Discover Gyeongsangbuk-do: Hidden Gems for Your Trip to South Korea

Exploring Gyeongsangbuk-do: Hidden Gems for Your Next Trip to South Korea

Get to know a new side of South Korea in North Gyeongsang.

Travellers know all about South Korea’s iconic attractions in Seoul, Busan, and Jeju. But while there’s absolutely nothing wrong in re-visiting touristy favourites, it’s also refreshing to venture beyond the most popular cities every now and then. Best to make the most of your plane ticket, right? We say it’s time to get lost in the natural wonders and cultural treasures of lesser-known South Korea! Let’s start with a beautiful province that still flies under the radar of mainstream tourists: Gyeongsangbuk-do

Is South Korea calling once again? Make your next trip happen ASAP and score the best deals at the Korea Tourism Organization booth (5H07) at the NATAS Holidays 2023, happening from 11 to 13 Aug 2023 at Singapore Expo

Expect great deals, amazing discounts, and insider scoops from Korea travel experts at the upcoming NATAS Travel Fair. Ready to fly?

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Gyeongsangbuk-do: an underrated destination in South Korea

gyeongsangbuk-do province south korea

Image credit: undefined undefined via Canva Pro

In the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula sits Gyeongsangbuk-do, a region also known as North Gyeongsang Province or Gyeongbuk. Here, you won’t find Seoul’s buzzy energy and vibrant modernity. Instead, the province invites travellers to partake in a leisurely and slower-paced journey exploring ancient temples, heritage towns, and centuries-old cultural traditions. At the same time, Gyeongsangbuk-do is a treasure trove of unspoiled natural beauty, from majestic mountains to picturesque countryside to pretty coastal towns. And there’s even space to feed our ever-growing love for K-drama if you can believe it! 

No matter what fuels your wanderlust, North Gyeongsang will leave you entirely spellbound. Not sure where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for our roundup of the cities and attractions to bookmark in Gyeongsangbuk-do for your next trip to the Land of the Morning Calm. 

Best Gyeongsangbuk-do cities to visit on your first trip to the province


gyeongju bulguksa temple gyeongsangbuk-do

Bulguksa Temple | Image credit: Isarint Sangmanee via Canva Pro

History and culture? Gyeongju delivers. As the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom, it is steeped in history, legacy, and millennia-old wonders. Expect a city showcasing a myriad of ancient attractions: temples and pagodas, tombs and palaces, museums and folk villages. More historical sites are packed into Gyeongju than any other city in South Korea! But perhaps this incredible collection comes as no surprise — what do you expect from a city affectionately dubbed The Museum Without Walls?

Of the countless places to visit in this Gyeongsangbuk-do city, few are more culturally significant than UNESCO-listed Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto. Set on the slopes of Mount Toham, Bulguksa Temple is a living tribute to Buddhist culture. 

History buffs and culture vultures, you might want to take this pilgrimage. Seven national treasures lie within the temple complex, including arched stone bridges and intricately carved pagodas. Not just that, but it’s also a pleasure to simply wander the tranquil grounds where one can find tall pines, willow trees, and lotus ponds. 

seokguram grotto

Image credit: eimoberg

Don’t miss visiting Seokguram Grotto afterwards; it’s only a short bus ride or an hour or two by foot from Bulguksa Temple. Tucked near the summit of Mount Toham and surrounded by wild forests, the grotto is one of the world’s most sublime pieces of Buddhist art. A majestic Buddha statue sits amidst realistically carved portrayals of gods and bodhisattvas, a breathtaking 8th-century relic for historical, cultural, and spiritual travellers.  

Not quite ready to leave this captivating city in Gyeongsangbuk-do? Stay for a while! Countless historic gems await tourists willing to linger a little longer, including the jaw-dropping tombs of the Daereungwon Tomb Complex


andong gyeongsangbuk-do

Weolyeonggyo Bridge, Nakdong River | Image credit: Julien Viry via Canva Pro

Take a walk in the past in Andong, where ancient customs and traditional Korean lifestyles live on. Famous for its jaw-dropping wealth of cultural treasures, the city sets the stage for a relaxing rural getaway in Gyeongsangbuk-do. Centuries-old houses with a winding river and dancing trees in the background — it’s a picturesque sight undoubtedly worth travelling for.

hahoe folk village andong

Image credit: Mathew Schwartz

Hahoe Folk Village is on top of our bucket list for an Andong getaway of course. The 600-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site hails as one of the most famous folk villages in South Korea. Hahoe’s commitment to time-honoured Korean culture goes beyond superficial trappings too. In fact, the descendants of the Ryu clan of Pungsan still make up a good chunk of the quaint village! 

