Korea has always been one of my favorite Asian countries. It’s one of those countries I don’t mind revisiting because of its rich and interesting culture, fantastic food, and youthful vibe. Not to mention, Korean skincare is l i f e. When I received an invitation to visit Korea just a week before the trip, I said YES without hesitation. Crazy, I know! But who can say no to Korea?
This would be my fourth time and second visit this year. I was just there last April which was Spring season. Our trip was mid-October so it was nearing Autumn season, which is one of the peak times to visit Korea. Fall is my favorite time of the year because it’s not too cold nor too hot and it’s so fun to dress up in layers! Aside from experiencing Autumn, I was stoked for this trip because we would be visiting so many unconventional places that are typically not in your itinerary. If you’ve been to Korea several times and have plans of revisiting but have been to the common tourist spots and want a change of scenery, then read on!
Our itinerary was prepared by Korea Tourism Organization Manila (KTO Manila) and Jeollabuk-do & Gyeonggi Tourism Organization, and was called “Ladies Special Familiarization Tour” because it was an all girls trip! We were a total of 7 female bloggers (Farrah Espina, Vern and Verniece Enciso, Bea Marin, Patrice Averilla, and Arisse De Santos) who were set to explore Korea for five days! Don’t worry though, this tour is definitely family and couple-friendly as well!
Because our itinerary was super packed, I’m dividing this blog into two parts.
We arrived Incheon airport at around 5am with more or less two hours of sleep. Upon arriving, we washed and fixed up immediately – we had a full day ahead of us! After a heavy Korean breakfast at 6am, we travelled via bus to our first stop.
1. Imsil Cheese Theme Park, Imsul-Gun
Love cheese? This is the perfect place for you! Imsil Cheese Park is located in Imsul, a province in Korea, which is the birthplace of the country’s cheesemaking industry. It is such a happy place filled with flowers, castles, and of course, cheese elements! Just looking at these photos again puts a smile on my face! 🙂 From the city, it took us around 3 hours to get here. After getting much needed sleep in the bus, we were all energized to explore this park!
We spotted a long line and wondered what it was all about. Apparently, they have an outdoor slide, down a hill!
Before our main activity, we were given a short introduction on the history of the park and how the industry came about. All the signages are still in Korean language but they are already working on English-translated materials since they have been expecting more and more tourists. 🙂 After going through the museum, it was time for our first activity! We grouped ourselves and worked together to create and pack different types of cheese. The best thing about this activity is that you can eat and taste it while you make it! You can even take home the leftovers!
Every corner here is so photo-friendly! After taking a hundred photos (lol) and having lunch (a cheesy one, of course), we then proceeded to our next stop which was an hour away.
Jeonju is another province in Korea. This was my first time to hear of it so I was pretty curious how a “province” in Korea would look like. To my surprise, it was very similar to Seoul, except the vibe was more relaxed. We had several activities in store for us here.
First spot is Jeonju Catholic Cathedral, which is known to be the most beautiful cathedral in Korea. If you like visiting different churches when you travel, you could include this one on your list. The architecture is pretty amazing! This is probably the first church I’ve seen made of bricks.
We then explored Jeonju Hanok Village where we found most of the locals and tourists. It was quite packed! The streets were all lined up with food stalls, fashion stores, and restaurants. Before grabbing a bite, we first went to Gyeonggijeon Shrine. This is where you can find traditional structures and as well as a very beautiful bamboo garden! This reminds me of Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul.
Our last activity had to be one of the highlights of the entire tour and what I was looking forward to the most – wearing a Hanbok! This was always on my bucket list whenever I went to Korea but I never had the chance after 3 trips there. I was so excited!!! This is definitely an experience you shouldn’t miss out on.
We got to choose our own top, skirt, bag, and hair accessories. They have so many colors and styles to choose from! I ended up with a baby pink and silver Hanbok with flower designs. To complete our Korean look, they even styled our hair. I felt like a Korean princess exploring the village wearing our Hanboks!
