A Trip To Namhae – Korea’s Southern Coastal Region
If you’re looking for a laidback and off-the-beaten-path destination in Korea, Namhae ticks all the boxes. A trip to Namhae is the perfect summer getaway destination because there is a lot to do there. From rice terraces and pretty nice beaches to historic temples and delicious seafood, Namhae has something for everyone.
Where is Namhae?
Located next to the city of Yeosu in the south of Gyeongsangnam-do Province, Namhae is the fifth largest island in Korea. Officially called Namhaedo Island, the area covers an area of over 350 km². Namhae and Changseon are the two main islands but Namhaedo also includes the smaller islands of Hodo, Jodo, Nodo, and 65 other uninhabited islets.
Namhae also has a couple of mountains, including Mangun (786m), Geum (681m), and Won (627m), all of which are located on the main Namhae island.
Why do a Trip to Namhae?
The scenery and vibe in Namhae are really quite different than other parts of Korea. The landscape is dominated by terraced rice fields, most famous of which are the rice paddies of Gacheon Daraengi Village.
Hallyeohaesang National Park makes up a large part of the island and is great for hiking and outdoor activities. This is also where you find Boriam Hermitage, overlooking the sea and founded in 683.
Last but not least, the beaches in Namhae are also among the nicest in Korea. Crystal clear water and sandy coastlines are ideal for a summer vacation. Whichever side of Namhae you are on, a nice beach is never far away.
How to Get to Namhae
Namhae is a very rural area located connected to the mainland via a bridge. There are no train stations – the best way to get to Namhae is by road.
Depending on where you’re traveling from, taking an express bus might also be a great option. Look for “Namhae Intercity Bus Terminal” (남해시외버스터미널) in Namhae when booking your ticket. From Seoul’s Nambu Terminal, this journey takes around 4 hours.
Driving to and in Namhae is also a good option. Coming from the northwest, you simply take the Suncheon–Wanju Expressway, and coming from the northeast, you take Namhae Expressway.
The Best Things to See & Do in Namhae
Namhae is quite large and there is a lot to do – from ancient temples and national parks to relaxing beaches and charming cafés. Let’s take a look at the best things to see and do during a trip to Namhae.
Daraengi Village Rice Terraces 다랭이마을
A trip to Namhae isn’t complete without visiting this village! Located on the steep slopes of Seolheulsan and Eungbongsan in front of the sea, Daraengi Village offers perfect conditions for farming.
The village is made up of a set of 108 steps of picturesque rice paddies and a walking course for tourists. There are also a couple of restaurants and cafés where visitors can enjoy the scenic atmosphere.
The narrow roads and retro vibe of Daraengi Maeul immediately reminded me of Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan.
Address: 21 Nammyeon-ro 679beon-gil, Nam-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Boriam Hermitage 보리암
The hermitage was founded in 683 by the leading thinker of Korean Buddhism, Great Master Wonhyo. He allegedly lived at the temple in complete solitude and away from all worldly pleasures.
What makes Boriam Hermitage a must-see in Namhae are the spectacular views from the temple complex. More specifically, the views from the Manbul-jeon Hall are the most impressive, and people even line up to take the instagrammable shot looking out into the Namhae islets from this point.
Read my detailed article about Boriam Hermitage for more information.
Address: 665 Boriam-ro, Sangju-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Namhae German Village 남해독일마을
Unlike many other Europe-inspired villages around Korea, Namhae German Village has an interesting history. The German town came about after a group of skilled Korean workers returned from spending time in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s.
At this time, many Korean workers were sent to work in Germany either as miners (male workers) or nurses (female workers).
Today, the area is a unique tourist spot showcasing German culture and the life of the Korean miners and nurses in Germany. The museum displays different photos and artifacts from that time.
The souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants all have German items on offer.
Address: 1074-2 Mulgeon-ri, Samdong-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Seolli Skywalk 설리스카이워크
You can find some of the best panoramic views of Namhae at Seolli Skywalk. It is the first asymmetrical cantilever bridge in Korea standing 36 meters off the ground and stretching 79 meters long, 43 meters of which are on the suspended side of the cantilever.
The skywalk features glass floors over the beautiful Namhae coast, as well as cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops in the adjacent building complex.
At the end of the walkway is a swing, modeled after the famous swings in Bali.
Address: 산352-21 Songjeong-ri, Mijo-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Seolli Bathing Resort 설리해수욕장
Namhae has some fantastic beaches, one of which is Seolli Bathing Resort. The clear waters are ideal for kayaking, snorkeling, and other water leisure experiences.
Seolli Beach was also named one of the ’20 top beaches’ by the Korea Tourism Organization, one more reason to visit it during a trip to Namhae. The white sand beach is around 300m long and about 60m wide, with a depth of 1m and an average annual water temperature of 18℃.
Address: 70, Misong-ro 303beon-gil, Mijo-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Songjeong Solbaram Beach 송정솔바람해변
Another excellent beach destination in Namhae is Seongjeong Solbaram. This beach also offers indigo blue sea and silver sand harmonizing with the surrounding pine forest for a relaxing beach time.
With a length of 2km, Songjeong Solbaram is the second largest beach in Namhae. The nearby Mijo Port offers a unique atmosphere of a fishing village, giving you some insight into the locals’ way of life in Namhae.
Address: 4-69, Misong-ro 483beon-gil, Mijo-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
The Best Places to Eat in Namhae
Due to Namahe’s location on the southern sea, fish and seafood dominate the region’s cuisine. On top of that, you can also find some lovely cafes and beach restaurants here.
Aenggang Market 앵강마켓
This store/café is a great place to try Namhae’s clean sea ingredients and traditional foods of the region. As Aenggang Market focuses on local food and ingredients, you will not find any traditional coffee here. Opt for Korean teas or try the barley cold brew as a coffee substitute.
Be aware that they are only open between 12 and 5 PM and are closed every Tuesday and Wednesday.
Address: 772 Namseo-daero, Nam-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
The Pool Burger 더풀
I highly recommend the Pool Burger if you want to have some Western food while in Namhae. It’s a charming little vintage-style burger joint located at an old public swimming pool.
There’s only one burger on the menu: the Pool Burger. Fries are sold separately. You can choose between a couple of different drinks and soft ice cream.
Address: 50 Namseo-daero 1517beon-gil, Seo-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Café Tol 카페 톨
This was probably my favorite cafe during my trip to Namhae. Café Tol is located in Daraengi Maeul overlooking the blue sea. They are famous for their rice meal bread and refreshing lemonades.
However, what really drew me there were the seats in the flower-filled garden just outside the cafe. The vibe here almost reminds me of the Provence in Southern France.
Address: 918-13 Honghyeon-ri, Nam-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
Come and visit Namhae!
My trip to Namhae was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoyed my recommendations. If you visit Namhae yourself, let me know which places I you enjoyed the most.
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