With the summer vacation season just around the corner, people are spoilt for choice nowadays in terms of holiday destinations. But with the economy heaving along and household debt continuing to grow, tight budgets are likely to hold sway this year.
For those who need to keep a close eye on their spending, Ganghwa Island in Incheon might be the perfect choice. It has mountains for hiking, mud beaches for catching crabs and historic remains, making it suitable for most travelers. And due to its proximity to Seoul, it makes a convenient two-day trip from the capital.
On arrival, people can rent a car for W70,000-W100,000 (US$1=W1,136). But for budget travelers, bicycles would be the more affordable, and healthy, option. As tourist attractions are situated close to one another, bikes are both fun and practical providing the weather holds. They can be hired for just W10,000 a day near the intercity bus terminal.
The island offers various spots for sightseeing, and most of the tourist attractions are either free or cheap to enter. A cluster of dolmens, or portal tombs, on the island, along with those in Hwasun and Gochang, have been collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and no entry ticket is required.
Meanwhile, Ganghwa History Museum charges a mere W1,500 for adults, and admission fees for historic sites encircling the island generally range from W700 to W1,100. Discount tickets granting access to all five ancient defensive facilities can be had for W2,500.
The island also boasts great scenery with its beautiful mountains and the surrounding sea. Mt. Mani is known for the Chamseong Altar, which is said to have been erected atop the mountain by the nation's founder. On weekends, many people climb the mountain along the well-paved path to enjoy the panoramic view of the West Sea.
Beachgoers are recommended to visit Dongmak Beach. At the southern tip of Mt. Mani, the white sand beach is encircled by old pine trees. Families and couples can enjoy catching crabs or clams, while also massaging and cleansing their skin with mud.
Trying some of the delicious food on offer is a must. Ganghwa Island is famous for its large-eyed herrings, eels and sashimi. It also offers various ranges of accommodation from as little as W40,000 per night.
For more information on how to escape the hustle and bustle of the city to have some fun on Ganghwa Island this summer, visit its official website at http://www.ganghwa.incheon.kr.