When it comes to planning a trip to South Korea, most travellers tend to only include the main few cities in their itinerary, such as Seoul, Busan or Jeju. In fact, there are a lot more places waiting to be discovered in provinces like Gangwon-do and Gyeonggi-do, and it is possible to visit these cities on the outskirts by taking day trips from Seoul!
Here are 10 Charming Hallyu Spots to get you started on your itinerary planning to explore the Gangwon and Gyeonggi provinces:
1. Jeonggangwon 한국전통음식문화체험관 (PyeongChang, Gangwon-do)
PyeongChang is not only known as the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games – it’s also a city of nature filled with heartwarming cuisine.
Enter into the world of traditional Korean Cuisine at Jeonggangwon in PyeongChang and be mesmerised by the fascinating culinary culture that has been well studied and preserved since the establishment of the complex in 1999.
Today, Jeonggangwon provides an array of experiences for visitors to learn about Korean traditional food, clothing and houses. There are plenty of facilities to enjoy, such as a Food Museum, Hanbok Experience room, traditional Korean House stay (Hanok stay), cooking classes, and more.
Over here, visitors can learn how to make Tofu from scratch, or even traditional recipes for various types of rice cakes, Kimchi, Bibimbap, and more. (Note: Cooking classes are for groups of 10 or more, and phone reservation is required in advance)
The most authentic experience at the top of our recommendation would be the traditional Korean meal – Hanjeongsik (Korean table d’hôte), which is served full-course with a wide variety of Banchan dishes. The kitchen uses farm produce cultivated on the property, as well as seasonal herbs and vegetables collected in the nearby mountains to make and ferment the side dishes, sauces and paste. When natural ingredients and beautiful scenery come together, it’s like the best of both worlds!
Fun-fact: Jeong Gang Won is also the filming location for K-drama hit ‘Sikgaek’ (2008), starred by Kim Rae-won and Nam Sang-mi.
Address: 21-4, Baekokpo-ri, Yongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
Reservation: +82 033-333-1011 (Cooking classes, Hanok stay, Traditional Korean Meal)
Getting here: Take an express bus bound for Jangpyeong from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal. Thereafter, you can take a taxi (~₩6,000) to the complex.
2. Daegwallyeong Sky Ranch 대관령 하늘목장 (PyeongChang, Gangwon-do)
Daegwallyeong Sky Ranch is one of the most popular spots to visit in PyeongChang, Gangwon-do all year round. Every winter, the sky ranch transforms into a winter wonderland so you can imagine how beautiful it is when the entire place is covered with fluffy white snow.
A family-friendly place suitable for all ages, visitors will be able to engage in sheep feeding experiences at the feeding site and take in the enchanting scenery of the ranch from the summit, accessible by the tractor carriage.
The summit is a beautiful sight to behold – it’s also a popular filming location for K-dramas, K-variety shows and K-Pop music videos, such as ‘Cinderella and the Four Knights’, ‘Bride of the Water God’, GOT7’s ‘You Are’ MV, Monsta X’s ‘Newton’ MV, Snuper’s ‘The Star of Stars’ MV, and more.
Address: 458-23, Kkotbadyangji-gil, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do (강원도 평창군 대관령면 꽃밭양지길 458-23)
Telephone: +82 333-228-0613
Operating hours: [Jan-Mar & Oct-Dec] 9am to 5:30pm / [Apr-Sep] 9am to 6pm (Note: Last admission is 1 hour before closing)
Admission fee: ₩6,000 (Adult) / ₩5,000 (Child)
Tractor Carriage fee: ₩6,000 (Adult) / ₩5,000 (Child)
Feeding Experience: ₩2,000 (for the hay)
Getting here: Take an intercity bus to Hoenggye (횡계) Bus Terminal from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal. Thereafter, hop onto a taxi to the sky ranch (~₩10,000).
What to Eat in PyeongChang?
Gangwon-do is known for having the cleanest environment in South Korea, so the province’s food is usually made with natural ingredients that are simple, healthy and delicious. Ingredients such as buckwheat and potatoes are commonly used in PyeongChang, where dishes like buckwheat noodles and pancakes are popular.
Du-il Makguksu is a 40-year old traditional restaurant that specializes in Makguksu (Korean buckwheat noodles) and is well known amongst the locals for their delicacies. They also serve whole chicken soup with Neungi (mushroom) made using homegrown chickens; talk about how fresh and natural their ingredients are!
The restaurant is not exactly the easiest to locate especially for foreigners, but still there are intercity buses that stop right outside the eatery. Ask the local taxi drivers and they would probably know where. It is recommended to visit here in a group (2 persons and above) so that you can try out a variety of traditional dishes.
