Part Two: The Best City in Korea?

Which city in Korea is the best city for you?

This is a continuation of a two-part collaboration effort — part one can be found here! When moving to a new country, people sometimes forget the importance of one’s location. With the help of bloggers and friends from all over the country, I’ve compiled a line-up of ten cities around South Korea to give much-needed insight for those looking to move to the country for work.

The last five of the round-up are Busan, Cheongju, Jeju, Gwangju, and Gunpo!

Best City in Korea

Best City in Korea Busan

POPULAR ATTRACTIONS

  • Gamcheon Cultural Village: I HIGHLY recommend visiting this village, as it offers a plethora of vibrant, scenic views filled with colourful houses and European style shops. Not only is it an artists’ paradise, but it makes for great pictures for photographers and adventurous travellers. Make sure to stop at a restaurant and try some taco gimbap!
  • Haeundae Beach: Probably my favorite place in Busan, although I am biased because I live in Haeundae-gu. In the summer, the beach will be filled with umbrellas and joyous laughter (and soju bottles of course)! We call this place, the “Miami Beach” of Korea!
  • Shinsegae Centum City: The Shinsegae Centum City Department Store is officially registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest department store and it never fails to uphold its title. With shops ranging from Hermes and Prada, to underground urban shops, you can buy just about everything and anything. I call it a consumer’s paradise, and it is not bad on the eyes either. The aesthetic and America architecture design leaves you wandering around the mall in awe.

WHY IS IT THE BEST CITY?

Although Busan is known as more of a “conservative” city of South Korea, I still find the culture to be young and vibrant. As the second largest city in South Korea, following Seoul, Busan has a great mix of landmarks, people and attractions to keep everyone entertained. I am a huge fan girl of big cities, and Busan offers a perfect blend of city and country life, as there are futuristic modern areas, as well as mountainous taverns and an abundance of hiking trails. There is a large expat community who never fail to take the streets and have a good time. The nightlife is amazing, as a typical night doesn’t end earlier than 5:00 am. I find Busan an enjoyable city with many beaches, such as Heaundae and Gwanganli Beach, to have it double as a popular summer tourist spot.

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE IS…

The only downside of living in Busan is its proximity to Seoul. By KTX fast train, it is about 3 hours away, which makes it hard to make a trip unless you have a long weekend. Although Busan is a vibrant city on its own, it’s always nice to be able to easily visit the country’s capital. In addition, flights leaving Gimhae Airport in Busan are relatively more expensive than flights leaving from Seoul. But, with beaches and warmer weather, we can’t have it all, right?

Interested in Chelsea’s perspectives? Visit her blog over at Chelssology and add her on instagram @chelssology.

Best City in Korea Cheongju

POPULAR ATTRACTIONS

  • Songnisan Mountain: The center of the Sobaek mountain ranges and also where you can find the Beopjusa temple
  • Jikji Museum: A museum dedicated to Korea’s ancient printing method called Jikji

WHY IS IT THE BEST CITY?

Probably the best part about Cheongju is the location. Since it’s the capital of Chunbuk Province, Cheongju is located in the center of Korea, making it super easy to get to anywhere in a matter of a few hours. Chungbuk is also the only province not bordered by ocean. It’s a mid-sized city with everything you need: a great bar district, a shopping district, modern apartments and beautiful parks. Cheongju is also a popular university city, being home to Chunbuk University, one of the top universities in the country. This creates great opportunities for foreign English teachers to find decent job positions. Also, the people of Cheongju are said to be much more laid back and not at all impressed by the predominant “pali pali” culture of Korea.

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE IS…

Cheongju does not have a subway system – only buses and a KTX station. However, taxi rides are comparably cheaper than in bigger cities.

Linda has been covering her time in Asia at Linda Goes East. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @woshilinda too.

Best City in Korea Gwangju

POPULAR ATTRACTIONS

  • Damyang: On the outskirts of Gwangju lies the small town of Damyang where you can visit the Juknokwon Bamboo Forest and other historic locations.
  • Boseong Green Tea Fields: A 90-minute bus ride from Gwangju, this popular tourist attraction is also known as Daehan Dawon Tourist Tea Plantation.
  • Various Festivals: Celebrate a variety of interesting festivals such as the World Kimchi Festival, Bamboo Festival, and the 7080 Chungjang Recollection Festival, a festival themed around celebrating the Seventies and the Eighties!

WHY IS IT THE BEST CITY?

For someone like me who enjoys eating well, living in a relatively quiet, uncongested environment, traveling with ease and convenience and being close to nature, Gwangju has to be one of the best cities to live in. This has become my home base. Other than times when they need to visit family living here, most Koreans come to Gwangju only to visit other nearby locations. We don’t have a beach or a huge foreign district, but we do have other things to offer. Most of these, however, are in outside of the city. The list of attractions above are almost all outside of Gwangju. When I ask Korean friends about good things in Gwangju itself, 99% of their replies go something like this: “We have the best food.” Yep. That’s all they say. This whole south-west region has a solid reputation for great food. Some smaller cities do have their own famous dishes, but by and large, we’re known for doing all Korean food … better. Word on the street is that our ingredients are fresher and the quantity (of side dishes in particular) is larger. Other than those occasions when I order something that I really just don’t like, I’ve never been disappointed by the Korean food that I’ve eaten down here, and even when I go to smaller, cheaper places, I’ve walked away satisfied with my meal. Beyond food, Gwangju does have readily accessible, reliable public transportation. We have some mountains and bike paths for hiking and biking. And because we’re so far south, we don’t deal with as much air/noise pollution as you might find in some of those popular places up north. You know where I mean. 😉 This area can make for a nice, refreshing place to go to spend a weekend away and get more in touch with your Korean side.

