Go off the beaten track in the southern region of South Korea
The southern region of South Korea is a treasure trove of culture
If Seoul has become too mainstream, yet you still want to experience the comforts of a city, go off the beaten track and consider Tongyeong, Jinju, Daegu or Busan.
In this second instalment of our two-part series on the southern region of South Korea, we tell you where to go.
Often referred to as the "Napoli of Asia", this romantic port city certainly did not disappoint.
Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the city by taking a 10-minute ride on the Hallyeosudo Viewing Ropeway to the top of Mireuksan Mountain.
Upon reaching the mountain station, I had to walk up a flight of wooden stairs (taking another 10 minutes) before arriving at the summit. At Tongyeong Traditional Craft Museum, you can make your own mother-of-pearl keychain.
The experience made me more appreciative of this handicraft that blossomed during the Goryeo dynasty as I struggled to turn thin mother-of-pearl strips, which usually come from abalone shells, into a decent work of art. Don't leave Tongyeong, known as the oyster-producing mecca, without eating the delicacy.
At Tongyeong Myeongga, I was served oysters done four ways - fresh oyster salad, oyster pancakes, sweet and sour oysters and oyster soup. Other local specialities include sea squirt bibimbap and seafood stews.
I then took a stroll up Dongpirang Mural Village, where a wealth of vibrant and charming Insta-worthy murals such as The Little Prince and Totoro await.
The murals change every two years, so you have a reason to keep coming back.
Beside it is the 400-year-old Jungang Market, where seafood makes up a huge part of its offerings. Along the Gangguan Port, I was fascinated by the life-size reconstruction of a Geobukseon (turtle ship), a historical warship used by Admiral Yi Sun-Sin's naval troops during the Imjin War in the 16th century.
For a spectacular ocean view right at your balcony when you wake up in the morning, consider spending the night at Hansan Marina Hotel & Resort.
History buffs will enjoy a visit to Jinjuseong Fortress where you will learn of the three-time invasion of this city - twice by the Japanese and once by the North Koreans during the Imjin War and the 1950 Korean War respectively.
Within the fortress, a must-visit would be the Chokseongnu Pavilion, where the female entertainer Nongae is said to have sacrificed herself by throwing herself and a Japanese general off the Uiam Rock beneath the pavilion.
For starters, I headed to Guam Farm for a taste of traditional farming by harvesting potatoes and making injeolmi (Korean rice cake).
I then had one of Daegu's local delicacies, kalguksu (knife-cut noodles),after half a day of hard work.
Head over to the city's modern alley, where you will find the first gothic building of that area, Gyesan Cathedral, and the hanok house of poet Yi Sang-hwa.
If you can't wait to shop till you drop, Dongseongno Shopping District is a retail haven. Also check out Seomun Market, a K-drama filming site for What's Wrong With Secretary Kim?
The 600-year-old Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, nestled on the coast, is a rare find as most temples in Korea are located in the mountains.
I had to walk down 108 steps before being confronted by the magnificent sight of the ocean.
Another unique attraction would be Choryang Ibagu-gil. Choryang refers to the area, and ibagu is the local dialect of the Gyeongsang region for "story".
At the peak, I basked in the glow of the sunset and sent out postcards from the Yu Chi-hwan Postbox, ending my tour of the southern region on a high note.
* This trip was made possible by the Korea Tourism Organisation.
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now