With the surge in popularity of Korean dramas and K-POP in recent years, many have been flocking to South Korea in the hopes of meeting Park Bo Gum or Song Joong Ki on the streets. If you are not a fan of either, the city of Seoul is also known for its fashion-forward items and cheap cosmetics.
However, if you venture beyond the enclave of metropolitan cities such as Busan and Seoul, South Korea has so much more to offer than just that. Known as a scenic city with a picturesque bay among locals, Suncheon is one undiscovered gem among foreigners that deserves more love.
The easiest and cheapest way to get here from Seoul is via an express bus, which takes approximately four hours without heavy traffic. Buses run frequently throughout the day so there’s no need to worry about not being able to get tickets.
If you are a big fan of Korean dramas and movies, the Suncheon Open Film Location (순천 드라마 촬영장) is one attraction you wouldn’t want to miss.
Consisting of three villages, each representing a different era from the 1950s to the 1970s, the set has been used as a filming location for big-name movies such as A Werewolf Boy starring Song Joong Ki, and Gangnam Blues starring Lee Min Ho among many others.
As you explore the set, you will find many people dressed in school uniforms from the 1980s, which you can rent from a store near the entrance. I would strongly recommend doing so to fully ‘immerse’ in the experience of living in a different time period.
Unlike the many opportunities to wear a hanbok, when else will you get to dress as a kid from 1980s South Korea?
Since the set is really big, it is relatively empty as well and you will find many opportunities to take cool photos without being photo-bombed. Even if you are not a fan of Korean dramas, this is a really interesting place that’s definitely worth the couple of hours spent exploring it.
Prices: Adults ₩$3000 (~S$3.70), Teens ₩2000 (~S$2.50), Children ₩1000 (~S$1.20), *additional fees apply for costume rental
Suncheon Open Film Location: 24, Biryegol-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do (전라남도 순천시 비례골길 24) | Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm (Last admission at 5pm) | Website
No trip to Suncheon is complete without visiting its famed Suncheon Bay, which is divided into a wetland reserve (순천만습지) and a national garden (순천만국가정원).
Both are linked via the “Sky Cube” – a train that takes you to and fro these two parts of the bay. Also, a single ticket will grant you admission to both attractions.
Dense fields of reeds taller than a full-grown man populate the wetland reserve, attracting a variety of rare bird species’ that call it home. As you stroll along the boardwalk, keep an eye out for them and you can even try snapping a picture if your hands are quick enough.
At the end of the boardwalk is a hill you can ascend for a panoramic view of the wetland. Although the climb may be a little tiring, I strongly recommend going up as the view you are rewarded with is definitely worth every drop of sweat along the way.
If you are a frequent visitor to the Land of the Morning Calm, you should know by now that it’s leg day everyday over there.
Prices: Refer here (Ticket covers admission to both the wetland reserve and national garden)
Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve: 513-25, Suncheonman-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do (전라남도 순천시 순천만길 513-25) | Opening Hours: Refer here
After you are done exploring the wetland reserve, you can head over to the national garden via the “Sky Cube” (which in my opinion is more convenient albeit pricey) or a cab. If you are not in a rush, hailing a cab outside is definitely a cheaper alternative.
It’s a stark contrast between both areas, what with the national garden’s man-made nature. With a view like this though, no one’s complaining.
The vibes of the national garden is also more chill and you can either take a leisure stroll around or give your legs a break on the many benches available while enjoying the view.
Prices: Refer here (Ticket covers admission to both the national garden and wetland reserve)
Suncheon Bay National Garden: 47, Gukgajeongwon 1ho-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do (전라남도 순천시 국가정원1호길 47) | Opening Hours: Refer here
Next time you are planning a trip to South Korea, skip the mainstream places or mass shopping sprees. Instead, take some time off busy city life and explore Suncheon, one of the hidden gems down South.
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