Jeonju Travel Guide, South Korea. Where eastern Europe inspired cathedrals mix with 1400s shrines. Where everything traditional Korea collides; wine, paper, food, houses – this is a must see.
- What to See and Do
- Typical Costs & Budget
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- How to Get There
- General Tips for Korea
- Other Places to Visit in Korea
Jeonju is the best place to experience traditional Korea in all its glory. Check out the details in the Jeonju Travel Guide.
Top 5 Things to Do
1. Hanok Village (Free!)
Not only does this Jeonju Travel Guide recommend visiting this place, it recommends staying in the heart of it. If you are not on a tight budget, you should spring to stay in a hanok. The traditional houses, sleeping on the floor, the incredible gardens – it’s all absolutely worth the price. Check out the housing recommendations later on in this Jeonju travel guide 🙂
2. Chimyeongjasan Holy Ground
This is not a place that is often recommended. It’s a surprisingly intense hike straight up, but the views (especially in spring) are incredible. It’s the burial site of 13 Catholic martyrs. Jeonju has a surprisingly strong Catholic community, with at least two impressive (and very European looking) churches. As you climb the crosses and graves emerge from the mountainside. It’s incredibly wonderful. On your way make sure to stop at the Hanbyeokdan Pavilion for a beautiful look out over the river (or a picnic if you have the time!)
3. Traditional Museums (Free!)
I‘m grouping these all together because they’re all free to enter, small, and clustered around the hanok village. You’ll probably run into several without even trying. The Traditional Wine Museum and the Handicraft museums were the most interesting for me. Be careful of your wallet at both! There are many more, just keep an eye out for signs with explanations of the museums.
4. Gyeonggijeon Shrine(3,000krw)
The only paid activity this Jeonju Travel Guide recommends. There are many moments where I think “Man, Korea is just defined by the word ‘extra.'” This is one of those places that exemplifies that. Built around the housing spot for a portrait of a Joseon-era King Taejo, almost all the buildings are dedicated to the rituals for honoring ancestors, or living places for those that maintain the shrine. But it’s not small, like the word “shrine’ normally implies, it’s large and spread out.
5. Jogyeongdan Royal Tomb (Free!)
This is pretty far away from everything else. But it is definitely worth a look even when it’s not completely open. The tomb is set back against the hill, and you can climb all the way around it on a hike to get a different angle. It’s a fairly easy hike that offers lovely views of the city, the cherry blossoms, and the tomb.
Other Things to See and Do
- Omokdae It’s a large pavillion at the top of a hill that offers pretty great views of the hanok village. It’s not a difficult walk and there are not a ton of stairs. It was where the first king of the Joseon Dynasty (the one with the giant shrine for his photo mentioned above) stopped to celebrate a victory against the Japanese. It’s a nice, generally peaceful place to stop into.
- Confucian Village It is very easy to just stumble upon this when you’re wandering the hanok village, but it’s worth the stop! It is one of the prettiest and most peaceful areas in Jeonju. If you’re a fan of trees there are several very old ginko trees, one at least 400 years old!
- Jeondong Church Much like the graves along the Holy Ground walk, this church is built where several martyrs were killed. It’s a fantastic combination of architectural styles and looks completely out of place in Korea. It’s certainly the best church in Korea, if not one of the nicest buildings.
- Hanji Traditional Paper There are two places to experience Hanji. One is in a traditional museum in the heart of the hanok village, and another is a much larger museum far from the hanok village. If you have an interest in the beautiful traditional paper called hanji, you should check one of these out!
Jeonju Travel Guide Basic Costs
- Local Bus: 1,450 (most common)
- 10 Minute Taxi Ride: Around 5,500
- Entrance Fees: 3,000
- Coffee: 5,000
- Meal: 6,500 and up
- Hostel Room: 20,000
Estimates are for a weekend in Jeonju, the most common type of trip to this city. The Korean exchange rate is currently around 1,150krw to 1usd.
