I’ve never been to South Korea before, and my knowledge of the country only lies in its capital, Seoul. So when I first heard that I was heading off to the Jeollanam-do region with the Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore), two words popped into my mind: “huh, where?” However, when I finally visited the region, I was in awe ?
With a mix of misty mountains, green hills, amazing coastlines, and authentic Korean cuisine (this region is the birthplace of Korean food! ? ), this underrated region contains some of South Korea's best natural and untouched sceneries. Furthermore, if you’re a city kid like I am, you’ll appreciate the slower pace of the region; I didn’t want to leave at the end of the trip because I was so relaxed! ?
Whether you’re a repeat or a first-time traveller to South Korea, this is a region that you can’t miss out on!
Flight to Incheon Airport from Singapore (6h)
I took the red-eye flight on Asiana Airlines to Seoul! Before any country you visit, take note of any documents required! Here’s what you need to prepare:
- Pre-departure ART or PCR test results (Negative)
- Notarised Vaccination certificate (including booster shot)
- On-arrival PCR test booking confirmation, which can be done via Safe2Go (to be taken at Incheon Airport)
- Register for Q-Code (Can be done after you receive your pre-departure PCR test result)
I got the window seat, which means I get unrestricted views of the sunrise in Korea! I also requested the Muslim (or Moslem, as Asiana Airlines spells it) meal, which you must do so at least 24 hours before your flight via their website, or you can call them at your country’s respective regional office.
I was served fish cooked in coconut curry, mixed vegetables and rice, with other side dishes such as coconut sago pudding, bread with butter spread and fish cutlets! ? My two favourites were the fish and pudding, the cherry on top of this already satisfying meal!
Incheon Airport: Head to Covid-19 Testing Centre (30 mins)
Customs was a breeze! All I had to do was show the Q-code and my passport, and I was off to claim my luggage! Afterwards, I headed off to Terminal 1 Covid 19 Testing Centre (West Wing), where the entire process from registering to taking the test took less than 10 minutes!
Day 1: Incheon Airport/Gwangju
There are two options for you to choose: you can book accommodation in Seoul and rest for 2 to 3 days before making the trip to our first stop in the Jeollanam-do region, Gwangju, or head to Gwangju straight from the airport! I did the latter, but if you’re deciding to stay in Seoul for a bit to rewind after your flight or you want to do a little shopping, you can click the 3D2N Seoul itinerary below ?
P.S. Recently, the South Korean government has changed the rules for the PCR test; you can now take it within 3 days of your arrival at Incheon Airport ? However, in the midst of all the fun you’ll have, you might forget to take the test afterwards, so we recommend you to do it on the same day of your arrival. For more updates, you can check out this link for more information.
Heading to Gwangju by train (2.5h)
- There are many ways to travel to Gwangju, however the recommended option is by train. It’s the most efficient and comfortable way! And all the places you’ll be visiting around the Jeollanam-do region can be easily accessed via train!
- Prior to your trip, purchase the KORAIL pass via their official website or other platforms such as Klook and KKday. You can actually check the schedule and purchase train tickets a month in advance, which I highly recommend ?
- After checking out, head over to the Seoul station and board the train according to your ticket reservation. Remember that you’ll be arriving at Gwangju-Songjeong station!
Check-in and freshen up at Gwangju Utop Boutique Hotel (1h)
- From Gwangju-Songjeong station, switch to the Gwangju Metro and take an 8-min ride to Sangmu Station. Walk 820m from Exit 5 of Sangmu Station. This will take you about 12 minutes.
- You can also book a taxi, which takes approximately 20 minutes to the hotel.
- This hotel is relatively new, where it first opened in 2020!
- For starters, among all the hotels I stayed during the entire trip, the amenities here in particular stood out to me. The smart hotel uses an AI-complex system where you can check in and out just via your smartphone ?
- What’s even better is all rooms are equipped with a smart TV with internet access (and Netflix, which uses their accounts, so you don’t have to sign in with yours), a washing machine (especially handy if you brought limited clothes), simple stove set-ups, a sink and a keycard attached to the room which controls the electricity, so that you’ll walk into a refreshing, cool room after an entire day ?
Address: 53 Sicheong-ro, Seo-gu, Gwangju, South Korea
Contact: +82 62-370-8000
Enjoy Gwangju’s prized fish delicacy, the dried Yellow Corvina for lunch (1.5h)
- One thing you can look forward to when you’re in Gwangju and the rest of the Jeollanam-do region is their seafood; it’s as fresh as it gets!
- Once I arrived in Gwangju, I joined the rest of the media team to have lunch at In The Past, Geum Jandi (is this a Boys Over Flowers reference?! ?)
- I consider myself a big foodie, but at first sight of the spread, I was both amazed and shocked at the same time. My first reaction was, ‘How do the Koreans eat this much and NOT get sleepy?’ ?
- What we had was the Barley Rice Set Meal but it was still a lot! This is actually called Hanjeongsik, a full-set Korean meal royals and aristocrats of former times enjoyed. Now, it’s mainly used for special occasions!
- Some of the most interesting dishes I tried was semi-raw prawns cooked in soy sauce and other secret ingredients! It’s semi-raw because the prawns were literally freshly catched from the sea in the morning!
- Other dishes that I really liked was the fried mushrooms with fish slices at the bottom drizzled with chilli sauce, japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables), spiced stingray bits and sticky rice wrapped with seaweed and their range of side dishes such as radish, mushrooms and more! ?
- Of course, the main dish was their Borigulbu Fish. The yellow Corvina fish (ikan kuning as the Malays call it) is seasoned with sun salt before drying for over three months during winter.
- Afterwards, it’s woven with string and stored in a jar of high-quality pearl barley for months to a year even, for even more depth and layers of flavours ?
- When it’s ready to be eaten, it’s steamed with rice water. It was so crunchy, flavourful and especially soft; I could actually eat the bone although you shouldn’t be doing that though ?
- The entire Barley Rice Set Meal costs about 10,000 won per person.
Halal status: They have specially prepared a meal for me that contains no meat at all, no cross-contamination with the seafood served and no alcohol in said dishes. However, do note that this eatery also serves pork and alcohol in the premises, which is common here, so dine with discretion! You can request for a meal at least a day before you arrive via phone.
Address: 54, Dosan-ro 9beon-gil, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju
Contact number: +82 0507-1331-5316
Opening hours: 11am-9.30pm daily; closed between 3-4.30pm daily.
Visit the iconic symbol of Gwangju’s pro-democracy uprising in the 80s (2h)
- The Gwangju Uprising of May 18-27, 1980, was a pivotal step in South Korea's march toward democratization.
- Gwangju is often referred to as the birthplace of South Korea’s democracy, and one significant symbol of this is the Jeonil Building 245, which once housed Jeonil Broadcast and JeonnamIlbo and later many stockbrokers, banks, and media outlets including Gwangju Ilbo and JeonnamMaeil News, and election camps at every election season.
- The building is a reminder of the days when local residents dared to take up arms against a military junta.
