Gyeongju Travel Itinerary

Gyeongju Travel Itinerary


What to See in Gyeongju


Gyeongju Tourist Map


If you are looking for things to do in Gyeongju then this map above will certainly assist you in that. I have listed the main sights in Gyeongju along with what to eat in Gyeongju and where to eat in Gyeongju. Further down I also list where to stay in Gyeongju which helps to make the perfect itinerary and maximize your time while you are there.

Bulguksa Temple 불국사

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Bulguksa Temple is arguably the best sight to visit in Gyeongju as it is a large temple that provides a tranquil place to walk around and take in the various courtyards. Make sure to check out Dabotap 다보탑 and Seokgatap 석가탑 stone pagodas which were supposedly built in the year 751. To see Bulguksa Temple in more detail please see this post.

Anapji Pond 안압지

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Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, formerly known as Anapji is arguably the most photogenic site in Gyeongju and should be seen at night as the lights bounce off the pond and make for a fantastic viewing experience. It provides a peaceful setting to walk around and take in some of the history associated with this site. To see Anapji Pond in more detail please see this post.

Tumuli Park – Daereungwon Tomb Complex 대릉원 천마총

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The Daereungwon Tomb Complex 대릉원 천마총 area contains the Cheonmachong 천마총 Sky Horse Tomb which dates back to the 5th or 6th century. This tomb was for an unknown king of the Silla Kingdom and contains various historical items inside one of the many mounds (tombs) that can be seen walking through here. To see the Daereungwon Tomb Complex in more detail please see this post.

Seokguram Grotto 석굴암

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Built in 774 for a group of people who lived religiously, in seclusion. It is located within the Bulguksa Temple complex (about an hour’s hike from Bulguksa Temple). The main attraction is the large seated stone Buddha statue located inside the main chamber. For more details on Seokguram Grotto, please see this post.

Gyeongju National Museum 국립경주박물관

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This museum is a must see sight in Gyeongju and I would advise giving yourself at least 1-2 hours to walk around and truly take in the never-ending artifacts that are on display here. A lot of the items here are from the Silla Kingdom of which Gyeongju was the capital. Make sure to check out the Bell of King Seongdeok 성덕대왕신종 and also the numerous gold crowns like the Gold Crown from Geumgwanchong 금관총 금관 which are national treasures. The Bangudae Petroglyphs 반구대 암각화 which date back more than 3,500 years are also a highlight you should see while walking through. Pictured above is part of a Gold Belt from the Geumgwanchong Royal Tomb in Gyeongju 금관총 금제 허리띠.

Cheomseongdae Observatory 첨성대

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You would have most likely seen a photo or picture of Cheomseongdae Observatory before coming to Korea as it is one of the most famous sights in Gyeongju. It was built in the 7th century and was used to look at the stars. It is the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia and possibly even the world. If you walk through Gyerim 계림 wooded forest you will be able to see it.

Gyochon Traditional Village 경주 교촌마을

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This is a Hanok village that allows you to take a look at the lifestyle of the Choi Clan, a family known to have remained wealthy for a very long period of time throughout Korean history. You will see a lot of small stores (soju, sweets etc) attached to some residences of which you can purchase local products. Pictured above is one of the many Hanoks in Gyochon Traditional Village 경주 교촌마을.

Gyerim 계림

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Gyerim 계림 which means rooster forest is a small wooded forest which allows visitors to soak up the atmosphere of Gyeongju while also seeing famous sites such as Cheomseongdae Observatory 첨성대 and Banwolseong Fortress 반월성 also known as Wolseong Palace 월성


A Day Trip to Gyeongju


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A day trip to Gyeongju from Busan or a day trip to Gyeongju from Seoul is quite an easy and convenient day out to enjoy the historical sites Gyeongju has to offer.

