One of the biggest problems that visitors to the Expo will face is finding a place to stay. Accomodations in Yeosu are limited, to say the least. The Organizing Committee for the Expo realize this. In an article on the Korea Times website, Kang Dong-suk, chairman of the Organizing Committee for Expo 2012 Yeosu, had this to say:
“We would like to attract as many foreign visitors as possible for the largest global event ever hosted by the coastal city of Yeosu, South Jeolla Province”, Kang said. “But the problem is that there aren’t enough lodging facilities in the city and its surrounding areas to accommodate a large number of non-Koreans. We have to come up with alternative measures to house foreign guests during the event”.
“We do not worry about Korean visitors because they will figure out where to stay. Churches in Yeosu told us that they will provide rooms for expo visitors for free. Many Yeosu residents have expressed willingness to offer visitors a place to stay”, the chairman said. “But our concern is where all the foreign tourists will stay”.
Kang said there are about 1,000 hotel rooms in Yeosu and the nearby areas, including the newly-constructed MVL hotel at the expo site that has 331 rooms.
“We will have no problem accommodating foreign government officials and other high-profile guests. But regular foreign tourists, particularly the Chinese, won’t find it easy to get a hotel room”, he said.
To ease the expected accommodation shortage, the chairman said the organizing committee has been in talks with travel agencies to have foreign guests sleep in Busan, Gwangju and other nearby larger cities, and bring them back and forth to the expo site.
He talks about the MVL Hotel at the Expo site, but none of its rooms will be available; they’ve all been reserved for heads of states and visiting dignitaries. It’s a beautiful hotel, and it’s described at the previous link as a “seven-star” hotel. You can visit the hotel website by clicking here.
The option to take a shuttle bus or boat from Busan seems to be on its way to becoming a reality. Dynamic Busan reports that:
Busan City has prepared a shuttle bus directly from six hotels in Busan to the expo site. To facilitate this, the city has made arrangements with the Lotte, Paradise, Nongshim, Commodore, Paragon and Toyoko-inn hotels. The packages that have been put together include expo tours and accommodation. The traveling time to Yeosu is about two hours, and guests can reserve their tickets at any of the aforementioned hotels’ websites.
Others can choose to travel by sea from Busan Port to Yeosu Port Passenger Terminal. This takes slightly longer but also affords magnificent views of Busan’s beautiful shoreline and is highly recommended for those who are not in a rush.
Busan’s representative cruise ship, PanStar Dream, will be plying this route. It will operate on six days: June 2, 9 and 23, July 14 and 28, and Aug. 11. While on board, tourists can enjoy various performances, a sauna and a cafe, as well as other luxury facilities. Reservations can be made via the PanStar website (www.panstarcruise.co.kr). Each cruise will take about five hours to reach Yeosu. Meanwhile, those who wish to organize their own expo schedule can take an intercity bus.
The bus from Busan West Bus Terminal (Sasang District) reaches Yeosu in two hours and 30 minutes, making this the quickest way to reach Yeosu by intercity bus. Six buses leave the station each day and one-way tickets cost 18,100 won ($16). Busan East Bus Terminal (Nopo-dong) is also running buses to Yeosu, with 13 leaving daily at a cost of 19,600 won. The traveling time is three hours and 10 minutes.
Visitors can also stay in the nearby city of Suncheon, which is only a 20-minute bus ride to Yeosu, or they can grab accomodations in Gwangju, a large city that is about an hour and a half by bus from Yeosu.
Finding accomodations online can be quite frustrating. I’ve had a few readers of this blog ask if I knew of any sites that are in English or that allow online booking or that have English speakers manning the phone lines. Here are a couple of websites that might help.
Hostel World lists basic guest house and dorm-style facilities. You can do a search on Busan (many listings), Gwangju (very few) or Suncheon (one), and you can book online.
A good source is also located on the official 2012 Website. There’s an accomodation search page that lists options for English language service. I assume that by checking this option, you will be given a list of accomodations where you can talk to someone who speaks English. Give it a try–it looks like a great resource.
You can also try to reserve a room in the new HS Hotel, which is located right at the Expo site. I know of a lady who was able to phone there and book a room with an English-speaking receptionist. Rates, I’m afraid, are going to be quite pricey, over $200 a night, but it’s a nice hotel. Unfortunately, many businesses in Yeosu are raising their prices (unfairly, perhaps?) during the Expo. City buses, however, will be free throughout the duration of the Expo.
If you run across any other accomodation websites, please be kind enough to mention them in a comment to help other people who might read this blog. Also, if you find a good-looking hotel or guesthouse online, don’t be afraid to give them a call; many facilities have English speakers. Even if their abililties are low-level, it might be worth it to be patient about their language skills and try to book with them.
Good luck, and leave a comment, if you desire, to tell us about your experiences getting accomodations for the Expo.