When leaving Bulguksa, you can take a 20 minute bus to Seokguram for about 1,500 won. This bus only travels up and down the mountain, and it departs once ever hour. When you arrive at the Seokguram area you will first notice a large bell and a traditional gate at the entrance. Korean bells are very interesting because they contain a hole beneath them. This hole creates an interesting acoustic aspect; it evokes a feeling that is a cross between eerie and peaceful.
Once you have passed the bell you will see a gift shop to the left, and the gate straight ahead. After buying a ticket, you will follow a winding dirt path up to the Seokguram grotto. Though these pictures are from a sunny visit in the summer, last time I was there was in the middle of winter; the mountain and paths were enveloped by the passing clouds. It would have been a perfect scene if the weather was not so frigid!
After walking the winding path you will come upon an opening where there is another gift shop, a tourist information center, and a set of stairs that lead up to the Seokguram grotto. National historical sites are always in need of funding, and they have a few ways of raising money. The most obvious method is through admission fees and souvenirs but you can also support these sites further by either paying for a prayer lantern (as seen above), or you can buy a Kiwa (traditional roof tile). When you buy a Kiwa, you don’t actually take it home; You pay the fee, and then you write a message on the tile. Later, as tiles need to be replaced, they will use your tile. You actually become a part of the historical site with your message!
Finally, after climbing the set of stairs, you come upon Seokguram. You cannot take pictures inside the building due to cultural respect and preservation rules, but you can find postcards of the Buddha at any tourist shop nearby. The great part about Seokguram is that it is not located in the city. This adds to the experience of visiting this Shilla period site.
After seeing the Buddha and exiting the building, you will be confronted with a nice view down the mountain. Seokguram is a very peaceful place to visit, but try to make it in semi-warm weather.