If you have decided to do a day trip to Gyeongju then you should really just focus on the main sights of Gyeongju as you don’t want to pack too much in as you will end up rushing and won’t be able to enjoy the day. For How to Get to Gyeongju, see my advice below or Click Here. If you plan on hiring a car in Korea, Click here for RentalCars.com as it has very cheap rates and is my go-to car rental site.


Places visited in this itinerary

  1. Tumuli Park – Daereungwon Tomb Complex
  2. Cheomseongdae Observatory
  3. Gyerim
  4. Gyeongju National Museum
  5. Bulguksa Temple
  6. Seokguram Grotto
  7. Anapji Pond

  • Arrive at 10:30am in Gyeongju ( based on the the 8am departure from Seoul via KTX. If you are coming from Busan its only 55 minutes 🙂 ).
  • First off I would start at Tumuli Park – Daereungwon Tomb Complex 대릉원 천마총 which should take between 30 – 45 minutes.
  • At about 11:15am, head back to the entrance and simply walk across the road to Cheomseongdae Observatory 첨성대 and Gyerim 계림 wooded forest. This should take around 30 minutes. Make sure to exit at the opposite side as that is where the National Museum is located.
  • At 11:45am I would head on over to the Gyeongju National Museum 국립경주박물관 and spend about 1 hour there.
  • At 12:45pm it is surely lunch time which means lets eat! Catch the bus (#700 if possible or these buses) or a taxi (₩5,000 to ₩6,000) to Bomuntteul 보문뜰 (shown on the map above) and eat Braised short ribs 갈비찜 OR feel free to eat at a restaurant you have chosen (mine is just a suggestion which I have been to and can recommend).
  • After lunch, around 2pm catch the bus (#700 or #10) to Bulguksa Temple 불국사 and enjoy looking around the temple grounds.
  • At around 4pm get the #12 bus to Seokguram Grotto 석굴암 (you can hike from Bulguksa Temple to Seokguram Grotto in about an hour if that interests you, just add an hour onto your schedule).
  • At 5:30pm you should be pretty much finished here and ready to catch bus #12 back down towards Bulguksa Temple and then bus #10 or #700 to Anapji Pond 안압지 (please note the last bus from Seokguram Grotto leaves at 6:20pm so best to check this information upon arriving at Seokguram Grotto).
  • Around 6:30pm you will arrive at Anapji Pond 안압지. Depending on what time of the year you visit Gyeongju will determine how dark it is and therefore affect the view you get. From October to March it should be getting fairly dark by 7pm, so just be mindful of that. If you visit Korea during the other months it won’t be as dark.
  • It should be about 7:30pm after enjoying the well kept grounds at Anapji Pond 안압지 and time to make a decision. If you plan on getting a late bus or train home (last KTX trains back to Seoul are 10:05pm and 10:55pm), then head on over to Hwangnam Metdol Sundubu 황남멧돌순두부 via bus or it’s about a 20 minute walk. If you are still full or too tired then its time to head home.
  • For those of you going back to Seoul, Bus #700 will get you back to the Gyeongju KTX Station 신경주역 and ready for your KTX Train. If you are going to Busan, you can simply catch the bus ( 금호고속 ) from Gyeongju Bus Terminal to Nopo Bus Terminal (next to Nopo Station on Subway Line 1). To change the language click on the drop-down in the top-right next to 한국어.

If planning isn’t your thing you could always choose a bus tour in Gyeongju which covers all the main sights.


2 Days 1 Night in Gyeongju


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If you have decided to do a overnight trip to Gyeongju then you should be able to see the main sights of Gyeongju plus a few more. For How to Get to Gyeongju, see my advice below or Click Here. If you plan on hiring a car in Korea, Click here for RentalCars.com as it has very cheap rates and is my go-to car rental site.


