Traveling to the Korean East Coast
The East Coast of Korea is known for many reasons, from Tofu to Coffee. The Coast is clad in Pine Trees and coastal towns are known for their fresh seafood. The beaches are small but beautiful. White sands, blue water and plenty of seaside walkways can be found along the coast.
How to get there
The main City is called Gangneung. It’s about 5km’s from the coast and depending on the beach you want to visit it will cost you anything from 5000 – 20000 Won to reach it by taxi. To get to Gangneung you have two options- Intercity Bus or Express Bus. The Express Bus Terminal is really small, and only selected cities are featured. You can go to and from Seoul, Daejeon, Busan and maybe one or two other major cities. We took the Intercity Bus from Gangneung to Cheonan. To see a full schedule for the intercity and express buses, visit The South Korea Travel Guide. The two terminals are located next to one another, and can easily be found.
There are a number of beaches along the East Coast, all of them with different attractions and different reasons to visit.
We’ve visited these three beaches: Gangmun, Anmok, and Gyeongpo. Take a look at the map to decide which beaches suit your personal tastes and needs. We’ve chosen these based on our love for coffee and coffee shops, tofu, seafood, trees, long walks and smaller groups of people.
Gangmun– This is a small beach, but lovely for a number of reasons. The main parking area sports a number of coffee shops, restaurants, and two small convenience stores. There’s only one road which runs just behind the main beach strip. It features a couple of pensions and hostels, restaurants and coffee shops. The beach itself is clear of rocks and stretches in two directions. If you face the ocean and walk towards your left, you will cross the river mound and step right into Gyeongpo. If you turn to your right you will have a couple of kilometers of uninterrupted beachfront to explore. This area is not clear for swimming, but you can take leisurely strolls, sunbath or have a seaside picknick away from the hustle of the main beach. Oh, and did I mention? It’s couple-photo paradise! Remember to buy a portable tripod from the convenience store and tap into your inner Korean. Special mention: Paul and Mary Restaurant for their massive burgers!
Gyeongpo- Neighbour to Gangmun, but with a totally different vibe and setup. Here the beach is separated from the main road by a small section of pine trees. The main road boasts hotels, seafood restaurants, bars and convenience stores. It’s abuzz with traffic, but somehow the Beach still maintains a moderate calm. This beach is very popular, and swimming can occur on most of the beach. Along the beach there a number of benches and wooden platforms which get occupied early on. In typical Korean fashion, the older folks drink makgeolli under the trees and sleep most of the day away. Younger Koreans are more concerned with taking photos than with any actual swimming. Towards the main sections of Gyeongpo, you can find many different art installations, small curios stalls, and public restroom facilities. Just follow the main road and you will end up next to the Lake. It’s beautiful and takes about 30-40 minutes to cycle around with a bike. Rent a couples/family bike from one of the many shops found next to the lake. Special mention- Hwani’s Kitchen Restaurant for their amazing fried chicken, squid and octopus and onion rings!
Anmok- last but not least. Anmok beach is on the other side of Gangmun. To reach it you can either take a very beautiful scenic walk along the beach in the pine forest (about 1 hour) or go by taxi from Gangmun or Gyeongpo (approximately 10 minutes, 8000Won). This beach is good for swimming, sunbathing, walking and drinking lots of coffee! The beach front is basically made up of coffee shops, privately owned and franchised chain shops. All the coffee shops sell the famous Hodugwaja (Korean Walnut Cakes stuffed with Red Bean Paste), but these are in the shape of coffee beans and the red bean paste is coffee flavored. You will also be able to find gelato at most of the shops, as well as delicious baked goods.
Other Cool Stuff
Chodang Dubu Village (초당두부마을)- Behind Gangmun main beach towards Gangneung you will find Tofu Town. It’s a cluster of tofu restaurants serving the famous East Coast Seawater Tofu.
Heo Gyun & Heo Nanseolheon Memorial Park- house of the poet Heo Nanseolheon. It’s located in a beautiful pine forest next to the lake. Go for a long walk, see the water lily marsh and take part in a traditional tea serving ceremony. Free admission with a small fee for tea ceremony (+- 2000Won).
Wetlands Eco Park and Aquarium– Just behind the Memorial Park (across the lake just behind the memorial park information booth). The ecovillage is an interactive ecosystem area where you can experience how the ecosystem functions. It teaches kids to protect the earth and our natural surroundings. Have fun pumping water by riding a stationary bike etc. A great outing if you have younger kids who like being outdoors. The aquarium is small, but it’s a good outing for younger kids.
Deungmyeong Nakasa- A beautiful temple looking out over the East Sea. We were fortunate to visit it on Buddha’s birthday. The temple volunteers were very friendly, and we partook in all the festivities- including eating bibimbap. Worth a trip- just be warned, it’s a long drive and not close to any towns. Try to take a bus instead of a taxi. A taxi will run about 20 000 Won from Anmok beach.
The closest town is Jeongdongjin, and it can be reached by train from Gangneung. In the area, there are a lot of other cool stuff to see and do so be sure to grab some flyers from the info booth at the bus terminal before planning your day trip.
I will be returning to the East Coast very soon, there are still loads of things I want to do and see which were not included in this post. I hope to give you feedback soon!