- Treasure Island of Korea
|A five-hour drive from Seoul leads visitors
to a quaint place known as Namhae, Korea’s “treasure island.”
A bridge that was constructed in 1973 now is connected to the mainland,
which makes it no longer an island in the truest sense. This small
yet beautiful island has picturesque sceneries harmoniously juxtaposing
the mountains and the sea. The jagged 302-kilometer coastline reveals
strange rock formations that create a fantastic view reminiscent
of ancient Asian paintings.
island is actually the topmost part of a huge mountain range rising
from the sea floor. Because of its topological characteristics,
the whole island is formed from mountains that descend steeply to
the shoreline. It is surrounded by emerald-colored seas dotted with
68 islands, some inhabited and some not.
by development efforts, Namhae Island still has a purely traditional
agricultural and fishing community. Along the steep coast, the people
managed to create terraced fields to produce garlic in the spring
and rice in the summer and autumn. If you would like to see what
Korean life was like a half century ago, this is the place to go.
Just driving along the 302-kilometer-long coastline is
enough to impress visitors. However, a trip to some tourist sites
will make the trip even more worthwhile. Most are located near the
coast and can be enjoyed during the course of the ride. In this
edition, French student Frederic accompanied us to the major tourist
sites of Namhae: Hilton Golf Namhae Resort, Daraengi Village, Geumsan
Boriam Rock, Sangju Beach, Mijohang Port, Haeoreum Art Village and
a German Village where we experienced fishing and pottery-making.
Namhae Travel Plan
One night and two days is a bit too short for sightseeing in Namhae, especially
for those traveling from Seoul. The ride to Namhae itself takes
10 hours round-trip, so two nights and three days is highly recommended
so that visitors can enjoy the island at a leisurely pace. Here
is how Frederic scheduled his 2-night, 3-day trip to Namhae.
2-night 3-day Namhae Trip
– Hilton, Namhae Golf Resort — Daraengi Village – Accommodations
– Sangju Beach – Songjeong Beach—Mijohang Port – Haeoreum
Art Village (ceramics) – 1 night in German Village --
Mulgeonhang Port (fishing) – Geumsan Boriam Temple
Ranking of Namhae Tourist Sties
|Namhae Bridge ★★★★:
Built in 1973, Namhae Bridge connects the island with the mainland.
Spanning a total length of 660 meters, the 80-meter high suspension
bridge looks out over the beautiful surrounding landscape, and at
the beginning of the sightseeing trip, the bridge won lots of points
with Frederic. The only complaint was that there is no lookout-area
where drivers can pull over to take in the view. So visitors must
enjoy the landscape for a few fleeting moments as they cross over
|Namhae Coastline Road
As we drove along the coast, Frederic was so immersed in the landscape
that he didn’t even want to chat. His silence was only broken by
the occasional exclamations of “Beautiful!” Without hesitation,
he named this drive as the best attraction in Namhae. The winding
coastal road is paved for the full 302 kilometers. During the ride,
visitors can feast their eyes on the green landscape created by
innumerable islands and the emerald-colored sea and terraced rice
fields climbing the steep hills. For the best view, take this coastline
road from the Namhae Bridge because cars in Korea use the right
|Hilton Namhae Golf Resort ★★:
to its upscale facilities and picturesque golf course, this resort
is most popular among Korea’s wealthy class. However, it didn’t
seem to have impressed Frederic that much. He remarked that the
resort’s modern facilities did not seem to fit in with the surrounding
natural landscape. It may also be because he enjoys backpacking,
and is not interested in golf or spas. Nonetheless, this is an upscale
facility that offers a beautiful golf course next to the sea. The
resort also offers the best in spas, restaurants, and cafes.
The resort offers spacious accommodations ranging from 115 to 260
square meters. Room rates for double occupancy are from 505,000
won to 965,000 won per night. Spa admission is 19,800 won.
