If you’re a first-time traveller going to South Korea, chances are that the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) will be on your itinerary. If you have another day to spare, why not check out Paju?
Paju, a city in the Gyeonggi province of South Korea, lies just south of the DMZ. And it has quite a fair bit to offer. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to splurge on a shopping spree. Or if you want to spend a cosy afternoon there accompanied by some books.
A less-than-an-hour bus ride is all you need to get away from Seoul’s hustle and bustle, to immerse yourself in the city’s serenity and zen. Here are six things to do, and see in Paju.
1. Shopping spree at premium outlets
For the ladies, you’re in luck. There are two premium outlets in Paju, separated only by a 30-minute bus ride away from each other.
We’d recommend going to the Lotte Premium Outlets (Paju Branch) first before a twenty-minute bus ride on bus 2200 to the Paju Premium Outlets. Both outlets boast a wide spectrum of luxury brands to day-to-day casual wear brands.
The best part of it all? Prices are pretty reasonable.
2. A peek into history at the Third Tunnel of Aggression
A history geek instead? The Third Tunnel of Aggression might intrigue you instead. This incomplete tunnel, which spans a distance of 1,635 metres, is one of four known tunnels under the border between North Korea and South Korea.
Its name, the “tunnel of aggression” was termed by South Korea, who considered it an act of aggression on the part of North Korea.
Pro tip: Photography is forbidden within the tunnel.
3. Immerse yourself at the Paju Book City
Another highlight of Paju has to be its Book City. A giant cultural complex owned by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, bookworms will be spoilt for choices.
Even if you’re just a leisure reader, there’s no harm in checking out the plethora of titles it offers.
Other than viewing books, there are also publishing houses in the Paju Book City, where visitors can get a glimpse of the process of book publishing. If you prefer something else, the city also has art galleries, book cafes and exhibition spaces.
4. Go artsy at the Paju Hyeri Art Village
The Hyeri Art Village is another example of the city’s commitment to culture and arts. Initially constructed by artists, writers and other creatives, it is now Korea’s largest artistic community.
In the village, you can find more than 50 galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants supporting over 500 artists. This doesn’t come as a surprise for a small town built by and for artists. Each structure is designed in unique and forward architectural styles.
5. Snap photos for the ‘gram at Paju English Village
The Paju English Village has a mysterious allure to it. Step foot inside and you’ll feel like you’re transported to Western countries; when you’re in fact in South Korea.
We recommend heading there in the morning or the afternoon for some shots. There aren’t many things to do there per se, but it’s always refreshing to indulge in the Victorian-style architecture there.
K-dramas like Memories of the Alhambra and EXO’s music video for Miracles in December (2013) have been filmed there too.
6. Adrenaline rush at the Majang Lake suspension bridge
Looking for an adrenaline rush? The Majang Lake suspension bridge will sound good to you. A 220-metre-long and 1.5-metre-wide bridge, it is currently the longest of its kind in Korea.
It’s a good idea to take a walk down the bridge in the morning before indulging in a cup of coffee thereafter. There are several cafés there, like the Red Bridge cafe, so you’ll be spoilt for choices.
Pro tip: For the optimal experience, we recommend coming here during the summer season. Spring and autumn work too, but you might want to avoid winter.