Spend the night in one of the traditional choga houses to immerse fully into age-old Andong living. That way, you won’t miss seeing the must-visit attractions: Wonjijeongsa Pavilion, Byeongsanseowon Confucian Academy, and the Goddess Samsin Tree

If you’re in town in September or October, catch the Andong Mask Dance Festival celebrating the region’s iconic wooden masks and other folk traditions. And did we mention the nightcaps in Andong? The city is the birthplace of the famous soju! Trust us when we say nothing beats the real stuff. Authentic Andong soju is crafted using traditional methods and natural ingredients, resulting in a much stronger drink with more complex flavours.


pohang gyeongsangbuk-do

Image credit: Sanga Park via Canva Pro

The natural beauty of South Korea makes it a postcard-pretty backdrop on the silver screen. In K-dramas, the picturesque settings are practically their own character! And if you’re eager to explore the world of Hallyu, then Pohang is the place for you in Gyeongsangbuk-do. You can also enjoy a relaxed vacation in this coastal city, exploring well-worn walking trails, breezy pavilions, and taking in the colourful sunrises and sunsets over the sea.  

Be ready to hunt down the filming locations of iconic scenes from your favourite K-dramas. In love with Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha? The popular Netflix romance was filmed in this very city! Yes, the on-screen town of Gongjin is fictional. But many of the homes, quirky shops, restaurants and tourist spots on the show have real-life Pohang counterparts. 

From the iconic mountaintop boat (Sabang Memorial Park) to the bustling marketplace with vintage cafes and vibrant stalls (Cheongha Market), wander through the same places that Chief Hong and Hye-jin explored in the K-drama. You can also grab a meal at Yeongil Meat Restaurant, a beloved dining spot of the Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha cast and crew when they were filming the show in Pohang, North Gyeongsangbuk-do.  


gyeongsangbuk-do mungyeong

Image credit: Mathew Schwartz

Last on our list of must-visit places in Gyeongsangbuk-do is Mungyeong, a city that’s surprisingly underrated considering how much it has to offer. Historic sites, lush forests, mountains and fun activities for thrill-seekers promise a memorable trip in the city, whether you’re just passing through or staying for a few days.

The sprawling Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park is a blissful experience for nature lovers, a mountain pass traversing Joryeong Mountain between the main peak and Sinseon bong. Trekking the pass is a pleasure, taking tourists through birch forests, ancient gates, cool streams, and rocks etched with folk poems. 

Even K-drama fans can get their pop culture fix at the Mungyeongsaejae Open Set in the park, the filming location of the hit Netflix historical zombie series Kingdom. More of an Alchemy of Souls fan? Head over to the Maseong Open Set, where the popular fantasy series was filmed. 

Mungyeong’s scenic landscape isn’t just for photography — it’s perfect for outdoor activities too! Whiz through the air on a zip line, cycle alongside the forests on Mungyeong Rail Bike, or take flight on a paragliding adventure at Mungyeong Flying Land. Or here’s an idea: Why not try all three? 

Also read: NATAS Fair August 2023: Dates, Directions, and Details

Ready to uncover South Korea’s gems beyond the usual tourist spots? We can’t think of a better place to start than gorgeous Gyeongsangbuk-do. Timeless towns and unspoiled vistas are waiting in the quiet corners of North Gyeongsang — all you have to do is take the leap. 

Planning to explore the best-kept secrets in Gyeongsangbuk-do? Learn more about South Korea travel by connecting with travel experts from Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) at the upcoming NATAS Holidays 2023, happening from 11 to 13 Aug 2023 at Singapore Expo.

Look for the KTO booth (5H07) at NATAS Holidays 2023 to get all the insider info you need for your trip. Plus, awesome travel deals that will help you make your South Korea getaway a reality!

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Brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization

About Author

Celia Grace Nachura
Celia Grace Nachura

There are very few things Celia won’t do for a good story, but her favourite ones always involve the beach, animals, or any type of outdoor activity. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, and can usually be found typing away at home with her cute dogs at her feet. Away from work, she spends most of her time trying out every hobby she can get her hands on, from running to crocheting to baking (she’s pretty okay at most things that don't involve cooking).