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Hotel in Gyeongju, South Korea
Hotel in Gyeongju, South Korea
Cheomseongdae Observatory in Gyeongju, South Korea

Cheomseongdae Observatory

This is the oldest observatory in Asia.  And, surprise, it is not built on a tall mountain, but on flat land.  It consists of 362 stones, one for every day of the lunar year.  This is only a 5-10 min stop.

The Best things to do in Gyeongju

On thism page we describe to you the best things to do in Gyeongju.

 

Gyeongju was the capital of the kingdom of Silla from 57 BC to 935 ADm and Gyeongju was the fourth largest city in the world.  Today, Gyeongju has a population of about a quarter million people and a large number of archaeological sites.  It is easily reachable by train from Seoul.

When I was planning the trip, I read numerous reviews about traditional Korean hotels where you have the honor of sleeping on a Japanese futon on the floor.  I thought, OK, it is for 1 night.  What can go wrong - others seem to love it.  Well, the hotel was nice, but my body hated it.  I sleep on a memory foam mattress at home and I love it.  In the hotel, tried doubling up the futon to at least protect my aching body from the hard wood that I was sleeping on.  And I can tell you, it did not work.  I woke up every few minutes and this was probably one of the longest nights in my life.

Luckily, I was still excited to be in South Korea and looking forward to all the great things I was going to see and luckily, my body can take 1 sleepless night without any major issues.  So, I was fit to explore Gyeongju the next day.  If you are interested in thrying it yourself and stay in a friendly hotel, then please consider:

 

Happy Village Syeobul Hanok Pension (book now)

 

I stayed in this hotel for one night. The sleeping room of the cabin is big enough that you can stretch out on the floor, but that’s it.  The only furnishings are a tiny fridge and a stick that’s hug from the wall with two hangers on it.
The small bathroom has a toilet, sink and showerhead.  So, when you shower, you will make much of the bathroom wet.
Breakfast was included in the room rate. The owner, who speaks good English, prepared a plate with a couple of fruit and tomato slices for me.  There was self-serve bread, butter, strawberry marmalade, hard boiled eggs and a couple of Korean dishes, instant coffee powder, tea bags and orange juice.
Tumuli Park is right across the street, but the entrance is a 5-10min walk and the Cheomseongdae Observatory in within walking distance.
Please be advised that it is essential to print out the address in Korean if you take a taxi. Even with my printout, taxi drivers had problems finding the address on their GPS.

Tumuli Park

My hotel was right across the street from Tumuli Park, so this was my first desitination.  This park has a series of large royal burial mounds abd tombs.  Sadly, none of the tombs were open when I was there.  So, I probably spent about an hour just wandering around.

Tumuli Park in Gyeongju, South Korea
Tumuli Park in Gyeongju, South Korea
Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju, South Korea
Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju, South Korea

Bulguksa Temple

Possibly the most famous of South Korea's temples, it was originally built in 528 and renovated more than 40 times.  The wood structures are rebuilt, but all stone structures and pagodas are original.  And, you may have guessed it, it is another one of South Korea's many Unesco World Heritage sites.

Bulguksa Temple is large, has beautifully restored architecture and is definitely worth visiting.  

Seokguram Grotto

Seokguram Grotto is yet another Unesco World Heritage site.  It is a hermitage and belongs to the Bulguksa temple complex.  Seokguram Grotto was finished in 774.  It is about 2,450ft (750m) above sea level and it overlooks the East Sea.  To get there I took a taxi and then a fairly easy path along a tall hill and then enter through a newer building.  The grotto is a single room and photopgraphy is not permitted, but I was able to find a free-to-use photo on the internet that I am displaying here.

Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea
Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea
Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea
Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, South Korea
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Upon popular request, pinterest users, please repin these images:

Making Memorable Moments in Gyeongju
Making Memorable Moments in Gyeongju
Making Memorable Moments in Gyeongju
Making Memorable Moments in Gyeongju

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