I wanted to head to the southern coast of South Korea for a short 5-day break. During my search, Namhae and Yeosu stood out the most. Officially called Namhaedo Island, Namhae in Gyeongsangnam-do is the fifth largest island in Korea and just one of the the 70-plus islands off the southern coast. A large section of the island is considered a national park and offers splendid landscapes where the mountains meet the sea. Yeosu is a port city on the East China Sea Coast to the west of Namhae. Both locations are definitely worth visiting!
From Osan/Humphreys area, it is about a 4-hour drive to Namhae. There are a few tolls that add up to about 13,000 won one way. We finally purchased a Hi-Pass before the trip, which did make it a little more convenient so we could bypass the toll booths without having to worry about cash.
When getting onto the island, you will pass over one of two bridges depending on which direction you are coming from. We drove over Namhaedaegyo Bridge, which is a 660m long suspension bridge that connects Namhae-gun and Hadong-gun.
The first thing on our agenda was checking into our pension (what Korean’s call hotels/apartments). Our accomodation was called Famile Pension and was booked on Hotels.com. It has 6 rooms so is pretty small. It has a pool that overlooks the sea, which would be perfect for the summer. It was still cold when we went in March so it wasn’t even filled. The room was a good size and has a kitchen and balcony. If you are looking for an accomodation, I would definitely recommend looking at places around Sangju Beach area as that is the central area of the island.
After checking into the hotel, we explored German Village. The German Village was built for Korean residents who returned from living in Germany. Many Koreans lived in Germany where they earned foreign currency during the modernization of Korea in the 1960s. The area is now a popular tourism spot related to German Culture. This is a place that we actually ended up going to numerous times during our stay because it had a lot of restaurants. It also has a museum, shops, bakeries, cafes, etc. Be sure to check out the observation deck in the main square that overlooks the village and sea. They do celebrate Oktoberfest in the village every year, so it would be awesome to visit in October!
We ended up eating at Kunst Lounge, which has an upstairs balcony overlooking the village shops on one side and the sea on the other. The food is decent, but definitely not as amazing as what you get in Germany.
After walking around the village, we headed down to the fishing pier by Mijori Evergreen Forest and stopped in a nice cafe for coffee, tea, and a small dessert.
We started off our morning by stopping at American Village (Miguk Village). It is a village created for Korean-Americans who wanted to return to Korea in their old age. It was actually quite a disappointment. After exploring German Village the previous night, I was definitely expecting more. American Village is only one small street and consists of 22 American-style houses, so is very small. It has a Statue of Liberty, small cafe, and that’s about it.
If you drive through American Village and follow the road up the hill, you will come to Yogmunsa Temple, which is definitely worth checking out. It is one of the three major temples of Namhae.
For breakfast, we stopped at Namhae Lounge 32. There is a Cafe on the second floor, along with a small convenience store. They have a Karaoke Room on the first floor and an infinity pool on the third floor. The lounge overlooks the beach and would be a great place to stay in the summer. Because it was still cold and not warm enough for swimming, I purposely didn’t stay here because it was double the price of the pension we stayed at.
On the south-western side of Namhae is where the famous paddy fields are in Gacheon Daraengi Village. This is one of the most visited places in all of Namhae. The picturesque rice paddies make up 108 steps on a steep hill on the outskirs of Seolheulsan Mountain where you can walk around and take pictures. There are about 680 rice terraces on a 45-degree slope. Every spring, the village hosts a festival that allows visitors to experience traditional farming and learn the culture and customs of Daraengi Village. Definitely park above the paddy fields, as the roads are very tight at the bottom in the village. Be sure to take the trails to the edge of the cliff. There are a few restaurants in the village, but we didn’t end up eating here.
The next thing on our agenda was Seomi Garden, which has 9 different European-themed gardens, but unfortunately we couldn’t get to it because construction was blocking the road. My guess is that the gardens probably wouldn’t have been in bloom anyways, but I’ve heard that it’s very pretty in the spring.
For lunch we wanted Seafood, so we googled nearby restaurants and ended up at a place called Jayeon Matjip. It was cute and right on the water, but unfortunately we did not like what we ordered at all! I’m not sure if our translation app was incorrect, but we definitely didn’t get what we thought we were going to get haha. The owner was still very nice, but communication wasn’t easy.
While in Namhae, you definitely have to go to Sangju Silver Sand Beach. You’ll most likely end up passing by it numerous times. We took a nice walk on the boardwalk. I’m not sure if it’s because we went in off-season or if Covid was still impacting their restaurants, but it seemed like so much was shut down. We thought we would definitely eat dinner here, but didn’t find anything so ended up having to look for another restaurant elsewhere.
We drove back toward German Village and ate at Golden Anchor, which is on the water by a boat pier. It my favorite place that we ate at, so I definitely recommend it! It has mostly Italian dishes and I was excited that they had wine (most restaurants don’t serve wine).
The most visited attraction in Namhae and one of Korea’s top five temples is Boriam Hermitage Temple, which is located at the top of Geumsan mountain. Arriving at the base of Mt. Geumsan, which is a part of Hallyeohaesang National Marine Park, you’ll need to pay the 2,000 won entrance fee (per person) to the national park to gain access to the temple. Once in the park, you’ll drive to the top parking lot as long as there are still spots available. I definitely recommend going early before it gets busy. If there aren’t spots available and you don’t feel like waiting, you can park and walk up (I don’t recommend that since it’s 4km on top of the walking you’ll do to get to the temple) or take the shuttle up to the top. In addition to the National Park fee, you’ll pay a 1,000 won entry fee per person to enter the temple grounds.
