icon
icon
article hero

A Muslim Traveller's Guide To South Korea’s Best Hidden Gem, Jeolla Province

AvatarName

Qistina Bumidin •  Jul 01, 2022

icon

You might think that as you travel further down south in South Korea, finding Muslim-friendly food or attractions that would be enticing might be tough, but we’re going to break down that assumption for you 😱 You’ll be surprised to know what secrets South Korea’s southern provinces have been keeping: spectacular rural landscapes and some of the country’s best gastronomic specialities 🥰First off, let us do a little geography lesson on Jeolla Province. It consists of North Jeolla (Jeollabuk-do), South Jeolla (Jeollanam-do) and Gwangju. It may not be a touristy destination spot for many, but it’s truly an authentic South Korean experience you can’t get in the cities. Okay, lesson over, here’s what you need to know 😍

Attractions To Visit

Jeollanam-do 

1. Penguin Village (Gwangju)
Before you get all excited over the name, do know that there’s no penguin in this place and this village is actually named after “the way the elders walk”, which resembles a penguin 🥺
Utilizing litter and things that are no longer useful like plastic bottles and household items, the streets here turned what is junk to us into unique artsy decorations! They also have IG-worthy spots like these BTS murals if you’re a huge Army fan 🤩
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 🥺 No animal-derivative ingredients and alcohol are used in the manjoos but we recommend that you dine at your own discretion. There are also other vintage stores, book stores, convenience stores and more for you to check out!Address: ​​Cheonbyeonjwa-ro 446beon-gil 7, Nam-gu, GwangjuAdmission: FreeDirection: About 10-min walk from Culture Complex Station, Namgwangju Station2. Suncheon Drama Filming Site (Suncheon)
All hail K-drama fans; you’re going to want to spend HOURS here 😍 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. Here are some of the dramas and films shot here: A Werewolf Boy (starring Song Joong-ki), Love Rain (starring Im Yoo-Na), Youth of May (starring Do Do-Hyun); there are over hundreds of series and movies filmed here 😱
Well, we might not be actors and actresses, but we can still revel in Korea’s nostalgic times and participate in a range of traditional activities here such as bopping out to current and past Korean songs at their old-school noraebang (Korean-style karaoke), try your hand at traditional Korean games littered all over the site or rent Korean high-school themed costumes at 3000 won for one hour 😌Address: 24, Biryegol-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do (Jorye-dong)Opening hours: 9am – 6pm, last admission at 5pmAdmission fee: 3,000won; an additional 3000 won for one hour if you are planning to rent the costumesDirections: About 15 mins away from Suncheon Bus Terminal (Bus 71 , 71-1 , 77 , 777 , 990 , 991) or approximately SGD6 for taxiWebsite3. Suncheonman Bay National Garden and Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve (Suncheon)
Suncheonman Bay National Garden. Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationNo trip to Suncheon will be completed without visiting two of their world-famous attractions: Suncheonman Bay National Garden and Suncheonman Bay 🤩 Be prepared to spend more than 4 hours here; it’s more than 1.12 million ㎢ in size! 
Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve. Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationYou’ll be treated to a view like no other; pretty flowers in full bloom everywhere themed gardens from all over the world, reeds bathed in amber hues during sunset - you can’t get it in the city 😍 You can bring along a picnic and just let your stresses disappear into thin air as you marvel at such breathtaking sights 🤩Address: 47, Gukgajeongwon1ho-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-doOpening hours:November-February 8.30am-6pmMarch-April & October 8.30am-7pmMay-September 8.30am-8pmDirections: You can either take a taxi or take bus 66/67 from Suncheon Bus Terminal to Suncheon Bay stop.4. Yeosu Art Land Sculpture Park
If you think you know theme parks, well Yeosu Artland Park will prove you wrong 😱 This park-cum-resort has art-themed facilities and quirky attractions and sculptures you won’t see in your average theme park.One key place to check out is the seaside outdoor exhibition, or the outdoor Sculpture Park, where you can snap up pictures of larger-than-life installations (imagine seeing insects this big 😱) to art forms of historical pieces such as the popular Midas’ Hand (according to Greek mythology, everything King Midas touches turns to Gold).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, and 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 🤩Address: 142-1, Musulmok-gil, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu-si, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu, South KoreaOpening hours: 9am - 6pm dailyDirections: 29 mins by bus 106, however it’s recommended for you to take a taxi instead. 5. Purple Islands
Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationSay hello to one of the prettiest (and World-Heritage listed) Banwol and Bakji Island! Situated in Sinan-gun, a beautiful county in South Jeolla province, this charming island is definitely a sight to behold 😍 The county had planted 40,000 lavender around the island as well as white cedar, empress trees and other purple flowers for this transformation. Overall, the village on Banwol Island certainly lives up to its aesthetics. Take a walk to spot residential homes, bridges, streets, food trucks, and sidewalks all painted in purple 💜
Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationOne of the main sites is the iconic Cheonsa Bridge that connects Banwol Island and Bakji Island. You will see benches decorated with stickers that say “I purple you”, a popular saying made by V from BTS. It means “I will trust and love you for a long time” 🥺Address: 58 Banwol-ri, Anjwa-myeon, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do, South KoreaOpening hours: 8am-6pm dailyDirection: Take a bus from Mokpo station to the Anjwa-Myeon intersection. Take the Anjwa Village Bus to the Purple Bridge.P.S. Our writer, Qistina, recently went to the Jeollanamdo-region and we’ve come up with a Muslim-friendly itinerary (complete with Muslim-friendly food as well!) to help you with your planning!

