Just like any metropolitan city in the world you will be sure to find satellite cities nearby just like the satellite cities that neighbor Seoul. On my recent trip back to Korea I spent a majority of my time outside of Seoul and inside neighboring satellite cities such as Bucheon, Suwon, Seongnam, and Anyang. In a previous blog K-Travel: Bucheon(부천)/Aiins World (아인스월드) I wrote about spending the start of my winter vacation with my boyfriend in Bucheon. After resting and overcoming jet-lag I left Bucheon for Suwon(*Suwon for those who are not familiar is satellite city directly 1 hour south of Seoul). Deciding to divide my stay time with some longtime girlfriends in addition to vacation time with my boyfriend I spent a few of my non-travel days in Suwon.
Next to Seoul, Busan, and Incheon Suwon(수원) is also a large and culturally rich city located in the Gyeonggi-do region. Since the former Joseon era to present day Suwon has been a populated satellite city close to the capital. Due to this Suwon possesses rich cultural heritage sites such as Hwaseong Fortress(화성), which to this day still completely surrounds the city landscape. Additionally, Suwon is also home to Haenggung Palace located within Hwaseong and the Suwon World Cup Stadium, which was one of the stadiums used during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
After enjoying the New Year’s weekend at a nice house-party with my Suwon friends I spent the following weekday afternoons touring familiar-old districts and enjoying cake+coffee at new cafes I had never been to before. Having visited Suwon on prior occasions I wanted to spend my off-days touring new sites such as trendy districts in Suwon or re-touring old sites such as Hwaseong Fortress.
Already four years since I last toured Hwaesong Fortress I thought it would be nice to explore new parts of the vast fortress wall with the opportunity I had by staying in the area. Spending one morning with another longtime girlfriend we walked around, climbed over, and followed a few rainbow troupe groups also touring the fortress. It was a surreal experience seeing fortress again; and was a good morning workout for the two us. Hwaseong Fortress is certainly a must-see for anyone visiting Suwon for one day or more. Its vastness is as captivating as is its architectural design and historical significance.
Suwon as mentioned is a culturally rich city next to Seoul. Connected via KTX/ITX, subway, and various express or outer-city bound buses Suwon is easily accessible to Seoulites and tourists alike. Suwon is also a large urban and trend appealing city that possesses multiple youth districts (*largely due many university campuses), popular chain restaurants, megaplex cinemas, and large-scale departments stores such as Suwon’s AK Plaza and Lotte World Mall. Possessing ample means of transportation in addition to entertainment venues, shopping malls, and trendy restaurants almost makes Suwon feel like an extension of Seoul.
Just like Suwon but strikingly smaller is the city of Anyang(안양도시) located directly northwest and just 20 minutes away by subway in the Gyeonggi-do province. Also a satellite city of Seoul Anyang is situated in-between Seoul and Suwon and lies in-between the bedrock of neighboring mountains that enclose Anyang’s landscape(*these mountains are Gwanak Mountain and Samsung Mountain to the north, Suri Mountain to the southwest, and Cheongye Mountain and Morak Mountain on the other side).
Having never been to Anyang before I was happy to spend a few afternoons/evenings there with my boyfriend whose family once lived in Anyang throughout his middle/high-school years. On days in Anyang my boyfriend took me to his former grade schools, took me to his favorite Korean donkatsu restaurant from his youth(*which surprising was still in business, but under new management), and showed me around his old neighborhood. On another day in Anyang we went on a movie/dinner date and ended the evening by taking a stroll around Anyang’s original downtown city area in Manan district. Finally, on our last day visiting Anyang we toured Anyang’s Art Center before having lunch with a few of my boyfriend’s soccer/ middle-school friends of 15+ years.
Anyang city was more of a personal visit than weekday excursion for me and my boyfriend. But, for me, visiting the city surrounded by mountains brought to light how close to nature some cities in Korea really are. Anyang is such a city. The city area is widely known for its outdoor cultural art & reservoir parks by both locals and residents. However, Anyang city possesses much more than its eye-catching mountain landscapes and parks. The city is home to Anyang History Museum, ancient architectural ruins(*now national treasures), and is the burial location of some century-old Korean figures.
Visiting and staying in Suwon and Anyang was a great decision for my off-days. By staying relatively close to Bucheon I was able to see my boyfriend everyday while also being able to spend some daytime/ evening hours with my girlfriends. Also, by staying in the area I was able to see old/new parts of Suwon and visit Anyang for the first time. Additionally, staying in the nearby area allowed me the opportunity to see memorable locations from my boyfriend’s past, as well as, hang out with him and his middle school/soccer friends in their old neighborhood district.
While Suwon and Anyang did not make it into my My Top 5 Favorite Cities in Korea (한국에서 내 5개 좋아하는 도시) they are cities that I recommend international students, expats, or tourists visit. Suwon and Anyang as mentioned are accessible via Seoul subway, train, or bus(*some local and express). Due to these cities convenient connectivity and close proximity many Seoulites nowadays live in Suwon and Anyang. Enjoying easy access to Seoul residents, locals, expats, and tourists alike can commute in-between these cities and enjoy the same sorts of shops, restaurants, megaplex cinemas, and large-scale departments stores. Similarly, residents, locals, expats, and tourists alike can enjoy each cities individual cultural art & historical UNESCO heritage sites.
Have you ever re-visited a city you traveled to once before? Did you visit new sites or old sites again? What do you love most about re-visiting?