Address: 151-4, Duil-ri, Jinbu-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do (강원도 평창군 진부면 방아다리로 324)
Telephone: +82 033-335-8414
Opening hours: 10am to 7pm
Here’s another secret spot to share: We discovered this hidden gem in PyeongChang that really stands out in the countryside!
A well-loved container cafe popular for its brunch menu, Kkorovei is a family-operated cafe that is all about food and aesthetics. Not only do they serve food that are 100% organic and locally sourced, the cafe boasts a charming interior set in a modern and minimal space too!
The local food cafe has been in the scene since 2014, where they placed much focus on creating dishes using natural ingredients. From food presentation to taste, the dishes are appealing to the global palate. 10/10 would return again!
Address: 780-3, Mu-i-ri, Bongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do (강원도 평창군 봉평면 태기로68)
Opening hours: 10:30am to 9.30pm (Brunch is until 3pm) (Closed on Mondays)
Telephone: +82 033-332-2649
3. Terarosa Coffee Factory 테라로사 커피공장 (Gangneung, Gangwon-do)
Gangneung is the city of coffee and no visit is complete without making a trip down to the Terarosa Coffee Factory headquartered in the city, which also houses a museum, café & bakery, restaurant, and an art shop.
Terarosa Coffee is the largest specialty coffee brand in Korea since 2002. They started out as a coffee factory but over the years expanded their business by opening cafés around the country.
Every year, their staff members would also travel to coffee producing countries to source for high quality coffee beans too!
Trust us when we say that their coffee is out of the world – its aroma and flavour will make you want to come back again and again for more! (Their desserts, especially the Tiramisu and Pecan Pie, are to die for!)
It’s not surprising to see many people queuing for the coffee here even on weekdays.
Book a museum tour* in advance and learn about the origins of Terarosa Coffee, such as the various stages the coffee beans have to go through before the whole natural process to make a cup of specialty coffee. (*Tour is only conducted in Korean, but the museum has wall labels and captions in English too)
We were mind-blown after learning the stories, to say the least. It definitely makes us appreciate coffee better, thanks to the interesting tour that is a total eye-opener even for non-coffee lovers!
Address: 7 Hyeoncheon-gil, Gujeong-myeon, Gangneung City
Telephone: +82 010-2243-2760
Opening hours: 9am to 9pm daily (Café & Bakery) / 10am to 6pm (Museum)
Getting here: From Gangneung Station or Gangneung Express/Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 191 and alight at the final stop (Haksan Seolrea-gil). The bus ride takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
4. Ojukheon House 오죽헌 (Gangneung, Gangwon-do)
Nestled inside an abundance of lush greenery and well-maintained courtyards lies a traditional 500-year-old wooden house that’s said to be one of Korea’s oldest residential houses. Named after black bamboo trees that grow around the area, Ojukheon is the house where Shin Saimdang and Yulgok Yi I lived during the Joseon Dynasty.
If you do not have the slightest clue on who they are, these are the monetary figures on the Korean notes for ₩50,000 and ₩5,000 bills respectively; the world’s first mother and son portraits on bills.
There is a dedicated photo zone where these traditional houses actually appeared on the old ₩5,000 bills in the past.
You can also find the oldest living tree in Ojukheon, a 600-year-old crape myrtle! It was said that actress Lee Young-ae (who played the role of ‘Shin Saimdang’ in K-drama ‘Saimdang, Light’s Diary’) once visited here with her husband and prayed in front of the tree for a wise child, where she successfully conceived a pair of twins a few months later. So interestingly, this particular spot has been attracting many people ever since the story went viral!
Address: 24, Yulgok-ro 3139beon-gil, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do (강원도 강릉시 율곡로3139번길 24)
Opening hours: [Mar-Oct] 8am to 6:30pm / [Nov-Feb] 9am to 6pm (Ticketing ends 1 hour before closing)
Admission fee: ₩3,000 (Adult) / ₩2,000 (Youth) / ₩1,000 (Child)
Getting here: From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take a bus to Gangneung Bus Terminal and transfer to Bus No. 200/203/204/205. Alight at Ojukheon Bus Stop.
5. Youngjin Beach 영진해변 (Gangneung, Gangwon-do)
K-drama fans would be familiar with the iconic breakwater scene from ‘Goblin’, which was actually filmed right here in the city of Gangneung at the Youngjin Beach. This was where the two main characters met for the first time when Eun-tak accidentally summoned Kim Shin as she stood at the edge of the breakwater.
This attraction has been on the rise ever since the drama aired, and to date there are still many visitors flocking here just to capture the dreamy shot! While there are several similar breakwaters along the beach, the one right in front of the huge signage or Haerang Seafood Restaurant is the exact location where the scene was filmed.
