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A Visit to Geumsan for the Best Ginseng in Korea

Day 1 Day 2
08:00: Departure from Seoul
11:30: Arrival in Mt. Daedunsan (Lunch)
12:30: Hiking in Mt. Daedunsan
17:05: Travel to Geumsan
20:00: Lodging in Geumsan
10:00: Sightseeing and shopping at Geumsan Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market
13:30: Departure from Geumsan to Seoul
Geumsan would be just another small, quiet country town, were it not for the shoppers and tourists who visit all year round to buy ginseng. The town accounts for 70% of Korea’s domestic production of ginseng, which is one of the country’s most popular specialties. Every autumn during the annual ginseng festival, Geumsan is once again deluged with visitors flocking in to buy the best ginseng. In this edition, we recommend a tour to Geumsan, a major production center of Korean ginseng so popular among foreign tourists. On the first day, visit Mt. Daedunsan, a well-known mountain in Geumsan, and enjoy a brisk autumn outing; on the second day, go on a ginseng-shopping spree. And a note on next year’s events: the town will be the site of the 2006 World Ginseng Expo Geumsan scheduled for September 22, 2006.

>> Click here for more on Geumsan Ginseng Festival

Photos and Overview of Course
Day 1 -> Departure from Seoul: 08:00
Seoul Express Bus Terminal Express bus from Seoul to Daejeon at the Daejeon Express Bus Terminal
Because there is no direct bus from Seoul to Mt. Daedunsan, we decided to go by way of Daejeon, which departed at 08:10 from the Seoul Express Bus Terminal.
Ride takes 2 hours. Bus fare is 13,700 won. / Click here for the time schedule of the express bus to Daejeon
Arrival in Daejeon: 10:10
Daejeon Express Bus Terminal Bus leaves for Mt. Daedunsan from the Daejeon Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal across the Daejeon Express Bus Terminal
Bus ticket for Mt. Daedunsan issued at the Daejeon Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal Bus for Mt. Daedunsan at the Daejeon Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal
When we arrived in Daejeon, the bus stopped at the passenger drop-off location of Daejeon Express Bus Terminal. From there, we walked across a plaza, crossed the street at the right side of the plaza, and walked left for 100 meters to the Daejeon Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal, where the bus departs for Mt. Daedunsan. There is only one bus leaving daily at 10:35.
Bus fare is 3,200 won. Bus ride takes 1 hour.
Arrival in Mt. Daedunsan (Lunch)
Mt. Daedunsan Bus Terminal 11:30

We arrived at 11:30 that morning at the tiny rural Mt. Daedunsan Bus Terminal. Next to the ticket counter was a small blackboard with the schedule of buses departing for Geumsan. Since the schedule is subject to change, be sure to check the timetable as soon as you get off the bus. The hike up Mt. Daedunsan takes about 2 hours if you go part of the way by cable car, and it takes 3 hours otherwise. Make sure to plan the day around the Geumsan bus schedule and the time allocated for hiking. On the way up to the mountain from the bus terminal, a dozen restaurants line the right side of the road. The menu is basically the same, so just take your choice. We ordered the local deodeok gui (grilled deodeok root) set menu (12,000 won) and after filling our stomachs, we headed off to the mountains.
Ticket counter at Mt. Daedunsan Bus Terminal and blackboard showing bus timetable Road leading up to Mt. Daedunsan from the bus terminal
Deodeok Gui (grilled deodeok) set menu
From the restaurant, a short walk (1~2 minutes) up the street will bring you to the entrance to Mt. Daedunsan. Buy an admission ticket and begin your climb. If you want to ride halfway up the mountain, go to the cable car platform.
Hiking in Mt. Daedunsan - 12:30
Mt. Daedunsan cable car Cable car platform (610 meters above sea level)
Geumgang Gureum Bridge Mt. Daedunsan Samseon Stairway with 127 steps

The major attractions of Mt. Daedunsan are the suspended Geumgang Gureum Bridge and the 127-step Samseon overpass. The mountain is not very high, with its highest peak Macheondae rising only 878 meters above sea level. However, the rocky crags and cliffs, which offer spectacular views, make for an arduous hike.

The Geumgang Gureum, or Cloud, Bridge is suspended across a crevasse 81 meters high. The bridge itself is only about 50 meters long, but the thrill of walking across is comparable to any extreme sport. As we carefully made our way across, the wind swayed the bridge, sending our hearts bouncing down to our feet and then back up. But the bridge is safe, so there is no need to worry.

A convenient way up to the Geumgang Gureum Bridge is by cable car. After paying the admission (1,300 won) at the entrance, move to the cable car platform, buy a ticket (round-trip 5,000 won / one-way 3,000 won) and the 5-minute ride will take you 610 meters above sea level.

From the cable car station, the bridge is only a 10-minute walk. After crossing, we walked for about 10 minutes to the Samseon Stairway, a steep steel stairway up the face of a cliff. Because it is tilted at about 50 degrees, our legs shook even more than when we were on the suspended bridge. And they felt numb when we turned to look down.

