Seoul has got to be the most popular South Korea destination visited by travellers, but the country is known for many other attractive spots beyond its capital city. If you are looking to explore beyond Seoul and its many popular tourist attractions, Jeonju is one of the most extraordinary places near the capital of South Korea you should be adding to your bucket list – it is less than a 2hr train ride from Seoul via the high-speed KTX trains. This charming city is a perfect day or overnight trip for travellers, and a beloved weekend getaway for locals.
Appointed as the Creative City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in May 2012, Jeonju is steeped in cultural heritage and culinary traditions. But that is not all. With over a thousand years of history, this cultural district in the southwestern corner of the country is where modern life meets traditional terms.
Time slows down in this city, so take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, tour all the must-see sights and indulge in all the delicious and authentic Korean dishes in Jeonju for exciting new adventures.
Where to visit: Jeonju Hanok Village and its vicinity
1. Step back in time and immerse yourself in the traditional way of life at the Jeonju Hanok Village
Step into the heart and soul of the city at Jeonju Hanok Village, one of the city’s icons. Manifested through its cobblestone alleys and intricately designed Hanok roof edges, the area retains most of the traditional architecture and customs from the olden era, making it the most beautiful neighbourhood in town. With nearly 800 Hanoks (Korean traditional houses) to discover, the region boasts the largest collection of them in the country.
Formerly home to the Korean upper class, the Hanoks now house an array of delightful galleries, restaurants, guesthouses, and shops, showcasing the best of contemporary and traditional Korea. There is no shortage of must-visit spots in this buzzing town, so soak up the vibrant atmosphere and get lost in its timeless beauty.
Pro-tip: Unlock the full splendour of the Jeonju Hanok Village by embarking on the free guided Hanok Village Alley Tour. It brings you around the key landmarks of the precinct, including the Jeondong Catholic Church, Fan Culture Hall, and Omokdae (a hilltop pavilion that oversees the Jeonju Hanok Village). With the tours made available in English at 11:00am and 3:00pm, and in Mandarin and Japanese at 3:00pm from Gyeonggijeon Tourist Information Centre, this tour is the perfect way to deepen your understanding of the village.
What’s better than exploring this ancient city in a classic Hanbok? With over 500 distinct types to choose from, complete with complementary hair styling, there will be a style to suit every look and personality! For a truly unique experience, why not dress up as the King, Confucian Scholar, or District Magistrate and immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Jeonju? Be ready to witness some Koreans dressed up and role-playing to the next level, adding to the fun and excitement of your Jeonju adventure.
If the traditional get-up is not your thing, you can dress in vintage Korean school uniforms or even retro Korean outfits from the early 1900s! With numerous costume rental shops scattered throughout the village, you can easily find your perfect fit.
Most of these rental outlets offer photography services for those who would like to get their makeover professionally taken. Alternatively, you can capture your unique Hanbok experience at any corner of the picturesque village or hop on the latest "trend" – a reinvigoration of the old sticker booth trend - and have your fun shots taken at any photo booth.
Pro-tip: Don’t let the sun set on your Jeonju adventure. With the beautiful lights overlooking the city and traditional architecture when the sun sets, wrap up the day by taking a night stroll along the alleyways for an even more romantic, awe-inspiring experience. The Hanok Village is so vast that you can easily spend an entire day here, and there will still be more to see! You’ll be glad to stay on.
Jeonju Hanok Village 전주한옥마을
Address: 99 Girin-daero Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si Jeollabuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 기린대로 99)
Opening hours: Open 24 hours. However, most eateries and shops only operate from 11:00am.
2. Marvel in the hometown of the Joseon Dynasty at Gyeonggijeon
The dynasty of Joseon was born in Jeonju, the place where its first ruler, King Taejo, and his family clan lived. From bringing the divided Korea into one to seeing the greatest achievements in Korean culture, trade, literature as well as in science and technology, the Joseon dynasty was the last, longest standing, and most significant imperial dynasty in Korea’s history.