Places visited in this itinerary

  1. Tumuli Park – Daereungwon Tomb Complex
  2. Cheomseongdae Observatory
  3. Gyerim
  4. Gyeongju National Museum
  5. Bulguksa Temple
  6. Seokguram Grotto
  7. Anapji Pond
  8. Bomun Lake
  9. Yangdong Folk Village

— DAY 1 —

  • Arrive at 10:30am in Gyeongju ( based on the the 8am departure from Seoul via KTX. If you are coming from Busan its only 55 minutes 🙂 ).
  • If you need to drop-off your luggage at your accommodation before starting the day then simply go to your hotel/guesthouse ( I recommend Gyeongju GG Tourist Hotel or Dorandoran Guesthouse ) and then walk on over to Tumuli Park – Daereungwon Tomb Complex 대릉원 천마총.
  • Tumuli Park – Daereungwon Tomb Complex 대릉원 천마총 should take between 30 – 45 minutes.
  • At about 11:15am, head back to the entrance and simply walk across the road to Cheomseongdae Observatory 첨성대 and Gyerim 계림 wooded forest. This should take around 30 minutes. Make sure to exit at the opposite side as that is where the National Museum is located.
  • At 11:45am I would head on over to the Gyeongju National Museum 국립경주박물관 and spend about 1 hour there.
  • At 12:45pm it is surely lunch time which means lets eat! Catch the bus (#700 if possible or these buses) or a taxi (₩5,000 to ₩6,000) to Bomuntteul 보문뜰 (shown on the map above) and eat Braised short ribs 갈비찜 OR feel free to eat at a restaurant you have chosen (mine is just a suggestion which I have been to and can recommend).
  • After lunch, around 3:00pm catch the bus (#700 or #10) to Bulguksa Temple 불국사 and enjoy looking at around the temple grounds.
  • At around 4pm get the #12 bus to Seokguram Grotto 석굴암 (you can hike from Bulguksa Temple to Seokguram Grotto in about an hour if that interests you, just add an hour onto your schedule).
  • At 5:30pm you should be pretty much finished here and ready to catch bus #12 back down towards Bulguksa Temple and then bus #10 or #700 to Anapji Pond 안압지 (please note the last bus from Seokguram Grotto leaves at 6:20pm so best to check this information upon arriving at Seokguram Grotto).
  • Around 6:30pm you will arrive at Anapji Pond 안압지. Depending on what time of the year you visit Gyeongju will determine how dark it is and therefore affect the view you get. From October to March it should be getting fairly dark by 7pm, so just be mindful of that. If you visit Korea during the other months it won’t be as dark.
  • It should be about 7:30pm after enjoying the well kept grounds at Anapji Pond 안압지 and time to head on over to Hwangnam Metdol Sundubu 황남멧돌순두부 via bus or it’s about a 20 minute walk. I would recommend getting the Neungi Mushroom and Tofu Hot Pot 능이버섯 두부전골 however if you have another dish or restaurant in mind then go ahead with that.
  • If you want to soldier on for a second round 2차 then go out and hit up a few other restaurants or bars, if not then call it a night.

