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7 Best Things to Do in Gyeongju

Gyeongju Attractions

The best things to do in Gyeongju are primarily historical and archaeological sites that shed light on the city’s rich heritage. Known as the ‘Museum without Walls’, this Korean city was the former capital of the Silla Kingdom, which ruled Korea from the 7th to the 9th centuries. Remnants of that period attract those with an interest in history. Gyeongju is also the right place to visit if you’re fond of natural scenery.

Make sure you plan your holiday in advance and take note of all the spots you want to visit in Gyeongju – there are many options, and you may not be able to cover all the historic sites if you’re on a short trip. In order to make things easier, we’ve listed some of the must-visit attractions in Gyeongju.

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Wolji Pond

Wolji Pond is part of Donggung Palace, a Silla-era complex built during King Munmu’s reign in 674 CE. The artificial pond is surrounded by landscaped gardens and reconstructed pavilions that were used for banquets and royal events. 

Visit the exhibition hall to see around 700 artefacts excavated from areas surrounding Wolji Pond – notable relics range from pottery and bronze figures of Buddha, to jewellery and accessories dating back to the Silla period. Tickets to Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond cost around 2,000 won for adults, 1,200 won for teens (18–13 years old), and 600 won for children (7–12 years old).

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 10pm
  • Location: 102, Wonhwa-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea
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Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple is located the slopes of Mount Toham, about 15 km southeast of Gyeongju. Also known as the ‘Temple of the Buddha Land’, the UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 528 during the Silla Kingdom. 

The historic pagodas and foundations are the only original structures in Bulguksa Temple, while the rest of the temple are reconstructions. Among the many historical sites you can visit include Seokguram Grotto, the Golden Seated Vairocana Buddhist Figure, and Dabotap Pagoda.

  • Opening Hours: February: daily from 7.30am to 5.30pm. March–September: daily from 7am to 6pm. October: daily from 7am to 5.30pm. November: daily from 7am to 5pm. December–January: daily from 7.30am to 5pm
  • Location: 385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea
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Cheomseongdae Observatory

Cheomseongdae Observatory is one of the oldest astronomical observatories in Asia. It dates back to the period of Queen Seon-deok, and was mainly used to forecast weather. The 9.17-metre-high observatory consists of 362 stones stacked on top of each other – the stones represent 362 days in a lunar year. 

For those interested in astronomy, Cheomseongdae Observatory is a must-see. Visit at night to see the observatory beautifully illuminated with artificial lights.

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 9.30pm
  • Location: 140-25, Cheomseong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea
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Gyeongju Historic Area

The Gyeongju Historic Area represents the culture and history of the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom. This UNESCO World Heritage has 5 sections, where you can explore palace ruins, pavilions, and fortresses among lush hills. 

Namsan has over 40 Buddhist relics and pagodas, while Wolseong is where you can visit the crescent-shaped Banwolseong Fortress, Wolji Pond and Donggung Palace. Hwangnyongsa is the former site of Hwangnyongsa Temple and Bunhwangsa Stone Pagoda. 

  • Location: 757, Taejong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea
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Gyeongju National Park

Gyeongju National Park has a number of cultural preserves that date back to the Silla Dynasty. Located near Gyeongju city, it’s known as Korea’s only historical national park. 

The park covers a total area of 137 sq km, and houses important historical sites from the Silla period. There are hiking trails leading to Mount Namsan – depending on the trail, you might pass by Mangwolsa Temple and Samneung Royal Tomb before reaching the summit.  

  • Location: Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea

Poseokjeongji Pavilion

Poseokjeongji Pavilion, located on a rock next to a stream in Gyeongsanbuk-do, was the royal villa of the Silla dynasty. While the royal villa does not exist anymore, a stone waterway in the shape of a shell still remains. 

The pavilion is believed to have been built with 63 different kinds of rocks. This is the place where Silla kings would come with their nobles and officials for recreation. Admission to Poseokjeongji Pavilion costs around 1,000 won for adults, 600 won for teens (18–13 years old), and 400 won for children (7–12 years old).

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
  • Location: 816, Namsansunhwan-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea
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Seokguram Grotto

Seokguram Grotto is a stone temple on Mount Toham. The UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 751, under the reign of King Gyeong-Deok. The round-shaped hall houses a 3.5-metre-tall Bonjon statue, which represents a smiling Buddha seated on a lotus-engraved stage.

Seokguram Grotto was built together with the Bulguska Temple, which is located on the slopes of the mountain. The spot where the temple is situated offers a beautiful sunrise view that is quite unique and breathtaking. Admission to Seokguram Grotto costs around 5,000 won for adults, 3,500 won for teens (18–13 years old), and 2,500 won for children (7–12 years old).

  • Location: 873-243, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju, South Korea
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