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Top 23 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in South Korea

Best Places to Visit in South Korea

The country that occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula is South Korea. South Korea is completely different and independent from neighboring North Korea. It is a completely modern, fascinating and exciting tourist destination. Major cities like Seoul offer the hustle and bustle of metropolitan cities as well as wonderful nightlife and opportunities to discover the latest technological miracles. These are wonderful places to visit in South Korea.

However, Korea is also a scenic national park and many places where you can slow down and enjoy the atmosphere. From islands off the coast to the formidable border area in the middle of the Korean Peninsula, there are countless things to do, see, and explore on your next trip to South Korea. Below are 

Top 23 Best Places to Visit in South Korea

1. Seoul

Seoul is by far the largest city in South Korea and the main destination in East Asia. If you have been in the country for a period of time, you will most likely visit Seoul at some point. The city’s attractions have no end, but many tourists start with some of the many palaces located in Seoul.

Top picks include the incredible Gyeongbokgung Palace and the 15th-century Changdeokgung Palace. You will also find ancient temples and shrines, beautiful parks, cutting-edge designs, shopping malls and some of the best food in Asia.

2. Busan

The second largest city in the country is Busan. It is also a major port and is known for its beautiful beaches, hot springs and outdoor recreation opportunities. Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan is called the Santorini of South Korea and is a colorful hillside community overlooking the water.

In Busan, you will also have the opportunity to visit several temples, the most popular of which is Beomeosa. Although the city has all the shopping and museums you would expect in an urban area of ​​its size, some of the most popular attractions include Haeundae Beach, Taejongdae Park, and the beautiful Nakdong River Mouth Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

3. Suwon

Suwon City is the capital of Gyeonggi Province, only 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Seoul. It is easy to reach by car or train from Seoul, but travelers often skip it.

If you visit, you will be able to see the World Cup Stadium affectionately called “Big Bird”, which hosted the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. If you are not a football fan, head to the historic 18th-century Hwaseong Fortress, where you can visit the architecture and even try archery on the grounds.

4. Chuncheon

Chuncheon, the capital of Gangwon Province, is surrounded by scenic lakes and towering mountains. Chuncheon is the filming location for a popular Korean soap opera called “Winter Sonata”, and many tourists from the city come to visit some of the most common filming locations.

Other tourists come here for food because Chuncheon is known as a paradise for gourmets. After visiting the main attractions such as Zhaoyang Dam, Statue Park or Qingping Temple, head to Dakalbi Street. The specialty of this street is dakgalbi, grilled chicken rice with spicy vegetables and rice. Dozens of restaurants on the street offer the same iconic dishes, and each restaurant has a slightly different recipe.

5. Itaewon

Yes, this is a tourist area, full of gift shops and street food, but the Itaewon neighborhood is a good place to spend an afternoon. It was especially interesting in the evening when residents also came out for dinner and people watching. There is a kind of energy that defines an international metropolis, and it is also a popular strolling place for locals. You will see many Korean families, children and couples who love the shops and restaurants here.

For those looking for authentic Korean food, this is not a good place, but it is a good place for international cuisine that is not widely available in Seoul. Things like Italian food, pizza, burgers, and American-style barbecues.

6. Jeonju

In the heyday of the Joseon Dynasty, Jeonju was its spiritual capital. Today, Jeonju is full of temples and museums, making it one of the best tourist attractions in Korea. If you want to embrace the local culture and learn about its history, please go to Jeonju Hanok Village.

There, you can see traditional houses from the early 20th century, making traditional hanji or sipping locally made shochu. Another popular attraction in the city is the impressive Jeonju National Museum, which houses an amazing collection of cultural relics. In Jeonju, try the famous Korean bibimbap originally from the region.

7. Seoraksan National Park

If you want to hike, see the most famous mountains in Korea, or just take some epic photos, then you must go to Seoraksan National Park. In the park, you will find pine forests, jagged rocky peaks, clear streams and charming lakes.

Seoraksan National Park is also home to more than 2,000 animals. Start your visit at the National Park Visitor Center, where you can get free maps in English and Korean. Then, enjoy the signposted hiking trails that stretch for miles and criss-cross the park.

8. Andong

For more than 2000 years, Andong has sometimes been called the spiritual and cultural capital of Korea. The main attraction of the city may be the Andong Hehui Folk Village, where the local cultural heritage is preserved and shared with tourists. However, it is the gourmets who like to visit Anton the most. The city has a variety of local specialties, starting with the famous chicken and noodle dish jjimdak.

