Travel Destinations: Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea
When travelling to South Korea, it is recommended you travel through Chungcheongnam-do province. With its rich heritage of tombs, fortresses and museums, this province is fast becoming popular with tourists.
Much of the province is still rural, with paddy fields, vegetable plots and orchards decorating the landscape. Wide valleys and forested hillsides add to the majestic beauty of this region.
Chungcheongnam-do (generally shortened to Chungnam) was the home of two Baekje kingdom capitals during the time of the Three Kingdoms Period (57 BCE – 668 CE), known as Ungjin and Sabi. Ungjin is now known as Gongju.
Daejeon is a wonderful town – known as the Korea’s technology capital, it is the best place to act as your base. A train from Seoul will get you here in about an hour. It can be a little confusing as it has two main train stations. The city has some lovely shops and a market in front of the station and there are many attractions nearby.
The Expo Park is a great place. The space age pavilions are from the successful Expo ’93 and are very interesting. It is best to check in advance in regards to what shows are being run.
To the right of the Expo Park is Sky Park where you can enjoy a wonderful 15 minute helium balloon ride that rises to 150m, giving you some fantastic views of the city.
If you travel west of the city, you will find Yuseong. Here are 20 therapeutic oncheon (hotspring baths) where the weary traveller can rest and rejuvenate your bodies and mind at one of the many hotels and spas. Even if you are not a guest at the hotel, you can still enjoy the wonderful spas for a fee. To get to here, take the number 102 bus.
If you are a shopper, then travel to Geumsan. This market town is where 80% of the country’s ginseng is marketed. Left is Matkkalbokjip where you can enjoy some of the most delicious ginseng specialities, such as insam twigim.
Walk on across the bridge and on the left is the Geumsan Insam and Herb Market. Hundreds of stalls and markets containing oddly shaped herbs and roots. You can also buy other things here too.
For those who love nature and culture, take a trip to Gyeryongsan National Park, about 18km from Daejeon. Inside the park are two famous temples. They are surrounded by forested hills, giving it a breathtaking backdrop. Its name translates as Rooster Dragon Mountain because of the shape – it looks like a dragon with a rooster’s head on top. Although the park is on the small side, it is a good place to visit.
Gongju is another great town to visit and those who take a trip to Gongju National Museum will not be disappointed. The museum showcases some of the most amazing artefacts discovered in King Muryeong’s tomb. These include beautiful jewellery, silver bowls, Chinese porcelain and an exquisite burnt wooden necklace and gold.
The tomb of King Muryeong is something not to be missed. It is with six other Baekje tombs on a hillside, not far from Seongsan-ri. However the tombs are sealed so you cannot actually go inside but there are replicas you can. To get here, take the number 25 bus.
For those who love beaches, Daecheon Beach is the best to visit. Its golden sands are much cleaner than some of the other beaches. In the summer the 3.5km long beach can be crowded on the weekends. Views of the sunset are exquisite.
Chungcheongnam-do province offers everything for the traveller –whether you want relaxation, adventure, culture or technology, Chungcheongnam-do can give it to you. Explore this lovely province and you will not be disappointed.