Daejeon

Daejeon (대전, 大田, formerly Taejon) is the capital of South Chungcheong province.

Understand

Skyline of Central Daejeon

Daejeon: Great Field... or Great War?

Daejeon's accompanying hanja, quite literally means "Great Field" (daejeon, 大田), fitting given its roots as a wide, flat arable valley. However, it coincidently is a homophone of "Great War" (daejeon, 大戰), and indeed war has touched the city. In 1950, in the midst of the Korean War, the Communist armies had progressed south of Seoul and surrounded then-Taejon on July 17th. Despite being outnumbered, the US 24th Division of the Joint UN Forces held back the tide of the war for 20 days, before its commander went missing in action on the front lines.

Daejeon is the 5th largest city in South Korea, with a population of approximately 1.5 million. It is located in the centre of Korea and is at the crossroads of national rail and road transport routes, the Gyeongbu railway, Honam railway, Gyeongbu Expressway, and Honam Expressway.

Daejeon hosted Taejeon Expo '93, during which 108 countries participated and 14 million visitors attended.

The city has been promoted as a city of science and education centred about Daedeok Science Town, more lately called Daedeok Innopolis. The Daejeon municipal government dubs itself a core city of research and development and the cradle of Korea's cutting-edge science sector.

More than 200 research institutes, including the research and development facilities of Samsung, LG, Korea University of Science and Technology, are located within Daedeok Science Town in Yuseong-gu on the far outskirts of town, locally referred to as "Daedeok Techno Valley". This, plus the "Daedeok Innopolis" cluster of KAIST, Chungnam National University and government research institutes lend themselves to the city's local nickname: the Silicon Valley of Korea.

Daejeon has adopted the slogan: "It's Daejeon". The letters in the word "it's" are meant to be an backronym expressing; Interesting, Tradition and Culture, Science and Technology.

Yuseong Hot Springs Resort and Daecheong Dam are amongst the city's most popular tourist attractions.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 5.9 8.3 13.9 21.1 25.9 27.7 30.2 27.8 26.9 21.2 13.9 3.4
Nightly lows (°C) -5.5 -1.9 3.0 8.2 13.3 18.9 22.5 21.4 17.1 9.5 4.0 -5.5
Precipitation (mm) 6.5 8.5 67.2 59.4 49.7 143.7 177.2 240.9 118.0 169.4 40.7 36.7

Source: 2014 Korea Meteorological Administration

Daejeon has a monsoon-influenced, 4 season climate that lies within the transition between the humid continental and humid subtropical climatic regimes (Köppen Dwa/Cwa respectively). Monthly mean temperatures range from −1.9 °C (28.6 °F) in January to 25.5 °C (77.9 °F) in August.

Orientation

Daejeon Metropolitan City

Daejeon is 167.3 km from Seoul, 294 km from Busan and 169 km from Gwangju. It is also close to the proposed site of a new administrative city, Sejong City

Daejeon is separated into 5 administrative divisions or gu (구), (districts), all of which maintain their own tourist website in English. The divisions are largely run along rivers bisecting the city.

Gyeryongsan National Park straddles the city border to the west. Three streams which eventually join with Geum River, called Gapcheon (갑천), Yudeungcheon (유등천), and Daejeoncheon (대전천), flow through the city from south to north.

Tourist Information

To pick up a map you can visit the information desk in EXPO Park or in Daejeon Station. For district tourism offices please see

Get in

Daejeon is a road and rail transportation hub in South Korea. Two major expressways, Gyeongbu Expressway and Honam Expressway, and two major railways, Gyeongbu railway and Honam railway, are joined here. Travel time between Daejeon and Seoul using the high-speed railway system, otherwise known as KTX, is about 50 min. The nearest airport to Daejeon is Cheongju Airport in the neighbouring city Cheongju and at least 30 min by road to the north of Daejeon.

By plane

Cheongju International Airport (Hangul: 청주국제공항; Hanja: 淸州國際空港) (IATA: CJJ) is located just north of Cheongju. There is a railway station next to the airport, called Cheongju Airport station, which is on the Chungbuk Line althoufg it is 600m from the airport itself. The usual way to reach Daejeon from the airport is via intercity bus.

Parking for 1,100 vehicles is available opposite the passenger terminal. The facility is open from 06:30-22:00.

Cheongju International airport currently has a very limited schedule, with flights to Jeju for a few times a day.

Korean Air has two flights a week to Hangzhou in China and two flights a week to Bangkok in Thailand.

