Gangneung Travel Guide
Situated on the East Sea in Gangwon Province, Gangneung is best-loved for its immaculate beaches.
However, with buildings dating back to the Joseon Dynasty, outdoor art galleries, and a museum that will appeal to the scientifically-minded, it is well worth a visit by cultural travellers.
Come check out our Gangneung travel guide for culture vultures as we cover the best things to do in Gangneung, South Korea.
While Gangneung is best known for its beaches, it has more than its share of cultural attractions. Begin your time in the area with a visit to Ojukheon. In this historic home, Confucian philosopher Yi Yulgok was born – if you pull out a 5,000 won bill, you’ll find his portrait on the back.
His mother Shin Saimdang adorns the back of the 50,000 won bill – these two facts reveal how important these figures in Korean society. The home they grew in is also one of the oldest buildings from the Joseon Dynasty – around since the 16th century, its garden is one of its best aspects.
Boasting unique groves of black bamboo (which is the direct English translation of Ojukheon, lotus ponds, and cultivated shrubs, you’ll linger here longer than you planned.
Continue exploring the history of Gangneung by checking out Seongyojang House. Once sitting on the shore of Gyeongpo Lake (it has since shrunk in size), it was a beautiful place for the region’s ruling class to live.
Ten generations called this classical Korean structure home before it was given over to the local government. Inside, you’ll find tatami-like floors and implements commonly used by people of this stature – set aside at least an hour to do this place justice.
Ever since South Korea emerged from the Korean War, education has been a critical in its rise to first world status. As a result, Koreans have developed a great deal of admiration for intellectuals, inventors, and others who have dedicated themselves to improve society at large.
As a result, it is less of a surprise to find an attraction like the Charmsori Gramophone & Edison Science Museum in Gangneung. Founded by Son Seongmok, it is the world’s largest museum focusing on gramophones (although there is more to this place than just gramophones).
In its collection, you’ll find 4,500 phonographs and over 150,000 records sourced from 20 nations – beyond these interesting players, 5,000 artifacts help fill out the other galleries in this museum, which are dedicated to Thomas Edison, one of the world’s most prolific inventors.
With wings that pay tribute to how the American inventor changed the world with creations that harnessed electricity for light, moving images (televisions and projectors) and sound production, you’ll gain a better appreciation for this luminary figure.
Take in a day or nighttime view of the Gyeongpo Beach area at the Gyeongpodae Pavilion. It is most revered by Koreans for its view of the moon on the 15th day of the first lunar month of the year. On its walls, you’ll find a poem written by philosopher Yi Yulgok when he was only ten years old – other than that, the view of the adjacent pine forests and the beach below make this place a great spot to visit for photographers.
Take in some excellent contemporary artworks by dropping by Haslla Art World. It has a commanding presence on the skyline of Gangneung thanks to the grand hotel that sits on its grounds – however, its expansive sculpture gardens are what makes this attraction spectacular – plan on spending at least two hours walking from one installation to the next.
If you have been following this guide up to now, chances are you have worked up quite an appetite. Indulge your hunger and sampling the local cuisine of Gangneung at the Chodang Dubu Village. Dubu stands for tofu in English – at the restaurants here, this Korean staple will prove to be an irresistible treat.
Learn a bit about the ongoing Cold War between North and South Korea at Tongil Park. Situated on the shores of the East Sea, this park features exhibits that show off Korean War era equipment on both sides. There are also displays which detail the efforts to reunite families and to promote Korean reunification.
Many Koreans and foreign expats visit Gangneung to escape the intense heat of a Korean summer, as there are many attractive beaches in the area. Gyeongpo Beach is the most popular, as it has fine sand and stretches on for about six kilometres.
Jeongdongjin Beach is a much shorter beach at about 250 metres, but it is popular among Korean drama fans and divers/snorkelers. Finally, Anmok Beach, long a favourite of families, is gaining popularity for its proximity to several stylish coffee shops.