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Day Trips

Jikso Falls in Byeonsan National Park


The peninsula south of Gunsan is a haven of Buddhist temples hidden among the beaches and mountains of rural Byeonsan. Camp out on Gosapo Beach, a short drive west of the Samangeum Sea Wall, or head farther south towards the city of Buan where you'll find the impressive Naeso Temple (Naesosa). From Naesosa, hike up some seriously steep trails to end at Jikso Falls. Spring and fall offer beautiful scenery and mild weather, but hiking in the heat of the summer can end in a rewarding swim in the deep pools below the falls.

Jeonju's Traditional Hanok Village

Tucked into the south side of big city Jeonju is a living, breathing traditional Korean town -- the Joenju Hanok Village. The word hanok refers to traditional Korean houses with unique curved roofs and raised, ondul-heated floors. Explore the streets of the village and wander through shops and museums displaying every kind of Korean traditional artwork and food from hanji (traditional paper art) and taegukseon (elaborate, hand-painted fans), to traditional tea and herb vendors. The small soju museum is worth a stop for a taste of the popular Korean alcohol. Don't leave without sampling Jeonju's famous dish -- bibimbap.

Stone Pagodas in Maisan Provincial Park

Anyone who has driven (or flown) east of Jeonju has seen them: two odd, rocky mountains reminiscent of a pair of lady-parts. Ancient Koreans noticed the strange, other-worldly set, too, and built several Buddhist temples in the cleavage -- er, valley -- between the mountains. The temples are surrounded by a maze of carefully balanced stone piles and plenty of well-groomed hiking trails. The brave and ambitious can even scale the tallest peak using a system of provided ropes to free climb the steep, rocky slope to the top. A small stone pagoda and sweeping 360-view is worth the death-defying scramble to the top.

Shopping on Art Street in Gwangju
A 90-minute drive south of Gunsan takes you to one of Korea's largest cities: Gwangju. Head to Art Street for some extreme Korean shopping. This neighborhood is a maze of big name stores like Uniqlo, Zara, and Gap, and also has plenty of accessory stores. The bright lights and competing store theme songs may overwhelm the senses. In fact, it is almost like being in manic Myeongdong -- the popular shopping district in Seoul -- minus the giant city and throngs of foreign tourists, plus a whole lot closer.
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