This metropolitan is a departure from the regular South Korean city formula in that it is difficult to describe. Gwangju is both cyber and punk; both the city of physical lights and spiritual enlightenment and both a city easy and difficult to put into words. The well-handled humanizing element present and prevalent on the nativity of Korean democracy (culminated in Gwangju Massacre) opened Gwangju towards a better future and tilted it ever since towards the world of democracy; tourism being the most proper and a relatively mature channel for the world outside to experience South Korean developments from up close. Now, like never before, Gwangju is standing head-and-shoulders above most cities out there and actually receiving the attention it has strived so hard to deserve over the decades.
A key city that served as a command post and depot since its first inception in 57 B.C., evened the odds throughout the course of its history, and up until recently enjoyed its position as the capital of South Jeolla Province till it was shifted to Namak early in the twenty-first century, Gwangju’s part in catalysing the evolution of the nation’s south-western region into an economic zone is indisputable. Since the bloody incident of the Gwangju Massacre, the government has taken all the right steps in putting forward an urbanisation plan that pays tribute to the martyrs of the holocaust and is in equally good terms with the democratic ideals they upheld. The result is a peace loving and peace preaching atmosphere such as only South Korea can deliver.
The once in a year Gwangju Kimchi Culture Festival is held and celebrated to full extent during autumn (September-October) precisely because the season is at its best for such outdoor events. Come September and Gwangju hosts The National Asia Culture and Art Festival in addition to further hosts several indigenous carnivals, comi fests, sports competitions and underground gigs all along the year. The climate is fickle during March and April (spring) and yet an ideal time for visiting the city, if only to watch the cherry blossoms at East District’s Sangnok Hall!
TravelhouseUK already has tourists on a big advantage with cheap flights to Gwangju. Gwangju has gone through changes and still witnesses new ones, as time goes by. Tourists visiting Gwangju in this day and age can consider themselves lucky for what they encounter is a hub of textile mills, plazas, shopping marts, breweries, arcades and almost everything to be found in a developed metropolitan that levels up its charms.
The Art Street plays a vital role in enhancing the whole point of visiting a city built on a foundation of sophistication. The artwork is predominantly spectacular- artists and craftsmen are positively responsive and some of the street guidance tours have a pleasing mannerism in them. The 5.18 Memorial Parks give tourists a running start on both the city’s natural attractions as well as its historical significance. Each park has its own monument (one being a cemetery) and believing as we do, not in men but manners, sympathetic tourists can vicariously participate in the sacrifices of those who fought against military dictatorship. As they are, the sites are quite a distance apart from one another making them supplementary spots when visiting the area for other places of interest.
But it is the Yangdong Market that actually defines Gwangju as a City of Light. Almost everything worth retail is available on rock bottom prices and cheaper bargains at the market which also serves as the place of choice for trying out different South Korean cuisines; Boribap, Doenjang, Tteokgalbi, Lettuce Wraps, and Buckwheat Noodles among others. Select one or you can select all… the menu never ends. Speaking of Tteokgalbi, you can drive out or take the subway more gladly knowing that some of the best dishes and Tteokgalbi in particular can be tried at Songjeong dong and Tteok galbi street. A heavy Chinese and Indonesian demographic peoples this street and allows for a variety of taste experiences.
You make a line by connecting dots together; when the line closes the outline appears. If there is something still out of the picture, it’s probably a Gwangju university. Both Japan and South Korea are famous for indulging their students with a multi-coloured high-school life and an even better university life. This is precisely what one finds on the backside of the Chonnam University. A dating hotspot and a hangout with buzzing cafés and busy ATMs, this is just a normal day in the life of university students taking a much needed break. This makes it a one of a kind place to hit when you are craving some change. Tuck that smartphone into your jacket pocket, turn up the volume and set off. On the other hand, the Mudeung Mountain is best kept for a hiking spree but those with a lesser appetite for athletics may capture the mountainous grandeur in the stills and pans of your DSLR.
Nightlife in Gwangju is rock n’ rolls in bars like Speakeasy, Truffaut and Ethnic Bar (in the basement) where night owls can divert themselves with DVDs, books and company of sorts. Just so long as they do not drink themselves stupid. Folk do not, repeat; do not like drunks walking down the alleys. For quality accommodations, Holiday Inn Gwangju, Ramada Plaza Gwangju, Hotel France, Hotel B, and Manhattan Hotel among many others are four-star hotels for a deluxe stay and a sound sleep.
With little time and still lesser inclination for long haul flights to Gwangju, travellers can check out Air China or China Eastern for a time-saving flight. Within 16 hours and 20 minutes, both airlines cover their distances from London to Gwangju with a total of two stopovers- Beijing and Jeju City. The same can be said as regards Asiana Airlines and Korean Air for reaching Gwangju Airport within 17 hours, reputable airlines punctual to the dot. British Airways flies via Shanghai and Jeju City, takes a few more minutes, but makes up for it in its own ways. Those interested can check in with our travel consultants and the bargains they quote in pounds and pence.