I have been writing about Jeonju in my past 3 blog posts. In fact, this beautiful provincial city in Jeollabuk-do is where I’d strongly recommend for a Free and Easy trip, whether or not you are a first-timer or a Korea-travel-pro. Being a city with rich history and culture, Jeonju has distinguishing characteristic that tells it apart from the usual cities we are familiar with. (Such as Seoul, Busan or Jeju Island).
It is easy to do a Free & Easy trip to Jeonju. If you’re planning a relaxing trip to Korea but tired of the usual itinerary, and if your definition of “relaxing” includes wandering around the city, soaking up in the traditional, laid-back, cafe-hoping kind of atmosphere, Jeonju is the ideal destination.
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The Jeonju Hanok Village has quite an array of things to check out. (And things look appealing under your camera lens as well). The best part? Each site mentioned in the post is within walking distance so it requires minimal travelling. Just pack your bag, catch your bus/ train and enjoy your stay right in the village.
So I am going to share my 3D2N Free & Easy itinerary to Jeonju with you here in the post. This itinerary covers almost every essential activities one should do in Jeonju. However, since I was traveling with the folks, the trip is more a relaxed one than an ambitious one. We did not follow the itinerary thoroughly. Anyway, I’ll still share my plan up here in the post.
This whole Itinerary includes:
✓Jeonju Hanok Village Tour
(Including Cafe and Street Foods, check my Jeonju Street Food Guide HERE)
✓Jaman Mural Village
✓Nambu Market + Youth Mall
✓Omokdae & Imokdae
✓Jeonju Hyang-gyo (Jeonju Confucian School)
✓Must Eat Foods (Bibimbap, Ddeok-galbi and Kalguksu)
From Seoul to Jeonju Hanok Village:
Free Shuttle service is ONLY available from Spring to early December. Since my trip was in late december, I had to travel via Korail train service. The Train departs from Yongsan Station (용산역) in Seoul and reaches Jeonju via Jeonju Train Station (전주역). There are two kinds of trains bound for Jeonju from Yongsan Station: KTX and Mugunghwa.
KTX offers express service. It takes about 2 hours to reach Jeonju and, of course, comes with higher price (Economy class ticket at KRW 32,900 for an adult per single trip).Mugunghwa travels at normal speed, which takes about 3 hours to reach Jeonju and cost about KRW 17,600.To reserve a ticket, simply check the ticket available on the Korail Train Reservation Site (Click Me) available in English.
For more information about the free shuttle bus service (frequency, timing etc.), please check here. Do note that this service is made available only to foreigners.
Within Jeonju Hanok Village:
By foot! 😉
Jeonju 3D2N Day 1
830am depart from Yongsan Station→ 12.30 noon reached Jeonju Station → Check-in at Becky’s Gallery & Guesthouse → Lunch at Veteran Kal-guksu (베테랑 Knife cut noodles) → Jeonju Omokdae (오목대) → Jeonju Mural Village(자만 벽화마을) → Imokdae (이목대) →Jeonju Hyang-gyo Confucian School (전주향교) → Bibimbap for Dinner.
Check-in at Becky’s Gallery & Guesthouse 백희
Becky was the place I called home for my 3D2N Jeonju Trip. It is a cafe cum gallery cum guesthouse in Jeonju Hanok Village. Check more pictures about Becky and my review here.
Lunch at Veteran Kal-guksu 베테랑 (Knife cut noodles)
A Kal-guksu (칼국수 Knife Cut Noodles) house that started their business in 1977. Very similar to the Chinese刀削面, or what we call Ban-mian, this bowl of Kal-guksu is a popular dish at the Hanok Village, especially in the winter. Cooking method is quite identical to our Ban-mian: Noodles are thinly sliced from a dough and cooked in anchovies stock soup, add an egg, drizzle some chilli oil and dried seaweed, voila! The shop offers man-doo (meat dumplings, KRW 4,000) as well. A relatively economical meal in Jeonju. Each bowl goes at KRW 5000.
전라북도 전주시 완산구 교동 84-10.
84-10, Gyo-dong, Wansan-Gu, Jeonju-si. Jeollabukdo.
Jeonju Omokdae & Imokdae Pavilion 오목대& 이목대
This pavilion located right beside the Jeonju Hanok Village is a victory pavilion where general Lee Seong Gye celebrated his victory over Japanese pirates in 1380. The general later became King Taejo, the first King of Joseon Dynasty. A smaller “pavilion” beside Omokdae is called Imokdae, where it kept a stone stele written by King Gojong. The Stele is a monument to the ancestors of General Lee Seong Gye. It was originally stood opposite the mountain (where Lee’s ancestors were born), but moved to the current location.
It was extremely crowded during my visit and I wasn’t able to get a satisfying wide angle shot. So here’s two very beautiful shots by Tistory Blogger island 1969, during his visit to Omokdae & Imokdae Pavilion in a beautiful winter.
