My friend and I had the chance to join a group tour for foreigners living in South Korea called Tour08. They host different kinds of tours to the lesser known regional areas in Korea, to boost local tourism. The fees for joining the trip is really cheap as it is subsidized by Korean local government. If you’re a foreigner living in Korea, please contact me so I can refer you to the team and we can both get discount on the upcoming trips!
The focus of this trip was “healing and wellness” through different activities and scenery that can help us escape our busy life in Seoul, even for just a weekend. So we head over down south, at Tongyeong city on the first day, and Daejeon city on the second day
Our first stop is Donguibogam Village in Sancheong. Sangcheong has a long history of connection with notable doctors of old and oriental medicines. It hosted the 2013 World Traditional Expo, and the site was later converted to a an oriental medicine theme park that any one can visit today. It is the first theme park in Korea to focus on overall well-being, oriental medicine and provide healing experiences to visitors.
Expo Theme Pavilion
This place is where you can know more about the various traditional medicines around the world, as well as the difference in wellness and treatments of eastern and western medicine. It’s definitely worth your time to take time to read the information around this hall.
Korean Medicine Themed Park
There are some interesting and really big sculptures around the Korean Medicine Themed Park which includes a Bear, Leatherback Turtle and a Tiger. It is based on Dangun myth, a story of a bear and a tiger that consumed mugwort and garlic to be human.
You can go inside the bear’s mouth and take appreciate the scenery at the top of the mountain. There’s also a fountain area with all twelve zodiac signs.
Posing with our Zodiac animal
Sansam Bibimbap (Wild Ginseng Bibimbap)
For lunch, went to a restaurant in the village and tried the traditional Sansam Bibimbap wherein you have to eat the whole ginseng first before proceeding with the actual bibimbap.
Herbal Foot Spa
This is probably the highlight of the trip – trying out the herbal foot spa. Basically, the the water is mixed with traditional herbs, hence, the red color. You can see the quick clip at 0:34. I’m really have low pain tolerance to heat / hot things so this was quite hard for me, still, eventually I got used to it after a few minutes of struggling haha.
Samdo Sugun Tongyeong
We headed towards Samdo Sugun Tongyeong (Naval Headquarters), which was the largest camp that protected Joseon dynasty for hundreds of years.
The different rooms exhibits different kinds of culture and history that Tongyeong has – clothing, hat production, paintings, ceramics, traditional tools and many more. The area is pretty easy to navigate around and not too big, so take your time to read as much as you can!
Dongpirang Mural Village
Dongpirang means “east hill” in Tongyeong dialect. It’s literally a little village in a hill full of small cafes and brightly colored and fun paintings on all of the walls. While going up, you will see a nice view of the ocean.
You will also pass by a cute room full of love messages written in a heart-shaped wood. Korea is such a romantic country 😛
After walking for a few minutes, you will arrive into this resting pavilion at the top of the hill where you can take a rest. It features a nice view of the area.
We still had lots of time to spend in the area so we went to a nearby cafe after going down the Dongpirang Mural Village. Korea’s never running out of nice local cafes, that’s for sure.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant nearby where we were staying and tried a popular local dish at Tongyeong for dinner. It’s called Chungmu Gimbap. It has rice rolled in seaweed – usually with just rice inside as opposed to the typical Gimbap we know today – spicy squid and radish kimchi. It was made like this by wives of fishermen to avoid spoiling of food, as fishermen don’t usually have a set time to eat meals. I actually liked this meal, it was simple, yet really tasty! We also ate some fish as part of the meal.
Yi Sun-Sin Park
Admiral Yi Sun Sin was a Korean military general who lead the naval battles against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon dynasty. He won 23 times without a single loss, despite his lack of naval training. He is respected and well known by Koreans up to this day for his service in defending the country.
Fun fact: Yi Sun Sin also has a statue in Seoul, at Gwanghwamun square.
This is such a nice place to spend an afternoon while the sun is setting down – there are benches to sit on and walk ways to along the coast.
Sung Sim Dang Bakery
This is the most famous bakery in Daejeon that most people would recommend to visit when you’re in the city. It opened in 1956 and its best seller is fried soboro (fried streusel bread filled with red bean paste). We did get a W5,000 voucher from the tour guide and just bought a bunch of bread haha. There were also a lot of people inside the store, shopping for their bread.
Daecheong Lake Walkway
Daecheong is a man-make that supplies water to those living in Daejeon and Cheongju which was completed in 1980. The tour guide said that there was a drama filmed here but I wasn’t able to catch the title. There are a few picture taking spots in the walkway.
Our usual tourist pose hehe 😀
Daedong Mural Village & Sky Park
Last stop is at Daedong, a neighborhood in a Daejeon. This area have cute and creative paintings in the walls as you walk up the village.
Upon reaching the top of the hill, you will find an observatory deck with the beautiful sights of the neighborhood. It also features a cute lighthouse windmill full of drawings and writings from tourists.