When you visit the Jeollanam-do Province, Gurye-gun should definitely be on the top of your list! Gurye-gun is a small yet picturesque country specially designated for tourism and recreation purposes, where you can visit numerous important historical temples and attend mesmerizing festivals.
Here are some of the places that I would recommend visiting during your trip in Gurye-gun:
1. Sansuyu Village
The Sansuyu Village is located at the foot of Manbokdae Mountain’s southwest side. The village is renowned for its sansuyu flowers that would usually bloom at the end of March. This village is considered as the region’s most representative village of sansuyu due to the myriad amount of sansuyu flowers that are catching to the eye. Surrounded by the Jirisan Mountain and a small valley, this village would definitely be a perfect spring destination to witness the beauty of sansuyu flowers when they are blooming. Hence, it is recommended to visit this place during the autumn and spring seasons (when sansuyu flowers are blooming beautifully)!
2. Jirisan National Park
If you are a lover of beautiful mountainous landscapes, you must visit Jirisan National Park! It is not purely located in Gurye-gun as it covers three provinces, which include three counties and a city. The combination of mountain peaks and valleys that feature various natural attractions (e.g. waterfalls and streams) would surely calm your soul as it gives a comforting ambience. There are also many plants and animals in the park such as Asiatic black bear that you could witness. On the other hand, for hiking lovers, there are many tracks that you could choose in the park too!
3. Hwaeomsa Temple
Located at the foot of the Jirisan Mountain, Hwaeomsa Temple is a perfect place for you to take a look at Korea’s cultural relics that the government has considered as “national treasures”. Having a long history, this temple is a right spot to delve deeper into Korea’s rich culture, traditions, and history, as well as Buddha’s teachings. For your information, during the Japanese invasion from 1592 to 1598, while every temple was annihilated, only some relics that are now considered as “national treasures” were not damaged, which can be found in this very temple. Interesting, right?
4. Cheoneunsa Temple
Another temple at the foot of the Jirisan Mountain is Cheoneunsa! Despite not as crowded and as spectacular as Hwaeonsa, this temple is still a must-visit site when you come to Gurye. This temple is one of the three Buddhist temples of the Jirisan Mountain, which was rebuilt after the Japanese invasion from 1592 to 1598. Choneunsa means “Disappearance of Spring Water”, and it was named so as a large serpent appearing out of nowhere was killed subsequent to the annihilation of every temple; hence, making the spring water drying up. It is a home to a Buddhist sanctuary called Geukrabeojeon and a national treasure in the form of a Buddhist painting called Amita Hubul Taenghwa.
5. Saseongam Hermitage
Located on the Osan Mountain, Saseongam Hermitage is a vantage point where you can see the views of the seven myeon (townships) of Gurye-eup, the Seomjingang River, and the summits of the Jirisan Mountain. Saseongam Hermitage is renowned for its breathtaking landscape, which is also accompanied by the view of peaks and rocks of the Osan Mountain. The name “Saseongam” itself means the “Hermitage of Four Saints” in order to honor four Buddhist monks who practiced asceticism there.
6. Surak Falls
If you want to visit a place in Gurye where you can swim and play with water while enjoying a beautiful landscape, Surak Falls is the answer! Surak Falls is a spot where you can see a 15-metre-high waterfall beautifully falling through the rocks. Interestingly, this waterfall usually becomes more crowded during the summer season as it is believed that the waterfall could heal neuralgia, muscle pain, arthritis, and postpartum pain.
Those are some of the places that I highly recommend you to visit when you go to Gurye-gun someday. Well, besides the aforesaid ones, there are many other mesmerizing places too that you can visit during your trip here. All in all, Gurye-gun is suitable for you who enjoy a calming ambience of a countryside and want to take a break from hustles and bustles of cities.
Gurye-gun is indeed a gem of the Jeollanam-do Province that you shall not ever miss!