 Michelin-starred restaurant “Balwoogongyang” at a 10 percent discount rate throughout the duration of the Olympics.

Reservations are required to participate via the official temple stay website ( The site also carries an abundance of information on the different temple stay programs.

The temple stay program for foreigners began last Friday and will run until March 18.

By Catherine Chung (