While traveling in Korea many people usually visit Seoul, Busan, and Jeju, the most popular tourist cities. However, Korea has also beautiful places in small towns, too. Currently, I am living in Suncheon which is situated in Jeolla Province and I discovered some great attractions nearby. Here I would like to share my experience of visiting Gwangyang city.
What to do in Gwangyang
Gwangyang is a very small town, the area of which is only slightly above 450 sq. m. km with a population of a bit more than 150 thousand people. It may seem at first glance like there is nothing to do. But, this is not the case. Firstly, the town is known for its unique nature. Secondly, festivals are held periodically in Gwangyang. Before the pandemic, every year many people came to the Plum Festival in March to watch the trees bloom.
Also, despite such a small population, many foreigners live in the town. On September 24, I visited an international cultural festival where foreigners together with Koreans performed on stage together and shared cultures.
I live in Suncheon now and I reached the city center of Gwangyang quite easily. The journey was less than 30 minutes on one bus without transfers. I arrived at the festival and while waiting for the concert, I took a walk nearby.
First, I went to the mountains. Near the embankment there is a road to Seosan, it is a small mountain with a height of about 250 meters. The total time takes no more than thirty minutes at a slow pace to reach the top. During the hiking, there will be several places to rest, where you can sit down on benches or work out using public sports equipment. After you climb to the highest point, you will have a view of the whole town.
There will be two views, so you can see everything from both sides. Visitors can see there the mountains, the sea, and the bridge. In my opinion, it is best to go there in the evening before sunset.
Gwangyang Bulgogi Street
After going down from the mountain, I took a walk along Gwangyang Bulgogi Street. There are a lot of places that offer the classic Korean BBQ dish bulgogi. Owners of local restaurants make bulgogi using hanwoo (Korean beef).
All tourist information indicates that Gwangyang is a city where you should definitely eat bulgogi because this taste is one of the best. It differs from those dishes that are prepared in other parts of Korea. The reviews say that no one can refuse the beef cooked there. That’s been said that “cooking traditions that were used in the Joseon period have been preserved there.” (별별시장 별별여행)
On the same street, there are several sculptures of cows, next to which you can take photos. Naturally, these sculptures are related to the fact that this area is known for bulgogi. There is also a small sculpture of camellia.
This flower is Gwangyang’s symbol which means “local pride and perseverance as the flower blooming in difficult conditions” (Gwangyang City).
Since I live nearby, I want to come back again, because I want to try the local bulgogi, and also I definitely want to see the apricot trees bloom next spring. Therefore, I think I will return to this city next time in March.
Looking for other day trips in the area? Click Here to learn about Odongdo, a small island with beautiful views.