20 Best Things to do in South Korea
Discover the Best of South Korea: From Classic Tourist Attractions to the Latest Trendy Spots
South Korea has rapidly become a must-visit destination for travelers around the world, with inbound visitors doubling in the past decade. From the bustling metropolis of Seoul to the stunning beaches of Busan and the rich cultural heritage found throughout the country, South Korea offers something for every type of traveler.
Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient temples and palaces, trying delicious Korean cuisine, or experiencing the excitement of K-pop and Korean cinema, South Korea has it all.
In this article, we’ll explore the 20 best things to do in South Korea, including popular tourist destinations, hidden gems, and unique cultural experiences that are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.
Seoul is the capital city of South Korea and a vibrant metropolis known for its modernity, ancient temples, and street food.
1. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace is a royal palace located in the heart of Seoul. Built in 1395, it was the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty and is considered the most beautiful and grandest of the five palaces in the country.
The palace complex includes multiple buildings, including the throne hall, royal banquet hall, and pavilions, all showcasing traditional Korean architecture and design. The palace was destroyed multiple times over the centuries and underwent extensive restoration in the 19th century. Today, Gyeongbokgung Palace is a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of South Korea.
2. Enjoy the night view from Namsan Tower
Namsan Tower, also known as Seoul Tower, is a famous landmark and communication tower located in central Seoul. Standing at 236 meters, it offers stunning panoramic views of the city both day and night.
Visitors can take a cable car or hike up to the tower and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Seoul’s skyline. At night, the tower is illuminated and shines brightly, making it a romantic and popular spot for couples. The tower also features a variety of restaurants, cafes, and observation decks, making it a must-visit attraction for tourists in Seoul.
3. Check out the latest trends at Hongdae
Hongdae is a trendy neighborhood located in the Mapo-gu district of Seoul. It is known for its vibrant and youthful atmosphere, filled with trendy cafes, art galleries, and street performers.
Hongdae is home to Hongik University, one of the top art schools in the country, and is a hub for young artists and musicians. The area is famous for its nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and music venues offering a diverse range of entertainment options. It is a popular destination for both locals and tourists looking for a unique and lively experience in Seoul.
4. Gwangjang Market: one of Seoul’s oldest and largest traditional markets
Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Seoul. Established in 1905, it is famous for its lively atmosphere, diverse food stalls, and traditional Korean goods.
The market is home to over 5,000 shops and vendors, offering everything from traditional Korean silk fabrics to street food such as bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes). Visitors can also find a variety of souvenirs, including Korean hanbok (traditional dress) and pottery. Gwangjang Market is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the traditional culture and cuisine of South Korea.
5. have a photoshoot at Ihwa Mural Village
Ihwa Mural Village is a picturesque neighborhood located in the Jongno-gu district of Seoul. The neighborhood is known for its vibrant street art, colorful murals, and unique architecture.
The area was revitalized by artists and students who transformed it into a beautiful outdoor gallery featuring over 70 murals and installations. Visitors can stroll through the narrow alleys and staircases, admiring the beautiful art and taking in the stunning views of Seoul. The neighborhood is also home to a variety of cafes, galleries, and shops, making it a popular destination for art lovers and tourists alike.
For more information about things to do in Seoul, be sure to check out the following article!
Busan is a bustling coastal city in South Korea, famous for its stunning beaches, seafood, and the Busan International Film Festival.
6. Visit the Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village is a colorful and picturesque neighborhood located in Busan. Built into a hillside overlooking the sea, the village is known for its narrow alleys, steep staircases, and vibrant art installations.
The neighborhood was once a poor and neglected area but has since been transformed into a lively and vibrant community. Visitors can wander through the streets and alleyways, admiring the colorful buildings and art installations, or visit one of the many cafes, shops, and galleries. Gamcheon Culture Village is a must-visit destination for those looking for a unique and picturesque experience in Busan.
7. Explore Haeundae Beach
Haeundae Beach is a stunningly beautiful white sand beach located in the Haeundae-gu district of Busan. It is one of the most famous and popular beaches in the country, attracting millions of visitors each year.
