South Korea is simply outstanding, be it nature, history or its cosmopolitan lifestyle. Its exotic beauties have always been on the bucket list of every globetrotter. The country boasts of great ancient monuments and an amazing culture that speaks for its beautiful roots. Plan a visit to this unexplored nation and revel in its hidden delights. Savour the legacy of peaceful hamlets and also the sprightliness of cities and towns. Take a walk through its galleries and explore the country’s depths. South Korea is a box filled with sweet surprises. Read all about the top things to do when in South Korea.
Top Things to do in South Korea
1. Visit the Grand Changdeokgung Palace
Dive deep into the history and glorious past of South Korea by visiting the Changdeokgung Palace. Also known as the Eastern Palace, this centuries-old palace would have you gaping at it in awe. Situated on almost 58-hectares, the Changdeokgung Palace was the second palace constructed under the Joseon Dynasty and is the best-preserved example of the five palaces that dot the landscape of Seoul. The Changdeokgung Palace is now listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Entry Fee: $2.80 for Adults and $1.40 for Students
Timings: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm (Closed on Mondays)
Pro Tip: Taking the subway is the best and most economical way to reach the palace. Just take the third exit on Anguk Subway and you are there.
2. Ski the Slopes of the Beautiful Taebaek Mountain
The Taebaek mountain range stretches along the eastern side of the country all the way from the southern Busan up to Wonsan in the north. It one of the must-visit places for skiers and adventure lovers as there are quite a few ski resorts closer to Seoul that can be reached on a day trip by taking shuttle busses. Glide down these sheets of snow and enjoy an adrenaline rush.
Average Price Range: $20 – $65 per person
Ideal Timings: 09:00 am to 04:00 pm
Pro Tip: Gangwon-do is the best place in the Taebaek Mountains for skiing.
3. Take an Excursion to the Gorgeous Busan
Want to breathe fresh sea air during your holiday in Korea? Take a short 2.5-hour bullet train ride to the bustling city of Busan. The city offers a different experience than Seoul with beach resorts, 14th-century temples and lots of superb food from sit down meals to street food. Being the second-largest city of South Korea, Busan is the main port city in the south, known for its local seafood, urban nightlife, long modern bridges, infinite beaches and majestic mountains.
Average Price: $40 – $60 on average per day (including food, sightseeing and accommodation)
Pro Tip: Spend at least two days in Busan to explore all of its major tourist attractions and to savour its beauty to the fullest.
4. Explore the Dazzling Setting of Seoul
Seoul will impress you with its sparkling mix of modern architecture, party vibes, pop culture, beautiful parks and glittering promenades. And because of all this, Seoul is one of the most famous places and best cities to visit in South Korea. Vibrant Seoul is not just a buzzing urban hub but is also rich in history and culture. The National Museum and War Memorial take you through the history of the country, while the cool shopping district of Gangnam gives you a taste of the city’s boisterous side.
Recommended For: Explorers, Party Lovers, Photographers
Average Cost: $40 – $50 per day for food, transportation and entrance to different tourist attractions
Pro Tip: For the best of international bars and restaurants and global crowd, visit Itaewon in Seoul.
5. Learn the Significance of Jeju Island
This stunning island 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 definitely 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 major plus points of this natural paradise.
Recommended For: Families, Couples, Explorers
Location: Jeju Province, South Korea
6. Visit the Unique Bukchon Hanok Village
The Bukchon Hanok Village is one of the most loved and favourite photo spots in Seoul. The traditional hanok houses found here date all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty. This picturesque residential area is nestled in the heart of the city between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace and from atop the hill, you can see a background of modern buildings in the distance. Well, that makes it one of the must-visit places in South Korea!
Recommended For: History Lovers, Culture Explorers, Photographers
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Entry Fee: No entrance fee
Timings: 09:00 am to 06:00 pm
09:00 am to 05:00 pm (Saturdays and Sundays)
Pro Tip: Do try your hand at making traditional Korean crafts and also spend some time relishing tea at beautiful cafes here.
7. Relish the Best Korean Food
One of the best ways to experience South Korea’s culture is through the culinary delights that can be found in restaurants. Korean’s love for their barbeque and kimchi is recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity item. While in South Korea you can indulge in some of the tasty treats like bulgogi, japchae and gomguk along with a variety of traditional banchan dishes such as flavoured kimchi, bap (rice) and gogumasun namul also called sweet potatoes.
Recommended For: Foodies, Explorers
Location: Across South Korea
Average Cost: $20 – $25 (for meals at an above average restaurants per day)
8. Explore the Incredible DMZ
Amongst South Korea attractions, the DMZ, also called the Korean Demilitarized Zone, is one of the most famous places to visit in South Korea. This is the very place that divides South Korea from its neighbour North Korea. Get a better understanding of the conflict between North and South Korea. 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.
Recommended For: Explorers
Price: $40 – $80 (depending upon the kinds of tours preferred)
Pro Tip: It is advisable to take a guided tour that includes a visit to the Joint Security Area.
9. Visit the Cultural Sites of Gyengju
One of the best places to go in South Korea, the coastal city of Gyeongju, often called an open-air museum, is one of the best things to do in South Korea to discover its traditional roots and rich heritage. The erstwhile capital of the ancient Silla kingdom, Gyeongju is a treasure trove of cultural and historical sites and ruins going back to a thousand years. With the UNESCO world heritage site, Bulguksa temple and the National Museum with its unparalleled collection of artefacts, this city gives you a glimpse into South Korea’s raw culture.
Recommended For: Culture Explorers, Photographers
Location: Gyeongsangbuk-do Province
Entry fee: No entrance fee
10. Shop for Traditional Souvenirs at Insadong
If you’re planning on buying traditional goods, head to the Insadong market. There cannot be a better place than Insadong for shopping your hearts out if you are really into souvenir shopping a lot. There is one main road in Insadong lined with booths, shops, galleries, teahouses and restaurants. Make sure you wander into the alleyways to discover hidden charms and unexpected gems. It is one of the most-loved places in South Korea amongst shoppers.
Recommended For: Shoppers, Explorers
Location: Insadong, South Korea
Fee: No entrance fee
Ideal Timings: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
Pro Tip: Visit the major Insadong Street for the best street food in South Korea.