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.
Gangneung City Guide: A Brief History Of Gangneung, South Korea
Gangneung is a city with a fascinating history that spans over centuries. It is a coastal city located on the east coast of South Korea and has played a significant role in the country’s history, culture, and economy.
During the Three Kingdoms period, Gangneung was part of the Goguryeo Kingdom and served as a strategic location for defending the eastern border of the kingdom. It was also an important center for trade and commerce during this period, as it was located on the east coast, which was a major trade route for goods coming from China and Japan.
In the 9th century, Gangneung became part of the Silla Dynasty, which was one of the three kingdoms that unified the Korean Peninsula. During this period, Gangneung flourished as a hub for culture and education, and many Buddhist temples were built in the area. It was during this time that Gangneung began to develop its own unique culture and identity.
In the 14th century, Gangneung became part of the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted from the 14th century to the late 19th century. During this period, Gangneung became an important center for trade and commerce once again. The city was home to many markets and became known for its agricultural products, such as rice and beans.
During the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early 20th century, Gangneung was a site of resistance against Japanese rule. Many Korean independence fighters were based in Gangneung, and the city was an important location for the independence movement. The city has several historical sites that commemorate this era, including the Seongyojang House, which was used as a base for Korean independence fighters during the Japanese occupation.
After the end of World War II, Korea was divided into two separate countries: North Korea and South Korea. Gangneung became part of South Korea, and since then, it has experienced significant development and growth. Today, Gangneung is a vibrant city that is known for its natural beauty, cultural attractions, and sports events. It hosted several events during the 2018 Winter Olympics, including the ice hockey and curling competitions.
Visitors to Gangneung can explore the city’s rich history by visiting its many historical sites, such as the Gangneung Seongyojang House, Ojukheon House, and the Gyeongpodae Pavilion. They can also enjoy the city’s beautiful coastline, which stretches for over 20 kilometers and includes popular beaches such as Gyeongpo Beach and Jeongdongjin Beach.
Gangneung is a city that is steeped in history and culture. Its strategic location on the east coast has made it an important center for trade and commerce for centuries. Today, the city is a popular tourist destination that offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and sports events.
Gangneung Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in 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.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Gangneung, South Korea
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.
source: Next Stop: Korea on YouTube
Top 10 Things To Do in Gangneung, Korea For Visitors
Here are the top 10 things to do in Gangneung:
- Visit Gyeongpo Beach – Gyeongpo Beach is a popular beach in Gangneung that stretches for over 6 kilometers. It offers visitors stunning views of the sea and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can enjoy a variety of water sports and activities, such as swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing.
- Explore Jeongdongjin Beach – Jeongdongjin Beach is another popular beach in Gangneung that is known for its beautiful sunrises. Visitors can also take a ride on the Jeongdongjin Train, which is the closest train station to the sea in the world.
- Visit the Gangneung Seongyojang House – The Gangneung Seongyojang House is a historical house that was built in the 18th century. It offers visitors a glimpse into the daily life of a wealthy family during the Joseon Dynasty.
- Check out the Gyeongpodae Pavilion – The Gyeongpodae Pavilion is a historical pavilion that was built during the Goryeo Dynasty. It offers visitors stunning views of the sea and the surrounding mountains.
- Visit the Ojukheon House – The Ojukheon House is a historical house that was built during the Joseon Dynasty. It is known for its beautiful architecture and its connection to the famous Korean female artist, Shin Saimdang.
- Explore the Jungang Market – The Jungang Market is a traditional market in Gangneung that offers visitors a variety of local products and delicacies. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables, as well as traditional Korean snacks.
- Go hiking in Seoraksan National Park – Seoraksan National Park is a beautiful national park located near Gangneung. It offers visitors stunning views of the mountains and the surrounding nature. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.
- Visit the Gangneung Ice Arena – The Gangneung Ice Arena is a sports arena that was built for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Visitors can watch ice hockey games and other ice-related sports events.
