Uljin is a northernmost seaside city of eastern Gyeongsangbuk-do. It borders with Samcheok, Gangwon-do to north, Bonghwa, Yeongyang to both sides, and Yeongdeok to south. Taebaek Mountains cross the west of Uljin. At a glance, Uljin is only famous for snow crab during winter, and feels much further than Busan or Mokpo both physically and mentally. Except for the surrounding regions, it is quiet burdensome to pass Taebaek Mountains to reach Uljin. But once you know about the city, except for the distance, the city has onion-like perfect charms.
Considering natural environment of Korea, sealocked peninsula with mountains, it is common for mountains, seas or rivers to have one or two charms. But Uljin displays equally best charms for mountains, seas, streams(river) in Korea.
It also has spa. There are two spas with great hot spring water. It is a perfect travel spot for all seasons, especially perfect in winter. Also, during winter, snow winter and Songi mushroom is in season, which will charm your taste. There are numerous attractions including Seongnyugul Cave, the best karst cave in Korea. If there was a contest for "the best winter destination in Korea", it will definitely be in top 3.
The day I left for Uljin, the sky was clear and winter was soft. Even the sunlight was soft. It would've been better with snow, but I was grateful for the sunny weather. I took a rest at a quiet beach at the approach of Uljin. The rising sun was dazzling. The wind was cold, but when it touched my chick, it is like happiness when I laugh with my friends. I like the start of trip. My heart flutters. This feeling is only for the winter. The sun and wind embraced sea and forest of Uljin all day. Peculiar sense of drowsiness and thrill coexisted in winter trip to Uljin.
Absorbed into languor of spa: Uljin Deokgu Spa
Few days before the trip to Uljin, I heard Gyeongsangbuk-do designated Uljin Deokgu Spa as the first recuperation spa. Recuperation spa is designated by the city or do governor after the approval of minister of Government Affairs and Home Affairs when its water components, temperature is excellent, and the surrounding environment is proper for health improvement and recuperation with facilities for skin rehabilitation treatment and others. In other words, it is a better spa compared to others.
I've heard about Deokgu Spa before. In the spa brochure, the spa is one and only natural hot spring, and the water contains helpful minerals such as calcium, potassium, bicarbonate ions, and magnesium. The letters don't touch our heart. There's no other way but should bathe myself in water to know the effect. Spa bathing is different by the types of constitution. To understand if it is right, the water must touch your skin. Especially to those who cannot stand long time in hot sauna or bath tub.
Once you are in the water, I exclaimed "Ah, that's good". The water wraps skin softly. The dried and tired skin embraces moisture and elasticity. The water is not too hot, and right for those who cannot stand hot. It took 5 hours to get to Uljin, but the tiredness fade away in the water. If this spa was close to where I live, I would com here once a week.
In Deokgu Spa Resort, there are indoor and outdoor spa world, family spa room, accommodations. It is great place to visit with family, friends and lovers for winter trip. Various spas are available indoor and outdoor if you have swim suit. In outdoor spa, you can feel the energy of Eungbongsan mountain(998m altitude) where the spa is. There are event tub, bowl tub, water fall massage tub, hardwood hot tub, elvan cave tub.
There are playground for children inside, and you can enjoy water bubble therapy. It is perfect for resting and relaxation for a half-day.
Address: 924 Deokguoncheon-ro, Bugu-ri, Uljin-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Address (KR): 경상북도 울진군 북면 덕구온천로 924
How to get there: There is intra-city bus from Bugu to Deokgu Spa. It takes 25 minutes. From Deokgu Spa, you can go to Jukbyeon, Seongnyugul Cave, and downtown Uljin by intra-city bus. You can also take taxi from downtown Uljin to Jukbyeon, Seongnyugul Cave, and Mangyangjeong beach.
Admission Fee: Sauna Adult - 8,000 won; Children - 5,000 won / Spaworld Adult - 28,000 won (peak season & Weekends); 14,000 won (Low season, weekdays)
Searching for the headstream of spa: Deokgu valley Wontang trekking
It would be sorry to only enjoy the spa. Valleys of Uljin provides the best condition to move and stretch the cowered joints and muscles of your body.
Deokgu Spa is a natural hot spring, The water spout naturally and created the spa. Deokgu valley located below the spa is Wontang, the headstream of spa. The water from Wontang is distributed to Spa resort, hotels, and condominiums 4km away. In old times, people enjoyed outdoor spa with the water from Wontang.
An Eight kilometer trekking course for 2 hours is good to vitalize your body before bathing. The valley is deep and water is clean. The sound of stream is cheerful. The forest is dense. There are bridges imitating the famous bridges of the world. There are water falls and small bath as if for the fairies. It is not a short route, but you can walk easily looking around the valley.
