Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju, South Korea
Bulguksa Gyeongju Reviews
UNESCO world heritage temple Nov 18, 2013
This UNESCO world heritage site is the pride and joy of Gyeongju. I've heard locals say that if you didn't visit the Bulguksa temple, you didn't really visit Gyeongju. This large temple complex displays the signature Korean temple look that you'll find of most old structures in Korea: the ornately designed wood, the green and red paint, and the elements of taoism and shamanism woven into the Buddhist images.
It certainly is beautiful, and the setting is perfect for a temple. It's far away from the stimuli of downtown Gyeongju, set amid a mountainous forest, surrounded by ponds and lots of vegetation.
This is the first temple in Korea I've had to pay to see, but since it's so heavily touristed and seems to be undergoing renovations so frequently, I can see how the money might be needed for upkeep. It only costs 4000 won to get in, so it isn't expensive, just unusual that it costs anything to get in.
And on a final note, it's much farther away from town than I expected. You can take bus 10 or 11 from downtown. The buses can get pretty crammed, but it's pretty much the only way to get there unless you have your own car. On the bus, it can take 45 minutes to an hour to get there, depending on the traffic. So expect the visit to the temple to take a few hours, even longer if you plan to visit the Seokguram grotto in the same visit.
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