— DAY 2 —

  • At around 9am, set out to visit Bomun Lake which can be accessed by a variety of buses (#10, #16, #100-1, #150-1 and #700) very close to the Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal or Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal.
  • Once you arrive around 9:30am, head on over to Aden Cafe 아덴 (marked on the map at the top of this post) and get yourself some breakfast or a coffee. This cafe has some great food, nice views as well as being very modern.
  • After that at around 10:15am be sure to walk around the grassed area beside Bomun Lake and also walk across the road to see 보문정 which has a small Pagoda and another lake. There are Lotus flowers here in September and if you come during Cherry Blossoms season then you will be in for a nice surprise.
  • By the time you finish looking around it should be close to lunch time 12pm which means eating (my favourite part!). There are a few options here such as Jinsu Seongchan 진수성찬 which is not too bad or if you feel like a walk (10 minutes) I would recommend 조가네 떡갈비 쌈밥 which serves a really good meat patty with side dishes. Both of these restaurants are marked on the map at the top of this post.
  • After lunch, about 1:30pm it’s time to go to Yangdong Folk Village 경주 양동마을 which can be reached by bus #203 and then #10 / #16 / #100-1 or #150-1 (1 hour and 20 minutes) or by taxi (about ₩35,000 one-way and it takes 30 minutes). It is important to do a bit of research about this place as if you are not so into seeing the traditional side of Korea then you may choose to skip this place as it is a little out of the way. Those who would like to see the village, it has some very good reviews on tripadvisor.
  • Once you arrive about 2:30pm (depending on how you get here will obviously affect the time you arrive) or there about, enjoy walking throughout the village which is a UNESCO World Heritage site along with Hahoe Folk Village in Andong.
  • This should take you about 1.5 hours and then you should be ready to go (as this is the last place on the itinerary you can stay a while longer if you feel like it).
  • So at 4pm it is time to call it a day.
  • For those of you going back to Seoul, you will want to catch a taxi (about ₩20,000 and it takes 18 minutes) to Pohang Station 포항역 and then take the KTX back to Seoul Station 서울역 which should take about 2 hours and 50 minutes including the taxi (trains seem to run every 30-45 minutes up until 9:35pm). You can check the schedule here on the offical KTX website.
  • Or if you feel more comfortable going back through Gyeongju KTX Station 신경주역, simply take bus #203 and then #70 or #50 or #51 back to Gyeongju KTX Station 신경주역 and take the KTX back to Seoul Station which should take 3 hours and 20 minutes including the buses.
  • If you are going to Busan, simply take bus #203 and then #70 or #50 or #51 back to Gyeongju KTX Station 신경주역 and take the KTX back to Busan Station which should take 1 hour and 50 minutes including the buses.

If planning isn’t your thing you could always choose a bus tour in Gyeongju which covers all the main sights.


Where to Stay in Gyeongju


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If you have decided to stay the night in Gyeongju then you will want a conveniently located and well kept bed to get a good nights rest. The following list of accommodation in Gyeongju are recommendations from when I traveled to Gyeongju.


Dorandoran Guesthouse – Click here for prices

The location of this Hanok guesthouse is second to none. It is literally located across the street from Cheomseongdae Observatory 첨성대 and even has laundry services available if you need. It is Budget friendly and excellent customer service which makes it hard to beat.


Gyeongju GG Tourist Hotel – Click here for prices

This is easily one of the most conveniently located places to stay in Gyeongju as it is located just 2 minutes walk away from the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal. This allows you to arrive or depart from the hotel with ease and means you don’t have to carry your luggage very far if coming by bus. It has a 24-hour reception along with free parking which makes this an attractive place to stay.


Hanok Sodamjeong – Click here for prices

This Hanok residence has some very impressive rooms and is a slightly bit further out compared to Dorandoran Guesthouse above. It has a great outdoor area and really encapsulates what Gyeongju is about. They also offer luggage storage and bicycle rental which makes things easy for travelers to explore the city.


Gyeongju Good Dream – Click here for prices

The Gyeongju Good Dream is situated close to the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, includes breakfast, has a very clean and well presented kitchen area and has a modern design. This place is a great option for those wanting a reliable stay with a nice modern touch.


G HOUSE Mini Hotel & Guesthouse – Click here for prices

This place is well reviewed and is incredibly affordable which is why it is so appealing for budget travelers to Gyeongju. It even includes breakfast in the rate which makes this guesthouse one of the best in Gyeongju in terms of value for money. Rooms are clean, luggage storage, free parking and a shared kitchen provide something for everyone. Very close to the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal as well. Definitely worth a look before booking your accommodation.


What to Eat in Gyeongju


Korean Wedding Busan
Braised short ribs 갈비찜 at Bomuntteul 보문뜰

Braised short ribs 갈비찜 at Bomuntteul 보문뜰 (shown in my map above) is a great option and seemed to be a favourite among the guests that were there. As with all Korean food, the side dishes are almost as good as the main meal and don’t be shy to ask for free refills (which is normal in Korea).

