Suwon, South Korea: A Guide to the Royal City & Uncrowned Capital

Suwon, South Korea: A Guide to the Royal City That Nearly Became South Korea’s Capital

Your guide to some of Suwon’s most intriguing attractions.

Did you know that the city of Suwon was nearly made the capital of South Korea? Located just south of the capital Seoul, Suwon is the largest city in Gyeonggi-do Province. The city’s distinct 18th-century stone-and-brick fortress walls always impress local and international visitors. Today, Suwon stands out for its rich history, impressive cultural sights, and good food. 

Suwon City is a convenient and popular destination in South Korea for travellers hoping to venture beyond the capital. For one, it’s easy to travel to Suwon from Seoul’s city centre — by train, you can get from Seoul Station to Suwon Station within 40 minutes. Furthermore, it’s possible to explore many of the city’s key attractions within a day, which makes Suwon a good place to explore on a day trip out of Seoul. 

Interested in exploring Suwon City in South Korea? This article guides you through some of Suwon’s best-known attractions, from imposing fortresses to quirky hidden gems.

Also read: 12 Best Day Trips From Seoul & How to Get There

Your guide to Suwon City’s top attractions

1. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

suwon hwaseong fortress

Image credit: Julien Viry via Canva Pro

If you’re visiting the city, then this must be on top of your list! Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is the most distinct landmark in Suwon, South Korea. This sprawling complex has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical and cultural significance. 

During the 18th century, King Jeongjo planned to shift the Joseon dynasty’s capital from Seoul to the town of Suwon in honour of his late father and for other socio-political purposes. As such, the winding Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was built to protect the new capital from potential invasions. 

Image credit: Sanga Park via Canva Pro

Expect to spend a good two to three hours walking down the entire stretch of stone-and-brick fortress walls extending about six kilometres long. As you walk, you’ll come across four fortress gates: Janganmun, Paldalmun, Changnyongmun, and Hwaseomun, with each of them facing the north, south, east, and west respectively.

Some notable attractions within the fortress compound include the Dongbukgongsimdon, a uniquely shaped observation tower with a height of 8 metres. You’ll also see the Bongdon Beacon Towers, which is a row of chimneys that functioned as part of Joseon’s communication system. 

If you visit Suwon Hwaseong Fortress during springtime, you will even see beautiful cherry blossoms across the complex. Overall, the fortress is one of Suwon’s unmissable attractions and is a great spot for travellers to understand more about South Korea’s history. 

Also read: 10 Beautiful Airbnbs for Cherry Blossom Views

2. Gwanggyosan

Suwon, South Korea is also home to quaint nature spots that outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy. Located between the cities of Suwon and Yongin, Gwanggyosan (also known as Gwanggyo Mountain) is a popular spot for outdoor hiking while enjoying lush greenery. The peak of the mountain, Shirubong Peak, rises 852 metres above sea level. And during winter, Gwanggyosan’s snowscapes are exceptionally lovely. 

3. Gwanggyo Lake Park

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Gwanggyo Lake Park is another beautiful nature spot in Suwon City, South Korea. It’s the largest lake park in South Korea’s city centre. Here, you will see two lakes: Woncheon Lake and Sindae Lake. You will also find six fountains with intriguing names, such as the Mysterious Moolnermi (Mysterious Fountain). 

Truly, Gwanggyo Lake Park is a gorgeous place to take a relaxed stroll in refreshing nature. The autumn foliage here will bless your eyes. Furthermore, the park stands out for its lovely night views and romantic atmosphere when the area is illuminated with different colours at night. 

Also read: 13 Magical Cabin Retreats in South Korea to Book on Airbnb

4. Nammun Market

Nammun Market is a vibrant, bustling collective of nine markets: the Gucheon-dong Tool Market, Nammun Rodeo Market, Nammun Fashion 1st Street Market, Motgol Market, Minari Market, Simin Store Market, Yeongdong Market, Jidong Market, and Paldalmun Market. It comes as no surprise that Nammun Market is South Korea’s largest single market. 

Each of these markets specialises in selling different goods. Looking for delicious Korean side dishes to bring home with you? Check out the Motgol and Minari Markets. Eager to take home a beautiful Korean hanbok as a souvenir? Head to the Yeongdong Market instead. No matter what you’re on the hunt for, you’ll very likely find something of interest at Nammun Market!

Locals highlight Nammun Rodeo Market as one of the most popular among the nine individual markets. It’s a very lively spot for arts and culture. Local flea market events are held here, and young artists stage performances at the outdoor youth concert hall and the Nammun Rodeo Art Hall. And at the Rodeo Street Gallery, you’ll see local artwork.

5. Haenggung-dong Mural Village

Artsy travellers will love exploring the city, too! Suwon City, South Korea is home to Haenggung-dong, a colourful neighbourhood located about 10 minutes away from Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. It is home to some of Suwon’s most well-known attractions, including Workshop Street, Suwon Chicken Street, and Jidong Market. 

