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13 Exciting Day Trips to Escape From Seoul

Chan Ting Yi

2017 April 11

A trip to Korea need not have to be simply all about Seoul and taking day trips is the best way to make the most out of your trip. Day trips are actually pretty easy and convenient to plan out with the wide array of resources and options available in terms of transportation and activities. This article sums up the top 10 day trips to take from Seoul, covering the types of activities you can partake in to the ways of getting there!

 

 

 

1. Hwaseong Fortress, Suwon

Designated as a UNESCO World Cultural heritage Site in 1997, Hwaseong Fortress stretches for a total of 5.52km and comprises of 4 gates facing each of the cardinal directions. Hike along the fortress wall for 1,000 KRW where you can get fantastic view of Suwon from the summit of Paldal mountain.

 

The fortress walls consists of various intact defensive features such as floodgates, command posts, multiple arrow launches towers, secret gates and beacon towers. Due to the inclusion of wooden components in the architecture of the fortress, the maintenance of the fortress walls require specialised care. Fire and weeds could potentially threaten and damage the fortress walls and other features of Hwaseong.

 

At the centre of the fortress, there is a giant statue of the king Jeongjo, who is the 22nd ruler of the Joseon kingdom. If you’re tired of walking, you can choose to take the Hwaseong Trolley (1500 KRW for adults, 700 KRW for children), which is a 30 minute ride around the key points of the fortress. Also, for 2000 KRW, you can try out traditional Korean archery at the end of your tour of the fortress.

 

 

Address: 910, Jeongjo-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there:  Suwon station (line 1). Take buses 5 or 7 and get off at Jangan Park stop which is about a 10-15 minute ride away. You’ll see Hwaseong on your right.

 

 

 

2. Muuido Island

If you’re a big fan of the K drama “Stairway to Heaven”, you will be thrilled to know that Muuido Island is actually one of the filming locations! With miniature minbak (beach huts) lining the shore, Hanagae Beach on Muuido Island is the main attraction of the area. The minbak is perfect for a day trip as you can conveniently leave your BBQ items and extra clothings etc there while enjoying the beach empty handed. Though the minbak could only fit at most 4 people, it still makes for a comfortable space for beachgoers.

 

Besides relaxing on the beach, you can try out beach zip lining, ATV riding or horseback riding. The beach is also great for night time BBQ and drinking, while enjoying some fresh seafood. Don’t worry if you are not prepared for the beach as there is a convenience store right around the corner that sells everything from hiking gear, fireworks, cup noodles and of course booze. Staying overnight at Muuido Island is another cool thing that you can do as the tide goes out pretty quickly allowing you to walk out into the ocean. Since the tide goes out about 200-300 metres, it makes for a good place to collect various seashells such as clams and hermit crabs. It would be best to bring a sleeping bag and some additional snacks for your trip there!

 

 

Address: 310-11, Daemuui-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon

How to get there:  From Incheon International Airport's Departure terminal (3rd floor), exit at gate 7 and board bus 222 (a T-money card will work for this bus). Bus 306 also takes you to the port, but it is a 10-minute walk from this bus stop to the ferry. The 222 route is a shuttle (back and forth), so it is simple to reach the Jamjinnaru ferry terminal. This car ferry runs every 15 to 30 minutes, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last ferry departure: 7:45 p.m.) and you will be able to see it shuttling between the two ports.

 

 

 

3. Ganghwado Island

As the 5th largest island in Korea, Ganghwado comprises of 11 inhabited islands, 17 uninhabited islands with a 99 km long beach. Ganghwado is actually a rural place filled with paddy fields, mountains and surrounded by pine forests, which makes this place the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

 

The Goindol Rocks are famous at the Island with it’s designation as the World’s Cultural Treasure. There about 80 of the Goindol stone graves around island that are the spots where the rules of Ganghwa island during the Bronze age are buried in. Located off the west side of Ganghwado on the island of Seokmodo,  the Bomunsa Temple is a Buddhist temple with the famous cliff side stone carved Buddha. To get to Seokmodo, simply catch the ferry that runs every 15 minutes to the island for 2000 KRW (return). For 2000 KRW, you can enter Bomunsa and witness the cliff side stone buddha and walk through the pine forests to the summit that has a viewing platform perfect to watch the beautiful sunset.