Jeollabukdo

1. Hanok Village (Jeonju)Jeonju Hanok Village is right top on the list of reasons you should visit Jeonju 😍 There are over 800 traditional Korean Hanok houses that have charming and unique features. The most arresting feature is the slightly raised roof edges that symbolise Korean tradition.At Jeonju Hanok Village you can rent traditional Korean clothing and walk along the streets wearing them. Just imagine yourself walking the streets of Hanok Village in a traditional Hanbok. It really does bring that nostalgic feeling of living in the olden days, doesn’t it? 🥰P.S. Trek up higher and you’ll get to enjoy the view of the whole village. You won’t regret it!Address: Eunhaeng-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South KoreaDirection: Go to the bus stop in front of the wedding hall adjacent to the station. The following buses will get you there: 12, 60, 79, 109, 119, 142, 508, 513, 536 and 542.Website (in Korean)2. Jaman Mural VillageJaman Mural Village is about a 5-minute walk from Jeonju Hanok Village. The village is known for its quaint and funky murals decorating its walls. If you are a fan of anime, you definitely wouldn’t want to miss a visit to Jaman Mural Village 😌Who doesn’t love Totoro, right? 😍 Besides that, the village also houses cute and charming cafes. After walking throughout the village, enjoying all the murals, why not get refreshments from one of the charming cafes at Jaman Mural Village.Address: 50-158, Gyo-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South KoreaHow to get there: Literally walk like 5 minutes from Jeonju Hanok Village, heading south west.Website (in Korean)2. Naejangsan National Park (Jeongeup)If you’re in South Korea during fall/autumn, you won’t want to miss this! Known for its gorgeous fall foliage, Naejangsan National Park is home to Naejangsan or Mount Naejang, a beautiful Korean mountain 😍 At Naejangsan, there are two famous Buddhist temples, Baekyangsa Temple and Naejangsa Temple. The tree-lined path from the Hiking Information Center to Naejangsa Temple is very popular for its breathtaking canopy of colourful autumn leaves 🤩 The park is also known for its 600-year-old nutmeg trees, and waterfalls!Though autumn is definitely the park’s peak season, it’s also gorgeous during the spring when azaleas and cherry blossoms bloom, summer when the mountain turns greener, and winter when the rock cliffs are blanketed in snow ❄️Address: 936 Naejangsan-ro, Jeongeup-si, Jeollabuk-do, South KoreaOpening hours: 7a,-6pm dailyDirection: Board the KTX from Yongsan Station to Jeongeup Station, then take a local bus to get to Jeonju. From Jeonju City, ride a bus to Naejangsan National Park.Website3. Gwanghalluwon Garden (Namwon)Gwanghalluwon Garden, constructed in 1419, is the essence of a traditional Korean garden. This garden gained fame as the first meeting point of Lee Mongryong and Chunhyang, lovers from a well-known Korean folk story. There are wax figures of the couple throughout the place and a museum for visitors who want to learn the folk story in detail, as well as a theme park 😌Every year on May 5th, the garden hosts Chunhyang Festival to celebrate the deep and lasting love between the couple. But even without the festival, Gwanghalluwon Garden already has so many attractions 🤩Stepping into the garden, the first thing you’ll see is Wanwoljeong Pavillion, which is also the garden’s main highlight and where Chunhyang Festival is held. It’s built as a place to enjoy the view of the moon, and if you come at night, you’ll be able to see the moon rising over the pond and the garden showered in the moonlight 😍Address: 1447, Yocheon-ro, Namwon-si, Jeollabuk-do, South KoreaOpening hours: 8 am to 8 pmAdmission fee: KRW3000 for adult, KRW2000 for teenagers, KRW1500 for childrenDirection: Take a KTX train from Yongsan Station, Seoul to Namwon Station. From Namwon Station, take Bus No 133, 142, or 161 to Jaeil Bank Bus Stop.WebsiteP.S. Looking for even more unique experiences all over South Korea? Perhaps maybe walking on a rollercoaster?! Check out this article for new activities for you to check out when you're heading there!

Muslim-Friendly Food

The Jeolla region is often touted as the birthplace of Korean culture and food, so you can expect nothing less than delicious AND authentic Korean food right here 🤤 Do note that it is quite challenging to find halal-certified Korean meals, so do dine with discretion when you visit these restaurants. 

