Hi, it’s me Marimonda.
Today, I’d like to take you to Gyeongju. It used to be a capital city of the ancient Korea (Silla Dynasty) more than 1,000 years ago. This is also another popular school field trip city amongst students like Jeju Island.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are several ways to get to Gyeongju from Seoul. Probably bus and train are the best options for tourists.
You can take an express bus from Seoul to Gyeongju. There are two terminals available : Express Bus Terminal in Banpo (metro line 3,7,9) and Dong Seoul Terminal (metro line 2, Gangbyeon station). The price of the ticket is slightly different as you can see above. Considering the time and metro ticket, however, the difference is not that significant. So choose whatever suits you. Personally, I prefer buses from express bus terminal though.
From Express bus terminal, it takes about 3 hours and half. The ticket costs 33,700 won (premium), 30,500 won(comfort) and 20,600 won (economy).
From Dong Seoul Terminal, it takes around 4 hours to get to Gyeongju. It costs 30,000 won (comfort) and 23,300 won (economy).
I haven’t taken a train to Gyeongju, but a train also can be a good option. You can reserve a ticket via Korail. You can save a lot of time (only 2 hours), but it’s expensive (49,300 won). For foreigners, there is a special pass called Korail Pass which allows you travel unlimited within 2-5 days. There are consecutive pass and select pass. Also if you’re more than a group of two people, you can get extra discount.
THINGS TO DO
Donggung and Wolji (Anapji)
Donggung and Wolji, aka Anapji, would be the best place to enjoy the night view of Gyeongju. It used to be a part of palace where princes of Silla dynasty lived. Also it was a place for a party with the artificial lake. It has a beautiful scenery during the day, but at night with the reflection on the lake, it is magnificent.
Donggung and Wolji opens all year round from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The last entry is at 9:30 p.m. The ticket costs 3,000 won.
Address : 102, Wonhwa-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
As one of the UNESCO World Heritage, Bulguksa is a must place to visit. There are many things to see in Bulguksa, but two towers (following pictures) in front of the Daeungjeon are the most important. They are on the Korean National Treasure list, especially Dabotap is engraved on 10 won (Korean coin, nearly equivalent to a dime).
Bulguksa opens every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (depending on the season, it varies about 30 mins). The entrance is 5,000 won. Temple stay is also available upon reservation.
Address : 385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Seokguram is another thing not to miss in Gyeongju. It is the best artistic buddha statue in the world. It is famous for its stone buddha statue. Towarding to the East Sea, when the Sun rises, the statue was supposed to reflect the sunlight with the diamond on the forehead. Unfortunately, Japan took the jewel during the Japanese Colonial Era and didn’t return it.
Opening hours are subject to change. During summer season, it opens at 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The last admission is 1 hour prior to the closing. It costs 5,000 won.
Address : 873-243, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Gyeongju National Museum
Since Silla was the first dynasty that unified Korea(A.D. 676) more than 1,300 years ago, Gyeongju has a lot of historical sites. If you’re in short of time, going to the museum can be a good & quick solution to check out the city. You may find the replica of Soekgatap in the garden.
Located at the entrance of the museum, Belfry (Divine Bell of King Seongdeok) welcomes visitors of the museum. It’s also more than 1,000 years old. Thanks to its deep touching resonance and beautiful engraves, it is considered as one of the best bells in Korea.
The museum is free of charge and it closes on New Year, Seolnal and Chuseok. It opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It has some extended schedule on the last Wednesday (every month), and every Saturday (March to December).
Address : 186, Iljeong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Daeneungwon is a series of great tombs in Gyeongju. At first, it was quite strange to see it because most of tombs in Korea are in mountains. Here, however, you can see 23 ancient tombs on the plain which is very impressive.
The contrast of blue sky and the green tombs is breathtaking. There are more refined areas (probably more important tombs), but I liked ones with less developed. Many sites are still under restoration. Since it’s outside the weather is really important compared to other places. Thus, check the weather forecast carefully before your visit. It opens 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Address : Gyerim-ro, Gyeongju-si
Tomb of King Munmu
There are more places to check out in Gyeongju, such as Tomb of King Munmu which is located in the East Sea. The King unified the three ancient kingdoms of Korea (Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla), and he wanted to be a dragon to protect the country after the death. According to his will, he was buried in the East sea. It is also worth to visit.
This astronomical observatory of silla dynasty, is also noticeable. It’s near Daenuengwon, so you may visit there when you go to the tombs.
Enjoy your travel with Marimonda. See you soon 🙂