Magok-sa has had its buildings restored and reconstructed through the years, but unlike most temples, its extant buildings are being allowed to age gracefully, and there are several atmospheric halls, stumpy pagodas and pavilions. The elaborate entry gates feature colourful statues of various deities and bodhisattvas. Cross the ‘mind-washing bridge’ to reach the main hall, behind which stands a rare two-storey prayer hall, Daeungbojeon. The temple is located in a pretty setting 24km outside Gongju.

From Magok-sa, three hiking trails head up the nearby hills (there’s a signboard with a map, in Korean only), passing small hermitages. The longest trail (10km, 4½ hours) hits the two peaks, Nabal-bong (나발봉; 417m) and Hwarin-bong (활인봉; 423m).

A templestay can be arranged for ₩50,000, or there is a motel in the small tourist village, as well as a few restaurants serving typical country fare (₩8000 to ₩25,000): sanchae bibimbap, pyogo jjigae jeongsik (표고찌개정식; shiitake mushroom stew with side dishes) and tokkitang (토끼탕; spicy rabbit soup).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Chungcheongnam-do attractions

1. Gongju National Museum

7.87 MILES

This excellent museum exhibits treasures discovered in the tomb of King Muryeong, including the distinctive gold diadem ornaments that you’ll see images…

2. Tomb of King Muryeong

8.06 MILES

The tomb of King Muryeong, the 25th Baekje king, was discovered – miraculously intact and completely by accident – in 1971. The tomb and the six others in…

3. Ungjin Baekje Historical Museum

8.15 MILES

At the entrance to the Tomb of King Muryeong, the Ungjin Baekje Historical Museum has historical info and a tourist information centre.

4. Gongsan-seong

8.53 MILES

This stunning hilltop fortress is a reminder of a time when Gongju (then called Ungjin) was Baekje’s capital. After entering through the grand stone…

5. Sejong Lake Park

14.62 MILES

This enormous park with a human-made lake was built as a family destination. It's not far from a complex of government buildings.

6. Gap-sa

15.77 MILES

Gap-sa's main hall contains three gleaming Buddha statues, while a smaller shrine houses three shamanist deities – Chilseong, Sansin and Dokseong.

7. Brother & Sister Pagodas

16.97 MILES

These twin Silla-era pagodas are said to represent the brother and sister who founded the original hermitage at Donghak-sa.

8. Gyeryongsan National Park


One of Korea's smallest parks, Gyeryongsan means ‘Rooster Dragon Mountain’ because locals thought the mountain resembled a dragon with a rooster’s head…