A Few Reasons to Get Out of Seoul!
When people think of South Korea, they think of Jeju-do. The island dubbed Korea’s Hawaii with its dormant volcano, hiking trails, beach resorts and all around breath-taking beauty. They may also think of Busan, Korea’s second largest city, the top spot for a weekend of bar-hopping, temple-exploring, fireworks-on-the-beach and general frolicking. But first and foremost they think of Seoul. And who can blame them? Seoul is a diverse, high-tech playground that appeals to history buffs and the modern traveler.
Yes, when I tell people I live in Korea they think of all of that. What they do not think of…is Gangwon province. Gangwon is not at the top of most people’s destination list but here are a few reasons why it should be:
#1- Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan is a hiker and nature-lovers’ paradise. There are temples, waterfalls and eye-bulging views from the top of the mountains. The trails vary in difficulty so beginners can still enjoy the beauty of Seoraksan without collapsing on the trail in tears while their more experienced friends leave
me them in their dust. I’m sure I’ve already sold you by now but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how knock-your-socks-off beautiful Seoraksan is in the fall. You’ll be memorized by colors so vibrant you won’t even mind how crowded the trails are with people desperate to see the same sight. Entrance fee is only 3,500 KRW and its more than worth a day of waterfalls, peaks, hikes and fantastic pictures. See below!
Nami Island was made famous because it was one of the filming locations of a popular Korean drama, Winter Sonata. What makes Nami special is its natural, peaceful landscape. There are no cars and no telephone poles on Nami Island. It’s a great place to rent a bike and ride, swerving to avoid people and crashing into a wall as a result (kidding, I’m sure you’ll be quicker on the brakes than I was). Or go for a stroll while eating meat impaled on a skewer. You can participate in a few cultural experiences like glass-blowing and pottery making. You can even take a picture with an ostrich!
To reach Nami Island you can go by boat, or if you’re feeling adventurous you can take the zipline! The zipline will send you hurtling half a mile, or 940 meters, towards Nami Island. Admission without the zipline is 13,000 KRW. If you throw the ziplining in, it will be 38,000 KRW for the ride, your entrance and return.
One thing you will not be able to do in Seoul is ski. You’re gonna have to come out here to Gangwon for the best ski resorts and luckily Gangwon will deliver. There are many resorts throughout the province but one of the best is in Pyeongchang. The Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang is known for having great snow, friendly staff and slopes for everyone to enjoy at their skill level. You relax at the spa, munch on something delicious from Paris Baguette or go night skiing. See for yourself why this resort was chosen to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Get Off The Beaten Path
If, no, when you come to Korea you should definitely soak up 5,000 years of history in Seoul and roll in the sand on a beach in Jeju, but make sure you pencil in a detour to Gangwon. A haven for hikers, nature lovers, cavers, temple-hoppers, foodies and budding photographers. Things may move at a slower pace in this province but you’ll need to slow down to truly take in all Gangwon has to offer.