The hike to the Seokguram Grotto was reason enough to see this site. A gentle meandering roadway surrounded by fresh air and beautiful woords, ending in a bit of a climb up rock stairs, led to what is a lovely little grotto... though currently somewhat hidden by restoration work. This restoration scaffolding makes the exterior of the building itself a bit disappointing for both viewers and photographers.
Observing the Buddhist service in progress when I arrived was moving and worth the time spent there. As I looked at the beautiful golden image of Buddha and listened to the melodic sounds, for a few moments I escaped the groups of people who passed behind me, noisy and oblivious. As a photographer, it was frustrating to be told I could not shoot a photo, even though the entire scene was behind glass. I suspect both respect and economics were equally at play here.
It would be a mistake to rate this site, based on the hassles of tour groups, taxis or other non-site related issues. I know they can affect your experience, but try not to let them make your decisions as you travel this beautiful country. The admission price is nothing (4,000 KW = about $3.90).
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