Making the most of the hours after the sun sets

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Making the most of the hours after the sun sets

A colorful fountain by the Nakdong River in North Gyeongsang. [KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION]

A colorful fountain by the Nakdong River in North Gyeongsang. [KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION]

 
As people try to return to normalcy following the outbreak of the coronavirus, many avid travelers now starved of overseas trips are choosing outdoor breaks that also offer isolation to feed their travel craving while also staying safe. 
 
Noticing this trend, and also taking into account the warmer weather, the Korea Tourism Organization is encouraging people to utilize the quieter hours after the sun sets.
 
The country is working to get the local tourism industry back on its feet, supported by its cultural ministry which has planned “Travel Week” from July 1 to 19.  
  
Now is when you can see lotus flowers in full bloom. South Chungcheong’s Buyeo County has both nature and history to offer with Gungnamji Pond, the oldest man-made lake in Korea, as well as the Jeonglim Temple.  
 
Gungnamji is the site of an annual lotus flower festival held every July, and although its been canceled this year, the area is still open to be enjoyed. Even without the festival, the lake is filled with different types of flowers and was made for the enjoyment of the royal family back in the Baekje period (18 B.C. – A.D. 660). The lake is now a beloved place among locals and visitors and an evening stroll offers the perfect chance to enjoy the flowers and cool down.   
 
The night sky with a five-storied stone tower at Jeonglim Temple site in South Chungcheong. [KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION]

The night sky with a five-storied stone tower at Jeonglim Temple site in South Chungcheong. [KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION]

 
Located about a 10-minute-walk from Gungnamji is Jeonglim Temple, where you can immerse yourself in cultural heritage. Different from the active scene seen around the lake, the temple is quiet with fewer people after dark. It is usually open until 10 p.m. Go when there is a full moon to take in the view of the five-story stone tower with the moon in the background.  
 
For some music and lights by the water, head to the Gyeongsang Provinces. Andong in North Gyeongsang offers a night view of its Wolyeong Bridge, adorned with lights and fountains that are timed according to the music. A walk on the bridge takes on a mystical vibe after it rains and a light fog covers the bridge and the river.  
 
A view from the boat in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang. [KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION]

A view from the boat in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang. [KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION]

 
The nightscape by the seawater can be enjoyed in South Gyeongsang’s Tongyeong. But don't just enjoy it from the land, take a boat ride to see a different view of the city. Boat tours, which only run on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, last for about 50 minutes and cost 20,000 won ($16.59) per person. Get to Dal-a Park before sunset, if you want to start the after-dark tour with a gorgeous pink-skied sunset. From the park, it takes about 20 minutes by car to get to Tongyeong marine sports center, where the nightscape boat tours start.  
 
If you want a higher vantage point to enjoy some nighttime views, head to Busan to take a cable car ride at Songdo Beach. There is a walking trail over the water that allows you to see the waves beneath your feet. If that’s not enough, head to the cable cars to get a more dramatic over-the-water experience. 
 
For a night time boogie, head to South Jeolla’s Gangjin. There you'll find the "Night Dream” bus tour which takes visitors to local hot spots as well as to performances. Just before the sun sets, a play is performed on the street. Locals stage the performance but anyone can join in and take part. 
 
The tourism organization also recommends Suwan Hwaseong for its night time lights as well as the close-by street filled with popular fried chicken stores, however, it is currently closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. 
 
Make sure to check updates for each region to ensure the places you want to visit are still open to the public.
 
For more general information about travel across Korea, call 1330, the travel hotline available 24 hours, seven days a week. Services are available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese.  
 
BY LEE SUN-MIN   [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]
 
 
 
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