Taean/Anmyeondo September 1, 2018

Kkotji and Anymyeondo Natural Recreation Forest are in the top 100 places in Korea.

Working at a university has advantages and disadvantages. The one big advantage is vacation time. August 2018 was my first full month of summer vacation that I have had in a long time. My wife, Hyewon and I traveled the states to visit America. My places of employment however scheduled a workshop for the last day of August on a Friday. Hyewon said she would join me, and I the day after we would make a road trip to Taean on the western coast.

We spent the night in Kongju on August 31 and woke up early to go to Taean. It was long ride, but not a lot of traffic. We stopped once to stretch our legs and use the bathroom.

Taean is a country and that is located on the western part of Korea in South Chungcheong Province. Most of the big tourist attractions are located on the coast as most of the coastline is a designated national park in Korea called Taeanhaean National Park. The coast in the national park is about 230km. Public transport would take a much longer time than if we did not drive. One of the most iconic scenes is called Kkotji Beach, which is roughly translated as flower.

We were able to walk to the rock formation and explore. We explored the wildlife which consisted of watching in awe small crabs scurrying under rocks. I wanted to go swimming in the sea, so I let Hyewon explore some more while I went for a dip.

Another famous site in Taean is called Anmyeondo Island. Anmyeondo is a proteced area where there is a one type of pine that only grows there. There is a small entrance fee, but it is worth it. The forest consists of the natural forest, and a well managed garden. Since we visited in summer, the flowers weren’t as colorful, but we were told spring is a better time to visit.

The forest has a sky walkway where we can be higher up and actually see how tall the trees are. There are some cabins that can be rented out and gazebos for resting in.

There are some tiny peaks to make people feel accomplished about hiking a mountain.

In the forest there is a small museum showing things that are made out of various pines from Korea and abroad. The museum has air condition so it was a good break from the heat.

We were hungry after exploring Anmyeondo, we were hungry, so we went out to to seek food. We found a small seafood restaurant. We ordered mussel soup, and raw fish bibimbap.

There was a small seafood market a short drive away. We were able to sample tiny crabs, which turned out to be a good snack on the way back home and various fried seafoods.

There were a couple more sites to see that were still a short drive away. The first one is the biggest tourist beach called Mallipo Beach. It is closer to the main amenities such as hotels, convenient stores, and tourist needs. It is not in the main town of Taean, so even if you take a bus from another city, you would need to get on another bus. The beach was wide, but I don’t think it is that special, unless you lived nearby. Kkotji beach was more interesting.

The last site we visited was Sinduri Sand Dunes which is the largest in Korea. If you have ever visited the Outer Banks, you will be disappointed. However there is wooden foot path to prevent erosion to certain parts of the dunes.

Taean was an amazing place that I can highly recommend with private transportation or a long weekend. It was a great getaway before the semester started. The drive back home to Wonju lasted about 4 hours, because we left in the evening during rush hour. The peak of it was in Dangjin which is also located in South Chungcheong Province, but it borders Gyeonggi province.

Taean and its attractions are in the top 100, but I’ll put it in the middle of the pack because of its difficulty of getting to.

Real Coffee Cafe

Last week I wrote about Lucy’s cafe. Today, I will write about Real Coffee. Real Coffee is literally a 1 minute walk away from Lucy’s. I’ve been been here more than Lucy’s. The first time I went here was in April. I went here with Pastor Moon. He is the leader of the English Worship Service at Wonju Jungbu Presbyterian Church. Currently this is my fourth visit as I’m writing this blog.

the outside

There aren’t many customers who come here in the afternoon on a weekday. There are some differences between Real Coffee and Lucy’s. There are fewer tables and it feels smaller which can be good as it deters big groups from going here. Currently there is no food options here, but it can be a good escape from the home life.

The prices are very similar to Lucy’s and the coffee is served in bigger cups. An americano costs 3,500won around $3-3.50. A cafe latte and other specialty coffees cost 4,500 ($4-4.50). The views from the window of Real Coffee are better, but the food options at Lucy’s are better.

