Set among the verdant hills of Chiaksan National Park, this colourful and vibrant temple is a beauty, its main courtyard festooned with vibrantly coloured lotus lanterns and orchids placed outside the main hall. Among other shrines is a small hall to Gwan-eum, the Goddess of Mercy. The temple is home to a Templestay operation, if you want to overnight and deeply fathom the silence of the mountains (but book ahead; no English spoken).

The temple is colloquially known as 'Nine Dragon Temple' in honour of a myth that the temple was built upon a pond in which dwelt nine dragons that were chased away by a monk; its name however literally means 'Turtle Dragon Temple', out of respect to a turtle rock that once existed here and protected the complex, but was destroyed, bringing misfortune upon Guryong-sa. The name of the temple was therefore changed to Turtle Dragon Temple – which has the same pronunciation in Korean as Nine Dragon Temple – to reverse its demise and afford it protection.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gangwon-do attractions

1. Chiaksan National Park

0.78 MILES

Scenic and mountainous Chiaksan (the name means 'Pheasant Peak Mountain') National Park is home to the lovely Guryong-sa and a host of other temples, and…

2. Seryeom Pokpo

1.06 MILES

A scenic waterfall on the hike between Guryong-sa and the peak of Biro-bong.

3. Beommun-sa

2.82 MILES

One of the many Buddhist temples in the park.

4. Gwaneum-sa

3.92 MILES

This temple is dedicated to Gwaneum, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy who 'listens to the cries of the world'.

5. Bomun-sa

4.42 MILES

One of the numerous Buddhist temples within the park.

7. Yeongwon-sa

6.36 MILES

A temple built by Buddhist priest Uisang Daesa during the Silla period.

8. Sangwon-sa

6.38 MILES

This temple was built by the Buddhist monk Ja Jang (590–658) in 643, rebuilt in 705, burnt down in 1946 and restored again in 1947. The oldest remains is…