- RegionGyeongju-si Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Duration2 DAYS/1 NIGHT
Ask any Korean what city has the most historic value and the answer will be Gyeongju, the capital city of the Silla Dynasty (57 BC – 935 AD). The city is alive with the vibrant culture and art from the nearly one thousand years of prosperity. Thanks to this, the city is dotted with UNESCO World Cultural Heritages Sites, including Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Grotto, Yangdong Village, and the general Gyeongju Historic Area. Explore the advanced architecture of the Silla people and experience the splendid culture of Buddhism in a short but full 2-day, 1-night tour of Gyeongju.
- 110:00 AMGyeongju National Museum212:00 PMGyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village
32:00 PMDaereungwon Tomb Complex
44:00 PMNodong-dong Café Street
- 55:00 PMGyeongju Jungang Market66:00 PMCheomseongdae Observatory
77:00 PMGyeongju Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond
10:00 AM, Gyeongju National Museum
When traveling to a new place, you can get a deeper understanding of all you will see by visiting a museum in advance. For your tour, start off by spending an hour or so reading about the history of the city at Gyeongju National Museum.
The museum provides the perfect place to learn about the Silla Dynasty and Gyeongju’s history in one location, being divided into Silla History Gallery, Silla Art Gallery, Wolji Gallery, and the outdoor exhibition. The Silla History Gallery displays artifacts from the start of the Silla Dynasty, through their prosperity in the United Silla period and into their eventual decline. The highlights of this gallery are the golden accessories, such as crowns and belts, on display in Exhibition Hall 2. These artifacts were excavated from Cheonmachong Tomb.
- 【 Photo: Gyeongju National museum exhibit 】
- 【 Photo: Divine Bell of King Seongdeok 】
Silla Art Gallery houses approximately 700 works of art, with many showing traces of Buddhist artwork, as Silla was a nation founded on the ideologies of Buddhism. Wolji Hall is full of the relics discovered around Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. The outdoor exhibition houses many important historical items that are too big to be placed inside, such as The Divine Bell of King Seongdeok.
To facilitate understanding of the exhibitions for foreign tourists, an audio guide is available for rent at just 2,000 won. The guide device can be rented at the shop within the museum, with information in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese.
- Address: 186, Iljeong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Seoul Station → Gyeongju National Museum, approx. 3 hr): Take a KTX train from Seoul Station → Get off at Singyeongju Station and transfer to Bus No. 700 → Get off at Donggung & Wolji-Anapji Bus Stop and walk approx. 300m to Gyeongju National Museum.
- Operating hours: 09:00-18:00 / Saturday & public holidays 09:00-19:00
(Closed Mondays and January 1)
- Admission: Free (Fees may apply to special exhibitions)
- Website: gyeongju.museum.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
12:00 PM, Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village
- 【 Photo: Scenery of Gyochon Village 】
- 【 Photo: Artwork from the pottery workshop 】
Entering Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village is like stepping foot into the past. The hanok buildings, both old and newly-built have a wonderful harmony and preserve the feelings of warmth and community. Strolling along the stonewall-lined path, you will see workshops for pottery and glass, as well as a nubi (traditional quilting) experience center. You can watch the masters at work for free, or pay a small fee to try making something with your own hands. For fun, just follow the sound of laughter to the village playground. Here, all visitors can play traditional games, such as neolttwigi (seesaw jumping), gulleongsoe (hoop rolling), and tuhonori (arrow throwing game).
- 【 Photo: Gyori Gimbap 】
- 【 Photo: Traditional tea and snack 】
After getting your fill of exciting games and hands-on activities, sit down for the village’s famous Gyori Gimbap! The gimbap is so popular there is often a line to get your hands on a roll. Gyori Gimbap has an abundance of egg, providing a delicious and savory flavor not found in other gimbaps. When the weather is nice, buy a roll of gimbap and find a nice place to sit in the village to enjoy your meal. If you’re still hungry after eating, stop by a traditional café for a cup of tea. The village is a great place to unwind with friends and spend some leisure time simply enjoying one another’s company.
- Address: Area of Gyochonan-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Gyeongju National Museum → Gyochon Traditional Village, approx. 15 min): Walk approx. 1.5km along Iljeong-ro Road to to Gyochon Traditional Village.
- Website: www.gyochon.or.kr (Korean only)
2:00 PM, Daereungwon Tomb Complex
One of the most unique scenes in Gyeongju is the sight of 23 nearly uniformly-sized “hills” found at Daereungwon Tomb Complex. The hills are actually the tombs of kings, queens and other nobility of the Silla Dynasty. While most tomb sites are located in remote areas, the tombs of Silla are located in downtown Gyeongju, providing easy access to tourists and citizens looking for a peaceful place to walk.
- 【 Photo: Cheonmachong Tomb entrance 】
- 【 Photo: Golden crown on display 】
Of all the tombs at Daereungwon Tomb Complex, Cheonmacheong Tomb is by far the most famous. The interior has been excavated and the tomb now serves as an exhibition hall. Models of the artifacts that were discovered are on display, including the golden crown and Cheonmado (heavenly horses) painting which gave the tomb its name. The real artifacts are preserved at Gyeongju National Museum.
