Gyeongju, South Korea: The City That Stole My Heart
Before our trip to Portugal, my dad came from the States to spend a couple weeks with us, and we left Seoul for the first time to see the south of South Korea.
We spent one night in Tongyeong, three in Busan, and only one in Gyeongju since Andrew and I had some sudden matters to attend to in Seoul, but Gyeongju ended up being the gem of the trip.
I had fallen asleep in the car on the way from Busan to Gyeongju, and woke up just as we were pulling into the parking lot of a small restaurant where I enjoyed one of the happiest meals of my life.
Andrew calls me a country mouse, and I was definitely in my element here. The scenery around us was so idyllic, with hills, mountains, lush green, and flower fields.
Here are some of the sights we saw, and the ones that are still on our list.
(Fun fact: our family are the descendants of Gyeongsun of Silla, the 56th and final ruler of the Korean kingdom of Silla in Gyeongju!)
donggung palace & wolji pond
Part of the palace complex of ancient Silla, dating to circa 674 CE (pictured above).
bulguksa & seokguram
Buddhist temple on the slopes of Mount Toham and UNESCO World Heritage Site (pictured right).
Oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia (not pictured).
yangdong folk village
Traditional village from the Joseon dynasty (pictured left and below).
gyeongju national museum
Devoted to relics of the Silla kingdom (last photo).
on our list
I can't wait to return to Gyeongju in the fall, when the air is crisp, spring, when the buds start to appear, and early summer, when I can frolic through the flower fields in full bloom but it's not yet unbearably hot and humid. Some of the sights that are still on our list include Daereungwon Royal Tomb (with the famous tree), Gyeongju Tower, and Gyochon Hanok Village. But you could spend your entire trip just driving, wandering, and getting lost (our favorite way to travel) and have the loveliest time.
Final notes: When visiting Gyeongju or other southern parts of Korea, we highly recommend obtaining your International Driver's License and renting a car. Generally speaking, I would not recommend visiting South Korea in the summer unless you can make it early enough (before monsoon season, or early June).