The legacies of this well-respected dynasty were encapsulated in the Gyeonggijeon (Gyeonggi Shrine), a prominent landmark built to enshrine King Taejo and is a popular filming location for period dramas and movies today. Visitors to the shrine are very systematic when it comes to starting a queue system for Instagram-worthy photos, so you can expect to wait in line for your pictures.
Discover the history of the Joseon dynasty and its founding King by joining the free hour-long guided tour that takes you through a memorial rite and the city’s historical archive. After the tour, make sure to visit the Royal Portrait Museum, where you can admire the portraits of King Taejo and other Joseon Kings, along with other previous cultural artefacts. The best part is there is no separate admission fee as the museum is located within the shrine. Wait no further and learn more about Jeonju’s rich cultural heritage.
Pro-tip: Tours are available in English, Chinese, and Japanese and the groups depart at 11:00am and 2:00pm daily. Keep in mind that the admission ticket is valid for a one-time entry only, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly. The gathering location for the tour is to the left after you enter the compound.
Address: 44, Taejo-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do ( 전북 전주시 완산구 태조로 44)
Opening hours: the last admission occurs an hour prior to the closing time
- March to May and September to October: 9:00am to 7:00pm
- June to August: 9:00am to 8:00pm
- November to February: 9:00am to 6:00pm
- Adults: KRW 3,000 (S$3.11)
- Teenagers (13 to 24 years old): KRW 2,000 (S$2.08)
- Children (7 to 12 years old): KRW 1,000 (S$1.04)
3. Explore life in post-Korean war era at Jeonju Nanjang
Jeonju Nanjang is a retro-themed cultural complex that highlights the daily lives of Koreans in the 1970s to 1980s. This museum is realistically reproduced to represent the Korean lifestyle where you can go back in time to find out how it was like living back then.
This interactive gallery houses over 10 old houses with around 70 themed spaces for you to take pictures and role play. From vintage barbershops to nostalgic Korean houses, every corner in this complex is a snapshot of the past waiting to be explored. Whether you are a history buff or just looking for a unique photo opportunity, Jeonju Nanjang is a must-visit destination that promises an unforgettable experience.
You are in for an eye-opening experience, so expect yourself to spend at least 1.5-2hr here. If you are planning to head over to the museum during the weekends, you should be able to see South Koreans across different generations coming together to reminisce about the “once upon a time” tales.
Address: 32-5 Pungnam-dong 2(i)-ga Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si Jeollabuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 동문길 33-20)
- Sunday to Thursday: 10:00am to 7:00pm
- Friday to Saturday: 10:00am to 7:30pm
- Adults: KRW 7,000 (S$7.27)
- Teenagers (13 to 18 years old): KRW 6,000 (S$6.23)
- Children (3 to 12 years old): KRW 5,000 (S$5.19)
4. Take in panoramic views of the stunning Jeonju Hanok Village at Omokdae
Perched on top of a hill, Omokdae is a pavilion that overlooks the Jeonju Hanok Village and is a monument of historical significance. This is the exact spot where King Taejo celebrated his victory over the Japanese army, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in Korean history.
The open pavilion is a public space where you can catch your breath and snap some stunning photos. Be prepared to climb up several flights of stairs before reaching (approximately a 5-10mins walk up), so wear comfortable shoes! And do not forget to remove your shoes before entering the pavilion. Trust me, the view is worth the climb.
Pro-tip: As you make your way up or down Omokdae, make sure to stop at various points for breathtaking aerial views of the Jeonju Hanok Village. These picturesque sights are a photographers’ delight. Do not forget to bring your camera!
