Suncheon travel guide hand drawn map of Korea in purple. Suncheon is marked with a red dot.

Suncheon Travel Guide, South Korea. Suncheon is home to some of Korea’s most famous nature. A stunning bay perfect to visit in any season, filled with wildlife. And the National Gardens, built specifically to protect the bay but which are overwhelmingly gorgeous in their own right. Suncheon is a fantastic trip at any time!

Index

Suncheon is perhaps the easiest way to explore Korea’s nature. Don’t fear of five hour long hikes up stairs in dense mountain trees, everything in Suncheon is easily accessable and beautiful – especially if you like flowers! Check out the details to plan your trip in this Suncheon Travel Guide.

Top 5 Things to Do

1. Suncheon National Gardens (7,000krw)

A beautiful traditional Korean gate entrance with a black shingle roof and blue and red decorations. On the left are dinner plate hibiscus in pink. The gate is in front of a pond Suncheon travel guide.
I love the Korean garden most of all <3

Perhaps the most expensive National Attraction in Korea, it’s worth it. The gardens are absolutely sprawling, spanning both sides of the river with a covered bridge. The Gardens were conceptualized after pollution from the many tourists to the Bay started to take a toll on the environment. In order to create a buffer between the bay and all the tourist buses, they built…absolutely massive gardens! Korea certainly doesn’t do anything by halves. World Gardens from France, Japan, and Turkey flourish while the traditional Korean garden also shouldn’t be counted out. Yes, you can encounter real (and not replica) buildings easily in Korea, but you often can’t interact with them. Lounge out on the pagoda floor and take in the sounds of nature. Just make sure not to go in winter – while it’s still impressive it’s not nearly as much as it could be.

2. Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve (Free – 8,000)

a green leafy marsh with a boardwalk leading through it to a pine tree covered mountain. A couple holds hands, a girl in white dress and the man in black.
The bay was a journey. At first, I was disappointed, but the more I walked, the more I was in the middle of things. And I loved it.

Ah, the Bay that made the entirety of Suncheon famous. It is very pretty, and home to a lot of wildlife, you just might not see a lot of it (because it’s huge, around 10 square miles of reed and mud beds). The views are spectacular, and it’s very easy to spot the mudcrabs and gobys. I’m sure we spent a full 15 minutes crouched at the side of the boardwalk, fascinated by the little creatures. There are some cranes and other birds to be seen easily as well. I recommend coming in the autumn for the best views, although I went in summer and it was great too πŸ™‚

You will need an entrance ticket to the Gardens to get to the the best areas, but otherwise you do not have to pay to access the Wetland Reserve. However, this Suncheon travel guide highly encourages you to pay for the Skycube, 8,000krw round trip, to take you part of the way there. It is very far away from the gardens via walking and wouldn’t be worth it on most schedules (or ever, you will just see some rice farms which you can see just about anywhere).

3. Jukdobonggongwon Park 죽도봉 곡원 (Free!)

a view on Suncheon travel guide from above, the city is split by a river. A bottom border of treetrops. The river is wide with three bridges across it.
Some pretty stunning views of Suncheon in exchange for minimal walking!

This attraction seems to be often overlooked but it’s an easy way to see all of Suncheon from above. It is best to take a taxi to the park and then decide if you want to go on an actual hike (go right) explore a very nice pagoda (in the middle) or take the path to this view (go left). Going left up a short path laid with stones will take you to a cafe and a three story pagoda. Upon climbing the pagoda you are presented with these views – the perfect way to end a day in Suncheon.

4. Kdrama Film Sets (3,000)

A shanty town, a small man-made river area runs between wooden houses, ramshackle bridged cross the divide.
I wish the sets would be more immersive, theyre very cool to look at!

Going to visit filming sites is generally only for certain people. In general, I abstain as I suppose I prefer to leave the imaginary world imaginary, not somehow tainted by reality. But the Suncheon Kdrama sets don’t have this problem – they’re just cool. Three different towns set across three different decades in Korea, the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Particularly with the town of the 60s, set into the hillside, it seems pretty accurate given villages like it exist in almost every Korean city (if a little nicer, these days, often they’ve been turned into mural villages). It gives you a real taste for what the times were like back then.

