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10 Underrated Places Outside of Seoul That You Should Include in Your South Korea Itinerary

Explore outside South Korea's bustling capital.
10 Underrated Places Outside of Seoul That You Should Include in Your South Korea Itinerary
IMAGE (LEFT TO RIGHT) Facebook/Arte Museum, Haeundae Blue Line Park
Explore outside South Korea's bustling capital.

South Korea is not one to hide from the rest of the world. Just take a look at their tourism efforts—not that we're complaining. Lucky for them, many Filipino travelers are itching to visit the land of Hallyu, whether to visit the spots their favorite K-celebrities frequent or to get away and have a vacation from all the stress living in the Philippines brings to the table.

One common thing Filipinos do when traveling to Korea for Filipinos is that many of us tend to stay within the confines of Seoul and its neighboring provinces. For those who've been to Seoul and the areas around it more than once, you'd know that after a while, the scenery can get a bit repetitive. But hey, the country's more than just its capital city as there are tons of places to see outside of that general area. Specifically, there are the regions of Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do, and Busan, which comprise the country's southern and relatively more rustic areas. But that doesn't mean they are any less worthy of a visit. If anything, being away from the bustling city of Seoul makes it even better. We round up some places and activities in these areas we think should be on your itinerary for your next visit to South Korea.

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10 Fun Things to Do Outside of Seoul:

1. Wander around the Jeonju Hanok Village.

Jeonju is a small city in the Jeollabuk-do province with a relaxed and chill traditional vibe. Jeonju is famous for having great food, especially for its elaborate banchan spreads, a.k.a. side dishes, Jeonju makgeolli or fermented rice drink, and the famous Jeonju-style bibimbap. But beyond being a culinary space, Jeonju also holds a lot of cultural significance for Korea in that many of their traditional art forms, such as hanji or traditional Korean papermaking and pansori, or musical storytelling, can be experienced in this city.

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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Tourists in this city can visit the Jeonju Hanok Village, where you can experience different elements of traditional Korean culture, such as the many delicious street foods, wearing of hanboks, traditional tea shops, and taking photos with the traditional houses or hanok. 

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL

You could also try the original Chocopie here in Jeonju. The shop which created the chocolate-covered mallow sweet treat started in Jeonju and has several stalls in the Hanok Village. However, make sure to look for PNB Chocopie (the one with the orange logo), as there are a lot of other brands in the area claiming to sell the OG.

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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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Jeonju Hanok Village is at 99 Girin-daero, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si. It is open 24 hours. For more information, visit Jeonju Hanok Village's website.

2. Relax at Awon Museum, Cafe, and Hotel.

Awon is located in Wanju, a smaller city right near Jeonju. It is a place of relaxation and healing as mountains, and many florae surround it.

Awon is a cultural complex that includes a museum, a cafe, and a traditional hanok-style hotel. This haunt was relatively unknown to many travelers (both Korean and foreign) until BTS shot a video in one of the hanok, which skyrocketed the place's fame. 

Upon entering Awon Museum, you'll be greeted with a half-open roof that allows just enough sunlight to reflect in the pool of water below, shining rays of light across the room when the weather is right. After the museum, a quick stroll among bamboo trees will lead you to the hanok, where guests can stay overnight (provided they have reserved ahead) or just rest for the afternoon while taking in the sights of the surrounding mountains and foliagea welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL

The tiring afternoon can be more bearable by ordering some drinks from the cafe. Worth trying is the omija-cha or the five-flavor berry tea. This drink, made from magnolia berries, has five flavors in one bite, namely, sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and bitter. But don't be afraid to try it. It's very refreshing in its tea form and is said to help your body regulate temperature. So it's the perfect drink for long hot summer days.

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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL

Make sure to book your visit to Awon ahead of time, as they only let in a small number of people each day to maintain the healing and relaxing ambiance.  

