An Insider’s Guide to Korea’s Ancient Capital

With its reputation as the museum without walls, you can imagine Gyeongju has way too many places worth your visit and things to do. For the first-time visitors, planning your Gyeongju itinerary can be overwhelming. 

This Gyeongju guide is all you need to plan your trip. Here, you will see what to do in Gyeongju for three days; how to get to (and around) Gyeongju from Seoul, Busan, and Daegu; where to stay in Gyeongju; Gyeongju food to try (and the best restaurants).

My 3-day Gyeongju Itinerary is an example to show how you can plan your successful first trip to Korea’s ancient capital city. For more detailed information about each of Gyeongju heritage sites and fascinating historical background, be sure first to read 20 Things to Do in Gyeongju. (I have indicated the number to each stop here, so you can easily find the corresponding details in the other post.)  

Although a day would not be enough time to experience the thousand-year-worth glory of Silla, Gyeongju has become a popular day-trip destination from Busan or Seoul. If one day is all you got in Gyeongju, read this to see how to give a glimpse of the city’s historical past and culture in a time-efficient way!

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First time in Gyeongju? Discover Korea’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 3 days with this Gyeongju guide, written by a Korean! Includes Gyeongju Itinerary; how to get to (and around) Gyeongju; where to stay in Gyeongju; and Gyeongju food & restaurants. | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuItinerary #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #UNESCOWorldHeritageSite

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Gyeongju Itinerary Summary

Gyeongju Itinerary Infographic | Discover Korea's UNESCO World Heritage Sites with this Gyeongju guide written by a Korean. | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuItinerary #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #UNESCOWorldHeritageSite

Day 1: Arrive in Gyeongju Check-in Hwangnidan-Gil Daereungwon & Cheonmachong Gyeongju National Museum Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond

Day 2: Bulguksa Temple Seokguram Bukgun-dong Cheomseongdae Gyochon Hanok Village Woljeonggyo Bridge

Day 3: Gyeongju Expo (Gyeongju Tower, Solgeo Museum) Gyeongju World Hwangnidan-Gil

Where to Stay in Gyeongju

Where to Stay in Gyeongju, South Korea | Hanok Stays in Hwangnidan-gil, Gyeongju’s trendiest street | #Gyeongju #Korea #SouthKorea #Wheretostay #Hanok #Hanokstay #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites

Hanok Stay in Gyeongju City Center

Being a historical city, Gyeongju is a perfect place to experience the traditional Korean lifestyle. If you are thinking of staying at hanok hotels or guesthouses, I 100% support the idea! 

Most of the hanok guesthouses are located in Hwangnidan-Gil – a.k.a., the hot place to be in Gyeongju. Besides the beauty of hanok, you will enjoy exploring the old, narrow alleyways with Instagrammable spots, and finding cute cafes, creative restaurants, and hip bars — all within walking distance. 

Also, they are tastefully renovated to fit the modern lifestyle while inviting you to enjoy traditional architectural beauty.

Where to Stay in Gyeongju: Immerse yourself with Korean traditional culture at a hanok guesthouse on Gyeongju’s trendiest street! #WheretoStay #Gyeongju #hanok #hwangnidangil #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

I stayed at this hanok guest house (Compare rates and book: BookingAgoda) in Hwangnidan-Gil. Our host was a sweet retired couple with a cute dog. The wife is an ink painter and decorated the venue beautifully with her artworks. She is also a fantastic cook who served us delicious breakfast (different menu every morning) in artful plates. While this two-story hanok is a new and atypical layout of the traditional style, I preferred this updated style much better, especially the super-clean, western-style private bathroom en suite. (The conventional hanok back in the days had a toilet separate from the house.)

 

The host couple owns another artsy hanok called Hyuhyudang (Compare rates and book: BookingAgoda). Initially, this was the place I wanted to stay if it had a vacancy. This modern zen hanok will help rest your body and lift your spirit. But book as quickly as possible. This one-unit, private hanok gets booked far in advance.

