Located in the south of the province of Jeolla, South Korea, Gwangju is known as the forefront of the democracy movement in the country. This is due to the Gwangju Massacre that happened in May 18, 1980 where over two hundred students got killed by army forces during a pro-democracy demonstration. This gave the city an unmistakable mark in the country's history and its people the pride of being at the forefront of any national democratic actions. Walking along the path of modernisation, the city is also known for its fashionable way of living with business districts selling trendy apparels here and there. Gwangju also prides itself as having the largest and most modern bus terminal in the country. Vibrant social life also closely follow this claim as the city boast of its rich drinking, dining, and clubbing scenes. Gwangju is easily accessible by plane and even services flights to the more popular tourist destinations in South Korea – the capital city, Seoul and the Paradise Island of Jeju.
What to see & do
Although not as modern and fast-paced as Seoul, Gwangju still have its fair share of tourist destinations and also serves as a good hub for touring South Jeolla and its surrounding provinces. Parks and art galleries are scattered across the city. The 5.18 Memorial Parks, a monument to the historical May 18 Massacre, is located in central Sangmu. It houses an exhibition hall where visitors will learn about the infamous event that paved the way to the democratic uprising. Walk through the Art Street near downtown and get a full view of artists and their works displayed in galleries and decorated the store windows. The place is extra beautiful at night. Get a taste of the city's way of living by visiting the Yangdong Market that stretches through the city's most famous food, clothing, and furniture market down to the river edge in the southern part of the city. At night, coloured lights and shopping areas beautify the place, symbolising Gwangju as the City of Light and Culture.
How to get around
South Korea is a country of public transportation and Gwangju is but another city that allows fluid transportation for its people and tourists alike. You can get around the city aboard the subway, bus, or taxi. The subway would be your fastest route to get to know the city and explore its beautiful places. Fare price is the same to any location. From the subway, you can get to the bus terminal by alighting at Nongseong Station and walking straight north past E-Mart and Shinsegae. Buses are colour- and number-coded. Red buses cover the large parts of the city and take very few stops. Yellow buses are the most common and run every 10-20 minutes, whereas Green buses are known as village buses and connect smaller communities to transfer points. The Purple buses generally cover the outskirts of the city. On the other hand, Bus number 1 services Sangmu and the train station going to Chosun University while bus numbers 6, 7, and 9 cover the rest of the city. When traveling by bus, it's cheaper to get the Mybi or Hanpay card which also works in other cities except for Seoul which uses TMoney. With the Hanpay card, you are privileged to a discount per ride plus free transfers from bus to bus or bus to subway. Hanpay card can be purchased at most convenient stores. By western standards, taxis are incredibly cheap, although its overall rate increases past 12 midnight. Taxis vary in colour, with the black ones having higher surcharge than white or silver.
How to get there
Gwangju has its very own airport, Gwangju Airport; although most tourists would rather choose to take a bus straight to the city from Incheon International Airport. This is simply because Gwangju Airport only offers flights to Seoul Gimpo and Jeju Airport. Smart travellers would take the bus ride from Incheon rather than landing in Gimhae Airport in Busan. Gimhae is a good three hours away from Gwangju but navigating to and from this airport includes taking a bus to Gimhae then a taxi to Gimhae Airport and then reversing that trip to Gwangju.
You can also enter Gwangju by train. Coming from Seoul, the Korail and KTX trains run multiple times a day. This is the fastest route at three hours. It's important to note that buses depart from Yongsan Station in Seoul and not from the main Seoul Station. A cheaper option would be to take a bus from the Yeongdeungpo Station, although this usually takes a little over four hours.
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