Are you looking for a unique getaway this summer; a place that is removed from the fast-paced Seoul lifestyle? Check out these 5 hidden gems located outside Seoul for a trip full of relaxation, authentic Korean cuisine, sightseeing, and entertainment.
1. Bogildo Island | Jeolla-Nam Do
Located off the coast of Jeolla-Nam Do province, this quiet island is relatively unknown not only to foreigners but to Koreans as well. Discovered by Confucian scholars during the Joseon Dynasty, Bogildo is the perfect destination for a quiet getaway. The island features everything from fishing hotspots and beaches to scenic hiking trails and historical temples and gardens.
What to See
One of the island’s must-see attractions is Seyeonjeong Pavilion. The Pavilion was founded by Yun Seondo, who is widely regarded as one of Korea’s best ever poets. Surrounded by beautiful trees and a pond, this is a place where guests can find inner peace and harmony.
The island also features a poem carved into stone by legendary politician Uam Song Si-yeol, who was also stunned by the area’s natural beauty.
For those seeking authentic Korean dishes, Bogildo specializes in catering to seafood lovers. Some of the most famous dishes available on the island include seaweed and abalone (sea snails).
2. Palgonsan / Seomun Market | Daegu
Daegu, translating literally to “big hill”, is the fourth largest city in South Korea. However, unlike Seoul, Daegu remains one of the most conservative cities in the country, with Confucianism still playing a large role in citizen’s lives.
What to See
One of the grandest attractions in Daegu is the Buddha made out of stone: Gatbawi. Gatbawi is about 13 feet tall and sits on Palgongsan Mountain. Legend says that Gatbawi offers visitors one wish they desire! Gatbawi isn’t the only attraction on Palgongsan. There are multiple hiking trails on the mountain that offer visitors a chance to not only exercise but also experience the deep roots of Confucianism in Korea.
Also located on the mountain, temples such as Donghwasa offer temple stays, where guests can experience Buddhist life.
Those looking for a more modern twist can visit the famous Seomun Market, one of the largest traditional street markets in Korea. This market was first created during the Joseon Era and visitors can select from a wide range of items ranging from traditional Korean fabrics to dried seafood.
3. Jeongdongjin | Seoraksan | Gangwon-Do Province
Gangwon-Do Province is an area of Korea that offers tourists a variety of activities in all seasons. During the winter, snowboarders and skiers can hit the slopes of Pyeongchang, host of the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, there are plenty of other relaxing activities visitors can engage in throughout the year.
What to See
One must-visit spot in Gagnwon-Do would be Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park. The beach, easily accessed from the nearby railway station, is surrounded by picturesque trees that sway with the ocean air. The beach area contains three distinct swimming locations, one of which you can swim in at night (Moraeshigae Park).
However, the real attraction begins in the morning, when the sun rises over the Park and dazzles as it reflects gracefully on the surrounding pine trees, sandy beach, and railway station; it’s a sight straight out of a drama. In fact, the area gained popularity after the hit drama “Hourglass” filmed on location.
If you want to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, head to Seoraksan National Park. The park covers over 150 square miles and is lush with thousands of plants, animals, and other ecological life. There are multiple valleys in the park that lead to beautiful waterfalls or temples. The view of the sunrise from Seoraksan is just as magnificent.
4. Dogs | Dadohae | Jindo Island
Known as the home of the famous Jindo dog, Jindo Island is located off the southwest coast of South Jeolla province. Some tourists actually head to Jindo to catch a glimpse of these rare dogs; who are considered national treasures. The dogs are famous for their loyalty to their owners and a statue of a famous Jindo was erected in 2004.
What to See
Jindo Island isn’t just well known for its animal life. The island is close to the Dadohae National Marine Park, where visitors can explore Korea’s largest national park. Dadohae contains sprawling rock formations surrounded by bodies of water, which make for a breathtaking sight.
5. Asia Culture Center | Gwangju Lake | Gwangju
Gwangju is not only known for being the 6th largest city in Korea, but also for being the home of the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising against Korean military dictator Chun Doo-Hwan, an event that earned it the name “the heart of democracy”. This city is a thriving center of liberal arts and culture.
What to See
At the Asia Culture Center, guests celebrate Gwangju’s democratic history and can view exhibitions and performances from various international artists. It’s a place where Asian cultural experiences are displayed and exchanged.
If all this culture and art is too much and you want to get away, head to Gwangju Lake. Located at the foot of Mudeunsgan Mountain, the lake is a great hideout for fishing or just relaxing. The lake is rarely crowded with tourists and upstream, you can find the Sikyeongjeong Pavilion. The pavilion rests in the shadow of the moon and many writers have come to it to find inspiration.
Whether you’re interested in a quiet getaway filled with beautiful natural resources or you want to experience the historical background of Korea, there is something for you to do this summer. The locations listed in this article are only 5 destinations you can choose from! To find out more about Korean summer trips, check out this article from our 10 Magazine staff.