Jeollanam-do

 1. Myeongdong Gaejang (Yeosu)
Credit: Azza TravelYeosu is known as being a maritime city, so savour the freshness of their seafood at 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-doAverage cost: 10,000-20,000 wonOpening hours: 10am-10pm dailyWebsite2. Hobanpatjuk (Suncheon)
Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationEver had Korean vegetarian cuisine? Suncheon is known for being an eco-city, so it’s time to dig into your veggies here 😋 Taste scrumptious dishes such as pumpkin soup, red bean paste noodle soup and mung bean paste noodle soup! 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-doOpening hours: 11am-11pm dailyDirections: About a 30min taxi ride from Suncheonman Bay National Garden. Click here for more information3. Hae-oleum (Mokpo)
Credit: Truth on NaverMokpo boasts some of the best seafood in the region, so you definitely have to try it! Apart from grilled fish, fresh sashimi slices (which were almost translucent 😱), a dish you should try is 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 wonAddress: 1st floor, 94, Pyeonghwa-ro, Mokpo-si, Jeollanam-doOpening hours: 11am-10pm daily4. Uzbegim (Yeosu)Craving something apart from seafood? Uzbegim serves an array of Uzbek delicacies such as rice pilafs, samosas, soups and more! You can refer to this Youtuber’s experience there for more information! Halal status: Muslim-ownedAddress: Jeonnam Yeosu-si Mipyeong 9 Gil 75. Acorn jelly (Suncheon)
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! This is by far one of the most unique dishes to try, so if you have the opportunity to do so, check it out 😋Halal status: While their main dishes are vegetarian, they do serve pork here. However, there is no cross-contamination at all, so do dine with discretion.Address: 4, Palma 1-gil, Suncheon-siOpening hours: 11.30am-9pm daily, (closed for break between 3.30pm-5pm)Direction: A 20-min taxi ride from Suncheonman National Bay Garden. Instagram

Jeollabuk-do

1. Loving Hut (Jeonju)Loving Hut is actually a vegan chain located all over the world such as in South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and more. All the ingredients are examined by the headquarter so that everything here is completely vegan! Here’s a sneak into the menu that’s bound to make you drool: pan-fried tofu, steak slathered with basil sauce, sweet and sour fried king oyster mushrooms 🤤 Halal status: No meat options are served here, however, they still offer alcohol on the premises, so do dine with discretion. Address: 120-1, Gangbyeon-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, KoreaOpening hours: 11:30 AM ~ 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM ~ 9:00 PM; Closed on Saturdays, first and third Sunday of each monthWebsite2. Ahmed’s Asian Cuisine (Jeonju)If you’re craving a taste of home, this Middle Eastern/Indian restaurant will serve up favourites such as shawarma, samosas and more which will hit the comfort spot 🥰Halal status: Halal-certifiedAddress: 639 Baekje-daero, Geumam 2(i)-dong Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea 54907Opening hours: 11am-11pm dailyFacebook3. Waengyijip (Jeonju)
Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationWaengyijip keeps it simple here: Bean sprout and rice soup! Whether you prefer a light meal, or you’re craving something soupy, this dish will definitely fill you up 😋Halal status: KTO has designated it as Muslim-friendly and alcohol-free. Address: 88, Dongmun-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-doOpening hours: 6am-10pm dailyWebsite4. Original Grandmother Loach Soup (Namwon)
Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationWhen in Rome, do what the Romans do, so when in Namwon, try their famed delicacy: pond loach soup, or Chueo-tang! It’s more for adventurous eaters, but you’re on vacation, so try it out! It has a minty, spicy taste, and refreshing after a day of tourist-hopping 😍Halal status: KTO has designated it as Muslim-friendly; the stall also provides a halal menu.Address: 88, Dongmun-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-doOpening hours: 7.40am-7pm dailyWebsite5. Gasiri (Gunsan)
Credit: Korea Tourism OrganizationIf you think you’ve tried it all when it comes to fish, well, think again! Gasiri serves up blowfish, monkfish and even raw fish! Get your chopsticks ready; it’s going to be a feast 😍Halal status: KTO has designated it as Muslim-friendly; the stall also provides a halal menu. The restaurant is also pork-free. Do dine with your discretionAddress13, Miwon 3-gil, Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-doOpening hours: 11am-9.30pm daily; closed between 2.30pm-5pm daily and Sundays Website

Mosques Available

Jeollanam-do region

1. Gwangju MosqueGwangju Mosque is the third mosque built in Korea! Located near the city centre, this mosque is the only one in Gwangju and is managed by Korea Muslim Federation! If you’re nearby, you can do your prayers here 😌Address: Gwangju Masjid 48-9, Yeok-ri Gwangju-eup Gwangju-gun Gyeonggi-do South Korea

Jeollabuk-do 

1. Jeolla MosqueThe visit to Jeonju is definitely not complete without visiting one of the eight mosques in Korea. Complementing Jeonju as a city rich with tradition and art, the Jeonju Masjid is a beautiful mix between Korean and Islamic architecture.  The masjid was built with traditional Korean roof tiles adorning the Islamic dome, a look that is unique and aesthetically pleasing 🤗Direction: The Jeonju masjid is about 15-minute walking distance from Sori Arts Centre of Jeollabuk-do.South Korea isn’t just about bright city lights and busy streets; the Jeolla province is proof of a laid-back, beautiful South Korea waiting to be explored 🤩 We hope this guide will help you navigate the underrated Jeolla province 😌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!This article is brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore).