Daejeon is one of the largest metropolises and is known as the science and technology hub of South Korea. It was known as Hanbat, which means ‘large field’ in Korean, before the name being changed to Daejeon. The area development is mesmerizing, as it transformed from a ‘large field’ to the literal place of Korea’s scientific and technological civilization. However, hidden deep within the nooks and crannies of Daejeon are beautiful parks, huge mountains, hot springs, soup joints, and what not, proving how Daejeon is much more than just being the Korean Silicon Valley.
Ppuri Park is not just your regular park; it is, in fact, a preserver of the origins of Korean family names. Nestled comfortably between Bomunsan Mountain and Banghwasan Mountain, the park poses as a subtle tribute to the values of Korean society. Ppuri spans up to 109,091 sq.m and is decorated with amazing sculptures and statues, 136 in total, that have most of the Korean last names embedded on them, along with other relevant information. Other than these statues, there’s a waterfront stage, natural observatory, a forest, traffic safety education centre and not to forget, the Deep-rooted Spring, which signifies the 12 jisin, i.e. the twelve gods of the world. Ppuri Park definitely happens to be the place you shouldn’t miss out on.
Euneungjeongi Culture Street
It is hard to believe that this ultimate fashion centre of Eunhaengdong in downtown Daejeon happened to be the street of government administration, business and culture till the 80s. Euneungjeongi Culture Street is now one of the most-visited streets in Korea, as popular as the popular Myeongdong shopping centre in Seoul. The street offers plenty of things to do, watch, eat and enjoy, right from quality fashion shops to great clubs. The street also extends underground, where the stores are huge and provide you with a massive collection of things and products. The famous Sung Sim Dang, Daejeon-based Bakery and Cake Boutique, is located on this street and people usually crowd here to taste their delicious bread and cakes.
Daejeon-O-World is a fun theme park, opened to the world in 2009. It is a product of the integration of Daejeon Zoo and Joy Land, which was an amusement park, the action being carried out by the Daejeon City Corporation. An additional ‘Flower Land’ was built, along with the already existing Zoo Land and Joy Land, which gave birth to Daejeon-O-World, with them retaining their status as the three main sections of the park. There are around 130 different species residing in Zoo Land, whereas a variety of slides and rides, as well as four-season sledding, occupies the space in Joy Land. Flower Land is a unique section, divided neatly into smaller ones, with around 150,000 trees and 200,000 flower plants dispersed over the place. There is an outdoor stage, a concert hall and a pond with a beautiful fountain a well. The amusement park is exactly like a mini paradise.
Daejeon Expo Science Park
The Park was established in the year 1993 after the Daejeon Expo was closed. It was then renovated and wonderfully transformed into Science park, to showcase the importance of science and technology. Attractions such as the National Science Museum of Korea, World Expo Memorial Museum, the famed Hanbit Tower and Advanced Science and Technology Center found their home in this Science Park. It also offers stimulating and recreational areas, such as a 3D theatre, a Simulation Theatre, the Nature and Life Pavilion and the North Korea Pavilion, among others. One can see around and experience all of the 200 years of expo history, through the symbolic objects and expo’s souvenirs placed strategically around. More importantly, the Expo Park is the ultimate place to learn about science, technology as well as history.
Currency Museum of Korea
Daejeon seems to have unusually amazing places to visit, hidden in its crevices. One of them is none other than a currency museum! It was established in the year 1988 and also happens to be the first venture with the focus being currencies, vintage as well as modern. It is run by the Mint Corporation of Korea, as one of their non-profit public services. There are four exhibition rooms, dedicated to separate histories of Korean coins, bills, the process of recognizing counterfeit money and a mesmerizing collection of stamps, medals and currencies from other countries. Free of charge for visitors, you can stroll around these rooms and understand and learn more about the amazing history of Korean currency.
Sikjang Mountain is the highest mountain in Daejeon, standing tall at over 623 meters in height. The valley at the foot of the mountain is a sight to behold, filled with evergreen forests and a plethora of rare plants. A piece of the Saecheon Park of this towering beauty was declared to be an Ecological Preservation Zone and therefore, efforts were taken to protect the ecology of and surrounding the mountain, maintaining its natural beauty. The mountain often becomes a romantic getaway for couples, posing to be a place where they can enjoy some cozy and private moments. You can also visit some temples at the foot of Sikjang, such as Gosansa Temple, built during the Silla Dynasty and Gaesimsa Temple, dating back to the rule of King Seongjong.
Daejeon History Museum
Daejeon History Museum is the ultimate place where you can learn about Korean History and that too, in detail. It is an extensive preserve of ancient historical documents and artifacts from the Joseon Dynasty. There is a permanent exhibition hall, along with different kind of halls such as donated relics exhibition hall, city promotion and planned exhibition hall. The permanent exhibition hall proudly showcases the cultural assets of Daejeon, exuding the theme of Confucian scholars’ lives and culture. The donated relics hall is a unique addition of the museum, presenting artifacts and relics donated by Daejeon natives, whereas the planned one is put to use once or twice a year, hosting a special exhibition of rare and diverse items. The history museum if often seen conducting informative lectures and programs - something you shouldn’t miss out on.
