Cheongju (not to be confused with nearby Chungju), in addition to being the provincial capital, is also a historic city credited with creating the world's oldest movable metal type print book: jikji. Do not expect to get a glimpse of the UNESCO-registered artifact as the Jikji (or what remains of it) is stored in France. Nonetheless, Cheongju is proud of its place in international history and subsequently hailed 2011 as a Jikji celebration year.
For a domestic traveler however, perhaps Cheongju's most notable asset is that it houses one of Korea's major domestic (with a few international routes) airports, servicing not just Cheongju but also the nearby major city of Daejeon.
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- 1 Cheongju International Airport (CJJ IATA) (located on the outskirts of the city). Offers limited flights to Bangkok in Thailand and Hangzhou in China. Flights to Jeju are available.
The main train station is located at Ogeunjang. Trains are limited, making this a lesser reliable method of transport into the city.
- Jeongbu Highway: connecting Cheongju with Seoul via Ochang and/or Jincheon.
- Gyeongbu Expressway: connecting Cheongju with Seoul, Daejeon and Busan.
Most of the major cities in South Korea have an express bus to Cheongju. There are two major bus stations:
- Cheongju Express Bus Terminal, for buses to Busan, Daegu, Gwangju and Seoul.
- Cheongju Intercity Bus Terminal, for all other cities. Buses to Incheon and Gimpo airports also leave from this terminal. The information center is adjacent to the bus terminal. Make sure you visit here if your Korean is not very good.
Cheongju has an extensive bus system accessible for ₩1150, but it can be difficult to figure out. Taxis are the easiest way to get around, as they are cheap and quick.
- Sangdangsanseong (To get there from the Intercity Bus Terminal (시외버스터미널) which is on the west side of town take bus 511, 405, 747 or 105 to Cheongju Stadium (청주 체육관). From there take bus 862 to Sangdangsanseong (상당산성). It would be helpful to write theses names out in Korean to show to bus drivers in case the routes change.). Sangdang Mountain Fortress lies on the slopes of Mt. Uam within the city limits. The fortress is comprised mainly of a 3-4 meter-high wall that stretches over 4.2 kilometers in circumference. The present walls date to the 1716 restoration of the site. Within the walls there is a small tourist village that has several restaurants.
- Cheongju National Museum. Near Mt. Uam, and houses several exhibits of cultural artifacts from the nearby area.
- Heungdeok Temple Site. Home to the Early Printing Museum, and is purported to be the site of the printing of Jikji, the oldest existent book printed using movable metal type. The museum itself contains exhibits related to the art of printing through the ages.
- Yongdusaji Cheoldanggan. The Iron Flagpole of the Yongdu Temple Site is designated as Korean National Treasure Number 41, and is located behind Lotte Young Plaza in downtown Cheongju. Made of twenty iron cylinders, the flagpole stands 13.1 meters tall, and was formerly used to hang flags to honor the Buddha.
- Spa-Ville. This gym/bath house offers some of the finest facilities in the city. Located near the Cheongju bus terminals and inside of Dreamplus, it is easy to spot. Enjoy a workout and a steam for only ₩10,000. Monthly memberships start at ₩100,000 per person.
- Shinae. Cheongju's "downtown" is filled with designer shopping and restaurants perfect for people watching.
- Cheongju Onch'on (spapia). If you want the fatigue recovery of the close relatives body and mind you have to go here.
- Sewang Brewery. This small family brewery is a great place to pick up rice wines and at the same time view cultural brewing techniques.
Cheongju has various markets scattered throughout the city that any traveler is bound to stumble across.
- Yukgeori Market. Near downtown Cheongju, Yukgeori market is the cities biggest marketplace. Here you'll find a variety of the freshest fish, meat and produce, as well as a selection of home wares and nick knacks.
- Eversave. Near the EMart, discounts on all kinds of brands including Adidas, Converse and Nike.
Cheongju's local specialities are chestnuts, and little packets of them are widely available at tourism and convenience stalls across the entire Cheungchong Province. It is also a major growing region for apples, pears and peaches.
Cheongju has a reasonably good mix of Korean and Western restaurants. Most of the American fast food chains can be found somewhere in the city. The downtown area is home to McDonalds, KFC, Mr Pizza and Burger King.
- Say Won Sushi. In Ha-Buk-Dae near Casa Bianca, Say Won is one of the premier sushi bars in Cheongju. Known for its great value and friendly sushi chef, Say Won offers some of the best sushi you can find this side of Seoul. As with most Korean restaurants they do not take reservations, however, they do deliver to most locations within 10 min. of Ha Buk Dae.
- California Sushi. A quality sushi restaurant in Shinae across from the Krispy Kreme in the building that houses Lotte Cinema. Their lunch specials are good value.
- Noriter. Along from the CGV in Shinae, Noritor has a good mix of Thai, Mexican and Italian dishes starting at ₩6,000.
- Subway. Located on the first floor of Dreamplus, which is near the Gagyung Bus Terminal. There is also a Subway in Shinae, just along from Bang Bang.
- Galbi restaurants. There are many restaurants serving Korean-style pork and beef barbeque in Cheongju. Meals are cheap (₩4,000-10,000) and delicious.
- Street food. Tteokbokki is sliced rice cakes served with red, hot pepper paste. Fish cakes, boiled eggs or even ramyeon may be added to the dish.
- Frying Pan. Arguably the best fried chicken place in Cheongju, located in Chungdae. Their salads are pretty tasty as well.
- First Nepal. Tasty Indian style food in Chungdae, across the street from the newly built (in late 2012) Smoothie King.
- New Taj Mahal. Another Indian restaurant in Chungdae, offering good Chicken, Lamb and veggie dishes akin to what one might find in a good UK Indian restaurant.