I also considered other beautiful hanok guesthouses: 

Hwangnamguan (Check rates and book: Agoda) is a gorgeous hanok hotel in the heart of Hwangnidan-Gil. The 2-star hotel also provides diverse hanbok (traditional Korean dress) for guests to try on and take photos. My friend’s family stayed here and highly recommended this cozy hotel. It is popular and often sells out.

SiEunJae (Check rates and book: BookingAgoda) is a newly built hanok guesthouse near Cheomseongdae. This exceptional hanok showcases gorgeous traditional doors and offers cozy rooms surrounding a garden. The host provides an American-style breakfast. 

Things to Do in Gyeongju, South Korea - #18. Cherry Blossom at Bomun Lake | #Gyeongju #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #ThingstodoinKorea #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites #cherryblossom #BomunhoLake

Cherry Blossom at Bomunho Lake (Image Credit: Lee Beomsu, Korea Tourism Organization)

Bomun Tourist Complex

Another great area to stay in Gyeongju is the Bomun Tourist Complex. If you are more comfortable with western hotels, you will find many excellent options here. As it is a tourist area, you will enjoy convenient transportation connecting to the city center and other tourist sites, and plenty of restaurants.

Lahan Select Gyeongju (Compare rates and book: BookingAgoda), formerly Hotel Hyundai, is an upscale lakefront hotel in the heart of the Bomun Tourist Complex. This 5-star hotel offers rooms with mountain and lake views, diverse eateries and bars, as well as an indoor pool, a sauna, and a fitness room.  

Hilton Gyeongju (Compare rates and book: BookingAgoda) The luxury 4-star hotel offers rooms with the scenic Bomun Lake view, six restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, squash courts, and a gym. 

Commodore Hotel (Compare rates and book: BookingAgoda) This upmarket 4-star hotel is a family-friendly accommodation with an excellent breakfast buffet. It also features a garden and outdoor swimming pool. 

The K Hotel (Compare rates and book: BookingAgoda) For hot spring goers, the K Hotel is an excellent place to relax at its large sauna and pool (at additional charge). The 2-star hotel provides dining and lake views. 

↡↡ Looking for more Gyeongju Hotels? ↡↡

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 1

Arrival in Gyeongju & Check-in

Welcome to Gyeongju! Let’s first check-in at your hotel. Although most hotels allow you to check-in around 3 p.m., you can drop off your luggage. 

By the way, this itinerary assumes you are staying at a hanok guesthouse in Hwangnidan-Gil per my recommendation above. (If not, you can always re-arrange or adjust your itinerary accordingly.)

>> How to get to Gyeongju from Seoul, Busan, or Daegu? Need a ride to your hotel? Scrawl down to the bottom of this page!

Lunch: Hwangnidan-Gil 

[See #6 on Things to Do in Gyeongju]

How would you like to have lunch in the trendiest neighborhood in Gyeongju? I will let you choose your menu; see the Gyeongju Food & Restaurants section below for more information and location. 

Here are a few of my lunch recommendations near Hwangnidan-Gil:

  • Beolchaeban for Gyeongju Ssambap
  • Hwangnam Matdol Sundubu for Matdol Sundubu
  • Dosol Maeul for Hanjeongsik

If you have followed my hotel recommendations in Hwangnidan-Gil, you should be able to walk over to any of these restaurants.

Gyeongju Day Trip from Busan: How I saw Korea’s UNESCO World Heritage city in one day with Gyeongju Tours | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuDayTrip #BusanDayTrip #GyeongjuTour #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites #gyeongjutour

Daereungwon & Cheonmachong Tomb

[See #3 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

Within walking distance from Hwangnidan-Gil, Gyeongju’s most famous tumuli park lies. It may sound strange. But I kid you not, this ancient tomb complex is a scenic and peaceful park to stroll (digest your lunch!) while enjoying beautiful greenery. 

It is a sizable area to cover on foot. So feel free to explore however you want, but do not miss the opportunity to enter into Cheonmachong Tomb! It is not only the most culturally valuable one but also one of few Silla tombs visitors are allowed to enter. 

