You might have heard of Gyeonggi-do before but I’m guessing it’s not the first place you want to go when you’re in Korea for the holidays. Of course Seoul, as the center of all entertainment and services, would provide you with a more ‘fulfilling’ Korean experience. However, personally, I think that’s a misconception. Rather, you’ll be able to experience a more authentic side of Korea in the surrounding areas – Gyeonggi-do. So, why not go for something a little bit different this time around? Explore some of the most unique must-visit cities in Gyeonggi-do!
1. Bucheon City
To the southwest, right between Seoul and Incheon lies Bucheon City, one of sixteen satellite cities of Seoul. Despite its small size, being the 8th smallest city in the whole of Korea, Bucheon City is the second-most densely populated city in Korea. In other words, lots and lots of people live as a result of the rapid urbanization the city went through in the 1970s. Since then, Bucheon City has transformed into a city of culture and arts, even being named as the only UNESCO Creative City of Literature in 2017. Home to the Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra, museums and the stage for several festivals, culture and art have been able to flourish, improving the quality of life for many.
Fun Fact: There are 128 libraries in Bucheon City!
Best Activities in Bucheon City:
2. Gwangmyeong City
Embracing Light Gwangmyeong
You might have heard of Gwangmyeong City, another satellite city of Seoul right below Bucheon City, before. Home to the second-largest IKEA store in the world as well as a massive COSTCO and Lotte Premium Outlets, many flocking to this region for the ultimate shopping spree. However, this isn’t all that Gwangmyeong city has to offer. Also having undergone a tumultuous history, starting with its separation from Siheung City to being the largest mine in the capital area, Gwangmyeong City serves as witness and proof of its own change and development over the years. That’s why you’ll be able to discover a fine balance between the modern and the traditional right here at Gwangmyeong City.
Fun Fact: There is said to still be large amounts of gold buried deep in the caves!
Best Activities in Gwangmyeong City:
3. Siheung City
Start Up Siheung
By the coastal waters of the Yellow Sea, right below Gwangmyeong City lies Siheung City. It has, too, gone through its fair share of history and change, rising above as one of a handful of cities that is still close to nature at heart. Siheung City is surrounded by the beauty of many natural wonders such as the rare inland wetlands at Siheung Gaetgol Ecology Park and Oido Island. However, this doesn’t mean it’s one of those coastal villages with nothing to do around. Siheung City is going through its own innovative phase while focusing on improving the quality of life for its residents, having joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in 2016.
Fun Fact: Oido Island isn’t actually an island anymore!
Best Activities in Siheung City:
4. Hwaseong City
The Way to Better Living Hwaseong
Many confuse the following two – Hwaseong Fortress and Hwaseong City. The former is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Suwon and the latter is a city in Gyeonggi-do. Nonetheless, it’s normal to jumble these two up as Hwaseong City does, in fact, get its name from the eponymous fortress. With one of the largest farmland areas in Gyeonggi-do, Hwaseong City is famous for a variety of local specialities such as Gyeonggi Rice, grapes, pears as well as dried seaweed from the Jebudo Island wetlands. However, farming isn’t all that goes on here. Hwaseong has one of the highest rates of population growth in Gyeonggi-do, bringing in more and more people over time. With a steady population influx and vast plains to put to use, no wonder they’ve decided to build the biggest Universal Studios in the world here!
Fun Fact: The first ceratopsian (horned dinosaur) in South Korea was found in Hwaseong City!
Best Activities in Hwaseong City:
5. Ansan City
Livable Vibrant Ansan
Right between Hwaseong City and Siheung City is the livable vibrant city of Ansan. Ansan City isn’t just your typical city in the suburbs. Created to relieve the pressure of extreme population and industry concentration in the capital region in the 1970s, Ansan City became the home ground for Banwol and Sihwa Industrial Complex. As a result, many foreign workers moved to Ansan City to work here. Now, Ansan City has one of the largest immigrant communities in all of Korea concentrated in the district of Wongok-dong. It has even been designated as a multicultural area, featuring Wongok-dong Multicultural Street which has over 90 restaurants serving all sorts of cuisines such as Chinese, Russian, Indian and Sri Lankan! Ansan City is a great place to feel the multicultural vibes and experience the flavors of the world!
Fun Fact: Seulgi from Red Velvet grew up in Ansan City!
Best Activities in Ansan City:
There’s actually so much more to see in Gyeonggi-do than this! Why not put aside a day or two to explore the outskirts of Seoul and discover a whole new side to Korea?
Check out our other Gyeonggi-do blog:
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Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation
Korea Tourism Organization