Anapji Pond at night – Gyeongju, South Korea

When Karen suggests, “How would you like to visit Anapji Pond tonight so you can get some good night shots?”, the response is inevitable.

Yes, please!! (and a big kiss!)

This place was built back in the 600s by King Munmu (good bloke) who enjoyed a bit of light gardening. By ‘enjoyed’ I actually mean that his many minions did all the hard work while he kicked back and congratulated himself on his epically awesome green thumbs!

Unlike Confucianism, which encouraged order and symmetry, Taoism was the flavour of the day when Anapji Pond was built, which instead focused on spontaneity, transformation and vitality. One of the design principles at the time was, “One water, three mountains”, and this is clearly seen in the placement of three islands within the boundaries of the wider pond, which itself was constructed within the walls of the Wolseung Fortress.

The ravages of time and war weren’t kind to Anapji Pond, with the pond falling into disrepair around the end of the first millenium. Only as recently as 1974 did the Korean government initiate steps to restore the pond to its former glory.

A good thing they did, because the place looks great during the day, and absolutely spectacular at night! I expected a few tourists to be there taking a few shots, but I never expected the hordes that were slowly ambling their way around the pond’s circumference. No matter where you stopped to take a photo you would be shoulder to shoulder with someone else having the same idea.

It was actually quite funny in one location where there was a brief break in the human caterpillar. I knelt down and set up my camera and tripod, ensuring I had the composition just right, adjusting settings to account for the darkness and the flow of water in front of me, only to stand up a few minutes later and look behind me to find that half a dozen other people had surrounded me with their own gear and were obviously not too impressed at how long I was taking in such a prime position! I nonchalantly returned my eye to the viewfinder and, the bastard I am, made sure I kept them waiting just a little longer 🙂

The crowds made it difficult to enjoy in places, but the architecture and beauty on display was just amazing. If you’ve got the time I’d definitely recommend getting in to Anapji Pond one evening, to see what the fuss is all about and experience this amazing pond for yourself!

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

Anapji Pond

And here is one of my favourite images from our time in South Korea. Instead of focusing on the buildings at the edge of the pond where everyone else’s attention was transfixed, I turned around and looked across one of the narrow necks in the pond’s edge and was transfixed by the patterns both above and on the water. It’s a little abstract, but I love it!

Anapji Pond reflections

Anapji Pond reflections

And here again is another favourite, not only because the great result, but because of how much effort went into getting the shot just right (within the time available).

Two Clowns meditating

Two Clowns meditating

Where is it?

26-1, Inwang-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
경북 경주시 인왕동 26-1

This map from the Korean tourism board is fantastic!

Gyeongju City Map

Click the map to see a larger version.

How to get there?

It’s in the south eastern corner of Gyeongju city, about a 20 minute walk from Tumuli Park, or 30 minutes from Sugar Hotel where we were staying. If that’s too much effort then get yourself a rental bicycle and ride there. Either way, take the road past Tumuli Park, past the Cheomseongdae observatory, and through Gyerim Forest, as it is a really pretty part of the city and perfectly laid out for bikes or walking. You could easily spend an hour or two exploring this part of the city alone!

How much does it cost?


How long does it take?

We spent around 30-40 minutes exploring the pond and surrounds. Be aware that while the gates close at 10pm of an evening, entrance to the ponds actually closes at 9:30pm to allow everyone enough time to be out by 10pm.

Photography tips?

  • Take your tripod and be prepared to defend your territory!
  • Have a think about opportunities for time lapse photos.
  • Remember to look at the reflections, as they can be just as interesting as the main subject.
  • Consider exploring the extremities of the park, as it isn’t just the pond that is worth shooting.
  • Night time was spectacular but I’m sure there would be less people during the day.

More information?

Drop by the Visit Korea website, here.