Hours: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Admission: 2,000 KRW | Youth: 1,200 KRW | Children under 13: 600 KRW

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 1: Gyeongju National Museum is one of the best museums in Korea. | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuItinerary #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #UNESCOWorldHeritageSite

Gyeongju National Museum

[See #8 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

The next stop is the Gyeongju National Museum. This is one of the best museums in Korea, with more than 3,000 Silla artifacts and relics excavated from the UNESCO-designated Gyeongju Historic Areas. 

Depending on your interest, you may want to spend 2-3 hours, or even longer. But at the very least, be sure to check out Silla’s sophisticated golden crowns and various accessories, the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok, and the Three-story Stone Stupa from the Gosensa Temple. 

A free 90-minute museum tour is offered in English at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. I highly recommend joining this tour if you can. 


How to get to Gyeongju National Museum

The easiest way from Daereungwon is to take the bus #604 from the Cheonmachong Rear Entrance stop on Taejong-ro. Get off at the Gyeongju National Museum, which is six stops away. 

Insider Tip: By the way, counting the number of stops on a bus is not a reliable way to know your final stop. If no one is getting off or on, the bus may skip stations without you knowing. Pay attention to the announcement and next-stop alert on board. 

Hours: Mon. – Fri. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Weekends & Holidays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

Closed: Jan. 1, Lunar New Year’s Day, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)

Extended Hours: Open until 9 p.m. on last Wed. of each month & Sat. from March to December

Admission: Free

Things to Do in Gyeongju, South Korea - #7. Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond - One of the best night view sites in Gyeongju | #Gyeongju #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #ThingstodoinKorea #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites #DonggungPalaceandWoljiPond

Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond

[See #7 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

I highly recommend visiting Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond after the sunset. The illuminated palace is reflected on the peaceful Wolji Pond, creating the most romantic view in Gyeongju at night.

After intellectually challenging yourself at the Gyeongju National Museum, hop on over to Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. It is super close; you can even walk. But make sure you are taking the right path as it can get quite dark.  

Slowly walking one circle around the Wolji Pond takes about 30-45 minutes. Take your time as it is the last stop on Day 1. Then, you can go for dinner – I suggest finding one near your hotel – and rest.

How to get to Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond

From the Gyeongju National Museum, you can reach in 10-15 minutes on foot, or take the bus #604, 605 or 600 (1 stop away). You can also catch a taxi at the museum parking lot. 

Hours: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Admission: 2,000 KRW | Youth: 1,200 KRW | Children under 13: 600 KRW

20 Unique Experiences in Korea | What to Do, See and Eat in Seoul, Korea: Visit Themed Cafes | www.chloestravelogue.com

Heading to Seoul?

My Korea Travel Guide includes unique things to do in Seoul, the best time to visit Korea, and how to eat Korean BBQ like locals. 

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 2

Today, you will visit two of Korea’s most significant Buddhist hermitages on Mt. Tohamsan. If you can, try to start your day early as you will need to travel outside of the city center.

Don’t miss Bulguksa temple in Gyeongju, South Korea. This UNESCO World Heritage Sites has 7 national treasures of Korea and the country’s most significant Buddhist heritage. | #Bulguksa #Gyeongju #GyeongjuItinerary #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #UNESCOWorldHeritageSite

Yeonhwagyo and Chilbogyo at Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, Korea – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Bulguksa Temple

[See #2 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

Bulguksa Temple, also known as the “Temple of the Buddha Land,” is the head temple of Korean Buddhism built during the Silla period. 

Although the original buildings were destroyed by fire, the restored temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And the temple ground boasts stunning scenery that changes every season. 

Bulguksa holds seven national treasures of Korea and many other precious Buddhist arts and religious relics. It is such a culturally valuable site that every Korean, regardless of their religion, who went through a formal education system, has visited the temple at least once. (It is a popular field day destination.) 

