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Author winterkjm
#271 | Posted: 23 Apr 2019 21:15 
A video in english that summarizes the next 3 nominations coming from Korea.

Korea's possible next UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Author joelonroad
#272 | Posted: 14 Oct 2019 03:36 | Edited by: joelonroad 
As per request from the Whatsapp group, Shandos and my itinerary for South Korea was as follows:

Day 0: Arrive in Seoul mid-afternoon, do some local exploring. We stayed in Insadong, near the Jongmyo 3 subway stop.
Day 1: DMZ tour (make sure you book the ones going to the JSA as that's the best bit!). Visited the N Tower at dusk.
Day 2: Changdeokgong Palace WHS (including Secret Garden) in the morning, Jongmyo Shrine WHS in the afternoon
Day 3: Half-day visit to Joseon Royal Tombs WHS in Guri, east of Seoul. Return to Seoul after lunch, spend a couple of hours hiking the Seoul City Walls TWHS
Day 4: Day trip to the Baekje Historic Areas WHS. Explored both the fortress, the tombs and the museum on foot.
Day 5: Day trip to Namhansamseong Fortress WHS
Day 6: Day trip to Ganghwa Dolmens WHS.
Day 7: Day trip to Hwaseong Fortress WHS. All of these were from the same spot in central Seoul.
Day 8: Early morning long distance bus to Andong, local bus to the nearby Seowon WHS and then walk to Hahoe WHS. Overnight in Andong.
Day 9: Early morning visit to the Sansa near Andong. Long-distance bus to Gyeongju where we arrived late afternoon, then checked out the museum which is quite good. Overnight in Gyeongju.
Day 10: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto WHS, both components. Afternoon visit to the rest of Gyeongju Historic Areas WHS. Overnight again in Gyeongju.
Day 11: Morning long-distance bus to Suncheon. Afternoon visit to the Tidal Mud Flats TWHS. Overnight in Suncheon.
Day 12: Bus to Daegu, then additional bus to Haeinsa Temple. Check out Haeinsa Temple WHS. Overnight stay at Haeinsa Temple (highly recommended!)
Day 13: Finish up temple stay program in Haeinsa, lunchtime bus to Gimhae. Late afternoon visit to Gimhae Tumulus cluster TWHS (the museum here is reasonable but there's little else to see). Overnight in Busan.
Day 14: Fly out to Japan!

Basically 14 days to tick off all current sites and 3 scheduled tentative sites. As we were cramming it in, we decided to just visit single components of the massive multi-location sites like the Seowon and the Sansa. All done with public transport (in fact mostly buses), the only taxi we used was at 5am on the final day to get to Busan airport. Buses in Korea are quite good once you understand the system, trains are more confusing and IMO not as well organised as China or Japan. I realise we doubled-back a bit on day 11/12, but that's because the temple stay at Haeinsa is only on Saturday nights.

Overall my take on Korea is that their sites are well organised, well staffed, very cheap with only a few exceptions, and with lots of great information in multiple languages. Well sign-posted, and even arriving in a small town people know why you're there and how to get there. But the sites themselves are probably below average, generally speaking. Was most impressed with Haeinsa Temple (even though only the woodblock pavilions are inscribed, the rest is buffer zone), Hwaseong Fortress, and the Secret Garden in Changdeokgung.

Massive credit to Shandos for putting it all together and making things work - she is the brains of the operation!

Oh and don't rely on Google Maps! The local equivalent is called Naver and it's terrible, but better than nothing.

Author meltwaterfalls
#273 | Posted: 14 Oct 2019 11:45 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Oh and don't rely on Google Maps! The local equivalent is called Naver and it's terrible, but better than nothing

In doing a bit of work on maps there recently, I noticed Google maps has gone very odd in Korea. It seems it is related to data-sharing and sensitive information on military installations.

I'm pretty sure I used it for most of my planning and travel in 2011, so it must have changed since then.

Author Zos
#274 | Posted: 15 Oct 2019 05:54 
I was in Korea same time as Joel but took the opposite route starting from Gyeongju to Seoul. I had been to Seoul twice before. In 2011, I was there for 6 weeks studying and partying, did not do touristy stuff but became an expert on the city's nightlife. In 2015, i stayed for a week but managed to visit only Jongmyo Shrine and parts of the City Wall. This trip, I am backpacking and focused on seeing WHS. I was joined by my parents in Seoul and visited Changdeokgung with them.

As Joel said, Google maps is not fully functional in South Korea. However Google Maps is reliable for the public transport options. It shows you which bus/train to take, what time they leave and where are the stops. Google maps DOES NOT show the GPS tracking while you travel. And that is where (offline map) comes in handy. Outside of Seoul most bus/trains and some other public areas have Public WiFi. Some new buses have public WiFi too. I was able to skilfully track and plan my routes using these public places, google maps and (I was in roaming but since my SIM is based in China, I need to use a VPN to access google maps which makes the connection slower).

