DAEJEON -- With international travel more burdensome than ever because of the spread of COVID-19, many Koreans are traveling domestically for a summer break.
The city of Daejeon, about a two-hour drive south of Seoul or an hour by high-speed train KTX, offers a plethora of unique outdoor-contact-free experiences for people thinking of travelling safely amid COVID-19.
“In Daejeon and Gyeryongsan there are many socially distanced tourist attractions that are less affected by COVID-19, such as gorges, forests and camping sites, among others,” said Song Hyun-chul, the Daejeon-South Chungcheong Province branch manager of Korea Tourism Organization. “With its proximity to the capital area, families can enjoy a one-day course trip without pressure.”
Sutong Waterfall at Gyeryongsan (Lim Jang-won / The Korea Herald)
Gyeryongsan, considered one of the most sacred mountains in South Korea, stretches across the boundaries of many cities, including Daejeon. Located at one of the entrances of Gyeryongsan National Park is Sutonggol, a scenic hiking course.
Beginners can take the 3.2-kilometer hiking course that takes them to the Sutong waterfall and Dodukbong in 2 1/2 hours, while those who want more can take the 9-kilometer course that takes 5 1/2 hours to visit the major peaks.
Although travelers need to check the weather during summer season as the mountain can be off-limits in bad weather, the increased precipitation brings out scenic views of waterfalls and gorges when the day is clear.
Donghaksa in Gyeryongsan (Lim Jang-won / The Korea Herald)
The three Buddhist temples at Gyeryongsan -- Gapsa, Donghaksa and Sinwonsa -- offer a unique experience with their over 1,000 years of history. In Korea, temples are often located in the most scenic spots in the mountains, and the three temples of Gyeryongsan are no exceptions. The mix of indigenous religion, Buddhism and Confucianism can be spotted in the temple structures. The major peaks of Gyerongsan can also be seen from the temple grounds.
Gapsa also offers a templestay experience of a night at the temple, for those wanting a fuller temple experience.
Trails in Daejeon
Patriotic Footpath at Daejeon National Cemetery (Lim Jang-won / The Korea Herald)
The Patriotic Footpath offers tourists a chance to enjoy the forest trail while walking around the circumference of the National Cemetery. Divided into seven sections according to the colors of the rainbow, the Patriotic Footpath is approximately 10 kilometers long. Veterans, war heroes and independence activists rest eternally in the cemetery, which can be visited by anyone. The National Cemetery Tower and Gate are monuments worth seeing for their grand scale and statues.
Daecheong Lake next to the Lohas Family Park trail (Lim Jang-won / The Korea Herald)
Another trail is in Lohas Family Park, located next to Daecheong Lake and the Geum River. Visitors can stay the night, enjoying the scenic view of the lake and river in luxurious camping tents or by bringing their own tents to set up at the Lohas Camping Grounds. Guest can also enjoy kayaking in the lake and river next to the Lohas Family Park.
By Lim Jang-won (firstname.lastname@example.org