It’s good place to do work quietly in a good atmosphere. I will post another blog soon, about another cafe in the area soon, so please read and make comments on my blog posts!

What is your favorite cafe? How often do you go there? What is your favorite item of the menu? What do you usually order? Leave your answers on my blog if possible.

Namhae- Oktoberfest October 3, 2019

October 3 is a holiday in Korea. It is the National Foundation Day, so most people have this day off. That year it was a Thursday, so I could leave on Wednesday night.

Namhae is the fifth biggest island in Korea and connected by bridge to the mainland. There weren’t any direct buses from Gongju, so I had to go to Daejeon. There are a few direct buses, but the buses all stop in Jinju, which is a more popular route. I took the bus to Jinju which is a bigger town than Namhae. This meant there would be accommodations. I took an evening bus from Daejeon and it took about 2 1/2 hours. A typhoon was passing through part of Korea, which meant the southern area would be hit with a lot of rain. When we reached Jinju, it was pouring. I had to find a place. I found a jjimjilbang.

I woke in the morning and decided to see the fortress which was open to the public for free early in the morning. It was within walking distance from the jjimjilbang and bus terminal.

After visiting in the cool but not hot morning, I got on a bus to Namhae. There are numerous buses to Namhae from Jinju. The bus ride from Jinju to Namhae is really scenic and gorgeous. It was hard to believe there had been a typhoon just last night as the day was clear and so blue.

The bridge connecting Namhae looked similar to a tiny Golden Gate Bridge and fit perfectly in the scene.

The town of Namhae was quite small and the bus terminal was underwhelming, but that was okay. The buses are in Korean, so it would be useful to know the bus schedule when you go in and the exact destination in Korean so you can tell the bus driver. The first place is one of the iconic places in Namhae called Sangju Silver Sand Beach. 상주은모래비치

It took about 20 minutes to go there. When I arrived I was the only person there, but it was the perfect beach. It reminded of the Philippines.

View from an upper view.
Adding a video is new, when I played and viewed it on my smartphone it aligns to the correct position.

Sangju beach felt like a perfect beach for camping and visiting in the summer. I really wanted to go for a dip but it was too cold and I didn’t have a proper change of clothes.

The next beach I went to was about 2.5 miles are 4km away from Sangju Beach. The beach name is Songjeong Beach. 송정솔바람해변. I wanted to take a bus, but the next bus was for another 90 minutes and there was no where really to wait, so I decided to walk the 4km which was a real treat. At the beach there were surfers, and supposedly there was a place to rent, so that is for next time. This beach had the bigger waves.

After spending some time there, I really wanted to go to get lunch at Oktoberfest! I went to the bus stop. A convenient store was next to it, so I went inside to ask the owner when the next bus would be. Another customer offered to give me a ride as he was a pension owner in the German Village.

I had low expectations for this German Village, but they quickly vanished and exceeded all expectations. The view from the village was spectacular. The homes have been turned into pensions/guesthouses for guests. Oktoberfest was just starting as soon as I arrived and would go on for the two more days after. The first thing I wanted was German food and drink which consisted of a nice bratwurst and a local beer brewed on the island using a German recipe.

There was many types of beer from Germany and local. I highly recommend the local beers brewed on Namhae because it will be difficult to get anywhere else in Korea. The beer and food is expensive and there aren’t many budget friendly eateries so be forewarned. But for beer lovers it is okay for a once in a lifetime experience.


The festival was under a large tent with German style music and yodeling. The Koreans have to learn German to be able to host it, so it felt really authentic. Everyone was there to have a good time and let go of their stresses.

I stayed and enjoyed the festivities for a few more hours. I walked around, and slowly sipped the beer, while also enjoying the surroundings.

I even tried garlic ice cream. Garlic is a local produce in Namhae.

I had to make my way back to the bus terminal to catch the last bus to Daejeon and eventually make the three hour plus journey back to Gongju.

