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Jeollado's coastal jewel, Suncheon City

Jeollado's coastal jewel, Suncheon City

Jeolla-do Province, located in the southwest of the Korean Peninsula, is an area known for its rich, fertile land and crystal clear waters. Jeolla-do is loved by Koreans for its savory foods made with fresh local ingredients and the time-honored tradition of Pansori, a type of folk music that has been handed down for generations. But above all, the area is most famous for its inspiring natural landscape like the far-reaching green tea fields in Boseong and the bamboo groves and the Metasequoia-lined Road in Damyang.

Among the natural wonders in Jeolla-do is the ecological jewel of Suncheon. A must-visit for nature lovers and tourists alike, Suncheon offers a perfect blend of sparkling waters, forests, flora, and fauna. Suncheon is also home to priceless attractions like Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park, Seonamsa Temple, and Songgwangsa Temple that have been recognized by the Michelin Green Guide for their picturesque scenery. The city further established its reputation as an eco city by hosting the International Garden Exposition Suncheon Bay Korea 2013. Also of interest in the area are the Suncheon Drama Set, Naganeupseong Folk Village, and Suncheon Municipal Ppurigipeunnamu (Deep Rooted Tree) Museum.

Suncheon’s Major Tourist Sites

Suncheon Drama Set

The Suncheon Drama Set boasts an impressive 200 buildings, which makes it the largest filming set in Korea. The site vividly depicts several decades of Korean history such as a rural villages and daldongne (the impoverished residential hillside areas of Seoul) from the late 1950s to 1970s, the booming downtown Seoul of the 80s, and more. The old stores, beauty shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and pharmacies have been elaborately recreated along the winding alleys of daldongne to show what life was like in the past. The set has served as a filming location for numerous Korean dramas including East of Eden (2008), Baker King, Kim Tak Goo (2010), Light and Shadow (2012), and the movie A Werewolf Boy (2012).

More info Suncheon Drama Set
☞ Hours: 09:00-18:00
☞ Admission Fees
  Adults Youth Children
Individual 3,000 won 2,000 won 1,000 won
Group (20 or more) 2,500 won 1,500 won 800 won
☞ Homepage: (Korean)
☞ Transportation
From the Suncheon Bus Terminal, take Bus 77 (05:50 – 23:00, 6 – 10 min intervals, Travel time: 20min )

Naganeupseong Folk Village

Located in the southwestern part of Korea, Naganeupseong is an authentic village dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. The village is populated by about 220 residents who engage in farming and running restaurants, guesthouses, and ceramic workshops. Though the village abounds with life, the buildings themselves have remained so well-preserved that they are almost entirely in the same state as they were when they were constructed hundreds of years ago.

In addition to residences, you’ll also see a variety of old administrative buildings, including Dongheon (similar to today’s city hall). In front of the Dongheon building there is a regular reenactment of trials from the Joseon Era. For a view of the whole village and the surrounding hills, take a walk along the fortress wall.

More info

Naganeupseong Folk Village
☞ Hours

December – January


February – April; November


May – October


☞ Admission Fees
Admission Fees
  Adults Youth Children
Individual 2,000 won 1,500 won 1,000 won
Group (more 30) 1,500 won 1,000 won 500 won

☞ Homepage: (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Transportation From Suncheon Station or Suncheon Bus Terminal, take Bus 16 (09:40-17:30, 3 – 4 hour intervals, Travel time: 50 min), 61 (11:45-18:10, 3 hour intervals, Travel time: 50 min), or 63 (05:55-21:10, 1hour 20 min intervals, Travel time: 35 min)

Seonamsa Temple

Seonamsa Temple was built by the state monk Doseon in the 9th century (875 AD). The name of the temple means “a rock bestowed by a Taoist hermit." According to legend, Taoist hermits played Korean checkers on a flat rock in the western section of the temple.

The road from the parking lot to the entrance of the temple takes about 20 minutes to walk by foot. Towards the end of the wooden road, you’ll come across the crisp, clean-cut arch of the Seongseongyo Bridge (National Treasure No. 400). To cross this bridge means to enter the world of Taoist hermits.

Seonamsa is thought of being feminine due to its elaborate architecture and garden. Many of Seonamsa’s colors have faded, which stands as a testament to the structure’s long history and adds to its overall charm.

If you’d truly like to bask in the allure of the temple, try the one-night, two-day temple stay or enjoy a walk along the 8.5 kilometer-long wooden road between Seonamsa and Songgwangsa temples (about 6 hours).

More info Seonamsa Temple
☞ Admission Fees
  Adults Youth Children
Individual 2,000 won 1,500 won 1000 won
Groups 1,700 won 1,200 won 800 won

☞ Homepage: (Korean)
☞ Temple Stay: (Korean)
☞ Transportation
From Suncheon Station or Suncheon Bus Terminal, take Bus 1 (06:00-22:20, 40 – 60 min intervals, Travel time: 50 min) and get off at Seonamsa Temple.

Songgwangsa Temple

The term ‘Sambo’ generally refers to ‘The Three Jewels of Buddhism,’ namely Buddha, Dharma (the teaching of the Buddha), and Sangha (the community of those who follow Buddha's teaching). Having produced the most Buddhist dignitaries in Korean history, Songgwangsa Temple is known as the main Sangha temple. As the birthplace of Jogye-jong, which is Korea's largest Buddhist Order, the temple has been destroyed in times of war and rebuilt in times of peace over its 800 year tumultuous history.