Day 1: (Heinsa, Jisandong Gaya Tumuli, Gyeongju Tumuli Park) Overnight in Gyeongju
Arrival in Daegu at 0530. Took bus to Heinsa at 0720 (First bus is on 0640 and leaves every 40 mins). The bus passed by Jisandong Gaya Tumuli at Gyeoryo. I arrived in Heinsa before the crowd which made me appreciate the site even better. Gyeoryo is between Heinsa and Daegu (an hour each way). You may make a side trip to Dodongseowon too from Gyeoryo. I got back to Daegu at 1500 and took express bus to Gyeongju. I stayed in airbnb near the Tumuli Park and the Observatory and was able to see it at sundown and early evening.

Day 2: (Oksanseowon, Yangdong, Bulguksa, Seokguram, Gyeongju Wolsong Belt), Overnight in Gyeongju
Took the 0730 bus to Oksanseowon. Arrived at the site by 0815, free entry. The bus back to Yangdong is at 0840, which I missed and I had to wait for the next bus at 1020 (wasting almost 2 hours). 20 mins at Oksanseowon is more than enough so you should try to catch the 0840 bus. Arrived in Yangdong before 1100 and I only stayed 2 hours in the area and managed to see 3 of the 4 national treasures. Took the 1250 bus back to Gyeongju and took bus to Bulguksa. Stayed in Bulguksa for around 2 hours then too bus to Seokguram where I stayed only less than 1 hour as nit much to see (the grotto is impressive though but you cant get close or take photo). Bus back to Gyeongju visiting Anapji Pond and Walking at Wolsong Belt.

Day 3: (Tongdosa Temple, Baekje Songsanri), overnight in Gyeongju

Took 1000 bus from Gyeongju to Ulsan then transfer to local minibus to Tongdosa. Tongdosa Temple is at the opposit end of the town, around 30 minutes walk from the bus station. Stayed in Tongdosa for 2 hours, walk back to the station and decided to take a can to Ulsan KTX. KTX train trip to Daejeon took around hours. Bus from Daejeon to Gongju. Arrived in Gongju at 1600. Visited Songsan-ri Tomb and Museum until close.

Day 4: (Baekje Gongsanseong Fortress, Magoksa Temple, Dosanseowon)

Took 0800 morning stroll at Gongsanseong. I was lucky that the site was already opened an hour early and free. Usual opening time is 0900. After walking around the fortress, I took a taxi to Magoksa (12km away from Gongju). Stayed in for 2 hours then took bus by 1300 back to Gongju. Transfer to bus from Nonsan-si (less than an hour ride) and took local bus to Dosanseowon. Strolled around the Seowon for an hour then bus back to Nonsan Train Station to Suwon (2 hours away). Arrived in Suwon early evening.

Day 5: (Namhansanseong, Illeung Royal Tomb, Hwaseong), overnight in Seowon.

Travel to Namhansanseong around 0730. Arrived at the South Gate around 0900. Walk around the vicinity for an 30 mins (there is nothing to see, it was raining and cold). Walked to the Emergency Palace. After visiting the palace, had lunch in the area and tracel to Illeung Tomb by bus (1 transfer). Had the sight to myself and i walked around both tombs in the area. Then took a bus back to Suwon to Hwaseong. Walked from the entrance of the fortress till the end at the otherside near to Suwon downtown.

Day 6: (Yungneung-Geolleung Tombs, Gwanghwa Dolmen), overnight in Seoul

Arrived at the Tombs by 0900, walked around it then travelled to Gwanghwa by series of trains and buses. Due to heavy traffic from Swine Flu checkpoints, areived in the Dolmen around 1500. Only had 20 minutes to see the largest Dolmen area (there is nothing to see anyway). Then bus to Gimpo Airport to meet my parents. If there was no traffic jam, I doable to squeeze the Royal Tombs at Gimpo. (The bus from Gwanghwa back to Seoul will pass by the area. Stop at Gimpo City Hall and the site is 1.2 km from bus stop)

Day 7: Seoul. Free day. DMZ tours were cancelled due to Swine Flu. Managed to see the Royal Tomb near Gangnam

Day 8. Seoul. Chengdeokgung Palace.

Day 9. See Uireung Tomb in the afternoon. Fly to Jeju in the evening.

Day 10. Private 10-hour Jeju Island Tour with stops at Hallasan 1km viewpoint, Sunrise Peak and Manjanggul Lava Tubes. Also some have sightseeing other sites.

Day 11. Flight back to Beijing

PS. I dont usually eat lunch when I travel as I dont like to use public restrooms. Hence I was able to optimize my travel. All in all, mainland South Korea can all be seen in 7 days.

