Over this past weekend, my husband and I took a trip to Gyeongju! We spent two days and one night exploring this beautiful historic city for our “babymoon.” It was a lot of fun and a great way to relax during this pregnancy journey. I’ve included lots of photos and links to places we visited, so read on to learn more about Gyeongju!
Since I’m now doing pretty well in my second semester, my husband and I wanted to take a little trip to relax and celebrate the pregnancy so far. We both love the city of Gyeongju and thought it would be the perfect place to unwind since it’s very beautiful and peaceful.
If you haven’t heard about Gyeongju before, let me share a little bit about it. Gyeongju, located in the North Gyeongsang Province, was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla. There are so many well-preserved structures, temples, gravesites, and artifacts from that time so it’s a great place to learn about ancient Korean history. Gyeongju also boasts beautiful natural scenery with its rivers, vast lake, and sacred mountains. Gyeongju is famous for certain Korean bread and pastries, so there are small bakeries all over town. We didn’t get any bread on this trip, but trust me, it’s good!
We rode the KTX train (Korea’s high-speed rail) into town and rented a car for our short trip. Since I’m pregnant and it’s the dead of winter, we didn’t want to have to rely on public transportation to get around. Having a car made getting around town extremely convenient for us.
Our first stop? Starbucks! I had been diligently avoiding foods with added sugar to try and maintain a healthy weight for me and Baby, but for our babymoon, I decided to indulge! I always go for the Java Chip Frappucino.
The first place we decided to visit after getting our caffeine fix was Bulguksa. On the way there, however, we were shocked to see huge swarms of crows! They swirled around the skies and also dotted all of the powerlines. I’d never seen anything like it!
Bulguksa is a Buddhist temple that dates back to the 8th century AD. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and houses several Korean national treasures, including the stairs pictured below, two stone pagodas, and gilt-bronze Buddha statues. You can also see where some of Buddha’s bones and other religious relics are housed. It’s a beautiful structure with a lot of religious, cultural, and historical significance.
At one of the building’s entrances, you can find a pig hidden in the eaves. It’s a popular feature that tourists hunt for and like to take pictures of. In the courtyard in front of this carving, there is a golden statue that you can rub for good fortune!
In another courtyard, you will find little stacks of rocks all over the surrounding walls and within the main area of the courtyard. These are wishing rocks! You can look around to find a suitable rock and then make a wish while stacking it on top of someone else’s rock. I wished for a healthy, happy baby!
Before we left, I decided to take my very first baby-bump shot! Up until now, I’d been feeling self-conscious about my figure. My husband has been saying for weeks that I look pregnant but I could only see a fat lady in the mirror. Now, I’m starting to see what he sees! My bump is a little hard to see with my oversized sweater, but I’m satisfied with the picture. Hopefully, my family who has been hounding me for a bump shot will be satisfied, too.
Outside of the main temple, there was a bridge that crossed over a lovely pond stocked with koi fish. Parts of it had frozen over, and there were cute little ducks making their way across the ice!
After spending a lot of time walking all around Bulguksa, we needed a pick-me-up. We found this cafe called Sotheby Coffee and they had a really unique interior design! Lots of antiques from around the world and a cozy atmosphere overall. We ordered two basil pesto ham and cheese sandwiches and a kiwi juice to share. Everything was delicious and totally hit the spot.
By the time we finished eating it was finally time to check in to our hotel! We chose to stay at one of the newer resorts in Gyeongju, the Lahan Select, which was right on the water at Bomun Lake. They boast a five-star rating, but while we weren’t super impressed with the amenities, the view was absolutely worthy of five stars.
From our balcony, we had a stunning up-close view of the lake! The colors of the water and sky continuously changed with the sun, so every picture I took was like a brand new scene. We could also see the local theme park on one end of the lake which lit up at night. On the opposite end, part of the lake had frozen over. You can click on the pictures in the gallery below to view them full-size.
For dinner, we went to the downtown area to have ourselves a romantic evening in a fancy restaurant. There are so many dining options in town so we really struggled to pick a place (okay, I really struggled as I’m a picky perfectionist while my husband put up with my antics) but we finally settled on this restaurant called Stillroom. They had a very cool but relaxed ambiance and we enjoyed looking at all the fancy liquor bottles. We also had a small library of cooking and liquor-themed books next to our table that we perused before our food arrived. For dinner, we ordered the white ragu lasagna, the bacon mushroom gnocchi, and the grilled cabbage. We finished off our meal with a tasty tiramisu.
For our last event of the day, we decided to stop by the Cheomseongdae observatory. This tower dates back to the 7th century AD and is another of Korea’s precious national treasures. It is the oldest surviving astronomical tower in Asia, and quite possibly the whole world. Its construction was commissioned by one of the first female rulers in Asian history, Queen Seondeok, who was the twenty-seventh ruler of the Silla Kingdom.
We also originally hoped to view Anapji (the nearby palace grounds) at night, but it is currently closed for refurbishment. Nevertheless, it was really nice to see Cheomseongdae lit up at night. There were lots of families with children in the surrounding park playing with balloons and light-up toys which added to the magical atmosphere.
On Sunday morning, it was time to leave our hotel. I forgot to take pictures but the breakfast buffet was really great, and I had some of the best french toast of my life. After checking out, we stopped by the bookstore on the first floor. The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but the bookstore was impressively huge, well decorated, and had a great selection of books and souvenirs.
For our first outing of the day, we went to Poseokjeong. This area was once the playground for royals and nobles, though more official business also took place here from time to time. The shape in the ground you can see in the images below was a water course that kings and their guests would sit around while they chatted and played drinking games. They would float glasses of liquor on the water course, the water for which was supplied by the well (now covered by a large stone).
We then headed to the Gyeongju National Museum. Since we were both tired and had visited before, we decided to take a tour of just the highlights. We both loved examining the ancient jewelry, the famous Silla-style crown, this ancient roof tile with a face (that my husband claims inspired the logo for LG), and the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok from the 8th century AD.
For some reason, we were both really exhausted after the museum. We had some time to spare before we needed to return the rental car and board the train so we stopped at a cafe called Gyeongjour on the way to the train station. My husband had a drip coffee while I indulged for one last time in a strawberry latte. It was the perfect place to rest and talk about our favorite moments in Gyeongju. We also discussed baby names, but I don’t think we are any closer to settling on one yet.
Overall, we had a wonderful time in Gyeongju and we can’t wait to go back! There is really so much more to see that we just didn’t have time for during this short trip. I’d love to go again in the summer or fall to see Gyeongju when the foliage is a bit more vibrant.
I’m so grateful that we had the time and means to have a babymoon. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about this awesome city and all it has to offer! If you were to visit Gyeongju, what sights would you most like to see? If you’ve been here before, what is your favorite thing to do in town? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!