- Hostel: 20,000 a night
- 4 Local Bus Rides: 6,000
- Bus from Seoul: 15,000
- Food: 15,000
- Activities: 3,000
- Guesthouse: 37,000 a night
- 2 Local Bus Rides: 3,000
- 2 Taxis: 14,000
- Bus from Seoul: 15,000
- Food: 40,000
- Activities: 3,000
- Hotel: 77,000
- 2 Taxi Rides: 20,000
- Train from Seoul: 35,000
- Food: 55,000
- Activities: 3,000
Where to Stay
Most Koreans use Booking.com for booking their stays so all of the links are through that site. If you sign up for an account, you can earn Level 2 Genius status after only a few bookings and receive discounts. It’s saved me over $100 so far!
- One Percent (14,000)
This is only 10 minutes walking from the hanok village so it’s not in the village. But, it’s still a great cheap option! It receives rave reviews and it probably one of the most modern and updated options for a hostel in Jeonju.
- Way Guesthouse (20,000)
Way Guesthouse is actually in the hanok village, which makes it worth the extra price! It’s very pretty, located just near the Confucian Village (I walked by it many times!). Technically it is on the street where the hanok village ends so it can’t say that it’s in the village but….it’s in the village :P)
- Geunsu’s Chogajip (37,000)
Everyone loves this guesthouse. The owner is fabulous, she made me fresh yuja tea twice! It’s peaceful and quiet and perfectly traditional. The futon-like bedding is far more comfortable than you might think. It’s also in a fantastic location close to the handi-craft musuem and main streets. This is definitely the place to stay in Jeonju.
- Hagindang (77,000)
This place will be more complicated to book but it’s worth it. The family is a very old one and they make sure absolutely everything will be done in the most traditional way. It’s also gorgeous, with a huge private garden located in the middle of the hanok village. They also offer a lot of activities but it is confusing whether most of those activities are available to just 1 or 2 people. Most seem to be available to 4+ but you might be able to negotiate, particularly if you’re headed there in the off season.
Where to Eat
A traditional meal with buckwheat noodles that is credited with saving the lives of many lactose intolerant malnourished babies in the 70s. It goes back at least 200 years. I don’t care for soy milk at all, but this made-from-scratch approach is deliciously creamy and smooth. Seriously, I crave this all the time now. Maybe I’ll order some for dinner…
An absolutely lovely tea house. As something of a tea snob I was skeptical when my server provided me with a large thermos. There was no way this tiny amount of leaves would be strong enough to last through an entire thermos! And yet, to my amazement, I found myself requesting a second thermos. For 5,000w I spent an hour drinking from the same tea leaves, making steeping after steeping. So good.
Another tea house. If you only have time for one tea house, Gyodongdawan is the one. But Dahwawon is worth a visit too! It’s very homey, filled with plants, excellent views, and very good tea.
Jeonju Choco Pies
I am not a huge fan of Korea’s choco pies. I normally find them overly dry. But the Jeonju ones make them more crumbly, with walnuts. The original flavor is the best in my opinion but the novelty flavors of mango, blueberry, and more, are also good. They have shops everywhere so check them out
How to Get There
Most people will be coming from Busan or Seoul so I’ll give prices and times for those. Sadly there are no train options so you will be limited to intercity buses. RometoRio is a good option for estimating routes and costs, but they are not always accurate so expect a bus ticket to cost a few thousand won more.
Use the letskorail website to book your tickets up to one month in advance. There will be three options for trains. Trains from Busan will be complicated and involve a transfer so take a bus if you are coming from Busan.
- KTX: the fastest and most expensive. But it’s your only non-transfer option. A ticket from Seoul to Jeonju will be around 35,000w and take around 2 hours.
Head to your nearest intercity bus station. You can try to check the bus times on the T-Money Bus website but I would generally avoid booking tickets through it. There is literally no point in taking a bus from Seoul, just take the train, it’s so cheap!
