Gyeongju is a city in the Gyeongsangbuk-do province of South Korea that is also known by another name of Kyongju. It has also established itself to be the museum without walls due to the fact that it has tons of temples, tombs, pagodas, palace ruins and other historical attractions compared to any other place or region in the country.
Its city center is filled with unique urban landscape design that comprises of tumuli (grassy tombs) along with other customary architecture that has color splashed roofs with rolling mountains as backdrop. The Seokguram and the Bulguk-sa are two of the city’s must visit sites that can be accessed by riding public transportation modes. To be able to tour around the entire area of Gyeongju, any traveler must plan days to cover everything that it has to offer.
A quick history of the place will take anyone back to how it started as a capital for the Shilla dynasty and remained to be so for about a thousand years. When the dynasty eventually conquered other neighboring kingdoms, the city of Gyeongju eventually became the capital of the peninsula.
Gyeongju started a cultural revival and most of the historical relics of the place were either preserved or restored with the help of President Park Chung-hee during the era of the seventies.
Day Trips, Excursions, Outings in Gyeongju
In the southwest part of the city, there are many transport modes that leave on schedule for Busan and other neighboring cities in South Korea. Getting to Gampo will need travelers to take the local bus #100 for example. There are also the KTX trains that can bring locals and tourists alike to cities nearby.
Buses are usually the cheaper option for going to Daegu and will take only about an hour to get there or to Busan. Express buses are available almost every ten minutes on schedule.
Accommodation Options To Choose From In Gyeongju
Knowing where to rest and sleep in Gyeongju is much easier when researched per section or region. The central part of the city has a lot of guesthouses that allow travelers to pay as low as $10 per night. However do not expect much from these guesthouses since their amenities may come cheap too, like the absence of hot water or some having dirty facilities. Many even recommend better the motels for those who are in search of cheaper accommodation options. Some of the accommodations located within the central part of Gyeongju are the Sa Rang Chae Guesthouse and the Icarus Motel.
Right outside the central section are moderately priced hotel accommodations and several luxury ones too. The Bomun Lake Resort Area is packed with high end hotels that are usually preferred by Korean tour groups. Within the vicinity of Bulguksa, there are also tons of other lodging facilities. Other popular establishments around this area include the Gyeongju Guesthouse, Nahbi Guest House, and the Baramgot Guesthouse/Backpackers.
The Motel Byul can be found next to the Intercity and Express Bus Terminal. The accommodation quality offering can be compared to a 3-star hotel but its owner is not keen with the English language. Another well-established accommodation is the Hanjin Hostel with its owner having been welcoming thousands of guests every year.
The Modorine Hostel is two-storeys high and cozy with a deck and a charming garden. The city also has a Jjimjilbang found at the Sky Sporex building.
Nightlife Spots To Explore in Gyeongju
The most popular drink in Gyeongju is a rice wine called the Gyeodong Beopju. There is also the Gyeongji Makgeoli drink which is best to taste at the Hyundai Makgeoli. Any traveler can grab a cab to the place.
The typical modern nightlife can not be expected in Gyeongju. The clubbing and bar scenes can be found instead at Seonggeon-dong which is a neighbor city. It is where many drinking establishments for some nightlife entertainment can be discovered like karaoke rooms and even coffee shops too.
Best Things To Do In Gyeongju
The first ever nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site of South Korea is in Gyeongju. Even if the city is not that popular to many foreign tourists, the place has evolved to come up with signs around that are done both in hangul and the English language as a more convenient guide to its most famous attractions.
Here are some of the best things to do that any traveler should seriously consider while in Gyeongju:
Hike around the trails of the Gyeongju National Park.
Visit the Bulguksa Temple which can be possibly be considered the most impressive temple in the entire country. Check out too the Dabotap and Seokgatap which means pagoda of many treasures and pagoda of Buddha respectively.
Never miss the Seokguram Grotto which takes just several kilometers of hiking when coming from the Bulguksa Temple. Others choose to ride the #12 bus that will take them to a 20 minute ride to the Grotto.
Discover the ancient Buddhist ruins right in the area of the Golgulsa temple. Drop by the Gyeongju National Museum to view the complete set of treasures preserved from the Silla Kingdom.
Purchase fresh seafood and textiles at the well known Covered Market in the area near the train station.
Just a 15 minute walk from the city’s National Museum is the Cheomseongdae Observatory that is also recognized as the oldest observatory created during Queen Seonduk’s reign way back in 534.
The city is packed with royal tombs due to its rich history that makes nice places for refreshing strolls. The Tumuli Park is the most convenient to reach straight from the downtown area.
Witness old Korean houses of the Wolseong Yangdong Village with some of the roof houses even aging up to 500 years old. Another pleasant area to walk around is the Bomun Lake Resort Area all trimmed up with beautiful Cherry Blossom trees.
For some night time attraction, the Anapji Pond is nice to visit but only open up to 10pm.
Gyeongju is home to many events like the Korean Traditional Liquor and Cake Festival held during the months of March and April. The main highlight of the event is the rice wines, tea and the rice cakes.
The California Beach is a new water park for many as it opened in 2008. It is a major hit every summer season but can be a bit expensive. However, it includes a pass to the Gyeongju World Amusement Park that is only located next door.
Do not forget to shop for unique items that can be found in the city like Shilla craftworks, ceramics, and artwork pieces perfect to serve as souvenirs too.
Finally, for dining experiences, the Do-sol Ma-eul is where the genuine Korean meal can be tasted right at the Gyeongbuk area. Other delicacies include the Hwangnam ppang and the Gyeongju ppang. After a night of heavy drinking, many choose to drop by at the popular Hangover Soup Street for some pork spine and blood stew.
Transportation Modes in Gyeongju
Getting around Gyeongju can be easily done via walking or biking. However, it matters to know the ins and outs of the city. There are visitor booths that give out free maps and guide assistance to offer help most especially to the foreign travelers.
Many locals around Gyeongju prefer biking around especially in the central parts of the city while there are some too who enjoy finding their way through walking. There are bicycles for rent all around the place and there are bike lanes everywhere as well to ensure safety among riders.
There is of course a reliable bus system that circle around the city and its amazing tourist destinations.