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE IS…

Now, our subway does only have one line, but I use buses all the time, and when I need to get somewhere faster, I simply jump in a cab.


Best City in Korea Jeju

POPULAR ATTRACTIONS

  • In terms of cultural elements, you can find dol hareubang (grandfather statues), Hallasan Mountain (Korea’s highest peak), and haenyo (women divers).
  • All the beaches (Hamdeok, Gwakji, Jungmun, Hyeopjae, Iho, etc).
  • Hallasan National Park, Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchubong), Manjanggul Lave-tube, 360+ Oreums, Olle trails, and many unusual museums.

WHY IS IT THE BEST CITY?

Jeju Island is the best place in Korea because it has everything an outdoorsy person loves, and much more. In the summer, one can hike Korea’s highest peak in the day, and relax, swim, and camp on one of the many beautiful sandy beaches in the evening. We have the cherry blossom and fire festival in spring, colourful foliage and great weather in the fall, and snowy hiking in winter. There is no hustle and bustle of city life or endless traffic; instead there is relaxation on a beach or on a hike through a pristine forest, and bike/walking trails that circumnavigate the island. The social community on Jeju is excellent, people are friendly and easy-going, and there are active groups for all sorts of activities (soccer, volleyball, frisbee, board games, yoga. etc). Last but not least, it’s a photographer’s dream. Basically, living on this holiday destination island is like being on a permanent holiday.

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE IS…

Living on a small island means a lack of shopping, places of entertainment, restaurants, and unique areas which a city like Seoul or Busan have plenty of. It’s also unfortunate that you must take a plane to get to other places in Korea.
Eric is a freelance photographer who specializes in destination photography for couples and families. Browse through his portfolio at Eric Hevesy Photography and on his Instagram @eric.hevesy. Follow his Facebook too.

Best City in Korea GunpoPOPULAR ATTRACTIONS

  • Suri Mountain: A provincial park surrounding Gunpo and an ecological hotspot. The wildlife found in this area are the only ones of their kind in the world and there are some endangered species of animals that inhabit this area as well.
  • Yuna Kim: Gunpo is the hometown of Korea’s champion figure skater and in 2010, the city erected a controversial statue of her after gold medal win in Vancouver.
  • The Royal Azalea Hill: A site where 90,000 royal azaeleas and 27,000 wild flower speices were planted.  A festival in honor of the flowers happens during the time they bloom around the end of April/beginning of May every year.

WHY IS IT THE BEST CITY?

Gunpo’s famous slogan, “with book” is no joke. Over half the residents own library cards and there are areas in Sanbon Station Square where children can open cupboards and retrieve books to read. The square is home to many norebangs, bars, great shopping. Gunpo City is surrounded by trees and mountains which makes it a very green and something it prides itself on. Suri Mountain is also a wonderful attraction for all because it helps the city keep clean air. Gunpo is the best city to be because this is where Line 1 and 4 intersect. Both can take you directly to Seoul and Suwon. My city offers a metropolitan life without the enormous amount of people that come with the Seoul area. In addition, every spring, a beautiful hill becomes engulfed in vibrant purple with azaleas.

THE ONLY DOWNSIDE IS…

The entire city is not connected by train and you have to take buses. However,  on the bright side, public transport is always on time!

Read more about Gina’s time as an expat in Japan and Korea at Gina Bear’s Blog. Like her on Facebook, Instagram @ginabearinkorea, and subscribe to her Youtube Channel.

blog-divide

So there you have it folks! Here’s coverage on ten cities in South Korea to make the hassle of deciding to where you live so much easier. Feel free to consult the writers about their cities.
Many thanks to the contributors: Megan, Scott, Anjelica, Lindsay, Eric, Ben, Gina, Chelsea, Linda, Shirgie, and also to my partner Tim for giving his input as well! This post just goes to show how strong the Bloggers in Korea community is. Please visit their websites and support their work!

Need more comparison? Read Part One of “The Best City in South Korea?” to learn more about the cities of Seoul, Daejeon, Cheonan, Daegu, and Jeonju. xoxo Izzy

 


Izzy Pulido is a Bostonian by way of the Philippines who loves to vagabond. At twenty-seven, she’s traded in gallivanting around Europe for the 9-to-5 grind… but don’t count out the vagabonding! With a new long distance relationship, she’s bringing American travel to the forefront. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps.

RELATED POST

  1. […] soon: Don’t miss out on Part Two of “The Best City in South Korea?” where we cover the cities of Jeju, Busan, Gwangju, Cheongju, and Gunpo. If you have any questions, […]

  2. Gina

    23 March

    This looks absolutely amazing! I love the graphics! You’re so talented! I also liked how you showed the other awesome aspects of Gunpo! P.s. Yuna Kim went to my middle school! 😉

  3. Megan Indoe

    23 March

    We have been anticipating our trip to Jeju for two years! We only had a weekend to squeeze it in before and just felt it was worth waiting until the end of our contracts so we could spend an entire week exploring eveything the beautiful island has to offer! Also, we need to make it back to Busan, we only had 2 days there last time we lived in Korea and it just wasn’t enough! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful collab post!

  4. Laura Nalin

    28 March

    Great collab post! I really enjoy the photos and everything that goes with it. I haven’t visited Gunpo or Cheongju while I lived there but both sound interesting. Love Jeju and Busan and was fortunate to spend some time in both! Thanks for sharing!

    • Izzy Pulido

      5 April

      Aww thanks Laura! I spend a lot of time with the design so it feels amazing to be so validated 🙂 I traveled so minimally while I was in Korea so maybe one day I’ll get another redo! Hope you’re loving Thailand!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

INSTAGRAM
FOLLOW THENEXTSOMEWHERE