Address: 1609 Haean-ro, Jumunjin-eup, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Getting here: Take Bus No. 101 from Gangneung Bus Terminal bus stop and alight at Yonggang-dong Western City Hall. Transfer to Bus No. 300 and get off at Samcheon-ri A bus stop. Youngjin Beach is 10 minutes away on foot.
6. Jumunjin Beach 주문진 해변 (Gangneung, Gangwon-do)
A distance away from Youngjin Beach is another famed attraction known as Jumunjin Beach. This place has become a popular site among the tourists and K-Pop fans because it’s the exact location where global sensation BTS filmed their album jacket for ‘You Never Walk Alone’ as well as their ‘Spring Day’ music video!
Set against the clear blue water, one can easily spot the “BTS Bus Stop” at the beach which serves as a photo zone. It’s not an actual bus stop, but rather a replica of it complete with the iconic bus stop sign, both installed by the Gangneung City Government in July 2018.
Besides the bus stop, there are also a couple of props and cafes nearby that are totally perfect for the grams. You can easily spend an hour or two strolling along the beach and recreate the scenes from BTS’ photoshoot or MV!
Getting here: Take Bus No. 302 or 315 to Juminjin Beach if you’re coming from Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal. Otherwise, Bus. No. 300 or 302 from Gangneung Station will bring you here too. (Alternatively, check out this day tour from Seoul.)
What to Eat in Gangneung?
After a day of walking and exploring, a piping hot bowl of Soondubu (Tofu) sounds like the perfect way for you to recharge your batteries. If there’s a type of food to recommend in Gangneung, it has definitely got to be Tofu, the city’s representative food.
Enter Chodang Tofu Village, a Tofu heaven made out of a cluster of over 20 stores selling specialty Tofu dishes. Unlike how the rest of Korea does their Tofu, this area takes regular Tofus up a notch by using all-natural ingredients to produce them. That means unlike others, the tofu here is made with seaweed-infused water, giving it its signature milky taste and soft and fluffy texture that’s unlike any other.
You can even find gelato made out of Tofu and won’t feel guilty for over-indulging in these sweet treats. The taste of the Tofu gelato is out of the world!
With so many restaurants available to choose from, one will be so spoilt for choices. Most of the Tofu dishes here are vegetarian-friendly too! If you have more time to spend in Gangneung, check out this 1-day guide here for more places to visit.
Getting here: Take Bus No. 206, 207 or 230 from the Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal, alight at Gangneung High School and walk for 5 minutes. The bus ride takes about 40 minutes.
Opening hours: Varies by shops
7. Gangchon Rail Park 강촌레일파크 (Chuncheon, Gangwon-do)
Chuncheon is the capital of Gangwon-do and Gangchon Rail Park is one of the major attractions in this city. The rail park has been featured in several variety shows (such as Running Man), where visitors can take a refreshing ride along the old railroad tracks while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Bukhan River.
The route from Gimyujeong Station to Gangchon Station is 8.5km long. After pedalling for 6km (~50 minutes), there’ll be a stop at the rest area, followed by a romantic train ride (~20 minutes) that will end at Gangchon Station, where free shuttle bus back to Gimyujeong Station is available.
There are also activities like zipline at the Gimyujeong Station, making it a popular attraction for family outings, couple dates and group gatherings.
Address: 1383 Gimyujeong-ro, Sindong-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
Telephone: +82 033-245-1000
Operating hours: 9am to 5:30pm daily (Operations end earlier during winter season: Dec-Feb)
Rail Bike fees: ₩30,000 (2-seater) / ₩40,000 (4-seater) (Book a rail bike in advance here)
Rail Bike Departure timing from Gimyujeong: 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm, 5:30pm
Getting here: Take the subway to Gimyujeong Station (Exit 1) and walk 50m to the Rail Park.
What to Eat in Chuncheon?
For some reasons, Chuncheon is really famous for their Dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) and Makguksu (spicy buckwheat noodles). So if you’re in the area, be sure to savour two of Chuncheon and Gangwon-do’s most beloved dishes, because it cannot get more authentic than having these in the city itself.
In Chuncheon, there are three major dakgalbi streets, with Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street being the most popular one among the locals and tourists. Don’t be confused with the Myeongdong street in Seoul because they’re totally different! The one in downtown Chuncheon is well known for their resturants offering specialized dakgalbi and makguksu dishes.
Getting here: Take Bus No. 7, 9, 64 or 64-2 from Chuncheon Intercity Bus Terminal and alight at Chuncheon Myeongdong (~10 minutes). Another option would be Bus No. 63 from Chuncheon Station (~10 minutes), alight at the same stop.
