Just outside Gyeongju, South Korea’s Bulguksa Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s known for its beautiful gardens and pagodas. Completed in 774, during the golden age of Silla architecture, the huge temple complex is said to have been commissioned by chief minister Kim Daeseong as a way of pacifying the spirits of his parents.
Bulguksa Temple is home to seven national treasures, including the original Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas and bronze Buddhas.
Korean for Temple of the Buddha Land, Bulguksa still acts as a working temple for the 11th district of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, and you’re likely to see monks performing ceremonies on your visit. Look out for the patio covered with stone stacks, too. It’s said that if you can add a stone to the top of a stack without it toppling over, your wish will come true. Keep a lookout for the local chipmunks who hang out on the patio, too.
The temple’s ornamental gardens are especially beautiful in spring, when the cherry blossoms peak. And as you walk through the gardens from Bulguksa’s parking lot to the temple, you’ll see vendors offering all sorts of foods, from silkworm larvae to candyfloss.
Bulguksa Temple is open daily, and entry costs 4,000 W for adults. To get to the temple from Gyeongju, take the 40-minute bus ride on no 10 or 11 from either the intercity or express bus terminals, or the train station. You can also hail a taxi, which’ll take around 20-25 minutes to reach Bulguksa from downtown.