- Address: 9, Gyerim-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Gyochon Traditional Village → Daereungwon Tomb Complex, approx. 10 min):Walk approx. 600m along Cheomseong-ro Road to Daereungwon Tomb Complex.
- Operating hours: 09:00-22:00
- Admission: Adults 2,000 won / Teenagers 1,200 won / Children 600 won
4:00 PM, Rest at a Nodong-dong Café
If you’ve followed our tour course this far, you’ll find you are beginning to feel a bit tired. The areas you have explored are all included in the UNESCO-designated Gyeongju Historic Areas. Let’s find a café to take a break while still gazing upon the amazing history and culture! Across the street from Daereungwon Tomb Complex in Nodong-dong area are many cafes offering an amazing view. This café street isn’t very long but is perfect for resting with a cup of fragrant coffee.
- Address: Area of Nodong-dong (Jungang-ro Road), Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Daereungwon Tomb Complex → Nodong-dong Café Street, approx. 2 min): Walk approx. 200m from Daereungwon Rear Gate to Nodong-dong.
5:00 PM, Gyeongju Jungang Market
Also called Araet Market, Gyeongju Jungang Market is a traditional 5-day market, operating on day 2, 7, 12, 17, 22 and 27 of every month. There is much to see and eat on market day, when the vendors gather to sell their products to the many customers. If it matches with your travel dates, be sure to stop by! However, if your travel dates just don’t line up, don’t worry. Even on non-market days, the market has permanent stalls and shops for visitors year-round. Most people enjoy walking through the food zone, where they can buy various foods, from tteok-bokki (stir-fried rice cake) to eomuk (fish cake), hoe (sliced raw fish) and jeon (pancake). Market day or not, it’s a guarantee you won’t go hungry here!
- Address: 295 Geumseong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsanbuk-do
- Directions (Nodong-dong Café Street → Gyeongju Jungang Market, approx. 15 min): Walk approx. 900m along Wonhyo-ro Road or Geumseong-ro Road to the market.
6:00 PM, Cheomseongdae Observatory
In the sixteenth year of Silla Queen Seondeok’s reign (647 AD), Cheomseongdae Observatory was built, making it the oldest stone structure in the Orient. With a height of only 9 meters, this astronomical observatory is exquisite and well-built, lasting in near-perfect condition to this day. Through viewing the observatory, we can learn that not only was ancient Korea very advanced in astronomy and science, they also excelled in craftsmanship and architecture, creating aesthetically pleasing structures that could withstand the tests of time. Due to these features, Cheomseongdae Observatory is protected as a cultural heritage site. Admission is free during the day but most people, both tourists and locals alike, choose to visit in the evening, when the observatory is lit and stands out beautifully against the evening sky.
- Address: 839-1, Inwang-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Gyeongju Jungang Market → Cheomseongdae Observatory, approx. 15 min): From Jungang Market Bus Stop, take Bus No. 10, 11, 100, 600 or 700 and get off at Wolseong-dong Citizens Center Bus Stop.
- Operating hours: Winter 09:00-21:00 / Summer 09:00-22:00
7:00 PM, Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond
A detached palace of the Silla Kingdom where the prince lived, Donggung Palace was used to host banquets during joyous occasions for the kingdom or when important guests were visiting. The palace and the surrounding Wolji lotus pond are popular not only for their harmonious beauty and cultural value but also as a relaxing place to walk. In the evenings, many couples flock to the illuminated palace as moths to a flame.
Over 30,000 historical artifacts were discovered here, with most being general household items, providing a wonderful opportunity to study the culture and society of the Silla Dynasty. The items excavated from the site are on display in the Wolji Gallery at Gyeongju National Museum.
- Address: 102, Wonhwa-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Cheomseongdae Observatory → Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond, approx. 10 min):Walk approx. 600m along Cheomseong-ro Road.
- Operating hours: 09:00-22:00 (Gates close at 22:30)
- Admission: Adults 2,000 won / Teenagers 1,200 won / Children 600 won
- 109:00 AMBulguksa Temple212:00 PMSeokguram Grotto
302:00 PMBomun Tourist Complex
45:00 PMGyeongju World Culture Expo Park
9:00 AM, Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple is Korea’s most famous temple and cultural heritage site, an attraction every Korean should visit at least once. The temple was founded along with Seokguram Grotto in 751, during the reign of Silla King Gyeongdeok, and completed in 774 during the reign of King Hyegong. The temple is renowned for showing both Buddhist thought and doctrine in the building structures. With this in mind, Bulguksa Temple was designated a UNESCO World Heritage in 1995.
All eyes are drawn to Seokgatap and Dabotap Pagodas upon entering the temple. The two pagodas can be seen as opposites, with Seokgatap Pagoda showing the beauty of simplicity through the use of moderation and Dabotap Pagoda being quite extravagant. However, the different styles of these two large pagodas provide a sense of harmony.
After touring all Bulguksa Temple has to offer, our tour takes us to Seokguram Grotto, a place showcasing the essence of Buddhist artistry from the Silla Dynasty. However, before heading off, we recommend grabbing a bite to eat for lunch around the temple, as there will be no restaurants around our next stop.