- There are 11 floors (including the rooftop) in the building. Each floor is painted with four different colours according to their functions:
- The basement to the 4th floors are coloured in purple, symbolizing inspiration, communication and the role of the Citizen Plaza together with the citizens;
- The fifth to the seventh floor with restricted access host Gwangju’s content hub companies and are painted sky blue;
- The ninth and tenth floors reserved as May 18th Uprising Memorial Hall are yellow-brown;
- The green colour of the eighth and the rooftop garden gives relaxation and tranquillity.
- Since we were on a tight schedule, we only could spend one hour here, so we went to the 9th, 10th and rooftop floors.
- The 9th and 10th floors are known as the 19800518 Memorial Hall. We were led around many other installations and exhibitions by a friendly English-speaking guide, who actually was a university student during the uprising, and shared his experiences on that fateful day. I recommend getting a guide (it’s free!) to help you understand more about this significant event ?
- When you first enter the 9th floor, you’ll be immediately gripped by this sight of bullets. Imagine facing this view right now: This was what the locals in this building saw: 245 bullet holes that came from a helicopter-mounted machine gun, hence the number in the title.
- One exhibition that stood out the most to me was the multi-attraction video experience based on the testimonies of a helicopter shooting against Geumnam-ro and Jeonil Building.
- As I watched a very realistic depiction of a helicopter flying over the scaled model of the streets at the time, I was completely enraptured by the scenes of the martial law troops indiscriminately shooting and the horrific screams of fear from the locals ?
- Afterwards, we went up to the rooftop floor; you’ll be treated to aerial views of Gwangju!
- The rooftop garden has pretty photo zones too like this one, but I bet you can take much better shots than I ?
- I recommend spending about 1.5 to 2 hours here, especially if you come in late May. We came on 19th May, and they have just commemorated the 42nd anniversary of the uprising with a variety of activities.
Address: 245 Geumnam-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju | 광주시 동구 금남로 245
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (Closed Mondays, January 1st, Lunar New Year’s Day, Chuseok) / Last admission is at 5:40pm
Guided Tours: 10, 11, 2pm, 3pm, 4:30pm
Direction: Asian Culture Complex Stn Exit 4 (3 mins away) OR Geumnam-ro 4 ga Stn. Exit (6 min away)
Chill at Asia Culture Center, the world’s first integrated culture powerhouse (1.5h)
- A five-minute walk away from Jeonil Building 245, this massive building is the venue for cultural exchanges in Asia, with various facilities such as VR exhibitions, performances, libraries, a theatre, learning centres and more!
- We only had 20 minutes, but we managed to snap up some amazing pictures of their quirky installations and magnificent sky ceilings ?
- We also had the opportunity to check one of the art exhibitions running at the time, which features the world-renowned contemporary Chinese artist Yue Minjun.
- He’s best known for oil paintings depicting himself in various settings, frozen in laughter ?
- If you’re a big fan of the arts like me, this place should be added to your list. It’s the perfect place to chill, snap IG-worthy photos or just soak in Korean culture ?
- Entry to the centre is free, however you do have to pay for certain exhibitions, where ticket prices usually cost about 5000 Won (~SGD6). Book in advance for any particular performance or exhibitions or any tours (at least 7 days before your scheduled date) via their website.
Address: 38. Munhwajeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm (Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun), 10am-9pm (Wed), 10am-7pm (Sat), closed on Mondays and New Year’s Day (Jan 1st)
Admission: Differs by exhibition halls (free to 5000Won)
Nearest subway station: Asia Culture Complex Stn Exit 4
Stroll around the adorable Penguin Village (1.5h)
- No, it’s not actual penguins; the name ‘Penguin Village’ was named after the way the elderly with knee pain walked around; i.e. like penguins! Don’t worry, it’s all in good faith ?
- Many still live here so you’ll find the streets to be truly peaceful as you take a nice stroll.
- If you walk around, you’ll see many relics of the past littered all around the village. The villagers that remained wanted to do something to the space left behind by those who abandoned their homes, so they recreated this retro nostalgic feeling by remaking a past they know with recycled items ?
- One of the places you should visit when you’re here is the Yangnim History & Culture Village, which is located in the middle of the village. They sell high-quality handmade crafts made by residents here; some of them are quite pricey (up to 40000 won/SGD 40~!), but you can be rest assured that these unique souvenirs you purchase will last for a long time ?
- Of course, another must-visit IG photo spot is the BTS murals! One of the members, J-Hope is from Gwangju, and this wall is dedicated to him ?
- Not close to the real thing, but it’s the best I could get ?
- Right next to the BTS murals, you’ll find a quaint store called Yangnim Penguin Maeul Cooperative Association Cafe, selling some light cafe snacks.
- You definitely should try their adorable version of manjoo, a Korean custard-filled cake: it's in the shape of a penguin ? I’ve checked with the stall owners, and no animal-derivative ingredients and alcohol were used in the manjoos! Do dine at your own discretion.
- By purchasing any drink or food there you help the village survive as they use the benefits to ameliorate and take care of the area!
- The village isn’t that big, but it has a lot of alleys which may get a little confusing for you! Don’t worry, just follow the signs of these cute penguins to help you out ?
Address: Cheonbyeonjwa-ro 446beon-gil 7, Nam-gu, Gwangju
Direction: About 10-min walk from Culture Complex Station, Namgwangju Station
Dinner options (3h)
- There were no Muslim-friendly or halal options nearby Penguin Village, however, I have found one restaurant that serves halal food which is about an hour away from Penguin Village. You can either take a taxi (recommended) or the subway.
First Nepal Curry Story
Halal status: All food served is halal, however, alcohol is served on the premises so do dine with discretion.
Address: 488-3 Wolgok-dong, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju Metropolitan City, Gwangju Korea
Direction: Near Culture Complex Station (Gwangju Subway Line 1), Exit 3.
P.S. Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has come up with a helpful guide for you to search for Muslim-friendly restaurants and praying areas.Check out this link to help you in your planning!
Day 2: Gwangju
Get your morning fresh air at the Gwangjuho Lake Eco Park (1.5h)
- Gwangjuho Lake Eco Park is a large park around Gwangjuho Lake that is divided into themed districts.
- The 184,948 m²-park features a natural observation center, eco-experience center, grass plaza, wetlands, and more.
- Just 30 minutes from downtown Gwangju, the park has been a popular retreat for locals since opening in March 2006.
- You can also enjoy the picturesque view of over 3,000 kinds of trees including snowbells, quince, Chinese parasol trees, Japanese maples, Metasequoia trees, and King Willow Tree (Chunghyo-dong willow trees), which are beautiful when the bud of deep red colour sprouts ?
- Remember to get your cameras ready to snap up some gorgeous pictures like these ?
Address: 7, Chunghyosaem-gil, Buk-gu, Gwangju
Direction: From downtown Gwangju, take Bus No. 125 and get off at Gwangjuho Lake Bus Stop
Visit Gwangju’s most famous mountain without hiking (2h)
- Mudeungsan is the one mountain in Gwangju that has countless hiking trails, but the best part of it all is you can even visit a peak without the tiring hike by taking a ski-life and monorail at Jisan Park?