Address: 55 Girin-daero Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si Jeollabuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 기린대로 55)
5. Prepare to be awed by the impressive Jeondong Catholic Cathedral
Considered one of the most beautiful churches in South Korea, the Jeondong Catholic Cathedral was built in honour of the Roman Catholic martyrs in the Joseon Dynasty. Located right at the entrance of the Jeonju Hanok Village, the cathedral is the first Western-style building in the province. With the unique combination of Byzantine and Romanesque architectural design styles that showcase intricate details and grandeur from every angle, this stunning building is a glamorous spot not to be missed!
The exterior and surroundings may have piqued your curiosity, but it is upon entering that you will truly be amazed. The cathedral's interior is a masterpiece of antiquity, enveloping you in a captivating and mysterious atmosphere. Every element is meticulously arranged, from the high vaulted ceiling to the symmetrical rows of stone pillars. The stained glass windows, infused with vivid and enigmatic colours, filter the sunlight, casting a sacred glow throughout the space. As your gaze wanders, you'll find yourself immersed in a world of handcrafted artistry, where each detail showcases the skill and dedication of the artisans. Admission to this sacred space is free, but kindly maintain a hushed demeanour as you enter. This is a place of reverence and worship, where silence is cherished.
Jeondong Catholic Cathedral 전동성당
Address: 200-1 Jeon-dong Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si Jeollabuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 태조로 51)
The church is open for mass:
- Monday to Saturday: 5:30am
- Tuesday and Thursday: 7:00pm
- Wednesday and Friday: 10:00am
- Sunday: 5:30am, 9:00am, 10:30am, 5:00pm, and 8:00pm
6. Be fascinated by the magnificent Pungnammun
As you wander around, make sure to stop by the Pungnammun Gate. This southern gate was once the fortress of the capital city and now stands as a local landmark with cultural significance. As the only surviving gate out of the four, Pungnammun is a testament to the city’s history and beloved by both natives and foreigners alike. Take a 5mins walk here from the Jeonju Hanok Village to catch a glimpse of its past glory and marvel at its impressive architecture.
Pro-tip: The Pungnanum comes alive at night when it illuminates, offering an unparalleled view of this historical landmark. Plan your visit in the evening to witness this enchanting sight.
Address: 1 Pungnammun 3-gil Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si Jeollabuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 풍남문3길 1 풍남문)
What to eat in Jeonju – South Korea’s food paradise
One of the things you have to do in South Korea is sink your teeth into its astonishing array of dishes. So, how can we forget about food in this culinary city? Home to some of the most representative dishes in South Korea, here are some Korean foods you must eat in Jeonju.
1. Savour Jeonju traditional Bibimbap, right from its homeland
Bibimbap (Korean Mixed Rice), one of Korea’s most iconic dishes, was born in Jeonju. The traditional version of this mixed rice dish comprises over 30 diverse ingredients, but what sets Jeonju Bibimbap apart are five key elements that create its unique flavour: bean sprouts, red pepper paste, soybean paste mixed with soybean sauce, fresh meat, and the signature yellow mung bean jelly. If you are a foodie looking for a culinary adventure, make sure to try the Jeonju Bibimbap and savour the distinctive flavours that have made it a local favourite.
You will also find other variations of this Korean mixed rice, including some garnished with beef tartare (yukhoe) and egg yolk or with hot pepper paste mixed with fried beef served with bean sprout soup. There are plenty of restaurants serving the dish in the Hanok village, so you can pop in any of them, but here are what we recommend for a flavourful Bibimbap fix!
45 years Traditional Bibimbap Jongno Hoegwan 45년전통비빔밥 종로회관
Address: 60-2 Jeon-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea (전북 전주시 완산구 전동성당길 98)
Opening hours: 10:50am to 8:30pm, daily
Gogung Suragan Hanok Village Branch 고궁수라간 한옥마을점
Address: 31, Eunhaeng-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea (전북 전주시 완산구 은행로 31 고궁수라간 한옥마을점)
Opening hours: 11:00am to 8:30pm, daily (last order at 8:00pm)
2. Taste the notable Kongnamul Gukbap (Bean sprouts soup with rice)
Indulge in the heartiest classic and one of the most famous delicacies in Jeonju, the Kongnamul Gukbap. Named one of the top hangover cures by National Geographic UK, this soup dish is boiled with various spices and is served with brown rice, making it a unique and flavourful Korean soup.
