One of the less-traveled provinces of South Korea, Jeollanamdo is a largely missed opportunity. Although the fifth most populated province in South Korea, it is near the bottom of the barrel in density. Our beautifully large “Jeonnam” has a lot to offer visitors and lucky residents, but it oddly isn’t promoted as a premier destination. While much of Korea is awash with natural beauty and stunning landscapes, Jeollanamdo is no exception. This southern province has much more to see and do than meets the eye, so without further ado, here are 11 awesome things to do in Jeollanmdo, South Korea!
Be warned: this post largely celebrated the natural beauty of our quiet province and has a slew of suggested ways to enjoy the diverse landscapes. If you’re unimpressed by Korea’s countryside, beautiful coastlines, romantic island getaways, and exciting festivals, this post won’t be for you. For everyone else, enjoy some of our top suggestions for people looking to explore this lovely southern province.
1. Island Hopping
There are thousands of islands off the southern coast of South Korea just waiting to be explored. There is nothing like a weekend getaway on one of these rural, isolated islands. Each island has its own personality and charm, as well as generous ocean views. Day hiking islands is one of our favorite summer activities, and the southwest corner of South Korea is just the place to be for such adventures!
2. Boseong Green Tea Fields
Often mislabeled online as being in India, Japan, and China, the green tea fields of Boseong are incredibly picturesque. Although people seem not to expect such a plantation to be located in this rural Korean town, people lucky enough to visit know how special and perfectly situated they are right here in Jeonnam. While visiting Boseong, be sure to eat/drink all thinks infused/flavored with green tea from the local fields.
3. Hiking National Parks
For city lovers, Jeollanamdo isn’t typically the most appealing province. Instead of sprawling valleys covered in skyscrapers, we have been graced with far stretching mountain ranges, beautiful coastal areas, and seemingly endless islands. To this end, South Jeolla has quite a few National Parks to protect and preserve these natural treasures for all to enjoy. From the high reaches of Jirisan’s granite peaks to Dadohaehaesang Maritime National Park, this province is criss-crossed in all directions with hiking trails. For anyone that loves the feeling of hiking boots on the trail, Jeollanamdo will feel like a paradise. Not as crowded as other areas, the parks in this province has a slightly more secluded, natural vibe.
4. Yeosu Cable Car
Yeosu is a beautiful coastal city with photogenic landscapes in every direction. Located on a bustling bay surrounded by mountains and quaint yet colorful neighborhoods, The Yeosu Cable Car might be the most dramatic way to view the city. Recently completed in 2015, the cable car ride last a little over 10 minutes and suspends visitors above the water as it taxis them to the nearby Dolsan Island Park. We suggest spending a summer afternoon riding the cable car, relaxing in Dolsan Park as the sun sets beautifully on the sea, then enjoying the brilliant lights of the bay area before riding the cable car back to Yeosu.
Being a coastal province with 17 billion islands and roughly 39 million kilometers of coastline, Jeollanamdo is rich with beaches. Though those numbers might be slightly exaggerated, there’s no denying that this province has some of the best swimming beaches in South Korea. We certainly have our favorites, but there are countless beaches worth a trip on a warm summer’s day. Goheung has beaches for surfing, Yeosu has the seclusion, and Wando has the beach camping villages. In the warmer months, we find it difficult to leave Jeollanamdo’s beaches.
6. Nature in Damyang
The natural landscape is on display on every corner of Jeonnam. Although the endlessly rolling mountain ranges and innumerable beaches get the bulk of South Jeolla’s focus, Damyang is a city especially known for its trees. Damyang has one of the most beautiful bamboo (we know it’s actually grass) forests in South Korea, as well as the hugely popular Metasequoia Road. Both of these destinations are crowd pleasers that highlight beautifully large plant life, and serve as a great easy answer to the question “We have a day off, where should we go?”
7. Yeosu’s Tall Ship Cruise
With more than 360 islands, Yeosu is able to provide interesting ways to explore the southern sea and cruise the scattered islands for visitors. One of the most unique methods of cruising this area is via pirate-style tall ship cruises. The ship cruises from island to island, stopping every once in a while to allow for a quick jump off the bow into the bay. If you plan a tour with one of the English companies, you can count on a three-day adventure touring the four closest islands to Yeosu. Hiking, camping, drinking makgeolli, and swimming are all on the itinerary. Check out WiNK for more information and tour packages!
– WiNK –
8. Jindo’s Sea Parting Festival
While some believe this phenomenon be be a gift from the heavens, others understand it as an annual tidal occurrence. No matter your opinion on this matter, when the waters off of Jindo’s shores empty revealing a rare land bridge to a nearby island in a spectacular display. For a brief period of time, visitors are able to walk across the sea like the story of Moses from the Bible. This festival draws massive crowds and is easily one of the most interesting festivals in South Korea.
9. Suncheon Bay
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 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.
Seventy percent of Korea’s landscape is covered in mountains and some people like to jump off these mountains. Paragliding is one of the biggest extreme sports in Korea and Jeollanamdo is not without it’s enthusiasts. Most of the cities in the province offer some tandem paragliding experiences, but the reservations and booking sites are in Korean. If you have someone to help you book, we highly suggest seeing Jeollanamdo from above! Check out the links below for some recommended paragliding companies.
– YEOSU –
– GWANGJU –
– BONUS: SEOUL –
11. Surfing at Namyeol
Staying at the Romantic Surfers Guesthouse at the Namyeol Beach in Goheung should be checked out by all who love the sea. The instructors are all young and extremely friendly. They speak a bit of English, so the instruction is easy to understand. The surf school package includes an overnight stay at their surfing lodge as well as food and surf instruction. The beach itself is beautiful and our favorite campsite in Jeollanamdo. Early in the season you can also catch bio-luminescent plankton at night!