 

Besides the temple, you can also witness the huge dolmen, which is registered as a UNESCO world heritage site. The Ganghwa Peace Observatory overlooks the han river and north korea, making it the best place to witness the activities of the North Koreans through the telescopes available at the observatories. If you’re intrigued by the North Koreans after viewing them from afar, you might want to go for an official tour to the DMZ and the peace village at panmunjom. Ganghwado is also known for a number of fortresses such as the Gwangseongbo, Deokjinjin and Chojinjin as well as a royal tombs such as the tomb of Queen Wondeok. Since Ganghwado is known for its ginseng, you can also purchase them along the way as there will be many locals selling them on the road side.

 

 

Address: 394, Ganghwa-daero, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon

How to get there:  Sinchon Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 1. Go forward for 5 minutes towards the GS25 convenience store. Take Bus 3000 to Ganghwa Intercity Bus Terminal. (Bus schedule: 05:40-23:20, 15-20min intervals)

 

 

4. Ansan Multicultural Food Street

If you think that korea is quite homogenous, a trip to Ansan Multicultural Food street will definitely change your mind. From Vietnamese, Russian, Thai to Bengali and Chinese food, Ansan has pretty much every cuisine you can imagine. People who reside in “The Borderless Village” are largely migrants from 78 countries, who are largely of Chinese or Korean descent. Other cultures include Uzbeks, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Russians, Nepali and Sri Lankans. These migrants are in Korea to do the ‘D’ jobs - dirty, dangerous and demeaning, which explains the existence of the multicultural enclave.

 

Besides a variety of street food available, there are also some restaurants that are worth a try. Serving up the most elaborate Indian and Nepali set meals in Korea, the Kantipur Restaurant offers the Kantipur special course meal that is great for 4 to 6 people. The Indian Style Thali set (9000 KRW) are also great when paired with the Lassi or Indian Whiskey. If you’re a meat lover, Samarkand Kafe serves up huge roasted chunks of unadulterated meat in their Shashlik (3000 KRW each), which comes with the choice of lamb, beef, liver or chicken. Quan Que Hu’o’ng is popular for their spring rolls and pho while Cafe Batavia Java serves up affordable snack sized meals at 4000 KRW or less.

 

 

Address: Wongok-dong, Danwon-gu, Ansan

How to get there: Ansan Station (Exit 1)

 

 

5. Nami Island, Gapyeong

An interesting characteristic of Nami Island is that there are no telephone poles in ihe area as all electric wires are built underground to preserve the natural environment of the landscape. There are two ways to get to Nami Island from Gapyeong wharf, either by the Ferry (8000 KRW) that takes about 15 to 20 minutes or the Zipwire (38,8000 KRW), which is certainly a more adventurous choice. For 10000 KRW, you can enter Nami Island to experience the handicraft studio, Nami Eco -School, Glass Workshop and PIcture book playground that are great options for families who are visiting the island. Cycling around the island is an alternative from walking and there are bicycle rental shops conveniently located in the middle of the island. Electric tri way rental costs 10,000 KRW for 30 minutes while regular bike rentals costs 3000 KRW for 30 minutes. Couples can choose to rent the couple bikes at 6000 KRW for 30 mins to experience a more romantic exploration of the island. It roughly takes you less than 30 mins to cycle around the entire island so renting the bikes for 30 minute would be sufficient. The Tree Lanes such as the “Maple Land of True Love” and the “Gingko Tree Lane” are great spots for photographs. There is also a souvenir shop called the Namishop Sonata from which you can get souvenirs as mementos of the trip.

 

Besides exploring the island, you can also choose to visit Petite France, which is a small French culture village that showcases 16 French style buildings. Several K dramas such as the Beethoven Virus, Secret Garden and Running Man have chosen this French styled area as their filming location. For 8000 KRW (adults) and 5000 KRW (children), you can view the Maestro’s office of drama Beethoven Virus, Guignoi (traditional French hand puppet show) and Marionette performances as well as screening animations.

 

Take a relaxing stroll around the Garden of Morning calm for 8000 KRW(adults) and 5000 KRW (children), which is korea’s oldest private garden showcasing a variety of flora and fauna in different seasons. In spring, enjoy the Spring Garden Festival when the plants are full bloom. Witness the array of roses, hydrangeas and roses of sharon during the Summer while a garden of chrysanthemums and autumnal tints during Autumn. During Winter, the biggest light festival in Korea consisting of 100 thousand pyeong illuminated by 30000 lights takes place at the garden.