+82-55-863-4000 (English, Japanese)
|Daraengi Village ★★★★:
Village gained popularity after it appeared in a popular commercial,
and now, people associate it with Namhae Island. The village offers
two major attractions: the first is the terrace rice patties with
108 steps created on a steep hill with stones and soil; the second
is Gacheon Amsu rock, which is not only the guardian rock of the
village, but also a popular fishing spot.
|Sangju Beach ★★★:
ports and beaches in Namhae are jar-shaped. Sangju Beach, like the
belly of the jar, has golden sand, while the endmost part accommodates
a small wharf. The beach is famous for the rocky islands off the
coast, the pine forest, and emerald-colored sea.
|Songjeong Beach ★★★:
Beach, located near Sangju Beach, has a similar shape. The only
difference is in the ambience: Sangju Beach is like a gorgeous woman,
while Songjeong Beach is more like a shy young lady.
|Mijohang Port ★★★:
This small but vibrant port is popular among the locals, and
is the most active fishing port where fishing boats move in and
out in a constant stream to unload their catch at the fish market.
If you go, make sure to visit the fish market, where you can witness
the clamor of the crowds as the fish are auctioned and loaded on
trucks for shipping.
local fish market
at Mijohang Port ]
on Mijohang Port]
|Haeoreum Art Village (Ceramics-making
The Haeoreum Art Village is located in a former school building
facing the sea. Here, a variety of exhibits shed light on Korea’s
past. Visitors can also learn to make ceramics, hanji paper-craft,
natural dyeing, and other crafts.
Frederic took part in a 30-minute ceramics class. The clay items take
between a month and two months to dry, after which they are fired
and mailed out to the creator. International mailing is not yet
available. The participation fee is 10,000 won.
down the address
made by Frederic and
an accompanying traveler]
on making a plate]
|Mulgeonhang Port (Fishing experience
This small port and fishing area facing the Germany Village is also famous
for its forest. Three hundred years ago, the local people started
planting trees along the coast as a windbreaker against the sea
winds and waves so as to attract schools of fish into quieter coves.
Today, the trees have grown to become a 30-meter-wide forest along
1,500 meters of coastline. It has been designated a natural monument.
fishing boat ridden
having soju and
raw fish they just caught
with the captain]
Mulgeonhang Port, we decided to rent a small boat, which provided
us with a memorable fishing experience. The daily rate for this
type of boat ranges between 150,000 won and 250,000 won. For a 2
to 3 hour rental, the fee costs between 50,000 won and 100,000 won
per person, but you may be able to strike a bargain depending on
the number of people and the boat owner. Fees are strictly cash.
You can rent a boat by visiting any of the stores with a “낚시
(fishing)” sign. During the off-season you may be able to just
walk in and ask, but it is best to reserve at least one day in advance.
Frederic took a Daribangho boat +82-55-867-3416 (Korean), +82-11-839-3416
(Korean) / Namhae Changjo Naksi 010-9515-6130 (Korean) / Samcheonpo
Naksi +82-55-867-4554 (Korean)
|German Village ★★★:
This Korean hamlet (what does this mean? Hamlet?) is the only
one that looks like a real German village. It was built for Koreans
who had gone to Germany in the 1960s seeking work and later Korean-Germans
had returned. The architecture of the houses is German-style, and
even the construction materials were imported from Germany. From
here, one can enjoy both the mountains and the sea, as the village
faces east toward the coast. The sunrise over Mulgeonhang Port lighthouse
is definitely worth a visit.
