Gakwonsa Temple Day Trip Itinerary

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Don’t feel like driving? Put on your hiking shoes and head to the countryside for this
Gakwonsa and hike trip that doesn’t require a car. I have a car but sometimes it feels like too much work to drive

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About My Gakwonsa Day Trips

I often don’t feel like driving but I still want to go somewhere beautiful with my friends for the day. When this happens, it’s a great day to hop on the subway and take a day trip to Gakwonsa Temple in Cheonan, and here is the itinerary.

Even though the trip to Gakwonsa from our house takes only 30 minutes by car, when I take public transit I take my time and make it an adventure. I also go ahead and add a hike to the trip and spend our day eating out at tasty restaurants and throughout Cheonan. Let’s get to know a little more about Cheonan before the details of the trip.

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About Cheonan

The Cheonan administrative district ( population 700,000+) sits below eastern Pyeongtaek. The administrative district of Cheonan includes both Cheonan city as well as many rural areas and smaller towns. In this article, we refer to the administrative district of Cheonan and not the city area itself.

Cheonan has many universities which makes it a city filled with young people. This can make it a vibrant spot to hang out in the evenings and enjoy a little laid-back nightlife.

In addition to the universities, Cheonan has many mountains, scenic areas, and hikes. This particular trip focuses on a hike in the mountains and a visit to one of Cheonan’s most popular temples, Gakwonsa.

Train or Subway to Cheonan Station

This car-free itinerary starts by catching the Subway from Pyeongtaek to Cheonan. The trip takes about 30 minutes. You will have time to read the Korean Buddhist Temple Etiquette article by South of Seoul volunteer Angie Alvis. The article covers what you need to know to respectfully visit a Korean Buddhist temple that exists as an active place of worship.

Once you arrive at Cheonan Station you will want to take Exit 1. Most subway stations have at least two or more exits. Each exit has a number that can be identified by signs hanging from the ceiling. Taking exit 1 places you on the correct side of the station to grab some lunch before heading to the mountains.

Cheonan Station Exit 1 has many different restaurants. In fact, the Cheonan Yeokjeon Traditional Market exists across the street from Exit 1. When we go with a group we plan 1.5 hours for everyone to find something to eat before heading to the temple.

Cheonan Station

Cheonan Station0

1544-7788

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 천안시 동남구 대흥로 239

A subway nearest the Cheonan Express Bus terminal.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Eat Lunch Near the Station

Usually, I choose to visit Mount Fishtail Indian Restaurant. They have excellent food and it’s kind of a tradition at this point. The location is listed in the South of Seoul app.

Mount Fishtail Indian Restaurant

Mount Fishtail Indian Restaurant5

041-555-3612

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 천안시 동남구 버들로 4

One of the most popular Indian restaurants in Cheonan, and some even say in Korea. Always excellent quality and service.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Catch a Bus

After you eat lunch you will need to catch the 24 bus. It’s about a 4-minute walk from Cheonan Station. The bus ride takes about 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the 24 bus does not take you directly to the temple. Instead, buses drop you off a 15 to 25 minute walk from the temple.

Bus Trip as of 2022

  1. Catch the bus: (stop name) 천안역 동부광장 (bus number and direction) 24(부경파크빌.안서e편한세상행) towards 부경파크빌.안서e편한세상행
  2. Get off the bus: 부경파크빌.안서e편한세상.성불사
  3. Walk 850 m (14 minutes): Gakwonsa Temple, 245 Gagwonsa-gil, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do

Keep in mind that you can use Kakao Maps or Naver Maps to confirm what buses you can catch and what time the next bus comes.

Spend Time at Gakwonsa

Once you finish your walk up to Gakwonsa. Take your time exploring the temple grounds. No one needs to be in a rush. Peacefully enjoy the quiet of the mountains and the relaxing nature of the temple complex.

Pay attention to the paintings on the temples and read information about Buddhism in South Korea. There is nothing quite like learning about Buddhism while engulfed in the experience. At that moment the mind and heart hold themselves more open to reflection and understanding.

Gakwonsa Temple

Gakwonsa Temple5

041-561-3545

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 천안시 동남구 각원사길 245

One of the largest temples in Gyeongju, quiet Gakwonsa Temple is nestled at the foot of Mount Taejosan. Among the sights to see is a towering bronze Buddha, but there are also numerous nature trails winding through the forest and up the mountain. There are no admission fees, and there is plenty of parking. The temple is a lovely place to bring your family for an afternoon of exploration and reflection.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Hike Up and then Down the Mountain

After you finish exploring the temple you can hike back down to Cheonan. Take the trail entrance behind the large Buddha statue. The trail exits the open spaces and goes up the mountain through the trees. You will need to go up before you go down.

Be aware that this trail doesn’t have the best marking. Follow the poorly maintained trail straight up the mountain and don’t break left or right. At the top of the mountain, take a left and follow the ridge as it heads back down toward Cheonan City.

Obviously, you may also choose to take the bus back down the mountain instead of going for the hike. Simply return to the same location that the bus dropped you off. This itinerary doesn’t include every possible option for visiting Gakwonsa. Instead, it lays out our decisions which you can then alter or ignore during your trip.

Personally, the hike is a highlight for me. I like to see the views from the top of the mountain behind the temple. Then, I love the slow walk down the mountain which comes out by a lake and winds along by the water before turning into a bit of a river walk. If you want to follow our path, just keep walking to the Shinsegae Department store. You can use Naver Maps or Kakao Maps to make sure you stay on track.

This trip takes you from the peaceful temple in the mountains and walks you through many aspects of Korean life. It’s almost a meditation on what it means to live in Korea.

Arrive at Shinsegae Mall

After you finish a big day at the temple, consider grabbing dinner in Cheonan before heading home. The Shinsegae Department Store area has a plethora of restaurants to choose from. Personally, I’m always going to grab this opportunity to eat Japanese curry from one of my favorite spots.

Shinsegae Mall Cheonan

Shinsegae Mall Cheonan5

1588-1234

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 천안시 동남구 만남로 43

A medium sized fancy mall will pretty much all the same shops as Seoul but way less people. Gorgeous outdoor sculpture park outside.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Eat Dinner Near Shinsegae Mall

Haru Table used to be in Pyeongtaek but now exists in Cheonan. They have flavorful Japanese curries that make me feel like the world is a better place. After hiking I like to get extra chicken added to my order since I am super hungry. After a slow dinner you could also grab a movie at Shinsegae Department Store, however, I usually just head home.

Haru Table Cheonan

Haru Table Cheonan0

0507-1479-6776

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

충남 천안시 동남구 먹거리8길 25

Located on the second floor, this restaurant serves up Japanese style curries.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Taxi/ Bus/ Walk To Cheonan Station

The way you return to Cheonan Station depends on how tired you feel. If you have energy, walk from the Shinsegae Department Store area to Cheonan Station since it’s only about 30 minutes. If we feel exhausted catch a taxi or a bus.

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