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Haeinsa Temple, Korea

Through the Mountains and Beyond
by Suzanne Coley and Marilyn Leon

Haeinsa Temple

We heard about the 81,258 woodblocks that contained sacred Buddhist texts.  We heard how each block was meticulously carved with 644 classical Chinese characters.  No block contained an error.   The exquisite characters on each block were so precise, with a uniform carving manner, that it was believed for many years that one person carved them all.  We heard about the wisdom of the ancient architects who constructed the library, using only natural ventilation, to preserve and protect these woodblocks from decay, insects, and deterioration. 

What we saw was majestic Haein-sa, a Buddhist temple hidden deep inside Mount Gayasan for the past 12 centuries.  Haein-sa, home to the Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete Buddhist canon extant, and Janggyeong Panjeon, the architectural masterpiece that houses them.
This is our 4-hour journey traveling to Haein-sa Temple in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province.  (We are leaving out all of the metro stations we took to the railway station.)

Neither Marilyn nor I speak Korean.  Therefore, we are beginning this travelogue with “terminology” as these terms were very helpful when traveling by metro and train.
Heinsa Temple
  1. Transportation cards aka T-Money cards.  T-Money cards are purchased from 7-Eleven, Mini Stop, Story Way or any convenience store with the T-Money logo in their store window.   Tip: In Korea, you must tap your card on sensors when entering the turnstiles and again when exiting.  There is a penalty if you do not tap your card upon exiting.  
  2. KTX = Korean Train eXpress.  KTX is South Korea’s high speed railway operated by Korail.  Our train was going nearly 300 km/hr!  You have to buy a ticket and it will have a train car number and a seat number on it.  Tip: They also sell “Standing” tickets when seats are sold out; if you have one of those you cannot go into the seating area.
  3. Metro stations = Public subway system (you need a T-Money card to use subway)

Haeinsa Temple
 Detailed Directions to Haeinsa Temple
  1. Whether you are in Seoul or Daejeon, probably the most efficient and fastest way to get to the city's main (KTX) railway station  (Seoul Train Station or Daejeon Train Station) is by taking the metro, using the T-money card we mentioned before.  Be sure to top up the card with enough money.  Ten dollars is enough to go and come back.
  2. At a railway station buy KTX tickets to Dong Daegu Station.  (We traveled from Daejeon to Dong Daegu or Dongdaegu (we saw it spelled both ways), which took about 40 minutes when we left at 10am.  Coming back it took 55 minutes due to rush hour.
  3. Dong Daegu Station (KTX): Get off the train.  Walk to Section 2 on the left toward Metro/subway (see picture below).    
    KTX: Dong Daegu Station - Exit 2 leads you directly to the Metro station
  4. You must exit the railway station.  (At the time of this writing there was construction and we had to walk around a curved pathway to reach the metro station.)  The metro station is underground. 
  5. Take the elevator or walk down the stairs to the metro station.
    Don Daegu metro station: elevator
    Dong Daegu metro station Entrance: stairs and escalator 
  6. The railway station and the metro station share the same name: Dong Daegu Station; you need to be in the Metro station to continue. 
    Dongdaegu Metro Station view
  7. Use the T-Money card to go through turnstile and catch the train going to Seongdangmot stop (after about 13 stops).
    Seongdangmot Metro Station view
  8.  At Seongdangmot Metro station, if you look for it, you will see a sign that says in English: Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal.   
  9. Walk up the stairs and exit the metro station.  You will see lots of taxis and a busy downtown view. Turn right onto the path that goes around the station.    
    Walk behind the Seongdangmot Metro elevator and you will see the bus terminal.
    Continue past a small lot for bicycles, behind the metro station.  There you will see a few buses.  This is Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal.  (There is more than one terminal, so be sure to go to the first one on the right after exiting the metro station.)
  10. Walk left toward the entrance of the Seobu Intercity bus terminal.  Buy a one-way ticket to Hae-in-sa (you cannot buy a round-trip ticket).  
    Haeinsa bus schedule at Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal
  11.  We paid 7,100 won each.  
  12. Haeinsa bus departs from Terminal 2 or bus spot 2.   Be on time!  The buses board early and are ready to leave at the scheduled time.   Time: 1 hour 30 minutes   Tip: There may be as few as two stops on the way to Haeinsa temple or as many as ten.  It depends on the day.  Don’t get off the bus when you see the brown signs that say Haeinsa in English.   Keep in mind that Haeinsa is also the name of a town.  (Our bus had a lot of stops and we wanted to get off a few times when we saw these signs.) Wait until you reach Gayasan National Park.  You will know that you have arrived at the park when you see a decorative gateway arch painted in red and green, with traditional designs.         
  13. Gayasan National Park – Right before you enter the park, an employee from the park will enter the bus and collect the entrance fee for entering the park.  The bus driver will authorize the Park employee to enter the bus and collect money from each passenger.  This is a standard operating procedure.  We paid 3,000 won each.  Don’t get off the bus at this time!     
  14. After everyone has paid, the park employee will exit and the bus will continue up the mountain.  Only people who pay the entry fee can stay on the bus.    
  15. Get off the bus when the bus driver makes a stop at Haeinsa Temple complex. The complex is on the right. You may also see many street vendors along a small path going up the hill toward the Temple. 
    Haeinsa Temple complex
    Haeinsa Temple complex:  Bus dropped us off near here.
16.   You will have to hike up to the Temple for about 30 minutes (distance: 1 km). 
Tip: The hike is wonderful and beautiful.  Take your time and enjoy your journey.

  1. When we were returning, the ticket booth was closed.  If this happens, don’t worry.   Walk up the hill to the small town.  
    Path to the town to buy bus tickets
    Bus terminal is on the right.  We missed the red bus (it is leaving).
  2. There you will find a ticket office that sells tickets to Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal at Seongdangmot metro station.  
    This is the bus terminal where we bought return tickets.
  3. Buy a one-way ticket back to Seobu Intercity Bust Terminal.  (We had to wait more than 30 minutes for the bus so we went to one of the nearby coffee shops for a snack.)
    Tip: The bus will most likely be different, but will still take you back to the bus terminal near the metro station.


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