- First, you take the chairlift, which seats two people. It’s something like the sky ride back home in Singapore! It costs about 9,000won for adults and 7,000won for children above 2 years old.
- Children over two years are allowed on the chairlift, however, they must be accompanied by an adult.
- Once at the top of the chairlift, it’s a short stroll to the monorail. This is undoubtedly the easiest way of getting to the top of Mudeugsan, plus you get to enjoy breathtaking views! ? It costs about 7,000won for adults and 6,000won for children above 2 years old for the monorail.
- Once you reach the top, you can snap some pictures at the octagonal observatory!
Address: 산63-1 Jisan-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju, South Korea
Opening hours: 10am-7pm (Mon-Thurs); 9am-7pm (Fri–Sun)
Direction: Take city bus 81 and get off at Jisan Recreation Area Entrance. It is then a 5-minute walk to the recreation area.
Try this Uzbek food for lunch (2h)
- Registan Avenue serves an array of Uzbek delicacies such as rice pilafs, samosas, soups and more!
- We’ve reached out to them for more information, and we will update as soon as possible.
Halal status: We're in the midst of confirmation. Do dine at your own discretion.
Address: 40, Banryong-ro 28beon-gil, Buk-gu, Gwangju
- Alternatively, you can check out Mudeungsan Cafe Street (nearer to Jisan Park), which is home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. However, do dine with discretion as many serves meats and alcoholic beverages.
Address: Jiho-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju South Korea
P.S. If you ever need a guide to all Muslim-friendly and halal-certified places across Korea, KTO has come up with a handy e-guide book for you to download and help you plan your travels!
Make your own kimchi at the birthplace of all kimchi (2h)
- The best kimchi in Korea is said to be from Gwangju, which has assumed the title of the dish’s birthplace, so a visit to Kimchi Town is a must ?
- Kimchi Town is an interactive museum where you can try your hand at making kimchi! You can sign up for a kimchi making class at the Kimchi Experience Center, and even consume it right away!
- Ingredients such as the plum extract, shrimp paste, gochugaru sauce (made with chilli and peppers) and fish sauce do not contain alcohol. Do participate at your own discretion.
- Fun fact: there’s even a kimchi research institute, and honestly, many of us wouldn’t mind majoring in that ?
Address: 60, Kimchi-ro, Nam-gu, Gwangju
March-October 9am-6:00pm daily
November-February 9am-5.30pm daily
* Last admission 30min before closing
Directions: From Yongsan Station or Seoul Station, take a train to Gwangju Station. From Gwangju Station, take bus Yongbong No. 83 or a taxi to Jungoe Park.
Take a break at this all-in-one leisure park (2.5h)
- Jungoe Park is one of the nation's most famous leisure spaces.
- There is a family-friendly grand park, where you and your family can relax in beautiful nature with many rides such as Viking rides, bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, and sky bicycles.
- The nearby Gwangju Museum Of Art is also a place you can visit as well! It holds about 560 pieces of artworks by classic Korean artists and modern artists, and also largely contributes to Gwangju Biennale (one of the most attended art events, most closely watched art event in Asia ?)
- A special part of the museum that you should check out is the Gwangju Media Art Platform, where you can experience hologram content and media arts.
Address: 52, Haseo-ro, Buk-gu, Gwangju
Opening hours: 24/7
Admission Fee: Free
Nearest subway station: Only accessible by bus. Do click on the website to find the bus routes.
Dine in at Warung Nuna (2h)
- Already missing Southeast Asian food? You can have your fix at Warung Nuna!
- Expect all your favourites such as Ayam Bakar, Rendang, Bakso and more ?
- Right next to the store is the Asia Mart! You can purchase some of your favourite snacks here! Do practise discretion when purchasing the products.
- There’s also another Indonesian restaurant called Warung Bahari in the vicinity as well!
Halal status: We’re unable to confirm if it’s halal, however no alcohol and pork are served on the premises. Do dine with discretion.
Address: Gwangju Gwangsan-gu Pyeongdongro 851, 3rd floor (near Pyeongdong Station)
Direction: About 9-min journey (including walking time) from Gwangju-Songjeong station.
End the day by 'visiting' your favourite K-pop stars (1h - as long as you want)
- Did you know that Gwangju is home to many K-pop idols? There’s a road dedicated specifically to K-pop, and even more specifically to those idols from the area.
- This road is known as Gwangju K-Pop Star Street (also known as the Chungjang-ro K-Pop Star Street).
- Located in the downtown area of Gwangju, this street was built to represent all of the idols from Gwangju who’ve achieved their dreams of debuting.
- There are some noteworthy places to check out —including handprint art (with the actual handprints of idols!), a star memorial hall, and a shutter mural that shows various albums from K-pop artists.
- There’s even a “Fan Zone” on this street, where many idols such as Ateez have gone and donated various things for fans to look at.
- The street is also lined with various retail stores, so if you wish to do some shopping, here’s one of the best places to do so!
Address: K-Pop Star Street, Chungjang-ro, Gwangju
Opening hours: 24/7, opening hours of the stores differs
Direction: The nearest subway station isCulture Complex Station (Gwangju Subway Line 1), Exit 3.
Day 3: Gwangju/Suncheon
Heading to Suncheon via train (2h)
- Next stop: the green city Suncheon! Hop on the Mugunghwa or S-train at Gwangju-Songjeong Station and head to Suncheon station.
- These are the only two that offer a direct trip to Suncheon, however, you can opt for the KTX train, where there will be one stopover at Iksan station.
Live out your K-drama dreams (2.5h)
- One major attraction of the entire Jeollanam-do region would definitely be the Suncheon Drama Filming Site.
- It’s made up of three villages, with over 200 homes, that each represents a different time period from the 1950s to the 1970s.
- Some noteworthy dramas and films that have been filmed here include A Werewolf Boy (starring Song Joong-ki), Love Rain (starring Im Yoo-na) and more ?
- You’ll get such a rare opportunity to experience Korea in nostalgic times ?
- There’s plenty of things to do here: you can sing all your favourite K-pop songs to Korean oldies at their old-school noraebang (Korean-style karaoke), play a guess-what-drama-was-filmed-here game to test your K-drama knowledge, try your hand at traditional Korean games littered all over the site, rent Korean high-school themed costumes at 3000 won for one hour and act out a romantic scene with your oppa ?
- Or you can do what I did: pretend that you’re in a music video and live out your main character dream at this hill of flowers ?
- Here’s some tips to make your day here super-worthy:
- If you are planning to visit in the summer, do head to the place before the late afternoon sun hits.
- Make your photos truly old-school by bringing disposable cameras, or simply add sepia filters on your mobile phone!
- Take the time to stroll through the villages, and really soak in this countryside feeling that’s hard to get in Seoul or for city-kids like you and me ?
