November 2, 2023

Korea's Architectural Elegance Meets Autumn Splendor: Explore the 20 Most Beautiful Temples.(Part 1)


Korea, a land rich in history and culture, is home to an array of stunning temples set against its scenic landscapes. Both locals and tourists often visit these temples not for religious purposes alone, but to immerse themselves in historical narratives and marvel at their architectural beauty. This cultural practice mirrors the European tradition of exploring cathedrals, not just for religious significance but also to appreciate their historical and architectural marvels.

While every season transforms these temples in its unique way, it is the autumn that metamorphoses them into enchanting havens where nature's vibrant hues harmoniously blend with ancient structures. The brilliant fall foliage creates a serene backdrop, offering visitors an unrivaled experience of peace, tranquility, and artistic wonder.

A recent comprehensive Google Trend analysis, spanning from 2019 to 2022, particularly focusing on the period from October 1st to November 15th, helped us cherry-pick twenty temples that stand out during the fall season. This in-depth research reflects Korea's profound love for autumn, making this fleeting season all the more cherished and sought-after.

20 Korean Temples Famous for Autumn Leaves
[ Google Trends Temple Search Intensity Ranking ]

As you embark on or plan your visit to Korea this fall, let this carefully curated list guide you. While these twenty temples, chosen through meticulous research, offer a spectacular experience, countless other hidden gems across the country are awaiting your discovery.

Continue Reading:

As you begin this journey through my blog, don't forget to check out the end of the article where I've put together a special section, "Timely Temples: Your Guide to Peak Autumn Colors and Locations in Korea". Here, you'll find detailed information about the peak viewing times and locations for experiencing the autumn colors at their most vibrant in Korea's temples. Let's get started!


Bulguksa Temple, located in Gyeongju City, is one of the most important temples in South Korea. It was founded during the reign of King Seondeok of the Silla Dynasty in the 8th century, and its name means "Buddha Land". Bulguksa is associated with the World Heritage Site Seokguram and offers attractions representing the Buddhist art of Silla.

In autumn, Bulguksa is surrounded by brilliant autumn leaves, attracting many tourists seeking its beauty. The vibrant autumn leaves between the temple's main buildings highlight the temple's beauty even more.

The autumn leaves of Bulguksa harmonize with the tranquil atmosphere of the temple, offering visitors a quiet yet warm respite. Bulguksa, where you can experience Korean history and culture along with beautiful autumn leaves, is a must-see destination for autumn travel.


Haeinsa, situated in Gayasan, South Gyeongsang Province, was founded by monks Suneung and Ijeong during the Unified Silla era. Renowned for housing the Tripitaka Koreana, this temple of the Avatamsaka Sect doubles as a significant meditation hub for the Jogye Order. When King Taejo relocated the Tripitaka Koreana here, Haeinsa emerged as a focal point of Buddhism. The temple's Janggyeonggak, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, safeguards these valuable Tripitaka plates, known globally as a World Documentary Heritage.

As autumn arrives, Haeinsa offers a beautiful spectacle of fall foliage. Numerous trees surrounding the temple turn yellow and red, creating a splendid autumn landscape. In particular, passing through the Bonghwangmun, you will find a wishing tree and next to it, a long stretch of maple trees along the wall, offering a great spot for photography. Experiencing the beautiful autumn foliage alongside the Tripitaka Koreana is a must-try experience when visiting Haeinsa.


Seonunsa Temple, a Jogye Order temple located in Hadong County, Gyeongsangnam-do, is said to have been founded by the monk Seonmu during the Baekje King Mu's era in the 7th century. "Seonun" means "a place where Zen flows like a cloud", and you can feel a timeless tranquility here.

Especially, Seonunsa boasts its most beautiful scenery when autumn leaves color the landscape. Numerous maple trees adorn the temple grounds, making it one of the famous places that many people visit every year.

The red and orange autumn leaves that spread along the temple buildings, stone lanterns, and stone bridges offer a spectacular sight to visitors. At Seonunsa, there is a walking path where you can enjoy the autumn leaves along the forest trail. Walking along this trail, you can enjoy the vibrant autumn leaves as if they were painted with watercolors.

Autumn at Seonunsa offers more than just a visual experience. When the autumn wind shakes the maple trees, the sound and the scent of autumn that accompanies it seem to capture the unique time of Seonunsa. Experiencing the autumn of Seonunsa through various senses will help you to understand the autumn culture of Korea more deeply.


Baekyangsa, a Buddhist temple in Damyang County, Jeollanam-do, was originally founded as Baekamsa in 631 by monk Yeohwan. The temple's name was changed to Baekyangsa in 1574, inspired by a legend about Hwanyang, who restored the temple. The temple's main hall, Daeungjeon, rebuilt in 1917, is a designated cultural property of Jeollanam-do, housing impressive Buddha statues and artwork.

During the autumn foliage season, the beautiful scenery formed by the foliage of Mt. Naejangsan around Baekyangsa and the lake in front of the temple is truly mesmerizing. This, together with the Naejangsan valley, is an unmissable autumn foliage spot, attracting numerous tourists during the fall. 


Buseoksa, a Buddhist temple located in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, was established in the 13th year of King Munmu of Silla (672). The name 'Buseoksa' derives from associating the Buddha, Sakyamuni, with the Sakyamuni pagoda. 

The temple houses Muryangsujeon, the National Treasure No. 18, a building rebuilt in 1376 that well represents the architectural style of the Goryeo Dynasty. 

Buseoksa's autumn landscape is particularly beautiful. From the ticket booth to the temple's main entrance, the path lined with ginkgo trees offers a stunning view of golden ginkgo and colorful autumn leaves. Continuing through the Four Heavenly Kings Gate, the blend of fall foliage around Beomjonggak further enhances the beauty of the temple.


Baekdamsa, located in Inje County, Gangwon-do, was originally established by Jajangyulsa in 647. Renamed several times due to multiple fires, it took its current name in 1783 during a major reconstruction. The temple is notable as the retreat of ex-president Chun Doo-hwan and his wife Lee Soon-ja after the establishment of the 6th Republic of Korea.

The 3.5km forest path leading from Baekdamsa to Youngsiam is a gentle incline, offering a vista of the valley and the forest. Visitors walking along this path can enjoy the sight of the creek's streaming water and the joy of building stone towers. Particularly in autumn, the path is adorned with vibrant foliage, enhancing its beauty. 

Baekdamsa is well-known for its stone towers creating a spectacular view in the valley in front of the temple. Loved by many for its long history, natural scenery, and stone towers, it is a popular spot.

Timely Temples: Your Guide to Peak Autumn Colors and Locations in Korea

I have curated an interactive Google Maps guide that spotlights 20 must-visit temples in Korea for experiencing the stunning autumn foliage. I've also added the peak viewing times for autumn leaves at each temple. By simply clicking on a pin on the map, you can access detailed directions to the temple, learn about public transportation options, and check the best timing for autumn leaf viewing. This comprehensive information will help you plan your visit with ease.

If you're unfamiliar with the navigation feature on Google Maps, please click the link to view the reference video.

Explore the top 10 most celebrated festivals in Korea by clicking this link.

Similar article