GURYE, Spring 2014 & Sansuyu

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Just so pretty, a normal street. And that’s my wifi spot ^^

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I spend my first 5 days of #31KoreaDays in 구례 Gurye.

Gurye was chosen because I wanted to enjoy Sansuyu (aka yellow flowers) in the backdrop of agricultural fields and winding mountains. And because I love mountains, want to get out of the city and be close to nature.

I was actually deciding between 구례 산수유꽃축제 Gurye Sansuyu Festival or 광양 국제매화문화축제 Gwangyang International Maehwa Festival. I am so thankful that in the end we decided to stay in Gurye, because even though both festivals were to start and end on the same dates (22.03.2014 ~ 30.03.2014), there was all but one tree still blooming with maehwa on 28.03.2014. Also, guess what? I think we met up with the most friendly Koreans whom so kindly brought us along with them on their journeys, stayed in a comfortable and homely pension and got to see the most beautiful Sansuyu flowers and cherry blossoms in Gurye and Hwagae. In fact, seeing the breathtaking cherry blossoms is my top most favourite memory of #31KoreaDays.

The story goes like this: we took the 3-hour bus from Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal and arrived in Gurye (27.03.2014 ~ 31.03.2014) late in the evening. In fact, it was pitch dark when we took the village bus to Jirisan Oncheon Land (Jirisan Spa-land). We needed the pension owner to come pick us up at the bus stop and the bus driver went all the way to help us – he called the pension owner and waited together with us till the owner arrived! There were 2 other locals on the bus and they happily waited with us too. Apologetic, yet at the same time thankful and touched.

We never saw the bus driver again, despite taking the same route for the next few days.

… [to be continued]

Details ~
I previously wrote about 구례 Gurye here.
Read about Yellow Spring Flowers: Gurye Sansuyu Festival. And if you can read Chinese, there are other places to enjoy Spring and Cherry Blossoms (read here).

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37 thoughts on “GURYE, Spring 2014 & Sansuyu

  1. Pingback: GURYE, SPRING 2014 & SANSUYU (PART 3) | skiesy

  2. Hi Skiesy

    I really enjoyed your beautiful pictures and your blog. My wife and I are also thinking of going to Seoul in Spring 2015. We are thinking of visiting both the Gurye Sansuyu and Gwangyang Maehwa Festival. My questions are:

    1) I noticed you only went to Gurye Sansuyu Festival. Is it advisable to go to both and how long do you think we should take?

    2) Is there a website where we can check when the festivals are in 2015? Obviously we want to try and book as close to the cherry blossom festival as possible .

  3. Hi Tienwei

    I’m glad you enjoy the photos! I was wondering if anyone is even reading them haha

    I actually went to both festivals this year, but Maehwa bloomed earlier than expected hence only one tree with maehwa was left when we went (hence I only briefly wrote about it, even though I was deciding between the 2 during the planning stage)! I think 3-4 days (including arrival, excluding departure) would be nice, though it also depends on what other attractions you intend to visit around that area. It’s good to visit both of them if you have the time, since their bloom dates are roughly around the same period and they are nearby.

    As for your second question, from my understanding, the announced festival dates are roughly the same every year, but the blooming of the flowers differ. However the announcement is usually out end Feb/ early Mar so I wouldn’t advice to wait till then. Even then the dates can change nearer to the actual dates! One way is to get the “middle dates” of the entire festival period so that if it happens earlier or later, you somehow can catch it!

    Hope this helps and I hope you get to enjoy the blooms with your wife! I am also going back to around the area for Spring in Korea next year 🙂

    • Hi Skiesy,

      Thanks for your reply ! Let me assure you that I have been reading through your Korea blog ! ☺

      My wife and I just came back from Korea where we went to see the autumn leaves at Nami Island and Mount Seorak. Unfortunately, we missed the timing so most of the trees were already bare at Mount Seorak. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the trip and are thinking of making a trip in Spring next year.

      1) Can I please ask how far the 2 festivals are apart form each other ? i.e the Gurye Sansuyu Festival and the Maehwa Festival ? Are they both a short bus ride or train ride away ?
      2) Is it also possible to go to the Hwagae Cherry Blossoms Festival? Is that also near by ?
      3) We were thinking of taking a train down to the nearest town in the area. Would that be Gurye ?
      4) Is there a website where we can look for accomodations in the area ? There is not much information on the usual tripadvisor etc websites.
      Thanks

  4. hehe i’m happy to hear that! I see! I am planning for an Autumn Korea trip but that’s probably be the next trip after Spring 2015 🙂

    1) They are about 4-5 hours apart via public buses. Unfortunately there is no direct bus, if I can remember correctly! We tagged along with a local and shared cab for some part of the journey. You might want to mix buses and cab for the journey.
    2) Yes too ! I actually prefer Hwagae’s most, but then again we are talking about different flowers. Hwagae is about an hour from Gurye by bus.
    3) Do you mean a train from Seoul? For town, what do you mean? Near the terminal area usually has more facilities (do you mean that?)
    4) I agree! There is hardly much English information about countryside in Korea. Frankly I am also searching for accommodation around the area too, for Spring 2015 but I am still not at that stage yet since I hadn’t quite confirm my route! I do ask my friend for recommendations (but she charges a fee, since she did quite a bit of research and field visits).