As you step inside the temple you’ll be taken aback by the sheer width of the buildings as well as the brilliant colors. In contrast to Seonamsa Temple, the colors at Songgwangsa Temple are extremely vivid due to the relatively recent destruction and restoration. The many paintings outside portray the steps of Buddha’s life looking for truth.

The temple's Seongbo Museum houses the most Buddhist relics among Korean Buddhist museums. For a deeper understanding of Buddhism and a chance to better explore the temple, try out the weekly temple stay program, which runs from 4pm on Saturday to noon Sunday.

More info Songgwangsa Temple
☞ Admission Fees
  Adults Youth and Children
Individual 3,000 won 2,000 won
Group (30 or more) 2,500 won 1,500 won
☞ Homepage: (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Temple Stay:
☞ Transportation
From Suncheon Station or Suncheon Bus Terminal, take Bus 111 (05:45-21:05, 25 – 40 min intervals, Travel time: 50 min) and get off at Songgwangsa Temple.

Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park

Suncheonman Bay is Korea’s first coastal wetland and was officially registered with the Ramsar Convention on January 20, 2006. The vast colonies of reeds act as both a natural defense against red tides and water impurity and as a prime habitat for local wildlife. The area is a true natural eco reserve.

If you visit the bay, make sure to look downward to see if you can spot the many crabs and blue-spotted mud hoppers that populate the flats. Though the wetland is teeming with life practically all year round, it’s best to visit in autumn for the highest chance of seeing rare migratory birds.

Though it’s rather steep, don’t shy away from the trail up to the Yongsan Observatory. From there, a panoramic view of the bay will soon make you forget your arduous hike up the hill. The sight of the bay at sunset is especially inspiring. For another unique look at the bay, take a ride on the Galdae Train (Reed Train) that travels along the dike between the reeds (fare: 1,000 won).

Since the natural ecology of the bay is so well-preserved, we ask that you take out any garbage you may bring in.

Tip: The Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention’s intergovernmental treaty was established by means of multinational cooperation in order to protect important wetlands serving as a habitat for birds. The Convention takes its name from the city of Ramsar, Iran, where it was first adopted in December 1971. Now the Ramsar Convention has 162 member countries
More info Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park & Suncheonman Bay Eco-Observatory

☞ Hours: 09:00-22:00 (Closed on Mondays)
☞ Admission Fees
  Adults Youth Children
Individual 2,000 won 1,500 won 1,000 won
Group (20 or more) 1,500 won 1,100 won 700 won
☞ Homepage: (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Russian)
☞ Transportation
From the Suncheon Station or Suncheon Bus Terminal, take Bus 67 (05:50 - 22:30, 20 – 30 min intervals, Travel time: 20 min) and get off at the park.

Travel Tip

It’s impossible to truly discuss Korean food without at least mentioning Jeolla-do Province, known all across Korea for its tasty dishes. The most famous dish of the region is Hanjeongsik, which is a table full of various delectable dishes cooked in the traditional Jeolla-do style.

Hanjeongsik in Jeolla-do has a number of distinct characteristics. First, it is prepared only with fresh, locally produced meat, seafood, and vegetables. Secondly, all the dishes are set on the table before being served. Lastly, it is a dining custom unique to Suncheon to place a cup on top of one’s rice bowl and pour some cheongju (refined rice wine) to drink before the meal.

The gukbap (boiled rice served in a pork soup) served at Geonbong Gukbap, a restaurant located inside the traditional market in the Pungdeok-dong area, is a must try for Suncheon visitors. This well-known restaurant has been family-owned for two generations. The most popular menu item is gukbap, a soup made with pork intestines in a thick pork broth that is boiled in an iron pot. The restaurant draws a constant stream of customers thanks to its savory smells and generous servings.

Near Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park are many restaurants serving prix-fixe meals with ark shell / cockle based dishes. Seafood lovers are recommended to drop by one of these restaurants to try the variety of small saltwater shellfish dishes.

Accommodations are located around the downtown Suncheon area and major tourist sites. Near the exit of Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park, you will find a sign with a list of recommended hotels, private lodgings, and restaurants in Suncheon. For a unique experience, try the temple stay program at Seonamsa or Songgwangsa temples.

Transportation to Suncheon

By Train
(KTX) Yongsan Station → Suncheon Station (7 trains daily / Fare: 40,000 won / Travel time: approx. 3hrs 10mins)
(Mugunghwa or Saemaeul Trains) Yongsan Station → Suncheon Station (12 trains daily / Fare: 24,300 won-36,100 won / Travel time: approx. 4hrs 30mins)

By Bus
Seoul Central City Terminal → Suncheon Bus Terminal (25 buses daily / Fare: 28,600 won / Travel time: approx. 4hrs)

Suncheon City Tour Bus

The Suncheon City Tour Bus covers all the major tourist sites in the region including Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park, Naganeupseong Folk Village, and Suncheon Drama Set. With the opening of International Garden Exposition Suncheon Bay Korea 2013, the city tour bus is currently running a special modified schedule to focus on the expo. The general city tour bus will start running again from October 21, 2013.

Suncheon City Tour Bus

More Info
☞ Suncheon Tourism Homepage: (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330
☞ Related Columns
Wonders of Nature: Incredible Biodiversity at Suncheonman Bay!
International Garden Exposition Suncheon Bay Korea 2013 Preview

Last updated in May, 2013

Date 07/22/2013

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