Time for a walk across Gangwon
Woljeongsa Temple, founded in 643, is one of the representative Buddhist temples in Gangwon-do Province and a must-visit for tourists to Pyeongchang-gun County. The photo above shows the temple on a snowy day on March 25, 2016. (Korea.net DB)
By Kang Gahui and Yoon Sojung
Pyeongchang, Gangneung and Jeongseon are the three host cities of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
These cities are already well-known tourist destinations in Korea, and now they have the chance to go global.
Here we’d like to introduce you to 10 great walking routes that take you all across Gangwon-do Province. These are the “Pre-Visit to PyeongChang 2018 Tour Routes.”
■ Pyeongchang, 2018 Winter Olympic Games host city
If you travel to Pyeongchang, where both the Opening and Closing ceremonies will take place, as well as most of the ski races, check out the nature-themed walking trails there.
Pyeongchang is known for its natural beauty that epitomizes the harmony that exists between the mountains and the river. The city is itself beautiful, especially in winter, as it receives some of the most snow in Korea most years.
The main Pyeongchang walking trails include pristine nature and forest walks. Concerning nature, you can enjoy clean and picturesque views of Gangwon-do’s greenery by visiting Eoreumchi Village, the Donggang Freshwater Fish Eco Center, or go spelunking along the 1.8-km Baengnyong Cave. You can also find some rare fish species that can only found in the cleanest mountain waters.
Longing for some snow? Head to the fir tree forest walkway at Woljeongsa Temple.
If you have enough time and energy, walk along the 8.1-km Woljeongsa Temple Seonjae Trail that connects that temple and Sangwonsa Temple.
You can take some time for rejuvenation while walking along the trail and breathing in the clean air, with a lot of anions and phytoncides generated from as many as 1,700 fir trees.
■ Gangneung, home to Olympic ice skating
The city of Pyeongchang may be the first to come to mind when you think about the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, but in fact some of the most popular skating disciplines, such as short track and figure skating, will take place in the nearby city of Gangneung.
When in Gangneung, make sure to visit the local heritage- and art-themed walking trails, where you can learn about past and present artists from the city, and also make time for a cup of artisan coffee.
The art-themed trail begins at the Ojukheon, where tourists can learn more about the wisdom of our ancestors.
The Ojukheon is the birthplace of the renowned Joseon Confucian scholar Yi Yi (1536-1584) and to his mother, the famous scholar, writer and painter Sin Saimdang (1504-1551). Also known by his pen name Yulgok, Yi Yi can be found on the KRW 5,000 currency note, about $5. However, his mother’s visage is found on the KRW 50,000 note, about $50. At the Ojukheon, visitors can learn about some of Sin Saimdang’s poems and her calligraphy and painting works.
You can also take some time to visit other museums nearby, such as the Yulgok Memorial Hall, the Municipal Museum and the Daegwallyeong Museum.
From there, it takes about three minutes on foot to get to the Gangneung Artists’ Village and the Museum of Oriental Embroidery. In the artists’ village, you can make your own work of art alongside local artists. At the embroidery museum, you can appreciate traditional, high-quality embroidery works in various sizes and shapes.
For many people, the sea is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Gangneung. However, the city actually has another charm, too: coffee. The city is the first place where coffee trees, mostly grown in the tropics around the equator, were cultivated in Korea and where coffee beans were produced for commercial purposes for the first time here.
In Gangneung, coffee farms, coffee museums and about 400 cafes attract visitors with their unique coffee aroma. Since 2009, the city has been also hosting the Gangneung Coffee Festival every October.
It takes five minutes by car from the South Gangneung Interchange to get to the Tera Rosa Coffee Factory. Visitors there can taste some wonderful coffee brewed from fresh coffee beans by top Korean coffee masters. Another attraction is the Anmok Coffee Street where cafes are lined up for your pleasure. You can sip your coffee while enjoying the sea view.
■ Jeongseon, come for the Olympic downhill skiing
Jeongseon is home to one of the most famous versions of the folksong “Arirang,” a traditional Korean folksong that’s listed as an official intangible heritage item with UNESCO.
A tour of Jeongseon begins at the Auraji, the birthplace of the Jeongseon “Arirang” song. At the Arari Village and Arirang Market, sightseers can learn more about the story behind the song and enjoy some of the scenic views of the town of Jeongseon.
You can also enjoy various activities such as a sky walk and a rail bike at the observatory platform, all against the backdrop of the Auraji.
Don’t forget to visit the Jeongseon Arirang 5-day Market where you can see a real traditional market. You can sample some roasted pig trotters seasoned with Oriental herbs and other spices (hwanggji jokbal), enjoy some rice seasoned with mountain herbs (gondeure bap), sample the red bean pancakes (susu bukkumi) or taste the delicious buckwheat crepes (memil jeonbyeong). The area around the former mine also features some unique experiences.
This walking trail goes by the old coal mine, called the “Untangodo,” and brings you to the Taebaek Coal Museum where visitors can learn more about the history of the local coal mining industry.
More information about the 10 selected walking trails can be found at the “Pre-Visit to PyeongChang 2018 Tour Routes” website. https://www.nowpyeongchang.com
See you on the trail.