22nd April 2024

17 Best Things to Do in Gyeongju: Beyond Ordinary (2023)

Hey there, fellow wanderers! Are you on the lookout for the best things to do in Gyeongju? Well, look no further because we’ve got you covered in this blog post!

With our past experience of leading group trips here, we can assure you that this city holds a treasure trove of enchanting experiences that will leave you spellbound.

We also learned that Gyeongju is a mesmerizing blend of history, culture, and natural wonders.

So, get ready to immerse yourself in the timeless charm of ancient temples, explore serene royal tombs, cycle along picturesque lakes, and savor the delicate beauty of cherry blossoms during the festival.

Trust us; Gyeongju is a travel paradise waiting to be explored! Let’s embark on this thrilling journey together!

Interesting Facts about Gyeongju

  • Gyeongju is often referred to as the “Museum without Walls” due to its vast collection of historical sites and artifacts.
  • The city was once the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom, which ruled the Korean Peninsula for nearly a millennium.
  • Gyeongju is home to the renowned Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most important Buddhist temples in South Korea.
  • The city boasts the oldest existing observatory in East Asia, the Cheomseongdae, known for its precise astronomical calculations.
  • Gyeongju is famous for its Tumuli Park, where ancient burial mounds of Silla royalty are preserved, offering a glimpse into the city’s regal past.

Best Things to Do in Gyeongju

1. Explore Bulguksa Temple

Immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance of Bulguksa Temple, a cultural treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site that stands as a testament to the Silla Dynasty’s architectural brilliance.

As you traverse the intricate wooden bridges and admire the graceful curves of pagodas, you’ll feel a profound sense of tranquility enveloping your being. The temple complex houses numerous exquisite relics and stone sculptures, each with its unique story to tell.

Don’t miss the bustling festivities during Buddha’s birthday, when the temple becomes adorned with vibrant lanterns and joyous celebrations.

  • Location: 23, Bulguksa-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and autumn for pleasant weather and beautiful surroundings
  • Famous For:  Exemplary Buddhist architecture, serene gardens, and historic significance.

2. Visit Seokguram Grotto

Unveil the enigmatic beauty of Seokguram Grotto, a celestial sanctuary tucked amidst the majestic Mount Tohamsan. As you step into the serene grotto, the mesmerizing sight of the seated Buddha surrounded by guardian deities will leave you awestruck.

The meticulous stone carvings and architectural precision are a testament to the artistic mastery of ancient artisans. Experience a moment of tranquility and spiritual introspection as the gentle glow of sunlight filters through the grotto’s entrance, illuminating the Buddha’s serene countenance.

  • Location: 999 Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon for fewer crowds and ethereal lighting.
  • Famous For:  Remarkable stone Buddha statues, awe-inspiring carvings, and spiritual aura.

3. Discover Gyeongju National Museum

Unravel the mysteries of Gyeongju’s captivating past at the Gyeongju National Museum, a treasure trove of archaeological wonders and historical insights. As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll be transported back in time, surrounded by the glory of the Silla Dynasty’s golden age.

Admire the delicate beauty of golden crowns, ornate jewelry, and ancient pottery that stand as a testament to the artistic brilliance of the ancient civilization. The museum’s comprehensive displays provide a rich understanding of Silla culture and the profound legacy it left behind.

  • Location: 186 Iljeong-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Weekdays to avoid weekend crowds.
  • Famous For:  Exquisite artifacts, royal treasures, and insights into Silla culture.

4. Tour Cheomseongdae Observatory

Step into the celestial realm of Cheomseongdae Observatory, the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia, where the ancients once gazed upon the stars and deciphered the mysteries of the universe.

As you stand before the striking cylindrical structure, you’ll be awed by its unparalleled geometric precision, aligning perfectly with the cardinal directions.

Visit during the Gyeongju Starlight Festival to witness captivating celestial observations and dive into the realm of astronomy under the guidance of passionate experts.

