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.
1. Ganghwado Island
This fortress island is located at the mouth of the Hangang River and therefore had strategic positioning in protecting Korea from invasions. The historical importance of the island is still visible today as many defensive posts and fortresses can be seen around the island.
Besides the many historical sites to see, you can also go check out the mudflats along the coastline. Digging for clams or just spending the afternoon getting dirty is a lot of fun. Ferries to the smaller islands run daily and you can a trip out to the famous Bomunsa Temple. In mid to late April, be sure to hike up Goryeosan Mountain to see the mountainside covered in pink azaleas.
Andong is known as “The Most Traditional City in Korea” and is a great place to go for a weekend away. It was the home of many nobles from the Joseon Dynasty and their houses are still there today. Some of these hanok homes have been converted into guesthouses that are great during the winter as the ondol floor heating keeps you nice and toasty throughout the night.
During the day, explore the Hahoe traditional folk village, stroll around Bongjeongsa Temple, or chow down on ungodly amounts of Andong jjimdalk and Andong soju (a strong 45% alcohol content). If you are going in the fall, be sure to check out the Andong Maskdance Festival where you can experience part of Korea’s heritage and even get dance lessons yourself!
Northwest Korea isn’t really known for having the best beaches. Most are really just muddy tidal flats that aren’t the best places for swimming or sunbathing. However, Muuido Island off of Incheon, has a sandy beach that is a perfect summer destination.
Explore the island by walking the along one of the many coastal trails which offer incredible views of the sea. There are also a few easy mountains on the small island that will give you 360 degree views. However, it’s the island’s two beaches that make Muuido worth the trip. Silmi Beach is reachable by foot from the ferry terminal. During low tide, there is a small island that you can easily walk across to. Hanagae Beach is a bit further away, but offers many beach huts for rent along its beautiful sandy shores.
During the winter it’s hard to get yourself to go outside when it is so cold. But why not embrace the elements and go skiing or snowboarding at one of the resorts nearby? The resorts offer clothing rentals if you don’t have your own gear and Yongpyong resort offers instructional classes in English.
At most of the resorts, there are plenty of other activities to do instead of hitting the slopes. Go hiking in the snow off one of the smaller peaks, High 1 resort has a casino, and Pyeongchang has an indoor waterpark and spa.
What about you? What are some of your favorite weekend getaways from the city?