Planning to travel to South Korea for your next vacation? It’s hard to identify the best things to see or do in the Land of the Morning Calm because there’s so much to see.
1. Eat Korean food.
South Korea’s cuisine (hanguk yori or hansik) is based on rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables, meats and seafood. Try their signature dish, bibimbap, or rice mixed with vegetables, beef slices, and raw egg, and seasoned with gochujang, a hot pepper paste. This and other culinary delights are available anywhere you go in South Korea. Better still, travel to the city of Jeonju, South Korea’s cultural heartland, and have a meal in a traditional teahouse. Or buy fresh green tea from Boseong County’s artistic plantations.
2. Learn a martial art, with the right ambience.
South Korea is the birthplace of taekwondo, hapkido, taekkyeon, and other martial arts. Why not combine learning with sightseeing? You can try learning taekwondo at the beautiful old Gyeonghuigung Palace in Seoul, which was one of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty.
3. Travel to Gyeongju.
This ancient capital of old Korea is like a living museum, giving you the best of its architecture and history. It’s prettiest in the summer and autumn. If you’re staying in Seoul, you can travel to Gyeongju via high-speed train (the KTX). Once there, get a quick overview of Korea’s story at the Gyeongju National Museum. Then visit Bulguksa Temple, Anapji Pond, the Cheomseongdae Observatory, and the cluster of royal tombs at Tumuli Park. For a more resort-like experience, visit the picturesque Bomun Lake area and its high-end hotels and amusement parks.
4. Take a moonlight walk at Changdeokgung Palace.
If you’re in Seoul, you must see this UNESCO World Heritage site, which is another of South Korea’s Five Grand Palaces—and see the full magic of the place at night. Before going to Changdeokgung Palace, schedule a moonlight tour, which includes a traditional Korean musical performance with costumes.
5. Hike to see South Korea’s mountains.
About 70% of South Korea is covered with mountains. You’ll be seeing the most of them if you travel to Seoraksan National Park, the country’s largest park and mountain range (which is spread across four cities!). If that’s too hard, try the easier 70-kilometer trail at Bukhansan National Park, connecting Mt. Samgaksan and Mt. Dobongsan.
6. Attend any South Korean festival.
South Korea has plenty of photogenic festivals, especially during the spring. From traditional flower and crafts festivals to performing arts and MMPORG cosplays, there’s a whole menu to suit all tastes. Try to book your vacation in time with your favorite celebration.