What are some of the best things to do in Gyeongju, South Korea?
After all, if you are traveling to South Korea anytime soon, one place you might be interested in is Gyeongju.
It is the city known as the “Museum without Walls”, as this Korean city was the former capital of the Silla Kingdom which ruled over Korea from the 7th to 9th centuries.
Almost everything you can do here are primarily focused on historical and archaeological sites which can show you the city’s rich cultural heritage.
Not only that, but it is also the place with a lot of beautiful and natural scenery.
So if you are wondering what there is to do here in the city of Gyeongju, you are in luck.
In this post, we’ll be detailing the top 15 things to do in Gyeongju, South Korea.
So lets get started!
- 15 Things To Do In Gyeongju, South Korea
- Donggung Palace And Wolji Pond
- Bulguksa Temple
- Seokguram Grotto
- Cheomseongdae Observatory
- Gyeongju Historic Area
- Poseokjeong Pavilion Site
- Gyeongju National Park
- Namsan Mountain
- Gyeongju National Museum
- Bomun Lake Resort
- Gyeongju World
- Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village
- Woljeonggyo Bridge
- Jungang Market
15 Things To Do In Gyeongju, South Korea
In no particular order, here are the 15 best things to do in Gyeongju, South Korea.
Donggung Palace And Wolji Pond
Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond is a Silla-era complex that was built during King Munmu’s reign back in 674 CE. The pond itself is an artificial pond that is surrounded by landscaped gardens and reconstructed pavilions. It served as a banquet site for many important national events and important visitors.
Visitors can visit the exhibition hall to see over 700 artifacts that has been excavated around the area of the pond. From things like pottery to bronze figures of Buddha to even jewelry and accessories, it is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the area in the past.
Bulguksa Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the year 528 BC during the Silla Kingdom, and was built to wish for peace and prosperity for all. It is locate don the slopes of Mount Toham and is known as the “Temple of the Buddha Land”.
While the temple was destroyed previously, it has been rebuilt. The historic pagodas and foundations are the only original structures that remain in the Bulguksa Temple. It is home to 7 national treasures and a number of historical sites like Seokguram Grotto, the Golden Seated Vairocana Buddhist Figure, and Dabotap Pagoda.
Seokguram, which is located on Tohamsan Mountain, is the representative stone temple of Korea. It is made out of Granite and dates back to the year 751 under the reign of King Gysong-Deok. Inside you can find a round shaped hall which is home to a 3.5 meter tall Bonjon Statue which represents a smiling Buddha seated on a lotus-engraved stage.
Seokguram is known to have been built at the same time as Bulguksa Temple. According to the history book Samgukyusa of the Goryeo Dynasty, Kim Dae-Seong had Bulguksa Temple built for his parents in his current life, and Seokguram Grotto for the parents of his former life.
This spot where the temple is situated also offers a beautiful sunrise view that is incredibly beautiful and unique.
Cheomseongdae is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia. It was built during the reign of Queen Seon-Deok and was used to observe the stars in order to forecast the weather. Because of the stone structure having a beautiful combination of straight and curved lines, it was designated as a National Treasure.
Fun fact: The observatory consists of 362 stones stacked on top of each other which represents the 362 days in a lunar year.
The observatory stands at about 9.17 meters tall and allows any and all visitors to see a great view of the sky.
Gyeongju Historic Area
The Gyeongju Historic Area is a UNESCO world heritage site that embodies the time-honored history and culture of the ancient capital of the Silla Kindom. This area can be divided up into 5 sections with each section having their own unique and interesting thing to see. For instance you can explore palace ruins, pavilions, and fortresses among lush hills and much more.
In the 5 sections, Namsan is the place to see a bunch of unique and different Buddhist relics and pagodas. In Wolseong you can find the Wolji Pond and Donggung Palace as well as the Banwolseong Fortress. Hwangnyongsa is the former site of Hwangnyongsa Temple and Bunhwangsa Stone Pagoda.
The Gyeongju Historic Area has a total of 52 designated cultural assets that are registered as World Cultural Heritages.
Poseokjeong Pavilion Site
Poseokjeong Pavilion served as a separate palace where kings enjoyed banquets with nobles. The building no longer exists, but the abalone-shaped stone water canal still remains, which is speculated to have been built during the Unified Silla period with the exact year unknown. The water canal has an estimated length of 10 m and a width of approximately 35 cm with an average depth of 26 cm
It is believed to have been built with at least 63 different kinds of rocks. It would have been the place where the Silla kings would come with their nobles and officials for recreation.
Gyeongju National Park
Gyeongju National Park is located near Gyeongju city and is known as Korea’s only historical national park. It has a number of cultural preserves that date back to the ancient Silla Dynasty.
Inside the park you’ll be able to find a number of historical sites from the Silla period. There are also hiking trails along the way that lead to Mount Namsan and along the way you can even see some ancient sites like Mangwolsa Temple and Samneung Royal Tomb.