Address: 24, Biryegol-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do (Jorye-dong)
Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., last admission at 5:00 p.m.
Admission fee: 3,000won; additional 3000 won for one hour if you are planning to rent the costumes
Directions: About 15 mins away from Suncheon Bus Terminal -> 71 , 71-1 , 77 , 777 , 990 , 991 or approximately SGD6 for taxi
Have a local vegetarian meal (2h)
- Serving only Korean vegetarian cuisine such as pumpkin soup, red bean paste noodle soup and mung bean paste noodle soup, it’s truly a healthy meal from Hobanpatjuk that fills up your tummy to continue on with your activities!
- KTO has certified this as Muslim-friendly. As mentioned, the store only serves vegetarian meals, but they may serve alcohol on the premises. Do dine with discretion.
Address: 41, Seongjuk-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 11am-11pm daily
Directions: About a 30min taxi ride from Suncheonman Bay National Garden.
Visit a UNESCO-ordained Temple (1h)
- Seonamsa is a beautiful temple located at the east end of Jogyesan Mountain.
- The distance between the entrance and the temple site is approximately one kilometer, so it’s a great leisurely stroll after your lunch.
- In front of the temple is an arched stone bridge named Seungseongyo Bridge, which is supported by natural bedrock, which is a perfect IG-opportunity ?
- In front of the main hall, Daeungjeon Hall, are two three-story stone pagodas that will definitely grab your attention!
- Not only is Seonamsa Temple home to many of the country's pristine treasures and artifacts, it is also one of the few temples that preserve the traditional temple culture even as of today.
- Seonamsa Temple is beautiful throughout the year, but it is especially inviting in spring (March-May) and fall (Sept-Nov) when the flowers start to bloom and tree leaves change in color ?
- Tip: If you truly want to experience the traditional Korean culture, check out the Wild Tea House where you can try tea that was locally produced in Suncheon! You can book the tour via this link.
Address: 450, Seonamsa-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 8am-6pm daily
Adults 3,000 won / Teenagers 1,500 won / Elementary school students 1,000 won
Adults 2,500 won / Teenagers 1,000 won / Elementary school students 800 won
Directions: You’ll first need to get to the Suncheon Jonghap Bus Terminal. From this bus terminal, you’ll need to take either Bus #1 or Bus #16 to get to the Seonamsa Temple bus stop. Once you’ve arrived at the stop, you’ll need to walk for about a kilometre up the forested trail.
Continue your chill vacation by roaming around this antique’s street (1h)
- Suncheon is as famous for arts as it is for nature!
- Artists from various regions have gathered in the Hyang-dong neighbourhood, creating Culture Street.
- The area is filled with galleries, exhibition rooms, studios and shops.
- Guided tours of the area are available for international visitors at Seomun Information Center.
- You can also tour the cafés and shops on your own if you prefer. Do dine with discretion though.
Address: 19, Geumgok-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: Hours might differ for retail stores and cafes; the usual opening hours are between 9am-6pm
Try acorn jelly for dinner (2h)
- This one was by far one of the most interesting meals I’ve ever tasted!
- Dotori-muk or acorn jelly is a Korean food which is a jelly made from acorn starch. Although "muk" means "jelly", when used without qualifiers, it usually refers to dotorimuk.
- It’s vegan and gluten-free, so it’s safe for Muslims and those who are unable to eat gluten to try!
- It has a very earthy, nutty flavour, which might take a while to get accustomed to, but once you mix it with the bibimbap, it blends wonderfully!
- While their main dishes are vegetarian, they do serve pork here. However, I’ve checked with them that there is no cross-contamination at all, so do dine with discretion.
Address: 4, Palma 1-gil, Suncheon-si
Opening hours: 11.30am-9pm daily, (closed for break between 3.30pm-5pm)
Direction: A 20-min taxi ride from Suncheonman National Bay Garden.
Day 4: Suncheon
Snap IG-worthy photos and eat green tea ice cream at aesthetic green tea terraces (3h)
- Whether you love green tea or not (that was me at first, but I am now a changed person ?), Daehan Dawon Tea Plantation should be on your itinerary!
- Founded in 1957, the Daehan Dawon Tea Plantation is one of the largest privately-owned green tea plantations in Korea, where you’ll definitely want to snap the picturesque rolling hillside of green tea bushes.
- As it is the most popular green tea field in Boseong, there might be quite a few people, but just know that it is huge so there’s a lot of space to spread out!
- Make sure to grab a map at the entrance to see everything that there is to see! The best time to come down here is in May when the leaves are at its greenest ?
- Fun fact for K-drama fans out there: Dawon Tea Plantation has been featured as a filming site in dramas such as “Summer Scent (2002: starring Son Ye-jin),” “Legend of the Blue Sea (2017: starring Lee Min-ho and Jun Ji-hyun),” and “The Rebel (2017).”
- There are a few things you can do here once you’ve gotten all your photos:
- One of the must eat foods in Boseong is absolutely green tea ice cream. Get it from the main square area before you really get into the green tea terraces!
- Sign up for a tea ceremony experience! You’ll get to interact with the lady, who is actually the third-generation owner of this massive tea plantation! Check out the website to find out more.
Address: 763-65, Nokcha-ro, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 8am-6pm daily
Directions: Take either the Mugunghwa or S-train on Korail from Suncheon Station to Boseong Station. This will take you about 1 hour. Afterwards, take a 2 min walk to Boseong Bus Terminal and board the city bus bound for the plantation at Boseong bus terminal. Ask the driver to stop at the plantation (say «Nokcha Pat» for plantation). From the bus stop walk up the road to the right to the first green tea field.
P.S. Need some lunch ideas? Check out KTO's Muslim-friendly guide on their website!
Slow down time by visiting traditional Korean villages (2h)
- Naganeupseong Folk Village comprises a Joseon Dynasty castle fortress and its surrounding town.
- It’s not just a Unesco World Heritage Site, many people actually live here. Guesthouses are available too ?
- The town is highly valued as a historical and cultural resource for studying traditional folk customs.
- In summer, it’s almost as if the town is drenched with vibrant colour everywhere! But the real beauty is the aerial view of the straw-roofed houses in the courtyards. The hike up is short yet steep, but the view is truly worth it ?
- If you’re interested in diving deeper into Korean folk culture, there are a few courses you can sign up for such as the experience centre course where you get to learn skills such as weaving, ceramic moulding and more. You can click on the website for more information.
Address: 401 Dongnae-ri, Nagan-myeon, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Adults 4,000 won / Teenagers 2,500 won / Children 1,500 won
Adults 3,000 won / Teenagers 2,000 won / Children 1,000 won
February-April, October (9am-6pm)
Directions: Head to the local bus stop from Suncheon Bus Terminal. Take Bus 63, 68, 61, 0r 16. They take about 50-70 minutes depending. If you’re unsure look for “낙안읍성” on the bus schedules.