Namhae is definitely in the top 100. On my list it is in the top 10. It isn’t the easiest to reach, but it is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I would go back in an instant when I have more free time.

Local Cafes in lieu of Traveling

I haven’t traveled in Korea since the Coronavirus outbreak in February. Many universities have extended the online classes for the entire 1st semester. All of March and most of April, I stayed in my apartment to prepare for classes. As Korea has done a good job at containing the spread of the virus, I feel safer to go out. I am still not going far, but I am trying new local cafes to do my work.

Cafes are everywhere in Korea, so it is impossible to visit all cafes, but it is important to support the local businesses as much as possible especially in this pandemic.

I still take precautionary measures, such as wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, and washing my hands regularly. So before I went out, I put on my mask.

This mask is designed by Korelimited http://www.korelimited.com. Korelimited is a street clothing company based in LA but the designs are Korean. KeepOurRootsEternal. If you are reading my blog I would recommend checking them out and support them. Their clothes are stylish, which I will show off in future blogs. Masks are very important to wear in this time of crisis, so you might as well do it style and comfort.

The cafe I went to is called Lucy’s. It is located in Wonju, Musildong near the Homeplus Express. It is behind the main street, so it could be easy to miss.

The inside is small but attractive. It was quiet as I was the only person for a long time. I was able to do a lot of work that was needed. I ordered a coffee 3,500won and a chocolate macaron 2,200. There was only barista working as it is not a busy cafe and she wore a mask the entire time.

Also don’t forget to ask for a stamp card. If you get 10 coffees, the 11th is free! I will come back, but I also want to try out other local cafes.

Things will take a while to go back to normal, but as long as everyone is polite and takes the proper precautions when going out, then we can support our local business such as cafes and restaurants. You should always wear a mask even if you think it is safe and most likely it is. Use the hand sanitizers at the cafes, restaurants, and stores. These aren’t only to protect yourself but others as well.

Inje and Goseong- August 2018

Korea northern most province is Gangwon Province. I have lived in Gangwon for my entire time I have been in Korea, but I haven’t visited every place in the province. Gangwon has something for everyone. I had just finished teaching my first full semester at the university and I was ready to enjoy some vacation time.

Inje and Goseong are both small counties and towns. Inje gets a bad rep for being cold in the winter and hot and humid in the summer. However if you go to the mountains it is a little cooler. This was another solo trip that I decided to embark so I packed my car with camping supplies. I wasn’t planning to camp, but even though Korea is small, it can take a long time to travel distances when driving on the backroads.

The drive from Wonju to Inje is fairly short, which is about an hour or more. I started in the morning It was a beautiful drive through the lush mountains and over wide rivers. The destination was Inje Birch Forest. I had low expectations, but that soon went away.

There was a parking lot on the mountain to the entrance of a hiking trail. There was no parking fee or entrance fee. The route up was about 2 miles. or 3.2km. As I was hiking up, the trees startedout as pine trees, but gradually turned into a full-fledged birch forest. It was really amazing.

The beginning of the hike was a little steep, but it eventually got easier, and the way down was super easy. However it was about lunch time when I had returned to my car and I was famished. There was a resort area about 5km down the road which has a cafeteria. It was fairly cheap for buffet style Korean food. I will guess and say about 7,000won. I don’t remember the exact price, but it was filling and delicious.

In the resort parking lot

AFter eating, my primary goal was to go to the coast and see the beautiful sea. I’ve been to many coastal towns of Gangwon, except for Goseong. Goseong has the most-northern point of South Korea which means it borders North Korea. One of the tourist DMZ lines is located here. I had to get a car validation from a tourist information center. After I could drive to the DMZ. There was at least 1 checkpoint where South Korean soldiers asked me to open the trunk, check my ID, and check my validation ticket. It was a painless procedure and the soldiers were polite and professional.

