With stunning natural beauty, exquisite cuisine, and rich cultural history, South Korea is the ideal destination for every traveler. Interestingly, most visitors stay within the confines of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. It’s such a small country that there really is no excuse for not venturing further afield and exploring some of the lesser-known regions and cities. Discover this amazing country for yourself as we show you how to plan the best holiday to South Korea!
Seoul is the city of the future. Neon lights, high tech, and a buzzing atmosphere make it one of East Asia’s most exciting destinations. And yet, all this modernity coexists alongside historic marvels such as the ancient Bukchon Hanok Village.
South Korean cuisine has seen global recognition in recent years, and one of the best ways to experience authentic South Korean dishes prepared by locals is to experience a food tour. Many dishes will be familiar but you can guarantee a few surprises as well!
Shopaholics will be in paradise as they stroll up and down the malls of Myeongdong in the heart of Seoul, while the history buffs will be enthralled by Gyeongbokgung Palace.
A half-day tour to the Demilitarized Zone on the border between South and North Korea is well recommended. The shared history of these two proud nations is undeniable and poses important questions to us all.
Where Seoul is a hive of activity, less than three hours’ drive will find you in the laid-back east coast city of Sokcho.
If you enjoy hiking and the outdoors then Sokcho may well be your ultimate South Korean destination. Seoraksan National Park, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, is only minutes away and is understandably one of the nation’s most popular holiday destinations. Keep this in mind when planning your South Korea holiday, as any weekend, particularly in autumn when the leaves are turning color, will be thronging with visitors. If you can, try to visit on a weekday.
There are numerous hiking trails in the park of varying levels of difficulty. One of the most spectacular is the hike to the top of Ulsanbawi Rock. It may be 888 thigh-burning steps up one very steep rock face, but the reward when you reach the summit makes it all worthwhile!
Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, Gyeongju and the magnificent Mt. Namsan live up to their reputation as the ‘museum without walls’.
History is all around you as you wander Gyeongju’s broad streets and green parks. Just a short walk from the city center is the Daereungwon Tomb Complex, and to the southeast of Gyeongju is Bulguksa Temple, one of South Korea’s most famous and revered Buddhist temples. Inside its walls are seven of South Korea’s national treasures, including gorgeous arched bridges, stone pagodas, and gilt-bronze statues of the Buddha.
On your return to Gyeongju, you could visit Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. Part of an ancient palace complex that once sprawled across the surrounding countryside, the pond was only excavated and restored to its former glory as recently as the 1970s. Twilight is the best time to visit, as the stone walls and flourishing gardens are lit up against the midnight blue of the sky.
South Korea isn’t widely known as a seaside destination, but you only need to sink your toes into the golden sands of one of Busan’s seven beaches and you’ll realize how much fun and relaxation you could have in summer!
Just a short drive north up the coast and you’ll find the sands quickly being replaced by twisted volcanic rocks and precipitous cliffs. Yet in complete contrast to this unforgiving terrain is the beautiful Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. It’s rare to find a temple so close to the sea, yet this one is a beauty, perched above the blue waters of the Korea Strait. Inside are numerous statues of the Buddha, shrines, and fantastic views up and down the coastline.
Like Seoul, Busan is renowned across South Korea for its fantastic shopping opportunities. In fact, the world’s largest mall, Shinsegae Centum City, is in the heart of Busan and will keep you and your wallet occupied for hours!
The raw, natural beauty of Jeju Island has resulted in it becoming one of South Korea’s premier honeymoon destinations.
At nearly 2000m high, the imposing volcanic crater of Mt. Hallasan can be seen from every corner of the island, and to conquer its summit is a challenge worth accepting. Thousands of tourists make the long trek every year (even honeymooners!), as the changing terrain and lush flora make for an engaging adventure.
Closer to sea level there are so many other attractions that require far less exertion. Theme parks of the most unusual varieties liberally dot the countryside; Hello Kitty Land, the Teddy Bear Museum, and even a very adult oriented yet outrageously funny Jeju Love Land!
You could also spend some time exploring Jeju’s dramatic coastline and offshore islands. From Jeongbang waterfall where the river cascades dramatically into the sea 75 feet below, to Udo Island where you can taste Jeju’s famous peanut-flavored ice cream. If you’re lucky, you may even spot one of Jeju’s legendary haenyeo (sea women) diving for abalone and other bounty from the sea.
Plan the best South Korea Holiday
South Korea has so much to offer to travelers of every variety. Its amazing food, its sweeping landscapes, and its fascinating history are sure to make your holiday both culturally rewarding and a whole lot of fun.
Its size and super-efficient transport networks make getting around a breeze, and with the help of the Inspirock travel planner, you’ll be on your way to the best South Korea holiday in no time!
About Our Guest Blogger
Karen and Andrew are ‘Fork and Foot‘ and they LOVE food and travel! Giving up the corporate life they now travel the globe, opening up new holiday horizons to their readers through the cuisine, landscapes, and cultures of the world. Slow travel is their philosophy, taking the time to dig a little deeper and peel back the layers of a destination, sharing with their community through engaging stories, inspirational photography and an odd sense of humor. Tasting the world, one step at a time!