That said, even if you are not into “touristy” things, you cannot miss Bulguksa in Gyeongju. If you want to have a more spiritual and cultural experience in-depth, you should try a temple stay at Bulguksa

How to Get to Bulguksa Temple

Take bus #10, 11, or 700 at the nearest bus stop. 

Hours: Feb. 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | March – Sept. 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Oct. 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | Nov. – Jan. 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Admission: 6,000 KRW | Youth: 4,000 KRW | Children under 13: 3,000 KRW

Gyeongju Day Trip from Busan: How I saw Korea’s UNESCO World Heritage city in one day with Gyeongju Tours | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuDayTrip #BusanDayTrip #GyeongjuTour #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites #GyeongjuTour #Koreanfood

Lunch

Grab a quick lunch at the Bulguksa Tourist Complex across the parking lot. You will have many options for restaurants, cafes, desserts, and souvenir shops. 

I had a great Korean meal at Gyeongchunjae if you prefer me to pinpoint a restaurant for you.

Gyeongchunjae, 61-7, Jinhyeon-ro 2-Gil, Gyeongju-si

Things to Do in Gyeongju, South Korea - #1. Seokguram Grotto - The only artificial stone cave in the world | #Gyeongju #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #ThingstodoinKorea #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites #SeokguramGrotto

A white granite Buddha at Seokguram Grotto (Image credit: Richardfabi, CC, Wikipedia)

Seokguram Grotto

[See #1 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site and significant Buddhist heritage on Mt. Tohamsan is Seokguram Grotto. This is the only artificial cave temple in the world, scientifically constructed in the 8th century. 

From the entrance, you will hike up a little along the forest pathway. It is a popular site to see the sunrise in the morning, although the success rate is low due to thick fog. On the day I visited, I was lucky enough to see the East Sea! Test your luck.

Inside the chamber is the Sakyamuni Buddha. The 3.26-meter high Buddha statue is quite sophisticated; you may not believe it was carved on hard granite! 

How to Get to Seokguram

Take bus #12 from Bulguksa Temple. It takes about 40-45 minutes.

Hours: Spring & Fall (Feb. – March, Oct.) 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | Summer (March – Sept.) 6:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Winter (Nov. – Jan.) 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: 6,000 KRW | Youth: 4,000 KRW | Children under 13: 3,000 KRW

Dinner: Bukgun-dong 

On your way back to the city, you may want to stop by Bukgun-dong for dinner. Bukgun-dong is a pension/guesthouse town with lots of restaurants and cafes. 

I recommend Donggung Banjeom. This restaurant serves creative Chinese-Korean menus, such as Matdol Sunbudu Jjampong and Wild-Raspberry Sauce Tangsuyuk (sweet and sour pork), that you don’t see in other similar restaurants.

If you want some desserts and coffee, you can swing by The Sam Garden. It is a cute modern cafe in the area.

How to Get to Bukgun-dong

Take bus #12 back to Bulguksa Temple (last bus at 5:20 p.m.). Transfer to bus #11 or 700. Get off at Bukgun-dong Pension Village/Donggungwon. 

Things to Do in Gyeongju, South Korea - #15. Cheomseongdae Observatory - the oldest astronomical observatory in Asia | #Gyeongju #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #ThingstodoinKorea #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites #cheomseongdae

Cheomseongdae Observatory

[See #5 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

Cheomseongdae is the oldest astronomical observatory in Asia. It lasted 1,300 years, standing strong even during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake in 2016. 

Although Cheomseondae Observatory has an important scientific, cultural heritage, it looks rather dull. So unless you are into astronomy, I suggest stopping by at night when you can enjoy the colorful light show. 

How to Get to Cheomseongdae

Take bus #10, 11, 16, 100-1, 150-1, or 700. Get off at Wolseong-dong Jumin Center. Walk 5 minutes to Cheomseongdae.

Hours: Summer 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. | Winter 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Admission: Free

Woljeonggyo Bridge

[See #10 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

Since Woljeonggyo Bridge was restored in 2009, the site has become a stunning place to visit at night. Enjoy beautifully illuminated ancient architecture! 


