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Tongyeong City: A Charm Coastal Allure of Gyeongsangnam-do [trip sponsored by Tongyeong City & Trazy]

I typically make sure to share an IG story every weekend, but my feed stayed silent this past weekend because I was fully immersed in the thrill of yet another incredible adventure. This time with Trazy Korea, an English-friendly tour booking website, exploring Tongyeong City. This marks my second trip to the southern part of Korea this month, and with each experience, the journey only keeps getting more exciting!

As for Tongyeong, my curiosity about the city had piqued years ago when I first encountered its name while planning a road trip to Geoje-do. Positioned as the gateway to Geoje Island, Tongyeong was a necessary stop on our journey to the islandic city. Unfortunately, due to a tight schedule during our initial visit, we missed the chance to discover the city’s offerings. This trip to Tongyeong not only served as a special return to Gyeongsangnam-do but also as a chance to make up for the missed exploration from my previous visit to Geoje-do. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Trazy Korea and Tongyeong City for this fantastic opportunity!

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    About Tongyeong City:

    Tongyeong (통영시) stands as a picturesque coastal city nestled in South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. Just an hour and a half west of Busan, it emerges as an ideal addition to your travel itinerary when exploring the renowned Busan City. Embracing beaches, islands, and rich historical sites within its stunning natural surroundings, Tongyeong captivates visitors with its diverse offerings. The city holds a profound connection to the legendary Admiral Yi Sun-sin, celebrated for his decisive victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin War, with Tongyeong serving as his principal command post. Adding to its allure, Tongyeong is affectionately known as the “Naples of the East.”

    A Creative Décor of Admiral Yi Sun-sin

    Notably, in 2022, Tongyeong City achieved recognition as South Korea’s first specialized night tourism city. This prestigious designation resulted from the ‘2022 Specialized Night Tourism City Public Contest,’ organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in collaboration with the Korea Tourism Organization.

    Tongyeong Nightscape

    I mustn’t overlook mentioning the city’s mascot—an absolute charmer! Tongyeong boasts one of the most endearing mascots I’ve encountered in Korea: Dongbaeki (동백이). Picture a plump seagull with a camellia flower gracefully adorning the left side of its forehead. The name cleverly combines “dongbaekggot” (동백꽃), signifying camellia flower, and “galmaegi” (갈매기), denoting seagull in Korean. 

    Dongbaeki Figurine at Tongyeong Cable Car

    Interestingly, Dongbaeki often becomes the subject of good-natured jesting. I discovered that its rotund figure draws comparisons to a penguin, particularly evoking the image of Pengsoo—a nationally adored TV character celebrated for its amusing antics and mischievous troll face.

    Highlighted Destinations on the Journey:

    Now that you have a glimpse of what Tongyeong has to offer, let’s not waste any time and immerse ourselves in the enchantment of Tongyeong City—a place I had the pleasure of exploring during a 2D1N tour organized by Trazy Korea and Tongyeong City:

    Tongyeong Cable Car:

    Renowned as the longest and one of the oldest tourist cable cars in Korea, the Tongyeong Cable Car (통영케이블카) stretches over 1,975 meters. It transports visitors to the summit of Mireuk Mountain, where a dedicated observatory deck offers breathtaking panoramic views. From this elevated vantage point, you can enjoy splendid vistas of Tongyeong City and the picturesque islands of Hallyeosudo!

    The Magnificent View of Hallyeosudo Admired from Tongyeong Cable Car Observatory Deck

    Yi Sun-Sin Park:

    Nestled at the base of Mangilbong Peak, Yi Sun-Sin Park underwent a name change from Hansan Battle Memorial Park to honor Admiral Yi Sun-sin. The park features a statue of the revered admiral, an observation deck, a scenic walking path, a traditional cultural hall, and the charming Hagikjeong Pavilion. With panoramic views of Hansando, Hwado, and Banghwado, the park provides a captivating backdrop. Keep an eye out for a Dongbaeki figurine—a perfect photo opportunity against the stunning ocean vista!

    Dongbaeki in Yi Sun-Sin Park

    Dongpirang Mural Village:

    As you venture further into Tongyeong, you’ll notice a common theme in many attractions with the term ‘pirang.’ This is due to their hillside locations, where ‘pirang’ translates to ‘hill’ in the Tongyeong dialect. Dongpirang (동피랑) specifically refers to the eastern hill. In October 2007, the Tongyeong Agenda 21 association invited individuals nationwide to contribute murals along Dongpirang-gil Street. Through the vibrant artwork, this seaside hillside village transformed into a new, art-infused space: Dongpirang Mural Village (동피랑 벽화마을). The village’s observatory offers a captivating view of the sea and the lively Gangguan Port.

