Chungbuk is the only province that has no coastline, but it makes up for it by being the country’s lake district. A two-hour ferry ride along Chungju Lake zips past attractive cliffs that inspired Joseon-era artists and poets. Lakeside, Cheongnamdae is a holiday villa used by Korean presidents that is open to the public for most of the year. Another lakeside attraction is the resort town of Danyang, within walking distance of a huge limestone cave and a bus trip away from a national park and the unique Gu·insa temple complex.
You can stroll round the attractive spa resort of Suanbo Hot Springs in a matter of minutes, but after a therapeutic dip and massage, you can savour local specialities such as rabbit, duck and pheasant meals in the restaurants that make up most of the town. Just a couple of kilometres down the road is Korea’s most modest ski resort, which lures beginners who don’t want a crowded ski-resort feel.
No less than three national parks line the province’s southwest border with Gyeongsangbuk-do: Songnisan, famous for its giant Buddha statue; Sobaeksan, popular in late spring when the mountain azaleas paint the hillsides purple; and Woraksan, where rare but shy goral antelopes roam freely.
The province was historically the southern boundary of the Goguryeo kingdom, and Suanbo Hot Springs has been providing therapeutic baths for a thousand years, but the province’s main claim to historical fame is based on Heungdeoksa, a temple in Cheongju city that no longer exists, where the world’s first book was printed using movable metal type.
Olympic Pyeongchang and beyond: winter sports in South Korea
After narrowly losing the bidding for the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s Pyeongchang in the mountainous Gangwon-do province has now been named the host of the 2018 Winter Olympic games by the International Olympic Committee.