Explore the heart of Suncheon’s nature and catch the sunset over beautiful flowers (4h)
Suncheonman Bay National Garden
- No trip to Suncheon will be completed without visiting two of their world-famous attractions: Suncheonman Bay National Garden and Suncheonman Bay ?
- Suncheonman Bay National Garden is home to over 790,000 trees in 505 species and 3.15 million flowers in 113 species. It was established on a plot of 1.12 million ㎢ to help protect Suncheonman Bay.
- The numerous groups of tulips and royal azaleas are truly a sight to see!
- In addition to having recreations of Korean gardens, the World Garden Area section showcases themed gardens from 11 countries such as Mexico, The Netherlands, Germany and China.
- Although there are restaurants within the garden, bringing in food is allowed, so pack up some sandwiches or get some Muslim-friendly snacks from convenience stores and have a picnic under the shade of the trees.
- Afterwards, it’s time to check out Suncheonman Bay! Both are linked via the “Sky Cube” – a train that takes you to and fro these two parts of the bay. Also, a single ticket will grant you admission to both attractions.
Credit: Korea Tourism Organization
- As you head to the Sky Cube, you’ll pass by the Dream Bridge which compiles 145,000 drawings by children from all over the world!
- After alighting the Sky Cube, it’s time to head over to the beautiful reed fields of Suncheonman Bay.
- Among one of the world’s top five coastal wetlands, it is widely known for attracting the largest number of rare birds. It also houses about 140 species of birds in total!
- There aren’t many quirky photo-op shots to take here, but you can try recreating a scene from ‘Temperature of Love’ (2017)”, where On Jung-sun (Yang Se-jong) and Lee Hyun-soo (Seo Hyun-jin) take a cruise in the wetland and walk along the wooden boardwalk in the reeds ?
- Some tips for you:
- There’s going to be a lot of walking involved, so be in comfortable shoes!
- Make sure to bring some snacks with you; there’s aren’t many restaurants that are Muslim-friendly, so it’s best to have a stash in case you get hungry.
- Make sure you’ve got all your camera gear ready and full-charged for some pretty IG photos!
- To catch the sunset view, hike up to Yongsan Observatory late in the evening, and you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the reeds bathed in amber hues ?
Address: 47, Gukgajeongwon1ho-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
March-April & October 8.30am-7pm
Admission fees (for both):
Individual - Adults 8,000 won / Teenagers 6,000 won / Children 4,000 won
Group - Adults 6,000 won / Teenagers 5,000 won / Children 3,000 won
* Entrance to Suncheonman Bay Wetland Reserve included in admission.
* Adults (ages 19-64) / Teenagers (ages 13-18) / Children (ages 7-12)
Round trip - Adults & Teenagers 8,000 won / Children & Preschoolers 6,000 won
One-way - Adults & Teenagers 6,000 won / Children & Preschoolers 5,000 won
Directions: You can either take a taxi or take bus 66/67 from Suncheon Bus Terminal to Suncheon Bay stop.
P.S. It’s cheaper to get an integrated ticket for popular attractions in Suncheon (i.e Suncheonman Bay National Garden, Suncheonman Bay Wetland Reserve, Naganeupseong Walled Town, Suncheon Open Film Location). You can purchase themvia this website.
Dig in into a delicious clam stew (1.5h)
Credit: Winnie on Naver
- As we’ve mentioned, the South Jeollanam-do region is known for their scrumptious seafood, so you definitely have to taste it in Suncheon as well!
- Nearby the Suncheonman Garden, dig into a range of stews and soups filled with clams, seafood, and BOTH at Seomjingang Ae Jaecheop.
- Feast on clam bibimbap, clam and seafood soup and more! Take your time to savour this; you can’t get fresh seafood this good unlike in the South Jeollanam-do region!
- KTO has certified this as Muslim-friendly. While only seafood dishes (with no alcohol added in) are served here, alcohol is served in the premises, so do dine with discretion.
Address: 74, Palma 5-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 6am-9pm daily
Direction: From Suncheon Bay National Garden, take a 13-minute walk to the Myeongmal bus stop, and board bus 96. Drop off at the first stop, and then take a 6-min walk to the restaurant.
P.S. Many Muslim-friendly restaurants in Suncheon are nearby the Suncheonman Bay National Garden. You can check out KTO’s guide here for more information.
Day 5: Suncheon/Yeosu
Head to Yeosu via train (30 mins)
- Next up, we’re heading to one of the artsy sides of the Jeollanam-do region, Yeosu!
- Take either the KTX or Mugunghwa train via Korail from Suncheon station to Yeosu-Expo station.
Check in to the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Dolsan Yeosu and rest (1h)
- I’m highlighting this hotel because it’s really convenient to many tourist attractions, small shopping streets and convenience stores! Plus you’ll get great views of the city from your room!
- And the best part of it all? This hotel actually has a rooftop zip track! We’re not kidding!
- Fun fact: the hotel is near Maseong-ri Black Sand Beach, which was where the hit Korean Netflix Series Nevertheless (Episode 7) was shot at!
Have a delicious grilled cutlassfish meal (1h)
- Also known as the ribbon fish, it’s fairly easy to debone; its flesh is firm yet tender when cooked, with a moderate level of "fishy smell" and a low level of oiliness; and it’s tasty fried, grilled, or raw (sashimi) and is marketed fresh, frozen, dried, or salted!
- Have a taste of this delight at Samhakjip! Just look at the picture; isn’t it tempting already ?
- KTO has stated that this restaurant is Muslim-friendly (all seafood with no meats and alcohol added in), however alcohol is served on the premises, so do dine with discretion.
Address: 200-3, Isunsingwangjang-ro, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 9am-9pm daily
Direction: It’s easier for you to take a taxi if you’re coming from the hotel.
Immerse yourself in this expo-turned-arts wonder (3h)
- After playing hosts for the 2012 Expo, Yeosu Expo Ocean Park now serves as an all day centre of excitement!
- We only managed to catch one, the ARTE Museum Yeosu.
- It is the second permanent exhibition hall for immersive media art at the Yeosu Expo International Pavilion!
- Immerse yourself in 12 colourful media art exhibitions of differing visual intensities, sounds and more all powered by AI such as the ever-popular Beach, Waterfall, and more ?
- This expo also has a ton of fun attractions that’s bound to keep you entertained the entire day, such as playrooms, skating rink, indoor aquarium (something like our very own S.E.A. aquarium) , Trick Eye Museum and more!
- The centrepiece of the Expo remains the Big-O Show, an amazing multimedia showcase that is still held in warmer months.
- When active it spits fire and projects holograms to a powerful soundtrack!
Address: 1, Bangnamhoe-gil, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 9am-10pm daily
Admission fees: Vary by attraction. Do check their website for more information.
Direction: 5-minute walk from Yeosu-Expo station
Feast on delicious Uzbek food for dinner (1.5h)
- There’s actually a halal Uzbekistan restaurant here in Yeosu, however I was unable to find more information on it. However, you can refer to this Youtuber’s experience there for more information!
Take a nice stroll as you bask in Yeosu’s bustling nightlife (1h - as long as you want)
- The day doesn’t end as the sun sets at Yeosu; the maritime city comes to life at night!
