Korea’s 100 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions in 2015 were selected and announced by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO). Eight of the selected beautiful attractions are located in Gyeonggi-do Province.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most beautiful attractions of Gyeonggi-do, Korea!
[Gapyeong] Petite France
Petite France, a unique French-style theme park, was founded by its chairman Han, Hong-Sup after hundreds of visits to France and twenty years of preparation. As well as exotic European-style buildings, Petite France consists of a memorial hall dedicated to Saint-Exupéry built through a licensing agreement with the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation (FASEJ), and reproductions of 200-year-old wooden houses. The theme park exhibits a 100-year-old large orgel (French music box) and two thousand other antiques and works of art representative of French living culture. In addition, Petite France holds performances of traditional French puppets (known as Guignol) and marionettes, offering visitors an opportunity to experience French and European lifestyles and arts culture in Korea. While other attractions try to exhibit the very best Korean cultural assets, Petite France aims to offer a differentiated attraction by presenting European culture in Korea, and has introduced it to tourists via national and international mass media. Furthermore, Petite France has become a ‘Hallyu’ attraction since being selected as a shooting location for a couple of Korean TV dramas including MBC’s Beethoven Virus and SBS’s My Love from the Star.
Dumulmeori is the only tourist attraction where the Bukhangang and Namhangang Rivers converge to form Korea’s iconic River “Hangang”. Located in Yangsu-ri, Dumulmeori boasts outstanding scenic views of the Hangang River (Dumulgyeong View) as it unfolds its beautiful changing scenery throughout the four seasons, including early morning fog and sunrise, Hwangpodotbae (yellow sail boat), and a magnificent 400-year-old zelkova tree. In addition to being a popular filming location for various TV dramas and films, its ecological tourism resources attract large numbers of national and international visitors. Dumulmeori is also a history, culture, and tourism resource that embraces many stories, having served as a port connecting Gangwon-do and Seoul prior to closure of the waterway due to the construction of Paldang Dam. Dumulmeori, as a tourist attraction that caters to the latest travel trend of ‘healing’, is only 30 minutes’ drive from Seoul, and has been expanded and connected with various tourism infrastructures such as Semiwon, the largest lotus garden in the capital area; Dumulmeori Mullegil, the cultural and ecology trail which allows visitors to visit the area around Dumulmeori by foot or bicycle; Mulsorigil, Yangpyeong’s representative nature trail; and the Namhangang River Bike Path.
[Suwon] Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, widely regarded as an unrivaled structure among all Korea’s fortresses, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1997 in recognition of its historical value and unique construction features. The fortress was restored based on thorough historical research of Hwaseong seongyeok uigwe (Records on the Construction of Hwaseong Fortress). Hwaseong Haenggung (a temporary palace for sojourns by the king) is known to be the best subsidiary palace built during the Joseon Dynasty in terms of scale. Due to the presence of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and Hwaseong Haenggung, Suwon boasts diverse tourism attractions, restaurants and specialties, and entertainments, as well as many tangible and intangible cultural heritages. In addition, Suwon anticipates a rise in the number of national and international tourists as it combines globally-recognized tradition and culture contents such as Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, with the brand “Samsung,” the leader of modern IT technology. In particular, as 2016 is the 220th anniversary of the construction of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Sunwon will promote our ancestors’ excellent knowledge and culture around the world based on Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, a global brand of Korean tradition and culture, by announcing 2016 as the ‘Year to Visit Suwon Hwaseong Fortress’. This city, where tradition, modernity, and future coexist side by side, is carrying out various activities with the surrounding tourism infrastructures, and will hold festivals and events that are usually visited by over 700,000 people each year, such as the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress International Music Festival, Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Theatre Festival, and Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Cultural Festival.
[Gapyeong] The Garden of Morning Calm
The Garden of Morning Calm, which presents Korea’s seasonal beauty in the form of some 5,000 species of flowers and 2,000,000 trees, consists of twenty outdoor themed gardens including the Hakyung Garden, Garden of Eden, Bonsai Garden, and Korean Garden, and three indoor exhibition facilities including the Wild Flower Exhibition Hall.
The Garden of Morning Calm, created according to the concept of ‘natural beauty (a curve, asymmetry), is a Korean garden that embraces the joys and sorrows of people’s life. It is the place where both Korean and international visitors can experience the true nature of Korea, meditate, relax, and derive inspiration from the healing process of nature. The Garden is one of the most popular gardens in Korea, attracting around one million people of all ages every year.
The Lighting Festival, which is held in the garden during the off-season, is designed to exhibit the harmony of nature and light, as well as to improve the garden’s winter image and enhance visitors’ enjoyment of winter.
