Asia Korea Travel

10 Things to do in Jeollabukdo, Korea

Since living in Korea over the past two years, I’ve visited cities like Seoul and Boseong and have enjoyed weekend trips to islands like Jeju and Geoje.  But that’s just a tiny fraction of where I’ve been in Korea; there are so many nooks and crannies of this country to be explored! So when I was invited by the Jeollabukdo Tourism Board to visit Jeonju, Buan and Jinan, three cities in the province, I was ready for my adventure!

Mt. Maisan

Jeollabukdo is a province in the south west corner of Korea. It’s still considered a lesser-known locale for foreigner visits but in no time, this area will be on the radar of every traveler passing through Korea. After reading this post, I hope it’ll be on yours, too!

There’s lots to see and do in Jeollabukdo Province. Here are some things you can do when visiting Jeonju, Bunan and Jinan.

Jeonju

Get your culture on at the Hanok Village

Jeonju is a remarkable place that is quite different from other cities I’ve visited in Korea. Not only is it famous for its delicious bibimbap; but it’s also known for its stunning old-style architecture.

There’s no better place to get a cultural experience than at Jeonju Hanok Village. See how Koreans once lived in this unique neighbourhood comprised of over 600 traditional Korean houses called hanok. Walk the cobblestone roads and wander around the preserved village. Make sure you see Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Jeondong Catholic Cathedral, and Pungnammun Gate while you’re there.

Stroll through Nambu Market

Yummy street food at the Nambu Market.

Prepare for a sensory overload with all of the sounds, sights and smells of Nambu Market. This large outdoor market has over 800 vendors that sell fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, textiles and other goods. Nambu Market is open in the day time but we all know things get more exciting when the sun goes down! You may even see some performers singing to a dancing crowd!

To escape the market madness, make your way to the second floor to Nambu Market’s Chung-Nyun Mall. This section of the market has the cutest boutiques and eateries.

Sleep at a hanok guest house

Hakindang Hanok Guesthouse

Back in Canada, I never considered sleeping on the floor (unless I’m camping in a tent). But when in Korea… do as the Korean’s do! On my first night in Jeonju, I stayed at a beautiful traditional-style guest house called Hakindang House right in the Hanok Village.

Main building of Hakindang

The Hakindang is a modernized hanok that was constructed in 1908. Its intended usage was to host musical performances since the owner, Baek Nak-jung, had a love for Korean traditional music. Today, it is a beautiful guest house comprised of a main house (Hakindang), a detached house (Jinsuheon) and a detached outer quarter (Yejiheon).

When you enter the grounds through the big front gate, you feel as though you’ve been transformed back in time to a fairy tale.

The entrance to Hakindang Hanok Guesthouse

Before you enter your hanok, you must remove your shoes and keep them in the front hallway, as per Korean customs. Each room is different and unique in its own way. However, all rooms come with a floor mattress, blankets and pillows (remember, you’re sleeping on the floor – no beds here!), television set, mini fridge and private washroom.

My room has its own private tea room!

The rooms are nice and warm, which makes sleeping on the floor very comfortable. In fact, it was one of the most comfy sleeps I have had in a while! I think all of the warmth from the floor sent me into a peaceful snooze to la la land!

Breakfast in the beautiful main house.

The next morning I ate a traditional Korean breakfast complete with all the side dishes you can imagine! This is what I love about Korea: the abundance of side dishes to keep you satiated and energized to start the day. Before my group and I headed off for a day of exploring our next city, we participated in a tea drinking ceremony with the owner of the guesthouse.

Interesting tip about drinking tea: pour with your right hand and then pass the pot to the person on your right. Make sure to drink the tea in three sips. Don’t down the drink all at once (that would be too hot anyways).

The attic of the Hakindang Hanok Guesthouse.

After that, we were brought into the secret room of the Hankindang House that holds many treasures from past generations. It was really neat to see family heirlooms of the ancestors that once lived in these houses.

Views from the attic of Hakindang Hanok Guesthouse.

Buan

Get your hands dirty at Buan Celadon Museum

Celadon is a precious type of ceramic that is known for its beautiful green hue and decorative detailing. The Celadon Museum, which is in the shape of a ceramic bowl, includes three floors of exhibit space plus an experience centre. At the centre is where our group was able to make our own ceramic mug or bowl. I was in awe watching our instructor show us how to take blocks of clay and turn into works of art. It’s definitely not as easy as he made it look but it was fun! I felt like I was in art class again!

Wander through Naesosa Temple

Wooden temple at Naesosa

I’ve seen my fair share of temples in Asia and Naesosa is something special. It is one of the only temples in Korea to have never been affected by forces such as bombs, fires or natural disasters. Some of the structures are left completely bare, which is different compared to the bright colours we normally see. This was certainly one of my favourite temples to explore.

Drink tea with a monk

Tea drinking ceremony at Naesosa Temple.

On this trip, I’ve grown an appreciation for tea and learning the cultural significance it has in Korea. At Naesosa Temple, our group had a tea drinking ceremony with one of the very friendly monks. It was interesting to learn about when and why people drink tea and the different batches of tea leaves that are drank at different times of the year.

Take a walk on the rocks at Chaeseokgang Cliff

Checking out the cliffs at Chaeseokgang Cliff (Photo via 87pages.com)

If you need some time to unwind on your day of sightseeing, then make sure you check out Chaeseokgang Cliff. Walk along the big layers of rock (be careful!), explore some of the surrounding caves and take some lovely sea-side pics!

Watch a spectacular sunset at Pine Island

No explanation needed.

