For the past three years, I’ve taken a trip to the city of Gyeongju as soon as Spring arrives. And yet for some reason, I don’t seem to have written much about it… I wrote about the traditional accommodation and the ancient burial mounds, but that’s about it. So, third time being a charm and all, here we go.
I have visited a pretty large number of places in Korea during my time here, from huge, bustling cities, to quaint little traditional towns, to seaside towns and cities, to green tea fields and farms, to tiny islands and isolated mountain villages. I can honestly say that of all of these, Gyeongju is the most beautiful, and the one that will always stick in my mind as a tranquil, picturesque getaway spot.
It was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, and as such contains several UNESCO world heritage sites, including Bulguksa Temple (apparently the most impressive temple in Korea, and they make you work for it – it’s quite a trek up into the mountains to reach it!).
Having visited pretty much all of the sites during my first trip in 2010, the past two have been more about relaxing in the beautiful surroundings. Last year, we timed our visit perfectly for a rather hippyish day of picnics and cherry blossoms:
This year, we were a little early (or the flowers were a little late), but had a lovely weekend all the same. The best way to enjoy Gyeongju is to rent bicycles (very cheap at 10,000 won for the whole day) and just take off down a random street.
Or, as we did on Saturday night, just go for a walk and soak up the late evening sunshine and the atmosphere of the busy street markets.
Of course, I ended up sunburnt as it was the first hot weekend of the year, and I have no sense and no memory of all the other times I said “never again”. But other than that, it was a lovely trip!