The beach offers stunning views of the East Sea and is surrounded by a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Visitors can enjoy a variety of water sports, including swimming, surfing, and jet-skiing, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun. Haeundae Beach is a must-visit destination for those looking for a beautiful and lively beach experience in Busan.
8. Check out the Jagalchi Fish Market
Jagalchi Fish Market is a bustling and lively seafood market located in the Jung-gu district of Busan. It is one of the largest fish markets in the country, offering a wide variety of fresh seafood, including fish, crab, squid, and octopus.
Visitors can browse through the stalls and watch the fishmongers expertly prepare and sell the seafood. The market is also home to a variety of seafood restaurants, offering visitors the chance to try some of the freshest and most delicious seafood dishes in Busan. Jagalchi Fish Market is a must-visit destination for seafood lovers and those interested in Korean food culture.
Incheon is a port city in South Korea, famous for its Incheon International Airport and Chinatown.
9. Visit Chinatown
Incheon China Town is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood located in Incheon. It was established in 1884 by Chinese traders and has since become a popular destination for both locals and tourists.
The neighborhood is known for its unique Chinese-style architecture, street food, and shops. Visitors can explore the narrow alleys and streets, admiring the beautiful buildings and sampling a variety of Chinese delicacies, including jajangmyeon (black bean noodles), tangsuyuk (sweet and sour pork), and mandu (dumplings). Incheon China Town is a must-visit destination for those interested in Chinese culture and cuisine.
10. Discover Songdo Central Park
Songdo Central Park is a stunningly beautiful park located in the Songdo International Business District of Incheon. The park covers an area of 101 acres and is known for its beautiful gardens, water features, and walking paths.
The park is also home to a variety of public art installations, including sculptures and murals. Visitors can take a stroll around the park, rent a bicycle or kayak, or simply relax and take in the beautiful scenery. Songdo Central Park is a must-visit destination for those looking for a peaceful and relaxing outdoor experience in Incheon.
11. Explore Incheon’s beaches and islands
Incheon is home to a variety of stunning beaches and islands that offer visitors a unique and beautiful experience. Some of the most popular beaches include Eurwangni Beach, Munhak Beach, and Silmi Beach, all of which offer beautiful white sand and clear water.
Incheon also has several islands that are accessible by ferry, including Muuido Island and Ganghwa Island, which offer a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and swimming. Visitors can also explore the historic sites and cultural attractions on the islands, including fortresses and temples. Incheon’s beaches and islands are a must-visit destination for those looking for a beautiful and unique experience in South Korea.
Other Things to Do
12. Seasonal events
South Korea hosts a variety of seasonal events throughout the year that showcase its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
In the fall, visitors can enjoy the Busan International Film Festival, which takes place in October and features a variety of film screenings, events, and performances.
In the spring, visitors can enjoy the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place in April and features beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom, along with cultural performances and events.
Other seasonal events include the Boryeong Mud Festival in the summer, the Andong Mask Dance Festival in the fall, and the Seoul Lantern Festival in the winter. These events offer visitors a unique and memorable experience in South Korea.
13. Visit the Demilitarized Zone
The Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, is a 250-kilometer-long strip of land that separates North and South Korea. It was established in 1953 as part of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.
The DMZ is heavily guarded and fortified, with barbed wire fences, landmines, and thousands of soldiers stationed on both sides. Visitors can take guided tours of the DMZ and see the Joint Security Area, the Bridge of No Return, and the Third Tunnel, which was dug by North Korea in an attempt to invade the South. The DMZ offers visitors a unique opportunity to see the tense and heavily guarded border between North and South Korea.
14. Relax at Jeju Island
Jeju Island, also known as the “Island of the Gods,” is a volcanic island located off the southern coast of South Korea. It is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning natural beauty, including beaches, waterfalls, and hiking trails.
