|Pure Beauty, the City of Samcheok|
Located in southern Gangwon-do Province, Samcheok is often referred to as the gateway to the East Coast. The town features beautiful natural sites like caves, valleys, and the sea as well as many historic and traditional attractions, offering numerous places to see and enjoy. Samcheok is home to 82 caves with the two most well known being Daegeumgul and Hwanseongul. It is also home to well known parks like the Jukseoru Pavilion, Haesindang Park, and Isabu Leo (Lion) Park. The sea and surrounding landscape is so beautiful that Samcheok is lovingly known as the Naples of Korea. In Janghohang Port, visitors can buy fresh seasonal seafood year round at inexpensive prices. The ocean rail bike that cruises along the scenic views of the East Coast and pine tree groves receives crowds of tourists year round. Read more to find out all about the beautiful town of Samcheok and its natural surroundings.
Major Tourist Sites
Samcheok is home to Daegeumgul Cave, which is the biggest limestone cave in Asia. It was given its name because the cave is said to have shined like gold when it was first discovered. The entrance to the cave can be reached after a 610 meter monorail ride. Formed some 530 million years ago, the cave features Cheonjiyeon, a fairly large underground lake, and the 8-meter high Biryongpokpo Waterfall. Cave formations like stalactites, cave pearls, and stalagmites are fascinating, while the nearby fir tree forest and Deokhangsan Mountain and its surrounding ecology park are beautiful natural sites to visit. Admission to Daegeumgul Cave requires a reservation, which can be made at the Samcheok City Hall website. Foreign tourists can buy tickets at the site, but are subject to availability. The cave only receives up to 720 people a day.
Estimated to have been built around 1266 during the Goryeo Dynasty, Jukseoru Pavilion stands on a cliff overlooking the Osipcheon Stream. Not only is the structure beautiful but the surrounding view is splendid which results in many people visiting the pavilion year round. The wood grain pillars are still sharp with color as if alive, and the writing on the hanging wooden boards appears as if it was just written yesterday. The upper floor of the pavilion is open and unobstructed by windows or walls. Sitting on the balustrade, one can get a wide view of the surrounding landscape.
Haesindang is a park featuring a number of erect phallic statues. The park consists of the Haesindang Shrine, Penis Sculpture Park, and Samcheok Fishermen Folk Museum. The Penis Sculpture Park has on exhibit 65 phallic works by Korean and foreign artists. The sculptures are set against the open East Sea. The Samcheok Fishermen Folk Museum has five exhibition rooms, an observatory, a large-scale video aquarium with state-of-the-art technology, materials showing the lifestyle of fishermen in the East Coast, and a boat riding simulator.
About ten minutes away from Haesindang Park, Janghohang port is known for being a beautiful port set against rugged cliffs. The port gathers various fish species like common moray eel, octopus, and Pacific saury, and visitors can buy fresh raw fish. Every year, about 120,000 tourists visit the area to enjoy canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving and the other tourist activities Janghohang Port has to offer.
Isabu Leo (Lion) Park is sits peacefully on a hill by the sea. The park was established to commemorate the pioneering spirit of Admiral Isabu of the Silla Kingdom (BC 57-AD 935). Inside the park, there is an observation tower, a year-round sled park, an outdoor performance stage, and a children’s playground. The three-story observation tower hosts various exhibitions and glass artwork. Around a hundred sculptures such as the ‘fishing lion,’ ‘brave lion,’ and ‘pissing lion’ are on exhibit at the park grounds. Walk up the observation tower for a splendid view of the East Coast and the Chotdaebawi Rock of Chuam Beach.
Some say that to fully appreciate the beautiful hidden scenery of the East Coast, one must drive on the Saecheonnyeon Coastal Drive in Samcheok. The waves splashing in towards the beach and the seaside cliffs blend create a splendid view. Far offshore, small boats can be spotted on the sea. Nestled on the East Coast, the New Millennium Coastal Drive spans 6.4 kilometers from Samcheok Beach to Samcheokhang Port. Mid-way on the drive is the Tower of Hope where a sunrise festival is held every year.
Other tourist sites
Major Festivals and Hands-on Activities
The Samcheok Ocean Rail Bike is a leisure sport activity where a four-wheel bike is ridden on tracks along the East Sea. Families can ride on an ocean rail bike together for a safe and comfortable trip. The ride passes through multiple tunnels along the coast, and each presents a unique laser light show. Also on the ride is an observatory and rest area if you need to take a break or soak in the views of the East Sea. The round-trip course is 10 kilometers long and generally takes about an hour. The specially-designed bicycles can seat two or four people. The bicycle is also motorized, so it will go up hilly areas using its electric powered motor.
Dogye Glass Village *Photo courtesy of Samcheok City Hall
Dogye Glass Village produces glassware using coal muck. Visitors can watch the production process of famous Japanese and Korean glass artists at work. Inside the village, there is also a glassware shop, exhibition hall, and workshop. Visitors can participate in hands-on glass programs at the workshop.
