GYEONGJU, North Gyeongsang Province -- Gyeongju, a coastal city in the southeast, is South Korea’s iconic tourist destination, with the almost thousand-year history of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC - 935 AD) as its main draw.
With great accessibility to Silla’s legacies -- which include centuries-old temples, palaces, royal tombs and treasures -- Gyeongju is considered the “roofless museum” to many South Koreans.
The city offers a blend of nature, history and culture during the day. But Gyeongju starts to show its true colors when the moon illuminates the ancient architectures and jewels of the Silla Kingdom.
Mind the time, because the night will come and go in a flash in Gyeongju.
Daereungwon, home to 23 ancient tombs of the Silla period, is a typical tourist site before sunset.
However, the media art projected onto Daereungwon’s tombs are more than enough to make Gyeongju’s nightscape tour a thrilling experience.
The city also offers AR technologies, light shows and shadow theaters throughout the whole tomb complex to explain the history, values of royal tombs and their treasures.
Instead of suffering from the humid early summer weather and hot temperatures, vacationers can take a light stroll around the park after dark.
The gentle night breeze will make anyone forget about the fatigue from walking around all day.
Swaying pine trees and croaking frogs at a nearby pond allow visitors to immerse themselves in tranquil nature.
While most of the walking paths are brick-paved roads, some areas are covered with dirt. But, the dirt path is soft enough for a family to push a stroller along the trail without any difficulty.
Admission to Daereungwon is free and the special media facade, which is scheduled to run through Sunday, ends at 9:30 p.m.
Gyerim Forest and Woljeonggyo Bridge
If you are not too tired, pay a visit to the nearby tourist attractions, like Gyerim Forest or Woljeonggyo Bridge, which beckon with their own unique charms.
After a two to three-minute walk from Daereungwon, visitors can tour around Cheomseongdae, Asia’s oldest surviving astronomical observatory, and make their way to Gyerim Forest.
Gyerim Forest is a thick forest of zelkova and willow trees, which have been there from the Silla-era.
The purple, orange and bright yellow lights add magical ambiance to the forest at night.
Take another five-minute walk from forest to enjoy a scenic nightscape at Woljeonggyo Bridge.
Woljeonggyo Bridge attracts tourists with its vibrant colors during the day.
But, at night, the roofed bridge with its stunning reflection in the water leaves many visitors speechless.
While this nightscape can be enjoyed both inside and outside of the bridge, the step-stone bridge is the most popular spot to be awed by the sight.
Visitors can catch up with their friends and family at the benches nearby.
With the sound of the flowing river and the shimmering bridge under the moonlight, it is a memorable way to wrap up the day at the historical city.
This is the ninth article in a series introducing destinations for eco-friendly travel experiences in South Korea. -- Ed.