The burgeoning tourism niche called temple stay, which originated in Korea, has been marketed to Koreans and internationals as a means for travelers to become immersed in cultural heritage, learn about Buddhism, and find one’s “true self” by spending a few days to a week as a guest in a living, operational Buddhist monastery. Although this tourism segment is gaining wide-spread appeal, the temple stay phenomenon has received relatively little scholarly attention outside of Korea. The handful of papers identified on the subject that are written in English, refer to this phenomenon as constituting various segments such as rural tourism, religious tourism, and nature-based ecotourism. It is unclear at this point, how analysis of this phenomenon will qualify or categorize its type. The purpose of this perspective paper is to explore temple stays as constitutive of transformative travel. To accomplish this task, a coauthor and Korean-American scholar of hospitality management offers a personal account of her temple stay experience by referring to ten activities related to transformative travel and concludes that for her, temple stay was transformative travel. The narrative is followed by a discussion of the correlation between transformative travel and temple stays and conclusions about the promises, pitfalls, and future research of temple stays.


transformative travel, temple stay, transformation, spiritual, personal account