- Enjoy the Gangneung Coffee Street – The Gangneung Coffee Street is a street in Gangneung that is known for its many coffee shops and cafes. Visitors can enjoy a variety of specialty coffee drinks and desserts.
- Check out the Gangneung Dano Festival – The Gangneung Dano Festival is a traditional festival that is held annually in Gangneung. It celebrates the start of summer and offers visitors a variety of cultural performances and events.
Gangneung offers visitors a wealth of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and sports events. These top 10 things to do in Gangneung are just a few of the many activities that visitors can enjoy in this vibrant city.
What To Eat and Drink at Restaurants in Gangneung, South Korea
Here are some of the must-try foods and drinks in Gangneung:
- Gangneung-style Dongtae-jeon (동태전) – Gangneung-style Dongtae-jeon is a popular local dish made from pollack, a type of fish that is abundant in the area. The fish is marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil, then coated in flour and egg before being fried to a golden brown. The crispy outer layer and soft, flavorful inner layer make it a delicious and satisfying snack or meal.
- Samsaek-myeon (삼색면) – Samsaek-myeon is a local noodle dish that translates to “three-color noodles” in English. The dish is made with noodles that are dyed red, green, and white using natural ingredients like red chili pepper and spinach. The noodles are served in a savory broth made from chicken and beef bones, soy sauce, and various spices.
- Gyodong-baekseju (교동백세주) – Gyodong-baekseju is a traditional Korean liquor that is brewed in Gangneung. It is made from rice, wheat, and several herbs and spices, including ginseng, cinnamon, and ginger. The liquor has a slightly sweet and herbal taste and is served in a small bowl or cup.
- Heuk-dwaeji (흑돼지) – Heuk-dwaeji is a type of black pork that is raised in Gangneung. The pork is known for its tender and juicy texture and is often used in various Korean dishes such as stir-fry, barbecue, and stews.
- Chodang-twigim (초당튀김) – Chodang-twigim is a popular street food in Gangneung made from vegetables, seafood, or meat that are coated in flour and deep-fried. The dish is named after Chodang, a famous market in Gangneung where many street food vendors gather.
- Gangneung Coffee – Gangneung is also known for its specialty coffee, with many coffee shops and cafes located throughout the city. The coffee beans are often roasted locally, giving it a unique flavor that cannot be found elsewhere.
- Tteokgalbi (떡갈비) – Tteokgalbi is a type of Korean meat dish made from minced beef or pork mixed with glutinous rice and various seasonings. It is shaped into patties and grilled to perfection. The dish is a popular meal in Gangneung, often served with rice and other side dishes.
These are just a few of the many delicious foods and drinks that Gangneung has to offer. Visitors to the city can experience the local culinary culture and taste the flavors of the region by trying these dishes and drinks.
Tours For Visitors To Gangneung, South Korea
Gangneung is a city that offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are some recommended tours for visitors to Gangneung:
- Gangneung City Tour – The Gangneung City Tour is a great way to see the best of the city’s attractions. Visitors will start at Gyeongpo Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches in the area. From there, they will visit Seongyojang House, which is a beautiful traditional house that was built in the 18th century. Visitors will also visit Ojukheon House, which is famous for being the birthplace of the famous Korean scholar Yi I.
- Jeongdongjin Railbike and Sky Bike – The Jeongdongjin Railbike and Sky Bike tour is a unique experience that is perfect for those who love adventure. The tour starts with a ride on a railbike along the coast, which offers beautiful views of the ocean and the surrounding mountains. After the railbike ride, visitors will ride a sky bike over the sea, which is an exhilarating experience that is sure to provide a memorable adventure.
- Taebaek Snow Festival – The Taebaek Snow Festival is a winter festival that is held every January in the nearby city of Taebaek. Visitors can enjoy snow sculptures, ice slides, and other winter activities. There are also plenty of local winter foods and drinks to try, such as hotteok (a Korean pancake filled with brown sugar and nuts) and makgeolli (a traditional Korean rice wine).