- Address: 385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond → Bulguksa Temple, approx. 1 hr): Take Bus No. 11 from Donggung & Wolji-Anapji Bus Stop → Get off at Bulguksa Temple Bus Stop.
- Operating hours: 07:00-18:00 (Hours vary by season)
- Admission: Adults 5,000 won / Teenagers 3,500 won / Children 2,500 won
12:00 PM, Seokguram Grotto
Seokguram Grotto is Korea’s representative cave temple, built on Tohamsan Mountain outside Gyeongju. The grotto shows the deep faith and advanced architectural skills of people from the Silla period and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage along with Bulguksa Temple. The grotto was built by polishing solid stones to form a dome, and then covering the dome with mud, allowing it to harmoniously blend in with the surroundings. The interior of Seokguram is almost entirely taken up by the form of a sitting Buddha statue with a dignified expression. Encircling this benevolent yet strict Buddha are bodhisattvas and various disciples carved in relief. The workmanship is outstanding, easily evoking admiration from all who visit.
- Address: 873-243, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Bulguksa Temple → Seokguram Grotto, approx. 30 min): Take Bus No. 12 from Bulguksa Entrance Bus Stop → Get off at Seokguram Bus Stop.
- Operating hours: Spring & Fall 07:00-17:30 / Summer 06:30-18:00 / Winter 07:00-17:00
- Admission: Adults 5,000 won / Teenagers 3,500 won / Children 2,500 won
2:00 PM, Bomun Tourist Complex
Bomun Tourist Complex is centered around Bomunho Lake, approximately 10km east of downtown Gyeongju. The nation’s largest tourist resort complex, Bomun is home to luxury hotels, condominiums, a golf course, theme park, and a multitude of walking trails connecting the various attractions. In particular, the theme park Gyeongju Worldoffers thrilling roller coasters, as well as a water park in summer and a large sledding hill in winter.
The entire city of Gyeongju is beautiful with cherry blossoms in spring, but no place can compare with Bomun Tourist Complex. Every spring, tourists both local and international flock to the Bomun Lake area to take in the pink and white blossoms.
- Address: Area of Sinpyeong-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Seokguram Grotto → Bomun Tourist Complex, approx. 1hr): Take Bus No. 12 from Seokguram Grotto Bus Stop → Get off at Bulguksa Temple Bus Stop, cross to the adjacent bus stop and take Bus No. 11 → Get off at Geogujang Bus Stop → Walk approx. 100m to Bomun Tourist Complex
5:00 PM, Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park
One of the largest buildings in the area of Bomun Tourist Complex is located at Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park. This unique building, the park’s landmark Gyeongju Tower, has both the appearance of a normal skyscraper and of a grand pagoda. The building is covered with glass, with a motif cut-out of the large Nine-story Wooden Pagoda of Hwangryongsa Temple, built during the Silla Dynasty.
The tower houses a variety of relics and materials found around Gyeongju from the Silla period, providing another chance to delve deep into the history of the area. If you aren’t afraid of heights, be sure to take in the view from the top floor. From here, you can see all of Bomun Tourist Complex spread out below in a beautiful vista.
The World Culture Expo is hosted to both increase the development of mankind’s culture and create a new culture out of the harmony of the various countries. The event began in 1998 and has operated under a new theme each year. In 2015, the theme decided upon by the Eurasian Cultural Connections was “Silk Road Gyeongju.” Even outside the event period, visitors to World Culture Expo Park can still enjoy Gyeongju Tower, Asadal Sculpture Park, Jurassic Road, Cheomseongdae Theater, Expo Culture Center and more.
- Address: 614, Gyeonggam-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Directions (Bomun Tourist Complex → Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park, approx. 15 min):Walk approx. 1km to reach Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park.
Travel Tip – Must-Eats!
Hwangnamppang Bread & Chalborippang Bread
- 【 Photo: Hwangnamppang Bread (Credit: Hwangnamppang) 】
- 【 Photo: Chalborippang Bread 】
Of all the foods you can try in Gyeongju, the one that comes to mind first is Hwangnamppang Bread, getting its name from the area it was first sold, Hwangnam-dong. This simple yet tasty bread is made from flour dough filled with red bean paste shaped in a ball. The bread is then stamped on top with a comb pattern and baked. While the bread bakes, the delicious aroma of the red bean paste wafts out. The bread is ready to eat when the dough becomes golden brown.
Another popular bread associated with Gyeongju is Chalborippang, or barley bread. This round, flat bread is made from barley flour, with two pieces of bread being stuck together with red bean paste. The shape of the bread is similar to pancakes but is much smaller in size, and has a soft, spongy texture. The has just the right amount of sweetness, enjoyable by all who try it, regardless of age or gender.
- ☞ Transportation (Seoul→Gyeongju):
KTX: Seoul Station → Singyeongju Station (Adult fare 49,300 won / Travel time approx. 2hr)
Bus: Seoul Express Bus Terminal → Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal (Adult fare 20,400~33,300 won / Travel time approx. 3hr 45min)
- ☞ Website: guide.gyeongju.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
- ☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)