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Friday, 24 April 2015

WOW KOREA! (PART-VII)

Mid-summers can be fun in Korea especially if you are a beach-bum! :) A country that is surrounded by oceans on three sides leaves no room for complaining as a tourist can indulge in a lot of exciting beach activities! From lazing on the sands,sun bathing, swimming, sea-surfing, beach games, water sports to beach festivals - there are many ways you as a tourist can enjoy the sultry months of July and August in Korea where temperatures peak up to 30 degrees Celsius and above.

And today in this post I shall take you on an e-tour of the beaches in this picturesque country the world knows as Korea! 

Before I begin,let's first understand in brief the geography of the region vis-a-vis the coastline before I discuss the different beaches you can visit in Korea. Korea is surrounded by the East Sea, West Sea and South Sea.

1.East Sea: With the sunrise over the horizon of the ocean,the East Sea has a simple coastline of clear waters,large beaches and white sands.This is just the right place for you to enjoy a good leisure time activity and indulge in some good photography,you could click some award winning photographs as you get a spectacular view of the break of dawn at the East Sea.In fact,most beaches in this area even hold a Haemaji (sunrise greeting) festival every year on New Year's Day where the sight of the sun emerging over the ocean skyline is one to behold! 

In the East Sea, you can visit the following beaches -

a.Sokcho Beach in Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do: Set against a picturesque view of pine groves with expansive white sands, clear waters and tourist sites like Mt. Seoraksan,a national park nearby,this is an ideal vacation spot with various facilities like parking lots, campsite and lodging for visitors.Besides swimming,a tourist can enjoy fishing in Jodo Island and indulge in some fresh raw fish from the fisheries market next to the breakwater. This area is suitably located as the Express Bus Terminal is just about 500 meters,thus tourists unfamiliar with the place will be able to spot it easily.Festivals to watch out for are the Haemaji (sunrise greeting) festival on 1st January and Sokcho Beach Festival held mid-July to early August every year.

b.Gyeongpodae Beach in Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do: The largest beach on the east coast open from early July to the end of August is famous for viewing the sunrise and moon-rise and an ideal spot for a hot sand bathing or walking barefooted.In addition to swimming,you can go on a ride of the Gyeongpo tourism carriage where you can tour Gyeongpodae Beach and enjoy recreational water sports like banana boating, jet skiing,water skiing etc. The Summer Beach Art Festival is held end July every year as also the Ocean Art Festival and many such cultural events, folk performances that are some of the major attractions on this beach.

c.Naksan Beach in Yangyang-gun, Gangwon-do: A beach that boasts of clear waters and thick pine groves also has different facilities like lodging complexes and convenience stores that makes this beach popular among tourists.Besides the proximity to Mt Seoraksan,a national park, you can also visit the Uisangdae Pavilion to get a breath-taking view of the sunrise and the Naksansa Temple where a big white statue Gwaneum (Kannon Bodhisattva) is located.There are various sea-side events held during summer-time but the largest event remains the Haemaji (sunrise greeting) festival held on 1st January every year.

d.Guryongpo Beach in Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do: The name of the beach that derives itself from the myth of nine dragons which appeared from the ocean and flew up into the sky is characterized by a crescent-shaped coastline and beautiful pine groves behind the beach.Crowded during the holiday season,this spot is popular among those who enjoy swimming and fishing along the sea shore and off the rocks as well.

2.West Sea: With most of the beaches on the foreshores,you can watch some beautiful sunsets,a healthy ecological marine life and get access to convenient transportation.A  visitor can enjoy a day long trip here especially if they don't happen to have much time on their hands.

In the West Sea, you can visit the following beaches -

a.Eurwangni Beach in Incheon, Gyeonggi-do: With the beach's close proximity to both Seoul and Incheon International Airport, it is a popular day trip destination among tourists and people of the region.The water is shallow here,thus children can enjoy swimming in the sea. There are different lodging facilities available here for those who wish to spend some time at the beach.You can also go sailing or fishing from the rocks alongside the edge of the seashore by renting a boat.This is not an ideal beach to walk barefoot as there are many shells in the white sand.The festivals you can watch out for is the annual sea festival held every August where people enjoy swimming in the sea  and some wrestling on the beach.

b.Daecheon Beach in Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do: The biggest beach on the West coast known for its shallow waters and gentle waves makes an ideal getaway for both adults and children alike. The sand here is particularly soft as it is composed of shells eroded into the sand over a period of time that washes off easily. The upper portion of the beach has fine soft sand whereas the lower portion is firmly packed that allows you to enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside the beach or even a sand bath! You can watch out  for the Daecheon Beach Festival held in July and all it's festivities where you can particularly enjoy in the Boryeong mud (a mud known for it's healing properties) and the annual yacht race held at this beach.

