Hiking various trails around Taebaek Mountain (Taebaeksan) is the number 1 activity here. The
hikes are rewarding and diverse – expect to spend the best part of a day conquering the mountain.
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Taebaek Coal Museum
The Taebaek coal museum has an extensive display of geology from over the world as well as
interesting photos of Taebaek from the times when it really was a coal-mining town. It’s at the
main entrance to Taebaeksan provincial park.
Yiogyeon (sometimes Yongyeon) Cave is on the outskirts of town, in the small area of Hwageon,
out by E-mart. It is a dry limestone cave that was previously used for coal mining, and is 930
meters above sea-level. It is supposedly the highest cave in Korea. The entry fee is 3,500 won
and there is a train trolley that takes you from the entrance of the park up to the entrance of
Gumunso is a beautiful waterfall area that is surrounded by large rocks that jut out of the earth.
Feel free to climb the rocks here or picnic, however swimming is inadvisable. There is also a hole
in the mountain here that the road now goes through that is said to have formed when two dragons had
a fight. A statue of the two dragons was erected in front of Gumunso to commemorate this fight.
There is a Water Festival held in Taebaek every Summer (usually early August), which entails the
main street being turned into a huge water fight, with everyone brandishing water pistols and getting soaked!
The Movie Festival takes place at the same time. For one week a large screen is setup outside and mostly
American movies are played for the masses, as well as some Korean movies.
The Azalea Festival takes place in early June, coupled with the Fossil Festival. This takes place at the
Taebaek Provincial Park. There are campfires, contests ,and a nightlight show.
Taebaekje is perhaps one of the most well-known festivals as it is a cultural festival that features
Cheonje (the ritual for heaven), Dangunje (the ritual for Dangun), and Sansinje (the ritual for the
mountain god). These rituals take place on top of Taebaek Mountain where many people are dressed in
traditional hanboks and tradition music is played. There are also many fun events that take place like
During the Winter, Taebaek is known for The Snow Festival. Ice and snow sculptors come and create
ice dragons and giant igloos. You can see many ice sculptures in the Hwangi Pond area as well as giant
snow sculptures at the entrance to Mt. Taebaek Provincial Park. The festival also boasts snow sledding
and a snow sculpture contest. The festival takes place in late January and early February.
For the most part, the drivers here seem to be very honest and knowledgeable. Unlike city taxis, they
do not take the ‘scenic’ route to increase their fare. Street names are not necessary. The name of your
destination is all that’s needed. All you need to say is “bus-uh tuh-me-nul” and they’ll take you to
Taebaek Bus Terminal. “Taebaek yook” will get you to the train station. Base cab fare is 2,200 won.
Since everything is conveniently close, you can travel through half the city on not much more than that.
A 20-25 minute ride to Taebaeksan Provincial Park may cost you around 10,000-15,000 won.
City Buses - There are several buses whose basic routes go through the main downtown area. They may
then travel to the neighboring smaller towns. Basic fare is 1200 won and is cheaper if you have a travel card.
Cross Country buses – (local website is www.bustaja.com
but is all in Korean). If you like the more intimate seating arrangement of sitting next to a stranger, then
the bus is a good option. Don’t worry, they’re often feeling the same way sitting next to a foreigner (waygook saram!).
Remember to take your travel sickness pills! The drivers are nothing short of amazing in their driving skills but the
road to Taebaek is an undulating and very mountainous one. If you are feeling bold, you may look out of the window to
see the bus coming death defyingly close to another car or the cliff! All kidding aside now, when you purchase a ticket,
you are given an assigned plush seat on a luxury bus. You may extend your feet on the footrest in front of you or
recline your chair so far back that you feel like you are laying in the person’s lap behind you.
The bus leaving Taebaek to Seoul will arrive in Dongseoul station (by Gangbyeon subway station, green line 2) in
about 3.5 hours. A ticket to Seoul can cost about 20,400 won (one way). You can also go straight to Incheon Airport
and that trip takes about 4.5 hours. As the Taebaek Train Station does not go to Daegu (only the Tong-ni Train
Station goes that way, but they do not have passenger trains that run every day); the best way to head to Daegu,
or down South, is by bus.
The bus terminal is located just down the hill from the train station. Head right up the main street in the downtown
area, and turn left at the top. The bus terminal is about 5 minutes walk from there, and you will see the train
station just slightly further up, over the roundabout.
Taebaek Bus Terminal Timetables
Go to Taebaek train station to head 4 hours west to Seoul on the Cheongnyangni (East Seoul) to Gangneung line.
This line travels latterly (east and west) ending at a station called Cheongnyangni (deep purple line 1). Tickets
to Seoul are 15,300 won or for just a little more, you can travel first class for 17,600 won. If you happen to
travel in a group, be sure to use the latch under the seat to turn your seats around so that you may face and chat
to your friends on the ride.
There is a second train station, slightly out of town. You can take a 5 minute taxi ride to here (Tong-ri Station).
Here, a 5,200 won ticket can take you on another adventure to the beaches in Gangneung. There is a train from Tong-ri
to Daegu or Busan, but this only runs once a day on Saturday and Sunday at 15:24, so you may be better off taking a
bus. The train going to Gangneung is much more frequent and runs everyday, but you can also get to Gangneung from
the Taebaek Train Station.
If you are trying to save money, the train is definitely cheaper. If you are trying to save time, take the bus.