- After dinner, you can take a stroll and take the calming breeze from the sea by the Geobukseon Bridge. If you walk to the end you’ll see a tall red lighthouse, or theHamel Lighthouse, which is an unmanned lighthouse built to commemorate Hendrick Hamel's return to his home country, the Netherlands.
- P.S. If you’re interested, you can check out the nearby Hamel Museum. Hendrick Hamel was the first Westerner to provide a first hand account of Joseon Korea!
- The lighthouse is a popular photo-op for couples due to its romantic vibes!
- From the lighthouse, you can see the Dolsan Bridge shining magnificently! ?
- If you’re still up for it, you can take a walk down the Geobukseon Bridge to the nearby Nangman Pocha. The place is lined up with many street stalls serving up seafood and more with the glitterning nightscape of Yeosu as a backdrop. Sometimes, there will also be exciting street performances!
Halal status: While many of these places do mainly sell seafood, they also serve meats and alcohol, and I am unable to confirm if there is no cross-contamination between both, so do dine with discretion.
Address: 247-2 Bongsan-dong, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Opening hours: 6pm-1am daily (Nangman Pocha)
Directions: From Mandeok Four-way Street Bus Stop, take Bus No. 2 and get off at Odong-do Bus Stop. Walk for approx. 15 min.
Day 6: Yeosu
Have a fun family day out at this art-themed park (3h)
- Yeosu Artland Park is one of the most unique themed parks I’ve ever seen! Known for its breathtaking views of the sea, quirky attractions and sculptures, the art-themed facilities are designed for everyone of all ages to enjoy.
- We went to the seaside outdoor exhibition, or the outdoor Sculpture Park, where we managed to snap photos with the popular Midas’ Hand (according to Greek mythology, everything King Midas touches turns to Gold).
- There are also exciting installations around the park, so take the time to walk and snap photos!
- These large insects were pretty daunting for me; imagine if they were real! ?
- There are other fun activities to check out as well such as the Ocean Skywalk, where you walk on a wooden bridge (equipped with tempered glass for safety) while you take in views of the surrounding ocean, the Extreme Swing Swing for the adventure seekers, which will rock back and forth at 100m above the ground, and South Korea’s largest AR 3D Trick Art Museum!
- Some tips for you:
- Head to the park on weekdays to avoid the crowds.
- Unfortunately, if you book your tickets earlier, you need a mobile number issued in South Korea. You may purchase a prepaid number to ease your process. However, they do offer same-day booking as well! Kindly book 1 hour before you enter.
Address: 142-1, Musulmok-gil, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu-si, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu, South Korea
Admission fees: 10,000 won. Additional fees apply for the outdoor Sculpture Park (3000 won) and the Ocean Skywalk (5000 won)
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm daily
Directions: 29 mins by bus 106, however it’s recommended for you to take a taxi instead.
Dig into delicious marinated crabs (1.5h)
- You’re in a maritime city, so it's time to dig into their amazing seafood!
- Head to Myeongdong Gaejang, an all-seafood restaurant which serves up a scrumptious array of crabs, fish, prawns and more ?
- Get the hanjeongsik set if you’re coming in with more people, so that you can sample everything; most importantly this juicy, spicy crabs ?
Halal status: While they only serve seafood (no alcohol is used inside), alcohol is served in the premises, so do dine with discretion.
Address: 273-35, Bongsan-dong, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do
Average cost: 10,000-20,000 won
Opening hours: 10am-10pm daily
Take a whimsical bike ride to bask in Yeosu’s ocean beauty (1h)
- Ever tried riding a bike on train tracks? Well, you have to add Yeosu Ocean Railbike to your travel bucket list!
- Touted as Korea’s first coastal ride, the track takes you along the coastal line of the neighbouring Odongdo Island and the South Sea, where it’s really a view that impresses all year round. It’s a 3.5km open track that goes through the Marae Tunnel, which is lighted up with LED lights, and you can travel at a leisurely pace ?
- The rail bike only takes 30 minutes of your time; if you want to stay longer, you can take a slow walk to Odongdo Island (about 20 mins).
Address: 187, Mangyang-ro, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do
2-seater bike 26,000 won
3-seater bike 31,000 won
4-seater bike 36,000 won
* 10% discount applies to group reservations (10 or more three- or four-seater bikes)
[March-October] 9am-6pm daily
[November-February] 9am-5pm daily
Directions: From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal or Central City Bus Terminal, take an express bus or intercity bus bound for Yeosu Bus Terminal. From Yeosu Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 6 or 7 and get off at Manseong-ri Military Camp (Manseong-ri Beach) or Yeosu Ocean Railbike Bus Stop. Walk straight for approx. 266 m to reach the railbike site.
Go cafe-hunting and awe over murals at the oldest town in Yeosu (2h)
- The Gosongdong 1004 Mural Village is filled with all sorts of drawings, from the colourful and whimsical modern art to the inspiring illustrations of the historical battles that took place.
- This place is excellent for an evening stroll with your friends and family, and as you climb up the meandering pathways, take a quick break and look at the stellar view the bays surrounding the walkway offer!
- It’s a long walk to the top (about 1004 meters), and it’s uphill as well so keep at a steady pace! Just remember to take a picture with the giant angel wings at the end of the path as proof that you survived the entire journey ? Fun fact: This path is about 1,004 meters and 1004 in Korean is similar to what an angel is in Korean!
- If you need a break, enter any of the many cafes that line the streets! I went to Cheong Su Dong (Rooftop) Cafe, and got myself a matcha souffle and matcha latte ?
- This cafe did not sell any meat or alcoholic beverages, however, while I was walking, I spotted some cafes having the aforementioned foods and drinks on their menu, so do practise discretion before dining in!
- Also, there are people still living in this village, so do be mindful! We accidentally entered the rooftop of someone’s home for a photo-opp ?
Address: 268 Go-dong, Yeosu, Jeollanam-do
Admission fee: Free
Opening hours: 24/7 for walking, hours of cafes and restaurants inside may differ
Direction: From Yeosu EXPO Station, you can take bus no. 111 or bus no. 2. Then, you need to get off at the bus stop called ‘경찰서’. Where you will have to walk for around 12 minutes along the sea. When you see a seven-eleven store, you will have to cross the street. Then keep walking, until you find the sign of ‘1004 Mural Village’.
Yeosu is teeming with picturesque, IG-worthy cafes all over; we went to the Promenade Cafe in the morning, which overlooks the South Sea! While the cafes do serve pastries and beverages (no alcohol involved), they do have meat, so do dine with discretion. You can just do what I did; get a drink and just take in the views!
Feast on Indian cuisine (2h)
- Savour on all your favourite Indian dishes at Little India right here: naan, biryani, tandoori chicken and more!
- According to this Youtuber, the place serves halal-certified meals, however, they may serve alcohol on the premises so do dine with discretion!