I was on my way to the DMZ. I had previously been on a tour to the DMZ but this was by myself, so it was more exciting. This part of the DMZ is adjacent to the East Sea. There were many tourists and we could see North Korea in the distance. It was a surreal experience.

After I had visited I had to start heading south as north of course was not an option. I followed the coast for about 45 minutes. It was beautiful and I tried not to go too fast. When I made it to a tourist beach, I decided to park my car and do some beach camping. There was no parking fee as I had arrived late in the evening, but if I had arrived earlier then I should have paid.

After falling asleep to the sound of waves, I awoke early enough to see the sunrise. I was able to rent a surfboard and tried to do some surfing, but I wasn’t successful. Goseong with its scenery and location next to the sea and next to North Korea became one of my favorite places in terms of its pristine beauty.

In the afternoon I drove back to Wonju which took about three hours, and I was able to see an awesome manmade waterfall in Inje.

Baengryeongdo 백령도

Baengryeongdo is the most western island in South Korea. Travel blogs about Baengryeondo are few, probably because of the distance and the price. While there I was the only foreigner on the island. I went in February on a weekday when most of you have to work. The island is accessible by ferry from Incheon port. Depending on what ferry you take it is a 4 to 5 hour trip. Full price is about 140,000 won. However if you have 바다로 pass, then it is 50% off on the weekdays. I paid about 65,000 won for a round trip ticket.

Though Baengryeondo is not currently a 100 must see tourist spots of Korea, I think it is worth a visit. I have been to Jeju at the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. I traveled to Goseong DMZ which is the most northern border of South Korea. I visited Ulleungdo and saw Dokdo which is the most eastern island and finally I have reached the most western part of South Korea.

There are two ferries from Incheon. One leaving at 7:50 and the other one at 13:00. Return is 7:00 and 12:50. I recommend that you spend the night near Incheon Ferry Terminal and take the 7:50 ferry. If you are arriving in Incheon public transportation, then you will arrive probably at Incheon Bus Terminal. From there you will have to take the number 36 bus which was almost empty because of the coronavirus. This bus goes all the way to the ferry terminal. There are two jjimjilbangs in the vicinity. The one I slept in was strange because I was the only person there and the boiler was off, but it was 7,000 won a night. I cannot recommend this to one to anyone. So I will recommend the other jjimjilbang that I did not sleep in. I woke up early to catch the 7:50 am ferry.

The ferry was about half way full and there were a lot of military personnel as Baengryeongdo is close to North Korea. The ride to and from was smooth and no one got seasick. If you are hungry there is a small snack shop with reasonable prices, but I brought my own snacks. The ferry arrived around noontime. It does stop at two other nearby islands before reaching to Baengryeongdo. Also a tip, get a map either in Incheon or on Baengryeongdo of the island. It will be helpful if you can read some Korean to understand the bus system as there will be no buses waiting for you at the ferry terminal. You can rent a car which can be expensive if traveling by yourself or get a taxi or do what I did which was walk. I walked, took the bus, and some older men driving trucks offered to give me a ride which I accepted.

After I arrived I started to walk to the Jinchon the main town which is about a mile away, but a kind gentleman picked me and dropped off near a Chinese restaurant which has a wide variety of food. After I ate lunch I walked to Simcheonggak Pavilion which offers some good sea views. It is closed on Mondays but usually it is 1,000 won admission. There are quite a few military installments scattered throughout the island. If you do take pictures which I did, do not post them on the internet for security reasons. At the pavilion were binoculars which you can see some far of rocks in the sea and you might be lucky to see some seas on the rocks which I was able.

Afterwards I walked down toward the bus stop which is near the Nonghyup. All buses cost 1,000 won only with cash and no card. Renting a car is definitely easier, but the buses I took had only one other person or just me. I got on the bus around 1:45 and was headed toward 두무진 Dumujin rocks, which are the highlight of the entire trip. I arrived in the area around 2:10. The next bus would be at 3:50, so I had 1 hour and 40 minutes which is more than enough time. You will walk down a wooden platform to the some of the most amazing rock formations in all of Korea.