Bohn House (+82-55-867-0759 / Korean)
/ Berlin House (+82-55-867-5768 / Korean)
Website : http://www.germanvillage.co.kr/(
Accommodation reservations / Korean)
|Geumsan Boriam Temple ★★★★:
is the tallest and most beautiful mountain in Namhae, and just below
the summit is Boriam Temple, which is among the three holy sites
that are believed to answer the supplications of the faithful who
pray there. The temple looks out to the boundless seas of Hallyeo
Haesang Maritime National Park, and behind are the beautiful crags
of Mt. Geumsan, which is particularly known for its sunrises. Frederic
had considered taking part in the temple stay program (only 10,000
won), but after learning that the program takes eight hours to complete,
he changed his mind.
in Namhae found by Frederic
|Even Better than Daraengi Village! Seongu
Village is a Hidden Jewel!
As we drove along the coastal road, Frederic suddenly wanted us to stop
the car. His request to stop in front of Seongu Village was surprising
since it wasn’t a particularly well-known tourist site. But when
we saw the village, we understood. This fishing village was even
more beautiful than Daraengi. In fact, while Daraengi Village is
on the coast, it is more an agricultural village known for its rice.
On the other hand, Seongu Village follows the traditions of a fishing
community, combining both agriculture and fishing. With a few boats
always anchored at a small wharf, the village has a long history
and still preserves its ancient folk customs. If you’d like to
see genuine island traditions, visit this village. Note: the 4.5
hour hiking trail from Seongu to Daraengi offers the best view of
Hallyeo Haesang Maritime National Park. Please be aware that this
is not an easy trail.
farmer plowing the field with
a cow at Seongu Village]
Village’s Garlic Field]
to Get to Namhae Island
|The best way to travel to Namhae from Seoul
is by express bus. Once on the island, however, traveling by bus
may not be the most convenient option. In order to fully enjoy the
tourist sites, and especially to see Namhae’s coastline landscape,
it is best to rent a car or a taxi.
Recommended Options to go to Namhae
1, Rent a car from Seoul, travel through Namhae, and
return the car in Seoul
2, Travel to Namhae on an
express bus from Seoul → Rent a car near Namhae Bus
3, Travel to Namhae on an express bus from
Seoul → Rent a taxi near Namhae Bus Terminal (about
100,000 won per day)
Rent-a-car from Seoul : The most well-known car rental
company is Geumho and AVIS. Both are large companies that offer
convenient rental procedures even for foreigners. Insurance is fully
covered, and renting and returning could not be easier as they have
hundreds of car rental branches all around the nation.
As Korea’s leading car rental company, Geumho offers
28 rental branches in Seoul and hundreds nationwide.
It is also the business partner of Hertz. Travelers
can get easy access to Geumho since branches are opened
in hotels like Hilton, Hyatt, Lotte, Ritz Carlton, Renaissance
as well as major transportation hubs like Incheon Internationa
airport, Gimpo airport, and Yongsan and Seoul stations.
Those who sign up as members on their website also get
discount benefits. The company also offers driver services
(does this mean there is a driver / chauffer? Or are
there driving lessons?).
Website : http://www.kumhorent.com/en/Main.aspx(English
Information on rates and cars are available on Geumho’s
website. Real-time reservation and inquiries are also
Avis is an international
rental car company with worldwide chains. Homepage members
can get discount benefits. The company also offers driver
Information on rates and cars are available on AVIS’s
website. Real-time reservation and inquiries are also
Seoul ←→ Namhae Express
Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal: Subway Line 3, Nambus Bus Terminal,
Exit 5 / +82-2-521-8550 (Korean)
||08:30, 09:50, 11:30, 13:30, 15:10,
16:40, 18:00, 19:00
||07:30, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 13:00,
15:00, 17:00, 18:30
Namhae Bus Terminal:
Bus: Since Namhae is a rural area, public transportation system
is not very well developed. If you come to Namhae by express bus,
it is best to rent a car or taxi.
Taxi: There are many taxis
in front of Namhae Bus Terminal. The fare goes up depending on the
distance traveled, but a ride across the island would cost about
100,000 won a day.
Rental car: The only car rental company
in Namhae is located near the bus terminal. World Rent-a-car offers
passenger vehicles of 2,000cc for 70,000 won.