Geumodo is a fairly large island off of the southern tip of Dolsan in Yeosu, South Korea. With an affinity for island hopping and exploring the numerous (373) islands claimed by our city, we set out to visit this nearby island and do a bit of camping on a beautiful but slightly foggy weekend. Continue reading
As I’m sure many of you have noticed by now, we love Yeosu and enjoy showing off its beauty through photos and video. We’ve really been happy to display the various aspects of our city in the City Guide we’ve been working on, but we wanted to take some time and show a bit more. These photos are from all over Yeosu and hopefully show how beautiful and diverse this Jeollanamdo city is! Continue reading
It’s that time of year again: beach season! Beaches all around Korea are “officially” opening for swimming, camping, grilling, and other beachy activities. We’ve lived in Jeollanamdo for a year and a half now and we have done our fair share of beach camping around the province. We’ve noticed, however, that there is a lack of English resources about the beaches here in the southwest corner of the country, so we’ve decided to put together a list of the most popular and largest beaches in the area with a couple of hidden gems thrown into the mix too. Continue reading
Desk warming is the most boring time of the year for all ESL public school teachers in Korea. Before and during testing, you have nothing to do other than sit at your desk for 8 hours. Usually I would lesson plan during these times, however, if I get too far ahead, then I will have nothing to do in my down time in the future. Continue reading
Our humble city of Yeosu is blessed with the gift of islands. While the coastline and city are beautifully juxtaposed against the blue water of the bay, the best way to get away and experience the slow pace of Yeosu is by hopping onto a ferry. With over 300 islands in Yeosu’s territory, visitors and residents have a myriad of options, each with their own highlights and charms. Continue reading
Last year while living in Seoul, we were constantly searching for things to do just to get out of town. Seoul has a lot to offer, but it is still good to leave the big city every once in a while and explore the rest of the country. Though we are no longer living in Seoul, we thought we’d share some ideas for weekend getaways for people feeling the need to escape the city. Continue reading
On any given afternoon we have ferries at our disposal. This fact, coupled with an intense desire to see everything wonderful in Yeosu, prompted us to hop on a boat heading across Gamak Bay to Gaedo. Gae Island is about an hour and ten minute ride from the passenger ferry in Yeosu. The name means “surrounded by islands.” Continue reading
While living and working in Seoul, we have enjoyed its many sights and sounds, but there are often times where an escape is needed. Whether we need a break from the crowds or simply long to be surrounded by a greater number of natural things; the islands off of Korea’s west coast offer the perfect getaway when escape becomes required. Continue reading
If you are looking for a weekend getaway from Seoul, look no further! Ganghwado is a perfect little secluded gem that is both rural and also has plenty to see and do. You will need more than just an afternoon to fully explore this place, so go prepared to find a hotel and stay for a couple of days at least!
Located at the estuary of the Han River and the Yellow Sea, the island has provided strategic outpost for for defense against many invaders throughout history. The French, Americans, and Japanese armies have all attacked this island, and all but the Japanese were turned away. To this day, the fortresses still stand across Ganghwado. There is a lot of history on this island and so much to do, so we have created this guide to highlight just a few of them!
This tiny fishing village is located right next to the ferry terminal on the west side of the island and is where we chose to spend our night after exploring the area. It is one of the just a handful of places on the island with hotels and restaurants. The town near the bridge also has hotels, but is far away from anything we were planning to see. The southern beach, Dongmak also has a lot of pensions and hotels, but during high season, you will need to book them in advance.
On the far east side of the island, you can take a ferry to the small island Seokmodo. It takes about 15 minutes to gets there and then you must take a bus to the temple. Founded in 635 CE and located on top of Mt. Nakgasan, this place is well worth the hike! When we finally made it to the top, fog started rolling in over the mountain making everything look very dramatic. This was by far one of the most beautiful temples we have ever been to. One of the most interesting features of this place was seeing over 300 sculptures of seated monks, all with different facial expressions. If you choose to hike the 600 stairs to the top, you can see a 10m high carving of Buddha into the side of the mountain. Since we had to catch the last bus of the day, we did not have time to go to the top. Afterwards, we caught the ferry back to Ganghwado.
Jeondeungsa is said to be Korea’s oldest Buddhist temple. The temple dates back to 381 CE and it is yet another of the many beautiful historic temples on the island. It is said to have been built by the three sons of Dangun Wanggeom, the founder of the Korean nation.
As you head up Jeongjok mountain, you can see a temple that is completely surrounded by a fortress. It is called the Samnang fortress and to get to the temple, you have to pass through its gate. The Goryeo Royal Family, during the invasion of the Mongols, fled the former capital of Korea (Kaeseong, now in North Korea) and constructed a temporary palace within the temple grounds.
While here, we saw a group of foreigners who were doing a templestay program as well! If you are interested in getting away from the city and checking out the island, check out the templestay website here to make a reservation!
The various dolmens on Ganghwado act a headstones for royalty. These are thought to be some of the oldest burial markers in Korea. These stones can weigh several tons and required impressive mechanics to put the top stone in place.
We did a quick hike up one of the cliffs next to the shore and accidentally stumbled upon the Saman Dondae. Dondae is a small defensive fort made of stone is strategically located on the borderline or coastline area to observe foreign activities and prevent invasion. In 1697, a number of Dondae were installed around Ganghwado to form a defensive system. This one is in the small town, Oepo, by the ferry terminal!
The west coast of Korea is covered in mudflats. As beautiful as sandy beaches can be, the mudflats in Korea have their own charm too. Many people in Korea love going out in the mud digging for lunch – clams and crabs. We did not go digging for such things, but we did get in the mud! We initially just wanted to get a little mud between our toes, but after the first few steps we sank down pretty deep! Quite a few times, we had to help each other out of a sink hole or two. Most of the beaches on the island have mudflats at low tide. This one we found was pretty secluded in the small town Oepo by the ferry terminal. There is another huge beach, Dongmak Beach, on the southern tip of the island that is also worth checking out!
In April, the best thing to do on Ganhwado is to check the azalea festival on Goryeosan Mountain. The entire mountainside is simply covered with these beautiful purple blossoms and you can spend an entire afternoon hiking through the flowers. Ganghwado is the perfect hiking destination since it is pretty rural and the air quality is much better than in the big city.
Since the island is so big and historic, it takes more than just one afternoon to see it all. We spent three days on Ganghwado and still wish to return to see more of this beautiful place. Getting there takes around an hour and a half bus ride from Seoul.
You can take the 3000 bus 200 meters outside of Sinchon Station. Take exit #4 and walk west up the street (30 minute intervals). Or you can Go to Yeongdeungpo Station and take Bus 1 (15 minute intervals). Ganghwado bus terminal is the last stop on these buses.
English Tourist Map and Info
Once at the bus terminal, go to the tour information booth (inside the terminal near the bathrooms). The man there is SUPER nice and helpful and will take you inside his office and print off a lot of different photos and directions and information for you!