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There’s no doubt that Korea has one of the world’s best public transportation systems. From the subways and high-speed rail to buses and taxis, getting from A to B here is a piece of cake. In saying that, it’s often nice to get behind the wheel yourself to explore, and driving around has been a great way for my family and me to discover the wonderful things Cheonan has to offer. One of the neat things we’ve found along our journeys is highway rest areas. We recently stopped into the Manghyang Rest Area, and were amazed at how much there is to enjoy – particularly from a food perspective!

Wondering what you’ll find? Read on!

Super clean, high-tech bathrooms

The restrooms at the Manghyang Rest Area are probably the nicest I’ve encountered anywhere in the world. Before you even head inside, you can see which stalls are vacant and the type of restroom it is – either the standard Western style or squat toilet style.

When you head inside, you may forget you’re even within a restroom. The bathrooms here are packed full of greenery, makeup mirrors, and more. They’re also spotlessly clean! Perhaps not surprisingly, the facilities here won the National Rest Stop Restroom Prize from the Korea Expressway Corporation in 2016.

Loads of eating options

This was one of the most interesting things to me. Visiting the rest area was a foodie’s paradise! There are so many options to tempt anyone’s taste buds, including an impressive array of restaurants through to street-food style offerings.

If you don’t have much time when you’re passing through, one thing you can’t miss is the Cheonan specialty of Hodu-Khwaja (호두과자) or walnut cakes. My family has become a little obsessed with these, and if you like red bean paste sweets then you’re in luck. The little cakes are shaped like walnuts, with an outer dough made of skinned and pounded walnuts and flour. Inside you’ll find a smooth red bean paste – absolutely delicious! We got eight in the rest area for only 2000 won or around $2 USD.

If you want to try some too, this was the exterior of the store…

And this is what the inside of the cakes look like. Check out that red bean filling!

As a carb lover, I also immediately honed in on the Hyugeso Gamja (휴게소 감자), which literally translates to rest stop potatoes. I’d heard that these are one of the best selling items at Korean highway rest areas, and after my first bite I understood why! Buttery, slightly salty baked potatoes, with a perfect crisp – so simple, but so good!

There was even a stall selling fresh fruits and vegetables if you wanted to pick some of those up.

Cool sculptures

There’s also a nice outdoor area where you can walk around and stretch your legs. You’ll find a number of different artistic sculptures in a garden, and a viewing platform you can climb to get a view out over the mountainous scenery.

Stopping into one of Cheonan’s highway rest areas is the perfect way to fuel up for a day of exploring this fantastic part of Korea!

The Details

The Manghyang Rest Area is located at 121 Yobang-RI, Seonggeo-up, Seobuk-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do. The rest area is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How to get there?