☞ Location: Heungjeonbueopdanji, Heungjeon-ri 113-3, Dogye-eup, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do
Sinri Neowa Maeul Village *Photo courtesy of Samcheok City Hall
At Sinri Neowa Maeul Village, visitors can see neowajip, shingle-roofed houses, which are the traditional houses of Samcheok. The shingle-roofed style of housing had mainly been used by slash-and-burn farmers in the past, and many remaining shingle-roofed houses had been left unattended until they were restored starting in 2002. Today, only about ten shingle-roofed houses remain. At the Neowa Maeul Village, visitors can take part in various mountain village programs using a mill and water mill in shingle-roofed homes. Local specialties include Korean wild grapes called meoru, dunggulle (Solomon’s Seal), and chik (kudzu), which are sold at inexpensive prices.
☞ Place: Sin-ri 211, Dogye-eup, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do
Gomureung Hwanseon Maeul Village *Photo courtesy of Samcheok City Hall
Gomureung Hwanseon Maeul Village in Samcheok, Gangwon-do Province is home to Hwanseongul Cave, the largest limestone cave in Asia. The village is located between Dutasan Mountain and Deokhangsan Mountain. At the village, various hands-on activities are available depending on the season, including tofu making, straw artwork, and corn harvesting. Local specialties of the village include beans, corn, shiitake mushrooms, wild ginseng, and honey, all of which are available at inexpensive prices.
☞ Place: Gomureung-ri 89-1, Singi-myeon, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do
Samcheok Cosmos Festival
Samcheok Cosmos Festival is held in October every year at the Naemiro-ri and Gocheon-ri areas in Miro-myeon, Samcheok. At the festival venue, various structures made of cosmos flowers are set against a nice rural landscape. There are 25 festival programs, including handkerchief making, face painting, and a maze under the theme of cosmos. Nearby, there are tourist sites such as the Jungyeongmyo Tomb, Yeonggyeongmyo Tomb, Daegeumgul Cave, and Hwanseongul Cave.
Samcheok Sunrise Festival *Photo courtesy of Samcheok City Hall
Samcheok Sunrise Festival is one of the main winter festivals of Samcheok. Held every New Year on the famous New Millennium Coastal Road, the festival is a venue where citizens and tourists get together to celebrate a year filled with hope.
Samcheok Maengbang Flower Festival *Photo courtesy of Samcheok City Hall
Samcheok Maengbang Flower Festival is a celebration of rape flowers, cherry blossoms, and the East Sea. Held in April every year, the festival features a 7.2 hectare field of rape flowers where people are sure to feel the arrival of spring among rape flowers and cherry blossoms. Various programs are organized, including biking, photography in the field of flowers, and strawberry harvesting. The cherry blossoms along the road by the rape flower field set against Maengbang Beach create a picturesque landscape.
Local Food & Specialties
Gomchiguk (moray eel soup)
A local specialty of Samcheok, gomchiguk is a soup made with moray eel. Gomchi is also called mulmegi or mulgom in other areas. About twenty years ago, lots of moray eel were caught by net, but because of its jelly-like flesh and creepy appearance, the fish had been discarded. Today, the fish are treated as a delicacy. Despite its appearance, it doesn’t have a fishy smell and its flesh is tender and its taste is delicate enough to be had in large amounts. The fish is boiled with well ripen kimchi and as the soup is quite refreshing, it has become known as a good cure for a hangover.
As there are many ports in Samcheok, it is easy to get fresh, sliced raw fish in the area. Samcheokhang Port near downtown Samcheok is lined with raw fish restaurants and also features a fish center, housing even more restaurants and markets. There are also raw fish centers in Deoksanhang, Sinnamhang, and Janghohang port where visitors can eat fresh raw fish at good prices.
Clo Neowa Korean Wild Grape Wine *Photo courtesy of Samcheok City Hall
Clo Neowa wine has been made with meoru, or Korean wild grapes, by Neowa Village in Sin-ri, Dogye-eup, Samcheok since 2006. The wine is made with wild grapes grown using environmental-friendly methods without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Neowa Village produces about 30,000 bottles of Neowa meoru wine, which has a slightly sweet taste, and Clo Neowa, which has a more sour taste. Meoru grapes have about 5 to 10 times more calcium and anthocyanin than other grapes, so they are good for enhancing blood circulation and maintaining internal organ health. The grape is particularly effective in preventing hypotonia and hyperlipidemia. Visitors can also tour the wine factory at Neowa Village in Sin-ri.
Garlic *Photo courtesy of Samcheok City Hall
The garlic grown in Samcheok are large, hard, and highly storable due to the maritime climate and limestone soil of the area. Garlic is known to help prevent cancer and prevent geriatric. The local garlic is high in allicin, which helps with digestion. With 9.2mg of allicin per 1 gram of garlic, Samcheok garlic has the highest content of allicin of all garlic produced in Korea. In May every year, various hands-on events highlighting Samcheok garlic are held at Sanyang Maeul Village in Wondeok (http://sanyang.invil.org; Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese). These events include pickling garlic and making garlic related foods.
1) By Express Bus
Accommodation facilities are mainly found in downtown Samcheok and around the seashore where there is a lot of traffic. Most are small-scale accommodation facilities offered by local residents, and most do not offer foreign language services. However, booking is not required.
☞ Samcheok Travel Information