For the Korean Thanksgiving Holiday, Chuseok, I traveled to three different tourist sites that each take about 1-2 hours from Gwangju, Korea. The surrounding area, Jeollanam-do, is full of beautiful nature and delicious food. Here are the places and things that I recommend, and how to get there.
Boseong Green Tea Plantation
Boseong is famous for their green tea fields. You can also purchase tea leaves, and they also have green tea flavored noodles, dumplings, cookies, and ice cream.
The tickets were 4,000 KRW.
From the top of the hill, you can also see the ocean in the distance.
If you want to try their hot green tea, you can enter the cafeteria for 1,000 KRW per person.
Damyang Bamboo Forest
Damyang is has a big bamboo forest called the 죽녹원 (Juknokwon). I thought it would be similar to the bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan, but the area is much bigger than you think. My friends and I got lost and didn’t get to see everything before the sun set.
The tickets were 3,000 KRW each.
We noticed that a lot of people left their name on the bamboo. One of my friends said she used a car key and a coin, but the coin got smaller and smaller as they used it!
My friends and I liked the bamboo swings and benches.
We also enjoyed some bamboo leaf ice cream. It didn’t have a distinct flavor but I would say that it’s like a weak mint-like flavor.
Apparently there was a huge green panda statue but my friends and I couldn’t get to that… but we found a trampoline instead! The trampoline said 뛰지마 (Don’t jump!), but everyone else did it, so we jumped on it anyways.
This area is famous for their 죽통밥(bamboo bowl rice) and 떡갈비 (ground beef patty). It may be a little pricy, but remember that you will also get plenty of side dishes.
Suncheonman (Suncheon Bay)
I had the least expectations for this place, but this turned out to be the place with the most beautiful view of my trip.
My friends and I bought tickets that allow an entrance for the Suncheon Bay Garden (순천만정원) and the Suncheon Bay Ecological Park (순천만자연생태공원). It was 8,000 KRW.
In the afternoon we went to Suncheon Bay Garden. It is a large park with many themed gardens. There were many families there.
After enjoying the garden, we took the Sky Cube, which roughly connects the garden and the ecological park. After getting off the station near the park, we had to walk another 20 minutes or so to get to the park entrance. If you see a bigger bridge you’re there.
In order to see the most beautiful part of Suncheon Bay, you need to be at this bridge at least an hour before sunset. My friends and I were running late for the sunset, so we were rushing through the 40 minute hike on flatland and uphill… Thankfully we were lucky enough to have the best weather and saw this view…!
One of the locals told us that he went there four times, but never got the chance to see a clear view of the sunset because of the weather…
Suncheon is also known for their unique seafood dishes. This is 짱뚱어탕 (Bluespotted mud hopper soup)– a fish soup that is heavily flavored with 깻잎 (Korean sesame leaves). The plate was also accompanied with what seemed to be yuzu pepper. This was just okay, in my opinion.
What impressed me more was the 꼬막 (blood cockle clam). My friend and I enjoyed the 꼬막비빔밥 (clam mixed rice).
All of the places that I have visited are all good for casual exercise. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking for long hours up and down some hills. Hope you enjoy your time there!
How to get there
Traveling from Seoul to Gwangju
KTX– The KTX station in Gwangju is called the Gwangju-Songjeong Station. There is no KTX running through Gwangju Station. As far as I know, when you depart from Seoul, you would always have to transfer somewhere in order to get to Gwangju City. The price fluctuates depending on where you have your transfer, and what kind of seat you purchase.
- Yongsan > Iksan > Gwangju-Songjeong (2 hours)
32,000 KRW for an assigned seating in a normal car
- Seoul > [transfer point] > Gwangju-Songjeong (2 hours)
18,000 KRW for an assigned seating in a normal car
Bus– The bus ride is 3 hours. There is a bus leaving every 15 minutes, and there may be more on busy weekends. The prices are usually between 17,000 to 26,000 KRW.
- Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (동서울버스터미널) near Gangbyeon Station > Gwangju Bus Terminal
- Central Seoul Bus Terminal (센트럴 서울호남, the newer one) near Express Bus Terminal Station > Gwangju Bus Terminal
Traveling from Gwangju
Start at the Gwangju Bus Terminal and just purchase a ticket the day of. There is a bus running every 15-30 minutes. When you get to Boseong Intercity Bus Terminal, you can take a local bus or take a taxi to the Daehan Dawon. The taxi ride is approximately 10,000 KRW.
Damyang is the most closest location from Gwangju, so you can take a local bus 311 from Gwangju Station to the Juknokwon. There are several buses that get there, so you can also seek advice from the hotel or hostel you stay at for the best route from your location.
Start at the Gwangju Bus Terminal and just purchase a ticket the day of. There is a bus running every 15-30 minutes.
When you get to Suncheon Bus Terminal, take the green bus 101 to go to the Suncheon Bay Garden. (This bus stop is farther from the bus terminal, so if you know some Korean, please use a Korean map app, and if you can’t it may be best to just take a taxi. The 8 minute taxi drive will cost around 4,400 KRW.)
When you leave from the Suncheon Bay Ecological Park, take bus 67 back to the bus terminal. (A taxi ride would be 20 minutes and around 8,500 KRW)