15 Best Things to Do in Ulsan, Korea

15 Best Things to Do in Ulsan, Korea

Ulsan, situated in the southeast of Korea, has long worn the crown for being a true industrial hub.

But what many people are not aware of is this seaside metropolitan city's far gentler and exquisite side of things.

While Ulsan hardly tops any tourist guides, it is quite remarkable in its own tender ways.

Its eye-catching rocky cliffs, extensive stretches of beaches, and its roots in whaling heritage are only a few of the fantastic sights you get to witness here.

Here are the best things to do in Ulsan, Korea:

Explore the Verdant Trails of Daewangam Park

Daewangam Park
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This seaside park is situated on the east coast of Ilsan-dong.

After traversing a kilometer-long trail that abounds with pines, apricot trees, forsythia, cherry trees, and magnolias, you will reach the seashore, which is beautifully littered with windswept rocks.

This scenic headland thrives in its picturesque woodland and finishes with the Ulgi Lighthouse, which stands over the rugged rock-strewn outcrops.

Daewangam Park also bears the address of Daewangam Island, an outsized rock isle that appears like a dragon mounting up into the skies.

The isle is joined to the mainland with the help of an iron bridge and is capped with an observation tower from where you can have a view of Ulsan and its coast.

Escape the Hustle and Bustle of the City at Ulsan Grand Park

Ulsan Grand Park
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If you want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind for a while, consider paying a visit to Ulsan Grand Park, an ecological park on the western side of Nam-gu.

Set up in 2006, following the order of Chey Tae-won, this park spans a whopping 369 hectares.

With a compact water park, several ponds, and a petting zoo, you will never run out of things to see and do here.

The park also has an outdoor stage, numerous flowerbeds, and good picnic spots.

If you are someone who is into golf, the park offers a nine-hole pitch.

You can even take up a golf course if you are interested in learning more about the sport.

If you’re visiting with children, make it a point to visit the playground, which is actually an action-packed trampoline park.

For additional fun, consider renting a bike from the main entrance.

The best time to visit Ulsan Grand Park would have to be in May, when the Rose Festival is celebrated.

During the festival, the entire park is embellished with gleaming lights in the evenings.

Behold the Stunning Views of the City from the Ulsan Bridge Observatory

Ulsan Bridge Observatory
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Standing at 203 meters above sea level, the Ulsan Bridge Observatory is fast emerging as one of Ulsan’s most emblematic landmarks.

This popular tourist destination can be easily reached by driving through Downtown Ulsan to Dong-gu District.

Offering a panoramic view of the petrochemical, automotive, and shipbuilding compounds, along with breathtaking scenes of the city's surrounding mountains, this place should not be missed.

In addition, the observatory looks across the Ulsan Bridge, the longest bridge in Korea.

The best time to visit is after the sunset, when you can witness endless lights that spread out in front of you.

Right at the entrance of the observatory, you are greeted by the Ulsan Bridge Promotion Center, where the visitors are enlightened about the bridge's many details, including its construction.

Tourists can also indulge in several fun hands-on activities here.

After that, make sure to head to the outdoor platform on the fourth floor.

Here, you will get to witness a glazed space with numerous screens and information boards that cover Ulsan’s rich history.

Stand Mesmerized at the Taehwagang River Grand Park

Taehwagang River Grand Park
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The Taehwagang River Grand Park borders the Taehwa upriver from the city’s large-scale production industries.

Dotted with eateries, parks, and a pavilion, the park is definitely not to be missed.

Owing to constant deluge and consequent flooding, the banks of the park have been rendered free of massive expansion or development.

Visitors may enjoy the luxury of having a peaceful moment of contemplation by the river and the low mountains that map out the river basin.

On what might be described as a gorgeous expanse spanning from Samho and Taehwa Bridge, you get to experience this park in all its glory.

This verdant bamboo grove is believed to have been planted somewhere around the first decade of the 20th century to prevent flooding.

While you are here, you can have a fun time biking.

You can make use of Ulsan's bike rental facilities, such as the Jung-Gu Bicycle Cultural Center.

Watch out for the flower festivals if you're visiting the town sometime around spring to autumn.

Swim in the Pristine Water of Ilsan Beach

Ilsan Beach
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Ulsan's hustle and bustle will seem like a world away when you're at Ilsan Beach.

