Summer Day Trip: Daejeon

Last summer, I found out about my summer vacation super late so I couldn’t book any overseas trips, but I did go to two cities on my vacation. I wanted to go to more, but I got sick at the start of my vacation and it was so hot and humid at the time, I only found the energy for two cities.

The first city I went to was Daejeon. I saw caricakes, the youtuber, do a video on a day trip she took out there and got excited about it. So, I basically just made her itinerary my own. For some reason I took the 7AM train out of Busan. I was taking the Mugunghwa which is the really slow train, but cheaper than the KTX, so it took a little over 3 hours to get there. I don’t think I’ll ever leave that early again when traveling around Korea.

My first stop when I arrived in Daejeon was the Yuseong Hot Spring. Immediately, it was my favorite part of the trip. Even though it was super hot and humid that day, being able to soak my feet in the hot water felt like a dream. I could have easily stayed there all day. I absolutely recommend visiting the hot spring if you’re ever in Daejeon. It’s free!

There are even little stones that you can walk on in the spa. It feels so good. I sat there for a little over an hour, resting and taking in the peacefulness of the park. An older lady had been circling around my vicinity for awhile eyeing me, until she finally came over and asked me where I was from, how I knew about the hot spring, etc. After our little chat she left and told one of her friends about me and how I used Korean with her. She was so cute!

Sadly, I couldn’t stay in once place all day and had to make the most of it, so I got a bus out to this cafe called Moon Banggu. It was a cute little cafe, out of the way and a bit of a walk from the main road. The interior was cute and so was the dessert. I got a scone and an ade. Another hour was spent here as I made a dent in the book I was reading at the time, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

Usually, when I solo travel I don’t like going to restaurants to get my food. But, Daejeon is famous for its’ 갈국수 (kalguksu, or knife noodles) which are thick noodles. I hadn’t eaten kalguksu before so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try. I found a place called Smile Noodle. By the time I got there it was crowded. You have to take off your shoes before going inside and the foyer was just covered in shoes.

The bowl of kalguksu was huge. After twenty minutes of eating, I had gone through a good amount, but it felt like the bowl was bottomless. I DID finish it in the end. It took me some time, but I got there. And it was really good. Kalguksu is my favorite type of noodles now, mainly because the thickness of the noodles.

Kalguksu with a side of radish and kimchi

There was a small museum on the history of Daejeon in the City Hall. Although everything was in Korean, there were quite a few photos of Daejeon from back in the day so it was nice to see how it all developed through to the present.

The museum was free!

My last stop was to the bakery, Sungsimdang. It’s one of the most famous bakeries in the country. Sungsimdang and kalguksu were the top two reasons I made it a point to go to Daejeon actually. Yes, many of my trips are inspired by food.

I think their most popular item is something called 튀김소보로 which is a kind of fried pastry. It was soft on the inside with a nice crunchy exterior.

Daejeon was really nice and I did have a good time, but after that, I realized I probably would have had a better time if I had just made my own itinerary instead of following someone else’s.

Daejeon was actually my first solo trip ever. So, I can’t fully regret my mistake of not making my own plan for the day because it did give me some sort of structure for the day. That day, I learned a lot about what I like to do and don’t like to do when traveling alone. Since then, I do get inspiration from other people’s trips, but I always look for what seems most interesting to me.