- Gangneung Coffee Tour – Gangneung is known for its excellent coffee, and the Gangneung Coffee Tour is a great way to explore the city’s coffee culture. Visitors will visit some of the city’s top coffee shops and roasteries, where they can learn about the history and culture of coffee in Gangneung and sample some of the city’s best coffee.
- Pyeongchang Ski Tour – The Pyeongchang Ski Tour is a winter tour that takes visitors to the nearby city of Pyeongchang, which hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics. Visitors can enjoy skiing and snowboarding on the slopes, as well as try other winter activities such as sledding and snowshoeing. The tour also includes a visit to the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza, which is a great place to learn about the history of the Winter Olympics.
Overall, these tours offer a variety of experiences and activities for visitors to Gangneung. Whether you’re interested in history and culture, outdoor activities, or food and drink, there’s a tour that will suit your interests and provide a memorable experience in Gangneung.
Gangneung Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Here’s a guide to the different types of accommodations available in Gangneung:
- Hotels – Gangneung has a range of hotels, from budget options to luxury hotels. Most hotels are located near the beach or in the city center, making them convenient for sightseeing and exploring. The Seamarq Hotel is a popular luxury hotel that offers ocean views and a range of amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a sauna. The Hotel Hyundai by Lahan is another popular hotel, located near the beach and the city center. It offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a coffee shop.
- Guesthouses – Guesthouses are a popular option for budget travelers and backpackers. They offer basic amenities such as shared bathrooms and kitchen facilities, and are often located in residential neighborhoods. The Gangneung Guesthouse Seabay is a popular guesthouse that offers private rooms and dormitory-style accommodations. It also has a shared kitchen, a rooftop terrace, and a lounge area. The G House is another popular guesthouse, located near the beach and the city center. It offers private rooms and dormitory-style accommodations, as well as a shared kitchen and a garden.
- Hanok Stays – For a unique cultural experience, visitors can stay in a traditional Korean house, known as a hanok. Hanok stays offer a glimpse into traditional Korean life, and often include Korean-style breakfasts and cultural activities such as tea ceremonies and calligraphy classes. The Seongyojang Hanok Guesthouse is a popular hanok stay that has been designated as a cultural heritage site by the Korean government. It offers traditional Korean-style rooms, a garden, and cultural activities. The Ojukheon House Stay is another popular hanok stay, located near the Ojukheon Museum. It offers traditional Korean-style rooms, a garden, and a Korean-style breakfast.
- Pension – Pension is a type of accommodation that is similar to a bed and breakfast. They are usually located in rural areas and offer a quiet and peaceful environment. The Pension Peterhof is a popular pension that offers private rooms and apartments. It is located near the beach and offers ocean views, as well as a garden and barbecue facilities. Hoorim Pension is another popular pension, located near Gyeongpo Beach. It offers private rooms and apartments, as well as a garden and a terrace. The I-Residence is a modern pension that offers comfortable rooms, a garden, and a barbecue area.
- Resorts – Gangneung has several resorts that offer a wide range of amenities, including swimming pools, spas, and golf courses. The Sol Beach Resort is a popular beachfront resort that offers ocean views, a swimming pool, a sauna, and a fitness center. The Kensington Flora Hotel is another popular resort, located near the beach and the city center. It offers comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a fitness center. The Gyeongpo Beach Resort is a family-friendly resort that offers a water park, a spa, and a fitness center.
When choosing accommodations in Gangneung, consider the location, amenities, and budget. The city has a wide range of options, from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts, so visitors are sure to find accommodations that suit their needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a cultural experience, a beachfront resort, or a budget-friendly guesthouse, Gangneung has something to offer.
Day Trips From Gangneung, Korea
Gangneung itself, the city also makes a great base for exploring the surrounding area. Here are some of the best day trips from Gangneung:
- Jeongdongjin: This small coastal village is famous for its beautiful sunrise views and the Jeongdongjin Time Museum. The museum houses the world’s largest hourglass, which takes one year to complete a full rotation. Visitors can also take a ride on the Jeongdongjin Rail Bike, which offers stunning views of the coast. The village has a relaxed atmosphere, with plenty of cafes and restaurants to enjoy.
