Category Archives: Gyeonggi-do

Goryeosan Azalea Festival… Pink, Magenta, Purple Extravaganza until April 23, 2017

Spring’s beauty at its best: in April, Goryeosan mountain on Ganghwa-do is covered with pink and magenta azaleas (진달래) in full bloom. This year’s festival runs from April 12 to April 23, 2017 – don’t miss it!

Goryeosan Azalae Festival
Goryeosan is the highest mountain of Ganghwa-do island, near Incheon. It has an elevation of 436 m, high enough to provide spendid panoramas yet still manageable for a family hike. There are five official hiking paths generally in the intermediate difficulty levels.

Each year, a festival is held end of April to celebrate the blooming azaleas which literally cover entirely the highest part of the mountain. Views from the top are breathtaking and make for perfect colourful snapshots! Things can get a bit crowded during the festival’s weekend days so rather come early.

The main draw to the festival is to enjoy the hike, walking on the wooden path at the mountain’s top and to celebrate the beautiful azaleas. Depending on the hiking course, you may also come across nice buddhist temples. Don’t expect many other attractions or activities even though some food stalls are usually available for a light lunch near the top.

How to get there:

  • Bus 3000 from Sinchon Rotary to Gangwha terminal (33 stops, 2h approximately), then local buses available or about 4km to the nearest hiking start (Kukhwari village, 국화리마을)
  • By car: about 60 km away for Seoul centre, expect 1h30. Ganghwa island is connected by bridge.

Hiking paths & address:

#1- North-east: Baekryeonsa, 3.7km, 1h20 – 강화군 하점면 강화대로 994-19 (하점면 부근리 350)

#2- South-east: Cheongryeonsa, 2.9km, 1h – 강화군 강화읍 고비고개로 188  (강화읍 국화리 599-2)

#3- South: Gobigogae, 2.4km, 1h – 강화군 내가면 고천리 산145-1

#4- South-west: Jeokseoksa, 5.2km, 1h50 – 강화군 내가면 연촌길8 (내가면 고천리 251)

#5- West: Mikkujigogae, 5.8km, 2h – 강화군 하점면 강화서로 511 (하점면 망월리 371-1)

For more information, check the official Festival website

For localisation, go to Seoul Map for Kids & Families

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Secret Incheon… Part 2 – Once upon a time in Fairytale village

This is the second of a 2-part series covering little know secrets about Incheon. If you like this, check out its companion piece: Part 1 – Chasing Dragons in Chinatown

Impressive transformation of an old residential neighbourhood, Songwol-dong Fairytale Village provides a colorful collection of the best fairy tales and comics characters. Great fun with younger kids!

Incheon Songwol-dong Fairytale Village, 인천 송월동 동화마을

Incheon Songwol-dong Fairytale Village occupies a few blocks west of Incheon Chinatown. It is only a short walking distance away and can be easily reached through Jayu park or starting directly from Incheon Station. The Songwol-dong village community approved a striking renovation project to revive the dilapidated district and run-down old houses. This is still a work in progress with some back alleys under development yet the result is already stunning.

There is a rainbow arch-shaped gate with a colourful “송월동 동화마을” (Songwol-dong Fairytale Village) sign marking the entrance to the village. You may navigate along the main street and several back alleys in any order you wish. There are several themes developed by the community when remodelling houses, which makes it fun to explore in each block. You’ll come across Disney-inspired characters, all-time classics like Hansel & Gretel, Red Riding Hood or the Wizard of Oz, traditional Korean stories, animals murals and more.

There is no major landmark there but we definitely had a blast walking around the small streets discovering all the cartoon characters and taking pictures. The tour took us about an hour and is a great addition (especially with young kids) to the more cultural Chinatown visit. You can also find a few coffee shops to take a rest or enjoy the local souvenirs stores.

We love the fact that this is a real village, with real-life residents still using the premises. Buildings were carefully repainted, adding cartoonesque artefacts and colourful murals. This is a fantastic redevelopment project and we wish to see many more similar endeavours to revive local neighbourhoods instead of the usual demolition-high-rise-construction options we see way too often in big cities.

How to get there:
[Subway] Incheon Station (Seoul Subway Line 1).

Admission: Free

Address: Songwol-dong 3(sam)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon / 인천광역시 중구 송월동3가
For localisation, see our Seoul Map for Kids and Families

Incheon Songwol-dong Fairytale Village, 인천 송월동 동화마을

Secret Incheon… Part 1 – Chasing Dragons in Chinatown

This is the first of a 2-part series covering little know secrets about Incheon. If you like this, check out its companion piece: Part 2 – Once upon a time in Fairytale village

The only official Chinese-influenced neighbourhood in current South Korea, Incheon Chinatown offers a great exotic adventure visiting either from Incheon International Airport or from Seoul. Dragons, red-and-gold temples and Chinese food to make you feel like Chinese in Chinatown!

Incheon Chinatown

If you have lived in Korea for a while, you may have heard that Incheon city – on the mainland, not the island where the Incheon airport is located – boasts a real Chinatown district! A unique feature in a country where relationship to China has often been lukewarm at best.

Development of Incheon Chinatown stems from the late 19th century, in a period of trade development which brought in a number of immigrants in the port’s vicinity. With the exodus of most Chinese from Korea during the early 20th century, the district lost gradually its authenticity until a successful revival plan was completed in 2006.

Incheon Chinatown Dragon

Today, the neighbourhood boasts a great number of Chinese restaurants and shops, temples, dragon-ornamented stairways and massive Chinese gates. You will also find multiple cultural venues such as the Korean-Chinese Cultural Center or the Incheon Art Platform. We recommend to check the great Korea blog’s post Incheon’s Famous Chinatown for a comprehensive review of options.

Visiting with young kids, our tour at Incheon’s Chinatown was a fun adventure. We strolled around the alleys and streets with antique shops and traditional Chinese houses painted in gold and red colors. There are countless photo opportunities where you would have a hard time recognising you are still in South Korea. We entertained children with a dragons-spotting challenge, which kept them running and looking around for all sighting of the mythical creatures! They liked as well the impressive 150m-long Three Kingdoms Mural Street, which connects to nearby Jayu park.

Feeling hungry after the walk? Make sure to taste the local varieties of mandu (dumpling), gonggalbbang (large crispy bread) and jjajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce). There are dozens of great restaurants to choose from… just follow your intuition or where the locals go which usually is a solid guarantee for yummy and fresh food.

How to get there:
[Subway]
Incheon Station (Seoul Subway Line 1).
Incheon China Town is located within 3-minutes’ walking distance of the station.

For more information, check Visit Korea website (english) or the official Incheon Chinatown website (korean only).

For localisation, see our Seoul Map for Kids and Families

Incheon Chinatown - temple