Ganghwa Island

Gangwa Island: An island off the northern west coast

Summer has arrived and here’s a little adventure that is truly off the beaten path.

A couple of weeks ago, a group of us girls were looking for a little weekend getaway to enjoy some warm weather and green scenery. After a little research, we headed to Ganghwa-do, an island off the northern west coast. I went there a couple of years ago with my Korean friend’s hiking club to climb Mani San (the famous mountain on the island) and had vague memories of an ocean view, quiet farmland, and wishing I had better hiking shoes to climb the seriously rocky (and also seriously beautiful) paths up the mountain.

So we headed out on a Saturday morning from Sincheon Express Bus Terminal. The bus to Ganghwa-do leaves every hour, so we caught the 9:20am and were on the island a little after 11. We were greeted by a little Korean man from the pension we had booked rooms at (Dangmakvill Pension), and after throwing our backpacks in his car, we were driven to a cute little wood pension tucked in front of the mountain and a 5 minute walk from the seaside. The excitement from the fresh air, quiet roads, and serene ocean views were almost to much to handle!

We spent the afternoon strolling along the ocean, watching the tide come rolling in, and then watching it slowly move back to reveal stretches of glistening mud flats underneath. The little town along the ocean front was only a 15 minute walk from our pension, so we took the opportunity to enjoy a view of the sea while eating delicious sashima (raw fish) — it can’t get much fresher when it’s right by the ocean — and drinking magkeoli. And then we topped the evening off with the local noraebong! We woke the next morning and squeezed in a little hike before heading home in the afternoon.

Ganghwa-do is only an hour and a half from Seoul, so if you’re looking to get out of the city for a day or a weekend, it’s a great place to go. With mountains to hike, anocean to gaze at, freshfish to eat, and quiet rolling farmland to rejuvenate your spirit, it’s the perfect trip to get some space and take a break from the hectic pace of Seoul.

Dongmakvill Pension (016-286-8042) cost 120,000 a night for the 5 of us in one room. It was a great place to stay, and even has a pool in front that opens in the summer. There are a lot of pensions in the town and along the ocean, so you could probably just go and find one when you get there. Another popular place is Sea and Gallery “Sea & Gallery” (032- 937-0416). Most places there don’t seem to have someone who speaks good English, so if you’re booking before-hand, it’s probably best to have a Korean call for you.

With the weather warming up, and our pale skin itching for some sun, Ganghwa-do is the perfect place to add to your list of ‘Korean Summer Must-Dos.”

  • How To Get There: Buses to Ganghwa Island leave from Seoul’s Sinchon Bus Terminal, reached via Exit 7 of Sinchon Station, Line 2. The trip to Ganghwa Town takes about an hour and 10 minutes. From Ganghwa Terminal, you can take local buses to destinations throughout the island.
  • Info: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=943519

…brought to you by the Adventure Teaching Korea team…

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