Awon Museum, Cafe, and Hotel is at 516-7 Songgwangsuman-ro, Daeheung-ri, Soyang-myeon, Wanju-gun, Jeollabuk-do. The museum and cafe are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. The hotel for viewing and resting purposes is available from 12 n.n. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit Awon Museum, Cafe, and Hotel's website.

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3. Bask in Asian culture and arts at Asia Culture Center.

Located in the bustling city of Gwangju, the Asia Culture Center (ACC) is an international cultural complex designed to facilitate cultural exchange, research, resource collection, and content creation. It hosts several productions, exhibitions, and performances from other countries in Asia. The ACC is the largest cultural complex of its kind in the world and offers a wide variety of activities related to the arts. It houses a massive archive of the history of Asian countries, a library, and several function rooms that allow for the proliferation of cultural content towards the masses. Decked out with facilities to handle exhibitions of different kinds, it has also played host to traditional art exhibits and multimedia displays that marry traditional art and newer forms. 

We can think of the ACC as a combination of a museum and a public library. It is where professionals and students can conduct research, rest, work, and be productive. 

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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL

The best part about the ACC? General entrance is free, so you can use the library, archives, research area, and function rooms at zero cost. Of course, some exhibits would charge a fee, but it's minimal at around a maximum of 5,000 won or P200.

The Asia Culture Center is at 38 Munhwajeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Wednesdays when it is open until 9 p.m. and Saturdays when it is open until 7 p.m. For more information, visit  Asia Culture Center's website

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4. Experience the Scholarly Life at Wolbong Seowon Experience (Confucian Academy).

First established as a shrine by Confucian Scholars in the Honam area to honor the legacy of Go Bong Ki Dae-seung, a politician, philosopher, and famed Confucianist writer during the Joseon Dynasty, Wolbong Seowon Confucian Academy now hosts memorial ceremonies in March and September to honor Ki Dae-seung's studies and virtues. Aside from that, the academy also runs various educational and experiential programs for locals and foreigners. 

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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Guests can wear Confucian costumes, learn about seonbi culture, learn traditional bookmaking, take part in a traditional tea ceremony, learn traditional games, watch a traditional musical performance, and more.

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL

By walking around the Academy building, visitors can retrace the steps of the scholars who served the public during the Goryeo and Joseon eras.

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Wolbong Seowon is at 133 Gwanggok-gil, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For program schedules, please coordinate with the organization before arriving. For more information, visit Wolbong Seowon's website.

5. Relish the beauty of nature at Suncheonman National Garden and Suncheonman Wetlands.

This 926,000-square-meter garden is home to many sights and sub-areas that feature flowers, plants, and landscapes from around the globe, as well as themed areas that are sure to catch your attention. Most notable is the Dutch Garden, which was designed to present the natural colors of various tulips and herbs with the iconic Dutch windmill at its center. Other gardens include The Beast's Rose Garden, which features tens of thousands of rose blossoms encompassing 30 different species, reminiscent of the Beast's beautiful rose garden in the film Beauty and the Beast.

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Connecting the Suncheonman National Garden and the Suncheonman Wetlands is the Dream Bridge. The Dream Bridge connects the east gardens and the west gardens. Made with over 30 shipping containers, the bridge is a work of art embodying Suncheon citizens' hopes and dreams of forging an eco-city. Artist Kang Ik-joong decorates its exterior while the interiors showcase over 140,000 paintings of children worldwide. 

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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The Sky Cube is the self-driving monorail that brings the guests from the national garden to the wetlands where migratory birds such as the hooded crane migrate to. The wetlands are also surrounded by a river and lots of reed plants to keep the soil from eroding and drying the river. Enjoy a quiet walk along the wetland banks surrounded by reeds while keeping a lookout for migratory birds and other wildlife. 

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Suncheonman Garden is at 47m Gukgajeongwon 1ho-gil, Pungdeok-dong, and Ocheon-dong, Sucheon-si. Its opening hours vary depending on the season. For more information, visit Suncheonman Garden's website.