More pictures along the trail to Omokdae Pavilion:
Jeonju Mural Village 자만 벽화마을
Jaman-Dong Mural Village, a whimsical little village famed for its wall paintings. It is a good place to kill your time, but not a must. Steep slopes are probably the greatest problem you’ll face if you’re traveling with the folks, maybe you’ll need to check their condition before climbing up to the village.
Jeonju Hyang-gyo 전주향교
Th Jeonju Hyang-gyo is a Confucian school that was established during the Joseon Dynasty. It is known as the national education center during the Joseon Dynasty. The school was originally located at the Gyeonggijeon Shrine site but was relocated in 1603. I did not go to this place for this trip, so here’s three pictures I found online. But I’ll be back in Spring and hopefully, I can replace them with my own work. So till then!
Dinner: Bibimbap at Hankook-Jib 한국집
There are various places for bibimbap in Jeonju Hanok Village. I had mine at Hankook-jib 한국집, which is slightly off the main streets of Hanok Village, but a brief 2 mins walk from Becky’s Guesthouse. It is quite famous among locals, also visited by President Park Geun Hye recently. According to the restaurant, President Park Chung-hee also dined at the restaurant during his visit to Jeonju.
The restaurant provides 3 kinds of Bibimbap, the Yuk-hoe Bibimbap (육희 비빔밥) a kind of bibimbap with raw beef, or tartare instead of usual bulgogi; Dolsot Bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥), which is served in hot stone pot, and Brassware Bibimbap (놋그릇 비빔밥), also called Jeonju Bibimbap which comes in muted gold colour tableware, and is said to be prepared based on royal court dish.
한국집 비빔밥. 전북 전주시 완산구 전동 2가-21번지.
Hankook-Jib. Jeondong yi(2) ga, 21 bonji, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-Si, Jeollabukdo.
After dinner: Rest
Jeonju 3D3N Day 2
Summary: Breakfast at Gilgoria Baguette → Jeondong Cathedral 전동성당 → Jeonju Nambu Market 남부시장 → Real New Town Youth Mall (Inside Nambu Market) 청녕몰 → Jeonju Market by the River → Gyeonggi-Jeon 경기전 → Hanok-Village Street Food 한옥마을 길거리 → Cafe → Dinner at Elu-hwa Ddeokgalbi Restaurant 에류화 떡갈비.
Breakfast: Gilgoria Baguette 길거리아
One of the very popular street foods in Jeonju Hanok Village. Since the baguette and Dawoo-rang dumplings stall are located on the same direction to the Cathedral and Nambu Market, If you’re keen on completing your street food tour in Jeonju in a day, I suggest you to get these two extra popular street foods checked before embarking your excursion of the day. The queues are less crazy if you’re early.
Jeondong Cathedral 전동성당
A Catholic Cathedral built in 1914, in honor of Roman Catholic martyrs of the Joseon Dynasty on the very same spot the martyrs lost their lives. It is famed for its unique combination of Byzantine and Romanesque architectural styles, one of the most beautiful cathedral in Korea. I blogged about the Cathedral earlier here .
Jeonju Nambu Market 남부시장
Located 10 minutes away from the Hanok Village, the Nambu Market is another place worth explore. Traces and bits of history can be found at the market. Ginseng, Herbal Medicine, fresh veggies and even beddings are available here at the indoor market. Soondae (Blood Sausage Soup) is the delicacy here — but too bad I just don’t know the art of appreciating pig blood sausage yet so I decided to give it a miss.
Market by the River
Walking out from the covered market, heading towards the river, that is where you’ll see an outdoor market, with approximately 800 stalls along the river. It was a late morning (about 11am) so I supposed it was already off-peak hours at the market. Further across the river stood a few booths selling fresh vegetables and fruits. It is quite an interesting place to check out.
Real New Town Youth Mall (Inside Nambu Market) 청녕몰
On your way back to the Hanok Village, please remember to make a detour trip to the indoor market– the are a more to check out — The Cheongnyeon Mall (or Real New Town Youth Mall), where you might find some hidden gems.
Located at the 2nd level of the indoor Nambu Market, this place is a cluster for young designers and baristas. Making good use of the aged shophouses, these small cafes, bars, art galleries, board games shops and accessories shops are a perfect mix of the old and new. Certainly a place of exceptional charm.
Below is a short clip by Arirang TV featuring the Nambu Market and the New Town Youth Mall located at the 2nd level of the market.
Gyeonggi-jeon Shrine 경기전
This shrine was build in 1410, and holds the portraits of King Taejo and his successors such as Sun-jong, Cheol-jong, Yeong-jo and many others can be found on display. The King Taejo and his queen is enshrined at the Jogyeong Shrine within the Gyeonggi Jeon. Part of the shrine is destroyed during the invasion of foreign forces in 1592-1598. The current structure that we see now here in the Gyeonggi-Jeon Shrine is a rebuild in 1614.
I did not spend long time here at the shrine despite visiting Jeonju twice in two months. As such, there isn’t any good pictures of the shrine taken by me. The compound looks identical to a palace, no doubtedly less fancy. Well you can search online for more pictures if you wish to understand more about it.
