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Top 8 fun & historical activities you don't want to miss in Gyeongju 2024, regardless of your budget!

If you are interested in culture & history or you just enjoy really unique coffee shops, then Gyeongju is the place to visit. This guide will showcase the top 8 things to do in Gyeongju to ensure that you have a fun-filled trip to this historic city without missing a thing!

Gyeongju top sites. Photo: Koreatodo

If you are interested in history or just want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, then Gyeongju is a MUST-see on your trip to South Korea. Here, you can take a walk back through time, and embrace yourself in the Historic UNESCO World Heritage sites and experience the gorgeous rolling hills and mountains, or simply relax and enjoy one of the many coffee shops or restaurants that Gyeongju has to offer!

Formerly part of the Ancient Kingdom of "Silla" (57BC-935AD) Gyeongju is Located in the Southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea and is one of South Korea’s modern-day cultural capitals.

1) Gyeongju National Museum

Gyeongju National Museum, Photo:VisitKorea.

Now, this is a great place to start your trip in Gyeongju! At the National Museum, you can take a look at the 3,000 dazzling displayed artifacts of the Silla kingdom, free of charge! Having recently had a renovation, the National Museum has been separated into an art gallery, Wolji Pond Exhibition Hall as well as the Historical Artifacts Exhibition Hall.

The museum is fairly big and hosts a wide collection, so there is plenty to see inside. Also, the arrangement was quite systematic, so if you really pay attention I am sure you can learn a lot about Korea and the Silla Kingdom.

For me, this is one of the better museums I have been to in Korea, and I think it’s because of its vast space and rich history. I found out that over 100,000 artifacts is being held there, but only 3000 are on display, so I feel that there will be plenty of exhibitions and events.

With the museum being free, it allows you to dip in and out as you want.

Time: 1 hour.

Fee: Free. (Free parking)

2) Daerenungwon Burial Mound

Daerenungwon Burial Mound. - Photo: Lewis Hooper

Located adjacent to the National Museum, for me, one of the most impressive sites has to be Daerenungwon Burial Mound, for the simple reason of its vast scale and unique simplistic look. Daerenungwon Tomb complex is where large ancient tombs of Kings and nobles of the Silla Kingdom can be seen in the 23 tombs In fact, one particular tomb known as "Cheonmachong" is home to around 11,526 remains of royal crowns, which were discovered in the 1970s, along with a painting of a mounted horse. Here, you really can try to imagine what life was like 1,500 years ago.

Also located on the prestige grounds of Daerenungwon Burial Ground is the exhibition hall, where you can read inspiring articles and transcripts from the Silla period.

I personally think it’s better to come here earlier in the day before the crowds. I enjoyed walking around the tombs and the pristine gardens, and I managed to get some great photos and learn a lot too.

Time: 1 hour

Fee: 3,000 KRW to cover the complex.

3) Yangdong Folk Village.

Yangdong Folk Village. Photo: Expedia

Yangdong Folk Village is both scenic and unique. I found the scale of it pretty impressive, with paths leading through the valley up to the mountainsides, to the little pockets of houses which are around 500 years old! The thatched roofs of the common peoples’ houses are located mostly at the bottom of the valley, and the homes of the nobility are up on the hillsides. The village presents a perfect opportunity to gain a richer understanding of village life in old Korea, as well as being a great photo spot! 

You can also watch and take part in "traditional archery" and "rice cake" (떡) making at some of the boutique shops.

The folk village is host to a variety of craft shops and cafes, and I found it a perfect rest stop on my trip to Gyeongju, as it allowed me to soak in the atmosphere and culture, while enjoying a cup of coffee!

Time: 1 hour.

Fee: Free.

4) Woljeonggyo Bridge

Woljeonggyo Bridge. Photo: Lewis Hooper

A two-minute walk from Yangdong Folk village, you will notice the beautiful Wolkeonggyo Bridge.

Built during the 19th year of the reign of King Gyeongdeok, the 35th King of Silla, the longest pedestrian-only bridge in South Korea, this is 387m long. It is a partly wooden bridge that spans the Nakdong River, and is an amazing photo spot! 

This is a great place for wearing a Hanbok (Korean traditional dress) and embracing the rich culture. You will see many people dressed up along the side of the bridge along with hanbok rental shops.

Woljeonggyo Bridge is pretty by day, but this Silla-era structure is at its most spectacular when lit up at night when it resembles an ornate wooden palace.

