Vacation Like the Locals: How to do Chuseok Right

Minting Xu is a student at the University of Florida and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.

Rather than having a weekend getaway to one destination, my friends and I decided to pack our bags and leave Seoul for the duration of the Chuseok Holiday (An Autumn Festival celebrating the harvest). We took various methods of transportation to reach our destinations, traveling from Seoul from Jeonju to Gwangju to Daegu. We stayed in hostels throughout the journey,  since hostels allowed a more immersive experience. Having the ability to converse with the locals and other travelers to hear their stories was one of the highlights of the trip.


The first destination was to Jeonju, where we stayed in a hostel called the “Heart of Hanok Village” (Hanoks are traditional Korean houses).

Hanouk Hostel.

Jeonju is a quaint little town and it thrives on tourism. I say this because even during the holiday most of the restaurants and stores were open for business, which was rather surprising since so many of my classmates said that they would probably be closed. There were so many little shops and stalls that sold local art- a great place to get souvenirs for all ages.

Cute souvenirs from Hanouk!

Jeonju is an area that is known for their bibimbap. Needless to say, we ate at several different restaurants to try as many bibimbaps as we could. Yum!

Delicious bibimbap!

One of the sites that stood out to me was a mural village where local artists showcased their art by painting and drawing on the walls.

Local art by Korean artists.

After having a photo-shoot (not to mention taking hundreds of selfies in the mural village), we hopped on a bus and headed off to Gwangju. We visited a memorial site named Democracy Square in honor of all the civilians that fought bravely during the Gwangju Uprising (out of respect I did not take any photos). Seeing the city flourish now, it is hard to imagine that they had such a difficult history not too long ago. There is a lightness in the air, thanks to the park next to the memorial site. The park was created to memorialize the hardship that the citizens of Gwangu had to endure during the 1980s through the 1990s.

Lovely park next to the memorial.

From Gwangu, we traveled by bus and train to reach our last destination, Daegu. At Daegu, we ventured off on a journey to Gayasan National Park, where we followed a nature trail and visited a temple. The nature trail was energizing, and the air was crisp and fresh. Chuseok became a fond memory full of friendship, laughter, and adventure.

Temple in Daegu.
Gayasan National Park trail.

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