In this article I’m going to introduce you another wonderful place you can visit during your stay in Korea. Even if it’s not that popular like Busan or Jeju Island, this area is famous for its ancient agricultural traditions, like rice farming. Located about 80 kilometers away from Seoul, in Gyeonggi-do, and surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, this place produces the most delicious rice in the country. It is said that many Joseon kings highly appreciated the rice cultivated here. Do you have any idea what place I’m talking about? Okay. I’m going to give you one more clue. This place is also known as one of the most important ceramic manufacturing centers, alongside with Yeoju, being recognized as an UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Arts.
The city is called Icheon(not to be confused with Incheon). I strongly recommend you go there especially if you are interested in folk arts and crafts. I guarantee it is going to be a memorable cultural experience. I have been there a few years ago, during my language training program at Dongguk University, together with my classmates. We had the chance to take part in Icheon Rice festival as well, and had the opportunity to try the best rice products. My favorite one was the ice cream made of rice and nuts- just perfect for the people who enjoy not-so-sweet sweets like me, and for those who are gluten intolerant. I also had the chance to taste various kinds of rice cakes and traditional rice drinks. You can see the ice cream I bought there in the photo below.
Icheon Rice Festival, supported by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, is held annually during the month of October, attracting lots of people of all ages who want to spend some time far from the busy streets of Seoul, escaping the routine. Unfortunately, due to covid-19 pandemic, the festival was cancelled in 2020, but it is scheduled to be held this year, since the situation has improved significantly. Let’s hope that 2021 fall season is going to have something better in store compared to last year. You can find more information about the festival and tourist attractions in Icheon on the official website. The website provides information not only in Korean, but also in English, Chinese and Japanese language.
Apart from the festival, you can visit other places in Icheon such as Seolbong Lake, which provides a peaceful place to meditate and recharge your batteries. Decorated with numerous sculptures created by famous artists, the lake area is the perfect spot to refresh your mind and soul. I went there during the fall season, and all the trees were beautifully painted in red. Seolbong Fortress is another place worth visiting while staying in Icheon. This is one of the fortresses built during Baekje period. You can add on your list Icheon Ceramic Cillage as well, especially if you are interested in this kind of crafts. Here you will find lots of pottery shops and kilns. Below you can see a picture taken during my trip to Seolbong Park, back in 2015.
How can you get to Icheon? Since it’s not that far away from Seoul, getting there shouldn’t be a huge problem, since the public transportation in South Korea is well developed and easy to use. You can take a bus, a taxi or even a train. If you go by bus, like I did, it will take about 1-2 hours to get there, depending on the traffic. You must depart from Dong Seoul Terminal or Gangnam Express Bus Terminal, and get off at Icheon Bus terminal. Usually, the buses operate daily from 6~6:30AM, and the tickets are not expensive at all. Expect to pay around 3 500~4500 won for a ticket. So, pack your stuff, charge your camera, and get ready for a one-day trip in Icheon. You will definitely love that place. If you need more information about Icheon, you can visit the official website of Icheon city hall right here.
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