A sentimental journey through Donghae
Donghae, one of the easternmost cities of Korea, is surrounded by mountains on one side and an ocean on the other. This brings an immensity of natural resources and attractions waiting to be discovered in the area. Popular tourist sites include Mukho Port, where you can enjoy the fresh scent of the ocean; Nongoldam-gil Street, showing the history of the port through colorful murals; Mureung Valley, where mountain gods came to play; and many others. With all the beautiful things to see, one day would be insufficient. We recommend planning a two day journey, with certain points to visit in mind; here are some good suggestions to help you make the most of your trip.
Mukho Port, a sea of nostalgia
Muk is inkstone that was traditionally used for paintings and writings in ancient times. Ancestors used the stone by mixing it with water, making it into a pitch-black ink. People back then saw the resemblance of color with the waters of Mukho Port, therefore giving the port its name.
Opened in 1941, this port used to be the most prolific trading dock in the eastern region, transporting the nation’s largest coal cargo for export. But as the mining industry slowly declined, the port’s role shifted into recession. Although it now has become a quiet fishing center, the village’s fish markets are still full of energy, bustling at dawn every morning with fishmongers and buyers.
☞ Address: Mukhojin-dong, Donghae-si, Gangwon-do
☞ Directions: Take a taxi approx. 10min from Donghae Bus Terminal.
Nongoldam-gil Street, a warm and friendly mural village
The neighborhood of Nongoldam-gil Street is stacked with slate-roofed houses, cheerfully dotted with vibrant colors on each. This doldam-gil, literally meaning “stone-walled street,” spreads into four smaller alleys that add more charm for you to enjoy. Discovering various themes as you walk through Nongol 1-gil, Nongol 2-gil, Nongol 3-gil, and Deungdaeoreum-gil, visitors will be able to see witty paintings on the wall.
This street was also featured in the TV dramas “The Heirs (2013)” and “Shining Inheritance (2009),” both of which filmed romantic scenes here. If you can remember each story line, following the path of the main characters in the films is a fun activity to try. Make sure to visit the orange-colored slate house and rope bridge to take pictures, which will leave you with a fantastic souvenir to take home.
☞ Address: 289, Haemaji-gil, Donghae-si, Gangwon-do (Mukho Lighthouse)
☞ Directions: From Manmul Market, follow the path leading up to Mukho Lighthouse, then continue to the rope bridge, which offers the best viewing attractions.
Bukpyeong 5-Day Market
Bukpyeong-dong in Donghae comes alive during the Bukpyeong 5-Day Market, which is held on days when the date ends with the number 3 or 8. The market’s history goes back to around the year 1796 in the Joseon Dynasty, during the reign of King Jeongjo. It has become the largest and oldest traditional market in the Gangwon region. Watching sellers and buyers from various regions come to bargain is a unique experience in which to partake. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of this, check your dates to make sure the market is open when you go.
☞ Address: 137, Daedong-ro, Donghae-si, Gangwon-do (Bukpyeong-dong Community Service Center)
☞ Directions: From Bukpyeong-dong Community Service Center, start browsing the market.
Witness a beautiful sunrise at Chuam Chotdaebawi Rock
Chuam Beach, located at the boundary of the cities of Donghae and Samcheok, is famous for Chuam Chotdaebawi Rock, which is loved by all visitors, photographer or not, for its gorgeous sunrise views. The magnificent beauty of the sun slowly peeking its way over the edge of the rock face draws hoards of visitors who line up to catch the view in the right spot. While in the area, visiting nearby attractions like Chuam Sculpture Park will also give you a gorgeous backdrop to take some memorable pictures.
☞ Address: 2-ho, Chotdaebawi-gil, Donghae-si, Gangwon-do
☞ Directions: From Chuam Sculpture Park, continue walking towards Chuam Beach, where you will find a signpost for Chuam Chotdaebawi Rock.
Cheongok Cave, nature’s downtown monument
Cheongok Cave is a limestone cave that extends horizontally for 1,400 meters. Estimated to have been created 400 to 500 million years ago, it is the only natural cave located in a downtown area, and the longest of its kind in Korea. The cave is also highly recognized by researchers for its geological evidence and rare rocks and formations. Accidently discovered when construction workers were digging on a residential site, the cave has subsequently been well protected to keep its original condition. Wearing a safety helmet, provided on-site, visitors to the cave can observe curtain stalactites, the largest ceiling channel in the nation, and other fantastic natural wonders.
☞ Address: 50, Donggul-ro, Donghae-si, Gangwon-do
☞ Directions: Take a taxi approx. 20min from Chuam Chotdaebawi Rock.
☞ Operating hours: 08:00-18:00
* Open until 20:00 during summer peak season.
☞ Admission: Adults 3,000 won / Teenagers 1,500 won / Children 1,000 won
Mureung Valley, a hidden paradise
Mureung Valley spans four kilometers from Hoamso Pond to Yongchu Falls. It is so beautiful that legend says the mountain gods would come down and play here, enjoying the lavish natural views from the valley floor. Near the entrance sits a gigantic rock called Mureung Banseok, estimated to be large enough for roughly 1,000 people to sit comfortably. The rock offers a beautiful panoramic view, stretching to Samhwasa Temple to Yongchu Falls. However, the valley’s shining glory is at the twin cascades of Ssangpok Falls, refreshing ones soul at first sight.
☞ Address: 538, Samhwa-ro, Donghae-si, Gangwon-do
☞ Directions: Take a taxi approx. 35min from Cheongok Cave.
☞ Admission: Adults 2,000 won / Teenagers 1,500 won / Children 700 won
☞ Transportation: Seoul → Donghae
1. Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Donghae Express Bus Terminal
(Fare: 16,800 won / Travel time approx. 2hr 50min)
2. Seoul (Gyeongbu/Yeongdong Line) Express Bus Terminal → Donghae Express Bus Terminal
(Fare: Regular 16,800 won, Deluxe 24,800 won / Travel time approx. 3hr 5min)
☞ Website: Donghae Tourism www.dhtour.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Inquiries: +82-33-530-2800 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian)
* Language assistance may vary by day
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
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