North Gyeongsang Province

Spring in Gyeongju: A Day Trip

There is nothing more beautiful than spring in Korea. The snow (what little we had) has melted. The cherry blossoms have bloomed. And now, the leaves are growing and gaining color. Additionally, now that the government has started lowering the social distancing measures – it is beginning to look like it will be a delightful spring. Finally, we can get out of the house and explore Korea! If you’re interested in exploring the history of the Land of the Morning Calm, I suggest spring in Gyeongju. There is nowhere else quite like the city known as the museum without walls.

Gyeongju

When you think of Korea, the first thing that might pop into your mind is Seoul or Busan. However, you might not have known that Korea has many smaller, more exciting cities. These include such cities as Daejeon, Daegu, and Incheon. But, in my opinion, one of the most exciting cities to explore is Gyeongju.

Gyeongju is a city located in North Gyeongsang Province. Gyeongju is famous for being the capital city of the Ancient Silla Dynasty. Attractions in the city include the famous Bulguksa Temple, Cheomseongdae Observatory, Daereungwon Tomb Complex, Woljeonggyo Bridge, and a special cherry blossom event that can only be viewed in the spring.

These historical sites allow Gyeongju to come alive and draw in hundreds of visitors each year. In particular, in the spring when the weather is nice, the city’s rich history seems to come alive. So, if you want to learn more about what you can do in Gyeongju during the spring, keep reading for my top five choices. This is how you can enjoy Gyeongju during the wonderful season!

Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple is the place that gets mentioned the most when discussing Gyeongju. During the Silla dynasty, Bulguksa was built as a Buddhist temple by King Beopheung (23rd Monarch of Silla). When you visit the temple, you can feel its significance to Korean history and Buddhism. The thing that makes spring at the temple extra special is the preparations that are underway to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday.

Colorful lanterns hung with prayers dangling down were awe-inspiring! It was truly a remarkable experience – I felt like I was in another world. Everything had its place, and spring was in full bloom. I only wished I had more time to explore the temple grounds more thoroughly and learn more about this temple. But who knows? Maybe you can when you visit…

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Cheomseongdae Observatory

Whereas some people might think of Bulguksa Temple when Gyeongju comes to mind, for others, it is the Cheomseongdae observatory. When I visited this site, I was obsessed with learning more about the history and significance of this tower in the center of a tomb compound.

The oldest astronomical observatory in Asia, Cheomseongdae was built during the reign of Korea’s famous Queen Seondeok (632-647). Queen Seondeok was Korea’s first independent female ruler, and only the second female ruler in East Asia’s history. This marvel is beautiful to look at. It has managed to stand the test of time and still remains standing today.

During spring in Gyeongju, Cheomseongdae is very unique because flowers can be seen growing in the fields surrounding the observatory. When I first saw this, the sun began to set, and the beauty of the tower stopped me dead in my tracks. I had to take a picture to capture this moment. If you visit during the spring, you may also feel as moved as I was.

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Daereungwon Tomb Complex

As I previously mentioned, Gyeongju is a museum without walls. As you walk around the city, you see ancient tombs spread throughout the area. However, the most popular of these tombs is the Daereungwon Tomb Complex. When I came to spend spring in Gyeongju, I will admit that I had no idea it had so many tombs! I loved being able to just walk through the main roads and see random tombs lining the streets. It is something you really can’t experience anywhere else.

However, when you enter the tomb complex, you will find that the tombs inside are even bigger than the ones outside. This attraction makes my list because it is nice for a fresh, spring walk while learning about Korea’s past kingdoms. And so, whether you are a history nerd or nature lover, you are bound to fall for this location!

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Woljeonggyo Bridge

Built during the Unified Silla period (676-935 AD), Woljeonggyo Bridge is a beautiful structure. It has a fascinating history, even being burnt down during the Joseon Dynasty at one point.

When I was researching my trip, I came across images of this bridge on various websites. I knew that I had to include it on my list when I visited. When I arrived at the bridge, I wasn’t prepared for how amazing it indeed was. The pictures did the structure no justice. I ended up spending five minutes just staring at it and admiring the way it was put together.

This didn’t stop when I walked to the entrance and looked inside. The inside of the bridge was magnificent and it managed to take my breath away. For that reason, I definitely recommend visiting this bridge to marvel at the history and beauty of this ancient relic.

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King Cherry Blossom Festival

The last attraction on my list is the King Cherry Blossom festival. This festival, which can only be seen in spring, is truly unique compared to traditional blossom festivals. This particular breed of cherry blossom is endangered.

Located at the base of Bulguksa Temple, the king cherry blossom is definitely the king of this breed of flower. In terms of quality, size, and color, the blossoms are special. They have some of the pinkest petals that I have ever seen during my many years of travel.

When I visited, the field was full of people lining up for pictures with the blossoms. This festival is among the most special events that I have ever attended. In my opinion, this is a must-see when visiting Gyeongju during the spring; especially if the weather is warm.

Conclusion

Spring in Gyeongju is wonderful. It’s full of beauty, history, and unique things to do. The items on this list do not even begin to cover what encompasses this great city. The problem with any trip isn’t time but actually deciding to go.

In Gyeongju, that really isn’t the case because whether you want to take great selfies, eat great food, or experience Korean culture through history. This ancient city will have something that will keep you busy for hours, and who knows, maybe you will feel like the past has come alive for you by the time you get on the train and head home.

Looking for more to do in Gyeongju? Click Here for some insight from a local!

🇺🇸 James Maines

My name is James and I am a writer, traveler, and teacher living in South Korea.