  • Location: Wolseong-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Evening to witness the observatory illuminated against the night sky.
  • Famous For:  Ancient astronomical observatory, geometric precision, and historical significance.

5. Wander through Tumuli Park

Embark on a serene journey through Tumuli Park, where the grassy mounds of ancient kings and nobles lay silently, preserving the secrets of a bygone era. As you stroll along the picturesque paths, you’ll be captivated by the harmony between history and nature.

The spring season blankets the park in ethereal cherry blossoms, while autumn graces it with a tapestry of golden hues, creating a poetic atmosphere that whispers of ancient royalty.

  • Location: 99, Tumuli-gongwon-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring for cherry blossoms or autumn for foliage.
  • Famous For:  Ancient burial mounds, scenic beauty, and historical significance.

6. Experience Anapji Pond

Be enchanted by the ethereal charm of Anapji Pond, a serene oasis that once served as a royal pleasure garden during the Silla Dynasty. As the moonlight gently caresses the tranquil waters, you’ll be transported to a realm of ancient elegance and romance.

The harmonious blend of pavilions, lotus flowers, and lush greenery creates a mesmerizing panorama that inspired poets and artists for centuries.

  • Location: 95, Anapji-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Evening for magical reflections on the tranquil waters.
  • Famous For:  Ancient palace site, scenic beauty, and historical importance.

7. Cycle along Bomun Lake

Embrace the spirit of adventure as you pedal along the scenic trails surrounding Bomun Lake, where the splendor of nature unfurls before your eyes. The shimmering lake mirrors the azure sky, and the gentle breeze carries the scent of wildflowers, creating an idyllic setting for an unforgettable cycling experience.

Indulge in leisurely activities like boat rides, lakeside picnics, or simply basking in the tranquility of the surroundings.

  • Location: Bomun-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and autumn for pleasant weather and scenic beauty.
  • Famous For:  Picturesque cycling trails, lakeside landscapes, and recreational activities.

8. Uncover The Royal Tombs at Daereungwon

Embark on an archaeological voyage as you explore Daereungwon, the sacred grounds where ancient Silla royalty found eternal repose. The awe-inspiring domed burial mounds, or “tumuli,” house a treasure trove of artifacts and insights into the Silla Dynasty’s regal legacy.

Wander through history as you encounter the impressive Cheonmachong Tomb, named after the celestial horse-adorned paintings adorning its interior walls. The site offers a glimpse into the ancient rituals and customs that shaped the course of Gyeongju’s illustrious past.

  • Location: 99, Tumuli-gongwon-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Morning to avoid crowds and enjoy the serene ambiance.
  • Famous For:  Ancient burial mounds, royal tombs, and historical significance.

9. Roam Around Yangdong Folk Village

Step back in time and savor the timeless beauty of Yangdong Folk Village, a living testament to the charm and traditions of ancient Korea. The authentic thatched-roof houses, winding alleys, and tranquil gardens create a captivating ambiance, offering a glimpse into the lifestyles of the noble class during the Joseon Dynasty.

Engage in cultural activities and traditional performances that celebrate the essence of Korean heritage, making this village a haven of enchantment.

  • Location: 149, Yangdong-gil, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and autumn for pleasant weather and cultural experiences.
  • Famous For:  Traditional Korean village, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and cultural immersion.

10. Climb Mount Namsan

Embark on an invigorating trek up Mount Namsan, a verdant sanctuary boasting panoramic views of Gyeongju’s ancient landmarks and natural beauty.

The winding trails lead you to historical sites like Wongaksa Temple and Seochulji Pond, where the echoes of ancient pilgrims and seekers of enlightenment resonate through the air.

As the first rays of dawn paint the sky with hues of gold, you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable sunrise over the city, a moment that transcends time and fills the heart with wonder.

  • Location: Namsan-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning for breathtaking sunrise views.
  • Famous For:  Scenic hiking trails, historical sites, and panoramic vistas.