Hanbat Arboretum is located between the Daejeon Government Complex and Expo Science Park and is a multipurpose venue, but more importantly, happens to be the ultimate place where art and culture come together and shake hands. It is completely man-made green space, divided into West and East Gardens, with the Expo Citizen’s Plaza situated right in the middle. The West Garden is an abundant preserve of huge pine, willow and oak trees, growing in a vast expanse of shrubbery. In contrast, the East Garden has a rock garden, a manmade lake, fountain, observatory, among other enjoyable sites. The Arboretum, in addition to being an important part of nature research, is also a tourist spot, with more than 900,000 visitors coming in every year.
Jungang Market is a traditional Korean market, found in many central cities of Korea. However, if you really want to experience a true Jungang Market, Daejeon Jungang Market is the one for you. It is at a five-minute walk from Daejeon Station and comfortably stretches up to the banks of the Daejeoncheon Stream. This large market is a large blend of smaller markets, such as Jungang General Market, Jungang Arcade market, Jungang Wholesale Market and Jayu Wholesale Market among others. Along with shops of clothing and household goods, there are seemingly uncountable shops and stalls of food. It includes stalls of porridge, pancakes, kimchi and chicken, as well as that of street foods such as hotteok, mandu, gimbap, janchi guksu and nurungji, to name a few.
Daecheongho Lake doesn’t seem like it, but it is actually an artificial lake, made to span across Cheongju-si, Okcheon-gun and Boeun-gun. The lake, which is the third-largest lake in Korea, is responsible for providing the cities of Daejeon and Cheongju with drinking, living as well as industrial water. It came into existence in the year 1980, around the same time when the Daecheong Dam was established. The lake is surrounded with huge mountains and thick shrubbery as well as happens to be a cozy home to the migratory as well as resident birds, including white herons. Upon reaching the top, the observatory of the Palgakjeong Service Area offers an ethereal view of the lake and the dam. Tours are conducted by the lake, where one can learn and experience about the nature and ecology of the place.
Dunsan-Dong is one of the more populated areas of Daejeon and happens to be, therefore, home to an amalgamation of interesting places to visit and activities to enjoy. It has quite an active nightlife, and therefore, naturally, is where Daejeon’s best clubs and bars are. If you are travelling with a group of friends, then Dunsan-dong is certainly the place you can go, relax and have fun. There are many places you can check out - Bubi Bubi, a Western-themed dance club; Sponge, one of the locally favourite; Yellow Taxi, an international lounge; and some notable bars such as WA Bar, J Rock and Watermelon Sugar, among others. Dunsan-dong might not be as popular as Hongdae, but it the exactly rich in nightlife and offers a variety of bars, cafés and lounges for the visitors to unwind.
Yuseong Hot Spring
Nothing can dissolve your stress and make you relax like a hot sprint! Daejeon has a hot spring, situated in the heart of Daejeon, in Yuseong-gu. The Yuseong Spa first came into existence during the Baekje Kingdom, when the wounded soldiers, in search to relieve themselves from the pain, stumbled across the hot spring. Since then, they have been making people feel calm and relaxed from their hectic life. The hot springs are known to be rich in calcium and sodium as well as provides, to the visitors, a therapeutic experience, in addition to healing skin irritations and making the skin healthy and happy. It works all the year-round and is most visited in the winter season. You can even opt for a foot bath in the hot springs to relieve your legs and feet.
Dongchundang Park is not just any park; it has, in fact, a historical significance. The ancient house in the park happened to be the home of Song Jung-Gil, who was a famous scholar from the Joseon dynasty. This house was declared as a National Cultural Treasure, not only because of the person who used to reside in it but also due to the design of the structure, which resembles the buildings of the Joseon Dynasty. The house has been refurbished to preserve its ancient features, with few original additions kept alongside it, including pavilions, old swings and three beautiful ponds. The famed Dongchundang Cultural festival is now conducted in this park, along with many other local festivals.
Cheongju-Haejangguk is a pretty little soup joint, situated near a public footbath in Yuseong-gu, in Daejeon. It was established in the year 1937 and has been serving quality food since the start. It might not be one of the fancier restaurants, but it does its job exceptionally well. Customers who visit this 24-hour joint claim to be thoroughly impressed by the menu, especially their speciality, Haejangguk, also known as ‘hangover soup’. Apart from that, there are other several lip-smacking additions which you can try out. The atmosphere is inviting and relaxing, whereas the staff is polite and engaging. It is one of the best soup joints you shouldn’t miss out on.
Lionheart is a quaint little café in Daejeon, situated at a five-minute walk from the Jungang-ro metro station. The ambience is comfortably warm and relaxing and the menu is just properly affordable for your pockets. Drinks start from a minimum amount of ₩4500, with the menu including almost all popular drinks. What makes the customers visit more, however, is the owner of the café. The owner is a native, by the name of Eun-Yeong who speaks amiable English, making the café friendly for foreign visitors as well. She has an inhumanely vast knowledge about beans and roasting, fueled by her passion for coffee. She has travelled across the world and a conversation with her can be quite stimulating and refreshing, perhaps just like coffee!
Daejeon is so much more than just being the Silicon Valley of Korea. It is, in fact, a place where science and culture meet, interspersed with natural as well as manmade attractions. Daejeon, even after being a part of the administrative centre of South Korea, has still maintained its culture and history amazingly and in all its glory.