Naesosa was built by Buddhist Monk Hye-Gu in 633A.D. This makes the place pretty old and gives it a different feel to many other temples. There are less of the painted 5 colour beams, and more of the stripped down exposed wooden structures. Some of the place doesn’t seem quite so ancient as it was rebuilt during the Joseon Dynasty in 1633.

It’s one of the finest temples I have seen, mainly due to its location. Most temples in Korea are built within the feet of mountains, but Naesosa sits amongst huge rocky peaks. The surrounding valleys are steep and scenic, the views from the top give you a panoramic view of the West Sea and the mountains of the  Mt. Byeonsan Peninsula.

There is an avenue of fir trees leading up to the temple gates, a left turn half way up will take you to the path up the mountain and to Jikso. Four gods (Sacheonwangsang) guard the temple. Within the compound there is a 1000-year-old Dangsan tree, a Goryeo bronze bell, and my favourite – Lotus and Chrysanthemum flowered doors. Despite their age, the lotus patterns are easily visible and the craftsmanship is outstanding. It may be the first time I have seriously considered stealing something from a religious site.



As I mentioned there is a left turn on the road to the temple which will take you past a public toilet and over a small stream. This is the start of the hiking trails which encircle the temple and may eventually lead you to the sea, if you have energy and time. I only intended on visiting Jikso Pokpo. This took about 45 minutes walking at a brisk pace. The first ascent is quite challenging and your progress may be held up more by day trippers than serious hikers. Once you get to the first junction it’s quite easy, you just come back down over a ridge and then descend into the forest. You arrive at the rear of the falls from this direction, I scrambled down some more rocks to get a closer look. The waterfall is extremely beautiful, a 30m cascade into a deep blue plunge-pool. It looks like an amazing place to go swimming but I think such things are discouraged in National Parks.

I followed the course of the stream past a larger pool called Seonyeotang and into a broad valley near Silsangsa. Nothing much remains of this place as it was destroyed in the war. It was piping out strange chants as I walked past. The end of this access road brings you to an information centre and car park. You can catch buses back to Buan or probably Gyeokpo. They are fairly infrequent so I have posted the timetable here.


Getting there: There is one direct bus from Jeonju Intercity Bus Terminal at 8:50 (2h 6000 won). This bus runs through Gimje and Buan before finishing at the Naesosa Information Office. You can get maps and supplies here before hiking.

If you miss the one direct bus you can take an Intercity to Buan (1hr 3,700 won) and then continue by local bus (40 mins) This bus runs to Gyeokpo round the Byeonsando coast.



Further Information:

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