• How to travel in Gyeongju, a thousand-year-old kingdom of Silla

        • 01/19/2024

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    How to travel in Gyeongju, a thousand-year-old kingdom of Silla

    Silla, founded in 57 BC by King Park Hyuk Geose, unified the ancient Korean peninsula through the Three Kingdoms period. Gyeongju in Gyeongsangbuk-do was the capital of a thousand-year-old kingdom, Silla, that flourished with great culture. All around Gyeongju, you'll find cultural properties, ruins, and its stories. Explore slowly during the day, and travel back in time at night as you walk through the ancient tombs of the Silla kings.

    • Gyeongju
      Woljeonggyo Bridge
    • Gyeongju
      Hwangnidan Street
    Daereungwon Ancient Tombs & Gyochon Village, with a thousand years of history

    Gyochon Village in Gyeongju was home to Gukhak, the first national university of Korea, and the village's name, Gyochon, comes from Hyanggyo, an educational institution in the Joseon dynasty. Gyochon Village was established as a Hanok village in 2009 when the city began restoring traditional hanoks. There are various attractions, such as the Gyochon Promotion Center, which introduces the village's history, cultural relics, and famous people from the village; the Experience Center, where you can experience traditional culture; and Choi’s Old House in Gyeongju, the longtime residence of the Gyeongju Choi family; as well as various food, such as Korean table d'hote, refreshments, and traditional tea.

    Gyeongju Choi family produced nine generations of Jinsa who passed the exam for office and kept the Millionaire's fortune for 12 generations approximately 400 years. They practiced Noblesse Oblige by helping those in need and carried out anti-Japanese national liberation movements and education projects. Choi’s Old House in Gyeongju consists of a Munganchae, Sarangchae, a main building, a shrine, and a warehouse, available for visitors to look around.

    • Choi’s Old House
    • Choi’s Old House
    Choi’s Old House in Gyeongju, located in Gyochon village

    Home to hundreds of tombs from the Silla dynasty, Gyeongju holds the past and the present at the same time. Facing the huge ancient tomb, you can realize that Gyeongju has a thousand years of history. Daereungwon Ancient Tombs is the largest of those and is home to 23 unique large tombs, including Cheonmachong Tomb, famous for the Cheonmado, Hwangnam Daechong, where gold crowns were found, and Royal Tomb of King Michu. Cheonmachong Tomb is the only tomb in Daereungwon Ancient Tombs that can be viewed from the inside and is now an exhibition center. Daereungwon Ancient Tombs is best to visit at night. The ancient tombs are bathed in soft moonlight, creating a magical and mysterious atmosphere.

    • Daereungwon
    • Daereungwon
    In Daereungwon Ancient Tombs, you can see the early Silla period tombs
    Gyeongju also shines at night. Woljeonggyo Bridge, Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, and Cheomseongdae Observatory

    When the sun goes down, another world opens up as the ruins of the Silla dynasty, including Daereungwon Ancient Tombs, Cheomseongdae Observatory, Woljeonggyo Bridge, and Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, are illuminated.

    • Woljeonggyo
      After the restoration in 2018 Woljeonggyo Bridge lightens up Gyeongju’s night

    Woljeonggyo Bridge across from Gyochon Promotion Center was built in the 19th year of King Gyeongdeok of Silla and is said to have served as a bridge connecting Wolseong, the Silla palace, to the south. Since its restoration in 2018, Woljeonggyo Bridge has become a nighttime attraction alongside Cheomseongdae Observatory, Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, the ruins of the Silla royal palace, were used to hold banquets when the country had good events worthy of celebration or to accommodate important guests. Many people enjoy nighttime walks around the pavilions and pond.

    • Donggung Palace and Wolji
      Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond
    • Cheomseongdae
    • Cheomseongdae
    Day and night of Cheomseongdae Observatory

    Cheomseongdae Observatory from the middle Silla period is the oldest structure in the East. Built during the reign of Queen Seondeok of Silla, it has been more than 1,400 years since then, yet it has retained its original appearance. When the sun sets, the area around Cheomseongdae Observatory lights up with colorful lights.

    • Jewel beetle
      Jewel beetle electric vehicle

    Tip. If you feel too tired to travel on foot, take a ride in a “Jewel Beetle electric vehicle.”
    - Take a 35-minute tour of Cheomseongdae Observatory, Gyochon Village, and Wolseong Promotion Center in an electric car resembling Jewel beetles, used in decorative artifacts from the Silla dynasty.

