Guide to Summer in Korea’s South Coast

Guide to Summer in Korea’s South Coast

From Gyeongju’s historical glory to the quaint little island of Odongdo, here’s where you can explore in the summer!

Heading to South Korea in the summer? Lucky you, for there are SO many things for you to explore and discover during this beautiful season! Here’s where you can go if you’re in its South Coast. 

Gyeongju

Gyeongju was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, but most people know Gyeongju as the setting of many Korean historical dramas. Located an hour by bus from Busan, Gyeongju is famous for its ancient structures that have withstood the test of time – albeit with some restoration involved, since most of them are almost one thousand years old. 

1. The imperial mounds

korea south coast

From afar, they look like voluptuous hills, but these are actually burial mounds for the imperial family and noble classes of the Silla period. Some mounds are bigger, indicating that the person buried within the mound was probably more powerful than others at a time when he/she was alive. 

On closer inspection, one of the mounds is actually accessible to the public. The Heavenly Horse Mound houses one of the kings of Silla Kingdom, although no one knows who. Inside the mound, you can see artifacts belonging to the imperial kingdom. Fear not, there aren’t any dead bodies for you to see inside the mound.

2. Woljeonggyo

korea south coast

This massive vermillion bridge is the longest bridge in Korea made completely of wood. Although this is not the original bridge from the Silla Kingdom, the bridge has been constructed based on the original design of the bridge. Woljeonggyo is also known as the bridge with the best night view in Korea: in the evening, the lights shine on the vermillion lacquer to create  stunning scenery.  

Next to Woljeonggyo is the Kyochon Hanok Village, a small traditional village housing modern eating and drinking options. Replenish your energy at the village before touring nearby sites, which include Woljeonggyo and the ancient Cheomseongdae, the tallest observatory during the Silla period.

3. Gyeongju East Palace Gardens and Bird Park

Gyeongju is not just a town full of ancient attractions. Located 10 minutes from Gyeongju’s city centre is Bomun resort area, a lake surrounded by resort hotels and attractions befitting a resort. Other than the Gyeongju World amusement park and water park, the other famous (and more affordable) attraction is the Gyeongju East Palace Gardens.

Gyeongju East Palace Gardens is a botanical garden and zoological garden within a single compound, the first of its kind in Korea. The glass buildings are actually modelled after Silla’s palace buildings, adding a modern twist to the ancient structures of Gyeongju. Besides, the buildings are air-conditioned, allowing you to spend time to admire the flora within.

The highlight of the botanical garden is the large greenhouse with an elevated walkway. Next to the botanical garden is the bird park, which actually has other animals besides birds. However, the star attraction of the bird park is the free-range birdcage, where visitors can enter and interact with the birds. The bird park, just like the greenhouse, is within an air-conditioned building.

Tongyeong

Located on the south coast of the Korean peninsula is the port city of Tongyeong. Once a strategic naval port under the command of the great admiral Yi Sun Shin, it has now become a quaint little city that serves up great seafood along with stunning sea views. Tongyeong does not have a train station, so the best option to visit here is a 90-minute bus ride from Busan (with spectacular views of the sea, of course). Here are some things to do in Tongyeong.

1. Mireuksan

Being the highest mountain in Tongyeong at 461 metres high, Mireuksan offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape and is a must-visit when you’re in Tongyeong. There are two ways to reach the top of Mireuksan. The first route – which most people choose – is by cable car from the foot of the mountain. At a total length of almost two kilometres, this is the longest cable car in Korea. 

korea south coast

The other way is by hiking to the top of the mountain, a moderate walk that will take around two and a half hours. The advantage of hiking is being able to catch the sunrise and sunset at the peak, since the cable opens an hour after sunrise and closes an hour before sunset. Along the well-marked hiking roads are temples that you can visit, such as Yonghwasa. 

2. Visit an island

There are so many islands near Tongyeong to explore (151 to be exact), and two of them – Jangsado and Hansando – can be reached easily from Tongyeong’s tourist cruise terminal. Jangsado is known as Camellia Island for the huge amount of camellia blossoms during the month of November. Drama fans will recognize the island as the place where “My Love From The Stars” was filmed. The ride to the island costs 23000 Korean won, which includes the return ferry ride and two hours of free time to explore the island.

