Geoje City 거제시

The ‘Blue City’, Geoje City (거제시), is also commonly referred to as Geoje Island (거제도). It was once an island, but is now connected to the main peninsula through a bridge in Tongyeong City (통영시). It’s a huge ship-building center, and you’ll see some manufacturing complexes near its major ports. Public transportation is available, but because buses don’t run frequently, I recommend you come here by car or rent one locally if possible.

geoje map

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TRAVEL COURSE: DAY ONE

1. Ferry Ride to Haeguemgang (해금강) and Oedo  (외도) 

2. Sinseondae (신선대)

3. Windy Hill (바람의 언덕)

4. Jangseungpo Harbor (장승포)

 

TRAVEL COURSE: DAY TWO

1. Historic Park of Geoje, POW Camp (거제도포로수용소유적공원)

2. Geoje Bamboo Theme Park (맹종죽테마파크)

 

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From Seoul, you can take a bus from the Nambu Bus Terminal (남부터미널) to the Gohyun Intercity Bus Terminal (고현시외버스터미널). The trip takes about 4 hours and 20 minutes one way.

seoul geoje bus schedule

My favorite activity on the island is the package ferry course that goes to both Haegeumgang 해금강 and Oedo 외도 Islands. You’ll have to take a bus from the Gohyun Intercity Bus Terminal (고현시외버스터미널) to the Dojangpo Boat Terminal (도장포유람선터미널) where you can buy tickets.

The course will circle around Haegeumgang 해금강 island and then drop you off at Oedo 외도 which is known for its private garden, Botania. You can go on this same course at other boat terminals located throughout the island, but I prefer to go to the Dojangpo Boat Terminal because it’s located within a few minutes of walking distance to the next two tourist spots. The boats here only travel once every two hours, so if the timing is not right you can eat at one of the nearby restaurants or check out the Windy Hill/Sinseondae before the boat ride. Also, before you get on the boat, you should buy some cheap snacks at the convenience store next door to feed the seagulls. They will follow you during the entire 30 minutes boat ride, so it’s a lot of fun.

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Dojangpo Ferry Ride Fee: 16,000 won round trip per adult

Travel Time: 30 minutes one way

Operating Hours: Varies, calling ahead is recommended since boats travel only once every two hours

Contact Info: 055) 632-8787~8        www.dojangpo.co.kr  

*3,000 discount coupon is occasionaly  available on the website

Haegeumgang is a rock island known for its stunning scenery. There’s a small cave in the center, that you’ll go inside by boat. The photos here don’t do the island justice. It’s a large piece of rock, but there’s something very awestrucking and grand about it.

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Oedo is an annexed island of Geojedo that is now privately owned. It contains Botania which is a marine botanical garden that has a great view of the South Sea. It’s located about 4 km from Geoje and it holds a western style garden with some pretty amazing landscaping that was built over 30 years by a couple starting in 1969. You will have exactly 90 minutes to explore the island garden, or else you will miss the boat. You don’t need to hurry though, because that is plenty of time. Also fyi, this island was the setting of the final scenes in the tv drama, Winter Sonata (겨울연가.)

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Oedo-Botania Entrance Fee: 8,000 won per adult (pay in advance at the boat terminal)

Average Viewing Time: 90 minutes

Operating Hours: Closed during Lunar New Year holidays

Contact:  070) 7715-3330    oedobotania.com (korean only)

When you get back, you can walk over to Sinseondae (신선대) which is an amazing rock structure facing the sea. It’s located within five minutes walking distance from the boat terminal. It may look like just a bunch of rocks, but it’s much more stunning and colorful in person. The name ‘Sinseon’ refers to the Taoist hermits who used to gather here.

