Most weekends, we stay pretty busy. There’s really no time to relax whenever there is so much to see and do! However, this past weekend we were feeling drained and found ourselves without any travel plans. We thought we would just have a nice lazy Saturday at home, but right around lunchtime we found ourselves already talking about what we should do for the day. We looked at the train schedule and saw that if we hurried, we could catch the next train to Suncheon, the city just north of us.
Suncheon has claimed the titled of the Ecological Capital of Korea. The city recently held the International Garden Expo in 2013 and the Suncheon Bay is a wetlands that contains the largest colony of reeds in Korea. I remember seeing articles and pictures of this beautiful bay online before coming to Korea and putting it on the top of my list of things to see.
The Suncheon Bay Park requires an entry fee of 5,000 won. If you paid for the ticket on the Sky Cube car, your entrance fee should be included in that price! If you are a Suncheon resident and have an ARC card, show the staff at the ticket counter as you will receive a half off discount!
The Boardwalks in the Reeds
The boardwalks through the reeds are really beautiful in and of themselves. They stretch into the horizon and are perfectly framed by the reeds on either side. If you look closely off the sides, you can see the mud beneath which is teeming with life. Little crabs and mud skippers can be spotted running through the muddy bottom.
As we casually walked along the boardwalks watching the crabs and mudskippers playing in the reeds, we looked up and saw a mountain ahead of us. We then realized that our journey was not yet finished. We now had to hike up Yongsan Mountain to get to the observatory that overlooks the bay. Though only a twenty minute hike to the top, we were already very tired and sunset was fast approaching. We booked it up the mountain, praying for a perfect sunset picture of the bay. When we got to the top, we realized we weren’t the only ones with that idea. People crowded the railings of the observatory with their $7,000 dollar camera set ups, while others posed with their cell phone extension poles; a major market in Korea since so many are obsessed with the selfie. We tried our best to find a good spot to take some shots of the sunset, but to no avail. I convinced Ryan to let me get on his shoulders and take a few shots as the sun dipped down behind the mountains. Not exactly the ideal serenity we were looking for, but whatever.
The Secret Free Area
There is a “secret area” we found on a recent trip back to the bay that is free of charge and less crowded. You will need to take a bus and walk a ways to get there or drive. This area is located just below the look off point on the mountain. The trails to the look off are accessible from this spot, but there is someone at the entrance to the trail taking admission fees. Otherwise, the area has a walking path along the bay and a boardwalk out over the reeds. We saw a lot more crabs and mud skippers in this area, too.
Take bus 97 or 98 to the Nongju (농주) stop. You must exit the bus and follow the rural roads south and then west. It will take you around 5 minutes of walking! Use the map below.
There are a couple of ways you can reach the bay. If you are taking public transport, check below for more info to get there. If you are taking a taxi, show the driver the address listed below or tell him “Suncheonman” (순천만). If you are feeling adventurous, why not hit up the Garden Expo first and then take the monorail car inside the gardens called the Sky Cube that will take you the entire way? It is a bit pricey, but the views along the way are worth it! If you decide to go this route, you may want to give yourself a whole day so you can explore the gardens before taking to Sky Cube to the bay. The entrance fee to the Garden Expo is 5,000 won (discount for Suncheon citizens) and the Sky Cube is 8,000 per person and one way.
We decided to start at the Garden Expo and walk along the river towards the bay. However, there is a Our walk quickly turned into a trek as we started noticing just how far the bay was. After walking for close to three hours, we finally made it to the bay!
513-25, Suncheonman-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
전라남도 순천시 순천만길 513-25 (대대동)
From either the bus terminal or the train station, take bus number 66 or 67 and get off at Suncheonman (순천만)
Here is an arial view map of all the places we listed in this post!
On our most recent trip back to the bay, we shot a video of the area and even managed to get some drone shots of the bay. Be sure to check it out!