- From Busan: It will take you around 3 hours and cost you 16,000krw.
- From Seoul: It will take 2.5 hours and cost around 15,000krw.
General Korea Tips
There are two main apps for getting around Korea; Naver and Kakao. Google Maps does not work. I recommend Kakao as the romanization spellings are more consistent and the features are generally better in my opinion.
You may need to type in Korean to find some destinations so make sure you download a Korean keyboard.
When you go to catch a bus, it will tell you when the bus is arriving and how many stops you have. If you hit the bell icon in the upper right hand corner it will highlight which bus stop you’re currently at, and it will alert you when you need to get off. It’s amazing.
What to Pack
Depending on the season, Korea is either hot and humid or chilly and humid. In general, just take out the winter clothes for summer and add some leggings and a coat for winter.
- 2 pair shorts or skirts
- 1 pair jeans or comfortable trousers
- 1 pair leggings
- 4 shirts (crop tops are not a common sight in Korea, I would avoid outside of Seoul)
- 1 dress or nice shirt for going out
- 1 swimsuit (bikinis are basically unheard of but foreigners wear them frequently – just accept the stares :P)
- 6 pair socks (fresh socks are the best)
- 1 pair sneakers
- 1 pair flip flops/slides for showers and out and about
- 5 pair underwear
- 1 travel towel
- Deodorant (it can be difficult to find and expensive)
- Small lock for lockers
- Universal plug adapter
- Period products – if you prefer an option besides pads they can be difficult to find
- Tissue packs – surprisingly difficult to find
- General pain killers/common over the counter medicines – also can be a little hard to find depending on what you’re looking for. Not all pharmacists speak English and it can be very trying to attempt to communicate about medicine when you’re in pain.
Just about everything else is very easy to find, there is no need to buy shampoo, toothpaste, etc. It’s all right there in a Daiso or supermarket for reasonable prices. Of course, if you have a preference, that’s something you should bring as well.
Korea is an incredibly safe country. Women often walk alone late at night and theft is almost unheard of. You should always be cautious, but in general Korea is one of the safest countries in the world.
Basic Korean Guide
Hello: an-yawss-ay-yo (안녕하세요)
Where is: awdi-ay _______ (어디에)
Thanks: kam-sam-nida (감사합니다)
Goodbye: an-yeong-i-kay-sayo (안녕히 계세요)
Korean is a very easy language to read. It is almost entirely phonetic so each symbol equals one sound. It’s good to learn because many things are English words just written in Korean. Like 커 is a very easy language to read. It is almost entirely phonetic so each symbol equals one sound. It’s good to learn because many things are English words just written in Korean. Like 커피 “kawpi” is coffee.
- ㅏ “ah” cat
- ㅓ “aw” sought
- ㅣ “ee” me
- ㅡ good
- ㅗ “oh” boat
- ㅜ “oo” you
- ㅔ “ay” May
- ㅐ “eh” yes
- ㄱ “g” get
- ㅋ “k” cat
- ㄴ “n” none
- ㅅ “s” snake
- ㅈ “j” juice
- ㅊ “ch” chase
- ㅂ “b” bus
- ㅍ “p” pet
- ㄷ “d” dog
- ㅌ “t” test
- ㅎ “h” hat
- ㅁ “m” mat
- ㅇ “ng” or silent*
- ㄲ Hard “k”**
- ㅆ tense “s”
- ㅉ “tch” tsunami
- ㅃ tense “b”
- ㅛ “yoh”
- ㅠ “yoo”
- ㅖ “yay”
- ㅒ “yeh”
*Korean is written in syllable blocks. When you start a syllable with a vowel, like 안 you put the ㅇ symbol as a silent placeholder.
** Double vowels aren’t really important right now, people will know what you’re trying to say.
Other Korean Cities to Visit
If you enjoyed this Suwon Travel Guide, you should check out my other guides to cities in Korea!
~Jeonju Travel Guide~