(SPOT.ph) The Gangwon province in South Korea is easily accessible to us Filipinos. We can either come in from Seoul and take a quick train ride to its many cities or take advantage of our visa-free status in the Gangwon Province by flying in directly via Yangyang Airport. Only many of us aren't too familiar with this province and why it deserves a spot on the bucket list. Often, we relegate it to our maybe-visit list or completely exclude it from our itineraries altogether. But what if we tell you that Gangwon is dubbed the "Adventure Province of Korea"? Sounds interesting, right?
Gangwon is a mountainous coastal area teeming with natural and man-made wonders waiting to be explored. You can do a ton of activities in this province at any time of the year, whether you're an adrenaline junkie or a casual traveler. If you're still unconvinced about adding a stop in Gangwon on your next Korea trip, we've rounded up some of our favorite things to do in Gangwon that might just feed your FOMO.
If you're familiar with the K-drama Goblin, you'll recognize this spot in a heartbeat. This is where our leads Kim Shin and Ji- Eun Tak met for the first time.
This location has become a staple in many itineraries as a place to snap your version of the classic scene. Many a tourist would don a trusty red scarf and hold a small flower bouquet while posing with their SO, but if you're not into that vibe, you can still enjoy majestic views of the East Japan Sea from this breakwater while dodging the occasional strong wave.
Yongpyong Resort is a true blue winter wonderland. It's extremely popular during winter months for those who want to ski and snowboard, as it is the largest ski resort in South Korea. Not an expert? No problem. There are instructors who can teach you at the facility. If skiing and snowboarding aren't for you, you can also try sledding down the slopes to get a feel of the land.
Right beside Yongpyong Resort, and as an alternative activity, if you happen to be in the area during non-winter months, you can head to the top of Mt. Balwangsan. Don't worry; you don't need to hike up the mountain as you can ride the cable car to and from the top.
Balwangsan Cable Car is Asia's longest cable car course stretching over 7.4 kilometers. Once you reach the top, about 1,458 meters above sea level, walk around and explore the Skywalk, where you will be treated to majestic scenic views of the surrounding mountains.
Sate your craving for seafood at this fish market. Rows upon rows of stalls sell a variety of live and cooked seafood. Heck, you can even just go to Daepohang, walk around, look at the stores, and you're bound to find something unusual, say something like giant crabs or flounders as big as your face. But if you're really in for a good time, push your limits and try raw Korean seafood. Alternatively, for those who don't want to stray too far away from their food comfort zones, there are also a ton of stalls selling deep-fried Korean favorites like jumbo prawns and ojingeo sundae, a.k.a Korean stuffed squid.
Bet you didn't know Nami Island was in Gangwon, huh? Nami Island needs no introduction. This half-moon-shaped island is a staple in every traveler's Korean travel itinerary. There are lots to see and do on the island aside from taking pictures at K-drama filming locations and its many tree-lined paths. You can bike around, ride a mini-train to explore key spots, go on a food trip and try the famous Nami sausages, heck there's a whole laundry list of things to do on this island.
But, if you want to take your Nami experience up a notch, consider ditching the usual ferry ride to the island and going via zipline instead. It's 80 meters high and a blockbuster, especially during the warmer months. So if you're planning to try this activity during peak season, you might want to book ahead. But if going at high speeds during freezing temperatures is your idea of fun, it's also open during fall and winter.
Ride along an old railroad bed surrounded by dramatic mountain and riverside views and take in the Korean countryside uniquely. Bike as a pair or a quartet and catch the different sights along Nami Island, filled with themed tunnels and rest stops. Then, when you're tired from all the pedaling, end the trip with a ride on a vintage-style train.
Right at the end of a long strip of beach is a quiet and lonely bus stop that has garnered a lot of attention from K-Pop enthusiasts. Dubbed the BTS Bus Stop, this former ordinary waiting area became a necessary stop for fans making a BTS pilgrimage as it was featured in BTS' You Never Walk Alone album.
Not a fan of BTS? Still consider dropping by Jumunjin Beach. It's a great place to sit down, relax, and unwind. Take a seat on the many benches and swings littered around the area and ponder about life. But kidding aside, if you go in the summer months, this part of Jumunjin beach is also an excellent place for a quick dip in the ocean.
Seoraksan National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful parks in South Korea. There are many sights to see, including a Giant Buddha statue, temples, river crossings, and towering mountains. You can take a day trip here to relax, escape city life and be one with nature. You can take a long hike around the park and bask in the park's vibrant flora or take a cable car 800 meters up to Gwongeumseong Fortress. There you'll be able to see panoramic views of the entire park, the East Sea, and Sokcho City.
Anmok Beach is the place to be if you want beautiful ocean views with your cuppa joe. This spot's many themed and Instagrammable cafes are a popular hangout for the young and the young-at-heart, especially during sunset when everything gets a golden hue, further adding to the ambiance. But don't think it's all pomp and no substance. These cafes take their coffee seriously, so expect palpitation-inducing brews to keep even the pickiest coffee lover on their toes.
Adrenaline junkies are in for a treat when they visit Sogeumsan Suspension Bridge. This pedestrian suspension bridge hangs 100 meters above the ground, stretching across a 200-meter valley—one of Korea's longest hanging bridges that'll leave you feeling like you're walking on air. If you get past your fear of heights or of plunging to your death, you'll be rewarded with scenic panoramic views of the surrounding area.
K-drama fans may also be familiar with this bridge as it was featured in the 2020 show It's Okay Not to be Okay, starring Kim Soo Hyun and Seo Ye Ji.
AirAsia flies daily from Manila to Seoul, and three times a week from Cebu to Seoul. You can travel by land to Gangwon from Seoul by booking tours with Seotai Travel. Alternatively, Fly Gangwon flies direct to Gangwon from Clark International Airport.