Author winterkjm
#275 | Posted: 15 Oct 2019 22:24 | Edited by: winterkjm 
I humbly suggest future visitors of Korea give Namhansaseong a bit more time to see its OUV. I view Namhansanseong Fortress (Flickr Album) as hugely under-rated and personally of equal interest to Hwaseong Fortress. While the later has very impressive gates, those gates were never used in any major military conflict until some of the fortress was bombed and shelled during the Korean War (1950-1953). While the unique blend of East Asian/Western fortress design make Hwaseong special, the location is urban and mostly unattractive, alternatively Namhansanseong which is located in a provincial park is a fantastic hike and depending on the season, quite scenic. The ruined portion of the outer wall is also unique to explore since it received the most damage and bombardment from the Manchu invasion in the 17th century. I personally loved finding all the hidden gates that are found in several areas throughout the fortress. Sometimes a simple tick for a WHS just doesn't really cut it, Namhansanseong requires at least a couple hours. Little or no time need be spent in the interior town as ICOMOS rightly stated the Emergency Palace is excessive in its restoration and the Buddhist temples have sometimes retained elements of their origin, but are largely modern temples built in the last 50-100 years.

For the Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (Flickr Album) I would give a little shout-out to Buseoksa Temple (Yeongju) and Beopjusa Temple (Boeun), which I found particularly attractive mountain temples with quite a few national treasures to appreciate. Arguably more representative than Haeinsa Temple and Bulguksa Temple, these mountain temples have a great deal of authenticity and both harken back to a time when Buddhism reigned supreme in Korea.

Lastly, this community has mostly visited Gongju to check off the Baekju WHS and the reviews seem to indicate a semi-interesting site, but perhaps underwhelming. I wonder how our community would view the Baekje Historic Areas (Flickr Album) world heritage site if the primary focus for visitors was Iksan's Mireuksa Temple Site, of which an exceptional restoration process was just completed after 20 years! This stone pagoda is the most impressive in Korea.

Author winterkjm
#276 | Posted: 16 Oct 2019 03:57 
For future reference, I outlined HERE an 8km walk/run that includes Changdeokgung Palace, Jongmyo Shrine, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Heunginjimun Gate, Mt. Naksan Section of Hanyangdoseong, Hyehwamun Gate, Jeongneung Royal Tomb. That is 3 WHS and 1 TWHS in one route doable in only a couple hours.

Author joelonroad
#277 | Posted: 16 Oct 2019 08:12 
I humbly suggest future visitors of Korea give Namhansaseong a bit more time to see its OUV. I view Namhansanseong Fortress (Flickr Album) as hugely under-rated and personally of equal interest to Hwaseong Fortress.

To be honest we didn't just stop by this one for the tick, we spent probably a half day hiking around the walls (starting from the Emergency Palace, down to the South Gate, then a bit in two directions before heading for the West Gate and then back to the Palace before exploring that). I agree that it's a nice hike, but that's a bit different from OUV. Doesn't help that we'd already done the Seoul city walls (where the building process and eras are super clear in many places), and then the Baekje fortress a few days prior as well. Not to mention we'd already seen an emergency Joseon dynasty palace, and this one was a modern replica anyway.

And I actually quite liked the modern city aspect of Hwaseong. The gates are in hilariously busy spots, but then once you climb the hill near the (west?) gate you're immediately in the forest, and then from the top you can see the whole fortress spread out below you which is quite cool. Ultimately I just like variety, and when you get a series of city walls and emergency palaces it gets a bit much :)

I even got a bit sick of magnificent French Gothic cathedrals when we did them all in a week! Side note: Australians actually have a term for this - ABC (Another Bloody Church). Since we don't really have any buildings in Oz older than 1800, most people on their first trip to Europe will pack in as many Renaissance and medieval buildings as possible, with predictable results. "What are we seeing today?" "ABC".

Author winterkjm
#278 | Posted: 16 Oct 2019 08:57 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Ultimately I just like variety, and when you get a series of city walls and emergency palaces it gets a bit much :)

Very understandable, it can be easy to get exhausted with fortresses in Korea since there are so many, the same applies to tombs. For each of us, our view of any particular site includes many factors. Weather/season are important and I visited Nahamsanseong in gorgeous whether twice. I am fond of Namhansanseong, in part because it has a rich history, but also since I completed the entire route and seen all gates, hidden gates, and the outer wall as well. When I see the rating at 2.33 it seems a bit low. This was not a nomination that took multiple tries, the ICOMOS evaluation determined inscription on its first attempt. This does not prove its worth as an amazing visiting experience, but I do think it holds some credence that Namhansanseong is not one of the world heritage sites with regional value that the state party pushed through toward inscription (like we've seen recently regarding some nominations).

Author carlosarion
#279 | Posted: 16 Oct 2019 23:20 
Just an update on the nomination of Getbol tidal flats:

"The decision on whether to recognize the mud flats as UNESCO sites is expected to be made in July 2020."

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