This clam-molded bay is positioned on the seaward front of Ilsan-dong and is located close to Daewangnam Park.

Its impressive 600-meter coastline spreads out in soft, golden sands.

Over recent years, a lot of restaurants and cafes have been springing up in the surrounding areas.

Close to the beach, a new beachside amusement park has been constructed.

So if you are looking for some excitement, do consider visiting it.

The best time to visit the beach is towards the end of July.

During this time, you will be met with summer festivities, including live music, firework displays, and much more.

Geek Out at Ulsan Hyundai Motors Plant

Now, who wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to be shown around the largest motor plant in the world?

One of Ulsan's tourist hotspots, the plant is open for advanced booking of reservations through the company’s official website.

If you ever get a chance to be here, you will be amazed by the scale of operations that happen here on a daily basis.

With over five factories and a massive workforce, around 6,000 vehicles are manufactured here a day.

The giant testing station is also worth a visit.

It is interesting to note that the tour of the plant begins with educating the visitors on a brief history of Hyundai.

The guides will also provide you with factual details that outline the factories' state-of-the-art production processes.

Go on a Whale-Watching Cruise at Jangsaengpo Whale Culture Village

Jangsaengpo Whale Culture Village
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As the only attraction of its kind in the Republic of Korea, Jangsaengpo Whale Culture Village is definitely worth a visit.

Until the ban on commercial whaling in 1986, Jangsaengpo was a major whaling port.

While you are here, it would be quite interesting to note the history of the fleet of whaling ships by the 1970s.

What was once Korea’s top whaling port is now known for its historic village and the Prehistoric Whale Experience Garden.

You can follow along the path of the Whale Story Trail and witness the many artifacts, including harpoons, models of whales, their skeletons, and other whale-related relics.

Two of the most mesmerizing attractions here undoubtedly have to be the 5D theater and a whaling ship that you can tour.

From April to October, Jangsaengpo is open for a whale-watching cruise.

These trips that go as far as 20 kilometers into the East Sea give you a chance to see minke and grey whales.

If you are looking for a shorter cruise, they've got you covered, too—the 90-minute trip along the coast will help you get the feel of the astounding magnitude of the Ulsan Industrial Complex.

Reach New Heights at Gajisan

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Without a doubt, Gajisan Mountain offers phenomenal views from its summit.

This iconic mountain is a cult favorite among hikers when in Ulsan.

Positioned in the Yeongnam Alps, this mountain offers hikers a truly unique experience.

It is suitable only for intermediate to advanced hikers, as the whole process could be strenuous.

That being said, if you are an enthusiastic beginner, don't lose heart.

You can always attempt the hike with a trained person who can guide you up the trail.

As a word of advice, if you are looking forward to completing the entire loop while there's still daylight, it is highly recommended to start your hike no later than 9:00 a.m.

Pay Your Respects at Seoknamsa Temple

The stunning Seoknamsa Temple is positioned on the underside of the eastern gradient of Gajisan.

The temple's roots go back to as early as the reign of ninth-century Heondeok of Silla.

Following the Japanese invasions of Korea, the structure was rebuilt in the 17th century.

Here, you will easily find several of the remaining monuments following the Korean War.

Some of the most noteworthy relics include the three-story pagoda leading to the main hall.

The temple has an accessible trailhead with a number of well-labeled paths if you want to explore the surrounding spaces a lot more.

On your walk here, be sure to grab a soothing cup of rice wine from the makgeolli vendor, who can be generally spotted in the area from spring to autumn.

The trail will direct you through verdant timberland, which thins out as you draw near the weather-beaten, barren limestone pinnacle.

The entire hike is about a four-hour round-trip.

If you keep hiking, you will reach Unmunsan by passing through the Araetjae Pass.

Hike at Sinbulsan

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Alongside Gajisan, Sinbulsan is the most hyped hiking destination in the Yeongnam Alps.

Standing at a height of 1,209 meters, it is also the highest peak in the Alps.

The main ascent is slow and steady.

Once you emerge from the woodland, you will find yourself mesmerized by the Ganwoljae Flame Grass Road, a path along the bristle of a ridge.

