Chuncheon City Guide
A small lake-side city in Gangwon province, the mountainous district to the east of Seoul, Chuncheon is famous for one thing above all else amongst Koreans: Dak Galbi. One of the most popular dishes with foreigners visiting the country, Dak Galbi is a saucy, heavily spiced, chicken form of Korean BBQ that originates in Chuncheon, and is served in almost every restaurant here. We love the stuff, and we’d be very quick to say if there’s one thing you must do in Chuncheon, its head out for a few shots and a huge grill of this stuff split between in you the heart of the table. There’s even an entire street dedicated to the dish.
Many of the city’s other activities are based around Soyang Lake, a large stretch of open water that edges on the city, and is great for various kind of water sports. If you enjoy sailing, jet skiing, water skiing or windsurfing you’ll find it’s both surprisingly affordable and very well catered for. In the heart of the lake, you’ll find JungDo Island, an infamous picnic spot that gives you a great view of the surrounding hills and the hive of activity on the water.
At its heart, though, Chuncheon is not the most attractive of cities. Many of the shopping malls are buried underground (for heat in the winter and to keep out of it in the summer), and much of the downtown area has a real concrete jungle feel to it. Most travelers prefer to explore the surrounding hills, striding out into the heart of Gangwon province, or perhaps heading to nearby Gangchon, the heart of a Korean student drinking tradition.
In Ganchon you’ll find the roads occupied almost exclusively by ATV and bicycles, both of which you can hire to cruise around amongst the town’s sporadic houses (most are available to rent) to the nearby waterfall. Bungee jumping is a popular Gangchon pass time, as is pulling some shots in the baseball nets, or spending time in the tiny, well-populated bars.
Another nearby spot for thrill-seekers is the Gangchon ski resort, a half-hour drive from Chuncheon and offering a very affordable skiing location, if one that lacks the sophistication a more advanced skier might need to fill a day. The limited, relatively shallow runs are ideal for beginners, if slightly torturous for snowboarders, and substantially cheaper than what most skiers are used to paying. Back in the city, you’ll find some high-end accommodation catering for Chuncheon’s increasing abundance of corporate visitors, as well as a small museum that focuses on Korean education, and a bizarre and playful statue park. In truth, though, those unfamiliar with the nature of smaller Korean towns will almost certainly have more fun exploring the shopping centres for souvenirs and making the most of their evenings than seeing the sites. Just don’t, whatever you do, forget that Tak Galbi!