    • Hi Skiesy,

      I had no idea that the Maehwa Gwangyang Festival and Gurye Sansuyu Festival were 4-5 hours apart by public bus ! I actually thought they were much nearer….. I might consider skipping one of them to go to Hwagae Festival instead. What was your impression of the Maehwa Gwangyang Festival when you were there ?

      For Question 3, I was going to ask if I can take a train down from Seoul directly to Gurye Train Terminal? Thanks for the tip on Gurye accommodation but I will have to think about the route we want to take given the short time that we have there before considering where to stay. We can keep in touch and we just might bump into each other at the festival !

      If you are thinking of heading to Mount Seorak for Autumn next year, pls let me know if you need any information.

  5. Hi Tien Wei,

    Hwagae Festival and Gurye will be an hour apart, but that said, be careful of the traffic! It can get quite bad during the festival period. We spent quite abit of time waiting for buses to come (since they were caught in the jam!) and in the bus (but hehe that’s a nice time to take photos too). There was a part of the journey that we alighted from the bus and walked (but we did that as we were following some Koreans, and we were there the 2nd or 3rd time again so we pretty much knew our way so we could walk). So pls don’t use 1 hour to plan and budget more time!

    Maehwa Festival is located on a huge hill and I saw photos of them – very pretty too if the timing is right. The photos would look different from Hwagae’s (of which bulk of it is along the expressway – but pls find your way to my favourite spot in Hwagae! I am sorry I dont know if there is a name to it, but it is just next to the bus stop for Hadong Ssanggyesa Temple. There is an information office there and benches for a picnic. That is the most beautiful spot!!). I think my favourite has to be Hwagae’s – but that’s largely bias since I’ve seen it. If I got to pick and time’s a constraint, going to Hwagae will allow me to get to Gurye quickly, I will pick these 2 compared to Gwangyang that’s further South. But that’s my logic of hitting 2 festivals hoping that at least one is of the right timing!

    Ah I got it! Yes there is a train to Gurye but I ended up picking the bus instead. I cant remember the exact reason now but I suspect it is cheaper than the train’s, more convenient in terms of the bus terminal and not too much longer than the train journey. You can take the bus from Seoul Nambu Bus Terminal.

    Thanks for your offer, I might take that up as we are definitely going over during Autumn – just a matter of when!

    Hehe let’s keep in touch nearer the date! Who knows, we might be there during the same period hehe! I might be on my own this time too ^^ I hope what I share is useful 🙂

    • Hi Skiesy that was very fast! We haven’t started any actual planning yet as I thought we will only start in Jan 2015. Could you pls share your ideas on where to stay in Hwagae?

      • Thanks…. How did you know which dates to book for your air ticket ?After all the dates for the spring festivals tend to be confirmed only 2-3 weeks before ?

      • Hmm typically flowers start blooming from early March (but fewer places) to early Apr or mid Apr (usually last bit of spring), hence based on those places that I plan to go, I book my air ticket from end March. Another thing is – there is a difference between festival dates and flowers dates (ie festival can be ongoing but flowers might be dying – simply because it is difficult for the organiser to change/ time the festival dates to follow exactly that of the flower blooming).. Lastly this time round I didn’t book as many accommodation and willing to go search for one/ stay in their bath house for that few days of flexibility… I usually book quite early since I am not sure if I can get the dates/prices if I am late… you hadn’t book air ticket too?

      • Oh ok….I actually thought that the festival dates would be when the flowers are in full bloom…I haven’t booked my air tickets yet…In fact, I haven’t done much planning at all ha ha…So which places do you intend to go this time ?

      • haha my work peak period is coming in jan and feb so i dont have much time already.. i’m going jeju (if u hadnt gone, thats a good place for flowers too.. i also got another great place in jeju to stay if u looking for ideas haha) and about the same places as this year – jeonnam region.. all around hwagae, planning for more day trip out of seoul too

      • How long will you be going to Korea for ? I was thinking 2 weeks for us to cover Hwagae/Gurney and Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival and Seoul of course

      • mine’s abt 3 weeks – abt 1.5 weeks in jeju + seoul… oh then 2 weeks sound just about nice for you guys…hmm if i have time, maybe i will go to jinhae for day trip though i am super undecided on that..

