If you find yourself on Korea’s southern coast, a little north of Busan, check out Ulsan, Korea’s Motor City. But why is it South Korea’s Motor City? That is because it is the original founding spot and home of Hyundai, that famous producer of cars, container ships, and scores of electronics and mechanical devices we all know and love. Hyundai helped Korea rebuild after the devastating Korean War and propel it (pun intended!) into the modern powerhouse and economic superpower that we know South Korea to be today.
But Ulsan has more to offer than just cars, ships, and other modern gadgets. Get ready to discover some of Ulsan’s hidden gems and cool spots!
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We will begin with one of Ulsan’s major temples, Jeongtosa. Jeongtosa means “Pure Land” in Korean and refers to the Pure Land realm ruled by Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of infinite light.
Jeongtosa is an impressive temple complex that is popular with both the native Korean population and interestingly, the local Vietnamese population. During the festivities of Buddha’s Birthday, the Vietnamese community will come with their own lantern floats to join in the celebrations together.
Jeongtosa is a good visit year-round, though, and features a series of Buddha statues dedicated to famous stupas around the globe, and an impressive standing statue of the Buddha. The temple has recently been refurbished and displays an interesting mix of traditional and more contemporary Korean Buddhist art.
Address: 3 Yetgol-ro 42(sasibi)beon-gil, Sujeong-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Ulsan Grand Park Rose Garden
Ulsan’s Grand Park in Ok-dong is a spectacular place to visit for sure. It is the largest urban park in South Korea and wherever in the park you find yourself, the park will have some lovely views to enjoy.
The Grand Park also has a truly stunning and impressive Rose Garden. One can find beautiful rows of blossoms from all over the world that displays a technicolor tapestry that is truly Instagrammable! Not only that but the small zoo is fun to stroll through and see some exotic animals like monkeys and fennec foxes.
Address: 94 Daegongwon-ro, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea
Though cafes are ubiquitous all over South Korea, and cat cafes, in particular, are commonly found too, we would like to nominate Cafe Torcello as a particularly special hidden gem of a cafe in Ulsan.
The venue is avant-garde and features some interestingly and charmingly rustic mixed with modern seating and interior. The cats include some exotic and wondrous breeds like Siamese, Persians, and even at least 1 Bengal cat. Talk about a wild experience! As for the coffee? It is delectable too! Grab a cup and enjoy the company of some fancy cats.
Address: 950 baenae-Ro sangbuk-Myon, Ulsan 44909, South Korea
Operating Hours: (Mon-Fri) 10:30am – 8:30pm, (Sat) 9am – 10pm, (Sun) 9am – 7pm
Amethyst Cavern Park
This hidden gem is literally a hidden gem! The Amethyst Cavern Park is an incredibly unique and interesting place in Ulsan and Korea at large. The cave has been producing impressive and high-quality amethyst going back to Korea’s Silla kingdom. The cavern was also mined for amethyst during the Japanese occupation when amethyst was a coveted mineral.
Today, the cave is a park that features modern, ancient, eclectic, and wondrous sites and experiences. A stone Buddha can be found in the cave but so too can one find dinosaurs, ancient Egyptian replica artifacts, a boat tour, a wine shop, and even a laser light show. Needless to say this park rocks (sorry we couldn’t help that one!).
Address: 112 Jasujeong-ro, Samnam-myeon, Ulju-gun, Ulsan, South Korea
Operating Hours: (Mon-Sun) 24 hours
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Thirsty Monk Taphouse
Ulsan’s Samsan area is the place to be for vivacious nightlife. While we encourage you to go out and discover your own gems as naturally and safely as you can, we suggest the Thirsty Monk Taphouse as one, in particular, to seek out.
No, unfortunately not Buddhist monks, but rather more of the Trappist variety of monks are being referenced here! This drinking establishment has lots of great beer on tap and offers a chill and laid-back atmosphere where one can enjoy some stiffer beverages. Darts and excellent food are to be had, too.
Address: 1254-1 Dal-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea
Operating Hours: Daily, 5pm – 2am
More than Motor in the Motor City
We hope these hidden gems have enticed you to come and give Ulsan a visit as soon as you can! This city has lots to offer and tons to see and do here. We can all thank Hyundai for putting Ulsan on the map, but we believe some of these hidden gems will jazz up any visit to this stunning locale.
Planning a trip to South Korea soon? Be sure to equip yourself with high speed, unlimited 4G WiFi coverage across the nation! Rental of pocket WiFi is available on a pay per day basis, which can connect up to 3 devices from S$3.39/day. Save even more $$$ and travel fuss-free to Ulsan with the Korea Rail Pass!