Tongyeong “The Naples of Korea”

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Tongyeong often referred to as ‘The Naples of Korea’, is an amazing place to visit. Tongyeong is a picturesque coastal city located in South Gyeongsang province of South Korea. It is at the southern tip of South Korea in Goseong peninsula. It consists of Goseong Peninsula, Mireuk island, Hansan island and other small islands.

It is a historical city. Actually the original name was ‘Chungmu’ named after the honorary title of Admiral ‘Yi Sun-sin’. The new name ‘Tongyeong’ means ‘Command post’ because it is believed to have been the major base of operations near Hansan island, of Admiral Yi during the Japanese invasion.

Tongyeong not only has spectacular and tranquil scenery but has a lot to offer. Should you decide to visit Tongyeong, It will be a trip to remember! Trust me!

So here is the low down of various things you can do and enjoy in Tongyeong.

Right off the back it’s a great place to visit for all you history buffs out there! Visit Tongyeong Sebyeonggwan Hall (통영 세병관) which is supposed to be one of the widest building of the Joseon dynasty.

You can take a 30 minutes ferry ride from Tongyeong to Hansando Island. The Tongjeyeong naval base was created in Hansando during the Japanese invasion in 1592. Back then, the island served as the tactical headquarters of General Yi’s armies. You can see the barracks, The Suru Watch Tower, and Hansanjeong, where soldiers were trained in archery. You can also visit the ‘Jeseungdang Shrine’ which supposedly has general Yi’s remains.

Feeling adventurous? The Hallyeosudo Gandola Ropeway might just do the trick. Hallyeosudo Viewing Ropeway (한려수도 조망케이블카) is another fun spot to visit.

You can hop on a Gondola and go to the top of Mireuksan Mountain. The view from the Gandola is incredible. Once you arrive at the top of the mountain, you can walk around.Check out the various observatories that are around. Basically telescopes that use 500 won coins.

You can see the historical place where the Great Battle of Hansan was fought. If there is no fog you can even see as far as Hallyeohaesang National Park and Dolsando Island. On a sunny day, Japan’s Daemado Island is clearly visible.

There are a bunch of pebble beaches scattered around Tongyeong that are worth checking out! The white sand beaches have clear, cool water and some astoundingly magnificent view.

There are other historical places you might want to check out….these are the few places I visited when I went to Tongyeong. For more information go to http://english.visitkorea.or.kr

There is no debating that Tongyeong is absolutely beautiful and has a lot of stuff to do. But let’s be honest, it is pretty hard to enjoy sites on an empty belly. If you are like me, after the gandola ride and walking around you will definitely be starving ^^

So let’s talk about food. You will find the usual Korean food, plethora of chicken and pizza places etc but a few things do stand out! Here are a few things you must try!

Oysters: yummy! Tongyeong and Geoje island have a vast oyster farming sector and are known for the best quality oysters in Korea. The oysters are large and rich in flavor. Comparatively cheaper than other places in Korea, the oysters can be eaten in a variety of dishes. You can have raw or grilled oysters, oyster porridge and savory oyster pancake. I like them best raw..but if raw is not your thing try the other variations.

Tongyeong is also famous for raw fish. So mainly there are two ways to do this, you can either visit a local seafood restaurant or do what I did. There is a huge seafood open market ‘Tongyeong Jungang Market‘ where you can buy fish and seafood to your heart’s content. Nearby are restaurants where you can take the fish and they will prepare it for you. The restaurants charge a reasonable price. The restaurant also provides assorted vegetables and sauces. And of course, all restaurants serve soju and beer. How cool is that! Personally I think the second option was not only more fun, more food but also cheaper.

Another thing Tongyeong is famous for is ‘Chungmu kimbab’.

These kimbab are unique in the fact that they are made only with rice. The rice rolls wrapped in Kim or laver are served with seasoned squid and kimchi on the side. I know, I know it doesn’t sound all that great but trust me you have to try it! It’s so simple yet delectable. Somehow all the simple flavors of: the rice, the laver, the kimchi and the seasoned squid comes together to make a surprisingly memorable meal.

Kkulbbang (꿀빵)

Yet another speciality of Tongyeong is Kkulbang, which is like a honey donut. Inside, the dough balls are filled with a sweet paste, then deep-fried and coated with syrup. Traditionally, the paste inside the dough was red bean paste, but recently shops offer different varieties: some filled with nuts, pumpkin, sweet potato, or some flavored with citron etc. These soft, chewy, sweet Korean style donuts are a must try if you visit Tongyeong. Other cities sell Kkulbang as well. In fact, I tried Kkulbang in my own town before I visited Tongyeong and hated it. But when I tried it again in Tongyeong I fell in love with these sweet, delightful and mouthwatering honey dough balls. They know how to make ’em! Trust me!

Yet another culinary delight you can try in Tongyeong is Meonggae Yugwak Bibimbap (멍게 유곽비빔밥). Meonggae yugwak bibimbap, comes with bite-size pieces of sea squirt, vegetables, and yugwak. Yugwak is diced vegetables and clam meat seasoned with fermented soy bean paste or deonjang, filled in a large clam, and grilled on fire. The grilled Yugwak is then added to the bibibmbab for a delicious meal.

This is but a glimpse. Tongyeong is a wonderful town that offers not only breathtakingly beautiful scenery but various activities and food you can try. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of fast city life and relax. I think it’s a great place to enjoy stunning natural beauty and explore historical sites or sit back and savor some soju with fresh seafood.

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