Macheondae, the summit of Mt. Daedunsan



After the stairway, we walked for another 20 minutes to Macheondae, the peak of Mt. Daedunsan. A great vista unfolded against the blue sky. Feeling a great sense of achievement, we wiped away the sweat, and descended by a different route, since the path up, the bridge and the stairway are one-way for ascending hikers. Again, two options: cable car or by foot. We walked down the mountain to enjoy the freshness and fall foliage. The hike takes about 2 hours if you take the cable car up and down the mountain. If you walk only on the way down, the whole trip takes 2 hours and thirty minutes.
Dongdongju Pajeon (Green onion-seafood pancake)
There is nothing better than dongdongju to quench the thirst after hiking. We went into one of the restaurants along the street and ordered deodeok dongdongju and pan-fried green onion with seafood to soothe our empty stomachs and relax. * Deodeok dongdongju is 7,000 won. Green onion-seafood pancake is 5,000 won.
17:05 : Travel to Geumsan
Mt. Daedunsan à Geumsan bus ticket Bus arriving at the Geumsan Bus Terminal
At the Daedunsan bus station, we bought a bus ticket for Geumsan (1,600 won) and took the 17:05 bus.
The ride took 25 minutes.
Lodging - 18 :00
Hwanggeumjang Motel



When we arrived in Geumsan, the sun was starting to go down. Since we were still full from our snack, we bought some fruit near the Geumsan Bus Terminal. One of the most popular fruits in Korea in autumn is probably the soft persimmon. Persimmon is such a sweet and tasty fruit, and certainly worth the cost (1,000 won each). The tender juicy flesh is damaged by the slightest touch, so handle it gingerly. We headed directly to our motel. Geumsan is a small village with no large hotels. Among the few old motels downtown, we chose the Hwanggeumjang Motel.
Details about Hwanggeumjang Motel
Address : 429 Jungdo-ri, Geumsan-eup, Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do
Telephone: +82-41-753 – 2828 (Korean)
Rate: 25,000 won per night (twin bed)
Fruit shop in front of Geumsan Bus Terminal Soft persimmon
Day 2 -> Departure from Hwanggeumjang Motel: 09:30
Road sign for the Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market Map of Geumsan Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market
Hwanggeumjang Motel is located midway between Geumsan Bus Terminal and the Geumsan Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market. It takes a mere five minutes walk to and from either of the two locations. Standing with the motel to your right, you will see a wide road to your left. Walk straight along this road and you will come to a three-way intersection. There, you’ll see the road sign for the Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market, as seen in the photo above. Follow the sign until you come to a crossing. On the other side of the road, you will find a map of the Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market, also seen above. Follow the map and cross the Geumsan Bridge, which is on the right side of the map. Then, take the left-side alley and you will be on the main street of the Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market. All along the street are numerous shops selling ginseng and medicinal herbs, as well as the Susam (fresh ginseng) Center, Geumsan Ginseng Agricultural Cooperative, and Ginseng Shopping Center.
Sightseeing & Shopping at Geumsan Ginseng & Medicinal Herb Market 10:00
Ginseng shops inside Susam Center


Since ginseng is harvested in autumn, we went to the Susam Center first (Susam is fresh ginseng). Susam Center accommodates numerous shops selling ginseng, or susam. Even early in the morning, crowds of people were trying to negotiate prices. Ginseng is sold in 750-gram units, and the price is based on size and the age of ginseng. As of October 2005, the large ginseng is priced at 50,000 won if it is 5 years old and 55,000 won if it is 6 years old. All the shops had similar prices, but there was a difference of a few thousand won depending on the quality of the items. For more information on the medicinal effects of ginseng and how to prepare it, please refer to the ginseng column below.
Street stalls selling deep-fried ginseng and ginseng makgeolli Deep-fried ginseng

After the Susam Center, we went to the Ginseng Medicinal Herb Market, where we bought a 1-kilogram pack of red ginseng candy, popular with foreign tourists, and ordered deep-fried ginseng for 1,000 won at one of the pojangmachas, or street stalls. Contrary to what we had expected, the deep-fried ginseng was not bitter, but had a fresh distinctive flavor, and tasted even better dipped in sweet ginseng extract. We topped off our snack with a shot of ginseng makgeolli (crude rice wine) for 1,000 won. There are a few pojangmachas selling deep-fried ginseng and ginseng makgeolli along either side of the Ginseng Medicinal Herb Market, so don’t forget to try it if you have the chance. If you are not on a tight budget and want to buy ginseng products with a quality warranty, try the Geumsan Ginseng Agricultural Cooperative, located halfway of the Ginseng Medicinal Herb Market. It sells a variety of red ginseng and ginseng products such as red ginseng tea and honeyed sliced red ginseng.

Red ginseng candy Geumsan Ginseng Agricultural Cooperative

>> Click here for Column on Ginseng and related Foods
Geumsan à Seoul: 13:30
Geumsan Bus Terminal A woman buys a ticket at the Geumsan Bus Terminal
The bus for Seoul departs eight times a day from the Geumsan Bus Terminal.
06:30(Standard)/08:00(Deluxe)/10:00(Standard)/11:30(Deluxe)/13:30(Standard)/15:00(Deluxe)/17:00(Standard)/18:30(Deluxe) / Standard bus: 9,400 won / Deluxe bus: 13,700 won / The ride takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Total Expenses Incurred for the Course _ As of October 2005
Bus from Seoul to Daejeon: 13,700 won
Bus from Daejeon to Mt. Daedunsan: 3,200 won
Deodeok gui set menu: 12,000 won
Deodeok dongdongju: 7,000 won
Green onion-seafood pancake: 5,000 won
Bus from Mt. Daedunsan to Geumsan: 1,600 won
2 soft persimmons: 2,000 won
Lodging at Hwanggeumjang Motel: 25,000 won
Red ginseng candy 1KG: 4,000 won
4 deep-fried ginseng: 4,000 won
1 glass of ginseng makgeolli: 1,000 won
Standard bus from Geumsan to Seoul: 9,400 won
Total : 87,900 won
Date 11/25/2005



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