Thanks to the Korean wave, South Korea is now one of Singaporeans’ most sought-after holiday destinations. Whether you’re a K-pop, K-drama or K-beauty fan, you might already have your favourite haunts in Korea.
On your next visit, why not visit these little-known places instead?
Address: 55 Jahamun-ro 7-gil, Cheongunhyoja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Bibliophiles will be in their element at Dae-o Bookstore, the oldest bookshop in Seoul. From the outside, it looks like a nondescript shop housed in a traditional Korean building. But inside, you will find yourself lost in a maze of musky wooden shelves that seem to have come from a bygone era.
While the second-hand bookshop is not exactly selling too many books these days, they have managed to stay alive by maintaining an in-house cafe whose speciality is watermelon juice, run by the grandson of Dae-o’s owner.
Address: 210, Jumunbuk-ro, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Located in Gangneung, a city that’s about 3 hours’ bus ride from Seoul, Jumunjin Beach is a fantastic choice if you are looking for some sand and sun as it is one of the cleanest beaches you will find in Korea.
The beach is known for its shallow waters, which makes it perfect for families with children. It is also home to a breakwater where scenes from the K-drama Goblin were filmed.
Yangnim-dong Penguin Village
Address: 7, Cheonbyeonjwa-ro 446beon-gil, Nam-gu, Gwangju, Republic of Korea
There are no actual penguins living in this village in Gwangju, but it is worth a visit nonetheless. The village has been rejuvenated with street art, murals and installations, much of it made using recycled materials and discarded items, giving it a whimsical appearance.
For instance, you will find walls covered with vintage clocks, gardens filled with quirky sculptures made out of recycled furniture and lots of penguin-themed wall murals. The village, which is mostly populated by older people, has been given a new lease of life, and some of the residents have even started small businesses selling confectionaries, food and souvenirs.
Gochang Dolmen Sites
When you think of standing stones, Stonehenge is often the first thing that comes to mind. Well, surprise surprise, Korea also has dolmens, huge stone structures consisting of one stone lying horizontally across two upright ones. They are believed to be megalithic tombs.
You can see these ancient manmade formations at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gochang Dolmen Sites which, together with the Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites, has the densest collection of dolmens in the world. To get there, you can take a shuttle bus from Gochang city.
Address: 56-14 China town-ro, Seollin-dong, Jung-gu, Incheon, South
Along with kimchi and bibimbap, jjajangmyeon, or noodles in black bean sauce, is another ubiquitous dish in Korea. The Jjajangmyeon Museum is located in Incheon, and is thus a nice diversion if you have a couple of hours to spare before you’re due to catch a flight. The admission fee is just 1,000 won (1.16 SGD).
Located in Incheon’s Chinatown area, which reflects jjajangmyeon’s Chinese origins, the museum offers insight into the history and different types of jjaangmyeon, and also recreates a Chinese restaurant so you can see how jjajangmyeon was enjoyed a century ago. You can combine your visit with some exploration of Incheon’s Chinatown.
In order to enjoy your trip to Korea with peace of mind, protect yourself with travel insurance from HL Assurance before you leave.