Roadtrippin’ South Korea

Yesterday we started the new year at school. We had a long and much appreciated winter break, but now it is back to business. We’ve been doing our best to keep up with posting about our long vacation in Thailand and Cambodia, but since then we have taken another trip, this time around Korea. We had a few extra days of vacation left and so we packed up the car and headed north towards Seoraksan National Park. Along the way we made a few stops to sightsee around Eastern Korea which we had yet to truly explore. I will try my best to sum up our trip without overloading this post with a million pictures!

GYEONGJU

Our first stop was in Gyeongju, north of Busan. We stayed here for two nights in a traditional hanok house and took our time exploring the area. This city is considered one of the oldest in Korea and was once the capital of the ancient Silla kingdom. Because of this, a large number of historical sites can be found around the city, including the large burial mounds which are scattered throughout the area.

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JUWANGSAN NATIONAL PARK

Soon we loaded up the car again for a short two hour drive to Juwangsan National Park. The park’s valleys are easy to hike and finish in around 2-3 hours and it is the smallest national park in Korea. The rocky walls of the mountains surround you as you go further into the park. We went on a weekday and it was cold and rainy. We bought some ponchos and decided to brave the weather. We were extremely pleased that we did as we only encountered 7 other people on the trails, unheard of in Korea!

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ANDONG

01Juwangsan is pretty far removed from any large cities, and even though you can find some accomodations nearby, we decided it would be best to move further north to Andong. We have visited Andong before and fell in love with it’s beauty and food. Andong Jjimdalk is our favorite Korean food and we were on a mission to eat it as many times as possible in the 24 hours we planned on being there. We decided it would be best to eat near the famous Hahoe Folk Village so we could take some more pictures of the area. If you would like to know more about Andong or see some of our photos and videos from our trip there last year, click here!

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HIGH 1 SKI RESORT

After conquering Andong once again, we set our sights on Teabaek, just 30 minutes south of the High 1 Ski Resort. We couldn’t find any hotels online for booking so we set out hoping to be able to find a decent place to stay for the night before skiing the next morning. The first hotel we arrived at we deemed reasonable and spent the night. The next morning we drove the 30 minutes north to High 1. Once we arrived, we realized there were a lot of hotels around the resort that we could have stayed at if we had only pressed on. The good news though was that our lift tickets were 50% off since we are residents of Korea. Score! I finally got over my fear of skiing the “expert” slopes, and only fell once when I was standing still and joking around with Ryan! Not bad for only my fourth time.

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SEORAKSAN NATIONAL PARK

Tired but happy, we finished skiing and started the 3 hour drive to Seoraksan National Park. Our plan was to spend two days in the area before making our way back down the coast towards home. We managed to book a “resortel” just outside of the park which had a kitchen, bedroom, and bath. The place was bigger than most of the apartments we’ve lived in here! We decided to cook most of our meals there since they provided all the supplies we needed for doing so. The first day was spent exploring the valleys below the park and taking pictures of the snow. On the second day, we headed into the park. We opted to take the cable car to the top of the mountain instead of hiking the icy and dangerous rocks. The ride only takes 3 minutes and the view from the top is quiet spectacular!

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COASTAL DRIVING

Driving south down the coast took forever. We had our sights set on Pohang, a small steel factory town just north of Ulsan. Unfortunately, the traffic from the holidays were clogging up the roads and we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic just outside of Pohang. What should have been a thirty minute drive turned into an hour and a half. We didn’t know where to stay for the night, only that we wanted to make it out to Homigot Beach for the sunrise the next morning. We stayed at the Dokdo Hotel and made the 45 minute drive out to the beach the following day. We barely made it in time to catch the sun peaking up over the horizon! There are two giant hands at Homigot, one on the beach and the other across from it on the boardwalk. They are meant to symbolize harmony between land and sea. We then made one last stop in Busan for some foreign food and drinks before pressing on to Yeosu.

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We will soon go into further detail about our trip in later posts to come, so be sure to check back!

