Buyeo isn’t too far from Seoul and could work easily as a day trip via train or bus. However, I recommend basing yourself in Daejeon if you have the time and combining Buyeo with Gongju. Both have complimentary Baekje history with each other. Baekje was one of the Three Kingdoms, a period of amazing Korean history. It has that left tons to see in Buyeo in the modern age. The Baekje sites are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. So, let’s jump in to what you should see in Buyeo!
1. Busosanseong Fortress
This is the only thing you’ll have to pay for in Buyeo, at around 1,500krw ($1) and it gets you access to half the things to do in Buyeo! The “fortress” includes walking courses, many buildings, and a temple that I’ll be describing below. Just outside the fortress are some rather interesting archaeological sites that describe the running water systems that the building used to have a thousand years ago. The most easily accessible area that doesn’t require too much hiking will allow you to see some of the most gorgeous shrine buildings I’ve seen in all of Korea. Make sure to give each one at least a quick look!
2. Goransa Temple
This is probably one of the more interesting temples I’ve seen but prepare for a fair bit of stair climbing. This temple is actually on a river and you have to climb down to it (and consequently back up once you’re done). I’ve never seen a temple so directly on a river before! The reason it’s here is because of small natural spring that claims to make you 20 years younger. People were filling up whole water bottles! I personally didn’t want to be 4 years old again, so I abstained. I certainly don’t think it’s the prettiest or most atmospheric temple ever. However, it has this odd vibe – it’s so different from other temples, and it was worth the lantern bedecked journey to visit it. You can get to this temple by entering the fortress I mentioned above.
Perhaps the best view in all of Buyeo, it’s somewhat on the way to Goransa so it’s worth a stop if it’s not too full of people. It’s a small pavilion on an outcropping of rock dedicated to the women who threw themselves off the rock in order to remain loyal to Korea when it was invaded. This is a somewhat common theme at many stops in Korea! Spend a few minuets looking down at the valley below with its jade green river running through the rice fields.
4. Buyeo National Museum
If you’re looking for some insight to the Baekje history and culture, this is a great free option. Of the three kingdoms, Shilla (best learned about in Gyeongju) and Goguryeo (modern day Seoul) get talked about significantly more. Baekje has interesting history too, and the museum contains many of the archaeological finds in the area. If you’re headed to Gongju, I think their museum is slightly better as they have more demonstrations of how burial sites work and more complete excavations. But if you’re not as fascinated by tombs as I am the Baekje museum is a nice sight to see in Buyeo!
5. Gungnamji Pond
If you can, time your visit for when the lotus flowers are blooming! I made it just as some were opening and the fields and fields of lotus flowers was overwhelmingly beautiful. It was my favorite thing to see in Buyeo as I wandered for an hour, taking photos of the interesting insects and different colors and seed pods. Of course, the main highlight of this pond in the pavilion on a small island in the middle of the pond that is accessible via a long wooden bridge. It is pretty if you time it correctly. But this area is easily overwhelmed by crowds which make it difficult to enjoy. Benches and porch swings line the pond and make for more peaceful viewing if the crowds get to you!
6. Baekje Cultural Land
If you’re looking for a little more immersion, or if you’re traveling with children, this is a great place to head to. It’s built over a huge space with many recreations, of the palace, a temple, and pagoda that all used to stand in Buyeo 1400 years ago. You can actually take a ferry within the park to get a fuller understanding of what Baekje was all about. Don’t forget it’s closed on Mondays like many museums in Korea. The admission fee is 6,000krw or $5.
7. Neungsan-ri Tombs
I leave these for last, not because they aren’t interesting, but because I think you’d be better off exploring the tombs in nearby Gongju, which are more complete and closer to the city. These are a bit far away and all were robbed by the Japanese occupiers before they could be properly excavated. But, they are still part of the Baekje UNESCO sites and worth it if you have time. Check out more of the historical information about them here.
And that’s that for Buyeo!
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