With a short KTX ride or a 2-hour bus outside of Seoul, it is easy to see why Seoulites make this city and the surrounding beach towns their weekend destination in the summer, even though I went in the middle of February. 

Unlike the southern coastline of Korea, Gangneung 강릉시 and the surrounding beach towns are white sand paradises, making the area perfect for lazy beach days surfing, swimming, and laying out in the sun. It also has easy access to Seoraksan National Park 설악산 국립공원 and plenty of ski resorts. It’s a short bus or ferry ride away from Nakasansa temple 낙산사, the infamous refuted island of Dokdo 독도, and one of the most beautiful places in the world to see the sunrise, Jeongdongjin Beach 정동진해변. This is why I stayed four nights here to explore the surrounding area. I only scratched the surface of what this area in Gangwon-do, South Korea, had to offer. 

While in Gangneung, I went to Ojukheon house 강릉 오죽헌, one of the oldest Korean homes and the oldest in the Reagan still stands. This home was the birthplace of Shin Saimdang 신사임당, a poet, writer, and artist whose family defied traditions of the time, giving her an education worthy of a son, which is why she appears on the 5,000 won. Sin Samdang’s son Yi I 이이 (Yulgok Il) was also born here. Many contribute Shin Saimdangs influence and education of her son to helping him become a famous Confucian scholar.

One of the things that blew my mind about this home was actually surrounding it. The Korean government moved tombs from the first Korean settlers and Steeles from the surrounding areas to make way for new buildings. For the first time since being in Korea, I read a short reference to the slavery practices during the Joseon Dynasty.

This home is beautifully kept and definitely worth a stop on your journeys. By the time I went to Seongyojang house 강릉 선교장, another historical home on beautiful well had kept grounds, I was a little burnt out from seeing historical Korean dwellings. Especially since this trip was only two weeks after my trip to Seoul, where I visited several Palaces. 

One thing not discussed while traveling is the ability to get numb or burnt out from seeing the same historical architect repeatedly. It didn’t help that I was exhausted from work at the end of my first year in Korea, nor did it help that I was on month 5 of an injury that was further aggravated by how much walking I did on my trip. I have to admit I don’t think I enjoyed these places as much as I would have if I was with a friend or hadn’t been traveling every month for a year to historical sites that looked similar. 

In truth, that’s ok. Although, as a traveler, explorer, and tourist, you want to fall in love with every place and get the most out of every moment, it is far from the reality of traveling, especially for people in charge of everyone’s itinerary or traveling on their own. The fun in both of those can often make it hard to enjoy someplace.

Knowing that I was burnt out, I decided to spend an afternoon at Gangneung Arte Museum. One of three in Korea of the same name, these places are full of digital media being played out on the walls of the building. Known as an Instagram hotspot, this place is best if enjoyed with friends, but I liked it all the same. I think my favorite room was that in which they made famous paintings come to life. It was nice to sit and watch as you were transported into the world of Van Gough and Monet. 

One of my biggest failures in Gangneung became one of my biggest successes, well ok, for one reason, Squid Blood Sausage. I was starving most nights here and had trouble finding places where a solo traveler could sit down and enjoy the seafood the area was known for, so I headed to Junngahng Market 강릉 중앙시장 to see what was available. I passed up this Squid the first night there and opted for sushi and an ice cream Hottok instead. 

In my opinion, the Hottok was a letdown, but it still satisfied my sweet tooth. On my second night, after passing up stall after stall in the famous Jumunjin Fish Market earlier that day, I knew I had to try it. 

I had promised myself that I would be more spontaneous this year, and what did I have to lose? Nothing! I wanted in line for the said to get fried in an eggy batter, and when I finally got to taste it dipping it in a sweet chili sauce, it was delicious perfection. I still dream of going back and eating more. 10/10 would recommend.

 This lively market is perfect for those overwhelmed by the restaurant choices or solo trailers who, like me, struggle to find places fit for one to eat.

Though the food was not too easy for me to decide on, getting coffee was super easy! Gangneung is not only known for its beaches but its coffee too. To be honest, I had some of the best craft coffee I’ve ever had has been in Korea, and three of my favorite places to drink a hand pour black is here. 

My three favorite Coffee spots

Bosa Nova Coffee Rosters will give you a beautiful view of the beach.

Terarosa was the pioneer in craft coffee in Korea. This Coffee Shops Influence on Korea’s cafe scene is still being felt today. Many cafes move away from americanos and sweet sides to resemble something closer to what we see in the states but with a 1000 times better tea selection, of course, a relaxed atmosphere.

100 Years Imdang Mill has the coolest vibe of the three places. As you might suspect by its name, this rice mill turned coffee shop has a very vintage ascetic on the inside. Although its coffee was less impressive than the other two, they have done a fantastic job of keeping all the machinery intact, giving its patrons an inside into how rice comes off its stalk and gets into the clear plastic bags we buy at the store. 

While in Gangneung, I took day trips to Jumunjin Fish Market 강릉 주문진수산시장, Nakasan Temple 낙산사, and Jeongdongjin Beach 정동진해변, which I will give each their do in other blogs, but even then, having only scratched the surface of things to do. Gangneung left me wanting to explore more.

Places to go

Bosa Nova -cafe- 강원 강릉시 창해로14번길 28

Terarosa-cafe- 강원 강릉시 문화의길 9 성호맨션  104호

100 Years Imandong Mill-cafe- 강원 강릉시 경강로2095번길 7

Ojukheon House 강릉 오죽헌- 3,000 krw- 177-4 Jukheon-dong Gangneung-si Gangwon-do

Seongyojang House 강릉 선교장-5,000krw-431 Unjeong-dong Gangneung-si Gangwon-do

Gangneung Arte Museum– 20,000krw-505 Chodang-dong Gangneung-si Gangwon-do

Junngahng Market 강릉 중앙시장- (random pepperstore in it)-21 Geumseong-ro Gangneung-si Gangwon-do

Explore With Me

2 thoughts on “Gangneung

  1. I was wondering how do u communicate when u ordered the dishes? I’m travelling alone too and I’m in gangneung now but they couldn’t understand me at all 😅😅


    1. In my experience, outside of the major cities most people speak little to no English. (Especially the older generations and in markets or restaurants) Also our pronunciation and accents are very confusing to many Koreans who do speak English.

      1. I use an app called Papago (I use it a lot). It’s better than google translate for Korean. You can type, translate from a photograph and have a conversation translated in real time. A tip for typing is keep it very simple for the most accurate translation like “no spice” or “vanilla late”
      2. I also use a lot of non verbal communication including x my arms for no, pointing at what I want on the menu and using fingers for amounts (1/2)
      3. Lastly I’ll take photos of what I want or of the name on a sight after I used Papago so I can show the person. This is really use full when the menus is hanging or they have photos of the dishes

      Since living here I have picked up some Korean,which has helped, but I still use all of these methods pretty consistently.

      I hope this helps!


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