Whenever you think of traveling to South Korea, the most common destination is the capital city of Seoul. But South Korea is a nation that contains some of the most incredible sights and cities that are often overlooked due to the popularity of Seoul.
Located in the East of Seoul is Gangwon-do, a region that offers an abundance of natural beauty. This province suggests destinations such as Chuncheon, a city of lakes; Sokcho, a foodie haven; and Gangneung, a fantastic spot with numerous experiences and sights. A brilliant region boasting mountains and sea, you have so much to experience in this region in South Korea.
Chuncheon is best known for its dakgalbi or spicy chicken and it is a shame to not have a portion of this popular dish if you find yourself in the city. Lucky for us Muslim travelers, Nami-Ok makes this dish solely with halal meat and resources. The restaurant is also known for their other dishes such as Beoseot Jeongol (Mushroom Stew), Ojingeo Bokkeum (Stir-fried Squid) and Yache Bokkeumbap (Vegetable Fried Rice).
#HZTip: Do make a booking if you want to get a seat during the lunch rush hour as this restaurant is one of the more famous Spicy Chicken Restaurant in the area!
Wonjo Chodang Sundubu
One of the most popular produce and one that is the pride of the region is tofu. The great quality of mountain water in the area makes the tofu from the region some of the softest and tastiest tofu you will ever have! Wonjo Chojang Sundubu hand makes all the soft tofu and as such only serve limited customers each day. One of their most famous menu is the Baekban (set meal), a humble menu which includes a bowl of rice, soft tofu soup and side dishes.
The first halal-certified restaurant in Gangwon-do, Dong Moon, is located in Namiseon Island, a famous island where tourists take day trips to. The entire menu is halal and the restaurant serves the city most popular dish called Buldak, a hot and spicy chicken dish in addition to a variety of Asian food such as rice noodles, curry and fried rice.
Located in a prime location near Jumunjin beach (the popular filming location of a popular k-drama Goblin), Silbi Saengsungui is one of the most beloved restaurant thanks to their delicious seafood menu. Their most popular dish is grilled mackerel, one of Korea’s staple dishes. This restaurant is also popular among the locals due to the quality and the prices of their menu. This restaurant has also been featured in a TV drama which facilitated the patron traffic to this eatery!
A trip to the Gangwon Province is not complete without visiting the beautiful seaside. The East Sea is not only home to one of the most prettiest coastal villages but it is also a gold mine of historical and cultural significance. While enjoying the incredible view of the endless ocean, do not forget to turn your eyes to the abundance of art on the walls and the streets. To get to the East Sea, consider riding the Sea Train that runs along the coastline of the East Sea!
The Sea Train offers an unobstructed view of the sea as the windows are much larger than that found in standard trains. Especially for those who are visiting for the first time, the convenience of the sea train will surely entice you! The train is designed for all but I could not help but imagine my 9-year-old younger sister enjoying the ride as well. With the bright colors and lively paintings of maritime creatures in the cabins, families with children will definitely enjoy this ride as well. After riding the train and enjoying the views of the East Sea, consider enjoying the natural landscape with Rail Bikes!
Unlike most rail bikes, Jeongdongjin Railbikes are entirely motor-operated so you do not have to worry about tiring yourselves out! All you have to do is to pace the bike using a simple lever handle. The ride lasts for about 30 minutes and since you are able to pace the vehicle, you can enjoy the view at your own momentum.
Gangwon Province is also home to the Jumungjin Beach and Breakwater which was popularised by its cameo in the hit k-drama Goblin and the BTS Bus Stop! If you are in touch with the Korean popular culture, make sure to not miss these spots for photos that would make all your followers jealous! Nearby the beach is also Gangneung Coffee Street, the must-go street if you are a coffee lover. With almost all coffee shops in the area roasting their own coffee beans, this street is one of the reasons why Gangneung is well-recognised as the ‘city of coffee’.
Gangwon is home to many hotels and inns where you will be able to pick and choose which is the best spot for you. During my trip to Gangwon, I stayed in a Hanok, a traditional Korean style hotel or inn. Personally, I feel that the experience of staying in a Hanok really exceeded my expectations! If you are into cultural immersion, it is highly recommended to stay in a Hanok.