Namsan Mountain is filled with a bunch of amazing things to see and do. The mountain is about 500 meters tall and was regarded as a scared place during the Silla period. It is here where you can find hundreds of Buddha sculptures, temples and pagodas all along the mountainside.
The mountain also has a very nice scenic hiking trail that leads people to the historical sites in Gyeongju.
Do know that climbing this mountain may take some time, so it is best to be prepared and come as early as possible if you want to climb this mountain.
Gyeongju National Museum
Gyeongju National Museum is one of the best places to go to learn about the history and culture of the Silla Dynasty. The museum recently went through a renovation and the galleries and exhibition halls have all been taken to a whole new level.
Inside you can find over 100,000 collections of artifacts and historical items that are from the Silla Dynasty. It also has many exhibitions like the Silla History Gallery, Silla Art Gallery, Outdoor Exhibition, Children’s Museum and much more.
As a significant cultural center, this National Museum not only strives to preserve, exhibit and research the rich history and culture of Silla, but it also strives to take a leap forward to become a cultural multi-complex center by promoting international exchange opportunities, social education programs, and a variety of special exhibitions.
Bomun Lake Resort
Bomun Tourist Complex is the international tourist district of Gyeongju. This tourist district is formed with Bomunho Lake at its center, located about 10 kilometers east of downtown Gyeongju.
The area spans approximately 8,000 km², and contains an international-scale luxurious hotel, family-friendly condos, golf range, and pleasant walking passages that are designed to suit the diverse needs of tourists.
The tourist complex attracts crowds of visitors in April, when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The sight of cherry blossoms around Bomunho Lake and Bulguksa Temple are popular even among domestic travelers.
Gyeongju World Amusement is the largest themed park in the southern area of South Korea. The park’s most popular area is X-Zone featuring exciting thrill rides including roller coasters like the Phyton, Mega Drop, Tornado, and Grand Canyon as well as King Viking and Submarine Splash.
People who don’t enjoy roller coasters will still have fun at the park in Wizard Garden (kids zone), California Beach (summer only), and the large-scaled ice sledding site (winter only). The various rides, diverse convenient facilities, and restaurants will fulfill every visitors’ tastes.
Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village
Located in Gyeongju-si, Gyeongju Gyochon Village is a hanok village that allows visitors a look inside the life of the famous Choi Clan. They are a family known to have remained wealthy for the longest period of time in Korean history. Visitors can see the House of the Gyeongju Choi Clan and try some Gyeongju Gyodong Beopju Liquor inside the village.
Within Daereungwon Tomb Complex is Cheonmachong Tomb, which was excavated in 1973. Cheonmachong Tomb consists of a wooden coffin placed inside an underground chamber mounded with boulders and earth, characterized as a typical upper class tomb of the Silla period.
The mound has a height of 12.7 m with a diameter of 50 m, and consists of a layer of rocks collected from streams. Below the rock layer is a wooden chamber that is 6.5 m long and 2.1 m wide, reaching 2.1 m in height, with the wooden coffin at its center.
A total of 11,526 artifacts were discovered within the tomb, including Cheonmado, an artwork considered highly valuable as it is Korea’s first artwork to be excavated from an ancient tomb.
Woljeonggyo Bridge is a covered bridge that is located next to the Gyochon Traditional Village in Gyeongju. According to records, this bridge was originally built during the 19th year of reigh for King Gyeongdeok, the 35th King of Silla. However it was destroyed and what was left is just the stonework of the original bridge.
The bridge has since been re=constructed into what it looks like now. It is a popular attraction to visit as during the evening, the colorful lights are turned on and makes the entire place look so beautiful. In the spring, cherry blossom trees are in full bloom which adds to the beauty of this already scenic bridge.
If you are planning to visit Gyeongju, one of the best places you need to visit is definitely Gyeongju Jungang Market. This market opened op back in 1983 and currently consists of over 700 different shops and vendors that sell all kinds of interesting things. From clothing, hanbok, to food and meat, you can find it all here.
Recently, it also opened up a night market and is now bustling with visitors the entire day.
Overall the city of Gyeongju is a pretty fun place to be in.
Just looking at this list, there are a ton of amazing and fun things for anyone to see and do.
Plus, if you love history and ancient culture, then this is definitely the place for you.
So next time you plan a vacation, you might consider a trip to Gyeongju and enjoy all it has to offer.
Also if you are wondering what other things there is to do in South Korea, I have some posts for you.
Things To Do List:
- How To Visit Seoul, South Korea On A Budget
- Things To Do In Daegu, South Korea
- Places To Go Shopping In Jeju Island, South Korea
- Places To Go Shopping In Busan, South Korea
Or you can check out all my South Korea posts by clicking here.
Have fun traveling~