When you think of South Korea, most people picture Seoul. This sprawling modern metropolis offers a buzzing nightlife, cutting-edge technology, and deep connections to its culture.
But South Korea has much more to offer. You must visit the capitol. But, you should also make sure you take the time to explore this fantastic country. You’ll certainly not regret it.
Here are our Teach English abroad Seven Places You Must Visit in Korea
Top 7 destinations in South Korea
Only 30 km outside of Seoul and easy to get to by train and car, Suwon is a place sadly missed by many travelers.
The Hwaseong Fortress is a must-see. Built-in the 18th century, the fortress wall is 5.74 kilometers in length and can easily be walked around. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, and we can see why.
For the avid football fan, Suwon is also home to a World Cup Stadium affectionately known as the Big Bird Stadium. It hosted the Quarter Finals of the 2002 Fifa World Cup.
Once Korea’s spiritual capital Jeonju is filled with temples and museums and is well worth visiting. Jeonju Hanok Village is the perfect place to see if you want to truly embrace local culture and gain a deeper understanding of its history.
With 735 traditional Korean hanok houses, Jeonju Hanok village has a rich charm that connects people with the past. These houses are heated with ondol, a unique floor heating system that suits the Korean way of life. You can book in advance to stay in one of these houses.
While in Jeonju, you must sample Bibimbap. This famous Korean dish originates from here and is a dish of rice with cooked vegetables, meat, and often a raw or fried egg. It’s not too spicy, and you can find many variations of this delicious dish.
Definitely not off the beaten track, Jeju Island is popular with tourists, especially honeymooners. But don’t let that put you off.
You can hike on the dormant volcano Hallasan which stands 1,950 meters above sea level. You can also visit the Manjang cave, which was formed by cooling lava and is more than 8 kilometers long. There are also beautiful beaches and stunning coastal walks, so it’s well worth visiting.
Seoraksan National Park
To enjoy the fresh air and hike amongst spectacular scenery, you should take a trip to Seoraksan National Park.
You’ll find pine forests, crystal-clear lakes and streams, and stunning mountain peaks often covered in snow. In particular, Daecheongbong Peak offers spectacular views at sunrise and sunset.
As well as hiking, there are plenty of cultural sights to visit too. There are 2 Buddhist temples, Baekdamsa and Sinheungsa. You can also take a cable car up to Gwongeumseong Fortress, a ruined stone tower at the top of Seoraksan Mountain.
And, if you’re very lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the rare Korean musk deer and Korean goral. You may even spot an Asian black bear!
If you love food, you’ll love Andong. You’ll find plenty of Korean specialties served here.
Originally, Andong was one of the only inland cities where fish was available, so it was a popular delicacy for the aristocracy. The grilled salted mackerel is delicious.
But the most famous dish is jjim-dalk which is a chicken and vegetables. It’s salty and sweet with a mild spicy kick and is incredibly moreish. Visit the Andong market to see lots of chefs cooking their own version.
Andong is also home to Korea’s oldest surviving wooden building, Geunjeongjeon. Translated in English to “Nirvana Hall’, Geunjeongjeon is a temple that boasts interesting architectural design from the mid-Joseon era.
You can’t visit Korea without visiting DMZ, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. While you can visit the DMZ, remember that not all areas are safe, and you should only visit the JSA or Joint Security Area.
When at the JSA, you can actually stand in North Korea. You can also visit a gift shop that sells North Korean stamps, wine and currency. You must book to visit the DMZ as you can only be there on an authorized guided tour.
In 2021, a new art museum opened in the DMZ. CNN described it as the museum where the curator wears a bulletproof vest. Once a customs clearinghouse, the building now exhibits art, including “2021 DMZ Art and Peace Platform,” featuring work from 32 artists.
This city is over 2000 years old and was once the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom. It certainly lives up to its nickname ‘the museum without walls because it’s filled with old tombs, temples, burial mounds, and rock carvings.
The burial mounds that lie in the center of the city are a distinctive feature. They were made to encompass 30 royal tombs that date back to the Silla Kingdom. Some reach over 20 meters high.
To learn more about the Silla Kingdom, you should head to Gyeongju National Museum. Widely considered the best museum in Korea, you’ll find informative displays and exhibitions with ancient jewelry, weaponry, and religious artifacts on display.
Want to see more?
Visiting a country for a vacation is great, and Korea is a brilliant holiday destination. But living and working in a country allows you to immerse yourself in its culture and you’ll get to see a lot more of the attractions it has to offer.
Many people move to Korea to teach English which allows them to work and travel at the same time. If you want to teach in Korea, this site ran a recent post that may be of some help.
kikijourney.com is designed to help people who want to travel the world. This article focuses on South Korea, but if you are thinking of taking a trip to North Korea, here are some things you need to consider before you go. You should also note that South Korea is LGBTQ friendly, and there are plenty of gay-friendly hotels there.