Whether you prefer dancing and dining in the busy night clubs of Seoul or exploring the stunning natural scenery of Jeju Island, South Korea has something for every traveler. The only downside is that there's too much to see and do to pack into a single vacation. Every country has its highlights, however, and there are certain things it's hard to pass by. Don't miss these must-see attractions during your dream vacation to South Korea.
Located on the coast of the Sea of Japan, this charming city is a great choice if you want to spend some of your vacation lounging on beautiful tropical beaches and enjoying fresh-caught seafood. For a change of scenery, hike Jangan Mountain for some stunning views of Busan and the surrounding countryside. There are plenty of art and cultural experiences to enjoy as well, particularly if you visit during the annual Busan International Film Festival.
Tensions between North Korea and South Korea have put these two nations on the world stage, and the De-Militarized Zone, or DMZ, that separates them has become infamous. While you can't go wandering through the DMZ by yourself, you can book a tour from a variety of operators working out of Seoul. Be sure to book one that takes you into the Blue Room, which is considered territory of both nations.
If you love shopping, you'll never want to love Seoul. The city has everything from modern mega-malls to old-fashioned street vendors. For a bit of authentic Korean shopping, visit Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets. At one point Namdaemun served as the daytime market, and Dongdaemun operated only at night, but now you can find vendors open at all hours at both markets. Be sure to try some street food while you're shopping, as the local vendors are known for their regional specialties.
While most westerners may think of rice paddies and tea fields when they think of South Korea's countryside, the truth is that the country is home to rugged mountains and dense forests as well. Seoraksan National Park is one of the best places to explore this natural beauty. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, including black bears, musk deer, and flying squirrels. If you pick the right trail, you might even stumble upon a hidden Buddhist temple.
If you're interested in South Korean history, be sure to stop by this historic village on the outskirts of Seoul. The buildings here date back nearly 600 years and are a perfect example of the classic hanok architecture. Almost all of the buildings are open to the public as historical exhibits, traditional tea houses, and restaurants, so you'll feel like you're stepping back in time as you explore these narrow streets.
While you're learning about Korean history, plan a trip to the 2,000-year-old city of Andong in North Gyeongsang Province. The major historical attraction is the Andong Hanoe Folk Village, a living history museum that preserves and displays many folk traditions. The surrounding area is full of traditional artisans as well. Be sure to sample some of the unique regional dishes, such as jjimdak, a local specialty made from chicken and noodles.
If you love tea, you can't miss stopping in the city of Boseong. This area is famous for its green tea. Even if you're more of a coffee drinker, you'll love exploring the vivid green fields and hills. The scenery here is so beautiful that it attracts film crews from all over the world who want to use it as a backdrop for their movies. Give the fresh green tea ice cream a try for a cool treat.
Gyeongju was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, and many ruins and cultural sites from that time still can be explored today. It's home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, the most prominent of which might be Bulguska temple, a sprawling Buddhist temple that has to be seen to be believed. Be sure to check out the Gyeongju National Museum to see a plethora of historical artifacts.
When you explore this stunning island, you'll be treated to an unforgettable mix of lush tropical foliage and jagged lava tubes. This destination has plenty of guided tours you can take on foot or on horseback, and it even has a few amusement parks and other modern attractions scattered around. However, the natural beauty is the main reason to visit, so bring your hiking shoes and get ready to explore.
With gorgeous waters and a beautiful mountain backdrop, Chuncheon's natural beauty has made it the perfect setting for many Korean movies and dramas. However, travelers often seek it out because it is a food lover's paradise. Whether you're picking up a quick bite to eat at a street vendor's stall or sitting down for a longer meal in one of the many restaurants, you can enjoy local dishes like spicy dakgalbi or the classic Korean bibimbap.