Suwon is a major South Korean city that is somewhat overshadowed by its proximity to Seoul. It is well known nationally for being the only city to retain its historic city walls, and as the center of Samsung's global research & development.
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For visitors to Seoul, Suwon can be treated like another suburb although it will still take around an hour to get there.
Take Seoul subway line 1 (blue) south - Cheonan/Shinchang line. Ensure that you are on the correct section of the train as it later splits and travels on two separate lines: the Incheon line (west) and Cheonan/Shinchang line (south). You can transfer to the correct train at Guro station if you're not on the right one. Prior to this station there is a notification about the transfer option.
It is also possible to take a commuter train from Seoul station. This is much faster (30-45min) and costs about ₩2,600, but runs more infrequently.
From Gangnam station in Seoul there is bus 5100 to the Yeongtong area in Suwon. From Sadang station in Seoul you can take bus 7000 to Suwon.
There is also a bus service connecting Castle Hotel in Suwon with Incheon International Airport, which takes 60-90 min. This service operates 06:20-22:30 to the hotel and 04:50-20:30 to the airport, every 20-30min and costs ₩12,000.
The bus lines in Suwon are reliable and cheap. Most major stops have a list of available bus lines with route information. Green buses typically run inside the city, and larger blue and red buses take passengers to Seoul and neighboring cities. While mainly listed in Korean, most major stops and points of interest are also listed in English. English announcements on the bus are only for stops of tourist interest. Suwon bus station is not the terminal station for the bus lines, so make sure you board the correct traveling direction.
Taxis are prevalent in Suwon, and easy to use. Several offer "free translation" services. You should know a major feature near your destination as the taxi drivers may not know specific addresses or minor building names, however with a little patience and understanding you will find a taxi willing to get you near your destination. Some will even call "English speaking" friends or relatives to help. Taxis are easily identified, mainly gray, white or black with lit signs on top and in the front windows. Black taxis are called "luxury" taxis, tend to be more comfortable/larger cars, go slower, and cost more. The gray or white taxis tend to get you there faster and cheaper, but may drive more recklessly.
This train station is also on Line 1 of the Seoul metro network.
There are four stops on Seoul subway Line 1 that service the Suwon area. Suwon Station is the most central and largest, the second largest in the country, and also houses the train station proper, where you can catch a train to nearly anywhere else in South Korea. The Seryu, Hwaseo, and Sungkyunkwan University stations are the others. Another subway line is under construction to serve other parts of the city.
Cycling in Suwon is easy as the sidewalks are wide and many are combination sidewalk and bike path. There are only a few challenging hills in Suwon and pedestrian traffic is not congestive in most areas.
Suwon is a large city, but walking can be a nice alternative to driving around downtown, the markets and the fortress proper. Whilst the walk between Suwon train station and the fortress is doable at a stretch, the Intercity Bus Terminal on the south side is well too far away, via a polluted mess of urban sprawl.
- 1 Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon Fortress 화성). Mar-Oct 9AM-6PM, Nov-Feb 10AM-5PM. A stunning fortress constructed between 1794 to 1796 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features four main gates with the north and south (Janganmun and Paldalmun) being particularly impressive with their unique structures. In addition small sentry posts (Porus) and two command posts (Jangdaes) can be found dotted around the walls. The SeoJangdae outpost, found within the forested hills on the western side of the fortress, offers great panoramic views of the city below. Walking the circumference along the wall takes 2-3 hours or visitors can opt for the electric train option. 10 minute bus ride from the central subway station to the Paldalmun roundabout. Several bus lines go there, including 11, 13, 13-3, 36. Buses don't terminate at the Suwon station, so make sure you're on the correct traveling direction. Alternatively, it's a 30-minute walk from Suwon station to Paldalmun Gate. ₩500/child,₩700/concession,₩1000/adult.
- See #Do for activities within the fortress grounds
- 2 Manseok Park, Jangan-gu. A large park with lake and recreational facilities.
- 3 Suwon World Cup Stadium, 228 Uman-dong, Paldal-gu, ☎ . Also known as the Big Bird, Suwon's World Cup Stadium hosted one of the quarter-finals for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and is now home to the 'Suwon Blue Wings of the K-League.
- 4 Suwon First Church (수원제일교회 Suwom Jeil Kyohwi), 286-3 Ji-dong, Paldal-gu, ☎ . A striking church that dominates the Suwon skyline. Humongous 10-storey complex atop a hill and built entirely of black bricks (and being Korean, inexplicably trimmed with neon), it makes for an interesting sight, and a Korean architectural oddity.
- 5 Baegun Lake (백운호수) (In the north west of Uiwang.). A lake with a number of different restaurants, hiking trails and local stores.
- 6 Gyeonggi Arts Center (경기도문화의전당), 20, Hyowon-ro 307beon-gil, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea (경기도 수원시 팔달구 효원로307번길 20), ☎ . Gyeonggi Arts Center is the venue for cultural events in the Gyeonggi Province. It is in Ingye-dong in Suwon, and is within a few minutes' walk of Suwon City Hall Station. The Gyeonggi Arts Center was opened in June 1991.
- 1 Mount Gwanggyo. Mount Gwanggyo is in the north end of Suwon and offers an excellent of view of Suwon and the surrounding area. There are a number of peaks as well as a number of trails of varying difficulty. After a hike, try eating at one of the many farm restaurants at the base of the mountain. There are plenty of options for vegetarians here, and the tofu and dong-dong ju are as fresh as you can get it.
