Did you know? The Korean or Hangul title of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is 갯마을 차차차 which literally translates to Seaside Village Cha-Cha-Cha. There’s a good reason why the setting made its way into the title of our new favorite K-drama starring Kim Seon-ho and Shin Min-a. It’s because, aside from the fun-loving romance and adorable characters, the seaside village of Gongjin naturally takes the spotlight with its awe-inspiring glory.
If you’re among K-drama fans who like to go on K-drama location tours, you could take note of our favorite Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha filming locations in South Korea. Or—you could relive your favorite Gongjin moments right here in the Philippines. Yes, the Philippines has its own Gongjin too—breathtaking seaside towns that make you want to leave life in the city, settle near the beach, and live a simple life filled with days of fishing and surfing.
Whether it’s Kim Seon-ho’s surfer build or the idyllic beach that made your jaw drop, the surfing scenes at Gongjin are among the most unforgettable. If you like that kind of activity too, there’s no question about the first place you should look at: the surfing capital, Siargao. Laidback beaches blanketed in fine sand, sparkling waters, the perfect swell — Siargao has got it all, plus a lot of hidden gems you can uncover once you set foot on the island.
Can’t go to Siargao? For a surfing getaway that’s more accessible to Manila, head to La Union which only takes 3-4 hours of drive from the metro. It’s risen in popularity in recent years but it never lost its rural charm like Gongjin. This coastal province is home to a sun-kissed community of free spirits and swell riders, a lot of whom you can meet in surfing destinations San Juan and San Fernando.
Aurora is another great surfing spot under the radar, just a few hours from Manila. It has a couple of fishing villages where you can watch local fishermen lugging live catch in abundance, most notably in Baler and Casiguran. Just like Gongjin, Aurora features an unspoiled rugged coastal landscape backdropped by lush mountains. The water is clear and peaceful, with a good swell during peak surfing seasons.
Yes, there’s the bustling Subic. But if you’re into a local-oriented experience, a large part of Zambales also emanates with that raw island quality similar to Gongjin—comprising simple livelihoods, unembellished lifestyle, and lovely people. It has a thriving fishing industry with lots of quaint fishing villages in San Antonio that welcome visitors. San Antonio’s main tourist drawer is perhaps Anawangin Cove but there are also less touristy places worth visiting such as Pundaquit and Nagsasa.
Some of the most striking sceneries in Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha are made up of rolling hills and lighthouses. What better place to find this K-drama poster-worthy scenery than the most sought-after island paradise of Batanes? For panoramic landscapes like Gongjin’s, head to Vayang Rolling Hills on a bike. For an idyllic boats-on-the-beach scene, bring a camera with you to Diura Fishing Village. Romantic lighthouse? Hike up Naidi Hills for the red-and-white Basco Lighthouse.
Opposite the bustling island-hopping hotspot on the eastern Honda Bay, many fishing communities are nestled meekly along the west coast of Puerto Princesa. Beaches like Talaudyong and Nagtabon have unforgettable charms, including little fishing villages and hidden surfing spots. You can also find rustic cottage eateries that serve the most amazing seafood, perhaps together with a refreshing coconut juice, along the beach.
Aside from island hopping, whale shark watching, and scuba diving, fishing is also among the best activities in Cebu. The province also has a vibrant local market scene like Gongjin. There are various markets offering fresh catch and produce, including of course an abundance of fish and seafood. The most popular is Carbon Market, which is Cebu City’s historic farmer’s market.
We’re sure nobody can resist the charm of these places in the Philippines that are much like Gongjin. Be sure to add these to your bucket list and book experiences and travel essentials on KKday!
*Featured image via tvN, Unsplash