In addition, the Garden of Morning Calm was the only Korean garden to be selected as one of Korea’s 50 Must-Visit Tourist Attractions 2012 by CNN, and was also chosen as one of the final candidates for the Star Korean Tourist Attraction 2014 by the KTO. On February 19, 2015, the Garden of Morning Calm proposed a new direction for Korean tourism attractions in an interview with MBC News Desk.
Everland offers visitors a happy break and exciting entertainment with all-year round festivals and diverse facilities including the latest attractions, a zoo, and accommodation.
Everland welcomes visitors with its seasonally-themed festivals including the beautiful Tulip Festival and Rose Festival, and the water-themed Summer Splash in the middle of summer. With its mega entertainments such as festival parades and fireworks, Everland attracts and inspires its visitors. In particular, Everland provides diverse thrilling experiences with thirty-five of the very best attractions including the wooden coaster ‘T-Express’ and ZOOTOPIA, which features over 2,000 animals, while the White Tiger Safari and the Herbivore Safari offer visitors an up-close look at these animals.
Everland is leading Korea’s theme park culture as a comprehensive resort complex equipped with the world’s largest water park, Caribbean Bay, which boasts inter-connected indoor and outdoor facilities, an accommodation facility “Home Bridge,” the Glen Ross public golf course, and many other splendid attractions.
Everland Resort continues to hold the No. 1 position for service satisfaction in the Theme Park sector. The resort was ranked No. 4 in an evaluation of theme parks conducted by Forbes of the U.S.A. in 2006; it received the Must-See Water Park Award in recognition of its status as the world’s best water park by the IAAPA in 2008; and was selected as one of the World’s Twelve Best Water Parks by CNN in 2013.
[Yongin] Korean Folk Village
The Korean Folk Village, where history and culture coexist side by side on a 1,322,314 m2 site, is a unique Korean tourist attraction consisting of a tradition and culture themed park. Since its establishment in 1974, the Korean Folk Village has been loved by national and international visitors alike as a tradition and culture attraction set amid beautiful nature. It features a replica of a Joseon-period village created by relocating and reassembling real houses from different parts of the country, with its back to a mountain and its front facing water according to feng shui. The Korean Folk Village also includes a Horror Theme Exhibition Hall and an Experience Zone, providing visitors with unusual and exciting experiences. The village, which has now enjoyed forty years of popularity as Korea’s representative folk experience attraction, also offers children the opportunity to learn about Korean history and culture. The Korean Folk Village is the leader of comprehensive themed tourism integrated with tradition, nature, and culture. By expanding its internal and external facilities and performing diverse promotional activities, the village successfully attracts Korean and foreign visitors by organizing festivals and events, including seasonal custom events and traditional and cultural festivals reinvented with a sense of modernity, and by performing diverse promotional activities.
[Pocheon] Herb Island
Located at the foot of a mountain in Pocheon, Herb Island (132,231m2) is composed of the Herb Indoor Botanical Garden and five herbal experience facilities. Herb Island is also equipped with various experience themed facilities such as the Herb Healing Center, Herb Studio, and Dinosaur Village, and various eateries including the Herb Restaurant, Herb Barbecue, Herb Bakery, and Herb Café. Herb Island, as Korea’s largest tourism farm and representative tourist attraction in the capital area, consistently attracts visitors with its diverse seasonal items, offering memorable and romantic experiences. Celebrating its 18th anniversary this year, Herb Island recently opened “Santa Village” where families can enjoy the Herb Island Light Festival. Herb Island’s Venetia Village, where gondola rides are available at weekends, holds various exciting performances and concerts including Latin dance and belly dancing performances, electric violin and saxophone performances, and live concerts. The Herb Indoor Botanical Garden (6,600m²) has over 200 different herbs including rosemary, lavender, Jasmin, and geranium, even in winter.
[Paju] Heyri Art Valley
Heyri is an arts village where culture and diverse genres of art communicate with each other. Heyri Art Valley, Korea’s largest art village (approx. 500,000㎡), is a culture and art space consisting of residences, workrooms, galleries, museums, and performance spaces built by about 380 artists including painters, musicians, writers, and architects following its foundation meeting in 1998. The name of the village, Heyri is derived from The Sound of Heyri, a traditional farming song originating from Geumsan-ri, Paju, Gyeonggi-do. All of the buildings in Heyri Art Valley were designed and built by dozens of famous national and international architects to blend in with the surrounding natural environment of mountain, hill, marsh, and stream. Heyri Art Valley’s distinguished buildings and unique artistic sensibility attract people of all ages every weekend. Heyri Art Valley makes work of art accessible to the public by holding art festivals every spring and autumn which attract more than 300,000 visitors. Heyri Art Valley has further increased its value as an arts village by opening its doors as a venue for empathy and open communication between citizens and art.