This post will give you brief guide to exploring Gyeongju, a city of numerous historical scenery. If you follow this post, it may guide you for an effective journey to explore Gyeongju in one day. Of course it covers most popular spots in Gyeongju for tourist and foreign visitors. Take a peek of what Gyeongju looks like (Courtesy of Arina Gabe Pandiangan):
I had the opportunity to explore Gyeongju on the middle of January of 2014. Back there I was in the middle of my internship program in POSTECH, Pohang, South Korea. I went there together with my intern-mate whom also from same university with me. Credit to her for some photographs she took that published in my blog. She is a prolific traveler so it was her idea to visit Gyeongju for our spare time, and she made the itinerary. Lucky me! For your information, that was on chilly winter when we traveled there. Actually winter is not a good season to visit Gyeongju, you will know why in the following post.
Location and How to reach Gyeongju
Pohang and Gyeongju are located on same province on east Korea, Gyeongsangbuk. From Pohang bus station to Gyeongju bus station takes +- 1 hour travel by bus. You can find the bus to Gyeongju departs from station every one hour. It costs 3400 won for one trip and vice versa for Gyeongju departure. Gyeongju also can be reached from nearby cities like Daegu, Busan, and of course from Seoul which far away located in the north.
Arrive at Gyeongju, you can find tourist information centre there to get some brochure about famous location for tourist in Gyeongju. My itinerary back there was: Bus station – Bulguksa temple -Seokguram grotto – Teddybear museum – Cheomseongdae – Anapji pond – Bus station – Pohang.
Bulguksa and Seokguram grotto
Bulguksa and Seokguram are located on same neighbourhood but Seokguram is located in the top of Toham-san (Mountain Toham). If you want to reach the grotto from Bulguksa there are two alternatives there. First is using bus and the second is by hike the trail on foot. I chose the latter though and it was worthed nearly forty minutes of walk on the hiking path on cold winter. Be sure to choose this alternative on winter season because the heavy and thick cloth can burden your journey and that was what actually happened to me. If you use Long John, you will covered in sweat from the effect of climb moderate steepness mountain path. FYI, Long John does not absorb sweat so you will drenched in sweat with chilly winter wind blowing into your body. You could catch a flu later, so try to mind my advice if you want to follow the hiking path on foot.
About Bulguksa: literally there is not much thing to see here. Mostly you will see old building which constructed with Buddhism architecture influence with some statue figuring Chinese-Buddhism gods. Be sure to visit the drink the water from water basin and window shopping at souvenir store.
About Seokguram: there is only one thing to consider here. The Buddha statue is stored inside an enclosed room with surrounding glasses. Visitors only can see from outside the glasses and photograph is strictly prohibited. You should not expect massive statue there like I did back there. Truthfully, the statue is kinda small for world heritage scale. The Buddha statue was built using Chinese Buddha style. Buddha statue has many kind of style depends on location where Buddhism grows. Major style of Buddha statue type are Chinese, India, Thailand, Western, and Indonesia style.
“Four human-sized teddy bear posed with one Korean litte girl inside the museum. Which one was the cutest?”
Even though the ticket price is costly (9000 won per adult), we went in anyway. The reason is maybe that time is our one and only time to visit Teddy bear museum. In the world, there are only a few of teddy bear museum. USA, UK, and South Korea are the only place to spot this museum.
About TB Museum:
Parade of showcase showing famous scenery and teddybears as the actor on it. Jurassic park famous scene showed many teddybears were catching dinosaurs as we saw on movie Jurassic Park I. On different museum section, there are some famous art works acted by teddy. There is eve Teddy bear version of PSY “Gangnam Style”. At the end of museum tour you can enter the 3D cinema showing short film about dinosaurs. Of course there is a souvenir shop for teddy-thing handicraft for gifts.
Place of observation activities for old Korean astronomer. You can watch the history of astronomy study in Korea inside the multimedia room there.
This place is free of charge. Feel free to visit this scenery. It looks good on night so make sure to list cheomseongdae as late place to visit in your itinerary.
Near this neighborhood you could find store selling Gyeongju bread. You cannot find this on other city aside Gyeongju so do not forget to buy this classic bread.
Make Anapji as your last destination because it looks better in the night. Located not far from Cheomseongdae so you can reach it on foot from there. This picture below is one of famous spot for photo-taking. The pond reflected the building of Silla dynasty beautifully like a mirror reflection. There is ticket fee for entering this place but in a very reasonable price. Around 2000 won I think, I forgot the exact amounts. The end of my journey was when we went back to the bus station to seek our bus to Pohang. In one day we have seen the most common and nicest place to visit in Gyeongju. I hope my story will give insight for you to explore the beautiful Gyeongju. See you on other post.