Jeonju is a city in Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla Province) and is known for its food, museums, and for having the largest Hanok village in South Korea. You can easily reach Jeonju from Seoul by either KTX (Korea’s high-speed train) or by bus.
A bus ticket will cost you around 13,800₩ ($10.77) and take about 2 hours and 40 minutes. The KTX is a faster option, getting you there in less than 90 minutes but will set you back 34,400₩ ($26.85).
Personally I prefer paying extra for the train since it takes less time and I can do some writing or reading on the way down but either will get you there. Below are five activities and places that you can visit while in Jeonju if you’re visiting for a day or two.
Walk around the Hanok Village in a hanbok
With 735 traditional hanok houses, the Hanok Village in Jeonju is one of the largest in Korea. Surrounded by modern buildings, the area feels like a step into Korea’s past.
There are multiple rental shops located throughout the village where you can wear a traditional hanbok along with some shops offering more modern designs from the early 1900s as well.
Many of the hanoks and streets make for a great backdrop for photos, so be sure to bring along your camera and enlist a friend to take pictures.
In addition, there are several museums located throughout the village such as the Traditional Wine Museum. Various activities are run throughout the year in the village where you can learn to make different traditional foods, try out traditional Korean games, and create different types of art among other activities.
On weekends the streets are closed to vehicles to allow for greater foot traffic, and on Saturdays (weather permitting) you can experience the Yunhee parade. These performers have colorful costumes, instruments, and flag dances that is something you should experience if visiting during the weekend.
Stay in a Hanok
If you’ve been in some of the Korean restaurants or homes, you’ll notice that many people are sitting on the floor. In the winter you would think this would be cold, but these homes and businesses have an ondol heating system.
This underfloor heating allows the floor to be quite warm, and in a hanok, a sleeping mat and blankets are all you need to have a warm night’s sleep. There are several hanoks in Jeonju open to stay in both in the Hanok village and nearby. This can serve as a great base of operations to visit some of the other sites in the area.
Visit the Nambu Night Market
The Jeonju Nambu Market comes alive at night and is the oldest market in the city. There are over 800 stores and 1,200 vendors to give you a taste of the different food, clothes, and other everyday items that you need for life in Korea.
Located a couple of blocks away from the Hanok Village, you can experience various street food vendors that sell food such as ramen, pad thai, pancakes, rolls, and other food with the ever-changing menu.
In addition to the food, there are also small shops that sell handicrafts, groceries, clothing, and other little nick nacks. The night market typically starts at 6:00pm in the summer and 5:00pm in the winter. There will typically be displays setup prior to opening to give you an idea on what’s available that day.
Open: Friday and Saturday nights
Try out different food
Jeonju is known as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy and it’s no surprise that it has a rich heritage. While there are many different types of food available, Jeonju is known for its bibimbap.
Jeonju Bibimbap starts with cooking the rice with bean sprouts and a beef broth. Fresh vegetables such as spinach, bean sprouts, carrots, and seaweed are added on top among other vegetables, mushrooms and beef.
Jeonju Bibimbap has its origins in the Joseon Dynasty and is served with different side dishes. Gochujang (red chili paste) is typically mixed in, and some traditional recipes of Jeonju Bibimbap use around 30 different ingredients.
A trip to Jeonju wouldn’t be complete without stopping at PNB Bakery. It’s located within Jeonju’s Hanok Village and is Jeonju’s oldest bakery. While you may have had an Orion Choco Pie, the PNB Choco Pies are a whole other level.
These pair well with either milk or coffee and come in flavors such as chocolate, white chocolate, green tea, cheese, and strawberry. If you missed stopping at the bakery, the train station has a small PNB shop as well where you can pick up some on the way home.
Visit the Gyeonggijeon shrine
Originally built in 1410 and repaired in 1614, Gyeonggijeon Shrine is home to the portrait of the Joseon Dynasty founder King Tae-jo. The front entrance to the shrine consists of three gates, with access to the middle blocked off because only Tae-jo’s spirit is allowed to passed through the middle gate.
Inside Gyeonggijeon, you will find the Portrait Museum where Tae-jo’s royal portrait, along with later kinds such as Yeong-jo and Cheol-jong.
Visitors dressed in hanbok like walking around Gyeonggijeon to get pictures at the different buildings inside the shrine and it’s located centrally to many of the other local tourist spots.
Cost: 3,000₩ for adults 2,000₩ teens 1,000₩ Children
The museum is closed on Mondays
Open from 9:00am to 6:00pm (November-February) 8:00pm (June-August) and 7:00pm (other months)
Your next adventure
These are just a few of the different places that you can visit in Jeonju. Other places include the Jeonju Zoo, Jaman Mural Village, Jeonju National Museum, and other locations. Whether you’re a foodie, looking for some city nightlife, or want to explore Korea’s past, you can find something here in Jeonju.
Where would you go? I look forward to hearing about your trip to Jeonju or other cities in Korea, and if you have suggestions on where I should travel next, please let me know.