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Sinseondae Entrance Fee: free

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 30 minutes…or less

Also within walking distance is Windy Hill (바람의 언덕.) It’s a hill that overlooks the sea and is popular because it was used in several movies and tv shows from the early 2000s (Garden of Eve, Wooden Horse Carousel, and Romance). You can see the windmill from the Dojangpo boat terminal, so you won’t get lost walking here.DSC01547\DSC01540

Windy Hill Entrance Fee: free

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 30 minutes…or less

Afterwards, take a bus to Jangseungpo Harbor (장승포) where you can get some dinner and find a motel to stay at. Motels are about 40,000-50,000 won per night. The local delicacy here is Gejang 게장 and you’ll be able to find quite a few restaurants here along the harbor. It’s raw crab marinated in either soy sauce or a spicy chilli pepper sauce. It’ll cost you around 10,000-15,000 won per serving. The more expensive places tend to have better side dishes.

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After dinner you can talk a walk around the harbor and check out the lighthouses nearby. You’ll also find some local fisherman at work.

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The next day have some seafood stew (해물 뚝백이) for breakfast. There are many restaurants along the harbor mixed in with the Gejang restaurants.

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Next, head to the Historic Park of Geoje, POW Camp which was used to hold 170,000 prisoners during the Korean War. The camp was closed in 1953, then turned into a park in 1997. It holds remains from the war such as tanks and tents as wells as sculptures, exhibitions, and dioramas. There are several experience programs here including a zipline, hall or mirrors, trick art exhibit, 4D movie, and a time capsule exhibit. I highly recommend that you try these out, even though it will cost you extra.

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POW Camp Entrance Fee: 4,500 per adult, 15,000 per adult for all inclusive experience package (highly recommended)

Operating Hours: 9am-5pm (Nov-Feb) / 9am-6pm (Mar-Oct)

Average Viewing Time: 1.5-3.5 hours

Contact Info: 055) 639-4177

After lunch, check out the Geoje Bamboo Theme Park 맹종죽테마파크. It’s not anything too special, just a simple bamboo forest, but it is located on the side of a hill, so it’s a nice location for a slow, meditative walk.

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Geoje Bamboo Theme Park  Entrance Fee: 2,000 won per adult

Average Viewing Time: 1-2 hours

Contact Info: 055) 637-0067

After the bamboo park, I would head back early to Seoul, because it’s a long trip back. Goodbye Geoje~

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Relevant Links

http://english.geoje.go.kr/

http://www.oneweirdglobe.com/2009/01/destination-geoje-do-oedo-paradise-island/

http://www.oneweirdglobe.com/2012/04/destination-geoje-do-pow-museum-geoje-do-gyeongsangnam-do/

http://foreignerjoy.blogspot.kr/2010/09/chuseok-getaway-geoje-island-pt1.html

http://foreignerjoy.blogspot.kr/2010/09/chuseok-getaway-geoje-island-pt2.html

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Tongyeong City 통영시

Tongyeong (통영) is a port city located on the southwest coast of South Gyeongsang Province (경상남도). It’s nicknamed Korea’s Napoli/Naples and is known for being one of the locations of several key battles won by the national hero, Admiral Lee Soon Shin during the Japanese invasions in the 1590s. It’s also known for its mountain and seascapes, as well as the local delicacies Chungmu Kimpab (충무 김밥) and Honey Bread (꿀빵.)

tongyeong map all

tongyeong map

 

TRAVEL COURSE: DAY ONE

1. Hansando (한산도) / Jeseungdang Shrine (제승당)

2. Seoho Traditional Market (서호전통시장)/ Chungmu Kimpab (충무 김밥)

3. Undersea Tunnel (해저터널)

4. Changnyangmyo Shrine (착량묘)

5. Nammangsan Sculpture Park (남망산조각공원)

6. Gangguan Harbor (강구안) / turtle ships (거북선) / Jungang Traditional Market (중앙전통시장) / honey bread (꿀빵)

 

TRAVEL COURSE: DAY TWO

1. Dongpirang Wall Painting Village (동피랑 벽화마을)

2. Samdosuguntongjeyeong Station (삼도수군통제영) / Sebyeongwan Hall (세병관)

3. Lee Soon Shin Park (이순신공원)

4. Mt. Mireuk (미륵산) / Hallyeosudo Landscape Cable Car (한려수도 케이블카) 

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I suggest a two day trip to Tongyeong, although you can certainly spend a lot more time here. You can start by taking the express bus or intercity bus to Tongyeong. If you’re starting from Seoul, take the subway to the Express Bus Terminal Station and go to the Tongyeong Central Bus Terminal (통영종합버스터미널). It will take about 4 hours and 10 minutes by bus.

seoul tongyeong bus schedule

The first thing you should check out in Tongyeong is the Jeseungdang Shrine (제승당) which is located on the island of Hansando (한산도). You’ll be able to see the locations where Admiral Lee Soon Shin 이순신 won a major battle using his famous turtle boats as well as some buildings where he held his strategy meetings. To get to that island, you’ll have to take a boat from the Ferry Terminal (여객선터미널).

