A Weekend Trip to Jeonju, Korea
Never has a city taken me more by suprise than Jeonju here in South Korea. All I knew about Jeonju before visiting was that there was a huge hanok (traditional Korean houses) village and that the entire region of Jeolla is famous for its food.
What I didn't expect was to spend the night dodging locals on skateboards, enjoying tapas and sangria, and having the best kalguksu in my life.
My boyfriend and I started our journey around 7am by catching a bus rom Seoul's Express Bus Terminal. Normally we'd have taken the train since its such a long ride, but we booked our tickets last minute and bus was the only option.
A little over 3 hours later and we arrived in Jeonju, where the cherry blossoms had just bloomed and everything was a little more colorful. We grabbed a taxi and headed straight to the Hanok Village for lunch. We went to Beterang Kalguksu, a restaurant famous for serving up this classic noodle dish Jeolla style. I can't even begin to describe the taste. It genuinely felt like I had never had kalguksu before until this moment. Being just noodles and an eggy broth, kalguksu can be pretty forgettable. The mix of spices and sesame in this broth though made this a meal I will never forget!
We continued to walk around the village and then stopped in Jeonmang Cafe to escape the heat and take in the view below.
We continued our casual exploration (while picking up a few snacks along the way of course) and stumbled upon a marketplace with a secret second floor. Above the unassuming traditional market was a collection of hip restaurants, bars, and shops called Cheongnyeon Mall or "Young People's Mall." Our tummies were too full to partake in any of our discovers then and there so we mentally bookmarked the spot for later.
By this time, our AirBnb was ready for us to check in so we walked over to our beautiful guesthouse. The entire house surrounded a garden and our room had two huge windows looking out into the flowerbeds. The owner had the most adorable dog that quietly (and calmly!) roamed the garden too and the guesthouse also doubled as a cafe so we were given some refreshments upon arrival. I booked this using my AirBnb credit, and if you'd like $40 off your first trip, be sure to use my code :)
We ended up taking a well deserved nap and then headed back out to the Cheongnyeon Mall for dinner! We grabbed tapas at a small Spanish place (we didn't write down the name, but the mall is very small and you can find it easily!) and then took a long walk along the river. We ended up in an area called Gaeksa, which was hipster paradise!
The area was filled with little eateries including a cafe we stopped at called Oreun Cake. I got a giant pineapple juice and tried to resist all the cakes calling my name. Somehow I managed and we continued our aimless wandering around the neighborhood.
After losing money in a claw machine and eating some late night ddeokbokki from a street cart, we went to sleep. The next morning we decided to let ourselves sleep in a little, and left the guesthouse for brunch around 11am. We stopped at a random pasta place (forgive me, this is another name I didnt write down!) and headed back toward the hanok village.
Our first stop was Gyeongijeon, the home to a portrait of the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, King Taejo. It was built in 1410 but has been restored throughout the centuries. You're able to enter a few of the structures and its completely free to explore! There is information in English and Korean.
It was abnormally hot that weekend in Jeonju so we made another pitstop in a cafe for some air conditioning and iced coffee. After that, we climbed up to Omokdae, an old royal resting spot, to sit with the locals in the ancient pavilion.
It was coming close to our bus departure time so we made two lasts stops: first, to Makgeolli Street where the streets are lined with restaurants serving drinking food with freshly made rice wine. Then we sat at hip burger spot called Slow Workers (since out of business, how sad!) and headed to the bus station.
If you haven't made the trip to Jeonju yet, book that bus or train ticket now! It's so much more than a touristy Hanok village. I personally can't wait to go back and explore!