South Korea is an ideal country to discover the ultra modernity of Asia, with its capital in full expansion and its traditions still very rooted. This country is a haven of serenity and modernity, which will please many travelers. Although in principle the language barrier may seem an obstacle, the kindness of the people more than compensated for the inconvenience of expressing themselves with different languages.
The Korean palaces are majestic and incredibly well preserved. A visit to the southern territory of Korea includes knowing unsurpassed landscapes with immense natural beauty, visiting modern cities, tasting exotic foods and, above all, a very enriching culture shock.
It is essential to plan our trip with great care, among other aspects, especially our places to visit. That is why we recommend 10 must-visit places in South Korea.
Seoul is the capital and the most important city in South Korea. There you will find all the facilities and comfort of any metropolis and modern city. It is the center of entertainment for those who like nightlife and shopping.
But it is also a city of great historical importance and its quality as a capital city dates back more than 600 years in Korean history. Five of the most emblematic Korean palaces of the Joseon Dynasty were built here, and necessarily, a visit to Seoul must include a visit to Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces.
The city of Gyeongju was one of the most important cultural centers, and there is a lot of interesting sites and relics. To begin with, the Seokguram Grotto, an artificial cave excavated in the 8th century. On the slope of the same mountain is the Bulguksa temple, from the same period. The Buddha statues inside are impressive.
Anapji Park is near the national museum. I think it’s worth going, especially at night, when they illuminate all the buildings (restored entirely or reconstructed) and the lights are reflected in the pond.
The Boseong district is famous for its green tea plantations. It is true that most Korean tea is produced in this region. The stepped estates of green tea are just magnificent, and they are a place to visit in the middle of a trip through Korea. These places, very photogenic, often appear in Korean films and dramas. If you climb to the top of the plantation, the view is stunning.
The Hahoe Folk Village is a traditional village from the Joseon Dynasty. The ‘Ha’ is short for the river, and ‘hoe’ means to ‘turn around, return, come back. The village is built in the shape of a lotus flower and is surrounded by water. A stroll through the interior of its streets or along the river will allow you to contemplate its charm and its calm.
The inhabitants have managed to preserve their customs as well as the houses of the people. The dance of the Byeolsingut masks and the fire show Seonyujulbulnori are traditional activities that are still celebrated today. The dance of the masks keeps many things in common with shamanism, and shows are organized several times a week.
The city of Jeonju is a must-see on a trip through Korea since its town of hanoks (traditional Korean houses) is one of the largest and most beautiful in the country. There are about 800 hanoks, that is, houses built traditionally with wood and earth, and a roof of gray tiles curved towards the sky.
In Jeonju you can visit many interesting places: the Jeondong Cathedral, which combines different architectural styles in an original way, as well as sanctuaries, different museums dedicated to Korean culture and tradition, the Deokjin Park, filled with lotus flowers and water lilies in summer.
6. Jirisan National Park
The Jirisan National Park is a mountain range and the second largest in Korea. It is “on horseback” between several regions, and there are different starting points, depending on where you want to go. Hiking routes are not accessible all year round due to weather conditions.
During the summer, a somewhat shorter walk (about two hours) will be enough to reach spectacular landscapes. The trails in the heart of the forests take us through several villages, which allows us to see another way of life away from the hustle and bustle of the main cities of Korea.
7. Mont Songnisan
The mountainous landscapes of Mount Songnisan National Park are spectacular: granite massifs, rocky valleys, cherry blossoms in spring and colorful leaves in autumn. There are a lot of routes for hiking, with different levels of difficulty. They give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of its natural landscapes, to experience the magic of the mountains, shading among the clouds.
As is common in the Korean mountains, there are Buddhist temples scattered on the hill. The Beopjusa pagoda was erected nearly 1,500 years ago on Mount Songnisan. It is one of the most prominent in all of Korea.
Busan is the main seaside resort of South Korea. Located in the south of the country, it offers magnificent beaches but also numerous temples and cultural places. It is also a vital city regarding trade, with its active port. However, some points provide a beautiful panoramic view of the sea!
There are two main beaches in Busan, each more pleasant than the other: near the center of the city, and they are perfect for a swim but, of course, the landscapes are not the most beautiful in the region. The beach is the primary activity during a stay in South Korea. In terms of culture, its beautiful temples can be visited, as well as the town of Gamcheon, located on a hill, which will amaze travelers with its streets and colorful houses.
Haeinsa is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Seon Buddhism in Gayasan National Park. It is one of the most famous temples in Korea, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The buildings are impressive, and there is an atmosphere of peace that encourages meditation and relaxation. In the area, there are also hermitages, scattered through forests and mountains. You can spend the night in a temple in the region. It is an unparalleled opportunity to know the daily life of the monks, spend a few hours with them, eat together and share a meditation session.
The city of Suncheon is known for its green heritage. Suncheonman Bay is one of the largest reservoirs in the world. It covers about forty kilometers. The water is very pure because it is filtered by the canes, which extend to the horizon. It is the habitat of many insects and crabs, and also of many migratory birds. To enjoy a panoramic view of the bay from the Yongsan observatory you will have to walk an hour or so, but the effort will be amply rewarded.
The gardens of the bay will help you to discover that there are at least ten different types of gardens: the English garden, the Chinese garden, the Dutch garden … There are different flowers in each season of the year.