Across from the hustle and bustle of the largest underground shopping mall in Asia is the slow pace of temple life. Bongeunsa was built in the year 794 (although it has undergone several reconstructions) and is a fully operational spiritual retreat for monks, Buddhist practitioners, and curious foreigners interested in templestay programs. This temple is very much on the tourist track, which means (for those interested in graphic design) that they have a creative and informative brochure at the information booth by the front gate.
Korean temples are almost always built near a stream or small river. Not only does the water always taste pure and refreshing, I am sure it is imbued with some sort of physical and spiritual healing power. Similar styles of public fountains are also found in secular locations, such as parks and mountains. They are sure to make germaphobes hysterical, but I think they are fantastic!
How about a round of Jeopardy? The royal tombs in Gangnam. Hmm, “Where is the final resting place of King Seonjeong of the Joseon Dynasty?” Nope! How about, “Where is a beautiful and tranquil place to relax in Seoul?” DING DING DING!
There are three royal tombs surrounded by a kaleidoscopic blanket of trees within Seonjeongneung Park. Unlike giant marble mausoleums, the soft and curving lines of the grassy tombs are extravagant in a way that’s in harmony with nature.
While visitors usually must admire the tomb statuary from afar, King Seonjong’s tomb is accessible during certain hours of the day. For a brief period in the morning and afternoon guests are allowed to ascend the king’s tomb for a gorgeous view of both autumnal forest and urban development.
How to get to Bongeunsa: Line 2, Samsung Station Exit #6
King Seongjong’s Royal Tomb: Line 2, Seolleung Station Exit #8
However, both are within walking distance of each other