Muju is a small town in the North Jeolla province, in South Korea. Muju is known for their annual Firefly Festival, as well as skiing, at nearby Muju Resort.
Muju is located in the Sobaek Mountains in the center of South Korea. While Muju is infrequently visited for most of the year, the Firefly Festival invites thousands of tourists, primarily from within South Korea. Beyond the Festival, Muju is famous within South Korea for the lively taekwondo scene, and is currently constructing a Taekwondo Park (to be completed 2013).
Muju County hosted the 1997 Winter Universiade.
Muju can be reached by bus from Jeonju, Daejeon, Seoul, and many other smaller, nearby cities.
Using Highway 35, Muju can be reached in as little as 45 minutes from Daejeon, or just over an hour from Jeonju (Highway 20 to Highway 35).
Any location within the town of Muju can easily be reached by a short walk. Nearby attractions (such as the ski resort, Bandi Land, Mt. Jeoksang, etc) are easily accessed via taxi (fares start at 2300 won).
There are a wide variety of trails that lead directly out of the city into the nearby mountains. These are not clearly marked, so ask a local or do some exploring.
- Mt. Jeoksang. The mountain itself is open all the time, although the road to reach the top is quite steep, and may be impassable at rare times during the winter. At the summit, there's an enormous reservoir used to power the city and a Buddhist temple. Free entry.
- Firefly Bridge. Located in the center of town, the bridge is decorated with colored tiles, artistic renditions of fireflies, and is covered by lights that change color. Unfortunately, predicting when the bridge will be lit is next to impossible, as it is solar powered and will only light up when the capacitors have charged (during special events, however, the bridge will always be lit). Free entry.
- Hike a nearby mountain. Although virtually all of the nearby mountains have trails crisscrossing them, both Mt. Jeoksang and Mt. Deokyu are famous for their trails and various traditional Buddhist attractions along the way. Free entry.
There is one small winery near Muju, located halfway up Mt. Jeoksang. A word of warning, though, the various wines will be nothing at all like wines from outside the country. There's a reason Korean wine is not internationally known. If, despite this, you want to try some, the most common brand is Magique Muju. A bottle of wine will run about 40,000 won.
Most restaurants serve typical Korean fare, one main dish with a lot of side dishes. While the Korean restaurants in Muju don't stand out from one another, they're all fairly good, and reasonably priced (a group of 6 can eat for about 40,000 won).
- If starved for Western style pizza, Imsil Cheese Pizza (임실 치즈 피자) makes an excellent pie, and the owner knows the English names for common pizza ingredients. 16,000 won.
- For the ultimate in budget eating, consider Nadeuri (나드리). While it's a chain restaurant across Korea, the prices aren't standard, and in Muju 1000 won will get you one roll of kimbap, soup, kimchi, and radishes, with free refills on the side dishes. Even the more expensive items on the menu will only set you back 3000-4000 won.
- Local food can be bought from the farmer's market, which meets on the 1st of every month, and every five days thereafter (1st, 6th, 11th, etc.) excepting the 31st. Located across a few blocks in the northwest of town, you can't miss it if you wander in that direction.
There is a surprisingly large number of bars in Muju - unfortunately, none of them serve any imported liquors or beers whatsoever. Basically, the menu is limited to one brand of soju, and three brands of (Korean) beer.
- For a nice, quiet atmosphere, try 3040. The owner here speaks some English, and one bottle of beer will cost you 2500 won.
- If interested in a decent selection of Korean food to go with your drinks, try Tudari. Another chain establishment, it's slightly more expensive than some of the local options, but has an excellent selection of food. 4000-10,000 won food, 3000 won beer.
Prices for rooms, especially in the love motels, can vary considerably depending on the season (they're much higher during the Firefly Festival, taekwondo events, and the middle of skiing season).
- If you're looking for a typical hotel, try the Iris Motel. 50,000won for a double.
- Muju also has one love motel, Johnny's. 40,000won.