Paju Samneung- Three Royal Tombs in Paju

A few months ago,while on one of our “Let’s discover Paju” tours, Janet, Pratz and I happened by a place called Jangneung. We went along the lane to discover some renovations and further on a most beautifully kept tomb. Wanting to take a few pictures, we took off down the original concrete and suddenly the sound of alarms filled the entire area. So we ended up taking our pictures from outside the invisible line.

Jangneung

A quick internet search later, we found that not only was Jangneung NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC (oops) but that there was another UNESCO World Heritage site in Paju. Another! That makes two. Yes you heard it here first. Who would have ever thought that in the days of the Joseon Dynasty, Paju was where it was all at.

Jangneung 2Jangneung has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009. It is the burial place of King Injo and Queen Inyeol. King Injo was the 16th king of the Joseon Dynasty.  After some tough times involving the Manchus, King Injo did have some successes during his reign.

This fantastically kept area has many stone monuments around the tomb. Unfortunately because of our little alarm problem, we couldn’t get far enough in to take pictures.

During Chuseok however, we made it our mission to discover Paju’s other UNESCO World heritage site, Paju Samneung. 삼 (Sam) being the word for three in Korean. This site has three tombs that hold the bodies of four members of royalty during the Joseon dynasty.

We found the tombs by accident. We were actually driving to see the Buddhas when we happened by the sign and wanting to get out of the traffic, we diverted to the tombs. Entry was free for Chuseok but the usual 1,000 won entry fee is affordable.  There are information leaflets in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

We first passed a small museum but with everything in Korean, we made it a short stay here. Don’t come here expecting to be bused from tomb to tomb, you have to walk. The grounds are very beautiful with the different trees labelled in English.  The whole area is really quiet so it’s a great way to spend an afternoon out of a city and into nature.

For photographers, this would be a great place to take photos anytime of the year but especially in autumn when the leaves change colour.

Samneung

The three tombs here are Gongneung, Sulleung and Yeongneung, the final being the burial place of King Jinjong and Queen Hyosun. You can look around the shrines and sheds but you can’t actually go on the grassy tomb area so to pick up the details of the statues at the back, a good camera lens needed.

Samneung2

Samneung3

Samneung4

Samneung5

Al three tombs are away from each other with the paths providing beautifully shaded areas for picnics or resting. Indeed, during our visit at Chuseok, there were several families enjoying picnics and some quiet time.

Samneung 16

To get to Paju Samneung on public transport, take the 99, 760, 30,31 and get off at Paju Samneung then walk down the road opposite the bus stop for 10 or so minutes.

The best way is to take a taxi from Geumchon or Geumneung station and ask the driver to go to Paju Samneung.

The address for anyone driving is 89 Samneung ro, Jori eup, Paju si, Gyeonggi do.

For anyone interested in going feel free to email shaunabrowne87@yahoo.co.uk for more details.

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Staycationing for Chuseok.

My friend and I have just bought tickets home for Christmas. Our other friend is leaving Korea soon. Combine this with expensive plane tickets, sold out KTX tickets and lots of traffic on the roads and a staycation really was our only option. Not that we were complaining. Doing and seeing all the tourist sites in Paju was on my to do list for a while and this was the perfect opportunity.

Of all the places to find expensive hotels, Paju wouldn’t have been top of my list but at 300,000won for a large room for the night, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Of course this was the VVIP room complete with jacuzzi and sauna and all the rest. After visiting a hotel called Vom, where rooms came complete with poles and the staff couldn’t understand why we didn’t want it for “short time”, we settled on the more affordable and normal “Great funny hotel bus”. I’m not making that name up. That’s really what it was called. Points deducted for the fact that there actually was no bus there but added for the fact that there was a circle bed, the room was huge and it was cheap.

pics

Next we found ourselves in Heyri. For the day before Chuseok, it was filled with young couples, families and groups generally having a great time. This is somewhere you could spend the entire day, but instead we found ourselves seeking shelter from the unforgiving sun and what better was to do that than to paint some cups and plates.

cups2

cup

 Thursday morning, we were on a mission. Some real sight-seeing was going to happen today. Off we set in the trusty Spuddy.

spuddy

First stop, Provence. Provence is a themed village with the most colourful buildings and the cutest shops. It also houses a famous bakery by Ryoo Jae Eun, where we ate breakfast and with rude staff and middling food, it was a little disappointing. Although most places were closed for Chuseok, there were several large tourist buses there and it was a nice way to spend the morning.

bakery

provense

While looking for the standing Buddhas and navigating some serious Chuseok traffic, we found ourselves at Paju Samneung or the Three Royal Tombs of Paju. These have been a UNESCO world heritage site since 2009 and somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. The entrance was free for Chuseok (usually 1,000won). There is a little museum on the way in but everything is in Korean so we didn’t spend too long there.

The tombs , from the Joseon dynasty, Gongneung, Sulleung and Yeongneung hold the bodies of 4 royal members. You can get an information booklet in English at the gate and the grounds are incredibly well-kept. We must have spent over an hour here although in cooler weather, it would be possible to spend an entire afternoon exploring the vast grounds.

tomb 2 tomb

The Standing Buddhas were next. I was super impressed by these since I didn’t even know of their existence up to a few months ago. You can see the tops of the Buddhas long before you get to them.  The legend of the Buddhas is super cool and the temple and surrounding area is also very beautiful and peaceful.

buddhas

buddhas legend

temple2

Not too far from the Buddhas are other smaller tombs which we explored. Public transport to all these areas is possible with careful planning but ideally, one would have a car. Staycationing was definitely one of the best things I’ve done for Chuseok. We were able to get away but not go so far away that we need a holiday from our holiday.  I’m planning to do a more in depth blog on each of the sites we visited once I get my camera to work properly and have my own photos.

*All photos were from Pratishka Ruthun. Her blog can be found here; http://koreantimes25.blogspot.kr/