Explore S. Korea's scenic south by rail
FROM blue seas, lush mountain ranges and vast green landscapes to popular getaways such as Busan, Yeosu and Boseong, South Korea's southern coast boasts some of the most scenic views and must-visit destinations in the country.
And what better way to explore the region than by rail?
Following the widely popular V-train and O-train that travel through the country's central regions, Korea Railroad Corporation, or Korail, has launched the S-train, which allows passengers to explore Korea's south on one train.
The newly developed tourist train is equipped with 218 seats in five compartments, each with a different function: Family, healing, cafeteria, tea, and sports and leisure.
The tea compartment of the ride is unique to the S-train in that it is the first of its kind on any Korean train which offers guests a chance to view and participate in traditional tea ceremonies and enjoy tea, like the nation's famous Boseong green tea, from various regions of the southern coast.
For passengers who prefer their ritualistic cup of joe in the morning, the cafeteria section of the train has a bar area where guests can order food and snacks.
The section even has its own quaint cafe setting with tables, bar stools and even a barista who serves a variety of hot and iced coffee.
The train, departing from Busan, travels down to the Yeosu Expo Station via the Gupo, Jinyeong, Masan, Jinju, Hadong, Suncheon and Yeocheon route.
The return train departs from Gwangju Station and arrives at Masan Station, passing through Nampyeong, Boseong, Deungnyang, Beolgyo, Suncheon, Bukcheon and Jinju.
WHERE TO HOP OFF
Experience once-upon-a-time Korea by hopping off at Deungnyang Station in South Jeolla province, and visit a unique street known to the locals as "memory lane".
Here, you will find a replica of a barber shop, a comic-book store, an elementary school and even a bus stop all designed to look as they would have 50 years ago.
After Deungnyang Station, the train will head to South Jeolla province's Suncheon, one of the cleanest cities in the country.
Aside from the city's iconic natural wetland in Suncheon Bay, the area is now best known for its outdoor beauty, thanks to its hosting of this year's Suncheon Garden Expo Korea, a massive garden expo featuring more than 83 different gardens. The expo runs till Oct 20.
The dynamic seaside area of Yeosu - famous for its beaches, seafood and abundance of flowers that bloom during spring - is the final attraction on the Busan-Yeosu train route.
Yeosu has a number of scenic islands that make for a worthy day trip.
Among some of its picturesque island destinations are Sanghwado and Hahwado islands, a short ferry ride from Yeosu's port.
On the islands, which are together aptly called Ggotseom, or Flower Island, you can enjoy the fresh seaside air while hiking along some of the island's trails.
The S-train began its first commercial run last month and will continue to make one round trip every day along the train's two routes from Busan to Yeosu Expo Station and from Gwangju to Masan. A one-way route takes 41/2 hours.
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Visit www.korail.com for more information.