Jinan

Make a wish at Maisan

Mount Maisan is a popular gem of Jinan among locals and foreigners alike. The main attraction is a mysterious temple, where interesting things have said to happen. There are over 100 large pagodas constructed by smaller rocks that are several feet high. No matter how crazy the weather gets (e.g. heavy winds and rain), the pagodas will not budge. When you walk up the winding steps to the top of the temple, make a wish and leave a coin against the rock. Perhaps your wish will come true!

Taste the grapes at Meoru Wine Cave

Muju is a smaller city east of Jinan where wild grapes, meoru, are grown here. When visiting this quaint part of the province, make sure you visit the Meoru Wine Cave, which houses over 20,000 bottles of wine! Inside the cave you can sip on varieties of wine that is brewed and bottled in Muju. Or give your feet a little taste with a wine foot bath. Yup, that’s right! You can soak your feet in wine (mixed with warm water), which will soothe your aching feet.

Want a foot bath?

When you make it to South Korea, I highly recommend getting out of the bigger cities and visiting Jeollabuk-do province. It’s the perfect weekend getaway to get a glimpse into traditional Korean culture.

Disclaimer: I was invited by the Jeollabukdo Tourism Board to attend a press trip so I can write about my experience with you all. As always, opinions are my own.

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30 Comments

  • Reply
    TCK Goes Home
    May 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Loved this guide, Samantha! Jeonju has been on my list of places to check out in Korea for a long time. There seems to be so much to do around Jeonju too. I didn’t know a thing about Buan and Jinan before I saw this post!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      May 21, 2017 at 2:05 am

      Thanks for your comment! Hope you can go and enjoy the beauty that is Jeollabukdo! Happy travels!

  • Reply
    Therie
    April 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Jeollabukdo sounds perfect if I want to experience old Korea. Gotta try sleeping in a traditional Korean house, it looks very cozy.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      April 12, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      It was a really cool experience sleeping on the floor in the traditional house!

  • Reply
    neha
    February 16, 2017 at 9:49 am

    So many interesting things to do, including drinking tea with a monk!! I am a big fan of floor cushions and floor beds. I knew they are very much the culture in Japan, but from your post came to know it’s like that in Korea also

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:43 am

      I like sitting on the floor with lots of pillows, but just for a short period of time. My legs start to cramp up!

  • Reply
    Suz
    February 13, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    I’ve never heard of this area of Korea, so thank you for sharing!! The tea ceremonies you participated look wonderful – I had no idea you are supposed to drink it in three sips! Did you have a favorite tea? Also, how were the beds there? I am so curious!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:45 am

      It was a great time! My favourite tea is definitely green tea. And I really like peppermint. It’s good for the digestive system. Well…there are no beds in traditional Korean houses. But the floor mats were very comfortable! I wished the pillows were a bit more plush though.

  • Reply
    Stewie Overseas
    February 13, 2017 at 11:19 am

    I’ve never been to this part of Korea, but I really like your photos.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:45 am

      Thank you! I hope you can visit there sometime.

  • Reply
    Megan | Red Around The World
    February 11, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I love your pictures! 😀 I would love to visit Korea. I never realized how much it really had to offer and how different it was all over!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:57 am

      Aw thank you!!

  • Reply
    Teesh Osita
    February 11, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve never heard of this place until now. Korea is just fascinating.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:57 am

      It’s such a beautiful country. I hope more foreigners explore it!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    February 11, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Hakindang looks splendid! The interiors are so cozy and look simply delightful. The wooden temple and spectacular sunset blew my mind. The intact culture untouched by the western trends have awed me

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:57 am

      It is truly a magical place!

  • Reply
    Cori Carl
    February 10, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I love visiting lesser known cities. And I love bibimbap. I don’t think I’ll make it to Korea any time soon; we need someone to open a Korean style guest house in Canada.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:58 am

      That would be so cool if they had something in Canada. I would totally visit if so!

  • Reply
    Colby
    February 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    That’s one thing I wish I’d done while in Korea, visit some of the lesser known places. This sounds like such an incredible trip and the perfect way to experience Korean culture.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 20, 2017 at 4:59 am

      It just means you have to re-visit someday ;). It was really a great weekend to see the culture!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    February 10, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I am all about getting out of the main cities and exploring more of the culture that awaits in the not-so-well-known areas too. But actually, I haven’t been to any part of Asia, so it’s all completely new to me. Like the tea, I would love to get to know the Korean traditions that they hold so dear. I want to understand more of the world’s cultures.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 10, 2017 at 10:40 am

      It’s very neat to learn about other cultures and how it’s different (or the same) as my own.

  • Reply
    Shane
    February 9, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    I don’t know much about Korea as a country, let alone this wonderful city. The caves would be my favorite feature!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 10, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Korea is truly a magnificent place. I love exploring!

  • Reply
    Claire Summers
    February 9, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Ok so now I need to go here and drink tea with a monk! Wow what a cool experience. So many cool things to do here. I need to get planning my trip!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 10, 2017 at 10:39 am

      It was such a cool experience! She was so nice, even though we spoke our own language!

  • Reply
    Sarah Kim
    February 9, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    I went to Hanok and it’s so pretty! It must be odd living somewhere that’s so touristy. I didn’t go to a guest house there though and wish I had so I encourage others go like you have! Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 10, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Hanoks are so beautiful! I would like to live in one…but I’d need a bed lol

  • Reply
    Jen Morrow
    February 9, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Such a nice break from the larger cities. This looks like such a nice little village. The tea with a monk would be so interesting, and those temples and museums are beautiful.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 10, 2017 at 10:37 am

      It was a nice break from the big cities I usually go to!

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