Day 7: Yeosu/Mokpo
Heading off to Mokpo via train (2.5h)
- We’re heading off to the last city in the South Jeollanam-do region, Mokpo!
- Unfortunately, there is no direct train to Mokpo from Yeosu-Expo station, however you can either stopover at Suncheon or Iksan station, change to the Honam Line and head over to Mokpo.
- 5 minutes away from Mokpo Station, there’s a popular bakery called Colombang (CLB)! Touted as one of the best bakeries in South Korea, they are well known for their cream cheese baguette!
- However, since this was not in the fam trip, I cannot confirm the halal status of the store, so do dine with discretion!
Catch panoramic views of Mokpo from a mountain (2h)
- Work up an appetite and stretch away after a long trip by taking a 40-min hike up the Yudalsan Mountain.
- It’s located in Mokpo, Jeollanam-do, which is the last mountain of the Noryeong Mountain Range.
- Despite its low height of only 228 meters, the mountain boasts a panoramic view of the entire city of Mokpo and the sea.
- There are five pagodas throughout the mountain as well as a monument with lyrics to the song "Mokpo’s Tears,” dated to the days of Japanese colonial rule, a sculpture park exhibiting some 100 pieces; an orchid park; and Ilju Road with a view of Mokpo.
- While the hike is suited for beginners, it’s a little steep, so wear comfortable shoes!
Address: 45 Nojeokbong-gil, Mokpo-si (Cheukhu-dong)
Admission fee: Free
Opening hours: 24/7
Direction: From Mokpo Station walk about 10-20 minutes to the entrance of Yudalsan Mountain.
Have ‘At Least One Meal’ at this vegetarian restaurant (1.5h)
- The name of this restaurant is actually ‘At Least One Meal’, we’re not kidding!
- No meat is served at the restaurant; but they offer mock meats such as Vegan Chicken Salad, which you can try if you’ve been craving chicken!
- Other notable options on the menu include Tofu Cream Curry, Truffle Gnocchi Pasta, Peeled Shiitake Mushroom and more!
Halal status: Only vegetarian and vegan options are offered at this restaurant. However, alcohol is served on the premises, so do dine with discretion.
Address: 1st floor, 4-1 Daeui-dong 3-ga, 20 Yeongsan-ro, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do
Average price: 14000 won per meal
Opening hours: 11.30am-2pm, 5-7.10pm, Wed-Sun, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Direction: A 1-minute walk from Mokpo Modern History Hall 1.
Check out the set location of Hotel Del Luna (1.5h)
Credit: Korea Tourism Organization
- A lot of places in the entire Jeollanam-do region have been featured in numerous K-dramas, and Mokpo is no exception!
- If you’ve watched Hotel Del Luna starring the nation’s sweetheart, IU and Yeo Jin-goo, you’re probably wondering where the hauntingly beautiful hotel is located at ?
- It’s none other than the Mokpo Modern History Hall 1, the Western-style building in Mokpo!
- Built in December 1900 by a Russian architect, it was first used as a Japanese consulate during the Japanese colonial period, and was also used as the Mokpo City Hall after liberation.
- The interior is decorated with various exhibits such as dioramas so that you can see at a glance the history of Mokpo that has gone through many changes since the opening of Mokpo’s port.
- There’s a photo-op spot at the entrance where you can take a commemorative photo for the fans of the drama ?
Address: 6, Yeongsan-ro 29beon-gil, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do
Admission fee: 2,000 won for adults, 1000 won for kids
Opening hours: 9am-6pm daily; closed on Mondays and the 1st of every month.
Direction: Walk 15 minutes from Mokpo KTX train station or take bus number 60, 2, or 13-1 from Mokpo Station. It's a 7-minute ride to Yudalsan Post Office (유달산 우체국 정류장) stop.
Stroll down a bridge over the sea and be awed by nature’s unexpected surprise (1h)
- Gatbawi is a natural Sandstone and Tafoni formation found on the shore of Mokpo's east harbor.
- The name of this formation, Gatbawi (gat is a hat, bawi is a rock), means a rock shaped like a hat, specifically, a traditional Korean costume item worn like a hat resembling a Satgat, or a traditional Korean conical bamboo rain hat.
- The two individual formations are named Jeongbawi and Satgatbawi, also the larger rock is called the "father" and the smaller one is called the "son"! So cute ?
- The Gatbawi rocks are now accessible by foot, where you can take a walk down the bridge that leads out over the sea surrounding Gatbawi.
- Snap some pictures, marvel at such natural creations, and take in some fresh air from the sea; it’s hard to get these back home!
Address: 산86-24 Yonghae-dong, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Admission fee: Free
Opening hours: 24/7
Direction: Take bus number 6 or 10 from Mokpo Station and get off at Dongbu Market Station.
Visit the largest market in Mokpo (1.5h)
- Located in the centre of Mokpo, you can buy pretty much anything you’re looking for under one roof.
- From clothes, and kitchen equipment, to fresh seafood which is Mokpo’s speciality, and Korean street food such as tteokbokki and fresh fruits, you’ll be spoiled for choice ?
- Do note that many of the street food on offer have cross-contamination as they share the same oil (for fried food items) so do dine with discretion!
Address: 1052, Yongdang-dong, Mokpo-si, Jeonnam
Admission fee: Free
Opening hours: 8am-10pm daily
Direction: Take bus number 6 or 10 from Mokpo Station and get off at Dongbu Market Station.
Take your tastebuds to a whole new level with raw croaker fish (1.5h)
- Raw croaker fish actually has a lean, full-flavoured taste, and it’s almost sweet!
- But as the saying goes, when in Mokpo, you have to try one of their main delicacies at Podowon! It’s time to get adventurous!
- KTO has certified this as Muslim-friendly. While there is no meat, including pork, served on the premises, do note that alcohol is still offered. Do dine with discretion.
Address: 41, Beonhwa-ro, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 10am-10pm daily
Direction: 19-mins from Mokpo Station by bus.
Day 8: Mokpo/Shinan
Take a fancy yacht ride and visit 1004 islands (1.5h)
- Take a cab from Mokpo (about 33min, and costs approximately USD30) to Shinan and board this fancy yacht ride!
- This is the best way to see some of Shinan’s amazing islands (and it’s luxurious as well!)
- We spotted some amazing islands such as Gaego Island, which is home to over 30 migratory birds and Chorando Island, where there’s only ONE person living there! ?
- If you want to explore even more islands, head to Anjwa Island and experience life in the countryside! And it’s also closer to heading to Purple Island from Anjwa Village.
- P.S. We were told that the yacht we boarded was actually used in a scene in Netflix Korea’s drama ‘A Business Proposal’! Can you guess which episode was it? ?
General/Sunset/Nightscape Tour - 60 mins tour
Adult: 25,000KRW / Child: 19,000 KRW
Group (10 pax above)
Adult: 23,000 KRW / Child: 17,000KRW
Boarding Time - 1st departure: 2pm / 2nd departure: 3.30pm / 3rd departure: 5pm / 4th departure: 6.30pm / 5th departure: 8pm
Adult: Aged 19 & above Child: Aged 36 months ~ aged below 19
Reservation: Call 010 9629 1880
Snap up picture-perfect moments at Korea’s stunning purple islands (3h)
- This was truly one of the highlights of the trip for me, and I can bet that it will be for you too!