By train

Daejeon lies on the main train line connecting Seoul and Busan. There are two principal train stations in Daejeon, the main Daejeon Station and the secondary Seo-Daejeon Station. Both are served by the KTX, the Korean high speed bullet train rail service. It takes from 50 min from Seoul to Daejeon and 100 min from Daejeon to Busan.

Conventional trains take about twice as long but come at a considerably lower price. As an example at the other end of the spectrum an unreserved "deluxe floor" seat on the Mugunghwa from Seoul will set you back less than ₩9,000 and take almost 2 hr. A similar train from Busan to Daejeon will take almost 4 hr but costs under ₩15,000. If these sound unreasonable, bear in mind that trains down the main line in Korea do sell out, especially on Sunday afternoons and into the late night so you may no have a say in the matter. On the bright side, the last Mugwanhwa from Busan terminates at Daejeon, so if stuck on its cold, cold floor, you can usually upgrade yourself (to 1st class even) after Daegu.

There are several railway stations. The station you will arrive at or leave from depends on where you're coming from or where you're going. If using the KTX Gyeongbu Line or the KTX Honam Line you may want to try and get off at Shintanjin Station to the north of the city or Seodaejeon Station to the southwest if using the KTX Honam Line.

Daejeon Station (KTX Gyeongbu Line) is in Jeong-dong, Dong-gu. The station first opened in 1905 and has recently been expanded with the completion of a new station building in 2003. This serves the bullet train between Seoul and Busan. The bullet train takes you to Seoul in around 50 min from Daejeon. It is operated by the Korea National Railroad☎ +84 42 1588-7788

Seo-Daejeon Station (KTX Honam Line) is at 74 Oryu-dong, Jung-gu. The Seo-Daejeon Station began service in 1914 when the railway between Daejeon and Mokpo opened. If wishing to travel to the Jeolla area by rail (southwest areas of the country) then make your way to this station, not Daejeon Station.

Tickets for Korail (Korea National Railroad) services can be purchased at station windows, travel agencies, or online.

By bus

To add to the confusion, if entering via bus, there are three intercity bus terminals, and several pick up stops for the airport bus express.

There are two bus stop around government complex, some of express buses depart from Dong-bu and Yuseong stop by as well as the bus destined for Incheon airport.

Incoming buses terminating at Dong-bu terminal drop all passengers off at a random one of a few petrol stations or empty carparks near the terminal. Don't be alarmed. Whilst inconvenient for those transferring on, this does leave you on the right side of the road to grab the local express bus #2 down to the central Korail/subway station.

Get around

Riding a bus has never been quite this cute.
Dunsan to Expo Park

Locals and those staying for a longer time can purchase a Hana bank rechargeable transportation card, which offers free transfers. When you open an account at Hana bank, this smart bank card can be charged with money to be used on buses, taxis. "Hankkumi" transportation cards are also available at manned booths within the subway stops. These cards cost ₩2,500 won and are rechargeable at the station or at many GS 25 locations. Unfortunately with only one subway line, which bisects the city and runs southeast from the northwest corner, only central Daejeon, old downtown (Daejeon station area) and a handful of sites are convenient to reach solely by subway. The subway IS now compatible with Seoul T-money passes. Hankkumi cards or tags purchased after February 2011 now contain both Hankkumi and Seoul T-money functionality.

By bus

The inner-city bus service is extensive, but a bit slow. Most buses pass through Daejeon station which does not have a bus rank. Instead, they all leave from one of about 10 stops dotted around the area. Note that bus routes 1 and 2 are express stops and annoyingly not even typically marked on the handful of bus shelters where they do stop. City bus services in Daejeon buses are divided into four types.

Each type of bus has a different colour; red, blue and green (2).

  • One of the green buses connects all districts within Daejeon, and the other connects Daejeon with its neighboring areas.

Bus fares vary depending on the passengers age group. Children, middle and high school students, and adults. A Traffic card is available and offers discounts and free transfer. T-money also works for discounts and free transfers,

Each bus has two doors:

Routes

A full bus route map is printed on practically every last bus shelter in town. Navigation may be easier if used in combination with a pocket-sized printed copy of the numerical list above.

Two city tour buses also run, doing daytime trips between "science" sites such as the Currency Museum, Expo park and KAIST. Night time trips between "night" sites include Yuseong Spa and Daecheong Dam. They wind across town via various pick-up spots prior to the tour and tend to end at Yuseong, but perhaps the most convenient pick-up point is at the park at the rear (south side) of City Hall.