There were no restaurants or cafes to wait when you are finished, so I went to a nearby white church and waited inside until the next bus arrived. I was then head to 중화동 Junghwadong. I wanted to see the second oldest Presbyterian church in Korea called Junghwadong Church. The man who founded it was exiled to this island in the 1890s and the church was founded in 1896. There is also a fallen Rose of Sharon tree which fell down in 2018 because of typhoon. It had reached an impressive 6.3meters in length.

I walked back to the bus stop to wait for the next bus and went to a nearby pebble beach because the wait would be long.

As I was waiting a man driving a truck asked me if I wanted a ride and he took me to 사곳 Sagot. This area has a beach which was used as natural airfield. The sand is soft and hard, so military planes could land and take off here. The other place in the world is in Napoli.

There was a pension near here, that I can recommend. Most motels, pensions, and minbaks aren’t that good compared to mainland Korea. Most are 50,000won and some can be found for 40,000 won. The pension name is 프른바다 펜선/민박. You will get a little cabin-like building with a small kitchen and bathroom to yourself. I paid 50,000 won and the owner offered to drive me to town so I could eat dinner.

The island is really small enough to be able to see all the major tourist attractions in half a day. Therefore I reserved a ticket for the next ferry at 7:00am instead of having to wait until 12:50. The return took 5 hours.

I highly recommend visiting this island. You will see a lot of military personnel, but there isn’t a real threat for North Korea. The ferry felt safe and I think with a little more tourism infrastructure this island could be a real hit in the future. However I don’t think I would want to pay the full price to go here, so if you have opportunity to pay for a cheaper ticket then please go!!

If you have questions feel free to put some comments on this post.

Buseoksa Temple

This temple was in the top 100 places in 2015/2016 and then again in 2019/2020. I have visited many temples, and the temples start to blend together. I won’t spend too much time mentioning this temple, but about the journey (drive) there.

If you want to know more about temples in Korea, this blog has better information http://koreantemples.com/. I have also been mentioned in the top 40 blogs of Korea- https://blog.feedspot.com/korea_travel_blogs/ in feedspot.

I drove here from Wonju late July using the scenic route which meant no toll highways. It is a route that I definitely recommend as there are lots of places to stop in the mountains and appreciate the views. Going there, I went through Gangwondo (Wonju, Yeongwol), Chungcheonbukdo (Jecheon), and finally Gyeongsangbukdo (Yeongju). The roads there are narrow and steep, so make sure you are a confident driver if you drive there.

I departed in the morning, and it was foggy. On one road I could barely see 1 meter in front of me, because it was that foggy. Thankfully there were few cars going in the opposite direction and the places I met them, the road was wide enough for us to pass each other. I would not call it a safe route, but an exciting route. It took about 2 hours to get to Buseoksa parking lot.

Summer was quite humid, but it also meant the vegetation was lush.

After parking, it was a short walk to the temple. There was a booth to pay for entrance, but no one was there, so I went straight through. I visited the temple on a Friday so there were very few people there. The temple grounds were quite small so it was easy to see everything in less than 30 minutes.

As I had arrived around 11:00, lunch was being prepared and would start to be served around 11:45. Lunch at most temples are free for visitors. However you should clean your own dishes. There is no meat and the lunch was quite delicious.

Bibimbap, Cold seaweed soup (냉미역국), and fruit and rice cake

The views from the temple were amazing. I would not consider this to be the best temple in Korea, but it was an easy day trip if you are within driving distance.

It was supposed to rain in the afternoon, and I wanted to get back before the rain started, and thus the real adventure began. I made a pit stop in Punggi which is part of Yeongju. There is a train station here, which I would recommend if you are into Ginseng. Punggi and Geumsan are known for their ginseng markets. There is also an old train on display near the train station that you can go into for free. I enjoy riding trains and this was pretty awesome to see and experience.

