Jeongdongjin on Korea’s East Coast is probably best known for the super quirky Sun Cruise Resort. No big surprise there. After all, it’s a huge hotel modelled after a cruise ship, perched atop a cliff overlooking the sea… but not actually in it. Boats don’t need water, right?
There’s no denying that the crazy cruise ship is worth a visit, but don’t limit yourself to just that. There’s many more things to do in Jeongjongjin, including a beach, incredible sunrise views, a rail bike, and the newly opened Badabuchae-gil – a seaside trekking trail.
Jump to what you want.
Jeongdongjin Beach (정동진해변)
Jeongdongjin Beach is a 250 metre long stretch of sand on Korea’s East Seaa. It’s open year-round, but swimming dates are typically from early July to mid-August. Facilities include restrooms, changing rooms, shower stalls, and free parking. Admission to the beach is also free.
Posted hours for swimming are from 6AM – 6PM, though I’m not really sure what happens after 6PM. Do the police come and pull you out of the water? Don’t laugh – this actually happened to Agri at Gyeongpo Beach one day in early September. There were police boat sirens wailing and ajusshis yelling. Ok, I might’ve laughed just a little bit. 😉
We visited at the very beginning of swimming season, with the intention of spending a weekend relaxing by the sea, but this proved kind of impossible. The waves at Jeongdongjin Beach were huge and dramatic, and even though it was technically summer, it was pretty cold. Definitely too cold for a dip in the sea.
Instead, we contented ourselves with just sitting on the deserted beach for a few hours, listening to the roaring waves and inhaling the salty sea air.
When we couldn’t stand the cold any longer, we made our way over to that crazy cruise ship perched atop a cliff, and found ourselves at the entrance, paying a fee to enter the grounds. The entrance fee was kind of a surprise, but it was actually for the Sun Cruise Resort Theme Park, not the hotel. I imagine you don’t have to pay it if you’re actually staying there.
Sun Cruise Resort Theme Park
Surrounding the Sun Cruise Resort, is a theme park of sorts with a Sunrise Garden, sculpture park, scary walkways that takes you out right above the powerful ocean, glass observatory and observation platforms. The Sunrise Garden and sculpture park includes “The Hands of Blessing,” sculpture, and other pieces designed to magnify the impact of sunrise or sunset on visitors.
It was all a bit kitschy for my taste, but somehow appropriate, given the huge cruise ship also on site.
There was no sign of tackiness in the walkways set right atop the ocean though, only a feeling of insignificance and no small amount of fear. The Sun Cruise Resort sits 60 metres above the sea, and the views above Jeongdongjin and Korea’s East Coast from the observation platforms on the ship were extraordinary.
We ended our day in the glass observatory, which was actually a rotating coffee shop, where you could relax and indulge in some rather expensive desserts and drinks, while drinking in the magnificent sight of mountains and ocean all around you.
Tickets to enter the Sun Cruise Resort Theme Park are 5,000 won for adults, and 3,000 won for children aged 5-12.
The Badabuchae-gil is a newly opened seaside trekking trail that stretches between Jeongdong and Simgok Port. You can walk either way, but it’s recommended to begin at the Jeongdong Sun Cruise Resort side. There’s a long set of stairs to walk down to reach the trail. If you don’t mind walking up stairs of course, feel free to start at the Simgok Port side instead.
On the 2.86 km walk, you’ll enjoy views of the turquoise waters, as well as see 2 uniquely shaped rocks. The buchae bawi is a huge rock shaped like a fan, and the tugu bawi resembles a soldier wearing a helmet.
The path is almost 3km long. It takes approximately 1 hour to complete the Badabuchae-gil. Make sure you go to the bathroom before starting, as there’s no toilets on the trail. Entrance is 3,000 won.
Jeongdongjin Rail Bike
There are several different rail bikes you can ride in Korea, but the Jeongdongjin rail bike has the distinct honour of being the closest one to the sea. You can breathe in the salty ocean air and enjoy gorgeous views as you peddle your way along the 5.1km long track.
The starting and end point is Jeongdongjin Station. The entire journey takes approximately 40 minutes to complete. There are both 2-seater and 4-seater rail bikes available.
Getting from Seoul to Jeongdongjin
Jeongdongjin is located on Korea’s East Coast. There are several options to get there, including driving independently, taking the train or getting on a long-distance bus.
Deciding which option is the best for you, depends largely on where you live in Seoul.
Via long-distance bus
You can catch a long-distance bus from either the Dong Seoul or Gangnam Bus Terminals. The Dong Seoul, or East Seoul Terminal can be found just outside of Gangbyun subway station on Line 2. Your final destination should be the Gangneung Intercity / Express Bus Terminal.
Once you arrive in Gangneung, you can take bus 109 from outside the terminal, and get off at the Jeongdong stop. The beach is a 300 metre walk from the bus stop.
In normal traffic conditions, it takes approximately 3 hours to get from Seoul to Jeongdongjin via bus. This is the most convenient option for anyone who’s staying on the southeast side of Seoul, as it’s fast and easy to get to both bus terminals.
Via KTX train
If you’re near Seoul Station, the fastest option is via KTX or high speed train. There’s no direct train to Jeongdongjin Beach, but you can get to Gangneung Station in about 2 hours. From Gangneung, you can either take a taxi, transfer to the Mugunghwa train bound for Jeongdongjin, or get a bus.
Remember to factor in the amount of time it take to get to Seoul Station from your location, when deciding which route to take.
Via Mugunghwa train
You can take a direct train from Cheongnyangni Station to Jeongdongjin Station, but this option takes significantly longer – almost 6 hours on the Mugunghwa Train. I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you’re absolutely desperate or on a serious budget, as you may have to stand the entire way.
Have you ever visited an kitschy or over-the-top hotel or tourist attraction? What do you think of the Suncruise Resort? Yay or nay?