- Hwaseong Fortress
- 2 Traditional Korean Archery. from 9:30AM, every half hour; they don't operate during lunch break or when weather is not permitting (rain or snow). You can try your hand at Korean archery at the Yeonmudae outpost within Hwaseong Fortress. ₩2000/round (10 shots).
- Bell of Hyowon Ringing Experience. The first ring is praying for the health of one's parents, the second ring is praying for the health of one's family, the third ring is praying for one's own advancement. ₩1000/session (3 rings).
You can find many cloth and jewellery retail outlets near Paldalmun (Nammun), which is a part of Hwaseong Fortress and is a famous place in Suwon for buying winter clothes, apparels and cosmetics.
You can shop for brands like Chanel, Boss, Diesel and other international fashion chains at Galleria or the Suwon station mall.
The food court in the mall at the train/metro station is excellent and extensive. You can get a fantastic meal for ₩4,500 and select from many choices; there's a showcase displaying all your choices. Besides plentiful traditional Korean restaurants, there are many places which serve other cuisines and fast food. Suwon is famous for its Galbi (sweet marinated ribs). Restaurants near the Yeongtong Square (Sagori) serve Galbi. There's also an excellent Galbi restaurant right across the street from the World Cup Soccer stadium. Vegetarian restaurants are hard to find, but they do exist.
- 1 Seonggwak (성곽) (passing through Janganmun Gate to the south, turn right (west) immediately; about 40 m on the left, look for a yellow building with a lot of trees). A traditional, delightful little restaurant, owned and operated by a nice old couple. Everything is homemade. If you don't read Korean (there is no English, and no menu), then get a jeong-guk-jang, a dubu kimchi, and a Makkeoli (rice wine). ₩27,000 for two people.
Major nightlife seems to revolve around three areas: Ingyedong, Yeongtong, and Nammun (Paldamun).
In Ingyedong, you will find an amazing number of hofs, bars, restaurants, hostess bars, etc. There's also several Korean nightclubs such as Juliana, Boss etc.
- Club Loop. Open until 10:00. An "afterparty" club. Mainly electronic music (house, dance) and very large dance floor, which is packed on the weekends. Incredibly loud. Cover ₩15,000.
- Crazy Duck. Cheap drinks, darts and music. Popular among westerners and students.
Nammun is big among the university students of Suwon. It has a fashion street and the majority of nightlife is centered on Rodeo Street which is behind the main street to the left of Nammun Gate.
- 911 club. Famous for "drunken" tequila parties that it holds on Friday and Saturday night. It's a relaxed hip hop club with a bit of skate style.
- Rodeo nightclub.
Other areas that offer some nightlife options include the Ajou University area and the Suwon Station area. Where you will find:
- Plan B. A popular place among Ajou students, Aju-ro, Woncheon-dong.
- Club Tao (near Suwon Station). Large Korean-style dance club.
- Team Bar (near Suwon Station). Does bar shows.
- S bar (near Suwon Station).
- Ho rock (near Suwon Station). Serves pasta and steak, wine, and cocktails.
Yeongtong has the one of the major concentration of foreigners in Suwon city. Most of them are employees of Samsung Co. and the second dominant group are English teachers.
- Now Bar (Near the Kinex cinema.). Popular hangout for expat English teachers and foreign students because of its cheap beer, fun atmosphere and friendly owner and staff.
- Tinpan. Near KFC. Popular with students from the local university and teachers, plays mainly urban music. However has a wide range of cheap beers and cocktails.
- Sam Ryan's (near Suwon Station). The Suwon branch of the popular Itaewon bar, opened late 2011. Many beers on tap, good food, and plenty of sports on the big screen.
- The Big Chill (Big Chill), Namun (Namun, Rodeo Gil (St.) - 중동사거리 directly in front of Hotel Central/Central Hotel on the 3rd floor), ☎ . A really great bar that attracts plenty of foreigners and Koreans alike. A great atmosphere and staff. Pool table, darts, cheap drinks, and great company. Request your own music and chill with friends. It's also close to all of the other big areas to party such as Suwon Station and downtown Ingyedong.
- 1 DCT, 17 Hwasan-ro 223 Beongil, Jangan-gu (walking distance from Sungkyunkwan University Station), ☎ . 19:00-late.
There are dozens of love-hotel style motels (모텔) in Suwon, starting from ₩25,000 for a double room. They can be found in clusters near Suwon Station, in the Ingyedong party area and behind Ramada Hotel. Another cheap option are 'warm rooms' or jjimjilbang (찜질방) that can be found all over the city.
- 1 Suwon Hostel (수원화성사랑채), Nammun (Next to Hwaseong Palace.), ☎ . Friendly staff and a nice view from the roof. ₩30,000+.
- 2 The Hotel Starmade (스타메이드호텔), 1031-9, Ingye-Dong, Paldal-Ku, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Hotel offering free pick-up service, high speed internet and DVD movies.
- 3 Hotel Silkroad (대한민국 경기도 수원시 팔달구 인계동), 1022-1, Ingye-Dong, Paldal-Ku, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel offering free pick-up service, high speed internet and DVD movies.