Tongdosa Temple, South Korea

In my last post, I told you a bit more about what Haeundae Beach is like during summer. My next summer time recommendation is Tongdosa Temple. It’s located in Yangsan, just between Busan and Ulsan.

There’s a stream near the entrance that is quite popular among the Koreans.

While it’s a beautiful tourist spot, it’s important to remember to be respectful because people do still come to this temple to pray. Tongdosa is one of Korea’s 3 Jewel Temples so it is highly regarded amongst the Buddhists.

TongdosaWhen visiting temples, it’s a good idea to dress conservatively and try to be quiet while you’re near anyone praying. Also, photos usually aren’t allowed inside of the prayer buildings.

Tongdosa Temple Korea

The entrance fee for Tongdosa Temple is 3,000 per adult, 1,500 for teenagers and 1,000 for children. Kids under 7 are free. Parking is 2,000 won.

Here’s how to enjoy a perfect day at the temple:

1. EAT!

Tongdosa is the perfect place to get your Korean food fix. The restaurant inside the temple is vegetarian friendly, which is great for us because Dave doesn’t eat meat.

Tongdosa food

Just slide open the doors and walk on in. There is a counter with a menu. You order and pay there first.

Tongdosa food-2

We ordered the bibimbap and naengmyeon (iced noodles).

Bibimbap is just rice, topped with an assortment of veggies. There’s also a spicy, red sauce provided on the table that you can mix in.

Tongdosa food-5

Naengmyeon is very popular in summers. Basically, It’s buckwheat noodles on ice. It sounds really strange, but it can actually be really tasty. It’s served with vinegar and spicy mustard on the side so you can flavor it yourself. They also provide scissors so you can cut the noodles. And, of course, no meal in Korea is complete without kimchi.

Tongdosa food-4Next step… nom nom nom!

Tongdosa food-6

People watching is one of my favorite things to do in Korea so I always try to sit by the window.

Tongdosa food-3


Now that you have a full belly, it’s time to explore the temple grounds. Here are some of the highlights, but just know that this is only a fraction of the things you can see at Tongdosa:

3. EAT!

So now that you’ve eaten some traditional Korean foods and explored one of the best temples in the country, it’s time to treat yourself to some dessert.

Patbingsu at Tongdosa Temple

Right next to the restaurant is a dessert stand that sells patbingsu, a favorite dessert among Koreans to beat the heat in summer. Again, go through the doors, order and then take your ticket to the woman on the right who makes the patbingsu. Then, sit down and they will bring your patbingsu to the table.

This delicious dessert consists of shaved ice, condensed milk and sweetened red beans. The rest of the toppings vary by place. At Tongdosa, you can also enjoy strawberry syrup, almond slivers, and cornflakes on your patbingsu. Surprisingly, it tastes much better than it sounds (and looks). The cornflakes were my favorite part (and Dave was kind enough to let me eat most of them)!

Patbingsu at Tongdosa Temple

I hope you take my advice and go visit Tongdosa. If you can’t make it for summer, I hear it’s also spectacular in the spring during plum blossom and cherry blossom seasons.

Address: 108, Tongdosa-ro, Habuk-myeon, Yangsan-si, Gyeongsangnam-do

27 thoughts on “Tongdosa Temple, South Korea

  1. Wow, I love the look of this place. As a vegetarian the food looks delicious and it looks really family friendly with all the children in the river. What a great place to visit. Oh I need some noodles now!! 🙂

  2. Love that two of your three to-dos are ”eat”! That’s kind of how we travel too…where can we eat next 😉 We are so intrigued by Korea so thank you for posting such pretty pictures and writing about the little cultural experiences you have there 😉

  3. Some of those dishes look delicious! I’ve never been to a temple that had vegetarian-friendly cuisine (other than the fried red bean paste fishies). Looks like a great place. Thanks for sharing!

    • A lot of temples also serve a free lunch, which should be vegetarian, if you are there at the right time. Otherwise, a lot of street food vendors set up outside of temples and the vegetarian options would probably be chestnuts or hoddeok. It’s hard as a vegetarian here. And what’s worse is that Dave is a picky vegetarian so Korean food doesn’t usually work for him.

      Tongdosa is awesome and I’ve heard it’s gorgeous this time of year as well.

  4. Wow, that looks fantastic! I would like to go to a few more temples in Korea; I’ve been to many of the smaller ones but not many bigger ones. This one is definitely on my list!

    Naeng myeon is hands down one of my favorite dishes. So yummy 🙂

    Also, I love that picture of the father and baby playing with the bells. Way to capture the moment 😉

    • This place is pretty in spring, summer and fall. It’s a really great temple. This isn’t technical talk, but this temple has a tomb that holds some of Buddha’s bones.

      Naengmyeon isn’t something I’d ever order on my own, but I like to steal a few bites from other people’s.

      I really love that picture too. That baby was so stinking cute! I always love to see parents really involved with their children, especially here in Korea.

  5. Nice photos. Haven’t been to Yangsan or Ulsan. But the stream and buddhas on stones remind me of Daegu’s Gatbawi. You’ve posted all the foods that I could eat and enjoy. Yum.

  6. Yay Yangsan represent! 😀 I love Tongdosa, it’s definitely one of my favorite temples in Korea. We actually have never been in the summer with all the kids swimming, it looks fun! haha we may have to do that this summer and get our feet wet a bit. 🙂

  7. Again, wonderful photos and they really illustrate and add to your post in a great way. Thanks for giving us a good place to go since spring and summer are on their way. One thing about the temples, however, is that I’ve always heard that thing about dressing conservatively, but I still don’t know exactly what that means. I’ve never had a problem with it, but does that mean no short shorts or something?

    And also, speaking of great photography, you actually make Patbingso, which I don’t like, look good in one of those photos.

    And you titled it, “How to have the Perfect Day.” Which I often find includes bringing exactly the right things. What would you recommend people bring? A mat to sit on?


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