Located west of Seoul, Gangwon-do is a charming region, filled with the beauty of a pure natural environment. Popular destinations include Chuncheon, a city with many lakes; Sokcho, where you can enjoy delicious foods, one after another; and Gangneung, offering various experiences and fantastic sights to see. Gangwon-do is also receiving increasing attention due to the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
Enjoy both the mountains and the sea, and experience a new and unique landscape with the changing of the seasons! There are so many sights to see and things to try when planning a trip to Gangwon-do, we recommend taking at least 3 days to travel around the region.
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18:00 AMNamiseom Island
211:30 AMChuncheon Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street
312:30 PMChuncheon Romantic Market
45:00 PMSeorak Waterpia
Originally not an island, Namiseom was formed by the creation of the Cheongpyeong Dam to the south. The name of the island comes from the army general Nami, who was buried here during the Joseon Dynasty.
The entire island has become one giant photo zone, with many capture-worthy locations. The two must-see attractions when visiting Namiseom Island are definitely Metasequoia Lane and Songpa Ginkgo Tree Lane. These two trails often make an appearance in movies, dramas, and advertisements. The vibrant shades of yellow, gold and orange that cover Namiseom Island provide the perfect atmosphere of autumn.
While exploring Namiseom Island, you may have felt your stomach begin to call for food. Head to Chuncheon to fulfill your needs! Chuncheon’s Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street is a famous alley filled with restaurants that have been serving the deliciously spicy dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) for over 50 years. Dakgalbi is a meal in and of itself, consisting of large chunks of chicken covered in a spicy seasoning and stir-fried with cabbage, sweet potato, tteok (rice cake) and more. Don’t forget the fried rice afterwards, if you aren’t too full, that is!
Chuncheon Romantic Market is the city’s representative permanent market, filled with the romance and lifestyle of the local people. Originally called Chuncheon Jungang Market, the name changed in 2010 and the interior of the market saw a large renovation in keeping with the feeling of the new name. Each shop in the market was given a drawing to showcase the shop’s particular and unique traits, cultivated during over 30-50 years of business. Many tourists enjoy exploring the market to discover the many murals and sculptures, and take pictures with their favorites.
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Seorak Waterpia is a four-season water theme park using natural spring water in both spa and water leisure areas. The park is open year round but is especially popular in summer, when many tourists come to visit the East Sea. Enjoy the beauty of Seoraksan Mountain as you soak in the spa, or enjoy the thrill and adventure of the park’s many exciting slides.
109:00 AMSeoraksan National Park
212:00 PMDaepohang Port
31:40 PMAbai Village
44:00 PM Naksansa Temple
Korea’s most representative mountain, Seoraksan Mountain is located in the northwestern part of Gangwon-do, in the cities and counties of Sokcho, Yangyang, Goseong and Inje. The mountain range is so vast and magnificent that it is generally separated into Inner Seorak to the east and Outer Seorak to the west, with the dividing point being the highest peak, Daecheongbong Peak.
Many visitors to Outer Seorak depart from the nearby Sokcho, hiking on courses to Ulsanbawi Rock, Gwongeumseong Fortress and Biryong Falls. The difficulty and time required vary by each course, with most beginners choosing the Gwongeumseong Fortress course. This course is unique from the others in the fact that you can take the Seorak Cable Car to the top and hike down for an easier way to experience the beautiful mountain views.
One of the closest attractions to Seoraksan National Park is Daepohang Port, a major fishing harbor on the East Sea. Rather than large fishing boats, the harbor and sea are filled with small boats operated by individual fishermen. The catch of the day is sold in a market stretching from the entrance to the water’s edge. It is fun to walk through and see all the seafood for sale, but more than anything, the biggest enjoyment of the market is to eat! Fried squid and shrimp or fresh hoe (sliced raw fish), the options are unlimited. Pick the seafood you like and enjoy!