    An awe-inspiring sunset vista from the observatory of Dongpirang Mural Village

    Gangguan Port:

    Situated at the base of Dongpirang, Gangguan Port (강구안) stands out as Tongyeong’s renowned fishing harbor. It holds special significance as one of the city’s key attractions, drawing visitors eager to witness life-sized replicas of the Turtle Ship or Geobukseon—an iconic warship used by the Korean Joseon Navy. Beyond its historical allure, Gangguan Port is among the five designated night tourism spots, featuring an array of captivating lighting and illuminations. Joining DPIRANG, Dongpirang, Tongjeyeong, and Seopirang Village, the port showcases a colossal illuminated Dongbaeki, lengthy footpath adorned with extra light bulbs, a captivating rainbow light display at the port’s edge, and an array of vibrant neon signs.

    The Illuminated Dongbaeki at Gangguan Port

    A life-sized replica of Geobukseon

    Tongyeong Jungang Market:

    Located in proximity to Gangguan Port, where Geobukseon replicas and fishing boats line the docks, Tongyeong Jungang Market (통영 중앙시장) reigns supreme among the city’s culinary hotspots. Renowned for its delectable offerings, this market, nestled near the coastline, is a haven for fresh and dried marine products.

    Dpirang Night Theme Park:

    Dpirang (디피랑) is a recent addition to the scene, earning its reputation as the longest and largest outdoor night digital theme park in Korea. It takes center stage in the ‘Nine o’clock at night, Five Lights Tongyeong’ night tourism theme. Nestled in the scenic Nammangsan Park, Dpirang boasts over 15 illuminated walking paths and a plethora of captivating light displays, making it the highlight of the trip.

    Hansan Hotel:

    During our overnight stay in Tongyeong, we opted for the Hansan Hotel (한산 호텔) situated by the Guan Port in the west. Overlooking the port, every room treats guests to a delightful ocean view, complete with glimpses of cargo ships and tourist ferries navigating between rows of jetties. Our room was not only spacious and clean but also exceptionally comfortable. The hotel’s strategic location, adjacent to the Seoho Market, made it incredibly convenient to explore the neighborhood and indulge in a delicious local breakfast dish.

    Tongyeong’s Culinary Gems:

    A heartfelt shoutout to our wonderful tour guide, Dony, for making this section of the post possible. Without his insights, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to discover and savor the many delightful specialties that Tongyeong has to offer.

    Gul (굴): In Korean, Gul translates to oyster, and Tongyeong City is renowned for its oyster farms, making any oyster dish here a must-try! During our journey, we indulged in Guljeon (굴전), an enticing oyster fritter, at one of the restaurants in Tongyeong Jungang Market, and it was absolutely delicious!

    A Hearty Plate of Guljeon

    Chungmu Gimbap (충무김밥): These are bite-sized rice rolls accompanied by flavorful baby octopus. I enjoyed this dish so much that I couldn’t resist having it twice during our trip! The side items included radish kimchi, and there was a generous serving of cut Eomuk (Korean fish cake) blending with the sweet and savory octopus. Every bite of the rice rolls was complemented perfectly by the accompanying flavors—it’s truly an amazing creation! You can discover Chungmu Gimbap restaurants scattered throughout the city, especially in bustling markets like Jungang Market and Seoho Market. 

    A Set of Chungmu Gimbap

    Ggulbbang (꿀빵): A delightful honey bread dessert, ggulbbang is a sticky bread filled with sweetened red bean paste, coated with syrup, and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Apart from the traditional red bean filling, Tongyeong-ggulbbang offers delightful variations such as sweet potato, chestnut, yuja (citrus fruit), and green tea.

    The Delightful Ggulbbang

    Sirak Guk (시락국): Numerous Sirak Guk eateries dot the Seoho Market area. This hearty bowl of soup features dried leaves and stems of radish, complemented by tender morsels of fish like eel. A favorite among locals for breakfast, these Sirak Guk establishments open bright and early every day, catering to early risers.

    A Homey Breafast: Sirak Guk

    Journeying from Seoul to Tongyeong:

    For our excursion, we were suggested to take an express bus, seamlessly connecting Seoul’s Express Bus Terminal to Tongyeong Bus Terminal in the new town district. The travel time spans approximately 4 hours. Upon our return to Seoul, we had the delightful opportunity to ride the premium version of the bus, elevating the already smooth and comfortable journey to a luxurious experience!

    Onboard a Premium Express Bus Bound for Seoul

    Summing up my unforgettable Tongyeong adventure with Trazy Korea and Tongyeong City Tourism Organization—it was an absolute blast! Despite losing half a day to travel from Seoul, the well-structured itinerary and our accommodating tour guide, Dony, ensured we caught up with all the must-see destinations. Once in Tongyeong, the excursion flowed seamlessly, allowing us to experience the city’s highlights and savor its unique and delightful culinary offerings. A big thanks for the memorable trip—I’m eagerly looking forward to booking another adventure with Trazy Korea!

    Fascinated by the exciting tours to Tongyeong? Snag an impressive 70% discount on Tongyeong Night Tours & Activities by applying the code ‘tongyeong70’ on, valid until December 15th, 2023 (KST)!

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