We’ve spoken about Goyang previously, but it’s not just a broadcasting city! A lot of money has been invested into this city north of Seoul and there’s plenty to do and see. There is a mixture of cultural and modern sights/locations in Goyang, making it a very diverse and interesting place to explore. You can find traditional Buddhist temples, fortresses and royal tombs throughout the city if you want something to spark your culture bug (more info on traditional hotspots here).
One of our first stops in Goyang was the YakCheon Temple, where we bowed in front of a giant statue of Buddha and were treated to a traditional Buddhist vegetarian lunch. This lunch consisted of rice, bean sprouts, spinach, many more vegetables and two kinds of kimchi; the most common kimchi you find in restaurants and supermarkets, and a twice fermented kimchi which has a very bitter after taste!
The clear skies and the sunlight enhanced all the bright and traditional colours of the Temple, giving it a glow that made it stand out against the background. Whilst at the Temple we saw the main Prayer Hall, at the time occupied with a family mourning for lost loved ones. This hall also had a wall devoted to countless mini-Buddha statues, with a life sized Buddha in the centre, all facing the open hall. A temple visit is a must when going to South Korea, it’s such a different culture to our traditional churches. Whilst most of our churches and buildings prefer muted and typical building tones, this temple was absolutely breathtaking and beautifully decorated with many colours and intricate details. The architectural structures and the temple grounds itself have been so well kept, thought out and decorated. Everything was so peaceful and calm, we left feeling uplifted and enlightened!
After a rather chilled out morning, time to hit the shops! For all you shopaholics out there, make sure you check out the Western Dome for one of the most relaxing shopping experiences ever. Western Dome features over 500 shops which range from clothing, accessories and cosmetics to food, it also boasts a Multiplex Cinema which includes an IMAX screen! The Dome is also specially designed to make it easy and convenient for shoppers to walk around, keeping crowds to a minimum as well has being decorated by artworks from local artists. As if that wasn’t enough, the ceiling of the amazing Western Dome also showcases beautiful lighting at night. as well as a spacious main square that hosts many exciting events and performances.
We visited La Festa Shopping Centre during our free time and its surrounding neighbourhood, Ilsan. Being a shopping centre, La Festa was pretty much what you would expect in any country, except at a much grander scale! It had floors and floors of shops and towards one end of the shopping centre we came across food stands and small restaurants (with those removable plastic sheet walls you see in so many dramas). Then there were larger restaurants with fish tanks outside filled with different fish, waiting for patrons to pick their meal. On the other end of the centre were many noraebang buildings and coffee shops like Paris Baguette, A Twosome Place, Angel in Us and many more all within a few blocks of each other. If we’d had more time, we would have gone further, and probably gotten lost in the shopper’s heaven maze!
Any extra free time we had whilst in Goyang was spent wondering around and exploring Ilsan Park. We wondered over early one morning after a night interrupted by jet-lag there were already a lot of people jogging and exercising. Ilsan Park was filled with numerous sculptures and installations so there is a lot to entertain you whilst you take your leisurely stroll.
Lastly, but in no way least, we had the pleasure of meeting the Mayor of Goyang, Mayor Choi Sung, and it was the most honourable event of this visit to Korea. It was terrifying at first, waiting for the Mayor to enter his office which was already occupied with a wall of officials, photographers and cameramen, but Mayor Choi Sung made us feel at ease and comfortable, as if we were talking with an old friend.
In this meeting we were told about the 600th Anniversary of the meeting of Go-bok and Deok-yang that the city of Goyang hosted in the past few months. Mayor Choi Sung was very interested in talking to us about how we first became interested in Korea and what we are doing to help spread our passion for his country. Adding a comical mood to the meeting, Mayor Choi told us the slogan for Goyang City, “City of people more beautiful than flowers, Goyang.“
At the end of the interview, Mayor Choi treated us to an amazing lunch with some of the Goyang officials and we got to experience a full sit down Korean meal. The meal was absolutely delicious and so were all the side dishes!
A lot of money has been invested into Goyang to make it one of the top cities in South Korea, and seeing as Goyang is still in the process of being upgraded, there is no doubt that each visit will bring you something new and exciting. If you just like to have a good old explore of a city in Korea, Goyang is filled with kind and helpful citizens who would love to test out their English skills in a quick conversation with any tourists they come across. With so much to explore and take part in, there’s an endless list of activities you can fill your time with. Does it sound like a place you would enjoy? Goyang is located just north of Seoul and is reachable via the metro on the Orange line No. 3 between stations Wondang and the end of the line, Daehwa. Also on the green line Gyeongui between stations Daegok and Ilsan.
Goyang is also home to the amazingly structured Kintex Expo centre which regularly hosts events and Expos, from sports, technology to cars and babies! Make sure you check out their schedule for all their upcoming events, it’ll make a brilliant day out away from Seoul. Cake and bakery fair anyone?