-Stephanie

20 thoughts on “Roadtrippin’ South Korea

  1. Kirsten Joelle says:

    Wow you got some great shots!! Desperately wanting to go to Seoraksan again to hike the Dragon Ridge but the temperatures are a bit intimidating. I might do what you did and just explore the valley below and go up the cable car!

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Thanks Kirsten! Even though there was a lot of snow and ice on the ground, it was a bright clear day and at the top it was actually quite warm. We were soon stripping off our layers and stuffing them in our packs to try to cool down. Also, sliding down some of the slopes on the ice was a lot of fun haha

  2. Lindsay Mickles says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this piece! I’ve been trying to decide what to do for my 5-day May holiday and your trip seems like such a great idea (minus the skiing). How is driving over here? I have an international driving permit, but haven’t tried it yet! I’d definitely be up for a road trip if you think it is not too crazy?

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      A roadtrip is perfect for a long holiday in Korea! We hadn’t got around to seeing the east coast of Korea and were so glad we took this trip. Driving around there isn’t crazy at all. It is mostly either highway or rural towns. The worst that happened for us on this trip was highway traffic north of Pohang during Seollal, but it only happened the one time on the 8 day trip.

  3. Duke Stewart says:

    Wow! It looks like you had a fantastic trip!!!! Wish we could have stopped in Andong! Though the Jjimdalk is really tasty, I must admit. If we get around to another east coast trip, I think I’ll have to pencil Pohang and Andong in there. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      Andong is a great place to visit in any season and the jjimdalk is served on extra large platters for the same price as you’d pay anywhere else. We always eat it multiple times when we go haha

  4. Nadia says:

    Your photos are brilliant! Inspiring me to put some work into taking good shots. I’m so keen to go see the burial mounds and those pictures are doing just the trick to get me going. Lovely piece 🙂

  5. Matt Inman says:

    I think Gyeongju is one of the more underrated spots in Korea. I loved the tranquility and the sights. Awesome place.
    I admit I’m a little jealous you did a road trip. As much as I love trains, a road trip in Korea sounds like a blast. So many great options for stopping points!

  6. Charisse says:

    I love local trips in Korea. I arrived here in Daegu 10 months ago and still have so many areas I need to visit. We plan on going to the Jeonju Hanok Village later this month. The Busan site with the hands out of the ocean would be an interesting place to visit as well. Traffic is horrible during the holidays. We have had our share of a 30 min drive turning to an hour as well.

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      This is our third year and our list of things to see and do just keeps growing! I haven’t been to Jeonju yet, but I do know that their Folk Village, mural neighborhood, and bibimbap is not to be missed. If you are looking for the hands in the ocean though, that is in Pohang about 2 hours north of Busan.

  7. Nathan Anderson says:

    Ah! It was so nice to see Pohang’s Hands of Harmony sculpture there at the end. I miss my home in Korea 🙂

    I love that picture of you both looking at the funeral mounds in Gyeongju. Great shot, and an awesome location.

    Andong sounds really nice as well. I never made it there, even though it was pretty close to Pohang. Have you been for their mask festival? It’s supposed to be really interesting.

    Thanks for the engaging read!

  8. Taylor says:

    One of my biggest regrets about Korea is that the hubby and I never had a car to do a proper road trip. In some countries it’s just the only way to do it right and I think Korea is one of them. It looks like you guys did a damn fine job of it though! I’m jealous!

    • Hedgers Abroad says:

      When we moved out of Seoul and down to Jeollanamdo most of our friends had cars. They put maps up on their wall with pins where they had been on their roadtrips and we were also insanely jealous. We promptly started car hunting and haven’t regretted the purchase thus yet!

  9. Nico Vermeulen says:

    Wow, I love that you guys went on this road-trip Wish I had done this with someone. Your photos are stunning as well as your blog layout and minimalist style. It’s a pleasure to read and will hence forth be following you. 🙂 Thanks!

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