When ordering, the waiter will ask you if you want sliced green chilli and spring onions, which add to the fragrance but may make it too spicy for those with low spice tolerance. Most bowls are served with a half-boiled egg and salted seaweed. Mix the egg well with a few spoons of Kongnamul broth and enjoy the delicious bowl of egg, where the broth enhances the flavour of the egg instead of the other way around. For meat lovers, add boiled squid to your soup. These are the popular spots among the locals:
Address: 66 Omokdae-gil, Pungnam-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 오목대길 66)
Opening hours: 8:00am to 8:00pm, daily
Sambaekjib Jeonju Main Branch 삼백집 본점
Address: 22 Jeonjugaeksa 2-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea (전북 전주시 완산구 전주객사2길 22)
Opening hours: 6:00am to 10:00pm, daily (last order 9:30pm)
Directions: This outlet is about 20mins away from Jeonju Hanok Village. Take buses 535 or 8-1 from Girin-daero Military Manpower Administration bus stop.
3. Slurp on delicious handmade knife-cut noodles from Veteran Kalguksu
Specialising in Kalguksu (Korean knife-cut noodle soup), Veteran serves one of the most distinct knife-cut noodles in the country. Unlike the usual knife-cut noodles, which are served in a clear broth, this smothered broth has an egg-drop soup consistency, adding a rich and savoury flavour to the chewy noodles. Topped with red pepper powder, crunchy seaweed flakes, and perilla seeds, each spoonful is a burst of flavour. To complete your meal, try its Pork and Kimchi Mandus (dumplings).
Be prepared to remove your shoes and be seated on the elevated floor as you dine, just like the locals do. As with other popular eateries, you can expect a crowd, but the wait is worth it to experience the hype around this restaurant.
Veteran Kalguksu 베테랑 칼국수
Address: 135 Gyeonggijeon-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea (전북 전주시 완산구 경기전길 135)
Opening hours: 9:00am to 8:00pm, daily
Where to find mouthwatering street snacks in Jeonju
1. Discover an exciting range of creative street delicacies at Nambu Night Market
Every city in South Korea has its very own no.1 traditional market, and in Jeonju, it is the Nambu Traditional Market, which comes alive in the evening as the food stalls start to operate.
As opposed to the typical night market spread, you can find quirky modifications of standard Korean street delights here, where traditional flavours are given some modern twists. For example, the Samgyeopsal Kimbap (Pork Belly Korean Rice Roll), loved by locals, is a modern twist on the classic kimbap that takes indulgence to a whole new level! This mouthwatering creation combines the rich flavours and textures of warm pork belly, pickled daikon, fried egg, spinach, and carrots, resulting in a truly satisfying meal in the form of kimbap. There are also interesting creations such as grilled clams, shrimp, and pork belly slices topped with melted cheese, fusion treats like Bibimbap wrapped in rice paper, and traditional favourites including Yukjeon (meat pancake) and fried chicken.
With over 30 food carts offering a mouthwatering range of food and snacks, I recommend that you check them out to strategise how you should be spending your calories. If you would like to have a proper meal, you can head to Jojeomnye Nammun Blood Sausage for a hearty bowl of blood sausage soup with rice. This dish features a unique and popular delicacy that combines the richness of pork blood with the delightful texture of cellophane noodles and glutinous rice.
Pro-tip: The Nambu Night Market is within walking distance of the Jeonju Hanok Village. Enter the night market via the East entrance for an overall layout of the place. The stalls are set up in the middle of the footpaths. So be prepared to walk in a single file when it gets extremely crowded! There are open spaces on level 2 with tables and benches for you to enjoy your food too.
