Over the weekend we hopped on the KTX and spent a couple of ridiculously lovely days in Gyeongju. Gyeongju is about 2 and a bit hours south of Seoul and is renowned for it's historical significance. It's quite the tourist spot, which is a good thing as it means stuff is wonderfully preserved (plus it also means lovely hotels and tasty restaurants too! We stayed in a recently renovated room in the Hilton and it was great).
Day one we visited Bulgaksa, a temple situated in lush forest at the base of a the Toham mountain. Everything was so green and pretty, I could have spent a whole day following the various pathways through little courtyards, over stone bridges and past traditional Korean buildings - some filled with lotus lanterns, some with praying visitors, some with little stone piles.
We also checked out Daereungwon Tumuli Park - a cluster of burial mounds, including one that you can walk into. These ancient tumuli are dotted all around Gyeongju and, despite some in our party (the 11 year old) wondering why they didn't bother to gussy the tombs up a bit more, I think the perfectly grassed mounds made for a beautiful, almost magical, landscape (there's a hint of Dr Seuss about them, yes?).
As we started the day at a water park (very much not a highlight for me, but thoroughly enjoyed by everyone else), I stupidly left my trusty Canon at the hotel on day one so I've only got the Instagramed photos in the collage below to show you (or you can have a look here and here for some better images).
Day two was the museum (suprisingly enjoyed by all - amazing level of craftmanship on display in the archaeology hall, plus awesome 'traditional' 70s architecture and lots of gold trinkets and duck-shaped stoneware to keep us all entertained). And then there was Anapji, a park featuring lakes and pavilions and general loveliness. I fell a bit in love with the enormous lotus ponds, so beautiful!
Gyeongju - more wonderful than I expected and well worth a side trip if you're visiting Seoul.