When one thinks of Korea, we generally tend to think of excellent modern technology or Korean Barbeque. I would like to suggest something else for us to think of first: their rich, cultural heritage. Although it hasn’t been an independent country for long, its unique cultural timeline goes back for many centuries. Arguably the best place to experience this ancient history is situated down south in the beautiful, coastal city of Gyeongju. This ancient city, sometimes referred to as a museum without walls, was once the capital of Korea during the Silla dynasty (57BC-935AD).
When exploring this city, there is a superabundance of awe-inspiring places to visit, most of which have been designated as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. First, one can experience the strange beauty of the royal tombs, the Korean version of the pyramids. Just a short walk from there are the ruins of the royal palace. Next to the palace is the charming royal pond, having had its beautiful pavilions reconstructed and the lush vegetation replanted (including a lotus pond). After that, you can visit the largest, and one of the most beautiful temples in Korea, Bulguksa. From there, you can hike up to Seokguram grotto which is considered one of the best representations of Buddhist art in the world. Outside the entrance to the grotto is a breathtaking viewof the Sea of Japan. Beyond these exploratory gems, there is a wonderful museum inside walls, a mountain full of hiking trails that lead you through bamboo forests and Buddha carvings, and many wonderful restaurants and shops. All of these places are stops on the convenient city bus, or tourists can rent motorized scooters and follow the maps from the visitor’s center.
To sum it all up, Gyeongju is a unique destination for those itching to explore new places. I must also say, this is not an exhaustive list on everything to see in Gyeongju. These are just my favorite places. For a full report, visit their city website. Enjoy your trip to this almost mystical destination!