‘A day trip in Jeonju’ is a guide I have read far too many times from too many blogs. I guess it only shows how busy the people of Seoul are, or how little time tourists can allot in this so-called Slow City. I can’t really blame them. But after spending a night here, I realized just how much people are missing. Jeonju Hanok Village alone is worth at least a night. Let me show you why.
First off, how to get there.
From Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal, take a bus to Jeonju (Fare: W12,500 as of August 2017). Travel time is 3 hours. From Jeonju Intercity/Express Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 5-1 or 79. Get off at Jeondong Cathedral (Hanok Village) Bus Stop.
Alternatively, you could take the train. KTX from Yongsan to Jeonju Station takes 2 hours (Fare: approx. W40,000), while Mugunghwa takes 3 hours (Fare: approx. W18,000). Please check Korail for current rates. From Jeonju Station, take Bus No.12, 60 ,79, 109, 119, 142, 508, 513, 536 or 542. Get off at Jeondong Cathedral (Hanok Village) Bus Stop.
From here on out, it’s a whole new world.
Jeonju Hanok Village is a vast collection of some 800 traditional houses that are so beautifully maintained you will forget you are in the middle of an urban city. These Joseon era buildings, combined with tourists dressed in intricate hanbok, make entering the village nothing short of a trip back in time.
Tip: For the ultimate experience, go rent out a hanbok in one of the many stores around the village. For just W5,000 to W15,000 (depending on the design), you can tour the village like a Joseon era prince and princess. I wasn’t able to do it as I didn’t have enough time huhu!
Gyeonggijeon Shrine (Admission: W3,000)
Originally built in 1410, the Gyeonggijeon Shrine was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1614. Its original purpose? To house the official portrait of the revered founder of Joseon Dynasty, King Taejo. I’ve read that his son, King Taejong had five different places built for this purpose, but Gyeonggijeon was the only one that survived. The original portrait is now kept in a more secure location, but replicas can be seen at the Portrait Museum.
As seen in the photo above, there was a long and elaborate process in enshrining a King’s portrait, which included a parade around town with the photo transported via a special palanquin. Meanwhile at the shrine, they carried out preparations at the surrounding buildings, which you will see below. Pardon the photobombing. It was so beautiful there I couldn’t help but emote.
Back when computers were still unheard of, the historical archives of the Joseon Dynasty were kept here. As they were all written in paper, the building was specifically designed to keep them away from flood, while providing good ventilation. Like the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, several sites were assigned to house these archives. But during the Japanese invasion of 1592, all these were lost, except the ones kept in Jeonju Sago.
You can actually enter the building through those stairs below. You might want to do that during the day, and with company. The 5 minutes I was there alone felt like eternity, with me expecting a Joseon era warrior to appear anytime haha!
Looks familiar? Jeonju Sago appeared several times at the popular K-drama Love in the Moonlight.
Jeonju Food Street
My skin still tingles every time I remember how it felt going out of Gyeonggijeon Shrine, regretting that I didn’t have enough time to explore the grounds, not expecting the magic that was waiting outside. The lights reflecting on the cobblestone streets and the traditional houses gave a pleasant feeling of nostalgia and peace. I almost forgot, Jeonju is South Korea’s food capital, and I was looking at its legendary food street. Also named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, you can really expect food here to be top-rate.
Once you’ve had your fill, how about drop by the Pungnammun Gate before heading home? Built in the 14th century, Pungnammun was the south gate of the castle that enclosed Jeonju during the Joseon Dynasty. Like most fortresses in South Korea, it was partially damaged during the Japanese invasion, but was rebuilt in the 1700s. The 3 other gates however, were lost forever.
I also passed by this gate on the way to the village. I was already amazed then, but I think it’s more beautiful at night. How about you?
I thought I was good to go after a 2nd excursion at Pungnammun. But Jeonju’s version of night life was too hard to resist, I had to come back to the Hanok Village for more. If you’re looking for more reasons to stay the night in Jeonju, check out below photos! Next up, my beautiful bonding with nature in Suncheon!