Gyeonggi-do Province–strategically surrounding Seoul like a doughnut–is known as the ‘outer land of the kingdom’s capital’, which protects the royal palace.
Today, it is one of the popular weekend destinations for Seoul residents, offering many attractions easily accessible from the capital. Here you can find vast natural landscapes like the magical Gwangmyeong cave, as well as historical sites that date back to the Joseon Dynasty.
Here’s a photo essay of our tour around the neighboring cities while visiting the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Venue…
Gyeonggi-Do is located just outside of Seoul. It can take 1 to 2 hours to get there, depending on the mode of transportation.
HWASEONG HAENGGUNG PALACE
Fans of Daejanggeum would love a visit to Hwaseong Haenggung Palace where they shot the popular Korean TV series on location.
Haenggung, meaning “Temporary Palace”, is where King Jeongjo’s father’s tomb is located and where the king planned to live the rest of his life. If the palace looks familiar, it’s because it’s modeled after the same architecture standards as the main Gyeongbokugung Palace.
It is also considered as the most beautiful and largest Haenggung in the nation.
Tip: Don’t miss the 24 Martial Arts Trial performance daily from 11am-3pm (except on Mondays).
Admission Fees: Adults 1,500 won / Teenagers 1,000 won / Children 700 won
HWASEONG HAENGGUNG PALACE
825 Jeongjo-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Contact: +82-2-1330 , +82-31-228-4677, 228-4480
KOREAN FOLK VILLAGE
The Korean Folk Village is an outdoor folk museum that brings visitors back in time, where they can experience the culture and lifestyle during the Joseon Dynasty period.
The 243 acres of land is a re-creation of a typical village, where 270 of those houses are the actual structures that were either restored or relocated.
We enjoyed the same traditional Korean food that people in the Joseon period used to eat.
Bulgogi Jungol is a soup take on the popular Korean dish Bulgogi. The hearty one-pot meal is filled with marinated bulgogi, mushrooms, and several vegetables.
Make sure to monitor the broth–you wouldn’t want your meat to get tough from overcooking.
The dish is not only delicious but also healthy as it is made from natural ingredients and follow the traditional cooking method.
Touring around the village is sure to be interesting. You can participate in different activities and experience the day to day lives of the villagers where customs from the past are regularly on display.
Don’t miss the Folk music concerts, traditional marriages, and martial arts demonstrations performed regularly.
We watched the Farmer’s Music & Dance, a traditional dance performed during planting and harvesting. The dancers have instruments and white paper streamers attached to their hats as they twirl along to the music.
Admission Fees: Adults (ages 19 and up) 18,000 won / Teenagers (ages 13-18) 15,000 won / Children 13,000 won
KOREAN FOLK VILLAGE
90 Minsokchon-ro, Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do
Contact: +82-2-1330, +82-31-288-0000
Did you know there’s a cave within the metropolitan area?
For 40 years (from 1972 to 2011) the Gwangmyeong cave was abandoned due to exploitation during the rule of the Japanese Forces.
Now transformed into Korea’s Best Cave theme park, it features different attractions like the modern history exhibition, works of art made of light, an aqua world, light mapping show, eco-friendly gardens, an underground fantasy world, and a romantic vintage-themed wine restaurant.
It also has a modern history museum, which depicts the history of exploitation and abuse during the Japanese occupation.
Pictured here is The Golden Road, which used to be a gold mine. Now, you can enjoy various experiences in Gwangmyeong Cave like collecting gold and different jewels, or hanging golden medals with wishes on the Wall of Hope inside the cave.
Don’t miss the show in the Cave Art Center where a fantastic light mapping display combined with lights, lasers, and music project beautiful pictures within the cave.
The cave also features an aqua world using underground water to support a variety of fishes…
…and a botanical garden brought to life using LED lights. Organic materials from the fishes in the aquarium are used to nourish the plants.
A crowd favorite is the mysterious underground world that features a Dragon made by the same guys who worked on Lord of the Rings in New Zealand. They even have Gollum!
Wine Restaurant (Maru de Caves)
Perfect for a romantic dinner, the vintage-themed wine restaurant offers an unparalleled ambiance inside the cave.
We heard the chef of the restaurant previously worked in a five-star hotel. Order Korea’s raved about Hanwoo steak–a melt-in-the-mouth treat!
Tip: Table reservation is mandatory.
[Gwangmyeong Cave (including Wine Cave)]
Adults 6,000 won / Group 5,000 won
Youths 3,500 won / Group 3,000 won
Children (ages 3~elementary school students) 2,000 won / Group 1,700 won
142, Gahak-ro 85beon-gil, Gwangmyeong-si, Gyeonggi-do
I loved our trip to Gyeonggi-do! These are just among the few sights you won’t regret visiting.
I suggest taking the time to also visit the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 1700’s) and the beautiful, raved about Nami Island.
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: We were media guests of the Korea Tourism Organization. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.