During the late summer days, you will see the ends roughly gleaming when they catch the rays of the sun.

All through autumn, the reeds craft a stunning rustle in the breeze.

To look after these grasslands, the pathway is hoisted on boardwalks and wooden stairways, which facilitates easy climbing to the top of Sinbulsan.

Take in the Beautiful View of Paraeso Falls

Paraeso Falls
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In Sinbulsan’s western slopes stands the scenic Paraeso falls.

This 15-meter waterfall is magnificent and is a spot that you ought not miss.

The waterfall stands atop a wooden stairway that plunges over serrated limestone.

Very close by, the riverside trail abounds with rare flora and fauna.

Therefore, if you are someone who enjoys birdwatching, do pay a visit to this spot.

When you're here, there is a very high chance that you will be greeted by many chipmunks.

Although swimming is prohibited at the falls, look out for the little pools where wading is permitted.

Travel Back in Time at Ulsan Museum

This strikingly modern museum that details Ulsan's past, present, and future first opened in 2011.

Ulsan Museum may be described as a stunningly exquisite structure and offers a compelling chronology of the city, from prehistoric times to the modern-day era.

Edged by reflecting pools, the sight of the museum itself rouses awe and wonder in the minds of the tourists.

The Industrial Gallery gives the visitors a practical insight into the big industries of Ulsan that helped the city become what it is today.

Additionally, you will be quite amazed by the masses of information displayed regarding prehistoric accessories, such as ritual implements and ceramics, among many others.

A multitude of products mass-produced in the city, including the 1975 Hyundai Pony, is also exhibited here.

Over recent years, the museum has really topped its game when it comes to temporary exhibitions.

Some of the notable ones include Ancient Egyptian artifacts and the inventions of Thomas Edison.

Take a Tour of Ganjeolgot

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In the south of Ulsan stands Ganjeolgot, a rock-strewn headland lined up by a lighthouse.

It is well-known for being the first place touched by the sun on the eastern coast, and a New Year's Sunrise Festival is held here annually in honor of the first sunrise of the year.

You will find a walkway atop the promontory, which, if explored, leads you to a series of exquisite monuments and a bunch of sculptures.

But throughout the year, people throng here to have the breathtaking views of the acacia that bloom along the coast.

When you are here, don't forget to pen down your wishes on postcards and drop them in the second-largest postbox in the world.

It'll surely be a fun experience.

In addition to that, look out for the endearing windmill replica that has become a set for a number of Korean TV shows and is now a coffee bar and gallery.

Embrace the Onggi Tradition at Oegosan Onggi Village

Onggi, a kind of pot constructed in an extended tube-like kiln, is largely authentic to Korea and dates back over 5,000 years.

Available in a multitude of shapes and sizes, this Korean earthenware serves a number of traditional purposes, from cooking rice to containing and serving drinks to fetching water from wells.

In 1975, it was the pioneering efforts by Heo Deok-man, who was a renowned master potter, that resulted in setting up a shop to keep the craftsmanship and tradition alive.

Shortly after this, skilled men from all across the country joined hands to create quite a remarkable progress in this regard.

It is now the center where half of the nation’s traditional ceramics and stonewares are produced.

If you are looking to learn more about the history of onggi or marvel at the expertly crafted remains, including the largest onggi port in the world, Oegosan Onggi Village is the place to be.

If by any chance you're visiting in October, do not miss out on the four-day Onggi Festival, where you can witness live demonstrations in addition to several other perks.

Have a Taste of Rice Wine at Boksoondoga

If you ever plan an excursion to the Yeongnam Alps, don't miss out on the opportunity to make a stop at Sangbuk-myeon.

Why, you might ask?

The answer is simple—to visit Boksoondoga, an additive-free winery that makes delicious makgeolli.

Their Korean rice wine is to die for.

Prepared with locally harvested rice, Korean yeast, and handmade onggi, their makgeolli is loaded with richness.

Interestingly, their rice wine is quite similar to champagne in that they have a fizz and a cloudy appearance.

At the winery, they have a display space where you can learn at great length how the wine is prepared.

If you are interested, you can tour the fermentation chamber and even have a look at the paddy where rice is grown.

In case you want to grab hold of a few souvenirs or keepsakes, a decanter of makgeolli is an excellent option.