Best place to visit in South Korea
The most exotic land of South Korea beckons every traveler and backpacker to experience its many wonders. Occupying the southern half of the Korean Peninsula is the country of South Korea. There are traditional folk villages and swanky cities, gorgeous islands and breathtaking natural vistas. Completely distinct and independent from neighboring North Korea, South Korea is a thoroughly modern, engaging and thrilling destination for travelers. South Korea is also home to scenic national parks and plenty of places where you can slow down and enjoy the atmosphere.
So, here is a list of top places to visit in South Korea.
There’s no better place to start a trip to South Korea than its capital – Seoul. Not only is one of the best places to visit in South Korea, but it’s also a world-class destination with endless possibilities. A dynamic fusion of cutting-edge technology and ancient traditions, Seoul will appease your wanderlust with its serene Buddhist temples, vast nightlife districts, trend-setting youth culture, endless rows of monotonous apartment buildings, and extraordinary architecture. Seoul is loaded with amazing places and landmarks, such as Gyeongbok-guk, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, Olympic Park, Namsan Park, Yeouido Park, Jongmyo Shrine and N Seoul Tower.
Surrounded by scenic lakes and towering mountains in Chuncheon, the capital city of Gangwon Province. Chuncheon is the location of a popular Korean soap opera called Winter Sonata, and a lot of visitors in the city come to see some of the most common filming locations. Other travelers come for the food because Chuncheon is known as a foodie’s paradise. After touring major attractions like the Soyang Dam, Statue Park or Cheongpyeongsa Temple, head to Dakgalbi Street. This street features the dish dakgalbi, a grilled chicken meal with spicy vegetables and rice.
Busan offers an irresistible blend of majestic mountains, tropical beaches, and ancient Buddhist temples, making it one of the most fascinating places to visit in South Korea. The city has a glamorous film festival as well as deliciously fresh seafood. To enjoy incredible views of this diverse Korean city, hike your way up to the summit of Jangan Mountain.
Gyeongbokgung Palace was the main legal residence of the royal family during the Joseon Dynasty. Carrying a meaning of “a place where the new king can enjoy the prosperity of great blessings,” this was the first palace built during the Joseon Dynasty. The palace is unique for its vast area and harmony of buildings and is the only palace to have all four major gates still remaining to this day. Within the palace grounds, you can see a multitude of restored buildings. Visitors will enjoy looking at the variations among buildings, each serving a unique purpose. Of course, even before entering the palace, tourists enjoy gathering at Gwanghwamun Gate to watch the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony; be sure to time your visit to include this cultural performance in your tour. Gyeongbokgung Palace also offers special evening admissions occasionally, so don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the evening atmosphere at the palace grounds if your schedule allows.
The city of Suwon is the capital of Gyeonggi Province, and it is just 30 km (20 miles) outside of Seoul. It is easily accessible from Seoul by car or train, but it often skipped over by travelers. If you visit, you’ll be able to see the World Cup Stadium, affectionately called Big Bird, that hosted the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
This stunning island just 85Km off the coast is one of the most beautiful places in South Korea. Having been voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, the pristine beauty of Jeju-do will take your breath away. Surreal white sand beaches surrounded by pine forests, volcanic craters and lava caves, beautiful botanical gardens and rich culture are some of the high-points of this natural paradise.
Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, Gyeongju is a coastal city in South Korea with a rich selection of cultural and historical attractions. Its Silla heritage stretches back over 1000 years, with ancient sites, relics and ruins found throughout the city. The Gyeongju National Museum is home to countless treasures and the 23-ton Emille Bell cast in AD771. Gyeongju other highlights include the scenic Anapji Pond, Tumuli Park which is the site of incredible giant grass-covered burial mounds and the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Listed Bulguksa Temple. Just out of town, dramatically located on the slopes of Toham Mountain, Seokguram Grotto is another must see! Gyeongju is the historical and cultural heart of South Korea, providing an unrivaled insight into the country's history, religion, and culture.
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The DMZ is one of the most famous places to visit in South Korea to get a better understanding of the conflict between North and South Korea & the current state of affairs. The DMZ is full of interesting sites that make for an engaging lesson in modern history. You can take a peek into North Korea at the Observation Post and feel the rush of adventure while walking through the Infiltration Tunnel. It is advisable to take a guided tour that includes a visit to the Joint Security Area (JSA).
At the peak of the Joseon Dynasty, Jeonju was its spiritual capital. Today, Jeonju is filled with temples and museums and is one of the best places to visit in South Korea. If you want to embrace the local culture and get to know its history, make your way to the Jeonju Hanok Village. There, you can see traditional homes from the early 20th century, make the traditional Hanji paper or sip the locally made soju. Another popular attraction in the city is the impressive Jeonju National Museum, home to a staggering collection of artifacts. While in Jeonju, try the famed Korean dish Bibimbap, which originally comes from this region.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in South Korea. Lauded as the tea capital of SK, Boseong lures tons of filmmakers, photographers, and sightseers every day, thanks to its dramatic and eye-catching green fields. Besides the breathtaking views of the seemingly endless green tea fields, Boseong also has tasty green tea-related specialties, such as green tea pork belly and fresh green tea ice-cream.
Namsan Seoul Tower
Seoul’s landmark attraction is none other than Namsan Seoul Tower, located atop Namsan Mountain in the center of the city. The tower draws in visitors year-round and is most famous for its nightscape view of the city. For Hallyu fans, the tower is a must-visit attraction, having been featured in dramas. The tower features not only an observation deck but also atmospheric cafés and restaurants among other facilities. Namsan Seoul Tower is a great place to spend an enjoyable evening with friends or loved ones while taking in the beautiful nightscape over a cup of coffee.
Seoraksan National Park
Make sure to include Seoraksan National Park to your bucket list of places to visit in South Korea! Famed for its awe-inspiring mountain range, this national park will unleash your inner shutterbug with its stunning lakes, crystal clear streams, rocky and jagged mountain peaks as well as pine forests. For animal lovers, it’s also one of the best places to visit in South Korea, serving as a home to more than 2,000 species of animals. Start your hike in this park with a quick visit to the National Park Visitor Centre, wherein you may pick up free maps in Korean and English. Afterward, you can enjoy miles of scenic signposted trails crisscrossing the whole park.
Namiseom Island became a popular tourist attraction after appearing in the Korean drama “Winter Sonata (2002)”. Originally just a hilltop, Namiseom Island became an island with the construction of Cheongpyeong Dam, which elevated the surrounding water level. The island is rather small, allowing visitors to complete a full tour within half a day. The island’s effort to preserve nature and reuse recyclable items is quite noteworthy.
Yeosu is by far one of the most picturesque places to visit in South Korea, especially at night. Famed for its marinas, flowers, beaches, and seafood, it’s a booming destination and an international ocean resort. Selected as the host city for the 2012 World Expo, Yeosu has a plethora of goodies to offer to its visitors, such as the romantic marina cafes, the stunning sunset from Dolsan Bridge and Hallyeo Ocean Park.
At more than 2,000 years, Andong is sometimes referred to as the Capital City of Korean Spiritual Culture. Perhaps the main attraction in the city is the Andong Hahoe Folk Village, where local cultural heritage has been preserved and is shared with visitors. However, it is foodies that will most enjoy a visit to Andong. The city boasts all kinds of local specialties, starting with a famed chicken and noodle dish called jjimdak. Andong is also home to a special type of alcohol called soju, so have a sip before you depart the city.
Stock photo from nami chwang