5. Cultural Cafe Street (Free!)

a cafe street in Suncheon travel guide, red brick paths on either side of a paved road, one side has picnic tables and the other a row of flowers, some blooming yellow.
Make sure not to get there too early πŸ˜›

This is an adorable “culture street” in Suncheon, lined with cafes, handicraft stores, book stores, and restaurants. Just beware of what the internet will tell you about their hours. Everything is independently operated and will likely not open before eleven (regardless of whether it says 10 on the sign). The bookstore is particularly cute, even if you don’t speak Korean it’s worth a look as there are several artbooks and cute journals.

Other Things to See and Do

  1. Seonamsa Temple Largely regarded by visitors as one of the prettiest temples in Korea (complete with a lovely Joseon era stone bridge). It is also home to 19 Cultural Properties (i.e. intangible culture the government has deemed must be protected). Well maintained and clean, it has many Azalea bushes so a visit in spring would be best. It is fairly far away, around an hour outside of Suncheon by bus.
  2. Nagan Eupseong Folk Village Again, around an hour outside of Suncheon by bus, it’s on the tentative list for a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the only remaining walled town in the southern area where Suncheon is. (If you’re interested in an awesome walled city, check out Suwon!). It’s home to many traditional houses, where some people still live!
  3. Suncheon Castle The only remaining Japanese castle in the area building in the late 1500s. If you’ve been to Osaka Castle in Japan, you will immediately recognize the high, slightly slanted stone walls. Pretty interesting!
Rain drips down onto a jade green pond filled with koi fish swiming around pots of Lotus flowers and other pond lilies Suncheon travel guide. The koi are primarily yellow, some with white spots.
Relaxing at the wonderful tea house inside the National Gardens

Best Daytrips from Suncheon

  • Yeosu: Yeosu is less than an hour or so away from Suncheon, the perfect place to island-hop. It’s well known for it’s Camillia flowers, so make sure you come right in the middle of the season (November to March) to get the full effect of entire small islands awash in red flowers.
  • Songgwangsa: One of Korea’s three most important temples, referred to as Jewel temples. Each one represents one of the three core tenants of Korean Buddhism. Songgwangsa represents the sangha, or community of Buddhism. It’s very beautiful and worth the hour and a half bus trip outside of Suncheon!

Suncheon Basic Costs

a light blue watercolor background with a watery darker border. Sleep is written in black handwriting in the center
  • Hostel: 20,000
  • Guesthouse: 35,000
  • Hotel: 108,000

a red watercolor background with a watery darker border. Food is written in black handwriting in the center
  • Coffee: 3,000+
  • Kimbap: 3,000
  • Meal: 6,500+
a green watercolor background with a watery darker border. Transport is written in black handwriting in the center
  • Local Bus: 1,350
  • 10min Taxi: 5,500
  • Busan Bus: 12,000
  • Seoul Train: 30,000
a purple watercolor background with a watery darker border. Activities is written in black handwriting in the center
  • Gardens: 7,000
  • Bay: 8,000
  • Film Sets: 3,000
A medium sized shallow green pond with a grassy island in the middle and a few medium sized trees. In the background is a large curved building with bluish windows. In the pond are around two dozen flamingos in various shades of pink.
Some random flamingos at the national gardens!

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! The Tiny Tumbleweed Suncheon Travel Guide recommends that you stay in the mama papa house if you can, as it can make a trip that extra bit more special.

Hostel

For Suncheon I really recommend the splurge to stay in the lovely guesthouse mentioned below for 30,000. But if every penny counts then a dorm bed here is a good option! It’s located very close to the train station so you can easily get a bus to any of the places you might want to go.

Guesthouse

For the price, this is the best and sweetest option in Suncheon. Everyone should know I’m not the biggest fan of Airbnb. But sometimes it makes the most sense. You can spend a night experiencing what it would be like to have a Korean grandmother and grandfather. She picked us up right at the station and even drove us to the gardens. Breakfast was delicious and all in all…it really helped the stay feel extra special!