How to Get to Woljeonggyo Bridge

From Cheomseongdae, you will be walking past Gyerim Forest and Gyochon Hanok Village. 

Hours: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Admission: Free

Insider Tip: By the way, if you are not familiar with the route, walking this path from Cheomseongdae Observatory through Gyerim Forest and Gyochon Village to Woljeonggyo Bridge can be a bit confusing at night. It is not a long distance to walk, but it is not bright for first-time explorers. I joined the city government-certified Night City Tour led by a local tour guide. Although the tour is conducted in Korean only, since the main point is to enjoy the night sight, you can consider participating. Read this post for detailed information >> 

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 3

As the first two days in Gyeongju are more focused on exploring the ancient Silla heritage, let’s enjoy the modern Gyeongju on your last day, shall we? 

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 3: Gyeongju Expo Park - Gyeongju Tower features an inverted silhouette of Silla’s 9-story Hwangnyongsa Pagoda. Solgeo Museum exhibits magnificent landscape ink paintings by Korean painter Park Daesung. | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuItinerary #architecturedesign #GyeongjuExpo #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park

[See #15 & #16 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park (Gyeongju Expo) is a vast complex that hosts cultural, historical shows and exhibits. Feel free to explore the park and check out the current exhibitions as you please. But I’d like to recommend allotting enough time to enjoy two permanent exhibits that deeply carved in my memory: Gyeongju Tower and Solgeo Museum

How to Get to Gyeongju Expo

From Hwangnidan-Gil, take bus #10, 100-1, 100, 150. Get off at Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park.

Exhibit Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Park Hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Park Admission: 8,000 KRW | Youth & Children: 7,000 KRW

Gyeongju Tower Observatory: 3,000 KRW

Museum Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Closed: Mondays, Jan. 1, Lunar New Year’s Day, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)

Museum Admission: 1,000 KRW | Youth: 700 KRW | Children under 13: 500 KRW

*Hours and admission can change during the Expo period.

Things to Do in Gyeongju, South Korea - #17. Gyeongju World - Ride Draken, a steel dive coaster that drops 90 degrees from 63 meters high | #Gyeongju #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel #ThingstodoinKorea #UNESCOWorldHeritageSites #Draken #rollercoaster

Option 1: Gyeongju World

[See #17 on Things to Do in Gyeongju Post]

Even though I’m not a big amusement park person, I might recommend visiting Gyeongju World. The famous steel Dive Coaster called Draken is the reason. It seems like people cannot stop talking about this roller coaster that drops 90 degrees from 63 meters high. (Yup. That’s a no for me.)

Before you decide, you might want to check it out from the Gyeongju Tower Observatory. (photo above)


How to Get to Gyeongju World

Gyeongju World is just a street across from the Gyeongju Expo Park. 

Hours: 9:50 a.m. – 6 p.m.

All Inclusive Pass [or Admissions only]: 47,000 KRW [26,000 KRW] | Youth: 39,000 KRW [20,000 KRW] | Children under 13: 33,000 KRW [17,000 KRW]

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 3: Explore Hwangnidan-gil, Gyeongju’s trendiest street! In this charming neighborhood, hip hanok restaurants and cafes co-exist in harmony with traditional establishments. | #Gyeongju #Gyeongjucafe #GyeongjuItinerary #Hwangnidangil #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

Option 2: Hwangnidan-Gil

If you are like me and prefer to chill at a cafe, head to Hwangnidan-Gil. You had a busy two days exploring all over the town. Why not having some hygge moment with an afternoon pick-me-up and coffee?

Lucky you, you have so many excellent options in Hwangnidan-Gil! Explore the small alleyways, and get into any cafe that catches your eyes. 

Let me share a few places I enjoyed: 

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 3: Explore Hwangnidan-gil, Gyeongju’s trendiest street! In this charming neighborhood, hip hanok restaurants and cafes co-exist in harmony with traditional establishments. | #Gyeongju #Gyeongjucafe #GyeongjuItinerary #Hwangnidangil #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

Cafe the Klamp (카페더클램프) is a two-story hanok cafe that is beautiful during the day and night. I particularly liked the patterned wooden window and a thick chocolate cake. 