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Ferry Schedule:

Ferry Terminal -> Jeseungdang  7am-6pm (March-September) / 1hr intervals

                                      7am-5pm (October-February) / 1hr intervals

Jeseungdang -> Ferry Terminal 7:30am-6:30pm (March-September) / 1hr intervals

                                     7:30am-5:30pm (October-February) / 1hr intervals

Ferry Cost: 5,250 won one way / adult (*this price may have changed recently)

Transportation: To got to the ferry terminal from the central bus station, you can take buses  101, 200, 231, 301, 401, 505, 530, or 600. It will take roughly 32 minutes.

Buy your tickets first, then you can get some lunch at the Seoho Traditional Market (서호전통시장) right across the street from the Ferry. There are restaurants on both sides of the market selling Chungmu Kimpab (충무 김밥) which is a local take on the kimbap with plain rice wrapped in seaweed that you eat along with radish kimchi and spicy octopus served on the side. If you’re running short on time, you can take your order to go and eat your lunch on the boat.

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Chungmu Kimbap Cost: about 3,000 won / serving

Once you get to Hansando (한산도) it’s a short 15 minutes walk to the shrine, although there are lots of great sights along the coast that you might want to stop and look at along the way. It’s a large island, and you will need to travel through it by car if you want to check out all of it, but I think it’s enough to just check out the Jeseungdang shrine area only. The shrine here was built in 1740 when the 107th commander-in-chief of the naval forces Jo Gyeong (조경) made this monument dedicated to Admiral Lee Soon Shin over the area that once held the Tongjeyeong Naval Station (통제영지).

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jeseungdang map

<Image Source: Jeseungdang.gsnd.net>

 

Jeseungdang Entrance Fee: 1,000 won / adult

Average Viewing Time: 1.5 hours

Contact Info: (055) 642-8377   jeseungdang.gsnd.net

After you get back to the ferry terminal, take a bus to the Undersea Tunnel (해저터널) which was built between 1931-1932. There’s not a whole lot to look at here, but it’s still pretty cool to be able to say that you walked under the sea. It’s only 483 meters long, so you can even walk through it and back without tiring yourself out. Halfway through the tunnel, there are some photos of tourist hot spots throughout the city.

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Undersea Tunnel Entrance Fee: free

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 20 minutes

Transportation: From the ferry terminal, cross the street to Seoho Market and near the back entrance of the market, take bus 100, 101, 231, or 301. It will take roughly 16 minutes.  

When you exit on the side of the tunnel with the tourist information booth, it will take only a few minutes to the walk to Changnyangmyo Shrine (착량묘). In 1599, the year after Admiral Lee Soon Shin died in battle, residents and naval personnel of the Tongyeong area built this thatched shrine in his honor. This is a very small complex, made up of only a few buildings, but since it’s free and so close to the tunnel, it’s worth a visit.

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Changnyangmyo Shrine Entrance Fee: free

Average Viewing Time: 20 minutes

Transportation: On the side of the Undersea Tunnel with the information booth, walk down back alongside the outer right wall of the tunnel. After about two minutes, you’ll see a large staircase to your right that will lead you to Changnyangmyo Shrine (착량묘)

 

Then take a bus to the Nammangsan Sculpture Park (남망산조각공원) which is a small park located on a hill. There are only about 15 abstract sculptures from participants in the Tongyeong International Sculpture Symposium. They’re not particularly special, but I think it’s worth the trip to the park for its great view of the city. Highlights at Nammangsan Sculpture Park include a rotating mirror sculpture and some noodle like pieces you can walk through.

