Charming in an offbeat way, YEOSU (여수) is by far the most appealing city on Jeonnam’s south coast. Ferries once sailed from here to Jeju, but though these have been discontinued there’s more than enough here to eat up a whole day of sightseeing. It’s beautifully set in a ring of emerald islands, so the wonderful views over the South Sea alone would justify a trip down the narrow peninsula. Though parts of the coast remain rugged and pristine, the area around Yeosu has been heavily industrialized, especially the gigantic factory district to the city’s north, and consequently many of Yeosu’s few foreign visitors are here on business. However, in 2012 Yeosu played host to an international Expo, an event that helped to put the city back on the tourist map.
Despite Yeosu’s sprawling size, many of its most interesting sights are just about within walking distance of each other in and around the city centre. These include Odongdo, a bamboo-and-pine island popular with families, and a replica of Admiral Yi’s famed turtle ship. Beyond the city limits are the black-sand beach of Manseongni, and Hyangiram, a magical hermitage at the end of the Yeosu peninsula.