The City Bus Free Transfer System has operated since 2005 and allows bus passengers holding a traffic card to transfer to another bus or subway three times at no additional cost. When using this system passengers are only required to pay a single fare for up to 4 segments of travel in a single direction. The traffic card allows 3 free transfers within 80 min of the first boarding, with 30 min transit time subsequent to the passenger placing the card on the card reader when exiting. Another service will need to be boarded and the card read again within the specified 30 min (off the bus) period. Check the city website (English version is available) for the latest schedules, departure times and costs.

By subway

Daejeon's first subway line opened in March 2006, connecting Daejeon Station to both the western and eastern parts of the city. The subway stations are fed by buses, and the fare is ₩1200-1400 a ride, with tickets easily bought from machines (select the price according to the map it displays, enter money, get token). The subway itself is extremely clean and tidy, and the stations are regularly decorated with art courtesy of local university arts students or schoolchildren. Small musical performances aimed at the older generations of Koreans (often some quite pleasant jazz actually) are sometimes held in Daejeon and Seodaejeon-negori stations.

Daejeon Subway Line 1 is the first of a planned 5 line subway system for the city. Line 1 has been fully operational since 2007. It connects Daejeon station in the original city centre, with the more modern and recently developed sections of this city, including Dunsan. The other lines have not yet opened and future plans for the extra lines appear to remain speculative.

By taxi

Daejeon is quite spaced out, so taxis fares can run up quickly. For a cross-town trip, expect to spend up to ₩10,000, far higher if travelling to the lesser developed outer regions west of the bisecting mountain range, north of Yuseong, or around Shintanjin. The width of town can be covered usually in ₩4,000-5,000. Daejeon experiences near city-wide gridlock from 5PM to almost midnight on Fridays and 5PM to 7PM on weekdays so use the subway to cross the length of the city and catch a taxi from there to cover the width. Unregistered taxis are a common sight around the Dongbu bus terminal, so keep a keen lookout for the "It's Daejeon" logo on the side of the vehicle or a meter in the front if you don't wish to be mislead or deceived by un-licensed operators in un-metered vehicles.

By bike

Daejeon has a system of public-use bikes Tashu, which is available for a nominal fee for short rentals, although it can rise quickly for extended use (>1hr as of July 2014). The system requires a mobile phone number and Alien Registration Number to use. Note that stations are present mostly in the central valley, and may be empty or filled (thus preventing returns). Check for stations near your destination via the station's computer before renting a bike. Although bikes are maintained, they are quite often broken, so be sure to check the bike before renting. Bicycle roads exist in larger roads and riversides, but tend to be filled with pedestrians and tend not to yield to cyclists.

On foot

Daejeon is mostly far too spread out to be convenient to walk between attractions. However, Expo Park, the National Science Museum, Hanbat Arboretum, Dajeon Museum of Art, Mannyeon-dong, and even Dunsan-dong (although this last one is pushing it) are situated close enough to one another to wander back and forth.

See

There are 8 specific localities designated by the city government as scenic attractions, these are the Eight Sights of Sikjangsan.

Many of the other cultural centres and sight seeing places are located in Yuseong-gu district with the exception of Ppuri park and Daejeon Zoo.

Spectator Sports

Do

Gardens at Uam Historical Park.
Hanbit Tower and the Expo Bridge at Expo Park.

Note that the Dreamland theme park up on Mt. Bomun, despite being marked on many maps is long since gone and the equally well known abandoned site also recently completely bulldozed. The river flood plain adjacent to Expo Park is where a lot of expatriate action takes place on the weekends outside of the festival, and also makes for a nice stroll.

Whilst Dunsan downtown tends to cater to the retail-loving crowd, the downtown area in central Daejeon (Jungangno subway station) and particularly the area a few blocks south tends to be rather artsy, including many small, often privately run art galleries. Some of these are attached to independent coffee shops. Occasionally on Sundays there are street stalls run by local arts students.

Festivals

Daejeon has a recent history of attempting to jumpstart annual festivals (a Winter lights festival in Jungangno for example) only to have them fall on their face after one year. Signs still promote some of these on the outskirts of town.

Hike

View from atop Gubong-san, facing south away from the city.

Any, or all, of 5 mountains designated by Daejeon tourism amongst the city's eight most popular sites:

Most have either a typical Korean gazebo at the top or a historic fortress wall, or often both. Jangtaesan has a treetop walkway. Springs offering drinking water are marked on the local maps. To find the start of the myriad hiking trails, a good rule of thumb is to look for burial mounds on the hills, as they are often lurking just behind them. Once on the trail, trail marking and intersection signposting is really good, but the actual start point locations are almost never announced.

