Places To Visit In Korea: 5 Days Through Korea’s Southern Highlights
When looking for places to visit in Korea there seems to be a focus on the major cities. If you are like me and prefer to get off the beaten track a little this is the post you need. These places are not the “normal” tourist destinations but they wont disappoint. I think most are too difficult to get to for the average traveler but don’t be scared away because its really not so tough. You will be rewarded for you efforts!
The Plan At A Glance:
- Day 1: Seoul to Mokpo
- Day 2: Hongdo Island
- Day 3: Mokpo to Boseong Green Tea Fields to Yeosu
- Day 4: Explore Yeosu
- Day 5: Yeosu to Seoul
Seoul To Mokpo
Mokpo, South Korea is definitely not a tourist destination, frankly it does not have a ton to offer. So why would you ever go here? Mokpo is the last stop (furthest south) on the Korean Express Train (KTX) Honam Line which makes it a great place to start when taking a tour of the southern highlights of South Korea. A speed train from Seoul to Mokpo is a very comfortable 3 hour ride along the West coast for about 45,000won ($40). For more information on how to purchase speed train tickets and what to expect (hint: the speed trains are AH-MAZING) be sure to check out my post on Public Transportation In Korea.
Although you could probably find your way around Mokpo on your own using their local public transport, you would be much better off with a rental car. We picked up our rental from KT Kumho right at the subway station where we were dropped off so it was very easy.
Mokpo Sites and Attractions:
- Riding bikes along the waterway
- Gatbawi Rock
- Dancing Water Fountain
- Ferry to Hongdo Island
Get all the nitty gritty details for exactly where to go and what to do in my Mokpo, South Korea post!
Take the ferry from Mokpo to Hongdo Island, this is the only way to get to Hongdo. Tickets from Mokpo are about $40 per person round trip. The trip is 2.5 hours one way and you will be provided an assigned seat. Now you can find tons of horror stories about this ferry ride on the internet. I know because I did myself. There are stories about the waters being terribly rough and everyone getting sea sick. I am not saying that it’s not possible but it was definitely not our experience and I have a history of sea sickness.
Hongdo Sites and Attractions:
- Scenic boat ride around the island to view waterfalls and other natural wonder.
- A long hike with an amazing view of the “floating island” Heuksando
- South Korean Free Divers
- An incredible seafood meal
End your day back at Mokpo after catching the ferry back. To be sure you don’t miss the return trip purchase your ticket as soon as you arrive on Hongdo Island. Check out this detailed blog on Hongdo Island to get all the info you need for a great day!
Interested in learning more about South Korea? Check out my other South Korea Travel Tips & Tricks
1) Mokpo to Boseong Green Tea Fields
The Boseong green tea fields are not the easiest destination to reach. I honestly think driving a rental car from Mokpo is your best options. It is a 1.5 hour drive through the countryside and rice paddy fields. We had one of the front desk staff at our Mokpo hotel type our destination into the GPS so we could be sure to go to the right place.
(If you want to see ONLY the green tea fields you can book a bus from Seoul or take a speed train to Suncheon and bus from there. Whichever you choose, be sure to check out my Public Transportation in South Korea blog for all the info you need to know.)
This is probably my favorite site along this itinerary. If you have to pick and choose which to see, don’t miss this site. The food is incredible, the view is spectacular and it is a very unique experience.
Boseong Sites and Attractions:
- Daehan Dawon Green Tea Plantation aka Boseong Green Tea Plantation
- Green tea museum
- Amazing green tea flavored food, drink and dessert
Plan for several hours to meander through the green tea goodness of Boseong. For all of the wonderful details of this can’t-miss site check out the Boseong Green Tea Fields post.
2) Boseong to Yeosu
Boseong is a very tiny town so you would be hard-pressed to find a decent place to spend the night. Your best bet is to continue driving East for 1 hour to Yeosu, South Korea. Yeosu was the host of the 2012 World’s Fair and for that reason it is well connected to public transportation. It will be your final destination and your gateway back to Seoul. The drive between Yeosu and Boseong is a pleasant continuation of your drive. It continues through calming agricultural landscapes.
Depending on what time of day you get in I would knock out some the local Yeosu sites the evening if possible. Things like the Yeosu gondola and Botanic gardens are right in town and would be a quick and easy activity for the evening.
Since you did the in-city sites last night today you can spend the day exploring just outside the city. The beaches and the hermitage combined will take up a good chunk of your day. Get to the hermitage for sunrise if you are feeling up for it otherwise sunset is a nice time. One of the evenings you are in town be sure to head over near the Hidden Bay Hotel to check out the sunset view over the bay.
Yeosu Sites and Attractions:
- Yeosu Gondola
- Odongo Island Botanical Gardens
- Manseongri Beach
- Marae Tunnel
- Hyangarim Hermitage
Get all the details for how to find and explore the sites of Yeosu on the Yeosu, South Korea specific post.
Yeosu To Seoul
Today is the end of your trip and actually just a travel day. Return your rental car as driving back to Seoul is not your best option. You can take a speed train directly to back to Seoul. It is about a 3 hour ride and will cost you 40,000won or about $37. You also have the option to take the S-Train which is a tourist train that runs along the coast providing gorgeous views of the sea. That ride takes nearly 5 hours and only runs once per day. The S-train (standing for Sea-train I believe) will cost you 41,000 won or about $38. You can find ticket booking details for the trains on the KTX website or on my Public Transportation in South Korea blog.