11. Admire the Beauty of Bomun Pavilion

Prepare to be captivated by the beguiling charm of Bomun Pavilion, where the harmony of architectural elegance and natural splendor creates an ethereal atmosphere.

The pavilion’s graceful reflection on the tranquil waters of Bomun Lake serves as a poetic testament to the timeless beauty of Gyeongju.

As the sun sets and paints the sky with a symphony of colors, the pavilion becomes adorned with a magical glow, captivating the hearts of wanderers seeking solace and serenity.

  • Location: Bomun-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Evening for enchanting views of the pavilion and the lake.
  • Famous For:  Picturesque pavilion, lakeside charm, and cultural significance.

12. Learn at Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park

Embark on a captivating journey of global discovery at the Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park, a celebration of cultural diversity and shared humanity. This immersive park showcases various cultural exhibits and interactive experiences that transport you to distant lands and epochs.

Embrace the spirit of cultural exchange as you partake in traditional performances, workshops, and art displays, making this park a vibrant tapestry of human heritage.

  • Location: 150, Wolseong-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Weekdays to enjoy exhibits without large crowds.
  • Famous For:  Cultural exhibits, interactive experiences, and global insights.

13. Enjoy the Scenic Gyeongju Historic Areas

Embark on a mesmerizing pilgrimage through the Gyeongju Historic Areas, where the echoes of the Silla Dynasty’s glorious past reverberate through time. Wander through the majestic grounds of royal palaces, pagodas, and temples that stand as a testament to the city’s profound legacy.

Admire the architectural brilliance of the Cheonmachong Tomb, the graceful beauty of Donggung Palace, and the serenity of Wolji Pond, each site a masterpiece woven into the rich tapestry of Gyeongju’s history.

  • Location: Multiple locations across Gyeongju
  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds and soak in the ambiance.
  • Famous For:  UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient architecture, and historical significance.

14. Visit the Cheonmachong Tomb

Encounter the mystique of the Cheonmachong Tomb, an enigmatic burial mound that houses the remnants of a Silla king and a remarkable collection of cultural relics. The tomb’s name, “Cheonmachong,” translates to “Heavenly Horse Tomb,” alluding to the captivating paintings of celestial horses adorning its interior walls.

As you peer into the ancient past through the glass panel, you’ll be captivated by the intricate artifacts and remnants of a bygone era, unraveling the stories of ancient royalty.

  • Location: 99, Tumuli-gongwon-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Morning for a serene ambiance and better lighting for photographs.
  • Famous For:  Horse-adorned tomb, cultural relics, and archaeological significance.

15. Stroll along Gyeongju Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond

Immerse yourself in the ethereal beauty of Gyeongju Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, where the remnants of a Silla palace complex evoke a sense of ancient grandeur.

As twilight descends, the palace and its surroundings come alive with soft illuminations, creating a breathtakingly romantic ambiance. Stroll along the palace’s walkways, listen to the gentle ripples of the pond, and witness a mesmerizing vista that mirrors a realm of bygone elegance.

  • Location: 102, Wonhwa-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Evening to witness the palace and pond illuminated with gentle lights.
  • Famous For:  Historical palace site, picturesque pond, and captivating evening views.

16. Take a Trip to the Gyeongju Teddy Bear Museum

Indulge in a whimsical escapade at the Gyeongju Teddy Bear Museum, where cuddly companions come to life, depicting scenes from Korean culture and history.

As you venture through the themed exhibits, you’ll witness teddy bears dressed as emperors, scholars, and artisans, playfully enacting historical moments.

This joyful museum appeals to visitors of all ages, fostering a sense of wonder and amusement, as you discover Korea’s heritage through the lens of teddy bear enchantment.

  • Location: 12, Hwangnam-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime for a delightful family-friendly experience.
  • Famous For:  Unique teddy bear exhibits, cultural themes, and interactive displays.

