You’ll have to ascend steep stone staircases and wind through narrow pathways under huge slabs of rock to reach Hyangiram Hermitage in Yeosu, but it’s so worth it.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most unique and inspiring of the 900 Buddhist temples in Korea.
Jump to what you want.
- 1 Why Visit Hyangiram Hermitage in Yeosu
- 2 Best time to Visit Hyangiram Hermitage
- 3 Where to Stay near Hyangiram Hermitage
- 4 How to Get to Hyangiram Hermitage
Why Visit Hyangiram Hermitage in Yeosu
There are 4 hermitages dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy in Korea, but Hyangiram is probably the most well-known. The temple complex has a few halls and pavilions to explore, but the unique beauty of Hyangiram Hermitage comes from its stunning natural environment.
It’s not hard to feel the eternity of time here. From its location on the edge of a forested cliff on Geumosan Mountain, there are fantastic views overlooking the vast South Sea. Hyangiram literally means “watching the sun,” so if you arrive at the break of dawn, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise.
To reach this stunning temple in Yeosu, you’ll have to hike up a fairly steep mountain trail and ascend a number of stairs. It’s well worth the effort. The trail is enveloped by trees and profoundly serene.
As you get closer to Hyangiram Hermitage, you’ll have to navigate your way through 7 unique passageways created from slabs of hewn stone. Pass through them all successfully, and it’s believed you’ll be granted a wish.
The symbol of Hyangiram Hermitage is the turtle, and you’ll see likenesses of these hard-shelled animals all over the temple. Look out for sculptures, artwork, and turtle shaped rocks as you explore.
*For those of you that are curious, the other hermitages are: Hongyeonam in Naksan, Boriam on Geumsan, and Bomunam on Ganghwa Island.
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Monks have meditated at this Buddhist Hermitage by the sea as far back as 644AD. It was called Wontongam then, established by the renowned Buddhist monk Wonhyo in the Baekje Dynasty. It was renamed Geumoam Hermitage in 958AD by Monk Yunpil during the Goryeo Dynasty, and finally Hyangiram Hermitage in 1715, during the Joseon Dynasty.
During the Imjin War from 1592-1598, the temple was used as a base camp for Buddhist monks helping Admiral Yi Sun-Sin during the Japanese invasion.
Several of the temple complex’s buildings were badly damaged by fire in 2009, but they’ve all been beautifully reconstructed. The buildings of the temple complex are spread out, and it’s a joy to discover them one by one through rocky passageways, up and down various stone staircases and through tunnels.
Best time to Visit Hyangiram Hermitage
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Hyangiram Hermitage in Yeosu a couple of times – once at the beginning of April and once in mid-November.
During autumn in Korea, the towering trees and gorgeous fall foliage render the landscape simply extraordinary. It’s an unforgettable experience to walk up Geumosan Mountain surrounded by nature this incredible.
Spring is also a super popular time to visit because of the forests of camellia trees on Mount Geumo, and in nearby Impo Village. During this time, the camellia blossoms colour the entire area a vivid red.
If you happen to visit around Buddha’s birthday (April or May, depending on the Lunar Calendar), you’ll be treated to the sight of Hyangiram Hermitage and its hiking trails decorated with colourful lanterns.
Where to Stay near Hyangiram Hermitage
Both hotels are situated on the northern tip of the island, so access to Yeosu’s city sights AND the Hermitage are convenient from both of these hotels. However, I’d only recommend staying here if you have your own car to travel around with.
If you’re relying on public transit, it’s better to stay more city centre for ease of transport to various tourist sights around Yeosu. Here’s a few well-reviewed, centrally-located options to check out.
How to Get to Hyangiram Hermitage
Address: 60, Hyangiram-ro, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do | 전남 여수시 돌산읍 향일암로 60 (산읍 율림리 산 7)
Hyangiram is located in Yeosu on the southeastern tip of Dolsan Island in Dadohaehaesang National Park. This is the largest national park in the country, spanning over 2,300 square kilometres and seven coastal areas in the South and West Seas.
There is no subway that runs to Hyangiram Hermitage, so your options are to drive independently, take a local bus, join a city tour, or hire a taxi.
However, these options only get you as far as the admission office. The temple itself is located up in the mountains on a rocky cliff. From the entrance, you have 2 choices to get to the temple itself – a more gradual winding road, or a a shorter, but fairly vertical hike up a series of steep staircases.
If you have it in you physically, I really recommend that you choose the stairs. It’s steep, but not overly long, and my 5 year old daughter managed it no problem. You’ll be richly rewarded with incredible views, statues, and natural scenery along the way.
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By car or taxi
It takes around 45 minutes to reach Hyangiram Hermitage from the Yeosu Bus Terminal. It’s a pretty drive with little traffic, but the road winds back and forth quite a bit (for those of you prone to carsickness).
I suggest downloading an app like Naver or Kakao Maps – both of which provide information in english. Simply type Hyangiram Hermitage in as your final destination and you’ll be provided with the fastest route for getting there.
If you have trouble finding it in english, you can try typing it in hangeul instead – 향일암, or copy and paste the address information I’ve included at the top of this section.
You can take a taxi to Hyangiram if you don’t have your own transport. It should cost around 30,000 won each direction. But be sure to arrange your return journey if you take a taxi, because it could be a little difficult to hail one near the temple.
Using Public Transit to get to Hyangiram Hermitage
If you don’t have your own car, you can take the public bus, but it takes significantly longer than driving. The bus stop for Hyangiram Hermitage is called Impo (임포 향일암).
From Yeosu Bus Terminal, you can catch green buses number 116 or 111. Both take around 2 hours to reach the temple. You can also take blue bus number 113, which takes around 75 minutes to reach Hyangiram Temple.
If you’re staying in an alternative location, it’s best to map your route in advance on Naver or Kakao maps, with your exact starting point. It’ll save you a ton of time and heaps of potential confusion.
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On a Yeosu City Tour
If you’d like to tour other parts of Yeosu, you can take the Yeosu Romantic Bus Tour Course 1. It departs from Yeosu Expo Station at 10:30AM, and makes stops at Odongdo Island, Jinnamgwan, Hyangiram Hermitage, and more.
It takes around 7.5 hours to fully complete the course. The cost for transport (not including admissions and food) is 9,000 won. It’s best to reserve in advance to ensure your spot, especially on weekends or holidays. You can check out all the details here.
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Hyangiram Hermitage in Yeosu: Essential Info and FAQs
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