Jeju Island is also home to many cultural and historical sites, including the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, the Jeju Folk Village, and the Manjanggul Cave. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, swimming, and horseback riding, or simply relax and take in the beautiful scenery. Jeju Island is a must-visit destination for those looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in South Korea.
15. Go to a K-pop concert or event
South Korea is the birthplace of K-Pop, and there are many popular places to enjoy K-Pop concerts throughout the country.
The most famous venue is the Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul, which has hosted numerous K-Pop concerts featuring some of the biggest names in the industry. Other popular venues include the Gocheok Sky Dome, also in Seoul, and the Busan Asiad Main Stadium in Busan.
In addition, many K-Pop companies, such as SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, have their own concert halls, including the SM Town Theatre and JYP Nation Headquarters. These venues offer visitors a chance to see their favorite K-Pop stars in person and experience the excitement of the Korean music industry.
16. Amusement parks
South Korea is home to a variety of amusement parks that offer visitors a fun and exciting experience.
Lotte World, located in Seoul, is the largest indoor theme park in the world and features a variety of attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and a giant indoor ice rink.
Wolmido, located in Incheon, is a waterfront amusement park with a variety of outdoor rides and attractions, including a Ferris wheel and a wooden roller coaster.
Everland, located in Gyeonggi-do, is one of the largest theme parks in Asia and features a variety of attractions, including a safari park, roller coasters, and a water park.
These amusement parks offer visitors of all ages a fun and exciting experience in South Korea.
17. Visit historical locations
South Korea is home to a rich cultural and historical heritage, with many ancient temples and palaces that showcase its rich history and culture.
Some of the most famous historical sites in South Korea include Changdeokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace, which were both built during the Joseon Dynasty. Other famous historical sites include Bulguksa Temple, Haeinsa Temple, and Beopjusa Temple, which are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites and offer visitors a glimpse into ancient Korean culture and religion. These historical locations are a must-visit destination for those interested in Korean history and culture.
18. Buy Souvenirs
South Korea is a great destination for souvenir shopping, with many unique and popular items to choose from.
Some of the most popular souvenirs include Korean beauty products, such as sheet masks and skincare sets from popular brands like Laneige and Innisfree. Korean snacks, such as Choco Pies and Pepero, are also popular souvenirs. K-Pop merchandise, including albums, posters, and lightsticks, are a must-buy for fans of Korean music. Traditional Korean clothing, or Hanbok, is another popular souvenir, with many shops offering rental and purchase options.
Other popular souvenirs include Korean ceramics, tea, and traditional crafts such as fans and wooden masks.
19. Traditional Korean food
Traditional Korean food is famous for its bold and flavorful tastes, with a focus on fermented and spicy ingredients.
Some of the most popular Korean dishes include kimchi, bulgogi, bibimbap, and samgyetang. Visitors to South Korea can enjoy these dishes at traditional restaurants throughout the country, such as Gwangjang Market in Seoul for street food, Tosokchon Samgyetang in Seoul for samgyetang, and Jeonju Hanok Village in Jeonju for bibimbap. Other popular locations to try Korean food include Busan Jagalchi Fish Market for seafood, and Andong Hahoe Village for traditional cuisine. These locations offer visitors an authentic and delicious experience of traditional Korean cuisine.
20. Visit locations featured in Korean movies/TV shows
South Korea’s film and television industry has gained worldwide recognition in recent years, and many locations featured in Korean movies and TV shows have become popular tourist destinations.
Some of the most famous locations include the semi-basement apartments in Seoul featured in the movie “Parasite,” and the Daejeon Station featured in the zombie thriller “Train to Busan.” Itaewon, the trendy neighborhood in Seoul, is the setting for the popular TV show “Itaewon Class,” while the Joseon-era palaces in Seoul featured in the hit series “Kingdom” have also become popular tourist spots.
Additionally, many K-pop music videos feature iconic locations in South Korea, such as the Haneul Park in the “Blood Sweat & Tears” music video by BTS. These locations offer visitors a chance to experience the sights and settings of popular Korean movies, TV shows, and music videos.
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