Top experiences in Bukhansan National Park
Bukhansan National Park activities
Mt Bukhan Hike with Korean Style Spa
After hotel pickup in the morning, you’re driven to nearby Bukhansan National Park, a region abundant with granite peaks, gorges and more than 100 Buddhist temples. Once your experienced guide chooses the route, based on the group’s ability and preferences, set out on your hike along Bukhansan, or Mt Bukhan, which translates to ‘north Han mountain,’ referring to its orientation to the Han river. Follow your guide to Seunggasa Temple on a 2-hour hike, gaining approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) in elevation. This popular trail is relatively easy for beginners, but if you’d like more of a challenge there’s the 3-hour Bibong path. If your group decides on the latter option, climb approximately 1,835 feet (560 meters) along a narrow trail with a mountain stream flowing on either side. You’ll soon understand why Koreans consider mountains to be paths leading to heaven.Once you descend, you’re taken to lunch, and then it’s time to rejuvenate at an authentic Korean spa, or jjimjilbang. Nudity is the norm at this communal indoor bathhouse, separated by gender, and your guide waits outside after describing what to expect. Start with a 20-minute soak in a hot bath before moving to the sauna for an hour while a ‘scrub mistress,’ or ddemiri, rubs your entire body with a thin, coarse towel to slough away layers of dead skin. Complete this Korean cleansing process, called seshin, with an oil massage, cucumber face mask and shampoo applied by your expert practitioner.When you’re feeling as good as new, settle back into your vehicle and make a brief stop at an amethyst factory or a ginseng center — two of Korea’s most famous goods — before drop-off at your hotel around 5pm.
2-Day Korean Temple Stay at Geumsunsa Temple
The unique cultural program called Temple Stay allows you to experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at a traditional temple in Korea. During your overnight stay at Geumsunsa, you’ll discover the ancient cultural heritage of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, with a concentration in Seon (Zen) meditation.After hotel pickup in the morning, your knowledgeable guide takes you on a sightseeing tour before driving your small group to the temple. Pass the Blue House en route to Gyeongbokgung Palace (Deoksugung Palace on Tuesdays) to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Built in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty, this most beautiful of the Five Grand Palaces features traditional architectural elements. Next, you’re taken to the National Folk Museum of Korea (Museum of History on Tuesdays). On a museum tour with your guide, gain insight into Korean life throughout the centuries, from ancient times to the 20th century. Then continue to the popular Jogyesa Temple for an introduction to the historical and cultural roots of Seon Buddhism in South Korea. After lunch (own expense), you’ll change vehicles in Insadong and head to Geumsunsa. Standing in front of Mt Inwangsan, the 600-year-old temple is located in the center of Seoul but feels far away. Here, a clear stream flows from mountain peaks and passes under Hongyaekyo (Bridge of Nirvana) in tranquil Bukhansan National Park. Upon arrival in the afternoon, you’re outfitted with modest attire: comfortable pants and a vest to go over your T-shirt. After registration, your guide provides an orientation and information on temple etiquette. You’ll sleep in a shared room, with separate quarters for men and women. Each day’s schedule differs, depending on whether you stay during the weekend or on a weeknight, as noted below in the Itinerary.