17. Attend the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival (seasonal)

Celebrate the ephemeral beauty of spring during the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival, a seasonal extravaganza that bedecks the city in delicate shades of pink and white.

As the cherry blossom petals gently dance in the breeze, the city comes alive with cultural performances, traditional music, and delectable street food stalls.

Embrace the spirit of renewal and camaraderie as locals and visitors alike revel in the fleeting splendor of cherry blossom season, a heartwarming celebration of nature’s resplendent gift.

  • Location: Various locations across Gyeongju
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring (April) for the blooming cherry blossoms.
  • Famous For:  Spectacular cherry blossoms, cultural performances, and vibrant festivities.

Best Time to Visit Gyeongju

The best time to visit Gyeongju is during the spring (April to early May) and autumn (September to November) seasons. In spring, the city is adorned with a breathtaking display of cherry blossoms, creating a picturesque landscape that enchants visitors with its ethereal beauty.

The mild temperatures and blooming flowers make it ideal for outdoor activities and cultural festivals. Similarly, autumn graces Gyeongju with vibrant foliage, painting the city in shades of gold and crimson.

The pleasant weather during these seasons allows for comfortable exploration of the city’s numerous historical sites, tranquil lakes, and traditional villages.

Whether you seek to immerse yourself in the colors of spring or the golden hues of autumn, visiting Gyeongju during these times guarantees an unforgettable and enchanting experience.

How to Get to Gyeongju

  • By Air: The nearest major airport is Gimhae International Airport (PUS) in Busan, which is well-connected to both domestic and international destinations. From Gimhae Airport, you can take a domestic flight to Ulsan Airport, which is closer to Gyeongju. Alternatively, you can take a limousine bus or KTX train from Gimhae Airport to Gyeongju.
  • By Train: Gyeongju is well-connected to major cities in South Korea through the KTX (Korea Train Express) network. You can take a KTX train from Seoul, Busan, or other cities to Gyeongju Station. The train journey offers scenic views of the countryside and is a comfortable and efficient way to reach the city.

Where to Stay in Gyeongju

1. Hilton Gyeongju Hotel: Nestled amidst serene landscapes and within close proximity to historical sites, Hilton Gyeongju Hotel offers a luxurious stay with modern amenities. With elegantly designed rooms, a spa, and multiple dining options, guests can relax and rejuvenate after exploring the city’s treasures. The hotel’s scenic surroundings and impeccable service make it a top choice for a memorable Gyeongju experience.

2. Kolon Hotel Gyeongju: Situated near the famous Bomun Lake, Kolon Hotel Gyeongju offers a blend of traditional Korean charm and contemporary comfort. Guests can enjoy picturesque lake views from their rooms and indulge in a range of facilities, including a fitness center and indoor pool. The hotel’s proximity to Bomun Lake’s scenic beauty and cultural attractions make it an excellent choice for a serene and delightful stay.

3. Commodore Hotel Gyeongju: Boasting a central location in the city, Commodore Hotel Gyeongju provides easy access to major historical landmarks and cultural hotspots. The hotel offers well-appointed rooms, a variety of dining options, and a cozy ambiance for guests to unwind. With its strategic location and warm hospitality, Commodore Hotel Gyeongju promises a comfortable stay for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in the city’s rich heritage.

Where to Eat in Gyeongju

1. Gyeongju Hyanggyo Jip: Experience traditional Korean flavors at Gyeongju Hyanggyo Jip, a charming restaurant nestled in a historic hanok (traditional Korean house). Indulge in authentic dishes like bibimbap, bulgogi, and jeon, skillfully prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant’s rustic ambiance and friendly staff add to the delightful dining experience, making it a must-visit for those craving a taste of genuine Korean cuisine.

2. Bomun Sutbul Galbi: Savor mouthwatering Korean barbecue at Bomun Sutbul Galbi, renowned for its delectable grilled meats and welcoming atmosphere. Choose from a variety of premium marinated beef and pork cuts, accompanied by an array of banchan (side dishes). Located near Bomun Lake, the restaurant offers scenic views while you enjoy a flavorsome meal with friends and family.