But realize that you will arrive about the same time and in different parts of Seoul. Be on time. No, be there early.
If departure time says 5:44am, and you are late, know that at 5:45am, with or without you, the train/bus is leaving,
if not already gone!
This is one of the only towns in the surrounding area where you can find Western food chains like Mr Pizza and
Dunkin Donuts (these are right next to each other on the main street). There is also a Dominos Pizza in the centre
of town, and a more expensive restaurant called New York, located on the 4th floor above Olive Coffee House. New
York offers steaks and pastas and a delicious Cajun Chicken Salad. Starting price here is about 12,000 for a salad
– reaching up to 35,000 for steak. However there are also a fair few good Korean restaurants too.
Chuncheon Dak Galbi Restaurant
There is also a Chuncheon dak galbi restaurant which is often frequented by the Westerners (even staying open
late to accommodate large groups!) The friendly owners also offer galbi with cheese added to it, which is delicious.
If you cross Hwangji Pond (in the centre of Downtown Taebaek) there is also a small Korean café on the opposite
side from the main street on the ground floor (it’s called Café Certo and is very basic). This is a great, cheap
little place to have lunch or a snack. They serve all the usual Korean café fare, and we have found the staff to be
very friendly and welcoming.
At the bottom of the main street, turn right, and there are a couple of other restaurants serving nice food.
If you look up, you’ll see two almost next to each other, on the 2nd floor. One of them even serves Western fries,
potato wedges and potato smiley faces(!) – as well as Korean dishes for sharing, and nice cocktails.
In the center of town are some decent Chinese Restaurants (just look up). Next to the bus terminal there is
also a good noodle place called U9, which serves dong-gas (fried breaded pork or chicken) too.
As far as bars go, some of the town favorites are Africa, Cheers, Two Bar, and just drinking on the
street in plastic chairs in front of a Family Mart or GS25.
The E-mart just outside Taebaek
Everything you need, you can find in Taebaek. There are numerous Family Marts, GS25’s, Paris Baguettes, etc.
scattered all around the town, as well as banks (but no KEB bank), post offices, pharmacies, etc. You can also
find doctors and dentists here – in addition to beauty salons and hairdressers. Taebaek also has a large hospital
that is very clean and modern. There are also a few car hire firms in Taebaek, but most don’t have English
speaking staff. We hired a nice big Samsung car for three days for about 150,000 won, but needed a Korean friend
to organize everything for us.
Westerners from the surrounding towns flock to Taebaek to visit the large Emart just outside of town – the only
supermarket in the vicinity. You can find anything you need here, from clothes, to food, electrical, beauty and
cleaning products. They also have a section at the front which sells outdoor clothing, hiking equipment and backpacks
(all pretty pricey), and an Asics sports shop selling running shoes, clothes and bags. To get to Emart, you can
either take a bus bound for Gohan (the final destination is often Jeongseon), or take a taxi. During the day, the
fare will only be around 5,000 won. When you are finished at E-Mart, just go to the front desk and ask one of the
agents to call a taxi for you, and then wait outside for your ride. There is no extra fee to call a taxi here. You
can also wait at the road and hail one down pretty easily if you prefer. Alternatively, head to the bus stop – the
small one on the same side as Emart goes towards Gohan, and the one across the road will take you back to Taebaek.
You will need to know what times the buses leave these 2 towns, in order to know what time they will pass by Emart.
As a rule, be at the bus stop 5-10 mins after they are due to leave their origin town, and then be prepared to wait
another 15-20 minutes in case they are late.
There are some great coffee shops in Taebaek – such as ‘Olive’ (owned by the wife of a schoolteacher at Kallae
Elementary School, Gohan). It has the most amazing coffee, ice cream, smoothies and cakes. To find it, head down
to the bottom of the main street, curve around to the right, and turn left at the crossroads.
There is also ‘Café Certo’, located across Hwangi Pond, on the 4th floor; which offers hot and cold coffees, cheese
cakes, ice cream, beer, and even fresh ground coffee that the owner roasts himself. One coffee costs about 4,000 won,
and their menu is in English and Korean.
There is a travel agent in Taebaek called ‘Skytour’ which has an excellent clerk who speaks almost fluent English.
He can help out with finding you cheap flights and holidays (often the best deals are on Korean websites, which don’t
show up in the English search engines), and can also help to arrange visas if you are planning to travel outside of
Korea – e.g. to China. The shop is located across the street from ‘Olive’coffee shop, just down the hill a little.
Good ole’ fashioned walking is not out of style here. Almost everything in Taebaek is in walking distance and this
makes for great exercise. Be careful though, as pedestrians do not have the right of way. Standing in the crossing
does not mean cars will stop for you! And just because you are on the sidewalk doesn’t mean you’re safe - motorcycles
will ride up beside you to make their deliveries, or vans will reverse to get off the street. Keep your eyes open. When
they stop in front of you, try not to run into them, because it will hurt you more than it’ll hurt them!
Bike riding is popular here (when it's warm).
There is a free gym in Taebaek called Boegonsoe (보건소), but many Westerners take the bus/train to neighbouring
Gohan (about 15 mins away on either), where there is a free gym and
swimming pool right next to the train station – part of High One and Kangwon Land Resort.
Hiking is also a popular outdoor activity here, and you will find many outdoor gyms dotted around the town
and halfway up mountains.
A couple of the local schools have running tracks too, and are usually happy for the public to use them out of school hours.