Thursday, August 5, 2010

A must see: Gyeongju

It is called Beautiful Gyeongju for a reason and it should be a must stop place for anyone who is living in or plans to visit South Korea.

Beyond the breathtaking beauty and charm of Gyeongju it is also the historical and cultural centre of South Korea.

In order to fully appreciate what Gyeongju has to offer I would say that at least 3 days is needed but you can easily spend 5 or 6 days there and not get bored.

Oliver is busy working through his photos and we will put them up in the gallery once they are finished. Mine are just to give you an idea, although they simply do not do Gyeongju justice!

We only had 3 days in Gyeongju and this is what we got up to:

Day 1:
  • Arrived in Gyeongju at 11:00
  • Found a motel,which was easy to do as there were so many. We landed a pretty sweet deal paying only 35,000 Won a night.
  • Then we grabbed our cameras and headed for our first tourist destination, the Gyeongju National Museum. This is a great place to get an idea of the Shilla history in Gyeongju and the museum is massive so you can easily spend a couple of hours there. Oh, and the best part, it's free (or at least they let us in for free).
  • After that, we took a three minute walk to Anapji pond which is an amazing site to behold and is just a nice place to be in.
  • Then we took another three minute walk and ended up in valley full of flowers, wow!
  • Then we saw the Far East's oldest astrological observatory, Cheomseongdae, in Wolseong Park.What a great start to a wonderful holiday!
The ancient astrological observatory!

One side of Anapji Pond

Day 2:
  • Rise and shine, got a bun and some coffee from a place aptly called Coffee and Bun. Mmmmm!
  • Then bought some Gyeongju Bread (small round pastry type things filled with sweet red-bean paste) which were over priced but a must try nonetheless.
  • Then we made use of Gyeongju's very tourist friendly bus system which takes you to all of the main tourist destinations.
  • On day 2, we were heading for Bulguksa, one of South Korea's oldest and most well known temples.
  • It was incredible, the only downside was how unbelievably hot it was.
  • We got to see a unique three story pagoda, a dabotap, wonderful gardens, intriguing Buddhist interiors, and unusual stone formations.
  • After that, it was a 15 minute bus ride up the mountain (way up the mountain) to Seokguram Grotto to look at a Buddha statue which had been carved into the side of a mountain. The walk to the Buddha was great but actually viewing it was a bit uncomfortable because of the mass amounts of tourists that were there.
  • After all that, we headed back downtown to the valley full of flowers. We hired two bikes and did some leisurely riding through the valley and a neighbouring was great fun, except for the fact that my bum was dead!
  • Our last stop for the day was Tumili Park where we got to see hill mounds which are actually tombs and then we got to go inside one....
The lush forests on the walk up to Seokguram Grotto.

Two of the grassy hill tombs.

The rock formations inside Bulguksa Temple....there were thousands of them!

The pagoda and dapotop inside Bulguksa Temple.

The entrance to Bulguksa Temple
Day 3:
  • We made our way to Eastern Gyeongju, the more modern part area. We wanted to go to a Shilla park but it was too expensive for our liking. Instead we headed to Gyeongju cultural park which was nice but lacked the charm we had encountered on our previous days.
  • We did however get to go to a massive fossil museum and check out a really large building that had been hollowed out to look like a pagoda.
  • We then went back to the valley (it is so beautiful it deserves many visits) bought a couple of beers and sat and watched the world go buy until we were ready for dinner. Hmmmm, a great finish if you ask me!
Day 4:
We packed our bags and headed on a one hour bus ride to Busan...but details on that in a later post.
Some Gyeongju tips:
  • On arrival stop off at the tourist office and get a map, it will help you plan your stay.
  • Have an international driver's licence handy. You can hire scooters there for 24hours for 45,000 Won which is a steal considering how perfect Gyoengju is for scooters (Trust me, our only regret from the trip is that we didn't have an international driver's licence).
  • Keep a water bottle handy. Most places have fountains with fresh and clean water so you can top up your bottle there instead of constantly buying new bottles.
  • Try not to go in the heat of summer (like we did) it gets incredibly hot and sometimes pushes you inside when all you want to be is outside. Spring or Autumn would be ideal.
  • Take it is truely amazing...stop taking photos for a moment and just take in how incredible your surroundings are!

I hope this post will come in handy on your future trips to South Korea, and if you weren't planning on visiting South Korea, Gyeongjyu is one reason why you really, really should consider it!!!
Post by Claudia


Sherwin said...

Where's the fossil museum in Gyeongju? I've not heard of that before.

Claudia and Oliver said...

Hi there,

It is in Eastern Gyeongju near Bomunho Restort (the newer and less charming part of Gyeongju).

The museum was inside the Gyeongju Cultural Park ( )

The park isn't as fancy as it looks from outside but the fossil museum is extensive!

Hope this helps!!

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