The Best Day Trips from Gwangju, South Korea

Island hopping in Tongyeong | © Mimsie Ladner
Island hopping in Tongyeong | © Mimsie Ladner
Photo of Mimsie Ladner
7 April 2017

Gwangju, the sixth-largest city in South Korea, is known for its rich history as well as its thriving community of artists. While there’s plenty to see and do in this southwestern metropolis, it is also located just a short drive from some of the country’s most stunningly beautiful destinations. So, grab your day bag and get ready to embark on a memorable excursion.

Discover more of South Korea on our 10-day small-group trip around the country, with highlights including singing karaoke in Seoul, a Korean cooking masterclass in Busan and hiking through Seoraksan National Park.

The tranquil town of Boseong is reputed for its verdant green tea plantations. Beautifully curved around the region’s hilly terrain, the most well-known of these is the Daehan Dawon Plantation, where tea lovers can spend an entire day taking in the stunning sight of Boseong’s idyllic surroundings. Visit the Tea Museum of Korea, where you can learn about the process of making green tea – and even make your own. Drop in one of the local restaurants for lunch and savor a selection of green tea specialties like green tea noodle soup and green tea ice cream.

A maritime city celebrated for its pristine coastline that extends as far as the horizon, Yeosu has become a must-visit destination since it hosted the 2012 World Expo. In addition to its awe-inspiring seascape, Yeosu also boasts an archipelago of some 300 enchanting islands. Visit Odongdo Island and Hyangiram Hermitage, a small temple that looks out over the ocean from a coastal cliff, both of which are stops on the Yeosu City Tour.

Jindo, the third-largest island in Korea, is particularly famous for two things. The first is the Jindo dog, a gorgeous breed known for its intelligence and unmatched loyalty. The second is its Ganjuyuk Gyedo, or Mysterious Sea Road. For a few days each spring during low tide, the sea recedes to reveal a land path 2.8 kilometers in length and 40 meters in width. The path links the islands of Jindo and Modo for around an hour before disappearing under the waters again.

Those seeking a relaxing getaway should head to Tongyeong. Here, evergreen trees and emerald seas are canopied by vast blue skies, making for some spectacular scenery. Enchanting islands dot its shores, and can be reached by ferry services that depart from the central terminal. Set aside an afternoon for island hopping, and put Somaemul Island at the top of your itinerary. Picturesque and peaceful, the island consists of a number of hiking trails with varying difficulty levels, all offering some incredibly breathtaking views.


Situated at the southern tip of the country, Damyang is actually a county made up of a number of charming towns and villages. Tourists head here for bamboo – lots and lots of bamboo. Among the town’s attractions include a bamboo theme park and a bamboo museum. Peruse bamboo items such as kitchen supplies or other practical gifts, and don’t leave without trying Damyang’s famous bamboo wine or ice cream. If trekking is more your thing, head to the nearby Byeongungsan and Chuwolsan mountains, where hiking paths abound.

South Korea’s fourth largest city makes for a fun and accessible day trip from Gwangju. The city features an enigmatic oriental medicine market, a flourishing textile industry, and a buzzing downtown that truly comes to life in the evenings. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to check out Donghwa and Haein Temples or sample Daegu’s regional specialties at Seomun Night Market.

Experience the traditional side of Korea in Jeonju, where you can wander cobblestone lanes, browse art galleries and, should you choose to extend your day trip, spend the night in a hanok (traditional home). Also known as Korea’s food capital, Jeonju is famous for its gastronomy, making it one of the best cities to delve into Korean cuisine.

Nestled on the coast of the Yellow Sea just 200 kilometers south of Seoul, Boryeong attracts visitors from all over the world thanks to its mud flats. It’s also home to one of the most unusual festivals in the world, the Boryeong Mud Festival. Here, locals and tourists alike take part in a variety of mud-centric activities including a mud pool, mud slides, mud prison, and mud skiing.

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