Hansando is the closer of the two islands, known by the locals as the site of the Battle of Hansan Island. The ferry ride to the island costs 16000 Korean won, and includes a ferry tour of the surrounding islands before allowing guests an hour to explore the island’s famous temple, Jeseungdang.

3. Dongpirang Mural Village

The murals in Dongpirang Mural Village did not exist at first. They were drawn by local artists in order to save the village, which was on the brink of demolition. Since then, the murals have attracted tourists and artists alike, who come to admire the murals along with the view of Tongyeong harbour.

4. Yi Sun Shin Maritime Park

You cannot visit Tongyeong without visiting an attraction dedicated to its founder, the great admiral Yi Sun Shin. The maritime park, located at the end of Tongyeong city, has a statue of Yi Sun Shin overlooking the sea (the other place you can find a statue of Yi Sun Shin is in Seoul). 

Being a park in honour of the naval commander, there are plaques describing the achievements of Yi Sun Shin near the statue. However, most visitors just visit the park for its unobstructed views of the sea. There is even a small beach and a small cliff where visitors can walk out to the sea.

Yeosu

Yeosu, located at the end of the Honam KTX line, rose to prominence when it hosted the World Expo in 2012. Since then, it has become known for more than the city that held a world expo. With the best night view of the sea in Korea, Yeosu is definitely a place you have to go on your trip across the Korean peninsula. 

1. Yeosu Expo site

Even though the expo is over, the sites are still open for the public to see. The famous attraction within the expo site is the Big O, a giant ring on the water that comes to life during night time fountain show (enquire at your accommodation for details; the show is not always on every night). 

Next to the Big O is the Hanwha Aqua Planet Yeosu, the second largest aquarium in Korea. The aquarium houses many different kinds of fish and sea animals, but the best part is the feeding sessions conducted at different timings. You might even have a chance to feed these animals!

2. Odongdo

Image credit: travel oriented

Next to the Yeosu Expo Site is the small island of Odongdo. Part of the Hallyeohaesang National Park, Odongdo is actually the easiest national park to access in Korea. Unlike other places that require car rides and days to explore fully, visitors just need to walk for 10 minutes across a bridge before they reach the island. For those even lazier (or feeling the summer heat), there is a train that covers the distance for 2000 Korean won. After crossing the bridge, the grounds can be covered within half a day. 

Besides hiking the well-marked routes on the island, you can visit Odongdo Lighthouse for views of the mainland and nearby islands. For those who want to see the island from a different angle, consider taking the boat tour (minimum 5 people) or the speedboat tour for 2 people.

3. Yeosu Cable Car

Image credit: singiru2000

This cable car, dubbed “one of its kind” by Korea’s tourism board, connects Yeosu with the neighbouring island of Dolsan. This makes Yeosu Cable Car one of the few cable cars in Korea that go above the sea. The cable car connects the two hilltop parks of Jasan and Dolsan, both with magnificent viewpoints and an array of food options. 

There are two kinds of cable cars you can take: the normal cabin and the premium glass cabin. The glass cabin is not for the faint-hearted, as the floor of the cable car is made of transparent glass, making you feel like you’re floating on top of the sea.

4. Manseongri Beach

It would be weird if we didn’t cover a beach while talking about a city by the sea. However, Manseongri isn’t your typical beach: it’s filled with black sand! There are other more popular beaches with black sand (read: Jeju), but at Manseongri you do not need to fight with crowds to enjoy a relaxing time. 

The ride from Yeosu’s city centre to the beach was also quite cool. The beach can only be accessed from the city by a single-lane tunnel, with traffic lights at both ends to direct vehicles. Going through the tunnel feels like you’re being transported back in time.

Watch this space as we’ll introduce you how to experience the best of South Korea in the other seasons!

About Author

Avatar
Lucas Neo

Lucas is always at home researching for his next travel destination. When he’s not doing that, he’s most likely heading to the airport to catch a flight to an exciting location. Lucas enjoys wandering around and exploring beautiful attractions, but he never turns down a spot of retail therapy too.

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES BY Lucas Neo



Related Posts