Seokguram Grotto ( 경주 석굴암 )

Seokguram Grotto made it on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995 along with Bulguksa Temple. It represents some of the best Buddhist sculptures in the world today.

It was supposedly built by Kim Daeseong and was originally named Seokbulsa ( 석불사 ) which means ‘Stone Buddha Temple’. It was finished in 774 shortly after Kim’s death.

Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple are very close and I would advise if you make it to one of these you may as well do both (as they are both worth seeing). There are buses between the two and if you’re feeling extra energetic you could even walk 🙂 The reason people come here (including myself) is to see the large Buddha statue which is located towards to top of the mountain as well as to enjoy the views and the lovely walk to the top. Hope you enjoy my pictures of Seokguram Grotto 🙂

 

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Small gate at the entrance.

 

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These colorful lanterns go all the way up to the top.

 

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Opposite side of the gate.

 

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These lanterns add a really nice feel to this place. Would be amazing/slightly scary at night having these lit up and walking through here.

 

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Only the one path to the top.

 

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It was quite busy the day I visited (mostly because there were loads of school kids).

 

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One of the temples from afar.

 

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Inside this temple is the main Buddha statue (can’t take pics inside unfortunately).

 

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View from the top (there was a bit of small construction going on – which kinda killed the quiet temple feel but I still very much enjoyed it).

 

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Bright and vibrant colours!

 

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More lanterns.

 

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This water is very fresh and very much drinkable. It was ice cold haha but was very refreshing.

 

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Lanterns are everywhere.

 

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The weather was fairly good while I was there so the walk was quite enjoyable.

 

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On the way back.

 

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Had a chance to ring/hit the bell for a couple of bucs so thought I might as well.

 

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I was actually surprised when hitting the bell that it was so loud haha it only costs a small donation (1,000 – 2,000 won).

 

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Fortunately a friend drove so getting in/out was convenient and no waiting around.

 

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This is the place we ate at after visiting.

 

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Front door of the restaurant.

 

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The banchan (side food) here was really good (free refils on the raw crab is pretty amazing).

 

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Pajeon (Korean pancake) was not bad as well.

 

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Driver for the day (going in spring was great – as you can see, the Cherry Blossoms in the background aligned all the roads).

 

As i mentioned earlier, Seokguram is best visited at the same time as Bulguksa Temple as they are very close and are a little bit away from the city.

 

If you plan to come by Bus, from Gyeongju Bus Terminal OR Gyeongju Station:

1. Take Bus 10 or 11 and get off at Bulguksa Temple ( 불국사 ).
2. From Bulguksa Temple, take Bus 12 to Seokguram Grotto ( 석굴암 ) (30 min intervals).

 

If you are looking for other places to visit in Gyeongju, make sure you check out Anapji Pond and Bulguksa Temple. If you have any questions about my time here, feel free to leave a comment 🙂 and I’ll help you out where I can.

 

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9 thoughts on “Seokguram Grotto ( 경주 석굴암 )

  1. Hi there,

    Great to read your reviews and will be a useful guide for my upcoming trip in Dec.

    Just need your opinion on my itinerary for daytrip to gyeongju.

    Basic plan @ Gyeongju :

    1. Tumuli Park
    2. Bulguksa temple
    3. Seokguram grotto
    4. Anapji pond
    5. Cheongsamdae

    Enquiries :
    1. Based on the above, which will be the best place for me to visit first so that im able to cover them all? Hope it’s not too packed !

    2. I’ll be staying at Foret Hotel near Busan station, best way to Gyeongju i reckon would be bus from Nopo station. There are 6 of us, would you recommend us taking taxi ? If yes, any idea on the price?

    3. On your Seokguram review, there is a restaurant you had lunch, looks good, is it nearby to Seokguram and do you mind to share the restaurant name?

    4. Lastly would be ANAPJI pond, hope to catch it at nightime before heading back to Busan. What time do you think we should leave ANAPJI to be in time to catch the bus back to Busan?

    1. Hi Aileen,

      I would go to Bulguksa Temple first, second Seokguram Grotto, third Tumuli Park/Cheongsamdae (they’re really close to each other) and last Anapji Pond.

      It would cost about 90,000 won (depending on traffic etc) from Busan Station to Gyeongju. If you catch the bus, i think its about 4800 won each. I would recommend catching the train from Busan Station to Nopo Station and getting the bus. If you did want to catch a taxi there just ask your hotel to book it for you.

      The first bus to Gyeongju seems to start at 8.30am (takes 50 minutes to get there) and the last bus back is at 10.30pm. I would take the 8.30am bus to Gyeongju and just double check what time the last bus back to Busan is (just to be safe).

      The name of the restaurant: 고색창연
      Address is: 277-2 Ma-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
      It is located back down the mountain from Seokguram (you will be able to see from the address in Google Maps).

      Depending on which bus back you take, it seems to only take 20-30 mins from anapji to Gyeongju Bus Terminal (https://goo.gl/maps/oVAkvk6NhiS2). You could always try your luck with a taxi (as it would be a lot faster, only about 2.5 kms).

  2. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your reply and insights.

    I shall use it as a reference for my upcoming trip…

    Have a great day! Cheers

  3. Hi Mark,

    Just plan a detailed itinerary and was looking at the restaurant add provided after Seokguram grotto visit.

    Will Bus No.12 passed by or stop near by to the restaurant, it seems I cant find any other way or appreciate advise if Taxi is accessible and the cost if you’ve known.

    From this restaurant on-route to Tumuli Park, what is the best way for me?

    Thanks.

  4. Thanks for the info, ill be dropping by tomorrow.

    The name of the restaurant: 고색창연
    Address is: 277-2 Ma-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do

    The restaurant is accessible via bus from Seokguram? Bus 10/11 or 12?

    I hope im able to find as im still unable to purchase a prepaid yet in Busan.

    Thanks !

  5. Hi Mark, Thanks for your recommendations. Very insightful!

    We will be visiting Busan in mid-April. We want to rent a car from Busan and drive to Boseong to Gyeongu and back to Busan. We would stay one night in Gyeongu.

    We normally rent a car when we travel to other countries. But it seems driving in Korea is discouraged. We have limited time in Busan so we don’t want to waste our time waiting for bus or train.

    Your thoughts on driving in Korea? My husband and I have been driving in US for over 20 years and have no problem driving in big cities like NYC, Boston, and DC. We will be requesting for the International Driving permit.

    My husband can’t speak Korean but I can (not fluent but can have conversation and read).

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Nari,

      I think you would be fine. Coming from the US and having a lot of experience driving in big cities I think you will be absolutely fine. Just be extra cautious as the drivers here (especially in Busan) can be a little rough haha I do normally suggest to people to not drive as the transport here is super convenient however if you are eager to drive go for it. Obviously some kind of GPS/MAP would be essential so try to organise that with the renal car place.

      I hope you enjoy your trip 🙂

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