8. Pocheon Art Valley 포천아트밸리 (Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do)
About an hour and 20 minutes drive from Seoul will get you to Pocheon Art Valley, a popular culture and arts space well-loved by the locals. If you’re thinking of a day trip out of Seoul, Pocheon (in Gyeonggi-do) would be a good option to consider, though, we reckon this attraction itself will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours to explore.
Pocheon Art Valley is made up of various experiential zones that are family-friendly, including an exhibition hall for stone culture, an astronomical science museum, a sculpture park, Doleum Stairway, and more. It is most famous for the Cheonjuho Lake, which is a familiar sight to K-drama fanatics as this was where several K-dramas (such as ‘Legends of the Blue Sea’, ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’, ‘A Korean Odyssey’, etc) shot their scenes here.
To get to Cheonjuho Lake, you can either follow the trail or hop onto the monorail. The recommended route will be via monorail as the trail is pretty steep (we definitely don’t recommend you to walk up during the hot summer!) whereas monorail will take only 5 minutes each way.
Tip #1: Monorail runs every 15 minutes and it costs ₩4,500 per adult for a round trip.
Tip #2: Visit Pocheon Art Valley during the weekend from April to October to enjoy a variety of outdoor performances at the Sanmaru Concert Hall!
Getting here: Take Bus No. 3000 or 3001 from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal and alight at Pocheon Intercity Bus Terminal (~1.5 hours). From the bus terminal, take Bus No. 67 or 67-1 to Pocheon Art Valley Bus Stop. (Alternatively, you can also book a day tour from Seoul here)
Opening hours: [March to October] 9am to 10pm (gate closes for entry at 8pm, with the exception of Mondays which closes at 6pm) / [November to February] 9am to 9pm (gate closes for entry at 7pm, with the exception of Mondays which closes at 6pm)
Admission fee: ₩5,000 (Adult) / ₩3,000 (Youth) / ₩1,500 (Child)
9. Mirinae Holy Site 미리내 성지 (Anseong, Gyeonggi-do)
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city lies Mirinae Holy Site, a humble and beautiful cathedral situated in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do. This sacred place has been getting some attention in the recent years for being known as one of the filming sites for popular K-dramas ‘Goblin’ and ‘Memories of the Alhambra’.
Today, many pilgrims still continue to visit the holy site, be it for religious reasons or for their own beliefs and faith.
Even though the journey may be a little far from Seoul (~1.5 hours), it’s pretty worth a visit here for a peaceful and serene getaway from the city.
Getting here: Buses run every 60 minutes (6:50am to 9:10pm) from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal to Anseong. Take an intercity bus (one hour interval) at the Nonghyeop shop behind Anseong Bus Terminal to get to Mirinae Holy Site.
Opening Hours: 8am to 6pm
10. Gwangmyeong Cave 광명동굴 (Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi-do)
Selected as the 2019-2020 Top 100 Must-Visit Tourist Sites in Korea, Gwangmyeong Cave is a cave theme park located in Gwangmyeong City, Gyeonggi-do.
Be amazed by the in-cave attractions within the theme park which was reopened from an abandoned mine after 40 years!
There are various light theme experiences in the cave, including the ‘LIGHT SPACE’ with dancing LED lights, the ‘Cave Art Center’ that features an incredibly enjoyable media facade show, the ‘Cave Aqua World’ which is the first of its kind in Korea, a 194m-long Wine Cave, and more!
There is also a golden waterfall that is 9m tall and 8.5m wide, where 1.4 ton of water flows down every minute.
Visitors can purchase a Golden Plague for ₩5,000 and pen down their wishes at the back of it to hang on the Wishing Wall. There are different plagues that symbolize Longevity, Fortune, Peace and Health.
If there is one place in Gyeonggi-do we would not think twice to return again, it’s gonna be the Gwangmyeong Cave. The variety of activities here make for a really fun and eye-opening experience for visitors of all ages. Remember to bring along a jacket or dress warmly inside the cave as it’s gonna be cold!
Address: 142, Gahak-ro 85-beon-gil, Gwangmyeong-si, Gyeonggi-do
Telephone: +82 70-4277-8902
Operating hours: 9am to 6pm (Last admission is 1 hour before closing) (Closed on Mondays)
Admission fees: ₩6,000 (Adult) / ₩3,500 (Youth) / ₩2,000 (Child)
Getting here: From Cheolsan Subway Station (Line 7, Exit 2) or Gwangmyeong KTX Station, take Bus No. 17 and alight at Gwangmyeong Cave Terminal.
There are so many interesting places to explore out of the usual cities. Plan your itinerary well and have fun exploring!
This post is brought to you in collaboration with KTO Singapore.