Gyeongju is a south eastern city in South Korea only few miles away from Daegu city. It is famous by the royals tombs and the remains of the ancient kingdom of Silla. If you are an enthusiatic about history and need a quick and short trip, Gyeongju can be your perfect destination.
A brief history lesson
Gyeongju was the capital of the Kingdom of Silla that ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula. Not only that, the Silla kingdom was very propseprious at that time that Gyeongju was the fourth largest city in the world. Over the centuries, the city suffered numerous assaults, and in the 20th century it became relatively small.
Gyeongju is famous by its royal tombs also known as mounds that are the main attractions of visitors . Especially, the five royal tombs known as Oreung designated as historic heritage site.
How to get to Gyeongju from Seoul
Traveling in Korea is really easy and convenient. In order to reach Gyeongju from Seoul two main options are available :
- Train : You can choose among the fast train (KTX ) or the slow train. The KTX can be relatively expensive ( 50 000won ~60 000won ) but it is fast ( 2 hours trip ). While the slow train is a cheaper option it will take longer since the city is located all the way in the south part.
- Bus : The bus is also a good option as you can enjoy the view and benefit from a break in the resting area. The express bus is more convenient and less troublesome ( 3 hours trip ) than the slow train for sure .You can Take the bus from Seoul (Gyeongju line ) to Gyeongju for a bout 21 000 ~ 31 000 won .
Day time sightseeing in Gyeongju
If you reach Gyeongju early in the morning you can relatively make a whole tour of the city and see many interestings things. The city is small so it is possible to walk around or take the city bus to save time.
Visiting the mounds is a must when going to Gyeongju. For this reason start your journey by going to the Daereugwon tombs. This place has burial mound hills with a nice walkable park and a underground museum . The entry fee is about 3000 won , and you can spend about a good hour strolling around and taking nice shots of the excotic looking mounds .
Similar to hanok villages , this place centers around the Gyeongju Choi Clan, a family known to have maintained their wealth for over 12 generations, producing many important people. You can visit this place to learn about the traditional architecture , culture , history and heritage .
This stop can be perfect for people interested in historical details and wanting to learn more about the evolution of Gyeongju between the past and the present. I personally learned alot about the evolution of the city as I was able to see prototypes of the old Gyeongju as it was conceived under the Silla dynastie. You can visit the Gyeongju national museum official website for more details and information.
Night time sighteseeing in Gyeongju
The great thing about Gyeongju is that you can enjoy day time and night time attractions. For this reason I recommend you keeping this two spots at the end of your trip to enjoy your journey to the fullest.
This place is especially famous by its magnificient pound also known as Anapji. This place used to be an important place for royal events giving its breathtaking landscape. The water of the pound creates splendid reflections of the insite pavilions at night. I highly recommend you visiting Anapji at night to enjoy the view and have a royal night walk.
One of the things that you can enjoy for free to end your trip is dropping by the Cheomseongdae observatory. Cheomseongdae is the oldest surviving astronomical observatory not just in Korea but also in Asia. If you visit this place at night you can see the light colors changing and the place becoming more vibrant and enjoyable.
Where and what to eat in Gyeongju
Hwanglidan street is the equivalent of the hip areas in Seoul. The street is full of coffee shops and eateries and if you wander in the small alleys you can discover even more hidden gems. This street is always bustling with tourists so it is the perfect place to take a break, have a meal or drink some coffee. Most of the restaurants and the coffee shops took over urban hanoks so you might be able to find many remodeled hanoks into trendy attractive cafés and restaurants.
Hwangnam is a small rounded shape pastry that is filled with red bean paste. This pastry can be found anywhere in Korea, however it is labeled as an outstanding regional specialty of Gyeongju.
You might be familiar with the sweet style hotteok filled with honey sugar. Cheese hotteok is the salty version of this popular street food and I could find it in many places when visited Gyeongju . It can be a great treat to try if you need a snack on the go or if you just really like cheese in general.