Buy

The city's traditional market is located next to the train station. The market by Daejeon Station is the general market, really nothing to write home about as far as appearances, the specialty stores are excellent, and you can get plants (from seeds to pots) which are not always easy to come by. Some household goods, and cheap clothes. The street to southeast, outside the market perimeter specialises in tools. South East Asian import canned and packet food including Mi Goreng (Indonesian-Malaysian dried instant noodles) and phonecards can be found at the International Food shop. Exit Daejeon Station through exit #3 and go straight for less than a minute. It's a very small shop that's located right in front of the traffic lights.

A second, slightly smaller traditional market exists in Yuseong. Further traditional markets still can also be found near Seodaejeon Korail station, opposite Hanbat stadium, and a little further east of the Dongbu Intercity bus terminal.

For further discounts, Nouen wholesale market is located north of Yuseong. Take the subway line and get off at the World Cup Stadium stop (the subway plays a little soccer themesong so you can't miss it).

There's a Costco directly beside Seodaejeon station. Costco offers OK discounted prices, and most everything is in bulk, but you can get some hard to find goods imported from the USA. You will need a personal (Gold Star) membership for 35,000 won, or you can use your card from home. It can solve dry food purchasing for a month or more in a single trip; watch out for seasonal specials, the November truffles make for nice, and cheap, gifts. For those without CostTo membership, E-mart Traders offers similar services with no membership requirements (not to be confused with E-mart proper). The Seodaejeon area also has the stock standard Home Plus, as well as some clothing department stores. The area is becoming rapidly one of the most affluent in the city so expect to see more fancier outlets opening here over time. Uniqlo (Japanese unbranded clothing chain) is also located nearby in the basement floor of the Say Two Department Store (good to know in winter as it sells cheap thermals). The Lotte Department Store in Yongmun-dong has a Uniqlo as well (2nd floor).

E-Mart and Home Plus (Tesco) is relatively ubiquitous, and a bit dear too. It does however offer a variety of basic house goods for settling into a new home, deodorant, as well as basic general produce (both fresh and dry), which are marginally cheaper than the prices in most corner stores, as well as offering it all in one stop. If you can't afford to set up your new home here, perhaps try tracking down a Daiso, a Japanese "1,000 won store" chain that stocks all sorts of kitchenware and just general use plastic items.

For cool summer shopping and warm winter shopping head underground. Underground shopping can be found connected to subway stops at Daejeon Station and Jungang-no, stops 104 & 105 respectively, on line 1.

If looking for general Korea souvenir-items, two shops, quite literally opposite one another are underground at subway Exit 2 of Daejeon station (stop 104 on Line 1). They specialise in a wide variety of trinkets including from mass-produced items from elsewhere in the country.

Also department store shopping is popular for the more affluent of Daejeon at Timeworld Galleria, Lotte Department Store and CGV; each of which also have a movie theatre on their top floor. Timeworld plays host to an array of full price brand outlets such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton, which despite the lacking crowds, still insists on having its patrons queue up to enter. The basement sells a wide variety of imported foods.

Most electronic needs can be found at TechnoWorld, which is close to KBS tower in Manneyong-dong, Seo-gu. For further consumer electronics, try the street running between Government Complex Daejeon subway station to Timeworld Galleria in the vicinity of Dunsan E-Mart: this street has no fewer than 3 electronics department stores Hi-mart, Jeonja Land plus smaller specialty stores LGgoodshop. Apple has a retailer called Frisbee outside Jungangno subway station, Jung-gu.

For funky independent-made items, keep an eye out for university-run arts fairs. Theres no real way to know when you'll find one, but they are seemingly quite common.

Eat

In addition to the copious amounts of Korean restaurants and Koreanized "Japanese" izakayas scattered all over town, some foreign restaurants, including some offering Italian cuisine, can be found around the two main downtown districts of Dunsan-dong (opposite Timeworld) and near Jungangno station. Some nicer restaurants also still exist up near the World Cup Stadium.

Oddball theme restaurants are scattered around town. For example, there are a couple of eateries in Dong-gu near the Intercity bus terminal subscribing to the "hobbit mushroom" school of architecture, a restaurant called literally Nameless (이름없음, Ireumeopseum) in front of Woosong university whose decor could be best described as "clusterbomb of ropes", and a full military themed chicken joint on the wrong side of the tracks in Shintanjin (follow the road/lane due south from the Loving Hut listed below).