Abai Village is one of Sokcho’s top attractions. ‘Abai’ means grandfather in the dialect of Hamgyeong-do, a region in the northeastern part of the Korean peninsula. The village was founded in 1950 by refugees of the Korean War who settled here and the name of “Grandfather Village” came later. If you want to visit, take the Abai Village Ferry from downtown Sokcho. While it is only a 50m boat-ride away, it is a fun and unique experience that should not be missed. When arriving in Abai Village, the first thing to do is take a look around! Murals scattered throughout the village make great backgrounds for souvenir photos.
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Take in the beauty of one of Gangwon-do’s eight scenic views of the East Sea at Naksansa Temple, built by Uisang, a Buddhist Master during the Unified Silla Dynasty (625-702). The temple houses many treasures to enjoy, including a grand Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue and Kwanseum Bodhisattva statue at Hongryeonam Hermitage. The surrounding view is outstanding, attracting many Korean artists to attempt to reproduce this scene in both writing and images.
110:00 AMSun Cruise Theme Park
211:30 AMJeongdongjin Beach or Gangneung Café Street
33:00 PM Ojukheon
44:30 PMSeongyojang House
56:00 PMGyeongpodae Pavilion
Sun Cruise Resort is perched on the cliff above Jeongdongjin Beach! The resort is famous for its cruise ship-shaped architecture and was selected on CNN’s 2014 list of Korea’s most unique accommodations. The night view is beautiful, but the sun rising over the ocean is worth waking up early for.
Sun Cruise Resort provides wonderful accommodations, but even if you don’t spend the night here, the park is open to outside visitors. Take photos with “The Hands of Blessing” and other works of art in the Sunrise Garden. Relax on the green lawn at Grass Garden or walk on water by stepping out directly over the ocean at the Glass Observatory.
For lunch, visit Jeongdongjin Beach or Gangneung Coffee Street. Both places are great but for time-saving purposes, pick just one attraction to visit. Most people choose Jeongdongjin Beach for spring or autumn and Gangneung Coffee Street for summer or winter. Of course, the choice is up to you!
Jeongdongjin gets its name from being exactly due west (‘jeongdong’ in Korean) of Gwanghwamun Gate in Seoul. Enjoy the coast as you ride along on Jeongdongjin Railbike, departing from the train station closest to the ocean in the world. This is a popular activity especially in spring as the weather is perfect, and it may not operate during extreme cold days during winter due to safety reasons.
For a cup of coffee while gazing out at the blue ocean, let’s visit Anmok Beach. Started from a single vending machine, the number of coffee shops along the shore has increased over the years to form Gangneung Coffee Street. From individually operated local shops to chain cafes, visitors have a vast pool to choose from. Buy your coffee and take a moment to enjoy the harmony of the energizing drink and the calming view of the waves crashing to the shore.
Ojukheon House gets its name from the black bamboo that surrounds the building. This attraction is a key historical site in Gangneung. Ojukheon House was the birthplace of Shin Saimdang (1504-1551), known as the Mother of Korea, and her son Yi I (1536-1584), one of Korea’s most prominent Confucian scholars also known by his penname of Yulgok. The two are both immensely important in Korea’s history, evidenced by their appearing on the 50,000 and 5,000 won bills, respectively.
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Next on the tour is Seongyojang House, located near Ojukheon House. Seongyojang House is a representative traditional hanok of the upper class. The main house is the largest of all remaining traditional houses, with a size of 102 kan (‘kan’ measuring the space between two pillars). When you consider the fact that at the time the house was built, there was a rule in place that even the highest ranking man could only have a house of 99 kan, this building is truly exceptional. The lush pine tree forest growing behind the house for hundreds of years creates an elegant and refined backdrop to the charming beauty of this traditional destination.
When Koreans hear “Gyeongpodae” their first thought is most often of the beach, but the beach’s name actually comes from Gyeongpodae Pavilion, built during the Goryeo Dynasty. The view from Gyeongpodae Pavilion is spectacular, showcasing Gyeongpoho Lake. Gyeongpodae Pavilion is beautiful year-round but is most popular as a sunrise watching location on January 1 and in April, during the Gyeongpodae Cherry Blossom Festival.
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