- Seoraksan National Park: Seoraksan National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers. It is one of the most popular national parks in South Korea, offering beautiful mountain views, hiking trails, and Buddhist temples. One of the highlights of the park is the cable car ride to Gwongeumseong Fortress, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
- Naksansa Temple: Naksansa Temple is one of the most important Buddhist temples in South Korea, located on the coast about an hour’s drive from Gangneung. The temple has a rich history and is known for its beautiful ocean views. Visitors can explore the temple grounds, which feature a bell pavilion, a statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and a peaceful meditation garden.
- Hongcheon River: The Hongcheon River is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, and hiking. The river is surrounded by beautiful scenery, including forests, mountains, and waterfalls. Visitors can also enjoy a relaxing picnic or barbecue along the riverbank.
- Samcheok: This coastal city is located about an hour’s drive from Gangneung and is famous for its beautiful beaches, caves, and natural scenery. One of the top attractions is the Hwanseon Cave, which is known for its impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors can also take a ride on the Samcheok Ocean Railbike, which offers panoramic views of the sea.
- Pyeongchang: Pyeongchang is famous for hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics and is home to many winter sports facilities. Visitors can explore the Alpensia Ski Resort, which offers skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. The Pyeongchang Trout Festival is another popular attraction, featuring ice fishing and other winter activities.
- Yangyang: Yangyang is a coastal city located about 45 minutes from Gangneung by car. The city has several beautiful beaches, including Naksan Beach and Hajodae Beach. Visitors can also explore the unique architecture of the Yangyang International Airport, which is built on a reclaimed wetland.
When planning day trips from Gangneung, consider the travel time and transportation options. Some destinations, such as Seoraksan National Park and Pyeongchang, may require a car or public transportation. Others, such as Jeongdongjin and Naksansa Temple, are easily accessible by train or bus. Regardless of which day trip you choose, there’s plenty to see and do in the surrounding area.
Gangneung Transportation Guide
Getting around Gangneung and the surrounding area is relatively easy, with several transportation options available. Here’s a guide to the transportation options in Gangneung:
- Bus: The Gangneung city bus system is a convenient and affordable way to get around the city. Buses run frequently throughout the day, and fares range from 1,200 to 1,500 KRW depending on the distance traveled. The buses are color-coded according to their routes, making it easy to navigate the system. There are also express buses available that run to nearby cities, including Sokcho and Yangyang.
- Train: The KTX high-speed train is a popular option for visitors traveling between Seoul and Gangneung. The journey takes approximately two and a half hours and offers scenic views of the countryside. There are also several other train options available, including the Mugunghwa and ITX trains. The Gangneung Train Station is located in the city center, making it easy to access.
- Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Gangneung and can be hailed on the street or booked in advance. The base fare for taxis is 3,200 KRW, with additional charges based on distance traveled and waiting time. Most taxis in Gangneung accept cash and credit cards, and there are also English-speaking taxi services available.
- Car rental: Renting a car in Gangneung is a great option for those who want to explore the surrounding area at their own pace. There are several car rental companies located in the city, including Avis, Lotte Rent-A-Car, and Hertz. Rental prices vary depending on the type of vehicle and rental period, with rates starting from around 50,000 KRW per day. However, be aware that driving in South Korea can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the local roads and driving rules.
- Bicycle: Gangneung has several dedicated bicycle paths, making it easy to explore the city on two wheels. Bicycles can be rented from several locations across the city, including near the beach and train station. There are also guided bicycle tours available that take you to some of the city’s top attractions. Renting a bicycle is a great way to see Gangneung’s natural beauty and enjoy the fresh air.
- Walking: Gangneung is a relatively small city, with many attractions within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to explore the city, and you’ll often stumble upon hidden gems that you might have missed if you were traveling by car or bus. The city has several walking trails, including the Gyeongpo Coastal Walk, which takes you along the beach and through a pine forest.