Sit-down sushi roll restaurants (as opposed to sushi trains) are scattered about Jungangno and Dunsan and can be a good option as the generic copy-cat business model typically involves picture-menus and prices under ₩10,000 a meal. Options go beyond sushi to salads, pastas, gratins, and Japanese style omu-rice. Korean-style sushi, not to be confused with kimbap is extremely flamboyant in appearance.

Finally, if just looking for a quick snack, don't be afraid to try the street food. In central Daejeon around Jungangno there are at least 1-2 of the standard Korean odeng stands. Standard etiquette is to literally just grab a stick, eat it, and pay after you finish, the most common price is ₩500. Topokki (떡볶이tteokbokki) is a spicy ricecake and eggs in red spicy sauce. Stalls plus a handful of vendors with permanent shop-fronts can also be found here. The funny looking "buns" you may see the owner frying up are in fact essentially an inside-out pancake with syrup and nuts.

The following are a few of the more outstanding or unusual eateries:

Drink

There are two major "downtown" areas for drinking in Daejeon. One is in new-town in Dunsan-dong, opposite the Timeworld Galleria shopping complex, and a short walk from Government Complex Daejeon subway station. The second is in the city centre of old Daejeon, down by Jungangno subway station.

In addition, two further large drinking quarters exist in Yuseong and around Chungnam University as well as opposite Seodaejeon Korail station. Smaller areas of bars naturally exist beside each of Daejeon's universities, such as Hannam in the far East and Woosong in the far south.

Bars

Clubs

There are three western-style dance clubs in Daejeon.

Sleep

Budget

Jjimjilbangs are not ubiquitous, but they are there. Check that they allow overnight sleeping first.

Mid-Range

You can look for love motels which vary in quality, price and cleanliness. Many of these are centred in Dong-gu, near the Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal or in old downtown in Jung-gu, south of the Jungangno nightlife district. Most western style hotels with close proximity to the subway line are located in the Yuseong Spa vicinity. This is also where you will find the splurge hotels so inquire ahead. Outside of Yuseong, chain hotels also exist around the Government Complex Daejeon.

Splurge

Learn

A few of the universities in town accept considerable numbers of international students.

Work

Daejeon has numerous job openings for ESL/EFL teachers at public schools and private academies. Most teaching jobs require applicants to be a native English speaker and to have a 3-4 yr college degree. Salaries for teaching jobs generally start between 2.0 and 2.5 million Korean won per month and often include free housing and round-trip airfare on a 1 year contract. Since the Korean won has dropped precipitously in value relative to other major currencies, salaries are starting to rise.

Connect

PCbangs (internet cafes) are peppered over the entire city and dirt-cheap to use, plus complimentary internet-enabled PCs are a common sight in independent coffee shops.

An immense range of international calling cards are available from the International Food shop outside Daejeon Korail station, as well as from smaller shops located beside universities catering to international students, such as the one outside Woosong West campus' main East Gate.

Stay safe

Daejeon is a very safe city by global standards. Note that Daejeon does not play host to a US military base, and as such, anti-American sentiment (and by extension, anti-Westerner sentiment) is low. If anything in town could be deemed dangerous, eldery drunks occasionally congregate around the front of Daejeon Korail station at night, including weeknights. Ironically, they are more inclined to hurl abuse at or chase down groups of obvious foreigners than individuals.

Daejeon's tap water is "drinkable" however residents tend to boil their water or purchase affordable bottled water, or fill their own bottles at local parks or at the mountain springs that surround town.

Cope

For a police emergency, dial 112. For a fire or ambulance emergency, dial 119.

For various help, consider visiting the DICC.

Cleaning services will exist at high-end hotels, otherwise, find a local dry-cleaner by looking for the sign setak (세탁).

Go next

According to the city government, you can get to anywhere in South Korea from Daejeon within half a day.

Seoul and Busan are less than an hour and two hours away, respectively, on the KTX. Gyeongju is also now rather accessible courtesy of the new Shin-Gyeongju KTX stop between Daegu and Busan. Seo-Daejeon Korail station will similarly link you up to Gwangju.

There are several pick up spots around town for the airport bus, which charges a princely sum of about ₩14,000 for the ride (₩3,500 for the regular inter-city bus). Also see this articles Get in section for information on travel to Jeju. Another option to get to Jeju would be to take KTX to Busan and catch a ferry but this would be both less economical and efficient.

Closer places of interest include:

During festival season, Daejeon is the natural transfer point for travellers from the south end of the country heading to Boryeong for its expat-oriented mud festival.

Routes through Daejeon

Seoul Cheonan/Asan ← Shintanjin  NW  SE  Dong-daegu Busan
Mokpo Iksan  SW  NE  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, October 27, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.