9. Jeju Island

Near the southern coast of South Korea is Jeju Island, the country’s only special self-governing province. Jeju Island, nicknamed the Island of the Gods, is a subtropical destination and is known as one of Korea’s top honeymoon and holiday destinations. In addition to beautiful beaches, lava tubes and lush green scenery, Jeju Island also has many tourist attractions and amusement parks.

You can learn about local culture in Seongeup Folk Village, or visit the glass castle in the theme park with glass sculpture as the theme. Perhaps the strangest and most controversial attraction on Jeju Island is Loveland, a theme park with romantic and adult-only attractions.

10. DMZ

The DMZ or demilitarized zone is the border area between North Korea and South Korea. It is considered a ceasefire zone. Although travelers can access the DMZ, not all areas in this area are safe. Only a small part of the DMZ is called the JSA or Joint Security Zone and is open to the public.

In JSA, you can actually stand in North Korea, although you will be in a building that also houses South Korean soldiers. You can also visit the North Korean gift shop that sells stamps, wine and currency from North Korea. Please note that the only way to access the DMZ is to participate with an authorized tour guide.

11. Gyeongju

Gyeongju was once the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom. This makes the city more than 2,000 years old. Gyeongju is an incredible destination, with many temples and cultural festivals. Start your journey at Bulguksa Temple, a true masterpiece of Buddhist religion and art, with a history dating back to the 8th century. Then, hike from the temple to Seokguram to appreciate more Buddhist culture and cultural relics.

Don’t miss the Covered Market, where there are many vendors selling everything from Silla souvenirs to freshly made Korean food.

12. Changdeokgung Palace

Among the five magnificent palaces built around Seoul by the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th century, Changdeokgung Palace has always been the preferred royal residence. This is where the king and royal family members live their daily lives.

This palace is more than just a building, it is a group of buildings, and each building has a different purpose. Some are accommodations, some are libraries, restaurants, and meeting rooms, as well as other uses. Be sure to spend some time in the 78-acre Huwon or palace garden behind the palace. It is full of trails, green spaces, pagodas, streams and lakes.

13. N Seoul Tower

Yes, everyone who visits Seoul should ascend the city’s iconic observation tower. Its location is almost on the top of the mountain, plus the height of the tower itself, makes you nearly 500 meters above sea level, while the city is below. But please allow some time to explore the surrounding mountains. The tower is close to the top of Nanshan Mountain, and the entire area is Nanshan Park managed by the city government. It’s just minutes from downtown Seoul, and there are miles of hiking trails to explore.

The top floor of N Seoul Tower includes indoor and exterior scenic spots and restaurants. The exterior of the tower is covered with LED lights, which are lit every night in a seasonal light show.

There is a cable car that can take you from the city (near Myeongdong) to the base area of ​​the tower. Then you can hike from here. After climbing the mountain and taking the cable car, set aside time to explore Namsan Hanok Village. These well-preserved historic villages are scattered throughout Seoul and South Korea, recreating ancient Korean neighborhoods. This village includes five restored hanoks or traditional Korean houses.

14. Bukchon Hanok Village

Hanok villages can be found in some places around Seoul and South Korea. They are living museums. They restored and preserved the old neighborhoods, some in their original locations (such as Bukchon), and some were rebuilt with hanoks (traditional Korean houses) moved from elsewhere. They not only give tourists the opportunity to experience life in Hanok but also life in Korea 600 years ago.

You can experience the narrow streets and explore Korean culture because many hanoks are museums or provide cultural demonstrations. Many are private residences, some provide accommodation. This is what makes these rural areas so special; they are real living history because many houses are privately owned and inhabited by real local residents.

Bukchon Hanok Village is located between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace in the center of Seoul and is a popular place to explore.

15. National Museum of Korea

As the capital of the world, Seoul is full of museums. The biggest is the National Museum of Korea. Like the Metropolitan Museum in New York, it is really a place where one can never walk. The huge collection combines art, history and archeology, showing the history of Korean culture and telling the story of the Korean people.

If you have limited time in Seoul, this is also a great attraction. The collection is very rich, dating back one million years. This is very interesting, especially for families and children, because there are a variety of items. There is everything from tools from the Stone Age to modern artworks by Korean artists.

16. Blue House

The Blue House is named for its striking blue-tiled roofs with many pavilions and pavilions. It is very similar to the White House and is the residence of the President of South Korea. The very safe complex also houses many Korean government administrative offices and official meeting places. This is an interesting place worth visiting because it allows you to learn behind the scenes of the modern Korean government and Korean formal culture.

During the guided sightseeing tour, you will see many meeting rooms and official reception rooms that welcome foreign dignitaries. An hour-long public tour is provided, but you need to apply online in advance for security checks.