 

 

Address: 1, Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do

How to get there:  Take the shuttle bus from Gapyeong Station.

 

 

6. Paju

The main attraction of Paju is the Paju Book City, which is a cultural complex belonging to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Home to 250 publishers with over 10000 workers, Paju Book City is the one stop place for the planning, printing and distribution of books. The Tan Tan Story House is a great place for children to develop an interest in books with the various performances, galleries and book cafes such as the Darakwon and Moongongsa. The Oullim book cafe is a family friendly cafe with  around 50,000  children’s books from 34 publishing houses. There are also several second hand book stores such as the Bomulseom that stocks up quality selection of Korean, English and Japanese books as well as magazines and music. Ega bookstore is an interesting second hand book shop that has all the books lying on the ground and contained in a tent as they sell off books as cheap as 1000 KRW. At 8000 KRW,  you can visit the Pinocchio Museum, which showcases 1300 pinocchio related pieces and various photo zones.

 

If you’re tired of books, you can visit the Provence Village, which started out as a chic French restaurant in 1996 and has since developed into a themed village consisting of the provence living gallery, herb village and european bakery and cafes. Since admission is free and it opens all year round, you can pretty much visit this village anytime of the year. The Soulone Botanical Gardens is great for a light walk along the tunnel of trees on the mountain road. Shop till you drop at the Paju Premium Outlets, which consists of 3 stories with 165 shops. Besides huge discounts from 25-65%, the Paju Premium Outlets stocks up everything from clothing to jewelry and housewares.

 

 

Address:77, Saeori-ro, Tanhyeon-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there: Hapjeong Station (Exit 1)

Provence VIllage - Hapjeong Station (Exit 8).Take Bus No. 2200 and get off at Seongdong Intersection bus stop.  

Soulone Botanical Gardens - Hapjeong Station (Exit 2), take intercity bus 2200. Get off at Heyri gate 1.

Paju Premium Outlets - Hapjeong Station (Exit 2). Take Bus 2200.Get off at Paju Premium Outlets Back Gate Bus Stop. The outlet is located 600m from the bus stop. (Bus schedule: 05:30-22:10, 10min intervals/ Travel time: 1hr)

Pinocchio Museum and Paju Book City - Hapjeong Station (Exit 2). Take Bus No. 200 and get off at Paju Book City Bus Stop. (Bus interval: 30min / Estimated Travel Time: about 60 - 80min)

 

 

 

7. Jayu Park and Chinatown

Offering spectacular views of downtown Incheon and its surrounding mountains, port and sea, Jayu Park is located in Mt Eungbongsan in Incheon Metropolitan City. As a historical site, the park comprises of many large and small sculptures, with the most spectacular one being the General MacArthur statue that stands approximately 15m tall. The 100 anniversary tower that commemorates the treaty of amity between korea and the United States is also another sculpture that adds to the historic and educational allure of Incheon’s history. Built by a Japanese who was in need of meteorological information during the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, the Incheon Meteorological Observatory is the first modern meteorological observatory in Korea. The park is perfect for anyone with an interest in Korean American Relations.

 

After a visit to the park, you can head to Chinatown for some traditional Chinese cuisine. Residents of Chinatown are mostly 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese, who are descendents of the early Chinese settlers in the area. This explains the authenticity of the traditional chinese cuisine and the chinese korean fusion dishes that are available at Chinatown. The Konggal Ppang (empty bread) is a delicious snack that is glazed with honey and has a light and airy texture. If you would to try out the Onggibyeong Ppang, head to Hwadeok Mandu which specialises in the the tasty dumplings that is cooked in an onggi. Priced at 1500 to 2000 KRW each, with 3 flavours to choose from, namely pumpkin, sweet potato or meat, it is certainly an affordable snack. With different kinds of dumplings such as king sized, boiled, steamed and home made, Wonbo fried dumplings is also worth a try. There are also several shops selling the well known Jahangmyeon such as the Gonghwachun that is presumably the first restaurant ever to serve the delicious noodles. Yeong-Gyeong is one of the top three Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, which is known for their fried chicken with hot and sour soy sauce at (25000 KRW). If you’re feeling thirsty, you can head to Lunarssi Kitchen for original taiwanese bubble tea that has actually sold bubble tea way before Gongcha. With 7 kinds of bubble tea, including black, coffee, green tea and blueberry tea, you are certainly spoiled for choice at Lunarssi.