6. Relax with a cup of green tea at the Daehan Tea Garden.

Enjoy lush green tea fields stretching out as far as light can see. Bask in the scent of tea as you walk around and enjoy the mountain breeze as you stroll about the seemingly neverending fields of tea. A perfect way to start the day and feel energized. 

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Once you're done with your hike or stroll down the winding paths of the fields, have some Green Tea Ice Cream at the shop near the souvenir store. They make the ice cream from the tea picked from the plantation, which is an assurance that you're getting the real deal. You could also shop at the souvenir store for some green tea, green tea-flavored snacks, and tea paraphernalia like pots and cups.

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Daehan Tea Garden is at 763-67 Nokcha-ro, Boseong-eup, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit Daehan Tea Garden's website.

7. Experience the wonders of digital art at Yeosu Arte Museum.

Arte Museum is Korea's largest immersive media art exhibition organized by a world-class digital design company, d'strict. Arte Museum presents 12 colorful, interactive multimedia art exhibitions through a mixture of light and sound. The artworks center around the theme of the ocean and Yeosu's coastal landscape and provide a perfectly immersive experience with inspiring visuals and sensuous sounds.

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
 
PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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Yeosu Arte Museum is located at 3/F International Building A, Yeosu World Expo, 1 Fair-gil, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit Yeosu Arte Museum's website.

8. Get a different view of Yeosu City aboard the Yeosu Marine Cable Car.

Yeosu Cablecar connects the one-and-a-half-kilometer distance between Dolsan Island and Jasan Island over the beautiful sea in the port city of Yeosu. A choice between a regular eight-seater cable car and a six-seater crystal cabin is available, with the latter offering a full view of the sea aside from the usual 360-degree view. Though short, the ride offers stunning angles and visuals of Yeosu, which would only be available through aerial shots. With the cable car operating both during the daytime and nighttime, you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the southern seaside, sky, and the scenery of fantastic nightscape around Yeosu's old seaport.

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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL

The Yeosu Cable Car is accessible from the Dolsan Station at 3600-1 Dolsan-ro, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do, or through Yeosu Municipal Public Parking Tower at 116 Odongdo-ro, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do. It operates daily, even on public holidays, from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., except on Saturdays, when it operates from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more information, visit Yeosu Cable Car's website.

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9. Go sight-seeing in Busan and experience its famous beaches aboard the Blue Line Park's trains.

See the famous Haeundae Beach through a moving observatory. Enjoy the magnificent ocean-side views via the Beach Train, or opt for a higher vantage point via the Sky Capsule. Whichever ride you choose, you're bound to see exceptional views of the eastern Busan coastline. There are several stops along the Blue Line Park's path, and depending on your ticket type, you may stop over and visit some of the haunts each stop has to offer. But honestly,  just sitting on the train and watching the afternoon sunset is an experience in itself. 

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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The Haeundae Blue Line is at 116 Cheongsapo-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan. The Blue Line Park is open daily, but operating hours vary depending on the season. For more information, visit Haeundae Blue Line Park's website.

10. Attend a cooking class in Busan.

Busan is South Korea's largest port city and has an extensive shoreline. One could even say that it is South Korea's seafood capital. With all the fresh seafood, there's bound to be a ton of local cuisines to try, but what if, beyond trying them, you could even learn to cook them?

At Busan Cooking Class, you learn all about Busan's food culture and learn how to prepare a full Korean meal under the guidance of an experienced local chef. Each class makes four dishes, all made from the freshest locally available produce. The best part? After cooking your meal, you get to share it with the class, eat it, and have locally fermented rice wine too.

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It is then followed by a tea ceremony where guests and the chef can socialize and learn more about the different local food spots and restaurants. You'll also get to take home the recipes of the dishes you created so you can make them back at home and impress your loved ones. 

PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL
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PHOTO BY LEANA VIBAL

Busan Cooking Class is at 2/F 15, Gudeok-ro 186beon-gil, Seo-gu, Busan. Classes are available daily, but a reservation is required prior. Classes start at 10 a.m. and last about three and a half hours. For more information, visit Busan Cooking Class' website.

*This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.

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