Gangneung has a comprehensive transportation system that makes it easy for visitors to get around the city and surrounding area. From buses and trains to taxis and bicycles, there are options to suit every budget and travel style. It’s always a good idea to plan your transportation in advance, especially during peak travel times, to avoid any potential delays or difficulties.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Gangneung?
If you have already explored Gangneung and are looking for more places to visit in the area, there are several nearby destinations that are worth a visit. Here are some suggestions:
- Jeongdongjin: This quaint seaside village is known for its picturesque beach, which is a popular spot for watching the sunrise. Visitors can also take a ride on the Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park train, which runs along the beach and offers stunning views of the coastline. The train ride takes about 20 minutes and costs around 6,000 won. Another popular attraction in Jeongdongjin is the Time Museum, which showcases a collection of sundials and other time-keeping devices.
- Seoraksan National Park: This is one of the most popular national parks in South Korea, with a range of hiking trails for all levels of experience. The park is home to several peaks, including the famous Ulsanbawi Rock, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. There are also several waterfalls and temples within the park, including the picturesque Sinheungsa Temple. The park is about an hour and a half away from Gangneung by bus, and admission is 3,500 won per person.
- Pyeongchang: This city gained international recognition as the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics. The city is home to several ski resorts, including Alpensia and Yongpyong, which offer a range of activities for both skiers and non-skiers. Visitors can also check out the Pyeongchang Trout Festival, which is held in winter and offers the chance to catch fresh fish and have it cooked on site. Pyeongchang is about an hour away from Gangneung by car.
- Sokcho: This coastal city is home to several attractions, including the Seoraksan Cable Car, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The cable car ride takes about 10 minutes and costs around 10,000 won. Another popular attraction is the Sokcho Fish Market, where visitors can sample fresh seafood such as squid and octopus. Sokcho is about an hour and a half away from Gangneung by bus, and admission to the cable car is 10,000 won per person.
- Odaesan National Park: This national park is known for its beautiful autumn foliage, which attracts visitors from all over South Korea. The park offers several hiking trails, including the scenic Woljeongsa Temple Trail, which leads to a 1,400-year-old temple. The temple is one of the most famous in South Korea and is known for its stunning architecture and peaceful atmosphere. Odaesan National Park is about an hour away from Gangneung by car.
Each of these destinations offers something unique for visitors to enjoy, whether it’s stunning natural scenery, cultural attractions, or outdoor activities. From skiing and fishing to hiking and sightseeing, there’s something for everyone within a short distance of Gangneung.
Gangneung is a great starting point for exploring the surrounding area, with several nearby destinations that offer something for everyone. From beaches and mountains to skiing and seafood, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this part of South Korea.
Gangneung Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Gangneung is a city that has something for everyone, from stunning beaches and natural attractions to cultural landmarks and delicious cuisine. The city’s rich history and unique location make it a great destination for those looking to explore the natural beauty of South Korea’s east coast.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a foodie, Gangneung has plenty to offer. With a range of accommodations to suit all budgets, getting around the city is easy, and there are plenty of tours and day trips to explore the surrounding areas.
From visiting the UNESCO-listed Seongyojang House to hiking in the stunning Odaesan National Park, there’s something for everyone in Gangneung. The city’s lively markets, traditional tea houses, and delicious street food also offer a chance to experience the local culture and cuisine.
Gangneung is a hidden gem that should not be missed by anyone visiting South Korea. It’s a great destination for those looking to escape the crowds and explore a more authentic side of the country.
Gangneung, where the waves crash loud, Golden beaches, a serene crowd. Nature’s beauty, lush and green, A feast for the eyes, like never seen.
Explore the streets, taste the treats, From fresh seafood to sweet Korean sweets. History rich, culture bold, A story to tell, a tale to be told.
From mountains high to temples old, A city with secrets, waiting to unfold. Experience life, soak in the vibe, In Gangneung, a journey, you won’t survive.