Traveling Back in Time in Buyeo – Korea’s Ancient Baekje Capital
Despite South Korea’s small size, the country has a long and vibrant history with various different kingdoms fighting for their territory on the Peninsula over hundreds of years. One of these warring states was the Kingdom of Baekje with its last capital city of Sabi, today known as Buyeo. Here’s what the ancient Baekje Capital of Buyeo has to offer for tourists today.
First The Facts
King Seong moved the Baekje capital to Buyeon in 538 AD, when the city was known as Sabi. It was the last capital of the Baekje-era and lasted until 660 AD when the alliance between the Korean Shilla and Chinese Tang dynasties destroyed it. Today, visitors can still explore several Baekje sites and relics in Buyeo. The city is very compact and the attractions are very close together, making it a very walkable city.
Tip: If you head to Buyeo by car, I recommend first heading to the royal tombs and then parking at the national museum. From there, you can reach all attractions in the city on foot. The Baekje Cultural Land and Hapsongni 994 café are further from the center.
These are the most important places you need to visit in Buyeo
Baekje Royal Tombs
There are seven royal tombs located in Buyeo. While they are sealed off for protection, visitors can step into a recreation of the most impressive tomb adorned with wall paintings featuring celestial creatures such as dragons, tigers, tortoises and phoenixes. Who is buried in these tombs is not exactly clear as of yet but it is assumed that the oldest tomb belongs to King Seong. Next to the royal tombs lies a now-empty temple site, the location where the famous Baekje incense burner was discovered in the 1990s.
Ticket price: 1,000 KRW
Hours: 8 AM – 6 PM March to October, till 5 PM November to February
Address: 16-1 Neugsan-ri, Buyeo, South Korea
Buyeo National Museum
The national museum of Buyeo is home to the city’s most famous artifact, the Baekje incense burner. The burner weighs a staggering 12 kilos and is adorned with the legendary bonghwang bird. Besides this national treasure, the museum also displays countless other Baekje-era artifacts from the time when Buyeo was the capital of the country.
Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM Tuesday to Sunday, Monday closed
Address: 5 Geumseong-ro, Buyeo, South Korea
Jeongnimsaji Temple Site
This is a quite impressive old temple site where most of what remains is a 8-meter tall five-storey stone pagoda and a massive stone Buddha statue inside the main hall. There is a small museum but all the information there is in Korea. Nevertheless, it’s worth checking out, especially because of the rare stone Buddha.
Address: 83 Jeongnim-ro, Buyeo, South Korea
House of Baekje Restaurant
By the time you’re done exploring the temple site, you might want to try some local specialties at the House of Baekje, a short walk from the museum. You can order a bulgogi set with yeonibap (연잎밥; rice steamed in lotus leaf), a local favorite. You’ll get plenty of banchan side dishes, including soup and tteokgalbi. A set for two is around 40,000 KRW.
Address: 248 Seongwang-ro, Buyeo, South Korea
Legend has it that at the end of the Baekje Kingdom, after it was invaded by Shilla and Tang troops, 3,000 court ladies jumped to their deaths into the river Baengma from a large rock on a cliff. This area is today referred to as Nakhwa-am, literally translating to “falling flowers rock” to honor the women’s sacrifice. Visiting this site is also a great way to get a little bit of exercise after a good meal as you will walk around 20 minutes to the cliff site through the woods. The Nakhwa-am area also features various pavilions and temples that are worth checking out.
Address: 산4 Ssangbuk-ri, Buyeo-eup, Buyeo, Chungcheongnam-do
Hapsongni 994 Hanok Café
About a 10-minute drive west of the city center lies a beautiful hanok café called Hapsongni 994. The café is a great place to relax and recharge your batteries on a sunny day as its best feature is the seating area outdoors in the middle of the courtyard. Due to its location in a less-visited area of Buyeo, you will barely hear any traffic noise and can completely enjoy some quiet time outside. Drinks are moderately priced at 4,500 KRW.
Address: 581-6 흥수로 규암면 부여군 충청남도
Baekje Cultural Land
Built during 17 years, Baekje Cultural Land is a historic amusement park home to Baekje’s most prominent cultural heritages. The park features real-life reconstructions of attractions like Baekje palaces and temples. The aim of the park is to allow people to experience what life was like in Sabi, the ancient capital of Baekje.
Address: 374 Baekjemun-ro, Gyuam-myeon, Buyeo, South Korea
Head to Buyeo To Explore Korean History
Buyeo is the perfect destination for a day trip from Seoul or wherever you live in South Korea. It’s a nice little town to enjoy nature and learn something about the history of Korea’s Baekje era.