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Nammangsan Sculpture Park Entrance Feefree

Average Viewing Time: 30 minutes

Transportation: From the Undersea Tunnel, take buses 100, 101, 231, 302, or 501. It will take roughly 22 minutes.

The last area of the day will be Gangguan Harbor (강구안) where you’ll find lots of restaurants and motels for the night. If you get there a little early, check out the turtle ships (거북선) which are life size replicas that you can go inside for a small fee.

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Turtle Ship Admission Fee: 1,500 won / adult

Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm (Mar-Oct) / 9am – 5pm (Nov-Feb)

Transportation: walk from the Nammangsan Sculpture Park, you will be able to see the harbor from there.

For dinner you can get some sashimi or steamed seafood at the Jungang Traditional Market (중앙전통시장) or the Tongyeong Fresh Fish Market (통영 활어시장) which are both located across the street from those turtle ships. You buy food at any of the stalls inside then you can take your food to one of the sitting areas inside the market where they will give you utensils and lettuce for 3,000 won per person. I didn’t like it because of how cramped the area was, but it’s part of the experience, so I would still recommend trying it. For desert you can buy some honey bread (꿀빵) which is sold in stores all along the harbor.

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Once it gets dark, you can still do some exploring and check out the city lights along the harbor.

Motels in this area are typically 40,000 won on the weekdays and 50,000 on weekends, but since there are so many in this area, it’s worth trying to haggle down the price.

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The next morning start off your day with a walk up the Dongpirang Wall Painting Village (동피랑 벽화마을) which is located on a hill behind the Ganguan Harbor. “Dongpirang” means “cliff in the east” and you’ll find plenty of fresh seabreeze here that’s perfect for a morning walk. You can get some coffee at one of the many local cafés at the top of the hill. Don’t expect anything too fancy though from the cafes. Several recent tv dramas have filmed in this little village and there’s even some trick art here.

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Dongpirang Wall Painting Village Entrance Feefree

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 30 minutes

 

If coffee isn’t enough for breakfast, go back down to the harbor for some food, before heading to the Samdosuguntongjeyeong Station (삼도수군통제영) which includes the famous Sebyeongwan Hall (세병관). This area was a regional headquarter of the naval forces in the Joseon Era. There’s also a free museum located right in front of the station that holds old weapons and relics.

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Samdosuguntongjeyeong Station Entrance Fee3,000 won / adult

Average Viewing Time: 1 hour

Contact Info: (055) 650-4590

Transportation: From the Dongpirang Wall Painting Village walk about 700 meters 

Rounding out the Lee Soon Shin theme is the Lee Soon Shin Park (이순신공원) which is known for its great view of the sea as well as a large statue of the Admiral. There’s also an actual cannon here that was used in the war. It’s a large park, but if you want to just look at the main attractions, you can easily check it out for just half an hour.

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Lee Soon Shin Park Entrance Feefree

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 1 hour

The last leg is probably the highlight for a lot of tourists. It’s the Hallyeosudo Landscape Cable Car (한려수도 케이블카) which will take you to the top of Mt. Mireuk (미륵산). There are 48 cable cars each with an 8 person capacity. From the top, you can of course get a great view of the city as well as a view of Hallyeohaesang National Park. You can also hike up the mountain rather than take the cable car.

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Cable Car Tickets: 9,000 won round trip/adult, 5,500 won one way/adult

Operating Hours: Winter Season, until 4pm / Summer Season, until 6pm / Closed Mondays

Contact Info: (055) 649-3804~5

After this, you can take an express bus back to Seoul, the last bus leaves at 24:30, but you’ll have to pay extra for the late night buses. You could also check out nearby cities such as Geoje City which is another popular tourist friendly city that’s located just one town over.

tong to seoul timesheet

Overall, I would say Tongyeong City is a very tourist friendly destination with lots of places to see. It’s a fairly clean city with lots of public transportation available and plenty of cheap places to check out, so I highly recommend visiting this city.

Relevant Links

http://eng.tongyeong.go.kr/

http://www.oneweirdglobe.com/2010/07/destination-jeseungdang-hansan-do-tongyeong-gyeongsangnam-do/