Gwangju is the sixth largest city in South Korea. It was built back in 57 BC. e., but became known to the whole world in 1980 after an uprising in the struggle for democracy. Since then, Gwangju has been considered the capital of democracy in South Korea and one of the cultural and historical centers of the country. There are many museums, galleries, as well as parks and quiet green streets, where it is very pleasant to walk. According to petwithsupplies, Gwangju is one of the largest cities in South Korea.
In autumn, Gwangju hosts the Kimchi Cabbage Festival and a contemporary art exhibition.
How to get to Gwangju
The most convenient way to come to Gwangju is from Seoul. There are cities and closer, but from the capital, buses and trains run most often and there is a choice.
Trains from Seoul to Gwangju depart three times a day, seven days a week. Some of them come with a transfer, but there are also direct ones. The high-speed train travels from Seoul to Gwangju in just 1.5 hours. Ticket prices start at 40,600 KRW.
Buses from Seoul to Gwangju depart every 15 minutes from the Central City Bus Terminal. Travel time is about 3.5 hours, you need to pay for the fare from 21,000 KRW.
From Seoul, Gwangju can be reached by Asiana Airlines flights, but this option is not the most convenient. There are few flights (several times a month), and the price of flights can be unpredictable – from 32,000 KRW and above. The prices on the page are for June 2021.
Gwangju has a large selection of hotels and apartments of different price categories. Unlike other cities in South Korea, there is a lot of budget accommodation – guest houses and hostels.
One of the best hotels in the city is Holiday Inn 4 *, it is located 5 minutes drive from the airport in a building in a futuristic style. Each room has a private bathroom, TV and air conditioning. There is a good Western and Korean restaurant on site. Accommodation prices – from 112,000 KRW per night for a double room.
Honest “three rubles” with a shower in the room cost from 50,000 KRW per day. You can find more ascetic budget hotels with small rooms, a bed and a shower (in the cheapest hotels, a shower can be on the floor for several rooms).
Cafes and Restaurants in Gwangju
On the streets of Gwangju, you can find cafes not only of Korean, but also of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. Italian and American dishes are also highly respected here – pizza, burgers, french fries and beer.
Minsokchon Chungjangno Branch is considered one of the best restaurants in the city. It is rather inconspicuous from the street, but the food there is excellent. Meat is of particular note – this restaurant specializes in Asian (in particular, Korean) barbecue. The most popular inexpensive food is the Nolboo Bossam eatery chain, there are cafes in different parts of the city where you can have a cheap meal with typical Korean dishes.
Sights and Activities in Gwangju
Almost every Korean city has its own historical gate located at the entrance. Previously, they marked the boundaries of the urban area, but today they are considered architectural and cultural monuments. There is one in Gwangju, they were built in 57 BC. e., the year the city was founded. It is impossible to pass by – this is a huge wall with a canopy in the form of a two-level pagoda.
In the eastern district of Gwangju, there is Art Street, which is very popular with both tourists and locals. Its length is only 300 m, and it gathers artists and other craftsmen who sell their paintings, sculptures and other art objects. On Saturdays, it’s even more interesting here – the local flea market opens, which attracts rarity connoisseurs from all over the country. If you’re lucky, you can buy real Korean antiques here: old coins, books, decor items, etc.
The most popular of the city’s museums is the National Museum. It occupies a two-story building in a typical Korean style, and everything that is considered valuable in the province is collected there. In the exhibition halls you can see numerous archaeological finds, such as ancient tools, dishes, works of art from different eras, and temporary exhibitions are also regularly held here.
There is a very beautiful park in Gwangju – Mudongsan Mountain Park. On its territory there are several Buddhist temples, a lot of greenery, among which it is very pleasant to walk along the winding mountain paths, and there are also several good Korean restaurants where you can always relax and have a snack after a walk.
An hour’s drive from Gwangju is Bosong, the largest and most famous green tea plantation in the country. The first tea plantations were planted here by the Japanese during the occupation, today there are much more plantations. Bosong historically has very favorable conditions for growing tea – saturated sea air and fertile soils on mountain strata, so about 40% of all Korean green tea is produced here.
There are several tea plantations in Bosong, which are considered to be local observation decks – very beautiful panoramic views of the surroundings open from there.
30 km from Gwangju is the city of Tamyang, which is famous for its bamboo and pine theme parks. Considered one of the most scenic parks in Korea, Pine Park has a camping area and barbecue areas, and Koreans like to come here on weekends. Tourists will be interested in the museum of bamboo products. If you wish, you can rent a house in the park and stay overnight.
It is most interesting to come to Gwangju in autumn. In the second half of November, one of the most beloved holidays by the townspeople is held here – the kimchi festival (this is a national Korean dish – cabbage in a special spicy sauce of red pepper, onion, garlic and ginger). The festival lasts a whole week, during this time the best Korean chefs come here and participate in competitions, Korean music concerts and other musical and theatrical performances, master classes by chefs and, of course, tastings.
Another important cultural event is the contemporary art exhibition of the Gwangju Biennale. It takes place every two years for two months, from early September to early November. At this time, artists from all over the world come here – singers, dancers, actors and other creative personalities who demonstrate their sometimes strange and unusual skills to connoisseurs of contemporary art.