All you need to know for a Solid 2-3 day trip in the City of Jeonju
Before arriving in Korea, I always recommend that you order a prepaid sim online, having a Korean sim gives you access to the Korea wifi services and country locked apps. They’re relatively cheap so I really advise investing in one. KRsim and EGsim are 2 services which allow you to pick it up at Incheon airport with no fuss so please check them out…
When people start writing up their plans in South Korea, few look much further than the two tourism juggernauts Seoul and Busan, leaving criminally underappreciated gems like Jeonju city often overlooked. For food lovers and photographers everywhere; may I introduce your to the very photogenic cultural heart land of South Korea!
With one of the country`s most romantic Hanok Villages (Jeonju Hanok Maul：전주한옥마울 ) and gorgeous cultural parks, you would kick yourself for not spending a sometime immersed in the many pleasures Jeonju has to offer. Let’s start simple, how to get there…
Getting to Jeonju
Situated to the south-east of Korea, Jeonju is rather straight forward to get to with both a direct KTX and 2 direct buses straight from Incheon airport.
KTX Route: Ease N` Express
KTX is Korea`s answer to the bullet train, efficient, catered, spacious and clean, these trains can take you round the country in record timings and this is by far the most comfortable ride you can find when making your journey to Joenju. The trip will take you about 1hour 40minutes from Seoul station and you can buy your tickets either at the station or via KORAILs` official site.
Bus Route: Cheap N` Cheerful
The buses for Jeonju from Incheon airport are as follows;
The trip takes you just over 3 hours but they really take you through the scenic route, from mountainous forests to golden sunset scenes ripe for your Instagram.
The CHEAPEST way to get to Jeonju may be from Seoul city bus terminal;
The direct bus (주)중앙고속) can cost you anything from ￦14000 to ￦24000 depending on what time of day you go and how comfy you like your journey. The trip takes 2 hours 40 minutes so please do the customary bathroom visit before taking your journey!
Buying your tickets via this link may save you any language barrier with the ticket staff
Taking the bus from Seoul City Bus Terminal may be a good option if you don’t know the exact times you will be able to arrive in Korea as they have buses going to Jeonju every 15 minutes.
Your stay in Jeonju…
As for your stay in Jeonju, there is a wide range of accommodation options available. To get the full experience I would recommend booking a room in one of Joenju Hanok village`s many traditional style guesthouses complete with futon! A quick google search will bring up those places with prices ranging from ￦40000 to ￦60000 a night. If you’re wanting to go super cheap, there is one hostel called the “one percent hostel “with prices closer to ￦24000-￦26000 a night. This establishment has seasonal deals which has seen the price to about ￦10000 for dorms.
or people who would rather stay somewhere a little more
upmarket there is several dotted around Jeonju city centre, a few noted examples from my personal experience are as follows;
the classic hotel: a very functional, pleasant hotel in the centre of Jeonju
the royal room of king: the true Korean experience, located near Hanok village with a café and service centre in the centre, this place is very photogenic and is really the cherry on top of a great stay in Jeonju.
the Arirang hotel: A very classy establishment with restaurant and all the trappings of a high-end hotel
My personal favourite experience was the Becky guesthouse, as it is centred right in the heart of Jeonju and has a very stylish and modern aesthetic. Having a very pleasant social area upstairs and the interiors of the rooms being very colourful with Korean style furnishings making it a quite unique experience. The atmosphere is very laid back with friendly multilingual staff who are very knowledgeable about Jeonju and its attractions.
Things to do…
Location #1: Gaeksa
A popular start for travelers to Jeonju is the youthful shopping district of Gaeksa- a multiplex of small streets filled with makeup shops, fashion shops, music shops, cafes, bars and more. This is about as modern as Jeonju gets and unsurprisingly where all of the youth of the area hangout. You will be treated to a lot of street performances ranging from lone musicians to dance troupes so there is always something to do in this area.
*if you’re lucky you might even get on local TV! You could easily spend a full day here and being so close to the Hanok maul, it is a good refresher after spending so much time in the historically rich streets.
For food in the area may I recommend the traditional restaurant “Hanmi Panjom”, as seen here.
Copy and paste this into google to find the location:
전라북도 전주시 완산구 전주객사2길 21지번주소 전라북도 전주시 완산구 다가동3가 |
This establishment has a range of very high quality Jeonju traditional foods which would complete your stay in the area. Try your hand at the famous Korean rice wine, Makoli! It comes in a wide range of flavours and has a distinctive taste- Jeonju has great quality Makoli and is something you should try during your visit!
Getting to Gaeksa is roughly a half-hour bus ride from Jeonju station- the buses you can take are 108, 535,119,6,39 from slowest to fastest.
The app worth looking into is NAVER지도(naver maps) as they will have several comprehensive routes to whatever your destination including times, frequency and price.
Location #2: Deokjin Park
Located next to the gorgeous Chonbuk national University Jeonju campus, this park hosts a gorgeous lake full of lilies and sculptures which really makes this a worthy place to visit. On my visit I was lucky enough to see a 무당 or Korean Shaman do her performance ritual in front of a crowd of locals. The ritual involved a pig head, several pieces of fruit and a lot of drums and singing: a very surreal experience which I am very unlikely to forget in my life- in Seoul, as fantastic a mecca of culture and excitement that it is, is sadly diluted by its need to cater to an enormous tourist industry. I saw this experience as seeing the side of Korea and am thankful for the opportunity to see something so raw and traditional as the Mudang show.
Pig head not included
The park itself is truly a stunning sight to behold with an enormous late in the middle, a range of fish and turtle species to be seen and an utter gorgeous view of gigantic lilies make this ground zero for taking pics to make all your friends’ jealous back home.
Whilst you’re in the area, it may be worth checking out the Chonbuk university campus area as there is a range of cheap fooderies and cafes full of friendly bilinguals. A very vibrant area which leads straight into Jeonju town filled with cafes and eateries which would really round off a perfect day.
Location #3: Hanok Village
Being probably the main reason anyone would go to Jeonju, this piece of history holds a lot of cultural significance to the Koreans and as a result has a wide variety of museums, traditional food establishments and guesthouses in the area. Whilst in the area you should try the Korean Green tea pingsu (sweet crushed ice)with red bean paste- a traditional desert meant to be eaten by friends, couples and families. Another draw to the area is the Jeondong cathedral (see below). Built in the early 1900’s by Victor Poisnel, a French priest- it stands as a historical reminder about the early Korean Christians who were killed in the area for their beliefs. Such interesting stories and many more can be heard by the many English speaking volunteer tour guides dressed in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) scattered around the area- usually identified by flags or clipboards. The area around jeongdong cathedral is scattered with traditional street foods and souvenir shops so it is definitely a must see before departing from Jeonju.
To conclude, although Jeonju is not the largest city in all of South Korea, it is certainly one of the most culturally rich. With a wide range of traditional foods which even brings the native Koreans to the area and diverse attractions ranging from shopping, to parks to zoos, Jeonju has a low to offer and is not a place to be missed for anyone travelling to South Korea. There is something for all budgets and interests and is a city I hold very fondly in my memories. For all who love cheap nights out, great food, trips in untouched nature, historical marvels and traditions then perhaps try Jeonju on your next voyage to Korea!