- Mes Bouchons. In Gakyeong-dong, upstairs and across the road from Outback Steakhouse. Mes Bouchons has a good selection of pizza and pasta. Their set menu is a good option for less than 20,000 and comes with 5 courses.
- Saigon Square. In Shinae, upstairs and just along from the North Face store. Vietnamese style food at cheap Korean prices.
- Outback Steakhouse. Located in Gakyeong Dong near the bus terminal. You'll find a selection of steak, chicken, seafood and pasta on offer.
- VIPS. Steak / buffet restaurant across the river from Shinae.
- Bon Apetit. Buffet restaurant under the CGV in Shinae, all you can eat for ₩22,000 including unlimited beer and soft drinks.
The local specialty, Cheongju daechusul is a type of takju, unrefined liquor fermented from grains. It would be in the same family as the popular makgeolli and its cousin, dongdongju. Carefully brewed with jujubes, glutinous rice, yeast, malt, pine needles and spring water pumped from an underground rock bed daechusul tastes sweet with a bitter aftertaste. The alcohol content is 16 percent.
Cheongju has hundreds of drinking establishments scattered across the city. The most popular spot is the area around Chungbuk University, Chungdae Jungmun, frequented by Koreans and foreigners every Friday and Saturday night.
Chungbuk University area
- Pearl Jam (The Bugle). A popular place for expats to meet up for a drink. Pearl Jam has live music on occasion including a popular Open Mic night on Thursdays and a good selection of food. They have recently expanded heir on-tap beer to include some good quality Korean brews including an IPA, a wheat beer and a stout.
- Sound Garden. Opened in December 2012. This nicely designed bar adjacent to Pearl Jam looks likely to be a hit with local students and foreigners alike in 2013. Averagely priced drinks of an average selection and like music a-plenty.
- Buzz. One of the biggest Western style bars in the area complete with darts,Foosball and a pool table. A good selection of Korean and Western beers, Guinness on tap and a happy hour between 12 and 1am.
- Road King (Across the road from Buzz). This bar caters primarily to Westerners on the weekend. A biker themed bar with a pool table, darts and Foosball and comfortable booth type seating. They serve tasty burritos at all times of the night.
- MJs. A few doors down from Road King, it's one of the only bars with a rooftop. MJ's has a chilled atmosphere that is occasionally spiced up by a local band or two. Watch your belongings though...
- Frog Rain. The only club type venue in the Gagyeongdong area. Frog Rain comes with a cover charge (but this gets you unlimited beer) and is 'the' place to dance up a storm after midnight.
- Kkot (Flower) Ethnic Bar. If you fancy some sheesha and delicious fruity soju smoothies, head for this place. Candles and pillows set a relaxing mood.
- B One. A dance club with a live DJ. This offers free entry to foreigners but charges Koreans ₩10,000 to get in. Despite this there are a lot of Koreans in there, and often they are very happy to talk to you while you are in there. The bar is a western style go up and order and there aren't many tables. It is not, however, an ex-pat bar and most of the patrons are Korean.
- Beauty and Beast. A booking club, the only one in the area. There is a cover charge and it is fairly popular, often with long lines to stand in from around 11pm on a weekend.
- Da Bar (in Shinae). With their own brew on tap, Da Bar is a refreshing change for Cheongju. Along from Baskin Robbins and next door from the tattoo and piercing shop. Look for the sign.
- Garten Bier (in Shinae). The beers are served in unusually-shaped glasses which you place in chilled cupholders set into the table. Unfortunately you won't find German beers here.
- Roma Night Club (in Ha Buk Dae). Cheongju's hippest night club is located directly across the street from the less popular 'Don't Tell Mama' in Ha Buk Dae. Show up in your finest as a dress code is strictly enforced. And don't be surprised to rub elbows with some of Cheongju's wealthier socialites.
- 86 Bar (in Ching Dae Jung Moon). 86 Bar In the basement of a small building is 86 Bar. Decorated as if it was Korea in 1970 this is a welcome departure from the neon signs of every other bar in Korea The mood is subdued and the staff are prompt and friendly. It is popular with Koreans and Westerners alike. Unique and a must see...if you can find it.
There are various love motels throughout the city that are clean and economical.
- Ramada. New, modern, has a western restaurant and a movie theater. For the budget traveler however it is pricey.
There is a Presbyterian English Service offered by Sangdang Church (which is next to E Mart) every Sunday at 11:30. It is led by a native English speaker and is attended by people of many different denominations.
For an English Catholic mass, visit Heungdeuk Catholic Church beside the baseball stadium and Arts Center at 5:00 on Sundays.
For Seventh-Day Adventists, there is an English Sabbath worship in Bokdae 2 dong, near ChungDae, at the Sahmyook SDA School Church. Service is held Friday nights at 8:00 and Saturday mornings from 10:30. Lunch is usually offered by the church.
The metropolitan sprawl of Daejeon and the rotting early-90s glory of its Expo Park are only an hour away by bus. Alternately, North Chungcheong Province's most convenient hub, Chungju and its most iconic natural landmarks can be found at Danyang, are both a short hop away.
For access details, see Korea's Express Bus website. However there are many buses that are not listed on here that also go from Cheongju, including buses to Gyeongju, Incheon Airport, Nam (South) Seoul, SongniSan and pretty much every other place you could ever want to go. Unfortunately without going to the terminal it can be really difficult to get English-language information about bus timetables. As mentioned above, the information office is located next to the Cheongju Intercity Bus Terminal and should be able to help you out if you need it.
About 25 kilometers southeast of Cheongju is the town of Boeun, which is the gateway to Beopjusa, one of the more famous Buddhist temples in Korea and location of the tallest Buddha statue in Korea.