17. Lotte World 

There is an amusement park in the center of Seoul. This is an interesting place to spend a day and gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the real Korean business culture. Lotte World includes a hotel, a movie theater, a folk museum with traditional performances and other activities such as ice skating.

The theme park is located at the bottom of Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in Korea and the fifth tallest in the world. The tower has multiple viewing and experience areas, its own luxury hotel (SIGNIEL SEOUL), and a series of in-house shopping and dining options.

The visit is fun for both children and adults. In addition to the rides and attractions, there are also many shopping venues, artist studios and cultural performances to watch. There is the world’s largest indoor theme park and an outdoor theme park area called Magic Island.

For a larger outdoor theme park experience, Everland is about 45 minutes from Seoul and is the Korean version of Disneyland.

18. Gyeongbokgung Palace

Also known as the North Palace, the large Gyeongbokgung complex has experienced some incredible turbulence over the years. It was built in the Joseon Dynasty in 1395, and he built five magnificent palaces around Seoul. The palace was bombed, destroyed, and rebuilt several times, and was occupied by the Japanese (the first time was in 1592), and it was not finally restored until 1990.

Be sure to check out Gyeonghui Lou and Hyangwonjeong, two primitive buildings left over from the Joseon era. You can explore the palace compound on a guided walking tour. There are also two museums in the park (The Palace Museum and the National Folk Museum), both of which are worth seeing.

19. Hallyeo Maritime National Park

This rugged and beautiful national park includes miles of pristine coastline on more than 300 independent islands. Each has hiking trails with spectacular ocean and cliff views. There is also a cable car in the area called the Hallyeosudo Observation Ropeway. It is the only dual-cable, automatic circulation gondola system in China.

The ride is nearly 2.4 kilometers long and takes 9 minutes to reach the top of the mountain. You can enjoy sweeping views of the countryside and coastline including Damascus Island in Japan. It takes about an hour to reach the park by bus or car from downtown Seoul.

20. Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple is one of the Buddhist temples in Korea that should not be missed, and it is considered by many to be the most important temple in Korea. It is listed by the government as the first place in official history and scenic spots. This temple is home to seven national treasures, sacred towers and Buddha statues of the country.

This temple is located on the slope of Toham Mountain in Gyeongju, the ancient capital of South Korea. This is a city with a long history, known as the “museum without walls” because of its historical sites and temples. It takes approximately two and a half hours from Gyeongju to take the new KTX high-speed train from Seoul.

21. Gwanghwamun Gate

This attraction is a huge gate that used to be the opening of Gyeongbokgung Palace in the city wall. It was originally built together with the palace in the 15th century but was destroyed and rebuilt many times. The most recent time was in 2010, it was moved back to the original site in front of the palace and Gwanghwamun Square, and was restored with authentic materials using traditional techniques.

Previous restorations included concrete and other non-traditional construction techniques, but the new gate was constructed entirely using ancient techniques, using only native wood and handmade accessories.

Gwanghwamun is the place where the Changing of the Guard ceremony (held since 1469) is held every day (except Tuesday) at 10 am and 2 pm. The Gwanghwamun Square in front of the gate is a large public space that is often used for political and social demonstrations.

22. Jingwansa Temple

This ancient temple complex is about 15 minutes away from the center of Seoul and offers a real Buddhist temple experience and beautiful national parks. This temple was built on a site dating back to 1,000 BC, and there are multiple projects for visitors to learn about and experience the lifestyle of Buddhism and monks.

This temple is a must-visit attraction for foodies as they grow most of the food on site. The temple also prepares its own Korean specialties, such as pickling its own kimchi in an ancient giant clay pot. Jingwansa provides meals (and extended overnight accommodation) to the public and an education program that demonstrates the sustainability of ancient temple operations.

You can make a temple stay plan, which includes overnight visits, or just come to have a meal or explore the buildings and shrines. You can also visit the area just to explore the Bukhansan National Park because the temple is in it. There are miles of hiking trails and three climbable peaks. On the hiking trails, in addition to dense mountains and forests and spectacular scenery, there are also ancient castle ruins.

23. Street food Market in Seoul 

As one of the greatest food cultures in the world, a trip to Korea without enjoying street food is incomplete. Gwangjang Market, located in the center of Seoul, is a real food paradise. There are many food stalls in the large covered market area, serving a full set of Korean specialties.

The cool thing about this market and most food markets in Seoul is that most of these food stalls are like small mini restaurants. They have a row of stools and a counter so you can sit and eat. Most booths will provide you with free samples to try out their products, which is also cool.

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