After my short time in Punggi, I hit the road again. One of the most interesting roads in Korea winds through the mountains of Sobaeksan National Park. I would recommend to anyone to take this road especially if you don’t like hiking. As this road goes to one of the best outlook points in a national park in Korea. However on my way up, it started raining and the rain soon turned into a complete downpour, that did not last for a short time. I and some other cars had to pull over in a restaurant parking lot to wait until the rain let up.

After the rain let up after about 20 minutes, I continued up the mountain. It was like a small river had developed and it was flowing down the road. As soon as I reached the top, it started to pour again, which lasted another 20 minutes. However I got out of my car and walked around with my umbrella and enjoyed the views.

After I left Yeongju, I was in Danyang, which is another trip that I will mention in another blog. Danyang is very scenic drive, and I found a new camping place near a river in Danyang which would be awesome for another time.

All-in-all, I can recommend scenic route, but I can’t recommend Buseoksa if that is your only aim. It will be good if you add other tourist attractions to your itinerary. Driving is best here as these places are small towns and public transportation is not often.

Cheongsando Island 청산도

Before I start to explain about this awesome island, I want to explain about ferries in South Korea. Korea has many islands and ferries visit most of these islands including Jeju-do. However if you live near an airport or Gimpo is convenient to go to, then flights are better to Jeju and usually cheaper. Korea has a program called 바다로 which can be found here. https://island.haewoon.co.kr/ It is translated to Sea Road. Since August 2019 I have used it to travel to four islands. It originally was for 28 years old people or younger and I was 32 years old, but in 2019, the age changed to 34 years old.

This program is wonderful, because it gives you a discount on ferry tickets. You should pay for the coupon though, but it is quite cheap. Both Koreans and foreigners can get this ticket, but it must be paid for online. For the summer season it cost 4,900won and seasonal which is summer and winter season it costs 7,900 won. This ticket gives you a 50% discount on the weedays and 20% on the weekends. I got the seasonal ticket. During the summer I went to Ulleungdo and Hongdo, and during the winter season I went to Somaemuldo and now Cheongsando. I will write later about, Ulleungdo, Hongdo, and Somaemuldo. Without the discount the cost of visiting these four islands would have been about 240,000 won, but since I traveled during weekdays it ended up being 120,000 won.

Now lets get on to the good stuff. Cheongsando is supposed to be quite beautiful in the spring when the flowers and trees are in bloom. I traveled there January 21, 2020. I highly recommend going here as not many visitors come here at least in the winter time.

How do you get to Cheongsando? It is quite a journey and it isn’t cheap either. First I traveled here by bus. I got on a bus from Gongju to Gwangju-U Square. The cost was 13,000won. From Gwangju, I took a bus to Wando. This bus does make stops along the way but Wando is the last stop. It’ll take about 2 hours and the price was 18,000won, so its not cheap. Most cities and towns will go to Gwangju, but if you are coming from Seoul there is a direct bus to Wando. I arrived in Wando at night around 8:20pm. The bus terminal was already closed, but there convenient stores nearby like every town and city in Korea.

There is a jjimjilbang which I explained in my Ulsan journey about 200 meters away from the bus terminal. It is a small one and the facilities seem old, but I did sleep well. There are also many motels and hotels scattered around.

I woke up early as usual as I like to be as ready as possible for a new journey. The ferry time was 7am and I would come back to Wando on the 11:30am ferry. There weren’t many people at the terminal, so the queue was short. A round trip ticket cost a little more than 14,000 won, so my round trip ticket was a little more than 7,000won.

The ferry arrived at Cheongsando around 7:50am. There is a very tiny information booth which is where you would get your return ticket to Wando. There was no one there, but the doors were unlocked so you can get the free map of Cheongsando.

Cheongsando is called a slow city which means walking is the preferred way for tourists. There are a few buses and a very few taxis. There are 11 walking courses which total about 42km. I only walked 4 of the shorter courses all of which are doable from the ferry port. I walked 1, 2, 3, and 11.