 

Nokeum Bakery (녹음제과) has the best Injeolmi (a type of rice cake) croissants and chocolate pound cake. It was so good that I wanted to go back, but they only open in the afternoon five days a week! 

Hwangnam Darak (황남다락) is such a cute hanok cafe with an attic. The cozy place has the shabby chic vibes. I had my very first Czech Honey Cake here and loved it.  

 

Gyeongju Itinerary Day 3: Explore Hwangnidan-gil, Gyeongju’s trendiest street! In this charming neighborhood, hip hanok restaurants and cafes co-exist in harmony with traditional establishments. | #Gyeongju #Gyeongjucafe #GyeongjuItinerary #Hwangnidangil #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

Eero Coffee (이이로커피) caught my eyes with its outdoor terrace. Although the wi-fi was unstable, their coffee was excellent.

Cafe Soseol (카페 소설) is a hanok cafe near Daereungwon. The beauty of the hanok caught my eyes whenever I passed by. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to get in. Maybe you can.

Gyeongju Food & Restaurants

While Gyeongju is not known as a foodie city like Busan, here are a few things to eat in Gyeongju you should try.

Gyeongju Bread (경주빵)

Don’t ask me why, but Gyeongju is known for its baked goods. If you observe how local Koreans travel in Gyeongju, you will immediately notice that they buy boxes and boxes of Hwangnam-ppang and Chalbori-ppang as souvenirs!

Hwangnam-ppang (황남빵; Hwangnam referring to the region and ppang meaning bread in Korean) is a small round bread with sweet red bean paste inside. Whereas, Chalbori-ppang (찰보리빵; Chalbori referring to barley) is a red bean pancake made of barley powder. Both are quite tasty. If you like red bean pastry, try them out!

Where to Buy Hwangnam-ppang 

  • Hwangnam-ppang (황남빵), 783 Taejong-ro, Hwango-dong, Gyeongju-si

Where to Buy Chalbori-ppang

  • Lee Sangbok Gyeongjuppang (이상복 경주빵), 165-16 Sajeong-dong, Gyeongju-si

Gyeongju Ssambap (Gyodong Ssambap)

Ssambap (쌈밥) is a Korean dish served with leafy vegetables such as lettuce, sesame leaves, and other greens. Typically, one main entree (meat, fish, or tofu) is served with plenty of side dishes, rice, and bean-paste soup. You can make a wrap (“ssam”) with all or select few, and add a dollop of ssamjang paste, which is a mixture of soybean paste and other condiments. It is a vegetarian/vegan-friendly meal as you can order without meat or fish.  

Where to Eat Ssambap

  • Beolchaeban Gyodong Ssambap (별채반), 77 Cheomseong-ro, Gyeongju-si
  • Hwangnam Sikdang (황남식당), 39-14, 1050 beon-gil, Poseok-ro, Gyeongju-si

Matdol Sundubu

Gyeongju Food to try: Matdol Sundubu | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuFood #KoreanFood #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

Again, I’m not sure why Gyeongju is famous for Matdol Sundubu (맷돌순두부). But it is the dish you have to eat in Gyeongju. 

Sundubu-jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew) is a popular Korean dish you can easily find even outside of Korea. What makes Gyeongju’s Sundubu-jjigae so unique is its traditional way of preparing the main ingredient, tofu. Matdol Sundubu uses soft soybean curd ground with millstone-grinder, which supposedly elevates the flavors of tofu.

If you are a bit more adventurous, try Sundubu Jjamppong (순두부짬뽕) at Donggung Banjeom. This Korean-Chinese restaurant makes a creative jjamppong with Sundubu! (I loved it!!)