3. Baeknyeonok: Delight in the flavors of traditional royal cuisine at Baeknyeonok, a restaurant known for preserving centuries-old recipes from the Silla Dynasty. Sample dishes like sinseollo (royal hot pot), gujeolpan (nine-sectioned dish), and jeonju bibimbap, are artistically presented and bursting with exquisite flavors. The restaurant’s elegant decor and refined ambiance provide a regal dining experience that transports guests back in time to the grandeur of Gyeongju’s royal past.

Travel Tips & Suggestions

  • Visit major attractions early in the morning to avoid crowds.
  • Rent a bicycle to explore the city’s sites at a leisurely pace.
  • Check the Gyeongju Tourism website for event schedules and cultural festivals.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as there’s a lot of walking involved in exploring historical sites.
  • Sample local street food at the bustling Gyeongju Night Market.
  • Carry a map or use a navigation app to navigate the city efficiently.
  • Respect local customs and traditions when visiting temples and historical sites.

Conclusion – Best Things to Do in Gyeongju

In conclusion, Gyeongju promises an enchanting journey through time, offering the Best Things to do in Gyeongju for every traveler. From the majestic Bulguksa Temple to the serene beauty of Anapji Pond, the city’s historical treasures are bound to captivate your soul.

Embrace the charm of traditional villages, indulge in delectable local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of this ancient city.

So, pack your bags, soak in the local vibes, and create memories that will linger in your heart long after you bid farewell to this captivating destination.

FAQs – Best Things to Do in Gyeongju

What are the best things to do in Gyeongju?

 Gyeongju is a treasure trove of experiences! Don’t miss exploring Bulguksa Temple’s serene gardens and Seokguram Grotto’s awe-inspiring Buddha statues. Discover history at Gyeongju National Museum and Cheomseongdae Observatory. Wander through Tumuli Park’s ancient burial mounds and experience the tranquil beauty of Anapji Pond. For some outdoor fun, cycle along Bomun Lake and climb Mount Namsan for panoramic views.

When is the best time to visit Gyeongju?

 Spring (April) and autumn (September to November) are magical! Spring blooms with cherry blossoms, while autumn graces the city with vibrant foliage. The weather is pleasant for sightseeing and enjoying the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival in spring. During autumn, the scenic historic areas are perfect for leisurely strolls.

How do I get to Gyeongju?

 Getting here is easy! Take a domestic flight to Ulsan Airport or fly into Gimhae International Airport in Busan. From there, hop on a limousine bus or KTX train to Gyeongju. Alternatively, use intercity buses or drive to the city through well-maintained highways.

Which hotels are good to stay in Gyeongju?

 Hilton Gyeongju Hotel offers a luxurious stay with modern amenities, while Kolon Hotel Gyeongju provides a blend of traditional charm and comfort. For a central location, try Commodore Hotel Gyeongju, perfect for exploring historical landmarks.

What are the must-visit restaurants in Gyeongju?

 Satisfy your taste buds at Gyeongju Hyanggyo Jip for authentic Korean dishes or Bomun Sutbul Galbi for mouthwatering barbecue near Bomun Lake. Experience royal cuisine at Baeknyeonok for a delightful trip back in time.

Any travel tips for visiting Gyeongju?

 Visit major attractions early to avoid crowds and rent a bicycle for convenient sightseeing. Check the Gyeongju Tourism website for event schedules. Wear comfy shoes, carry a map, and respect local customs at temples.

Is Gyeongju family-friendly?

 Absolutely! Gyeongju’s diverse attractions cater to all ages. Enjoy the cherry blossom festival, cultural performances, and the Teddy Bear Museum. Kids will love exploring historic sites and participating in interactive exhibits at cultural parks. Gyeongju promises a memorable family adventure!

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