The southern coast of Korea is perhaps one of the most underrated places in the whole country and Yeosu one of its most underrated cities. A port city with over three hundred islands and gorgeous seaside scenery, it’s the perfect escape. Even within Korean history it holds a place of importance as Yi Sun Shin, a major naval war hero during the Joseon dynasty, held his headquarters here.
Of course, in writing a guide to Yeosu, the absolute best people to ask are Stephanie and Ryan Hedger. They run Hedgers Abroad, a travel blog with some seriously gorgeous photography, videos, and incredibly informative guides about Korea and Asia. They moved to Yeosu nearly two years ago, so naturally, I reached out to see if they wanted to collaborate on an insider guide.]
ABOUT THE HEDGERS
Ryan and Stephanie met at Oklahoma University, married, and decided the traditional path wasn’t quite for them. Two months after Ryan’s graduation they began a year in Seoul and then moved to Yeosu to teach high school where they’ve remained indefinitely. So far they have been enjoying all Korea has to offer and traveling around Asia during their school vacations, going everywhere they can. Yeosu is their home base and having bought a car they’ve been able to explore every nook and cranny around this city. Here are some of their favorites places and their own, personal guide to Yeosu!
Where to Eat
Luci 5 is a new brunch restaurant that opened recently in Ungcheon. They serve breakfast items, sandwiches, desserts, and coffee.
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This is a new bar and fusion restaurant in Yeocheon. If you are looking for nightlife and drinks, Yeocheon is where to go. The Terrace is brand new and only serves Korean alcohol as well as a small selection of mixed drinks and fusion type foods. The Terrace is located on the rooftop level and has a ton of outdoor seating which is perfect on summer nights.
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SLICE OF TODAY
This is a great BBQ place that is located in Yeoseodong (여서동) neighborhood. If you are craving some Korean BBQ but don’t really feel like cooking, this is the place for you! The food here is really quite good and the presentation is awesome. They even light your meat on fire to sear it at the end.
Masizzim is a fancy place in Ungcheon (웅천) near the beach. They are famous for their Galbi Jjim (갈비찜) which is pork and beef stew. You can choose your spice level as well as any kind of extras like noodles or rice. They also have other Korean dishes available such as bibimbap (비빔밥) and naengmyeon (냉면).
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There is also a Facebook group called Yeosu Good Eats where a few of the local foreigners share their favorite up and coming restaurants. If you are visiting Yeosu and are at a loss for restaurant ideas, be sure to check out that page!
Favorite Places to Visit
We recently discovered Angel Alley and have fallen in love with this neighborhood. The tight little alleyways have recently been painted with new murals and coffee shops are starting to pop up here and there. At the top of the village, you can see 360-degree views of the city and the bay. Think Gamcheon Village in Busan without the crowds.
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Most foreigners who live in Yeosu will tell you the best part of Yeosu are the beaches and their views. Besides Ungcheon, most of Yeosu’s beaches are laid back and without crowds. Jangdeung, Bangjukpo, and Mosageum are personal favorites.
This is the best place to go in the summertime to get some peace and quiet. The valley at the base of Yeongchuisan Mountain has a small stream that is perfect for cooling down in the hotter months. A stone arch bridge and canopy of trees makes this picturesque place a haven of relaxation. There are camping platforms as well as a makgeolli and pajeon hut right next to the stream. The mountain is famous for its azalea flowers in the spring and the temple is definitely worth checking out as well.
What to Wear
If you are traveling here in the summer months like most people do, be sure to wear light and breathable clothing as well as a good pair of walking shoes. Yeosu is plagued with beautiful mountains and many of the streets are very steep. Don’t forget to pack all of your beach stuff so you can really enjoy some time in the sun
Where to Shop
Sinae (시내) | Sinae is the place for shopping in Yeosu. Even though Yeosu is lacking for exciting and various places to go shopping, Sinae has you covered. Located near Jinnamgwan (진남관), this area is lined with fun walking streets that are filled with a good variety of stores. At the opposite end of the walking street is the Yeosu West Market which contains a ton of small local businesses to explore.
Favorite Touristy Things to Do
You can easily spend an entire day just discovering all the hidden gems of the EXPO. The EXPO was held in 2012 in order to raise awareness on ocean pollution and there are tons of unique things to see and do in the area including Odongdo Island, the Hanhwa Aquarium, the Big O Show, and the Sky Cafe.
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The Ungcheon neighborhood is a new and upcoming place in Yeosu. Before the EXPO, this neighborhood simply didn’t exist. Since 2012, they have created the man-made beach with endless water sports opportunities, the Yeulmaru Culture and Arts Center (예을마루), and tons of new restaurants have started to come to the area.
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One of the most iconic things about Yeosu is the view of the bay from Dolsan Island. The Dolsan bridge lights up at night with colorful LEDs and it really is quite romantic.
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Best Yeosu Moment
“Our best Yeosu moment had to be the first time we visited before moving here. Our first year in Seoul was extremely tough with our jobs and we were looking forward to starting over in a new city. Two weeks before our move, we decided to make a trip to visit some friends we knew who lived here. The entire day was awesome hanging around such great and positive people, however, the best moment came at the very end of the day. After dinner, our friends drove us up to Dolsan Park to check out the view of the bay. Seeing the city lights from the park with the Dolsan bridge lit up with the ever changing colors was mesmerizing. We felt so lucky and excited to be moving to such a beautiful place and looking forward to our new beginning.”
FOLLOW THE HEDGERS BELOW:
Have you been to Yeosu? What were some of your favorite spots?
guide + photography made in collaboration with