 

 

Address: 25, Jayugongwonnam-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon

How to get there:  Incheon Station

 

 

 

8. Yeongjondo 

The Yonggungsa temple, located at the centre of the island on Mt Bakeunsan, is said to be the home to the Regent for 10 years and the mineral mountain water spring. Right in front of the temple is the 1,300 old zelkova tree, which certainly adds to the ancient atmosphere of the place. Consisting of several buildings such as the Gwaneumjeon, Yosachae and Chilseonggak, you can expect to witness the different areas of the temple which are serves different functions. Besides taking a tour of the temple, you can also enjoy some exciting sports at the Yeongjong Sky Park and Mt Baekunsan Gliding Range.

 

At the Yeongjong Sky Park, you can get hands on experiences of flying planes even if you’re a total beginner to the activity. Take a relaxing bath at the bathhouse near the seashore that uses hot spring water after the array of activities to end your day trip. Interestingly, the Eurwanhni beach has a high ecological value given that the mudflats there are the most important feeding ground for numerou shorebirds that visit Korea. You can also snap a great photo with the Incheon Bridge, which is Korea’s longest bridge that connects Yeongjongdo and Songdo, right behind you.

 

 

Address: 100, Unnamseo-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon

How to get there: Incheon Station (Exit 1).From Incheon Station to Wolmido Island, take city bus No. 45, 23, or 2 and get off at the last stop, Wolmido Island. * From Wolmido Island Port to Yeongjong Island: First ferry 07:00 / last ferry 21:30 / 30 min interval / 10 min ride

 

 

 

9. Seoul Grand Park, Gwacheon

Consisting of a few attractions, the Seoul Grand Park is perhaps the one stop place for adults and children to have a great time. The Seoul Grand Park Zoo is the 10th largest in the world and is home to almost 3000 animals from a variety of 350 species that came from all over the world. You can do a 7.5km hike along the path through the natural surroundings of the zoo or take the skylift that passes through the Nature Immersion Area surrounding the zoo for a better view of the place. With over 30000 roses from over 200 species, the rose garden is the best place to visit in the June when the flowers are in full bloom. The admission fee of the rose garden are 2000 KRW for adults, 1500 KRW for teens and 1000 KRW for children. For more nature related activities, you can also visit the Botanical Gardens, which is the largest in Korea. It comprises tropical plants, a cactus garden, orchids and a greenhouse with over 250 kinds of plants native to Korea. Besides the Seoul Grand Park Zoo, the children’s zoo that is located right next to the Rose Garden lets the kids play with the lambs, goats and llamas in the wide open space. To end your day with more excitement, you can head to the amusement park that offers a wide variety of rides such as the black hole, magic carpet and king viking.

 

 

Address: 102, Daegongwongwangjang-ro, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there:  Seoul Grand Park Station (Exit 2).

 

 

 

10. Gangchon Rail Park, Chuncheon

If you would like to experience riding a rail bike on the old railroad along the Bukhangang River, the two courses offered at Gangchon Rail Park will certainly satisfy your desires. The Gimyujeong Station Course takes around 1.5hours (8.5km) while the Gyeonggang Station Course takes about 1 hour 20 minutes (7.5km). There are 3 sections to the course, namely the first section which is a 50 minute rail bike course, the second which is the 15-20 minutes break and lastly the Romantic trail for 20 minutes. After the rail bike course, you will arrive at Gangchon station and head back to Gimyujeong station by the free shuttle bus that runs every 30 minutes. For 35000 KRW, you can easily rent the 4 seater rail bike and paddle along the nice scenery. There are two tunnels by which you will enter and one of them is a disco tunnel where popular korean hits will be played. Do not worry that the pedaling will be tough as they are adjustable and good for both kids and adults alike. It is best to reserve the tickets online as the waiting time can be up to 3 hours during peak season if you not have a prior reservation. Also, try to be at the park 20 minutes before your scheduled slot to facilitate a faster registration process.

