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Buddha’s Birthday 2011

By on Apr 30, 2011 in Korea, Photography, Where to Shoot | 4 comments

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It is almost that time of year when the beautiful temples of Korea decorate themselves for Buddha’s birthday. This is one of my favorite times of the year. From the lantern festivals to the beautifully lit temples that light up not only the cities but the forest and mountains as well.

So what are you going to do?

Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul This is a huge event that draws thousand of people every year to watch the parade and view the lanterns. Every year I see many great shots come out of this festival. For more information, click the link above or here for the KTO’s write up on it

Also, check your local listings for events similar to this. I know here in Ulsan there is a festival on this weekend along the Taehwa River. When you are out and about, take a look at the banners or columns around major intersections. Often these will give you more information than what is posted on the net, especially for local events.

As for temples, which are my favorite here are a few that are nice to visit during this time of the year:

Tongdosa in Yongsan is a great place to view the lanterns. I have gone to this temple many times for the celebration and have not been disappointed. Many of the lanterns are lit with candles making them beautiful but also extremely flammable.  Here is Dale’s tale of Tongdosa. Here is a very avid temple hunter is his blog is a great resource for those who like to visit these places. He also rates this as one of his top 10 temples. Ed from Tigers & Magpies also has some great pics to inspire you

Haedong Younggunsa near Haeundae in Busan. I visited here last year just a bit before the big day and sadly it was locked up tight in preparation for the event. I did get a few good snaps before trying to navigate the unlit path back to my motorcycle. If you can, stop off at the coffee right before you get to the temple. They have an excellent hand-drip coffee there.

Here is another link to Dale’s post as well as Simon and Martina’s from eatyourkimchi

Seokkuram Grotto and Bulguksa in Gyeongju are always cool places to visit. It has been some time since I have been there during this event, I am sure that there is something going on to please the eye. Gyeongju is always a beutiful place even without the lanterns. If you are looking for more information on Gyeongju, check out Gyeongju Blog for places to stay and where to go If you are looking for some more forest and remote locations, take the road past Seokkuram towards the sea. Great road and a beautiful setting.

Peter from Korea How and Ju-Seok Oh tell us about Busan and show us a great shot of Sam Kwang Temple. A great shot and a great article on Busan.

That is about it for recommendations. Other than that, take a walk around your city and just see what surprises the evening has to offer you. Be sure to take your tripod! Please don’t try and hand-hold your shots or you will be waiting until next year to redo them. Also, try and get to the temple just before sunset. Scope out a few shots and wait for the blue hour to arrive. You will find that the colours will pop during that time. Click the link to find the blue hour time for Buddha’s Birthday and try and be set up for time. The Blue Hour site also has an iPhone app, but for $1.99, it seems a little pricy for what it does.



  1. Great options! I’ll be sticking around the downtown Seoul area – only one day off and that need to be at work the previous and next day – but will be taking my tripod for a few more options.

  2. Ritesh

    May 2, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Good information. I would love to visit this place coming Saturday with frens. 🙂


  1. Photo & Travel Links of the Week: May 4, 2011 - [...] Jason Teale, bless his heart, gives us some helpful tips about shooting paper lanterns, a very good thing to…

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