Hey there! I went to Gyeongju over the weekend on an Adventure Korea tour. It was wonderful! Gyeongju is on the southeastern coast of South Korea, about a 4 1/2 hour drive from Seoul. There were about 30 of us on a chartered bus. The group was almost all English teachers, mostly Canadians, Americans, and New Zealanders with some Australians, Scots, and South Africans sprinkled in (representing all six of the nationalities that are allowed to teach English in the country). It was a really fun group.
Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla Kingdom (57BC-AD935) which occupied the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. They are known for their spectacular architecture including very visible mound tombs. Some of the tombs have been excavated and incredible artifacts have been discovered. The tour focused on the most significant Silla sites in the area.
Highlights of the tour for me was Tumuli Park, which is where some of the biggest mound tombs are located (various Royalty, of course). A recreation of the excavation process of a mound tomb showing how the artifacts were distributed in situ was pretty cool. The Gyeongju National Museum had a really impressive collection of goods collected from burial sites in the area as well as really cool Buddha statues. Buddha statues and carvings are everywhere– on the second day we went hiking up a mountain to view a few of the hundreds that can be found along the forest trails. My roommates were two New Zealenders and a Scottish woman. They were a lot of fun and the four of us explored Gyeongju city at night. Great Trip! Of course, I took a bajillion pictures, and have added more detailed commentary to them. If you haven’t tried it yet, view the photos in slideshow mode, they look better that way. The button is on the upper righthand corner of the flickr page, under the Search button, entitled “View as Slideshow”.