The most incredible experience I had in Seoul was at the Bogeunsa Buddhist Temple. For a half a day, I meditated and had tea with a monk, made a paper lotus, witnessed a Buddhist funeral and learned about the story of Buddha. Our tour also included a brief lesson on the Buddhist religion, with no pressure at all to convert I shall add.
Nestled in a business area of Seoul, Bogeunsa Buddhist Temple is a place for relief from the modern world. It is open to everyone and it offers various programs for foreigners. At all times of the day, you can watch the prayers and wander the compound, but if you really want to get the most out of it, go for the half-day program. You will not be disappointed!
If you have more time in South Korea…
There are several buddhist temples that are open to foreigners for a full day or even a multi-day retreat. Some of these temples are nestled in forests and close to other tourist attractions. In these temples, in addition to meditation and tea, you eat (vegetarian diet) and sleep in the temple. Some even offer hiking and martial arts.
To reserve, make sure to communicate with the temple before your visit via e-mail to book your stay and to see if the program you want is available for the dates you desire. Even if the website states that the program is offered, check with the temple to make sure because sometimes the website is not updated with the latest schedules.
I really wanted to do a multi-day stay and checked with the temple several months in advance, but closer to my travel dates, the program I wanted was not available.
Would you stay at a Buddhist Temple?