Located in the eastern part of the Korean Peninsula, Gangwon Province is home to some of the most beautiful mountains in the country, on top of scenic beaches and clear water.
The region is the most-visited summer destination for Seoulites, beating Jejudo Island and Busan.
It is blessed with Gyeongpo Beach, the largest beach on the country’s east coast; the Hantangang River, a popular site for white-water rafting; and the peaceful Kwangchi Recreation Forest, which offers fascinating scenery that includes a waterfall and valley.
Here are some of the sites in the province that are lesser known but still ideal for a summer vacation, for families with children, lone hikers and couples looking to spend a few relaxing days together.Yeongok Beach
Surrounded by a lush pine forest, Yeongok Beach is known as one of the ideal places for camping in the province.
The beach is close to Gangneung, which has many tourist attractions including Jeongdongjin, a very popular site for watching the sunrise, as well as Ojukheon, the birthplace of renowned Joseon philosopher Yi I.
Yeongok Beach stretches over 700 meters and is known to be a great place for children as the water is shallow.
Along with Sodol Beach in the province, which also has shallow water and a gentle tide, Yeongok offers a small seawater swimming pool just for children.
|Sunbathers bask in the sun at Sajingeun Beach, which has been designated a “tanning beach,” on July 13. (Yonhap)|
There are also many restaurants offering Korean food along the stream. The pine forest nearby is ideal for hiking after swimming.
The beach is about 15 minutes from Gangneung by taxi. Admission is free. Campers must pay 10,000 won ($9.70) per night. For more information, call (033) 642-0436.
|Groups enjoy white-water rafting at Naerincheon Valley, Gangwon Province, on June 25. (Yonhap)|
Although best known as an ideal site for white-water rafting, the Hantangang River, which flows through Gangwon and Gyeonggi provinces, has had an interesting history.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the river was formed after Mount Orisan in the province, which is now an extinct volcano, erupted some 2 million years ago.
As a result, the area surrounding the river is filled with basalt, a common volcanic rock formed from the rapid cooling of lava.
The site is also where Im Kkeok-jeong, the famous leader of a peasant rebellion in 16th century Joseon, spent his time with his followers while hiding from the authorities.
One of the most scenic sites along the river is Goseok Rock, a tall, peculiarly shaped rock standing in the middle of the stream. Near the rock, there is a two-story tower-style pavilion named Goseokjeong, which was built during the reign of King Jinpyeong (579-632) of the Silla Kingdom. Goseok Rock, along with the pavilion, blend harmoniously with the surrounding landscape, including the clear waters of the river and green trees. One can visit the pavilion on foot or by rafting.
It is a five-minute walk from the Hantangang railway station to the river.
Tickets for white-water rafting programs range from 24,000 won to 35,000 won. For more information, call (033) 452-8989. Kwangchi Recreation Forest
Yanggu County of Gangwon Province is known for its various tourist sites, including the famous Park Soo Keun Museum, where one can view works by renowned Korean painter Park Soo-keun (1914-1965), and the Center of Korea Observatory.
The Kwangchi Recreation Forest is about five minutes from the museum by car, and offers a great hiking course nearby that enables visitors to enjoy both a waterfall and valley, while being one of the ideal places for forest therapy.
|The scenery of Kwangchi Recreation Forest in Yanggu county, Gangwon Province (KTO)|
|The view from the Jeongseon Skywalk, part of a resort located in Jeongseon, a valley town located in the southern central part of Gangwon Province. (KTO)|
The course starts at Hygok mineral spring ― five minutes from the forest site by car ― and ends at the entrance of the Yanggu Eco-Botanical Garden. One can see the beautiful Gwangchi Waterfall along the way, above the lush trees.
Near the forest are some of the most famous tourist sites of Yanggu Country. The Yanggu Prehistory Museum, Yanggu Porcelain Museum and Yanggu Wildlife Center are all located 10 minutes from the forest by car.
The forest site also offers accommodation, providing a rare opportunity to spend a night in the nature. The cost of the accommodation ― all wooden houses of different sizes ― ranges from 60,000 won to 140,000 won during the summer months.
For more information on accommodation, visit www.kwangchi.or.kr or call (033) 482-3115.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)