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Visiting Gyeongju Bulguksa Temple and Finding Beautiful Moments

Visiting Gyeongju Bulguksa Temple and Finding Beautiful Moments

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Walking up the hill from a neighborhood of seedy hotels to the steps of Gyeongju’s Bulguksa Temple only took a moment. We get inside this hugely popular temple as early as possible. Even a 9am arrival doesn’t spare us from the people and tour groups that are swarming to begin their day here. Elusive shots of monks provide a momentary challenge as they all emerge and head to work at the same moment on this bright and sunny morning. These men’s ceremonious lives are something that most of us will never know and getting a look at them casually walking through the chaos marks a brief jumpstart to our morning. Where are they going and can we join them? They disappear and indicate the answer is likely a big No before a new wave of people cover up the trails of these men’s presence. Hopefully I can watch them walk again in less-crowded circumstances but that won’t happen again today.

Do you like Korean temples? We mentioned quite a few of them in our Spring Things to Do in South Korea.

Gyeongju Bulguksa Temple

Directions to Bulguksa

Courtesy of Korea Tourism, Last Updated on Nov. 11, 2015

Train travelers can reach Bulguksa Temple from Seoul but Busan is a closer option. More info on Train timetables can be found here. From Gyeongju Station, follow Hwarang-ro Street (화랑로) and take Buses 10 or 11 from the stop in front of the post office. The bus will take about an hour but will stop at Bulguksa Temple (불국사). Those traveling by Bus will start from Gyeongju’s Intercity/Express Bus Terminal. Buses 10 and 11 stop there as well and you should catch it across the street from the terminal. That trip is also about an hour to Bulguksa.

Our Story

Crowded, Still Beautiful and Quiet-Enough

We walk around snapping shots wherever the crowds are not while admiring the beauty as much as one can on this day. The perfectly blue sky is going to bring tons of people here and we’ve got some more stuff to see in Gyeongju. I look back before moving on because of these fond memories strolling around Bulguksa. Crowds never take away from beautiful scenes like those in and around the main halls. Bulguksa temple is a wonderful representation of Korean Buddhism, a religion I admire and will never properly understand. This is a place worth visiting if not for people-watching because there are tons of daily visitors both foreign and Korean. This site gives a glimpse at yet another version of Korea far away from the skyscrapers and craziness found just a stone’s throw away.

Final Thoughts and Yours, Too!

Still quiet enough for this peace-seeking traveler.

Do you have a favorite quiet place that you like to visit?

This travel guide is part of our series on South Korea Travel and East Asia Travel. It was originally created on October 13, 2014. It has been maintained and updated (as of December 28, 2018) to reflect current viewpoints and travel trends.

12 thoughts on “Visiting Gyeongju Bulguksa Temple and Finding Beautiful Moments

  1. A Global Baby says:

    And I was just about to strike all the tourist spots of Korea off my list! Damn. As long as they explain and don’t preach, I’m game for any temple, church or monastery. My quiet place has to be home though. There’s nothing like home.

    • Duke Stewart says:

      Definitely go to Bulguksa if you can. It’s a beautiful temple but gets crowded almost as soon as it opens. I guess that’s all of Gyeongju though. Anyway, thanks for commenting! I hope you enjoyed the read!

  2. Cory Lee says:

    This place looks gorgeous! There are quite a few quiet places and parks near where I live. I always enjoy visiting them. so relaxing.

  3. Andrew says:

    I like your writing style Duke, and the way your thoughts meander.

    Isn’t it ironic how as ‘visitors’ (one amongst hundreds more often than not), we yearn for the crowds to disperse for that iconic shot, when in fact we are contributing to the crowd in the first place?!

    We loved Bulguksa and its gorgeous gardens. It’s easy to see why so many others love it as well 🙂

    • Duke Stewart says:

      Thank you for your kind words Andrew. I feel like you’ve hit it on the head. I’m trying to view things from a different perspective and that can prove hard at times.

      Bulguksa was a pleasure to visit. Wouldn’t mind a revisit on a weekday, to be honest. Those weekend crowds can be a bit overwhelming.

  4. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer says:

    I love it! It looks like a really calm and relaxing place. When I return to Korea, I will make sure to check it out 😀

    • Duke Stewart says:

      This temple is worth the trip but beware. It WILL be crowded. Almost more so than some of the others I’ve visited. It’s important for a variety of reasons and Gyeongju is touristy to begin with. Hope you enjoy! Thanks for the kind comment.

    • Duke Stewart says:

      Montana has always seemed a beautiful place to visit, from photos and stories I’ve heard about it. Great to know you had that place as an escape from the chaos. Do you ever revisit? Thanks for the comment.

  5. Elizabeth Clyburn says:

    In 2008, I flew across the country to Oregon to my grandma’s house in the outskirts of a small town called Tillamook. 20 minutes away from the beautiful rocky shore and with snow-capped mountains in sight. The land and trees were the deepest shades of green ever. We soaked up the sunsets at the beaches. Walked the roads enjoying the beautiful foliage. Visited an amazing waterfall, then headed back to the house to eat fresh oysters or my Italian grandfather’s homemade lasagna. After dinner, coffee and cake. Then it was time for a game of canasta with my grandparents and drinking beer from a local brewery. That was when the deer and raccoons showed up at the back porch for their daily feeding of bread.Nights filled with laughter and great conversations. Then going to bed to wake up and do it all over again. I only got to visit once, but that is my place of peace. I hope to go back.

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