K-Travel Bus, ‘What a place like this in Korea!’
Foreign visitors to Korea want to go everywhere in Korea. Nevertheless, it’s a fact that they don’t dare go to local places, except large cities, including Seoul, Busan, Jeju Island, or other well-known places. They can’t enjoy visiting Korea due to difficulties, such as a lack of knowledge about their destination, a fear of the language or food, and a lack of access to public transportation.
Tourists on the K-Travel Bus stop at the Mireuksan Moutain Observatory in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do Province.
They take a picture with the islands of the Hallyeosudo in the background.
On March 25, the Visit Korea Committee started marketing the K-Travel Bus, a bus travel package specifically targeting non-Koreans. The K-Travel Bus packages offer two-days, one-night programs, including transportation, lodging, tour guides and interpreters for non-Korean visitors. It departs to six destinations once per week. The six destinations are Daegu, Gangwon-do Province, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, Jeollanam-do Province, the southeast of the country around Busan, Ulsan and elsewhere in Gyeongsangnam-do Province, and then Tongyeong. In particular, Tongyeong, recently designated as the 2016 Tourism City of the Year, and the Jecheon and Muju areas, are being introduced to non-Korean tourists for the first time.
On March 25, a bus departed Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul and picked up tourists from many countries, such as Brazil, Turkey, Laos, the Philippines and Japan. It ran on the highway and arrived in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do Province, in just five hours. Tongyeong housed the largest naval base during Joseon times and the Samdo Sugun Tongjeyeong (삼도 수군 통제영, 三道 水軍 統制營), or Navy Headquarters of Three Provinces, was installed in 1604. The “three provinces” means Gyeongsang-do, Jeolla-do and Chungcheong-do Provinces. They had jurisdiction over the south-central area of the country, corresponding to one third of the peninsula. Tongyeong, the place itself, is abbreviated as Tongjeyoung.
Tongyeong is located at the end of the Goseong Peninsula, in the southwest of the peninsula. It is surrounded on three sides by the sea and the severe curvature of the coastline. There are more than 520 islands in all in the waters there and they are outstanding in terms of natural beauty. In particular, the waterway between Hansando Island in Tongyeong and Yeosu in Jeollanam-do Province is beautiful. It’s called the Hallyeosudo (한려수도, 閑麗水道).
While having their first lunch in Tongyeong, all the visitors exclaimed with one voice, calling out, “What a place like this in Korea!” They appeased their hunger with the lunch, including seafood, spring herbs and hot pot rice ordolsotbap. The location of the restaurant, overlooking small islands, was also a scenic place. The whole party said that such a place that combines attractions, food and distractions all together is quite rare. Masca Minami, an exchange student from Japan at Ewha Womans University, said, “The sea bream and grilled rockfish are difficult to taste, and are fresh and special.”
It’s lunch in Tongyeong. Fresh fish, spring herbs, the surrounding mountains and the seaside city stimulate people’s appetites.
The amount of food served includes big portions that the camera can’t include.
The K-Travel Bus then conducted tourists to the observatory at Mireuksan Mountain from which they could overlook the entire Tongyeong area. Then the bus went to the Navy Headquarters of Three Provinces and to the Dongpirang Mural Village where local houses are gathered. Throughout the afternoon, they admired the scenery, such as the South Sea, Joseon history from hundreds of years ago, and the ways in which the ordinary people live.
The next day, March 26, the visitors took a cruise ship from the Tongyeong Ferry Terminal. Throughout the Hallyeosudo, a sea route that takes about 40 minutes to traverse, are scattered large and small islands, including Geojedo and Hansando Islands. One place at which they arrived along the calm waterway was Jangsado Island, a small island. This was a stage for ‘My Love From the Star,’ a Korean drama that gained tremendous popularity in 2014.
Leonardo Saturnino Ferreira, an engineering student at Seoul National University and who came to Korea to study from Brazil, was very happy with the appearance, as everything he imagined in his head became a reality at Jangsado.
He said, “A calm sea surrounding large and small islands everywhere gave me time to think about being free from my complex urban life, competition, problems of employment, and anxiety about the future. Sometimes, people need to have time to communicate with nature.”
The pictures show the area south of Tongyeong and the Dadohae National Marine Park, overlooking the top of Mireuksan Mountain.
Jangsado is an island off Tongyeong and is known as a filming site, attracting many tourists.
Kyunghee Lee, leader of the publicity team at the Visit Korea Committee, said, “In the meantime, Korean tourism is made up of groups viewing and going to visit large cities and well-known places, such as Seoul and Jeju Island. However, tourism has evolved a type of local area searching and exploring trivial daily life, all alone. The K-Travel Bus will be the way to comfortably enjoy a wider variety of sceneries.”
Once you choose your destination, K-Travel Bus packages offer a tour guide for two days and one night. The price per person is between USD 150 and USD 170, approximately KRW 175,000 and KRW 198,000. The complete package includes transportation, lodging, a guide, an interpreter and admission at tourist sites. The standard hotel is a four-star business hotel (double occupancy) and there are both large 40-passenger tour buses and 25-seat medium-sized buses available. Lunch, dinner and travel insurance are excluded and should be paid by the individual, although breakfast is included in the cost of the hotel.
By Wi Tack-whan, Son Gina
Korea.net Staff Writers
Photos: Wi Tack-whan
More tourism information about the K-Travel Bus and Tongyeong can be found at the link below.
o The Visit Korea Committee: www.vkc.or.kr
o The K-Travel Bus: www.k-travelbus.com
o Tongyeong-si City: www.tongyeong.go.kr
The coastal waters off Tongyeong were the site of a famous naval battle. On the seventh day of the seventh lunar month in 1592
the two navies of Joseon and Japan conflicted in the sea around Hansando Island (한산도, 閑山島). It ended in the result of an
overwhelming victory for Joseon. The photo above is the water around Hansando Island.