경주시 - Gyeongju & Pohang - 포항시

Hello friends,

We traveled to Gyeongju 경주시 & Pohang 포항시 two weeks ago. We had yet another red day holiday (Memorial Day) and extended it for a five-day long to get away. We invited our friends Kevin and Collin to tag along because we knew they’d enjoy the trip as well.

Gyeongju is known as “the museum without walls” with a plethora of historical sites and artifacts. Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla 신라, which I learned, ruled most of the Korean Peninsula at the height between the 7th and 9th centuries, close to one thousand years. Within the city, there are numerous archaeological and cultural sites all within walking distance of the downtown city center, along with national parks and other temples and religious sites close to the city as well.

We got to visit Daereungwon Tomb Park, Cheonseongdae Observatory, Bulguksa Temple, Gyochon Village, Dongung and Anapji Pond, Bunhwangsa Temple, and Dongri Mokwol Literary Museum. 

Daereungwon Tomb Park is where we visited the tombs of General Kim Yushin, King Taejong Muyeol, King Wonseong, and King Michu. Daereungwon Tomb Park has tombs that are several stories tall, built under mounds of soil and layers of rocks. In the mounds, Koreans built wooden chambers to hold coffins at their center. In the 70s archeologists found over +11,000 artifacts within the tombs and are now on display in an underground museum of King Michu’s tomb. 

We also got to visit Cheomseongdae Observatory, the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia, and possibly even the world. 

We spent the rest of the first day wandering around the historical park seeing Gyochon Village, Anapji Pond and Dongri Mokwol Literary Museum. Then we wandered in a new, cute ‘neighborhood’ that had newly built and renovated Korean Hanok style buildings that were all either cafes, restaurants or shops. This area is right east of the historic park and center which definitely plays to the younger generation – again photo-worthy / Instagram-worthy. But it did have great food options!

Our second day we went to see Bulguksa Temple which was further away and an hour bus ride. We tried to make it to Seokguram Grotto but it was raining heavily and one of our friends was ill-prepared with sandals for the hike. So we tried making it up there via a local bus (which is an option) but the rain and traffic were too strong for the bus as well. It was starting to downpour, so we grabbed a snack at a coffee shop and waited out the rain, then headed back into the city. The rain hampered most other exploring so dinner and wandering around ‘downtown’ Gyeonju was the extent of the last day.

Monday we ate breakfast and went to the bus station to depart, Collin and Kevin heading back to Daegu and Eric and I heading to Pohang for an extra two days. 

We stayed at a comic bookstore, cafe, and guesthouse in Pohang. It was hard to get to and a little farther away than we expected, but the neighborhood was lovely, quiet - seemed like a residential part of the city. It was raining still so we decided to go get dinner and then go watch a Jurassic World 3 at CGV in downtown Pohang. I would not recommend the movie it probably got 2 stars from me, very cliche, we rolled our eyes or threw up our hands a fair bit, the acting was miserable from Chris Pratt, but the dialogue and plot didn’t have much to provide them anything anyway. Jeff Goldblum was worth it though, or maybe made it manageable? After that we taxied back to our comic book bungalow we snuggled in a nook for the night only to realize there was a green security light shining into our nook from above, moved to another nook and the street lights were shining in… we finally found a good spot, thank goodness we had the whole place to ourselves. We found out the owner was taking Tuesday off so there were no other guests and the place would be closed just for us the whole next day. Eric really wanted to read and catch up on writing, I wanted to explore. Our paths diverged. 

I wandered down the same streets we took the night before but was aiming for the Homigot-myeon peninsula? not sure if it’s technically a peninsula but I’ll describe it as that. There was a walking trail I wanted to explore there, from a blog that listed coastal trails to follow in Pohang, Haeparang Trail (해파랑길) and Homi Peninsula Coastal Road (호미반도 해안둘레길은). Took me most of the day, I started around Yeongildae beach and started following the trails and walking paths finding lots of beautiful sculptures, elderly people working out, and singing along the way. 

I arrived at the Pohang Expo and decided to taxi over to the peninsula as the whole thing would have taken me 7 hours or more. The taxi guy dropped me off at the start of the Haeparang trail or what I thought it was, I started walking a beautifully built ocean bridge walkway, wandered through beaches and two small fishing villages, and found lots of sea glass (some that I will show Kim Caroline-Strange when she arrives.) It started to get very windy and stormy so I started to get nervous, luckily I found a nice coffee shop to post up at, eat something then decide to meet with Eric for dinner at the end of the peninsula. 

We found each other, places were closing and we didn’t feel like eating raw fish, which was most of the restaurants there. I’ve been hankering for Pajeon, Eric found a place closer to where we were staying, so we headed back, but not without the quintessential hand photo. 

Pohang was weird. Definitely an industrial city, the big Posco Steel Mill really hampers any other qualities of the city. But it was fun to go to, the cafe was bizarre to stay at, lots of public art, and not a lot of tourists, which is rare. Pohang is usually the city you stop at to take a ferry to get to Ulleung-do Island which is pretty popular. 

Overall the trip gets a  3.94 out of 5 from me, Eric says 4.15. 


Julie’s restaurant, Bulguksa Temple, Hanjin’s hostel - for its character, not their bathrooms -, a museum under a mound of earth, Kevin’s milk ice cream at cafe Sol, the traditional parade of Korean history we saw, oldest celestial observatory in Asia, flying kites, Alyssa collecting stamps, sunset sushi in Pohang, finally getting Alyssa her Pajeon after searching high and low for it, being given a kite and giving away our kite to a young boy, meeting our fellow hostel go-ers in the courtyard, the stray momma cat in kittens in our courtyard.


“Take it easy, easy your mind”, Collin and Kevin getting yelled at on the bus for talking the whole way (it’s funny now), the weird sleeping experience in the comic book store,  collin playing Poekon everywhere we went, also all of us singing the Pokemon song together, collin’s shoe choices, A young German in our hostel trying to get us to be 23 again, cafe Klamp being predictably 2.7 stars ran out of pancakes and croissants, the guy that ran off with Kevin’s kite trying to teach him how to fly a kite, Mr. Kwan’s breakfast recommendation - Mc Donalds, sleeping in bunk beds with three dudes, seeing Jurrasic Park in theaters in Pohang.


Hanjin Hostel’s one bathroom, limited breakfast options within the city, rainy days on our explorations, arguing about air conditioning, distance from place to place, feeling in the way and a foreigner in the way of Koreans, the terrible sleep we got at the comic book store, not getting to see Seokguram Grotto and the exhibition in the Literary Museum, Wolji Pond being under construction. 

Copyright © All rights reserved.
Using Format