Cheongsando in terms of natural beauty is difficult to match. It was quite clean even with people living on this island. There are some drama settings which I don’t know too much about but they had a minimal impact on the island. Even though it was winter it was very peaceful and not too cold. Since it was a smaller island it was easier to navigate than Jeju, so I would place it above Jeju. However it was bigger than Somaemuldo and Hongdo which makes Cheongsando better still. I was unable to explore the entire island because of limited time, but the ferry price makes it affordable to go back, so I would like to go back in the spring during the walking festival.

Course 1 is the most accessible course from the port to get the best views of the island in terms of natural beauty. To get to course 1, I walked up the road a little bit and got onto a wooden walkway which was on the right side of the road.

Course 2 is connected to course 1 and goes through the woods and eventually meets course 3 in one of the small towns on this island.

Cheongsando is an agriculture island with local farmers living on it. There are terraced rice paddies. There are also canola fields, barley fields, and there is a market for seaweed, too. The farms and towns have stone walls that make the towns quaint and unique to other towns in Korea. This town was on course 3.

After course 3, I walked back to the port and walked on course 11 which was the town in front of the port so it was short and easy. There aren’t any souvenir shops , so any gifts would be good from the local Hanaro mart which can be found in most towns and cities in Korea. Before heading back to Wando, I got a coffee from one of the local cafes. The ferry arrived in Wando around 12:20 and I slowly made my way back to the bus terminal.

Cheongsando was the in the top 100 places to visit in Korea in 2017/2018, but it is not on the 2019/2020 list. I think it should remain in the top 100 as this was one of the most amazing islands that I have visited in Korea. I will be back here in the future! I give the island a 10/10, but getting here a 4/10 because it was a long journey.

Ulsan- 울산

Firstly, I caught a bus from Gongju to Yuseong. I took the subway to Daejeon train station. After I went to East Daegu station. The bus terminal is adjacent to the station, so I went to the terminal and bought a ticket for Ulsan bus terminal. There is another bus terminal called Bangeojin 방어진 to the place where I was going, but I think there were no more buses. I arrived at Ulsan around 9pm. I waited for a city bus headed toward 방어진. It was a short wait but I was on the bus for about 30minutes. I got off at a stop called 대왕안공원입구 Daewang Park Entrance.

East Daegu Terminal
Giant Ferris Wheel ontop of Lotte Mall next to Ulsan Bus terminal

After my visit I went to a 찜질방 jjimjilbang to sleep. Jjimjilbangs are a cheap way to sleep rather than sleep in a motel. Almost every jjimjilbang costs between 8,000-11,000 won per person. You can use the shower and sauna designated for each gender. Then you put on shorts and a T-shirt to sleep in, and go to the co-ed place where everyone sleeps on a mat on the floor. Of course you put your belongings in a locker and you keep the key. I sleep here when I travel by myself to cut down on costs. I don’t always sleep well as there is always one loud (I mean LOUD) snorer in each jjimjilbang that I go to.

One of the many bridges in Daewang Park onto the rocks in the ocean.
The entrance of the park
The lights change color throughout the night.
The story about the park

The next day I woke up early around 4:30 to catch the first bus to my next destination which was about 5:20. I was headed toward Ganjeolgot lighthouse to see the sunrise. I had to change the bus once and it was a short wait. However the second bus toward the lighthouse will take a longer time as it goes on the back roads. It will take about 45minutes-1 hour. I will recommend using your phone and using Kakaomaps for estimated times for buses.

After arriving, I saw the backdrop of the ocean, and there were cafes such Starbucks but they were all closed because it was too early. This was easily one of the most beautiful places in Korea, but I wouldn’t recommend going here just for this. I only stayed for about 20 minutes because it was cold, and I wanted to hurry to my next destination.