Hanok-Village Street Food 한옥마을 길거리
You can’t leave Jeonju without trying their street food. If you are a foodie like me, there is no reason for you to go out hunting. I’ve compiled a Jeonju Street Food Guide earlier, I am pretty sure there are more to explore. Prepare your stomach for a feast!
Cafe: 산책 Taste & Walk Cafe UPDATE MARCH 2015: Cafe Closed.
A quaint Hanok cafe 산책 (Taste & Walk Cafe) located beside Eun-haeng-Jeong (은행정 银杏亭) is a perfect place to rest after a tiring food hunt. It is a cafe cum Italian restaurant build in a private hanok, with its own garden. Since it is hidden behind an alley, this place is relatively quiet. Coffee and the rice cakes are great. I am not too sure about their pizzas and spaghetti, but online reviews are positive.
전북 전주시 완산구 풍남동 3가 74-25
74-25 Pungnam-dong Sam(3)ga, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabukdo.
Exploring Jeonju Hanok Village
Famed as the starting point of Joseon Dynasty, Jeonju and its Hanok Village is brimming with that classic, ancient charm. Hanok shop houses, hanok cafes and stone wall trails (돌담길) are common scene in the village. Visitors are also allowed to rent hanbok at about KRW 5,000 for that old Joseon experience. That’s why you see people walking around wearing Hanbok. This city with remnants of beauty left from the past definitely worth spending half a day or more to explore.
Dinner: Elu-hwa Ddeokgalbi Restaurant 에루화 떡갈비
Dinner is settled at a ddeok-galbi (bbq pork patty) house at Elu-hwa 에루화. These yummilicious minced pork patty goes at KRW 8,500 per person. It was partly cooked and served on a grill. Salad and other fresh vegetables, together with a few side dishes are served together with the patties. Wrap the piece of patty with lettuce, slightly grilled garlic and some pickled onion slice… and this package of juiciness, freshness, and a hint of sweetness from the marinated meat will make you go mmmmm! Not a fan of cold noodles so I ordered a mini bibimbap to complete the meal. Nicely scented with sesame oil, this bowl goodness just disappeared within minutes.
For dessert, head to the huge pots of biscuits and grilled chestnuts located right at the entrance. Those are for free! *Dessert menu changes according to the season*
에루화. 전북 전주시 완산구 서신동 932-10
932-10 Seo Sin-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabukdo.
WHY should one do Free-and-Easy in Jeonju?
It is easy to do a Free & Easy trip to Jeonju, even if you don’t speak Korean. English signboards are available at important places such as KTX stations and bus stations. The Jeonju Hanok Village itself has two tourist information centers (if I remembered correctly) and they offer maps in English. Take the free map in BOTH English and Korean Language so that it is easier for locals to help you around with that map in Korean.
If there is one city to recommend, other than Busan or Jeju Island, it’ll be Jeonju. In terms of convenience, it is just a 2-3 hours train ride from Seoul. The rest of the place are within walking distance.
What is more, there are plenty of stuffs to check out even within the Hanok Village itself. The Hanok stay is one great experience, renting Hanbok as cheap as KRW5,000 and walk around Jeonju in your Hanbok is another. Not to mention about Jeonju’s culinary skills, which is a nation pride — make Jeonju a foodie paradise.
Most importantly, with free-and-easy tour, you get to choose what you want to do, and how long you want to spend at certain places — this is particularly very important to me. Isn’t it a waste if you like certain place and would loved to spend more time there but have to move on to another place just because you are only given a stupid 40 minutes by your tour guide to eat, take picture, and shop? xD
HOW to wander around if I don’t speak Korean?
I’d say it is not really a problem if you do your homework — my itinerary above may help you a bit.
The Koreans learn English since young. On average, their command of English might not be as fluent, but most of them are equipped with good listening skills. Try to enunciate clearly, especially your “r” and “t”. Use short sentence, and speak in a slow, clear manner. Sometimes “No Ketchup.” works much better than “Please do not put ketchup in my burger”.
Roughly speaking, I find their younger generation speaks better English. Especially those born after 90s. Korean parents spent 20 trillion Won (USD 18 Billion) in private education each year, much of it on English Education. It is quite popular for them to send their kids to overseas English camp. I have came across Korean kids speaking English way better than our kids at home. My point is, try to speak to younger Koreans for better communication.
In a local restaurant and surrounded by mid-40s ajumma waitresses? Waitresses at famous restaurants are likely to speak simple English or even Mandarin. If worse come to worst, show them the photo of the food with hand gesture of the amount you’d like to order.
Having problems navigating around? Always have the Korean version of the address with you — this is also the reason why you can find Korean version of the address on every single posts on my blog. Most cabs here are equipped with GPS navigation system. Give the address to the cabby or call your hotel lobby/guesthouse owner and let the Koreans communicate.
See you in Jeonju! ; )