Farrah and I made sure to choose matching and complementary Hanbok outfitss! #twinning
We capped off a long and tiring day with an amazing Jeonju Hanjungsik dinner. On our table was a wide assortment of small dishes made of various ingredients. It did not taste like the usual Korean sidings but more like a fusion of various flavors. The taste was unexplainable – everything was sooo good and fresh and tasted surprisingly healthy!
By this time, we are all so full from dinner and ready to retire early. Luckily, our hotel was just a few minutes away. We checked in the Ramada Jeonju Hotel for our first night.
Our second day was another outdoor-filled kind of day. From Jeonju, we travelled 1.5 hrs to get to our next destination.
3. Mt. Daedun
If you’re looking for a nature adventure, include this on your list. The way up to the mountain starts by taking a quick cable car and around a 20-30 minute hike. Be prepared for a quick workout and very very steep steps. If you’re afraid of heights, you may want to reconsider going here. The highlight of this mountain is a 50m long bridge that connects two mountains. From this bridge you have a spectacular view — just don’t look down!
Mt. Daedun is also known to be a Autumn destination. We spotted some trees turning yellow and red already – I can just imagine how beautiful this place would be during late October or early November!
After our nature trip slash morning work out, we had a Korean BBQ lunch, which everyone was looking forward to. Korean meals are always a feast for the eyes!
4. Korean Folk Village, Yongin
Around two hours away from Mt. Daedun is our next stop – Korean Folk Village. This village is very different from Jeonju. It is more of a massive park than a village, actually. You will certainly not run out of things to do here. You could watch a traditional Korean wedding and a live role play. You could ride several theme park rides that will make you scream at the top of your lungs. And you could even visit a horror house and scream for your life! Hahaha. The latter was the least thing I expected to experience here. But it had to be the most thrilling and exciting part of the trip! If you plan to visit this place, be sure to allot a few hours to fully experience it.
5. Hanam Starfiled
After being surrounded by nature the entire day, we finally got the chance to have some shopping time! Hanam Starfiled is a mall with a great curation of local and international brands and restaurants. We had a yummy Shabu-Shabu dinner here.
After shopping, we checked-in our second hotel, Best Western Plus Island Castle Hotel where we will be staying in for the next two nights.
Our third day was a full day outdoors again expect this time, no hiking! (Yay!!! I am obviously not a fan of any hiking activity.)
6. Petite France, Gapyeong
Our first stop was the very instagrammable, Petite France. If you are fans of the novel, “Little Prince” and the Korean drama, “My Love from the Star” where a scene was filmed here, you will love this place. Every corner you will find pastel colored houses, making it a perfect background for dreamy photos. There are not much activities to do here as you could tour the entire place for less than 30 minutes, but you will sure leave with a lot of pretty photos! 😛
7. Garden of Morning Calm
This is my second time here and it is still as beautiful as my first. This is one of the places outside of Seoul I highly recommend. It is lovely all year around in any season. Here you will find all kinds of trees and flowers. There is even a small creek with stones lined up and stacked on top of one another. And when we went, there was a pink grass field which was so pretty! It’s a huge garden and you can spend hours just exploring. True to its name, it really is such a calming place.
Aside from sight-seeing, there are several activities you can enjoy such as extracting fresh pine nuts.
The garden also includes a restaurant and cafe. We stayed here for a few hours and enjoyed a Korean lunch, and tea and coffee for snacks. Usually I don’t eat in restaurants inside tourist spots (you really just go for the place, right?) but I must say this one was pretty good! I think we never had a bad meal in Korea, everything is so good huhu.
Anddd I end part one here! Hope you guys enjoyed reading and discovered new places in Korea!
Stay tuned to my next post to find out more unique and underrated spots outside of Seoul.
Do let me know in the comments below which among the featured places you want to visit and if you have any questions on the #LadiesSpecialFamTour itinerary so far!