      • 1.5 weeks in Jeju ? Is there so much to see ? I have not been there but I always thought you could cover in 3-4 days……Yeah, timing is everything if we want to catch 3 flower festivals in 2 weeks ( Gurye/Hwagae and JInhae)…..I am not sure if I can cover Gurye/Hwagae and Jinhae all in one go or Gurye/Hwagae in one trip, back to Seoul and then Jinhae/Busan in another trip….What do you think?

  6. haha 1.5 weeks in Jeju and Seoul…. (not just Jeju). I’ve been to Jeju before so am just visiting a friend there. Hmm from what I recall of their flower blooming dates and logistically wise I think it is possible/makes more sense to start with Hwagae/Gurye then Jinhae before ending at Seoul.. also Seoul spring flowers aren’t that spectacular after seeing those!

    • Is it better to stay longer in Gurye or Hwagae ? I am thinking of taking buying a KTX pass and taking a train down to Gurye and spending 1 night in Gurye to head to the festival area and then maybe 1-2 nights in Hadong to check out the Hwagae Cherry Blossom festival…Do you think you can just stay 1 night each in each area ?

  7. Gurye and Hwagae are actually pretty close to each other – if without the traffic jams it should take less than an hour. Gurye seems like a bigger transport hub while Hwagae is not (the hub is at Hadong, abt half hour away) so if it affects where you can go next, then it might be something you want to consider. How many days to spend there – depends on what you want to do there – I know many locals can do one (or even 2 close enough) flower festivals in a day, though it might also be because they took more cabs than public buses (which is not that frequent/ sometimes timings unknown). Not that cabs are terribly expensive, but it just increases the transport expenditure. If flowers are the only thing you want to see that, I would say 1 day/night each suffice. If you want to do other things eg typically hiking, visiting a temple, taking a walk, visiting the market/ bath house or just taking photos, you might want to consider devoting in some buffer. Of course these activities can also be done in Seoul too. As to which to stay longer, another factor you can consider is what kind of flowers do you prefer – Gurye’s sansuyou is yellow in colour, with backdrop of villages, Hwagae’s light pink with backdrop of expressway/cars(haha) but the other side of it is glorious mountains/lake. Or perhaps which regional food do you like more? Lastly, it also depends on where you will be staying in each area. Sometimes I stay abit longer in the place where it is more comfortable. Haha in a nutshell yes 1 day is possible in each area

    • Thanks for the info…Looks like I have to start planning soon…..Btw where do you get a telecom SIM card in Seoul? I didn’t get one on our last trip but think I will get one this time

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your nice pictures and information, I am also planning to Korea this spring, we will stay in Suncheon and do a day trip to Hwagae, I think there is no direct bus from Suncheon, you took the bus from Gurye to Hwagae ? roughly how long is the journey ? Thanks !

    • Hi Cheng! Glad to hear that someone is reading them ^^ Based on my memory, the bus ride from Gurye to Hwagae takes about an hour (1,900 Won one way). However do buffer in more time as the traffic can get quite bad (it’s only a 2-lane road into Hwagae) during peak hours/weekends etc. Hope you guys enjoy Spring in Hwagae, I am going to there this year too! 🙂

      • Thanks for your prompt reply ! I am also planning to visit the yellow flower in Gurye probably after the Hwagae and on the way back to Suncheon, from Gurye do we need to take another bus for the yellow flower area ? Thanks again and enjoy your trip too :p

      • Hi Cheng! I did a quick google search and there might be some direct buses from Suncheon Central Bus Terminal to Gurye Bus Terminal – around an hour (but I hadn’t been to Suncheon, so its better to check when you are in Suncheon!), or indirect buses through Gwangju that will take up to 3 hours. I think you can also travel to Hadong Terminal and get to Hwagae. (Ah I saw your 2nd comment before I could post this, so I guess it might make sense to take either the direct bus (if any) or transit at Gurye). You need another bus from Gurye Bus Terminal to see the Sansuyou flowers. I’ve been to one such place in Gurye and I think there might be a few. But the officers at Gurye Bus Terminal would be able to get you on the right bus. There is also a big poster of the Sansuyou flowers at the Gurye Bus Terminal so all you need is to point and say you want to go there! One possibility is to share cab with other travellers! I’ve shared with other fellow Koreans (from Hadong Terminal to Sansuyou village)!

    • Hi mavis, i did a quick check on hadong train station but i couldn’t find anything reliable on how long the journey is! but i would advice to reach hadong train station as early as the train schedule allows and make your way to the site of cherry blossoms. especially on weekends, i would anticipate a huge crowds, for locals would travel over the weekends too. i am going later this month too, hopefully we get to enjoy the beautiful spring!

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