c.Muchangpo Beach in Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do: A beach referred to as the "Miracle Of Moses" parts twice a month i.e. in the mid and last day of the lunar month on Seokdaedo Island.On the dry path in the middle of the sea,you can catch seafood such as turban snails and octopus as you walk along while in the foreshore you can indulge in traditional fishing where people use rock piles for catching fish.With shallow waters and the water temperature just right,this is a great place to go swimming.The glow of the sunset at Muchangpo is known as one of the eight spectacular sights of Boryeong-si especially the sight emerging from the breakwater which is particularly beautiful.Ahoy photographers time to take out your cameras! 

d.Byeonsan Beach in Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do: The Byeonsan Beach which has a long stretch of fine sand with an average depth of water just one meter, this beach is best for taking a dip in the sea as the waters are warm and calm.With white sands and green pine grove,this beach has some breathtaking scenery to offer.Though this beach was opened in the 1930's but there are not much lodging and tourists facilities nearby however with the mountain and other beaches nearby,it is easy to spot a place that's not too far away to stay.

3.South Sea: With countless number of islands in the Southern sea,each beach has a different atmosphere based on the characteristics of the island on which it is found.The Jeju Island,a popular tourist site offers a beautiful sight of the ocean to the travelers which greatly differs from the landscape on the eastern or western coast.

In the South Sea, you can visit the following beaches -

a.Jungmun Beach in Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do: This beach is so picturesque that it is a popular place for filming commercials, television dramas and even movies! This destination which is also a romantic getaway is located next to the Jungmun Tourist Complex and has a uniquely elongated sandy plain.It towers over the white,black, red and grey sand called "Jinmosal" where this white sandy beach is curved like a bow which are the stunning black rocks of Jeju Island.You can observe the local ecosystem that is located on the right side of the beach where one can see a natural cave and cliff that is covered with different varieties of rare plants.This beach is ideal for water sports such as jet skiing and windsurfing as the currents are strong.You can watch out for the Beach Film Festival and Summer Festival on the Jungmun Beach.

b.Hyeopjae Beach in Hallim-eup, Jeju-do: Silver colored sands filled with shells and emerald ocean waters that are crystal clear makes the view from above appear like a canvas of watercolor painting!This site is beautiful all the more because of the black basalt on one side of the sandy plain and a breath taking view of Biyangdo Island from the ocean.The sand is firm and is just right for a good stroll on the beach.You can enjoy camping here as you set up your tent in the forest groves behind the beach. For novice swimmers,this is the best beach to learn swimming as the waters here are shallow and the coast gently sloped. And after a good swim,you can visit the Hallim Park which is just a five-minute walk away from the beach where you could see abundant tropical plants and relax in the shade to get some respite from the heat.

c.Haeundae Beach in Haeundae-gu, Busan-si: This premier beach which is one of the eight popular spots of Korea gets so crowded with vacationers particularly foreigners that there is hardly any room at times even to stretch out! The white sands are rough that makes it easy to brush off from one's body. This beach is known for the sunrise over the skyline and the moon-rise from Haewoljeong Pavilion.In fact,you can get a fascinating view of the moon from Haeundae’s Dalmaji Road that is located between Haeundae Beach and Songjeong Beach.There are hot springs nearby that enable visitors to ease away their weariness with a good swim in the ocean.In fact it is widely believed that Queen Jinseong of Silla made a complete recovery from a disease after bathing in these hot springs.Visitors can watch out for cultural events and festivals held throughout the year like the Haemaji (Sunrise greeting) festival,the Polar Bear Swimming Contest during winters,the Haeundae Sand Festival in summers and the Busan International Film Festival held in autumn at Busan.Overall,this beach is alive and kicking with excitement, fun and frolic all through the year.

d.Sangju Silver Sand Beach in Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do: The biggest beach on the Southern coast has some of the best features that one would look for in a beach. With clear waters,soft silver colored sand making it pleasant for a barefoot stroll, sheltered by Mt. Geumsan which makes it a cozy spot to laze around,the thick pine groves surrounding the beach which are the pride of Sangju Beach and fascinating rocks and stones that add to the beautiful landscape make it one complete package indeed! Besides,this beach also has tourist facilities such as a lodging and shopping center while on one side of the sandy beach is a campsite which is popular among the youths. 

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I do hope you get a chance to enjoy some lovely moments with your loved ones on these beautiful beaches which have their own unique characteristics that set them apart from the rest on your next visit to Korea! For a moment it just seems that each of these beaches have their own distinctive identity...and that in itself gives us as a tourist a good reason to come explore!

For those of you who have missed out on reading some of the earlier posts in the Wow Korea series, click here for Wow Korea! Part-IWow Korea! Part-IIWow Korea! Part-III,

Regards,
Sonaal

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