Add This (All-Purple!) South Korean Island To Your Post-Pandemic Travel Bucket List

published Feb 26, 2021
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Seoul during cherry blossom season

By now you’re no doubt dreaming up places to visit after the coronavirus pandemic finally comes to an end, and one community in South Korea is offering up a picture-perfect incentive to pack your bags and grab your passport.

Banwol Island, a lush farming community with a neighboring island off the west coast of southern South Korea, has become known as “the purple island” since residents transformed the roofs of 400 buildings to a vibrant purple hue, and it’s the Instagram-worthy destination you might be dreaming of post-pandemic.

CNN reports that Banwol and Bakji Islands in South Korea’s South Jeolla Province, are home to fewer than 150 permanent residents, and in an effort to help boost tourism efforts from locals and world travelers alike, the island was transformed into its now signature lilac shade, inspired by the purple bellflowers (campanula) that are native to the area. Local farmers also began growing kohlrabi and beets, two veggies with a famously purple shade, and the local government planted 30,000 New England asters and 21,500 square meters of lavender fields, beginning the project in 2015.

Along with the all-purple makeover, some new amenities were added to the islands to appeal to tourists, including a cafe, two full-service restaurants (one each on Bakji and Banwol), bike rental services and a small hotel. Visitors can easily walk between both islands by way of a purple walking bridge. CNN reports that it takes about six hours to get there from Seoul by bus or private car — an ideal day or weekend trip if you’re already visiting the bustling South Korean capital city.

Although right now the country’s borders are currently closed to international visitors, it seems local residents have been flocking to the islands in droves — CNN reports that between June and August of 2020, more than 100,000 visitors came to Banwol Island, a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

Not only are the buildings and farming fields decorated in shades of purple, but trucks, telephone boxes, and artwork on display all feature the relaxing hue, too.