After I made my biggest journey to the Yeongam Alps of Korea. Again I had to change buses twice. My second bus dropped me off at 복합웰컴센터. (Bokhap Welcome Center) This is near the entrance of Ganwolsan. I think I am in good shape and am healthy so walking and hiking are easy for me. I am usually faster than recommended times of travel. So I was able to go up and down much faster, so I would not have to wait for the buses. Again traveling by myself, I was able to go my speed. This is one of the shorter paths and yet it was moderately difficult for me.

The top of the mountain is bare meaning it doesn’t have many trees but is covered with grass reeds. Even though the grasses didn’t have its color, it was beautiful.

After exploring the top, I headed back down as I wanted to go back to Ulsan and not Eonyang. Eonyang will be more convenient for those coming from and going to Gyeongju or Busan. Before I went back to Ulsan bus terminal, I stopped at Taehwagang National Garden which is located next to the river. It was impressive as it is covered in bamboo, but it was not overly special to me as many rivers in Korea are developed for citizens and tourists.

After my short visit I went back to the terminal and booked my ticket to Wonju. I would recommend reserving your ticket on the bus app or on the machine and choose the very back seat as you will get a 10% discount on your ticket for most long journey trips. If you go to the ticket seller, they will probably not give you the discount and place you in the regular seat. If the bus isn’t full, then you can change your seat. This is an important travel hack that I have learned last year. From Ulsan to Wonju the cost was close to 28,000 won and from Seoul it will be more.

Overall I do recommend Ulsan if you are living in Korea, but I would not recommend it if you are only visiting. I will recommend Daewang Park for a couple of hours and then head to the beach in the summer. Yeongam Alps are another amazing place which I will recommend if you like mountains. I want to recommend Ganjeolgot Lighthouse as a date place and going later in the day when the cafes are open. Taehwagang National Garden is impressive if you haven’t seen many gardens or a lot of bamboo. However I will not recommend it if you have limited time.

I will not recommend anyone to follow my path for this journey as it was rushed and can be overwhelming to most. I do recommend 2-3 days and enjoying each destination for however long that you want.

Uljin Geumgang Pine Trail 울진금강소나무길

Uljin is located in Gyeongsangbuk-do or North Gyeongsang Province. Part of Uljin is on the coast and the other part is heavily forested. We took a day trip from Wonju in early November 2019. It is possible to reach Geumgang Pine Trail by public transportation, but a car will definitely make it easier as the public transportation very sparse. Also when we went the roads were being repaved as a lot of the roads were washed out by a recent typhoon. It was difficult for my car as my car is a coupe. We were able to park in a small parking lot and a kind worker drove us to the main parking lot and our guide drove us the way back.

Entrance and tour guide are free! However there is a limit to how many people can enter. You must be able to read Korean or speak Korean to make an advance reservation. The tour guide speaks only Korean and is a volunteer but is very knowledgeable. The tour group was probably about 30 people, and my wife and I stayed in the back most of the time. When we were near the front, she would tell me the important things. However I did understand parts of the guide said. If your Korean is not good, I would recommend going with someone whose Korean is sufficient.

http://www.komount.kr/forest_trail/ggs.jsp On the internet you need about 3 days in advance, however I called the day before.

I made the reservation for the 가족탐방로, which means the Family Trail. Round trip is about 5.3km and it was fairly easy and it was a newly opened trail from April 2019. There are longer trails but each trail needs a guide and an advance reservation.

If you want lunch, which I highly recommend, that will cost 7,000won. It was entirely vegetarian made with local produce.

The trees in this area are old and heavy which make them special to Korea. We saw a pine tree that was 600 years old. These trees are known as diamond trees, as it is difficult to cut them down as they are so dense and sturdy. The trees would have to be transported down a river.

One of the older trees circa 500 years

Circa 600years

Bridge made from pines

Double pine tree perfect for photos.

Overall, I would rate this 9/10. Transportation was difficult even with a car. However I wouldn’t recommend going by yourself, as this type of trip would be better with family or friends. I do think this is a top 100 in Korea especially if you like the true wilderness where the number of tourists are limited per day. I would definitely loved to go again but in a different season as we got to see the fall foliage already.