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Mushroom and Tofu Hot Pot 능이버섯 두부전골 at 황남멧돌순두부

Neungi Mushroom and Tofu Hot Pot 능이버섯 두부전골 at Hwangnam Metdol Sundubu 황남멧돌순두부 (shown in my map above) is a good option and comes with a lot of side dishes. Please note some restaurants in Korea only have floor seating so it is always best to check beforehand is that is important to you.

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Local Makgeolli in Gyeongju 경주법주 쌀막걸리

I would also recommend trying one of the local Makgeolli in Gyeongju such as Beopju Ssal Makgeolli 경주법주 쌀막걸리.


Best Time to Visit Gyeongju


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I would say spring or fall as this is when the temperature is not too hot or cold. Also in spring there will be a lot of cherry blossoms in Gyeongju and in fall you will be able to see the autumn leaves changing colours.

Keep in mind the price of accommodation and tourist numbers will be significantly higher in spring/autumn however there is a reason for that (great photos and perfect weather).


How to Get to Gyeongju


Seoul to Gyeongju by KTX

To get to the main sights in Gyeongju from Seoul by KTX, you will need to catch the KTX from Seoul Station to Shin Gyeongju Station and then catch either of these buses (#50, #51, #60, #61, #332 or #700) into Gyeongju Bus Terminal. The KTX price will be about ₩50,000 one-way and takes about 2 hours. Tickets can be purchased from the KTX Website.

To return to Seoul from Gyeongju Bus Terminal, simply catch the same number buses in the opposite direction and then take the KTX.


Seoul to Gyeongju by Bus

To get to the main sights in Gyeongju from Seoul by Bus, you will need to catch a bus from the Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Gyeongju which costs between ₩25,000 and ₩35,000 and takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Click here to purchase tickets and see timetables. Please note: To change the language click on the drop-down in the top-right next to 한국어.

To return to Seoul from Gyeongju Bus Terminal, simply catch the same bus in the opposite direction (I would advise booking this bus in advance).


Seoul to Gyeongju by Car

To drive from Seoul to Gyeongju is fairly straight forward and can be done in 3 hours and 30 minutes. Here is a link to the driving instructions.

If you intend to rent-a-car in Korea, Click here for RentalCars.com as it has very cheap rates and is my go-to car rental site.


Busan to Gyeongju by KTX

To get to the main sights in Gyeongju from Busan by KTX, you will need to catch the KTX from Busan Station to Shin Gyeongju Station and then catch either of these buses (#50, #51, #60, #61, #332 or #700) into Gyeongju Bus Terminal. The KTX price will be about ₩11,000 one-way and it takes about 35 minutes. Tickets can be purchased from the KTX Website.

To return to Busan from Gyeongju Bus Terminal, simply catch the same number buses in the opposite direction and then take the KTX.


Busan to Gyeongju by Bus

To get to the main sights in Gyeongju from Busan by Bus, you will need to catch a bus from the Nopo Bus Terminal to Gyeongju which costs between ₩5,000 and ₩10,000 and takes about 55 minutes. Click here to purchase tickets and see timetables. Please note: To change the language click on the drop-down in the top-right next to 한국어.


Busan to Gyeongju by Car

To drive from Busan to Gyeongju is very easy and doesn’t take long. It can be done in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Here is a link to the driving instructions.

If you intend to rent-a-car in Korea, Click here for RentalCars.com as it has very cheap rates and is my go-to car rental site.


Other Cities to Gyeongju by KTX

If you plan on traveling from another city or town to Gyeongju by KTX, simply purchase tickets from the KTX Website. Remember that you need to get off at Shin Gyeongju Station and then catch either of these buses (#50, #51, #60, #61, #332 or #700) into Gyeongju Bus Terminal.


Other Cities to Gyeongju by Bus

To get to Gyeongju by Bus, simply click here to purchase tickets and see timetables. Please note: To change the language click on the drop-down in the top-right next to 한국어.

As usual, if you have any questions or want to share some advice about your travel to Gyeongju please feel free to do so 🙂

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