Suanbo Hot Springs
Suanbo Hot Springs (수안보 온천; map) lies in Suanbo Township (수안보면; map) on the bottom edge of Chungju City (충주시; map).
Let’s explore the town and its main attraction, the ancient hot springs bubbling up from nearby mountains.
Township of Suanbo lies deep in the mountains of Chungju. It reaches touches Woraksan National Park (월악산국립공원; map) in the east and North Gyeongsang Province (경상북도; map) in the south.
Its name is a configuration of the Korean word “보안쪽의물탕” (bo-an-jjok-wei-mul-tang). Let’s break it down.
- 보 (bo) means “rock.”
- 안쪽의 (an-jjok-ui) translates to “inner.”
- 물탕 (mul-tang) means “water bath.”
So “Suanbo” derives from the phrase “water bath from inside a rock.”
Though its borders run fifteen kilometers, Suanbo’s main street lasts only 600 meters.
Seokmundong Stream (석문동천; map; Seokmundong-cheon) runs through the township’s downtown and the mountain road leading to it.
Resorts and hotels dominate downtown Suanbo. While the town holds a supermarket, bank, and school, most of its industry focuses on luring tourists in for the hot spring experience.
The Hot Springs
Suanbo’s name spells out its most famous attraction: the Suanbo Hot Springs (수안보 온천; map).
Since the Kingdom of Goryeo (고려; 918 BCE ~ 1392 ACE), people bathed in the township’s 53°C (127°F) mountain water. They believed the mineral infused springs, gushing from 250-meters below the mountainous terrain, arrested the hands of time.
In the 1800s, entrepreneurs built the first hot spring facilities in Suanbo. Thereafter, a swell of resorts sprung up. The town reached its peak in the 1980s, but has seen a slow decline since.
When approaching Suanbo from the north, you’ll first stumble upon a large amphitheater. This is Multang Park (물탕공원; map; “Water Bath Park”).
(Suanbo Oncheon Certification Center (map) sits in front of the amphitheater. Stamp your Bike Passport here.)
Anything else interesting in this small park?
How about a free, public foot bath (낙안정; map) using Suanbo’s famous mineral-rich spring water?
Take off your shoes. Dip your footsies. Test out the fountain-of-youth claims.
Check out Suanbo’s other highlights if you have the time.
- Mireukdaewonji Temple (충주미륵대원지; map) sits on the eastern border of Suanbo in Woraksan National Park. It contains a 1,000-year-old pagoda and more treasures.
- The Suanbo Insect Museum (수안보곤충박물관; map) has 10,000 insect specimens from Korea and all over the world.
- Suanbo Cathedral (수안보성당; map) is a quaint catholic church in town.