Over the weekend, I went with the Explore Rural Korea Shuttle Bus on 3 different day trips from Seoul. I’ll be sharing how you can use the shuttle bus to the various places and will be reviewing the first destination in this post.
The shuttle bus service is basically a day tour program that takes you to various rural villages in Korea for free but you will have to pay for the activities and lunch so each trip will roughly cost 12000 KRW – 24000 KRW in total depending on which tour you go for.
I think its a really great way to explore Korea’s unique destinations in an easy and cheap way! They offer this service in Busan and Jeju too but the destinations are different 🙂 This service used to only be for foreigners but now, you can bring 1 Korean friend for every foreigner going~
To make a booking, just go to their website and click on the “Sign Up” tab to create a reservation account. After deciding on which village you want to visit, go to the “Online Reservation” tab and you will see a calendar showing which dates are available for each destination. They only have tours Friday to Sunday and they do not visit all villages every weekend. When you see the village and date that you wish to go, click on “Apply” in the calendar and proceed to fill up the necessary details to make your booking.
UPDATE: This shuttle bus is not in service anymore. You can still visit by taking an intercity bus from Central City Seoul Terminal to Jeongsan 정산 (10,100 KRW per person, 2 hours ride) and take a taxi to the village (알프스마을) from there.
Cheongyang Alps Village
For all the trips from Seoul, the bus will depart from Donghwa Duty Free Bus Parking near Gwanghwamun Station Exit 6. It is not right outside the exit, you will need to walk straight from the exit and the buses will be waiting at the first cross road you see, on your right.
Find the bus with the “Explore Rural Korea” banner and look at the front window to check if it’s going to the correct destination because there maybe several concurrent trips going to different places. The tour guide should be standing near the bus and you just need to tell them your name. They may also ask for your passport so just bring it in case, but they did not ask it for me.
The bus itself is very comfortable with a 2 seater on one side and single seat on the other (28 seats in total). The seats are quite wide and they even have leg rest that you can lift up to sleep more comfortably during the long bus rides. Overall I really loved how comfortable the buses were!
Body Mist & Gourd decorating activity
Our first destination for the Cheongyang Alps Village tour was to make body mist and to decorate gourds. Cheongyang is apparently quite famous for their gourds so even the body mist was made out of organic gourd essence.
The body mist making activity was rather simple, they just gave us the materials and all we needed to do was to mix it and transfer it into the spray bottle given. The gourd decorating activity was also simple but more fun because we got to think of our design (or copy a sample, if you wish to) and draw it out on the gourd case.
Right next to the activity hall is where we had our lunch. The lunch for this trip is Bibimbap (vegetarian, with fried egg) and since our tour group was a small one, we got a chance to talk to each other over lunch which was nice.
Cheonjang Lake Suspension Bridge
After lunch, we got back on the bus for around 10 minutes to get to our next stop, Cheongjang lake bridge. It’s the longest suspension bridge in Korea (length of slightly more than 200 meters) and is the 3rd longest in Asia.
I was really surprised at how beautiful the place was. We had to walk through a park first before getting to the suspension bridge and the park was also very beautiful because of the autumn colours.
I learned from the park that Cheongyang is also known for their Goju (Red chilli pepper) and as such they had Goju mascots in the park and the bridge was also decorated with a huge Goju at the start of the bridge 😮
Depending on whether you are ahead or behind the schedule, your tour guide will give you around one hour to go around the area and take as many photos as you want and I think 1 hour is pretty sufficient. It’s nice that they don’t make you walk a group so you don’t need to wait for each other.
The third and last stop for this tour is Janggoksa Temple, around 20 minutes away drive from the bridge. It’s located on the foot of a mountain and you will need to walk in for around 10 – 15 minutes from the entrance.
You may be tempted to take photos along the way to the temple (like I did) but I suggest that you walk straight to the temple first and take photos on the way out in case you don’t have enough time to see and take photos in the temple (which is what I experienced LOL).
The temple was really pretty but we only had 1 hour to go around and because I spent too much time walking in, I only had around 20 minutes in the temple itself 😦 The temple was really pretty and I loved it~
The ride back to Seoul took around 3 hours, 30 minutes longer than our journey to Cheongyang because of the traffic and we arrived back at Gwanghwamun at 6PM. All in all, I think it was really worth it to go to Cheongyang and I would definitely recommend you to try taking the shuttle bus if you want to see the rural areas of Korea in your weekends 🙂