 

 

Address: 1385, Gimyujeong-ro, Sindong-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do

How to get there: Gimyujeong Station (Exit 1)

 

 

 

11. Art Valley, Pocheon

Purchase a ticket at 5000 KRW for adults and 1500 KRW for children, you will be taken up to the hill to the rock quarry by the monorail, which allows you view the spectacular quarry that is filled with spring and rainwater. The Pocheon Art Valley is established on the granite quarry and it has become the site of the nation’s first shared culture and art complex in 2009. It is a popular place to visit given that more than 1 million people have visited the valley as of 2014. Officially opened on 1 August 2014, the Pocheon Art Valley Astronomical Science Museum showcases the cutting edge 4D video room and and astronomical observation room that offers the wide range of constellation reading. After touring the attractions, you can head to the uniquely designed cafe made of empty makgeolli bottles.

 

 

Address: 234, Artvalley-ro, Sinbuk-myeon, Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there: From Pocheon Bus Terminal (포천터미널), take Bus No. 67 or 67-1 to Pocheon Art Valley Bus Stop.

 

 

 

12. Mangwolsa Mountain Temple

As the oldest temple in Namhansanseong Fortress, the Mangwolsa Mountain Temple is situated within Bukhansan National Park. After a the train ride to Mangwolsa station and an hour hike, you will reach the entrance of the temple that has the longest history of the 10 temples in the fortress. Although the original temple was destroyed during the Japanese invasion and the Korean war, the current temple still has a historic allure due to the skillful restoration from 1990. A huge millstone, that is roughly 167 cm in diameter remains to provide a sense of nostalgia. The temple used to be for monk soldiers and military volunteers but currently it has transformed to become a temple for bhikkhunis. The 13 story pagoda, where the Buddha sarira is enshrined in  is the symbol of Mangwolsa and is given by India’s First Prime Minister Indira Ghandi to Seongbeop Sunim who rebuilt the temple.

 

Address: Dobong-dong, Dobong-gu, Seoul. Jangheung-myeon, Yangju-si & Uijeongbu-si, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there: Dobongsan Mountain Station (Exit 1).

 

13. Yongin Everland

The main attractions of Yongin are the Everland, Korean Folk Village and the Daejanggeum Park. Everland started out as a farmland in 1976 but has become one of the most visited theme parks in the world with over 7 million visitors in 2013, trailing just behind Lotte World. The theme park comprises of several sections such as the American Adventure, Magic land, European Adventure ad Zootopia, catering to children and adults alike. The European Adventure is perhaps one of the most exciting out of them all as Everland’s world class roller coaster T express is situated in the area. The T express ranks top 10 in every category, is the second tallest and 10th fastest wooden roller coasters in the world. You can also enjoy a “live” concert of G dragon at the Hologram theatre, which simulates the actual performance and atmosphere.

 

The 240 acres Korean Folk Village allows visitors to experience an authentic showcase of 260 replica traditional houses of the different social class from various regions. There are also various traditional performances such as the nongak (farmer’s music), martial art on horseback and traditional wedding ceremony. Held in May the ‘Welcome to Joseon’ show is perhaps the more popular shows which takes you back to the olden days of the life during the Joseon dynasty. At 15000 KRW for adults, 12000 KRW for teens and 10000 KRW for children, you can enter the folk village and partake in the variety of programs that incorporate various aspects of the Joseon culture ranging from folk games and handicraft workshops. To give visitors are better feel of the traditional lifestyle, the townsfolk staff are actually dressed in period clothings and accompanied by farm animals which emphasises the subsistence lifestyle  of those days.

 

If you’re a big fan of K dramas and would love to be “on set”, you definitely have to check out Daejanggeum Park which is a large film set used by MBC to film historical dramas. The park became very popular after the drama Dae Jang Geum, which explains the name for the park. The set may seem to most people as fake and inauthentic, but in actuality, the park has been recreated based on historical records, which enables for a accurate representations of the structures and cultures of the historic times. You can even choose to put on a hanbok and pose for photos at the special photo zones. Expect to see the traditional marketplace, yeolseongak pavilion and military drill hall which are popular sets for the various historical dramas. It takes about 2 hours to complete the whole park, so do try to allocated more time for this. Admission fees are as follows - 7000 KRW for adults, 6000 KRW for teens and 5000 KRW for children.

 

 

Address: 199, Everland-ro, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do

How to Get There: Everland - Jeondae-Everland Station (Exit 3)

Korean Folk Village - Suwon Station (Exit 5). Take Bus No.10-5 or 37 to Korean Folk Village or Nagok Village.

Daejanggeum Park - From Yongin Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 10 to Baekam.

- Transfer to Bus No. 105 and get off at MBC Set Bus Stop.

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