October 2005

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The highlights of this trip are the natural and historical monuments of Korea.
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(Traveling clockwise)
  1. Seoul:
    • Chongmyo shrine, connected by footbridge to Changdeokgung palace (closed tuesdays)
    • Changgyeonggung palace of 1422 (only guided tours) [Anguk Station of Line No 3/exit No 3]
    • Changdokkung/Changdeokgung palace of 1611 (entrance past Changgyeonggung)
    • Chogyesa/Jogyesa temple (Anguk subway station, restoration in 2005)
    • Gyeonghuigung palace
    • +Kwanghwamun/Gwanghwamun gate of 1395
    • +Kyongbokkung/Gyeongbokgung Palace of 1868
    • Toksugung/Deoksugung palace of 15th c [City Hall Station of Line 1 Exit No 2 or Line 2 Exit No 12]
    • Namdaemun gate of 14th c
    • Jongno Tower [Jonggak station of Line 1]
    • DLI63 Korea Life Insurance building (1985) [subway line 1 Noryangin]
    • Santiago Calavera's Turning Torso
    • Korea Life Insurance Company
    • National Museum (relocated to Yongsan from 28 october 2005)
  2. +Kyongju/Gyeongju, ancient capital of the Shilla kingdom (57 BC-AD 935):
    • +Bulguksa/Pulguksa temple of 774 with golden Buddha ($4) [bus 10 or 11, 10']
    • -Sokkurram/Seokguram grotto with stone Buddha image and friezes ($4) [bus 12]
    • Tumuli park of the royal Shilla tombs (free outside)
    • +Gyeongju National Museum ($1) with +Emile Bell of 771 and findings from the tombs (esp. 10,000 objects from +Chonmachong/Flying Horse tomb)
    • +Chomsongdae Observatory of 632-647 ($0.50)
    • -Underwater tomb of king Munmu (7th c)
    • Punhwangsa pagoda of the 7th c and site of the 8-storey pagoda (reproduction at the museum)
    • +Yangdong folk village of 15th c [any bus 202-208, 40', walk about 2 kms]
    • SOM's Lotte Supertower Hotel (2014)
    • Kohn Pedersen Fox's Lotte Tower (2015)
    • Daedunsan Park with the Mountain Suspension Bridge
  3. +Tongdosa temple of 646 (Between Pusan and Kyongju), one of the three "jewels" with Haeinsa and Songgwangsa [bus from Kyongiu 2,400 won, 40'; bus to Pusan 2,300 won, 1 hour; entrance 2000 won]
  4. Pusan/Busan (second largest city): Pomosa/Beomeosa temple of 678, Kumjongsansong fortress of 1807, SOM's Busan Lotte World Tower (2015)
  5. +Songgwangsa temple in Chogyesan park, main zen temple of 1190 AD [bus from Sunchon 1,350 won, 1h 30'; bus to Kwangju 6,000 w, 2h; entrance 2,500 w)
  6. +Beobjusa/Popchusa temple with Korea's tallest Buddha statue (33m high) in Songnisan (pron: "sunisan") park [80 km northeast of Taejon/Daejeon 5,700 w, 1h 40')
  7. +Chikchisa/Jikjisa temple of 418 AD with the hall of 1,000 small images of Buddha [bus from Kimchon/Gimcheon 900w 25', then continue up the road past a Singapore-style amusement park and following the street vendors; bus to Taegu 4,600w]]
  8. Haeinsa Temple in Kayasan park (1488 AD), Korea's holiest temple, home to the Tripitaka engraved on 80,000 woodblocks between 1237 and 1248, artistically least stunning of the three jewels [bus from Taegu/Daegu 4,000w 1.5h get off at museum stop about 1km before the village, entrance 3,500w paid on bus]
  9. Incheon: boat to Weihai, China (110,000w=$110, 12 hours) [Seoul line 1 to train station plus train 1h to Incheon, then walk 2kms to Intl Passenger Terminal]. Train from Weihai to Beijing at 19:54, arrives 12:45pm, 200y ($25, the train station is at the other side of Weihai from the ship terminal).
  • Wolchongsa temple of 654 at Odaesan national park [bus from Kangnung 1h 30', 4h from Seoul)
  • Hahoe, Yi-dynasty village of 16th c (24 kms from Andong, train from Seoul 4h)
  • Tapsa temple in Maisan park (4h from Seoul, 4h from Taegu/Daegu)
  • +Kumsansa/ Geumsansa/ Gimje temple on Mt Moaksan of 599 (near Chonju/Jeonju) whose Mireukjeon contain the largest indoor standing Buddha in the world (from Jeonju Express Bus Terminal take Bus 79 to Geumsansa Temple)(To stay at the temple as of 2015: geumsansa@templestay.com or 010-6589-0108)
  • Chonju/Jeonju (200 kms from Seoul, free shuttle bus for foreigners): old city gate, Hanok village
  • Unjin Miruk Buddha of the future (23m high) of 968 in Kwanchoksa/Gwanchoksa (near Nonsan, 1h from Taejon/Daejeon)
  • Puyo/Buyeo, last capital of the Paekche/Baekje kingdom (near Nonsan, 1h from Taejon/Daejoeon): royal tombs
  • +Kongju: ancient capital of Paekche/Baekje kingdom (475): +royal tombs
  • Gwangju Biennale
North Korea
  • PyongYang: +Ryugyong Hotel


Trip Difficulty: easy
Season: Spring or Fall
Length: 10 days
  • Pictures of Korea
  • Best time to visit South Korea is september to november
  • South Korean Won $1 = 1027 W (Average room price: $20)
  • Korea: no visa required for USA citizens
  • $1=1,026 won
  • For a country that has been basically occupied by the USA, very few people speak any English
  • Most city names are also written in English, but the translitteration is totally confusing
  • Cheap accomodation is in the form of "ioquan" (guesthouse)
  • Templestay allows to stay in Buddhist temples
  • Temple offices normally speak English
  • Frequent buses to even the most remote locations (and particularly to the temples inside the parks)
  • Korea is no longer cheap: a spartan guesthouse room with share bath is about $15 everywhere
  • A small can of soda is $1 (in Beijing a big can is $0.20)
  • Seoul guesthouse: Beewon 22,000 won (near Anguk subway station)
  • Cheap accomodation in Seoul: from exit 4 of Anguk station walk about one long block, then turn left to Seoul Backpackers (for the obnoxious Lonely Planet crowd) and, before you hit the main road, turn right into a narrow alley where you can find dozens of guesthouses
  • Compared with the capitals in the rest of Asia, Seoul is a silent city (even traffic is quiet)
  • Kyongiu guesthouse: Seo-cheon near the bus terminal $15
  • TM, ®, Copyright © 1999 scaruffi.com all rights reserved.