The climax of Deokgu valley rekking is Wontang. It is amazing to see how the spring water spring like fountain in such dense forest. 300 tons of water springs every day. The temperature is about 43℃. You can wash your hands or drink. The water is warm enough to bask your frozen hand and mouth, and quench thirst. There is an outdoor foot bathing area right next to Wontang. If you rest your feet in warm water surrounded by dense forest, you feel like you are a fairy. You will exclaim in joy automatically. The route is quiet flat, so anyone can easily go on trekking.
Wontang trekking and spa is perfect for a daily course. If you stay at the resort, you can go on a trekking with a guide for morning walk. Wontang trekking route is at the side valley of Deokgu Spa Hotel going upstream.
Looking into Uljin: Seongnyugul Cave, the art of time
To look around Uljin more, Deokgu resort, Seongnyugul Cave and Jukbyeon drama set are just right for one-day course. Seongnyugul Cave is the first tourist cave in Korea containing 250 million years of time. The cave is located below Bulyeong valley, close to Wangpicheon stream and Mangyangjeong beach. The cave displays the best art built by eternal time in 470m. It sometimes go under stalactite, and narrowly pass the valley made up of stalactite, stalagmite, and stone pillar. The beauty of stalactite, stalagmite and stone pillar reflected to small lake is just astonishing. Inside the cave is 15~17℃ which is warm for winter and cool for summer. The outside of cave surrounded by mountain, water and cliff is also magnificent.
Address: 225, Seongnyugul-ro, Gusan-ri, Uljin-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Address (KR) : 경상북도 울진군 근남면 성류굴로 225
How to get there:
Take taxi from Uljin Intercity Bus Terminal. The fare is about 6,000 won. If you take bus to Seongnyugul cave, get off at Uljin stadium and walk about 500m. For the returning trip, get the number of Uljin call taxi. Ask the number at your accommodation.
Adult 3,000won, Children 1,500 won Adult : 3,000 won Child : 1,500 won Open. 09:00~17:00 Winter Season
Jukbyeon drama set with beautiful coastline.
Jukbyeon drama set is famous for filming SBS drama "into the storm" in 2004. The house and church by the beautiful shore stays and became the popular spot for picture. Recently, the old church was demolished and house was reconstructed. There is a heart-shaped shoreline behind the house which displays the beauty of Uljin shore. Across the house, there is Jukbyeon light house along the walking trail. You can go up the light house.
Address: 6, Deungdae-gil, Jukbyeon-ri, Uljin-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Address KR : 경상북도 울진군 죽변면 등대길 76
Phone Number: 054-789-6893
How to get there:
Take a bus bound for Bugu from Uljin Intercity Bus Terminal, get off at Jukbyeon. Walk toward light house and you will see the drama set guide map. It takes 40 minutes.
Jukbyeon port Fish Market for seasonal snow crab and seafood.
You can feel the most of Uljin at Jukbyeon port. The port is filled with fish and seafood caught every day, and they are distributed to restaurants and markets in the country. Snow crab is the most popular during winter. Snow crab is in season from mid November to May. Snow crab caught in April is known for the best taste. However, it is cheaper in November and December. Red crab is the best during November and December. I recommend Bakdal crab which is common in Yeongdeok and Uljin. It is filled with flesh and sweet.
Connected Tourist Spot
The restaurant steam snow crab right away after you picked them. Restaurants bone crab for you. Eat the crab and fried rice with marinated crab for the perfect dining experience.
Cold Raw fish soup and fish stew are great meal you can enjoy in Uljin.
North Uljin has Deokgu Spa, and south Uljin has Baegam Spa. Just like Deokgu, Baegam Spa Resort is located in the beautiful scenary. Its accommodation space is larger than Deokgu.
There are beautiful beaches such as Mangyangjeong, Gusan, Nagok, Hupo in Uljin. Bulyeong valley with diverse colors by seasons, and Bulyeongsa Temple built in Silla dynasty is a famous spot in Uljin. Uljin shows off its value at the Geumgang pine tree forest. The government created Geumgang pine forest which was used for building material of palace and cultural properties, Thousand years of time is in the pine forest. Goats and animals became the host of the forest. There are 4 trekking courses. For the preservation, you can enter with a guide, which need advance reservation.
The bus service from Dongseoul terminal to Uljin Intercity Bus Terminal through Yeongdong highway is 11 times, and through Joongang highway is 6 times a day. The bus going through Yeongdong high way stopover at Bugu terminal, which is close to Deokgu Spa.
There aren't much accommodation for not only the foreign tourists but individual tourists. Deokgu hotel in Deokgu Spa Resort is recommended. If you are taking public transportation, Deokgu is closer to Jukbyeon, Seongnyugul Cave and downtown Uljin than Baegam.
Recommended Overnight Travel Course
: Wontang trekking -> Spa -> inn (Deokgu Spa Hotel)
: Jukbyeon Drama set -> Jukbyeon port Fish Market(Lunch) -> Seongnyugul Cave ->Uljin Bus Terminal