Nambu Night Market 남부야시장
Address: 19-3 Pungnammun 1-gil Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si Jeollabuk-do (전북 전주시 완산구 풍남문1길 19-3)
Opening hours: Summer season – 6:30pm to 11:30pm, Winter season – 6:00pm to 11:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays only.
2. Embark on a street food tour around Jeonju Hanok Village
Living truly to its name of a food lover’s paradise, Jeonju’s street food galore does not disappoint too. Must-try on-the-go snacks include the cheesy “10 won bread” from Gyodong Sibwon Bakery, giant fried squid with various toppings, flavourful skewers, homemade shrimp dumplings from Dawoorang, and creamy egg custard from Mom & Tart with a unique, layered crust. Do not forget to keep strolling to uncover the hidden gems of snacks that await you in every corner of the village.
3. Bring home a piece of Jeonju’s irresistible chocolate pies from PNB Bakery
The orange-brown paper bag from PNB Bakery is a common sight in Jeonju Hanok Village. The larger-than-usual choco pie from PNB is a Jeonju specialty and a must-buy souvenir for chocolate lovers!
The hallmark product of PNB Bakery is its best-selling strawberry chocolate pie, with two firm chocolate cakes filled with a slab of strawberry jam, a swirl of whipped cream, and a handful of crushed walnuts. It strikes a good balance between sweetness and density. For those looking for a lighter bite, PNB also offers mini choco pies.
There are also several flavours for foodies to choose from (or you could buy them all!), including white chocolate, mocha chocolate, cheese, matcha, cream cheese, and more. While the Hanok Village branches only carry choco pies and some traditional cookies, the main outlet offers a much larger selection of treats. Do not forget to grab a box of these delectable pies before leaving Jeonju and share them with your loved ones!
Address: 61-1 Eunhaeng-ro, Pungnamdong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea (전북 전주시 완산구 은행로 61)
Opening hours: 8:30am to 9:30pm
PNB Pungnyeon Bakery Main Branch
Address: 180 Paldal-ro, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea (전북 전주시 완산구 팔달로 180)
Opening hours: 8:00am to 10:30pm
Where to stay in Jeonju
Experience the Korean way of living in an overnight Hanok stay
Today, many Hanoks are used as guesthouses or hotels, blending modern amenities with traditional architecture. Some Hanoks provide comfortable raised beds while others offer mats and blankets, so take your pick on modern comfort in a traditional façade or sleep on the floor like a true-blue Korean native. Most of the accommodations around Jeonju Hanok Village are housed in the Hanok façade, so if you prefer something even more modern, opt for an Airbnb dwelling or hotel that is located further away.
Jeonju is such a charming city in South Korea that it should be on every traveller’s bucket list. From its well-preserved Hanok Village to its famous Korean food, there is so much to explore and experience. I hope my guide got you inspired to check out the amazing sights and delectable eats in Jeonju yourself. K-drama fans will also be thrilled to revisit some of the popular Netflix drama “Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2521)” filming spots. If you are thinking of a visit soon, plan your trip early and book your transportation ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Jeonju is a true gem that harmoniously blends cultural heritage and modern traditions, a must-visit for anyone travelling to South Korea.
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Best time to visit
The perfect time to visit Jeonju is through the Spring and Autumn months from March to May and September to November respectively. Jeonju embraces you with pleasant weather and its streets come alive with the mesmerising sight of blooming cherry blossoms during Spring and breath-taking hues of autumn foliage.
The city offers a convenient and affordable transportation system with its extensive subway network and reliable public buses. However, Google Maps may not always be your best buddy when it comes to navigation in South Korea. Make sure to download either Naver Maps or Kakao Maps for the most up-to-date and accurate guidance.
Jeonju’s currency is in South Korean Won (KRW). You can exchange your currency at Changi Recommends and collect it conveniently before checking in at Changi Airport Terminal 1 or 3.
Changi Airport is directly connected to Seoul with over 70 weekly flights across five airlines.