Notably, the neighbourhood is home to the famous Haenggung-dong Mural Village, which comprises six uniquely themed alleys: the Haengbokha Road (Happy Road), Saranghada Road (Love Road), Nuneuroganeun Road (Road to Snow), Cheoeumachim Road (First Morning Road), Romance Road, and Dwiroganeun Road (Backward Road). 

There are also hipster cafes and workshops located near Haenggung-dong Mural Village. Be sure to check them out!

Fun fact: Several scenes from the famous Korean drama Our Beloved Summer were filmed in Haenggung-dong! For example, you’ll find the park where Choi Ung and Kook Yeon-su dated, as well as Choi Ung’s white-walled house.

6. Suwon Chicken Street

Fried chicken enthusiasts will have a field day visiting this street in Suwon, South Korea! Located at Paldalmun Market within the Haenggung-dong neighbourhood, Suwon Chicken Street is popular amongst both local and international visitors. As its name suggests, this street is famous for its numerous chicken restaurants selling delicious Suwon-style Korean traditional fried chicken, known as Suwon-style tongdak

One of the most established restaurants in Suwon Chicken Street is Maehyang Tongdak, which is famous for its whole fried chicken prepared in a traditional cauldron. Yongseong Tongdak and Jinmi Tongdak are also popular choices. 

Note: Be prepared to queue some time for your fried chicken if you’re visiting Suwon Chicken Street on a weekend!

Also read: Korea Food Alleys: Discovering the Best Things to Eat in Seoul, Busan, and More!

7. Yeonpo Galbi

When in Suwon City, South Korea, meat lovers should definitely try some galbi (grilled ribs), which is another one of Suwon’s top food specialities. Galbi is known for its chewy texture and juicy flavour, and is a very popular traditional dish in South Korea. A great spot to get your galbi fix is Yeonpo Galbi, a restaurant known for its yummy, authentic Suwon-style galbi. Plus, Yeonpo Galbi is conveniently located within a short walking distance from Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, making it an easily accessible galbi spot for day-trippers. 

8. Suwon Museum

History and culture enthusiasts will enjoy learning all about Suwon City at the Suwon Museum. This museum is home to two main exhibition halls: the Suwon Museum of History and the Calligraphy Museum of Korea

At the Suwon Museum of History, visitors can get a taste of what Suwon was like in the 1960s. Meanwhile, the Calligraphy Museum of Korea displays some of Korea’s important calligraphy works, including the writings of ancient Korean kings (known as eopil) and metal writing (known as geumseokmun). Suwon Museum also conducts educational programmes for visitors. 

9. Samsung Innovation Museum

Did you know that the electronics powerhouse Samsung Electronics was founded in Suwon, South Korea? The Samsung Innovation Museum is an electronics and technology-themed museum run by Samsung Electronics, one of South Korea’s most renowned multinational companies, which is also a top electronics manufacturer internationally. 

At this museum, visitors will trace the breakthroughs in world technology over years of history and see some of Samsung’s coolest inventions. The Samsung Innovation Museum houses a History Hall. There are also three cool permanent exhibits: Seeds of Innovation, Core of Innovation, and Inspiring Innovation. Tech buffs will be thoroughly entertained here!

Note: Visitors are required to make an advanced reservation to visit the museum, except on Saturdays.

10. Starfield Suwon

suwon city korea

Image credit: @starfield.official

Meanwhile, Starfield Suwon, which just opened its doors a few months ago, is the largest (and one of the most impressive) shopping complex in Suwon City, South Korea. The size of 46 football stadiums, this sprawling shopping complex is home to lots of retail stores and unique facilities. Starfield Suwon has been specially designed to cater to the modern hobbies of individuals in their 20s and 30s. 

Image credit: @starfield.official

One of Starfield Suwon’s most famous facilities is its elegant Starfield Suwon Library. This massive, dazzling library occupies the fourth to seventh floors and has a height of 22 metres. Bookworms are sure to fall in love with this cosy reading spot.

The shopping complex also offers fun, unique experiences for visitors. Here, you’ll find a trendy vinyl store known as Vinyl Starfield Suwon. There’s also an experiential sports area where visitors of all ages can try out fun sports like archery. Moreover, Starfield Suwon is home to a wide variety of hipster fashion retail stores and cafes. Make sure to drop by Starfield Suwon for a trendy, one-of-a-kind experience!

Also read: 11 Small Towns & Villages in South Korea for a Dreamy Rural Getaway

So, this article has guided you through some of the best-known attractions in Suwon, South Korea. Ready to explore the city for yourself?

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About Author

Esther Yue
Esther Yue

Esther is an inquisitive girl who enjoys uncovering the depths of life. She loves exploring new places and cultures. While travelling, she never skips the roller coaster rides in the amusement parks. In her natural habitat, you’ll probably catch her with a book and an iced drink, listening to some good music.