    Jewel Beetle Electric Car
    • Address113-15 Hwangnam-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Inquiries+82-54-750-8658
    • Operating hours09:00-17:25
    • Ticket priceAdult KRW 4,000 / Teenagers KRW 3,000 / Children KRW 2,000
    Choi’s Old House
    • Address19-21 Gyochonan-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Operating hours09:30-17:00
      Closed on the last Monday of each month, and on the day of Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
    • AdmissionFree
    Daereungwon Ancient Tombs
    • Address9 Gyerim-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Inquiries+82-54-771-8650
    • Operating hours09:00-22:00
      Closed on the last Monday of each month, and on the day of Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
    • AdmissionFree
      * Cheonmachong Tomb: Adults KRW 3,000 / Children KRW 1,000
    Cheomseongdae Observatory
    • Address140-25 Cheomseong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Operating hours09:00-22:00
    • AdmissionFree
    Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond
    • Address102 Wonhwa-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Inquiries+82-54-750-8655
    • Operating hours09:00-22:00 (Last admission 21:30)
    • AdmissionAdults KRW 3,000 / Children KRW 1,000
    Hwarang Guesthouse, a relaxing retreat for travelers on foot

    If you travel without a car, it’s best to stay near Daereungwon Ancient Tombs or the bus terminal. Proximity to major tourist attractions and downtown areas is very convenient. Hwarang Guesthouse, located near Daereungwon Ancient Tombs, is a reliable accommodation that has received the KOREA QUALITY (KQ), a national certification program. The owner is a native-born Gyeongju resident who will be happy to give you tips on where to go and how to get around. If you don't know the bus number to a tourist spot or are having trouble organizing your trip, a friendly owner is there to help.

    • Hwarang
    • Hwarang
    • Hwarang
    Common facilities on the 1F of Hwarang Guesthouse, where you can have meals until 23:00

    Hwarang Guesthouse has travelers' comfort and relaxation as its priority. The lobby on the first floor is a shared facility, and guests are welcome to bring in outside food and drinks including alcohol, but excessive drinking or disruptive behavior after 23:00 is strictly prohibited. Also, no food or drink is allowed in the room to keep it clean.

    • Hwarang
    • Hwarang
      All private rooms from single to 4-person available

    When you think of guesthouses, you would think of dormitory-type rooms, but Hwarang Guesthouse offers private rooms ranging from 1 to 4 people. Thanks to the options, it has diverse guests, including single traveler, 2 people friends or couples to families. There is a simple breakfast of toast and coffee available, and guests can store luggage for free before and after check-in and check-out times.

    Although it's a 4-story building, there’s no elevators, but the reasonable prices, clean rooms, and relaxed atmosphere makes up for it. In particular, the facility is managed and monitored around the clock to ensure that female travelers can stay safely.

    Hwarang Guesthouse
    • Address136-1 Wonhyo-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Inquiries+82-507-1327-8329
    • operating
      hours
      Check in 16:00 / Check out 11:00
    • Websitehttps://hwaranghostel.modoo.at
    • * Free breakfast, free luggage storage services


    For Koreans, Gyeongju is a nostalgic travel destination. It's been a honeymoon and school trip destination in the past, so most Koreans have fond memories of Gyeongju. Despite that, revisiting this familiar location gives people new interests and a sense of excitement. Showing different charms in different seasons makes Gyeongju very attractive. If you are curious about Gyeongju in a particular season, it's because Gyeongju has already captured your heart.

    Bokgil, a hanok restaurant with views of Daereungwon Ancient Tombs
    • Bokgil
    • Bokgil
    Bokgil, a 2-story hanok restaurant facing Daereungwon Ancient Tombs

    Behind Daereungwon Ancient Tombs is Hwanglidan-gil, a popular area of Gyeongju. The name Hwanglidan-gil comes from Hwangnam-dong in Gyeongju and Gyeonglidan-gil in Itaewon, Seoul. It used to be a quiet street with shabby restaurants, family houses, small shops, and a fortune-tellers' stores, but it started to become famous as unique restaurants and cafes opened up in old hanoks and buildings. Today, it's a thriving commercial district with bars, restaurants, cafes, bookstores, souvenir shops, and guest houses that attract travelers.

    • Bokgil
    • Bokgil
    In Bokgil, you can order a meal for 1 person. Abalone Hot Pot Rice

    Bokgil, a restaurant in Hwanglidan-gil, serves precious dishes to its customers and wishes them good luck. This place is well-known for the use of carefully selected ingredients such as Andong Baekjinju rice, the finest single variety in Korea, live abalone brought from the sea every day, salted seafood from Gomso Port in Buan, Jeollabuk-do, D'Isigny butter from France, and hand-grilled Gopchang seaweed. The representative menus are abalone hot pot rice, abalone porridge, and Korean beef bulgogi hot pot rice. Moreover, there is another reason to visit Bokgil besides the neat, clean food and friendly service. It is because you can enjoy your meal at the window seats on the second floor overlooking the Daereungwon Ancient Tombs. This is a view you can only enjoy in Gyeongju.

    Bokgil
    • Address71 Cheomseong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • Inquiries+82-54-748-3555
    • operating
      hours
      10:30-21:00 (break time 16:00-17:00)
    • PriceMain menu: Abalone Hot Pot Rice KRW 17,000 / Korean Beef Bulgogi Hot Pot Rice KRW 17,000
      * One serving available

    Written, Photographed: KIM SUNJOO (Travel Writer)

    * The information above was written in October 2023, so check before visiting for any changes.
    * Information such as text, photos, and videos used in this article is prohibited from being used without permission as the Korea Tourism Organization holds the copyright.

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