Where to Eat Matdol Soondubu

  • Hwangnam Matdol Sundubu (황남맷돌순두부), 3, Notjeon 2-gil, Gyeongju-si
  • Donggung Banjeom (동궁반점), 27, Bukgun-gil, Gyeongju-si

Hanjeongsik

Gyeongju Food to try: Hanjeongsik is a Korean table d’hôte. | #Gyeongju #GyeongjuFood #KoreanFood #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

Hanjeongsik (한정식) is a Korean table d’hôte. It is a Korean-style full-course meal characterized by an abundance of side dishes, a bowl of rice, and soup. While Hanjeongsik is not a Gyeongju local food per se, eating a traditional meal in an ancient town only seems appropriate.

Where to eat Hanjeongsik 

  • Dosol Maeul (도솔마을), 8-13, Sonhyoja-gil, Gyeongju-si

Gyeongju Beopju

Gyeongju Beopju (경주법주) is a type of clear rice wine. Also known as Gyodong Beopju, it is an Intangible Cultural Property designated by the Korean government. And the members of the Gyerim Choe clan has been distilling this spirit with the special recipe handed down from the Joseon Dynasty.

Beopju has a short shelf life. For that reason, it is hard to find in other regions unless you go to a specialty bar. So when in Gyeongju, go to the source (next to the Historic House of Rich Man Cheo in Gyochon Village) and get one. 

Where to buy Gyeongju Beopju

  • Gyeongju Beopju Brewery (경주법주), 19-21, Gyochonan-Gil, Gyeongju-si

How to Get to Gyeongju 

Gyeongju is a historical city with cultural relics and precious treasures still to be unearthed. As it is essential to protect the heritage, Gyeongju does not have an airport

Nevertheless, it is not difficult to reach Gyeongju by train or bus from Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. Gyeongju has Singyeongju Station (express train KTX or SRT), Gyeongju Station (regular train), Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, and Intercity Bus Terminal. 

Insider Tip (Train)

Gyeongju has three train stations. KTX will arrive at Singyeongju station, whereas a regular train (Mugunghwa-ho) stops at Gyeongju and Seogyeongju Stations. Gyeongju Station is the closest to the city center.

Insider Tip (Bus)

Gyeongju also has Express Bus Terminal and Intercity Bus Terminal. These two terminals are only a block away from each other. 

Note: Please use the tables below as a general guideline for your initial planning purpose only. The schedule and charges may change without notice. Please check the relevant websites to confirm. 

Seoul to Gyeongju

I highly recommend taking KTX from Seoul to Gyeongju (Reserve your discounted KTX pass here >>) as it is the most efficient way. While you can take a regular train on a 5-hour journey, I did not include it here as it takes too long!

KTXSRTBUSBUS
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Departure Station Seoul Suseo Seoul Express Bus Terminal Dong Seoul Bus Terminal
Arrival Station Singyeongju Singyeongju Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal
Duration 2:00 2:05 3:30 4:00
Fees Regular: ₩49,300 First Class: ₩ 69,000 Regular: ₩ 42,700 First Class: ₩ 61,900 ₩20,600 - 40,400 Regular: ₩23,300 Premium: ₩30,000 Late-Night: ₩33,000
Time First: 05:15 Last: 21:30 First: 05:30 Last: 20:30 First: 06:10 Last: 23:30 First: 07:00 Last: 23:59
Gyeongju →Seoul First: 05:21 Last: 22:40 First: 05:59 Last: 23:06 First: 06:10 Last: 23:00 First: 07:40 Last: 19:40 Late-Night: 00:40

Busan to Gyeongju

Busan offers the most diverse transportation means to get to Gyeongju. As it is close enough, I recommend selecting whichever transportation is the closest to your hotel. Note that Busan also has both express and intercity buses departing from three different bus terminals.