From the ticket booth, it is a 1km walk to reach the temple. Bring good shoes because there is a lot of walking! It is a gorgeous walk. Definitely take the time to explore the trails behind the temple, which will take you to some great lookout points! The view is what makes Boriam Hermitage so famous and popular.
One of the newest attractions in Namhae is Seolri Sky Walk. The skywalk is 79m long and has a swing at the end. The entrance price is 2,000 won and if you want to do the swing it is 6,000 won (includes admission). Unfortunately the swing was closed for inspection when we went 🙁
The main reason that I wanted to go to Namhae was because I saw a picture on instagram of someone walking on the Treasure Island Observatory. I thought it looked super fun! From the pictures, you can’t tell that you’re actually only on the second floor, which was kind of silly to me. It was still thrilling, but due to lack of communication, we didn’t understand what the rules were. We paid 15,000 won to walk and 5,000 won for the photo package. I thought that this would include all of the photos on an SD Card, turns out, he only took about 10 photos of us and then we only got to select one to print out. It was such poor quality that I was very disappointed.
You can take your own photos with a cell phone, but the lady was making it sound like we couldn’t so we didn’t realize this until the end. If you go, it is best to be the last one’s onto the platform or you will feel rushed off by the people behind you. I also wanted to jump and swing off the platform like I had seen on instagram, but he only had us taking the generic photos. I wish I would have asked to do the jumps (they attach an extra line to your back). It was still a great experience, but I think my expectations were too high.
Since we were close to the German village, we decided to eat dinner here again. This time we ate at a different restaurant, called The Flamme.
We ended the night by heading back to Sangju Eunmorae Beach. We brought a bottle of wine, bought some snacks at the convenience store, and played games until the sun went down. It was amusing watching all of the fish jumping out of the water.
We decided to take a day trip to Yeosu, which is 1.5 hours from where we were staying in Namhae.
We stopped at Yeosu Expo Sky Tower first for coffee and a light breakfast. There is a cafe on the top floor. Entry cost 2,000 won and parking cost 1,800 in the huge lot right at the tower. You will get a great view of Yeosu from the observation tower.
From the sky tower, we drove to Jasan Park and parked for free. We took a quick stop to see Gwaneumsa Temple, but it isn’t anything special really.
Walking around the park was nice. From the park, we walked down the stairs toward the sea and past the cable car. We took the elevator the rest of the way down and then headed toward Odongdo Island.
Odongdo is a natural island just off the East coast of Yeosu. It is reachable by foot or taking the family tourist train. It’s a short walk, so the train isn’t really necessary unless you have littles. Once you arrive on the island, you will take the circular path around the island.
On the island there is Dragon cave, which you can’t actually get to (lame!) and a lighthouse. You will also walk through a bamboo forest and thousands of Camellia trees, which weren’t in full bloom when we went unfortunately. After walking the trails, we stopped to eat at the restaurant by the sea called O dong do Camellia.
After walking back from the island we took the elevator back up to where the cable car is in Jasan Park. It cost 15,000 won for the regular cable car or 22,000 won for the glass floor one. We decided to splurge and get the glass floor option. It takes 13 minutes one way to reach Dolsan Park. Once there, you will get off and walk around before heading back. From the cable car, you will see Hamel lighthouse and pass by the bridge. I heard that if you go around sunset, then you can watch the bridge light show, which would have been cool. The cable car stops running around 9:30PM.
There isn’t much to see in Dolsan Park, but it was a beautiful day so we took our time walking around and being silly on the outdoor gym equipment.
After taking the cable car back to Jasan Park, we got back in the car and drove to Yeosu Art Land Culture & Resort. This is a great place for kids! They have go carts, a zip line, sculpture park, and trick art museum. We bought tickets for the sculpture park, which is where you will be able to walk up the Yeosu Hand Madis.
We also got tickets for the trick art museum, which was much bigger than I expected. The ticket price was 15,000 won each, which I thought was a bit steep, but I still really enjoyed it. After doing both attractions, we ate at the fast food burger joint on the second floor.
If you have more time, I recommend going to the very south point of Yeosu and stopping at Hyangiram Hermitage Temple. We were tired and it was getting dark, so we decided to drive back to Namhae.
Our plan was to go to the Gardening Art Village in the morning, but it was raining so we decided to skip it. It is located in the German Village and would be great to see in Spring or Summer.
Someone had mentioned that we go to Elga Coffee, so we decided to stop here on the way out of Namhae. It is a cute cafe overlooking the water. It didn’t have many options for food (we just had a bagel and a pastry), but the place next door had a sign saying it serves brunch if you’re looking for food.
We got off the island by going the other route (there are only two ways on/off the island) and going over Noryang Bridge. From here, we noticed cable cars going up to the top of the mountain. This would have been a good stop, but we were anxious to get back home to our dogs.
Overall, we loved Namhae and Yeosu and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a beach vacation. It is a great alternative to Jeju Island. It was quiet when we went in March so I would love to go back in the summer, when we can actually enjoy the beach and hotel pool.
If you have any questions about my trip, please comment below! Follow me on instagram @mandytravelstheworld
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