Hotel

This is an option if you’re wanting to stay a little longer. Pensions are holiday homes in Korea that come with equipped kitchens, washing machines, etc. The Four Seasons Pension is no different but it is awfully cute, with nice showers and very close to the bay. There will be no need to use the SkyCube here! It’s about a 10 minute walk πŸ™‚


Where to Eat

Suncheon Yanggochi (μˆœμ²œμ–‘κΌ¬μΉ˜)

A silver square apparatus with skewers lining it over a coal fire. The skewers are automatic, moved over the fire by a black circle automatic crank.
Ugh. So, so incredibly delicious

Average $: 11,000w

This is the place to get your lamb fix in Korea. Suncheon seems fairly famous for their lamb as it’s the only place I’ve encountered it in such quantities outside of Indian restaurants. Just a tiny bit spicy the flavor is great~ Do yourself a favor and get the Bokumbap (볡음λ°₯) or fried rice, it pairs exceptionally well.

Nanulteo (λ‚˜λˆŒν„°)

Open: 11:30~3:30, then a break, 5~9PM

Average $: 10,000won

This an interesting choice, especially if you have never tried Korea’s acorn jelly, Dotorimuk (often written as 묡), as this restaurant is famous for it. Lots of traditional Korean options, and especially vegetarian friendly!


How to Get There

Most people will be coming from Busan or Seoul so I’ll give prices and times for those. 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.

By train:

Use the letskorail website to book your tickets up to one month in advance. There are not many options for trains.

  • From Seoul:
    • KTX is the fastest option. It will take about 3 hours and cost around 45,000krw.
    • S-Train, it doesn’t leave as often but it takes 4 hours and costs around 30,000krw.
  • From Busan:
    • S-Train is your only option, taking about 2.5 hours for 15,000krw.

By bus:

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 2.5 hours and cost you around 12,000krw.
  • From Seoul: It will take 4 hours and cost around 31,000krw.

General Korea Tips

Getting Around

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.

Kakao app bus schedule. Shows 16 stops, estimated time before the bus comes, and what the estimated arrival time will be.

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
  • Toothbrush
  • 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.

Safety

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 Suncheon Travel Guide

Hello: an-yawss-ay-yo (μ•ˆλ…•ν•˜μ„Έμš”)

Where is: awdi-ay _______ (어디에)

Thanks: kam-sam-nida (κ°μ‚¬ν•©λ‹ˆλ‹€)

Goodbye: an-yeong-i-kay-sayo (μ•ˆλ…•νžˆ κ³„μ„Έμš”)

Alphabet

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 컀 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 컀피 “kawpi” is coffee.

Vowels

  • ㅏ “ah” cat
  • γ…“ “aw” sought
  • γ…£ “ee” me
  • γ…‘ good
  • γ…— “oh” boat
  • γ…œ “oo” you
  • γ…” “ay” May
  • ㅐ “eh” yes

Consonants

  • γ„± “g” get
  • γ…‹ “k” cat
  • γ„΄ “n” none
  • γ…… “s” snake
  • γ…ˆ “j” juice
  • γ…Š “ch” chase
  • γ…‚ “b” bus
  • ㅍ “p” pet
  • γ„· “d” dog
  • γ…Œ “t” test
  • γ…Ž “h” hat
  • ㅁ “m” mat
  • γ…‡ “ng” or silent*

Double/Y-Sound

  • γ„² Hard “k”**
  • γ…† tense “s”
  • γ…‰ “tch” tsunami
  • γ…ƒ tense “b”
  • γ…‘”yah”
  • γ…•”yaw”
  • γ…› “yoh”
  • γ…  “yoo”
  • γ…– “yay”
  • γ…’ “yeh”

*Korean is written in syllable blocks. When you start a syllable with a vowel, like μ•ˆ you put the γ…‡ 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 Suncheon Travel Guide, you should check out my other guides to cities in Korea!

Suwon Travel Guide: Best Daytrip From Seoul!

The fortress walls along the right in stone. Below the walls are pink bushes in full bloom. In the back the fortress building is seen as a two story pagoda-style building.
The stunning walls of Suwon!

Tongyeong Travel Guide: Seaside Bliss!

A view of Tongyeong through some winter trees. Bits of pastel buildings and the harbor with mountains in the background.
Tongyeong, a lovely casual sea town!

Boseong Travel Guide: The Little-Known Tea Fields of Korea

Rows of tea bushes with a pine tree forest in the background. A pink flower tree is on the right.
Also they’re some of the most beautiful tea fields ever!

~Suncheon Travel Guide~

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