KTXSRTTrainBUSBUSBUS
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Departure Station Busan Busan Bujeon (Haeundae) Busan Central Bus Terminal Busan Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal Haeundae Intercity Bus Terminal
Arrival Station Singyeongju Singyeongju Gyeongju Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal
Duration 0:25 0:29 1:50 0:50 1:00 1:30
Fees Regular: ₩11,000 First Class: ₩15,800 Regular: ₩10,100 First Class: ₩ 14,600 ₩2,600 Regular: ₩5,400 Premium: ₩6,400 Regular:₩6,600 Premium: ₩8,600 ₩7,600
Time First: 04:45 Last: 22:11 First: 05:30 Last: 22:30 First: 06:03 Last: 21:03 First: 07:40 Last: 20:40 First: 06:10 Last: 23:30 First: 07:20 Last: 19:20
Gyeongju →Busan First: 07:16 Last: 23:36 First: 07:30 Last: 20:43 First: 06:32 Last: 22:43 First: 07:40 Last: 20:40 First: 06:10 Last: 23:00 First: 08:10 Last: 20:10

Daegu to Gyeongju

Similarly to Busan, Daegu is close enough to Gyeongju that it makes sense to take whichever is the most convenient for you.

KTXSRTTrainBUSBUS
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Departure Station Dongdaegu Dongdaegu Dongdaegu Dongdaegu Bus Terminal Dongdaegu Bus Terminal
Arrival Station Singyeongju Singyeongju Gyeongju Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal
Duration 0:20 0:20 1:10 0:50 1:00
Fees Regular: ₩8,400 First Class: ₩13,200 Regular: ₩7,500 First Class: ₩10,900 Regular: ₩5,000 First Class: ₩6,600 ₩5,600 - 6,700 ₩5,600
Time First: 06:58 Last: 23:18 First: 07:12 Last: 22:26 First: 05:45 Last: 18:30 First: 06:50 Last: 22:00 First: 04:30 Last: 23:05
Gyeongju →Daegu First: 05:21 Last: 22:40 First: 05:59 Last: 23:06 First: 06:58 Last: 23:03 First: 07:30 Last: 22:00 First: 06:20 Last: 23:50

Getting Around Gyeongju

This Gyeongju Guide & Itinerary includes details on How to Get to Gyeongju from Seoul, Busan and Daegu, as well as how to get around the city. | #Gyeongju #SouthKorea #Korea #KoreaTravel #AsiaTravel

Getting around Gyeongju is fairly easy if you are familiar with using the public transport system in Korea. But note that Gyeongju lacks a subway system, obviously for heritage protection. 

Rental Car

Are you comfortable driving in Korea? Are you interested in exploring outside of the city center? Then, consider renting a car.

Many Gyeongju attractions are scattered all over the place. And it would be much easier to drive, especially if you want to reach destinations beyond Daereungwon Ancient Tomb Complex. On the downside, finding a parking spot within the city center is not easy. 

To rent a car, you will need to bring a valid international driver’s license. (In Europe, I was able to rent a car with the U.S. driver’s license. Korean rental companies won’t budge.)

Taxi

From the train stations or bus terminals, you can effortlessly find a taxi. However, flagging down a cab on the road in Gyeongju was not super easy in my experience. Consider downloading the Kakao T app (iOS, Google Play) to call a taxi. 


Note that there is a surcharge beyond the 4km radius from Gyeongju Station. Surcharge applies to destinations like Singyeongju Station and the Bomun Tourist Complex. As a reference, we paid ₩17,250 (USD 15) from Singyeongju Station to our hotel in Hwangnidan-Gil.

Bus

If you opt for public transportation, the bus is the most common means in Gyeongju. In general, public buses run from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (It may differ by routes.) Some courses have 20-min intervals, while others have as long as 2-hour intervals. So be sure to check the time. 

In Korea, you can use the same transportation IC card for all buses nationwide. There is a 50 KRW discount for every ride, and a bus transfer within 30 minutes is free. So buy your transportation card here.

Bike

If you prefer to ride a bike, you can find bicycle rental shops near train stations and bus terminals, as well as popular heritage sites. You can budget about 10,000 won for one day. 

***

Gyeongju reminds me of Kyoto in Japan. While the rest of Korea is developed and modernized, the ancient capital city is well-reserved and well-curated its history and heritage. While the historical city is evolving with the trendy culture in harmony with its tradition, I think it is a great time to visit Gyeongju to experience the old and new Korea. 

 

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