Gangneung (Korean: 강릉시) is not one of the first places you think of when visiting South Korea. However, the surroundings of this busy city in the province of Gangwon-do does have a number of special attractions. And in addition, since 2018, we also know Gangneung as the place where some parts of the Winter Olympics were held in 2018. In this travel guide you can read more about the interesting attractions that this city and its surroundings have to offer for you.
What would you like to know about Gangneung in South Korea?
- A brief history of Gangneung
- Sightseeing – What to see and do in Gangneung and its surroundings?
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there?
A brief history of Gangneung
Gangneung has been part of several empires and dynasties in the distant past. A century before Christ, it even belonged to the Han Dynasty as a part of China. But this city is especially interesting because of its fairly recent past.
For example, the city of Gangneung came into existence in 1995 as an amalgamation of two municipalities. In 1996, a North Korean submarine stranded off the coast of Jeongdongjin, just south of the city. Was this an infiltration attempt to attack South Korea. In any case, it led to a 49-day manhunt in which most of the North Korean crew died. The relationship between the two countries came to a head, but it did not lead to a greater escalation.
In February 2018, nearby Pyeongchang hosted the Winter Olympics. The indoor activities were mainly held in Gangneung. Because the Winter Games were held in this region, the South Korean government built a high-speed rail line between Seoul and Gangneung. With this improved infrastructure, both cities are now even better connected.
Sightseeing – What to see and do in Gangneung and its surroundings?
Are you planning a visit to Gangneung? Although the city in itself is not very special, you can certainly not say that about the surroundings. Especially towards the south you will find a number of special attractions, but also in the west and mainly Odaesan National Park. Below are a few interesting ideas.
Tongil Park: This park is best known for the North Korean submarine that stranded off the coast in 1996. Here you can actually visit this red-green submarine. Tongil Park is also called the Unification Park and is particularly interesting if you want to know more about the relationship between North and South Korea. Read more about the story in the article Tongil Park | The terrifying story of a North Korean submarine.
Jeongdongjin: Located 18 kilometers south of Gangneung, you will find this quaint town. It is best known for the cruise ship on the hill of a mountain. Nowadays it is a hotel, but you can buy a ticket and visit the ship. In addition, this place is also known for one of the most beautiful beaches to watch the sunrise. And finally, the train station closest to the beach is located here. It even has a listing in the Guinness Book of Records. Read more about it in the Travel Guide to Jeongdongjin.
Chamsori Gramophon & Edison Museum: Are you in the mood for a little music? Then head to this quaint museum. Here you will get an explanation of the history of the gramophone and so you also get to hear a few things. Tours are mandatory and only in Korean, but the music makes up for a lot. The museum is located near Gyeongpo Beach northeast of the city.
Ojukheon: Another historical landmark is this temple complex. This is where South Korea’s most famous philosopher Yi I was born in 1536. The grounds contain his birthplace, a number of temples and the Gangneung City Museum. Ojukheon is located 5 kilometers north of the city and combines well with Gyeongpo Beach and Chamsori Gramophon & Edison Museum.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Gangneung?
Gangneung is a city of just over 200,000 inhabitants. It has a wide range of good accommodation and there are several places to stay. For example, it is possible to stay in the center and explore the city and its surroundings from here. For example, I myself stayed in Ark Guesthouse near the center. This is a hostel with a fantastic hostess who speaks good English and gives good advice on what you can do in the city and its surroundings. In addition, the breakfast was super.
Another option is to stay on the coast. Especially around Gyeongpo Beach you will find some nice accommodations. Another option is to take the bus, cab or train to Jeongdongjin, 18 kilometers south of the city. This is a nice town with the train station that, according to the Guiness book of records, is the closest to the beach. But probably this place is better known for the cruise ship that serves as a hotel, at the top of a hill.
Transport – How to get there?
Gangneung is easily accessible by high-speed rail since 2018. Because of the Olympics, the Korean government has built a good connection that allows you to reach the city center by KTX train within 2 hours. Another good option is to take the bus. This is cheaper, but the travel time is about 4 hours. Buses from Seoul leave from the Express Bus Terminal (every 20 minutes) or Dong Seoul Terminal (every 40 minutes).
Gangneung’s bus station is located west of the city. From here, you must take a bus to get to the center of the city or hop in a cab. The latter is preferred, as there is little signage in English. Maybe this has improved a bit since the Olympics, but with a cab you can be sure to arrive at your hotel right away.
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Do you have more tips, comments or ideas about this Travel Guide of Gangneung in South Korea? Then feel free to leave a message below.