Once you have crossed the bridge, you can always cross back an alternative way. Which is stepping along the large perfectly placed stones. For some people, this may feel a little risky, though having watched people of all ages do this, I tried it for myself and had a lot of fun. It also enabled me to get a great photo of the bridge.

Time: 30 minutes.

Fee: Free.

5) Wolji Pond (Formally known as Anapju Pond

Wolji Pond - Photo: Visit Korea.

About a 5-10 minute drive from Woljeonggyo Bridge, you will reach Wolji Pond. Lovers of a picture-perfect moment should ready their cameras for the impressive royal pleasure garden, which it is famous for creating a mirror image at night in the reflections on the water.

At Wolji pond, you will be sure to notice the many Bicheon statues around. The Bicheon statues were the most common Buddhist artwork to be discovered at Wolji Pond. It’s known to be a common adornment to decorate the nimbus or mandorla of Buddha during the Silla Dynasty.

Containing 3 small islands, Wolji Pond is a great place to walk around and soak up the afternoon sunshine and rich culture, with the crumbling walls, and beautiful flower displays around. For me, this is one of my favorite places to visit in Gyeongju, because of its tranquil gardens and beautiful architecture.

Time: 1 hour.

Fee: 4,000 KRW.

6) Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple. Photo: Lewis Hooper

Around a 15-minute drive from Wolji Pond, you will arrive at Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. Now, without a doubt, Bulguksa Temple is the most famous Korean Buddhist temple in both Korea and internationally.

It was first constructed in 528AD, which was also the first year that Buddhism was officially accepted by the Silla Kingdom, and it was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage, as a set of religious architecture of exceptional value in 1995.

Here, you will be sure to hit the crowds of both locals and tourists. Bulguska temple is a complex comprising a series of wooden buildings on raised stone terraces, and it is divided into three parts. The Hall of Buddah, Vairocano, Birojeon, the Hall of the Great Awakening, Daegunjeon, and the Hall of Supreme Happiness, Geungnakjeon.

This really was built to represent the land of Buddha, and the temple is home to seven national treasures of South Korea.

The stunning walkways and beautiful stonework really create a sense of luxury. The scale of the complex is vast and is home to a cafe, ponds, temples, and even live-in Monks, which you will often see and hear during your time visiting.

This is a must-see when you visit Gyeongju, and like me, I am sure you will take lots of photos to remember this awesome moment, like I did.

For me, the best part of visiting here was seeing the monks walking around and listening to them praying, as it gave me that oriental feeling and made me feel relaxed and calm.

Time: 90 Minutes.

Fee: 6,000 KRW.

7) Bomun Lake

Bomun Lake. Photo: Lewis Hooper

Now, this is a really cool place to see! The lake is an artificial lake where you can find paddle boats, tandem bikes, and many restaurants and coffee shops. This large tourist complex is a place not to be missed!

Though it doesn’t have the character of the old town, here you can enjoy walking around the lake and taking photos at several amazing photo spots. In spring you can enjoy the magnificent display of Cherry blossoms.

Bomun Lake is home to Gyeongju’s most luxurious lodgings and the lake and extensive parklands are lovely for hiking or cycling.

I enjoyed walking around the lake at night, looking at the reflections on the water, and walking past street performers whilst soaking in the atmosphere.

Time: 2-3 hours.

Fee: Free.

8) Gyeongju World

Gyeongju World. Photo: Lewis Hooper

If you have some spare time on your Gyeongju itinerary, then head over to Gyeongju World for a fun-filled theme park day. What’s better is that the theme park can be reached easily and it has something for everyone. If you visit in the summer, you can have the whole of California Beach Water Park included in your ticket price.

Gyeongju World Amusement Park is the largest theme park in the Southern area, and it is most famous for the X-Zone which features the Python, Mega drop, Tornado, Grand Canyon, and King Viking. Roller-coaster fan? Then don’t miss the amusement park!

I had a great time here, and it was a lot better than I expected it to be. I already can’t wait to go back in the summer to go to the water park!

Time: 3 hours.

Fee: Full day - 48,000 KRW (Inclusive of rides), Half day – 34,000 KRW (3pm onwards)

So why not escape the hustle of city life and experience traditional Korean culture in Gyeongju?! Gyeongju boasts a variety of boutique hotels and Airbnbs to make your stay even more unforgettable!

Comment below with your favorite Gyeongju moment! We would love to hear from you!



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