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Taean Marine National Park

Taean Marine National Park (tel. 041/672-9737) stretches from Taean peninsula (South Korea's westernmost stretch of land) down to the southern end of Anmyeon-do. It includes 327 sq. km (about 126 sq. miles) of land and sea. Within its boundaries are about 130 islands, many of which are just tiny specks and totally uninhabitable. Designated in 1978, it includes 30 sandy and very swimmable beaches, including what's considered South Korea's third most beautiful, Mallipo. Mallipo Beach, the largest in Taean, is located on the western end. This broad sandy beach's former beauty is now marred by the dozens of hwae jib (raw fish restaurants), motels, and shops that butt right up to the sand. About a 30-minute walk from here is Cheollipo Beach, a smaller, more run-down version of Mallipo, with a couple of minbak and a small fishing harbor.

In between these two beaches is Cheollipo Arboretum (tel. 042/672-9982; www.chollipo.org), a scenic location built by an American expat, Carl Ferris Miller. Since its opening in 1966, he collected over 6,500 species of both native and other plants, which grow in the seven different habitats within its boundaries. Once accessible only to scholars and scientists, the arboretum is now open to the public for an admission fee of W10,000. It's open Thursday to Tuesday 8am to 5:30pm April through October, closing at 5pm from November to March; closed Lunar New Year, Chuseok, and Christmas. It is now run by the founder's son.

Other popular beaches in the area include Sinduri Beach, located farther north, and Hagampo, which is even father up from there. Other than the beaches, recreational fishing is popular off the shores, for fish, crab, lobster, and oyster.

Trains from Seoul to Hongseong run about 16 times daily, starting from 5:20am until 8:40pm, with a travel time of about 3 hours. The bus station is located right across the street from the train station. Express buses from Seoul go to Mallipo nine times daily, 6:30am to 6pm, taking about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Less frequent are buses from the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal to Taean. Running only three times daily, from 7:40am to 4:50pm, it takes about 3 hours and costs W9,100. A round-trip bus from Seoul to Anmyeon-do runs only once a day.

You can also get a long-distance bus directly to Taean from Incheon Airport (bus stop 8A), which runs twice daily at 11am and 6:30pm, costing W12,800 to W13,600. Admission to the national park is W1,600 adults, W600 teens, W300 children.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.