BOSEONG, South Jeolla Province -- Although there are pockets of greenery in bustling cities, most of them are full of concrete buildings, dark windows and mostly black-and-white cars.
Relieve your stress and take emotional refuge in rolling green tea plantations and a unique pine forest in a city famed for its green tea.
Located in the southwestern part of the peninsula, Daehan Dawon, also known as Daehan Tea Garden or Boseong Green Tea Plantation, is one of the five major tea plantations in Boseong.
The vibrant green tea plantation is an iconic tourist destination, resembling the rice terraces of Indonesia and the Philippines.
From the entrance of the plantation, cedar trees line both sides of the road, guiding visitors to take their time.
After a two to three-minute walk down the walking trail there is an open area where a cafe and shops dedicated to green tea are located.
Some impatient visitors may forget why they have come to Boseong in the first place as they buy unique items and sweets. But save the shops for the end of the visit, as everything will be much sweeter after a walk in the green tea fields.
Daehan Tea Garden offers three main paths for the visitors through some 500 hectares of labyrinth-like green tea fields. One of the most popular is the one with wooden stairs on a moderate slope, which leads to the central observatory.
While nature lovers can immerse themselves in the green tea field after walking along the narrow dirt road to experience the green tea plantation, many people choose to appreciate the scenic environment and take the pictures with the vast tea field as a pretty backdrop.
The sounds of cars are long gone and replaced by the chirping of birds echoing in the mountains.
With the observatory as the center, a circular trail is offered to visitors.
If you are not too tired, you can continue on to the upper part of the trail, a semicircle-shaped course, which offers a panoramic view of Daehan Tea Garden and the nearby mountain ridges.
The steep uphill climb may make some visitors' legs turn to spaghetti, but the mesmerizing views, azalea groves and cypress tree trails certainly make it worthwhile.
For visitors’ safety, Daehan Tea Garden recommends babies, elderly, visitors with wheelchairs and strollers against going to the upper section.
As green tea is infused into nearly every aspect of life here, visitors can not only treat their eyes with the county’s beautiful landscape, but also feast on delicious food.
Tourists do not necessarily have to love green tea because Boseong offers so much more, such as green tea lattes, cakes, cookies, ice cream and grilled pork belly from pigs that are fed with green tea leaves.
Starting Saturday, the 11th edition of the Boseong World Tea Expo will run through May 9 at Tea Museum of Korea, a 15 to 20-minute walk from Daehan Dawon, where people can learn and experience tea cultures from around the world.
Various green tea-themed programs, including green tea foot baths, traditional ceramic making, tea etiquette lessons, stamp tours, rock concerts, stage performances and more are prepared to entertain the visitors as well.
Pine tree forest at Yulpo Beach
If you enjoyed the vast green tea fields in the mountains, it’s time for a lush pine forest at the beach.
Yulpo Beach, a 10-minute car ride from Daehan Dawon, is where many holidaymakers head to escape the blistering heat wave during the summer holiday season.
Though many tourists come to enjoy water activities, vacationers -- especially campers -- hit the road to embrace the breathtaking nature here.
Unlike many other beaches in Korea, where the only place to escape the sunlight is under a parasol, the 1.2-kilometer-long pine forest offers enough shade to escape from the scorching sun.
Protected from the strong wind coming from the sea, visitors can take a light stroll around the beach and spend quality time just resting.
The forest is separated into two different sections for visitors and campers.
It may be a bit early for intense water activities, but active visitors can head to the sea at low tide to experience tidal flat harvesting.
Marine creatures including crabs, clams and cockles can easily be found by digging into the sand with small shovels.
If you want to just sit back and relax, take a seat on a bench near the 100-year-old pine forest and enjoy the mesmerizing ocean view.
Enjoy Yulpo Beach and its pine forest early, as online reservations are required to visit the beloved tourist destination in the upcoming summer season.
This is the fourth in a series introducing destinations for eco-friendly travel experiences in South Korea. -- Ed.