Living near South Korea’s biggest city, Seoul, one can easily be swept up into the bright lights-big city mentality. It can get crazy hectic visiting the motherland of K-Pop & Beauty. Seriously, I answer monthly inquiries about “things to do in Seoul/Busan/or Jeju Island (btw I still need to get to Jeju!).” And yes, those locations need to be visited… but I have to tell you that there is more to explore in this beautiful country.
South Korea is a complex country filled with cultural, political, social, and a culinary history that deserves to be explored beyond the latest snack trends. Deciding on where to visit, can feel daunting, but believe me. It is quite doable! For our first official visit outside of Seoul, I’m taking you to the charming Jeollabuk-do province, located about 4 hours from the City.
I’ve crafted together some of my favorite Spaces & Places of the province, along with a flexible itinerary for those who are inherent rule breakers (#guilty). Sooo, if you’re keen for an adventure or seven read on for my 3 Day Guide for Exploring Jeollabuk-do Province.
3 Day Guide For Exploring Jeollabuk-do Province
Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla), is one of the nine provinces of South Korea. Located southwest of Seoul and it is most noteworthy for being the cultural bedrock of traditional Korean food and music. As well as being a cultural symbol for the preservation of traditional South Korean culture and a modern marker of the slow travel movement.
This charming province is perfect for a staycation, weekend trip, and/or repeated trips throughout the year because there is so much to see and do. Seriously, if you’re in the mood to eat delicious food, breathe fresh air, visit lesser-known towns, and just slow down… well, then that’s where a trip to Jeollabuk-do begins.
\/ Day 1 \/
// Jeonju (전주시)
Jeonju is the uncontested star of Jeollabuk-do, famous for its long-standing commitment to preserving Korean culture. Getting to Jeonju, is an extremely easy feat – relax in luxury of a fast paced 1 ½ hour ride via the KTX (Korea’s fastest train) or kick back for a comfy 3-hour express bus ride into Jeollabuk-do’s capital city. No, matter the transport, tourists, and locals flock to the cultural delight that is Jeonju, for a literal taste and hands-on experience of life in the heartland of South Korea.
Grab a pal and get lost traipsing down the twisty lanes of Jeonju Hanok Village, which consists of over 800 traditional Korean hanoks (homes). Climb up to Omokdae, for a landscape view of the Hanok Village and capture the sunrays across the unique roofs.
Take a guided tour of Jeondong Catholic Cathedral, Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Jamin Village, and
Omokade & Imokdae.
Appreciate the arts & culture: The people of Jeonju work hard to preserve and produce aspects of their cultural heritage, so take the time to patronize local museums and the shops of artisans as they want to share their heritage and culture with you. Learn about the faded tradition of woodblock printing or sign up for to create your own traditional jewelry (Chilbo).
Heralded by UNESCO as a City of Gastronomy, Jeonju is THE place for local dishes such as bibimbap (rice dish) or traditional royal cuisine.
Those attuned to the farm-to-table movement can rest assured that you are indeed supporting the local community, especially as Jeonju restauranteur’s, pride themselves on using quality ingredients from local producers. Insider Tip: Visit Goong (궁), for “flavorful royal dishes using quality ingredients and natural seasoning from the Honam region.”
AFTER HOURS //
Spend the evening exploring Jeonju Nambu Market for yummy street food, or head upstairs to Chung-Nyun Mall to buy artisan items with a flair or nom away on delicious tacos.
Insider’s Tip: Located in Chung-Nyun Mall, is the super cute and artsy — Doorin Candle. Shop there for your scented candles/diffuser & minimalistic décor needs. #obsessed
For a cultural immersion experience, I recommend booking a stay at the traditional Hakingdang GuestHouse. Built in 1908, this family-owned guesthouse is absolute perfection. During your stay, you have the opportunity to participate in culture programs, such as the traditional tea ceremony. Insiders Tip: Ask your host about the secret attic for a breathtaking view of the city.
\/ Day 2 \/
// Buan (부안)
Located an hour from Jeonju, Buan-county is a must-visit for those traveling through Jeollabuk-do. The proud people of Buan, work hard to promote their local economy via educational and agriculture tourism and encouraging visitors to take a more hands-on approach, while sightseeing.
If you’re interested in the history of celadon (pottery), then a visit to the Buan Celadon Museum should be right up your alley. With over 200 artifacts of the Goryeo celadon porcelain on display, take your time to wander the galleries, as the intricate designs of these 1000-year-old authentic pieces are definitely awe-inspiring. Before you leave the museum, learn from a master artisan, and create your own celadon pieces.
Journey through the magnificent Fir Tree Forest and you will arrive at the thousand-year-old
Naesosa Temple (내소사).
Naesoa is a Korean Buddhist Temple that was built with the wish that “Anyone who enters [the temple] can get a fresh start on all their problems.” Walking the grounds it is easy to let the Zen-like vibes wash over you, as Naesoa exudes harmony. Naesoa also offers Temple Stays, so visitors (of all religions) can take part in a mindfulness retreat by learning & participating in the day-to-day activities of the monks. Insider tip: If you ask nicely, a monk may invite you to tea.
Located at the end of the Byeonsan Penisula, are the Chaeseokgang Cliffs (부안 채석강), which definitely rank in the top 10 of South Korea’s most beautiful coastal views. Whether you’re posing in front of the layered stratified rock, exploring the sea caves, or simply enjoying the breathtaking sights – the Chaseokgang Cliffs definitely need to be added to your Buan itinerary.
Enjoy a sunset at Solseom (Pine Island). This picture should be self-explanatory, but if I must explain… it’s straight GORGY. If you can swing it, grab a bottle of wine, pick a spot on the beach, and just soak in the wonders of nature.
\/ Day 3 \/
// Jinan (진안군)
Once you’ve had your fill of Buan, it’s time to hit the road for a 2-hour drive to traverse more of Jeollabuk-do. First on our list, is Jinan Mountain (Mt. Maisan) – Horse Ear Mountain.
After a 30 minute hike (not too laborious), you’ll arrive at the mystical Tapsa Temple. Built in the 1800s by Lee Gapyong, who was later ordained as a Buddhist monk. It is said, that Lee collected stones during the day and built the pagodas during the evening. What makes the stone temple so mysterious, is that the 100-year-old pagodas have remained standing, and have never swayed or collapsed (not even due to the strongest of winds).
After trekking through Mt. Mai, feel free to patronize the local restaurants, boutiques, and unique coffee shops. Once finished with your Jinan exploring, hop back in the car for the 1-hour trip to Muju.
Muju Wine Cave
Surrounded by scenic landscapes, one can have a difficult time pinpointing the beauty of Muju. My friend, it is in the wine. Ease on down the repurposed construction tunnel and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a humongous wine cellar. Similar to the slow movement in Jeonju, Muju makes a concerted effort to encourage the local economy and the farmers. All wine sold at the cave, stems from meoru (Korean wild grape) and is locally produced and ripened in Muju.
Regrettably, there are no grape stomping competitions, but there is a cozy wine footbath, that visitors can try.
And there you have it, your 3 Day Guide for Exploring Jeollabuk-do Province and experiencing a slower version of South Korean life! Be sure to follow me on Facebook to stay updated on my Korea adventures! ^^
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FTC: I had the awesome opportunity to road trip through North Jeolla Province, with the Jeollabuk-do Tourism Board, in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are my own.