The Top-25 Buddhist Temples of South Korea
These are the twenty-five Buddhist monasteries of the Republic of Korea I have judged to be
the most-worth-visiting, also among the largest and most religiously-important in the entire nation.
Criteria used include contemporary size, long history of importance within the religion, national
reputation, and architectural and cultural treasures -- the final judgment based on my own four
decades of visiting them.   25 might seem like a strange odd number, but that's how the list came
out -- to list only the top 10 would leave out some very important temples, and to make it 30 or 33
would include some that really don't rank in the same category as these 25, deficient in one or
more of the criteria.  This list includes 23 monasteries from the dominant Jogye Order (70+% of
Korean Buddhism) and one-each from the two next-largest orders, Taego and Cheontae.

These 25 temples include 14 from eastern side of the peninsula (east/south of the
Mountain Range) and 11 from the western side.   9 of them are located on mountains that are
part of the Baekdu-daegan mainline; some of the 13 others are on
Jeongmaek branches.

These monasteries are all among the top-50-or-so most interesting places to visit and most
popular pilgrimage-destinations in contemporary South Korea.  Most of them have many
hermitages on the slopes above them, after all together serve the practices of hundreds of monks.
They all contain many profound religious-cultural treasures on their grounds and in their shrines
or museums.  They are listed here North-to-South, not any order of relative importance; and they
are named by the mountain that hosts them, in the traditional style.  It is equally true that "such
a great temple was established and maintained for so long at that mountain because the mountain
is so holy" and that "the presence of such a great temple increases the reputation for sacredness
of the mountain that hosts it".   Click on the name to see my photos of and commentary on that
temple, its host mountain and its San-shin shrines.
Seorak-san  Shinheung-sa       설악산 신흥사

Nak-san  Naksan-sa                  낙산 낙산사

Odae-san  Woljeong-sa             오대산 월정사

Samgak-san  Doseon-sa           삼각산 도선사

An-san  Bongwon-sa                 안산 봉원사

Bongmi-san  Shilleuk-sa         여주 봉미산 신륵사

Sobaek-san  Guin-sa            소백산 구인사

Taebaek-san  Buseok-sa*        태백산 부석사
(or Seondal-san, Bonghwang-san or Sobaek-san)

Deoksung-san  Sudeok-sa      덕숭산  수덕사
(part of the Naepo Gaya-san complex)

Taehwa-san  Magok-sa            태화산 마곡사

Sogni-san  Beobju-sa*              속리산 법주사

Gyeryong-san  Gap-sa              계룡산  갑사

Hwangak-san  Jikji-sa*             황악산 직지사

Palgong-san  Donghwa-sa       팔공산 동화사

Palgong-san  Eunhae-sa          팔공산 은해사

Gaya-san  Haein-sa*                 가야산 해인사

Toham-san  Bulguk-sa*            토함산 불국사
(including Seokgul-am Cave-shrine)

Moak-san  Geumsan-sa            모악산 금산사

Yeongchuk-san or Chuiseo-san  
Tongdo-sa*                          영축산 취서산 통도사

Jiri-san  Shilsang-sa                 지리산 실상사

Jiri-san  Hwaeom-sa                 지리산 화엄사

Jiri-san  Ssanggye-sa               지리산 쌍계사

Geumjeong-san Beomeo-sa     금정산 범어사

Jogye-san  Songgwang-sa       조계산 송광사

Halla-san Gwaneum-sa             한라산 관음사
* = these great Korean temples were designated by
World Cultural Heritage Sites in 2018