Jeonju is becoming a rather popular place to visit in Korea for the hanok village. Thankfully there’s a special shuttle bus every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for foreigners to Jeonju. In autumn, they have a special program that takes you to Naejangsan, the number one place in Korea to see the foliage and this was what I used.
On a normal trip, this is what the schedule will look like:
Since I went on a special autumn trip, this was what my day itinerary looked like:
How to book a ride on the shuttle bus
Go to the website here and create an account by clicking on “Sign Up” tab. Prepare you passport details for this.
After creating an account, you can go to the “Online Reservation” tab and look at the upcoming trips. Sometimes it will be the normal Jeonju route, other times it can be a special itinerary bringing you to one additional place before or after Jeonju. You can only book for a trip minimally 3 days before the departure. Click “apply” for the itinerary you wish to apply for and proceed with filling up all the necessary details.
By the way, you can only apply for 2 people with one account. So if you are going to travel in a group of 5, you will need to make 3 separate applications! Pretty inefficient huh. After you make your application, do not forget to email them that you are one group because if there are lots of people applying, they may use more than 1 bus and you may end up being on separate buses.
This was what happened to me and my friends. We were supposed to go in a group of 4 but we ended up being in 2 separate buses because they assigned us differently. The worst part is that these buses run on their own schedule depending on what time the bus arrives. My friends’ bus arrived half an hour behind the original schedule so we never explored the area together in the end because my bus arrives and leaves earlier than theirs. It was pretty sad so do NOT forget to email them if you wish to travelling in a group!
If you think one day in Jeonju is not enough, you can choose to stay over in any place in the itinerary and go back to Seoul on the next day. To do this, just indicate the departure and return date in your application. The shuttle bus will arrive and leave at the same time and place for all the 3 days so you just need to be at the parking place by the time of departure to go back to Seoul the next day.
After submitting the details, you will need to make a payment of 10 USD or 10,000 KRW. You can either pay by credit card or bank transfer. Some of my friends encountered an error in the payment process and ended up paying cash instead on the day of boarding. If this happens to you, make sure you email them to make sure that your booking is still valid.
If you pay online immediately, you will get two emails: one is the acknowledgement of your application and the other is the receipt of payment. If you opt to pay by bank transfer, you will only receive the acknowledgement email. After a few days, they will then send you the Shuttle Bus Ticket which you will need to print out to board the bus.
Naejangsan National Park (내장산국립공원)
We left Gwanghwamun at around 8.10AM to Naejangsan and we arrived at around 11.30AM. We were given exactly 2 hours and that’s all they told us. After that we were on our own.
We rushed out to get to the mountain park and it was honestly very far to walk to the entrance from the parking. We had to walk through a market before getting to the entrance and after 25 minutes, we found it!
We rushed to pay the entrance fee, 3,000 KRW, and to take the shuttle bus inside to the cable car station (another 1,000 KRW for one way). The shuttle bus queue was pretty long but it comes every other minute so it was okay.
It was such a disappointment when we saw that the cable car queue was so, so, so long and there was no way we could take it and make it back to the bus in time. We then decided to start walking back because we saw many beautiful places while we were on the shuttle from the entrance. It was just about the right amount of time so if you’re taking this route, I would recommend you to do the same unless there is no queue at the cable car 🙂
Jeonju Hanok Village
Jeonju Hanok Village was more beautiful than what I expected. I came on a Friday and it was not too crowded and I really loved the vibe there.
The hanok village was quiet and tranquil and.. It’s just hard to describe but it’s a really nice feeling – maybe due to the fact that it wasn’t too crowded too.
One thing to definitely do in Jeonju is to eat the Jeonju Bibimbap! I didn’t think it would be much different from Seoul’s or any other area’s bibimbap but I was wrong. Somehow the bibimbap in Jeonju tasted much better than bibimbap elsewhere. I’m guessing it’s the sauce but whatever it is, it’s good!
There are many restaurants selling Jeonju Bibimbap ranging between 8,000 KRW to 9,000 KRW in the village and I eventually chose the restaurant called 현대옥 (Hyeondeok). One portion of bibimbap costs 9,000 KRW there and it was good~
There are also many snacks in Jeonju and I heard the Chocopie is a must try there. However I didn’t get to try it during this trip, let me know if it’s really good!
Another really popular thing to do in Jeonju is to rent and take photos in a hanbok around the village. Since we only had 2 hours in Jeonju, I didn’t have the time to do this 🙁 But if you do, you should try~
Overall, I think that the trip would be nice if we could at least spend an extra hour in both Naejangsan and Jeonju. 2 hours in both was too rushed and we ended up spending more time in the bus than outside (It took us almost 4 hours to get back from Jeonju due to the jam). I would definitely recommend going to Jeonju with this bus though since it is the cheapest and easiest option for foreigners.