- Banwol Island and Bakji Island, known as the purple islands, are located on the south-western coast of South Korea.
- Did you know that this place was recognised by UNWTO as the best tourism village in 2021?! ?
- Originally, these island’s main sources of income were made from their farming communities, however in 2019, the South Jeolla Province decided to initiate Project Purple as a way to rebrand the islands to become a hotspot tourist destination.
- The colour purple was chosen to pay homage to campanula flowers, also called purple bellflowers, that are native to the area!
- The main activity of the islands is viewing the beautiful purple sites the islands have to offer. The perfect way to do this is to simply walk around the area, which in total is around 6.2 kilometers, making it reasonable to view the whole region!
- If you prefer walking, you can rent a bicycle to freely explore your surroundings. They cost a cheap price of 5,000 won ($4.50) per hour.
- One of the main sites is the iconic Cheonsa Bridge that connects Banwol Island and Bakji Island. Feel the breeze of the crisp air and the sounds of the waters while passing by, it is truly an amazing experience. The name of the bridge itself translates to Angels Bridge. You will see benches decorated with stickers that say “I purple you”, a popular saying made by V, formerly known as Kim Tae-hyung, who is a K-pop group member of BTS. It means “I will trust and love you for a long time.”
- Since we came in May, the flowers were in full bloom, so you must, MUST take pictures of the field! ?
- There’s so many photo-ops littered all over the islands, so take the time to explore!
- Here’s a tip: if you’re wearing any purple clothing, hat or umbrella, you’ll get FREE entry!
Late lunch at Bakji Village Restaurant (and more exploring afterwards) (2h)
- You can have a local seafood lunch here. They serve up a lot of seafood, such as octopus soup, and an array of Korean side dishes such as kimchi, Korean pancake (pajeon) and more!
- I have asked the staff that all of their meats and seafood dishes are prepared separately and that no alcohol is served in their ingredients. No pork is served on the premises, so do dine with discretion.
- You can read more about the store here!
Address: 58 Banwol-ri, Anjwa-myeon, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Admission fee: 3,000 won. The entrance is free if you’re wearing a purple outfit, or carrying a purple accessory.
Opening hours: 8am-6pm daily
Direction: Take a bus from Mokpo station to the Anjwa-Myeon intersection. Take the Anjwa Village Bus to the Purple Bridge.
Catch sunset views from the longest and highest cable car in Korea (1h)
- Crossing a length of 3.23 kilometers at a height of 155 meters, it is the longest and highest cable car in Korea!
- There are three stations at the Mokpo Marine Cable Car and you can choose which route to take via this link. In this itinerary, since you’ll be coming from the Purple Islands, the nearest stop would be the North Port station. You can then drop off at the next station, Yudulsan station, which is nearby to the Mokpo City Centre.
- You’ll be treated to an amazing view of the old downtown area of Mokpo, and the surrounding natural scenery, including Yudalsan Mountain and the southern sea.
- We went at about 6pm, when the sun was setting, and the view was simply splendid!
Address: South Korea, Jeollanam-do, Mokpo-si, Haeyangdaehak -ro, 240 KR
Admission fees: Click here
Operating hours: 10am-10pm (Mon-Fri), 9am-9pm (Sat-Sun)
Feast on Mokpo’s seafood delicacy (1.5h)
- Mokpo was one of the cities I looked forward to the most, because I love seafood, and Mokpo boasts some of the best (if not the best) in the southern Jeollanam-do region!
- One restaurant we went to was the Hae-oleum Restaurant!
- Located on the 1st floor of Mokpo Peace Plaza, this restaurant serves up a wide variety of seafood dishes!
- Grilled fish, fresh slices of fish (the fishes almost looked so translucent), soy marinated crabs, octopus; I was in seafood heaven!
- One highlight for me was the spicy fish soup, or maeuntang! It tastes a bit like asam (tamarind, which is a bit sour), but it balances well with the ingredients and spices. Be careful though, there were actually fish bones inside; but it adds a lot more flavour to the soup!
Halal status: While they serve meat and alcohol on the premises, all their seafood and vegetable dishes are prepared separately. Sauces also do not contain alcohol. Do dine with discretion!
Average cost: 35,000 won
Address: 1st floor, 94, Pyeonghwa-ro, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-do
Opening hours: 11am-10pm daily
End the night with a striking light show (45 mins)
- It’s your last night in Mokpo and also the entire Jeollanam-do region, so take a stroll to the bridge and watch an amazing light show called the Mokpo Marine W Show! It’s only a street away from the restaurant!
- Watch as they turn on special light effects to water streams to the beat of popular songs, both English and Korean! We didn’t stay till the end, but there was even a fireworks display!
- Happening from 8.15-9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s a great way to end your trip here!
- Nearby, there’s a street of stalls and a park where locals gather; much like Scape, so you’ll see performances, skating sessions and more!
- Performance schedules are subject to change, so do check out the website first!
Address: South Korea, Jeollanam-do, Mokpo-si, Pyeonghwa-ro, 64
Admission fees: Free
Show hours: 8.15-9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays,
Day 9: Mokpo -> Incheon Airport -> Singapore
Head back to Incheon Airport via train (3.5h)
- I must stress that the Korail will be your best friend throughout the trip, so do make your reservations early!
- From Mokpo station, take the KTX train directly to Seoul station, which takes about 2.5 hours!
- Since you can’t go to Incheon Airport directly from Mokpo, you can transfer from Seoul station to Incheon Airport Terminal 1 or 2 via the A*REX, which takes about 45 minutes.
- While we were in Mokpo, we did a site visit to Muan International Airport, which currently does domestic flights and international flights to Sapporo and Osaka. However, they intend to extend to do more international flights overseas in the future, including Singapore! However there’s no official date on when that’s happening, so again trains to the rescue!
P.S. Check out Azza Travel’s 8 days Southern Korea Gems or 7 days Seoul & Southern Beyond which covers other areas in the Southern region of South Korea! You can also check out Dreamcation’s 9D7N itinerary, which includes Busan as well! Having a tour agency that’s Muslim-oriented is extremely helpful, especially if you’re heading to places such as the Jeollanam-do region, where finding halal food can be a challenge ?
Someone on the trip told me that I was lucky that my first time in South Korea was visiting the Jeollanamdo-region, and I felt that I really was! I saw a different side of South Korea, and it was a truly refreshing change from the fast-paced lifestyles of South Korea and also Singapore! Use this Muslim-friendly itinerary as a guide to explore a South Korea you never thought you'll see ?
P.S. Already inspired for your next vacation to South Korea? It's time to book your ticket! These airlines are offering you really good deals, where you can fly from Singapore to many destinations in South Korea for as low as $227 only!
Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore)
This article is brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization.