If you’ve spent any amount of time in Korea, you’ve seen your fair share of Buddhist temples. Sometimes it feels like you can’t throw an empty bottle of BB cream without hitting one. (Don’t throw bottles, folks. Recycle!) But, every so often, you get to see one that is just wonderful and unique enough that you feel like an innocent young girl seeing her first Korean temple.
Cheongpyeong-sa is one such temple for me.
I visited in possibly the hottest of summers I’ve lived through in Seoul. The air was thick with humidity, smog and just millions of people’s breath. It was the perfect time to escape to Chuncheon in Gangwon-do. The area is gorgeous and full of greenery. The temple sits at the basin of Obongsan Mountain. It was misty walking up to the entrance due to the heat and I began to fear that maybe I too would dissolve into sweaty mist.
But, in the luckiest of circumstances, I saw just what I needed: an older couple soaking their feet in the crisp, streaming water next to the trail. Thank you, brazen trailblazers! That was it. I was headed in. My friend Phil and I headed down to the stream and took off our shoes and socks and soaked those bad boys in the chilled water until our body temperatures were normalized. It was basically heaven. Heaven. After we cooled off, it was time to hike the rest of the way up absorbing the views of the trees, waterfalls and gardens.
And it wasn’t just about the water, although now that I’m thinking of it, that was a big part. I loved the temple itself. It has vast views of misty mountains and because it was too hot for huge crowds of people, it was quiet and serene. The way you imagine a temple should be. There were perfect orange flowers and so many lanterns. It was just what I needed to see at the top of that hike.
Cheongpyeong-sa is called the Princess Temple because of the folktale that accompanies it. The tale goes, a poor peasant fell in love with a princess. As these stories often go, he was killed and became a serpent. The snake then attached itself to the princess and, as charming as that sounds, she wasn’t feeling it. The princess traveled from temple to temple looking for help to get that clingy reptile to go away. (We’ve all been there, right?) Finally, in her desperation, she went to Cheongpyeong and, what?, the snake slithered away. In honor of this miracle, she had a 3 story pagoda built overlooking the waterfall.
Nice of her.
The princess of folklore. Looks like she is quite enamored with that snake she is supposed to dislike.
I can’t begin to describe how good this felt. It was natural, beautiful air conditioning.
Read more about beautiful Chuncheon, the home of Dakgalbi!
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How to get there:
Across from Chuncheon Station, take Bus No. 11 or 12 to Soyang Dam Bus Stop.
From Soyang Dam Dock, take a ferry to Cheongpyeongsa Temple.
Cheongpyeongsa Temple is a 30min-walk from the dock.
Or…if I may. I don’t trust ferries in Korea after the horrible accident three years ago. So, you can get a cab right outside Chuncheon Station to drive you there. Personal preference.
Address: 810, Obongsan-gil, Buksan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 춘천시 북산면 오봉산길 810
Cost: 2,000 won
Website (Korean only ): Cheongpyeong-sa