South Korea is a fascinating blend of the traditional and the modern. With palaces in the middle of a bustling city and old-timey homes among high rise buildings. You never run out of things to discover and stuff to see. But before you look for airbnb vacation rentals in Korea and hopping on the next flight to the East Asian country, you should at least plan out what to do. In this list, we will give you the top 5 best things to do in South Korea.
See the ancient palaces
Perhaps one of the most striking monuments to see in South Korea at the 5 Grand Palaces in Seoul.
Gyeongbokgung is the first and the most important of the palaces. This has been traditionally regarded as the seat of power during the Joseon dynasty. It has undergone a series of disrepair and reconstructions in the past until the 1990s where major restoration work was done by the Korean government.
If you are short on time and just want to squeeze a little palace trip while exploring the city, Gyeonghuigung and Deoksugung are perfect for you. These two are the youngest and smallest of all the palaces. Built mainly as auxiliary palaces for other royal functions, they are not as expansive as the others and can visit without taking a lot of time.
For a more authentic experience, Changdeokgung & Changgyeonggung should be on your list. Also known as the East Palace Complex, they have the least pre-modern structures among the five. Changdeokgung is the second oldest palace and the only palace with a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The most notable feature of the palace is the secret garden that can be found within which can be visited with guided tours.
Go street shopping
Koreans take fashion very seriously and because of this many shopping places have popped up to cater to these needs. If you want to splurge on accessories, clothes, or even souvenirs, you should definitely check out these places.
First up is Meyoundong. This is perhaps the most famous shopping destination for tourists. Meyoungdong is known for its tourist-friendly amenities and the hundreds of shops dedicated to skincare. Men and women of all ages flock this iconic street to stock up on the latest beauty products as well as enjoy the company of others. Tourists can even rent a luggage locker so can shop away without lugging around all your stuff.
Hongdae is another popular market street in Seoul. Because it is near a major university, many young people come to hang out and shop during the weekends. Hongdae is dubbed as the Harajuku of Korea because of the many indie fashion boutiques and streetwear shops in the area.
If bargain hunting is more up your alley then check out Namdaemun. The market is known among locals as the place to find clothing items at bargain prices. Shoppers can get clothes for all ages at wholesale prices making this one of the best places to score Korean apparel if you are on a budget.
A lot of people don’t know that the Korean peninsula is surrounded by thousands of islands waiting for you to discover. From rustic volcanic islands to picturesque green paradise, there is surely something for everyone.
First on the list is Namiseom Island or more popularly Nami Island. This crescent-shaped island in the Han River is known for its famous tree-lined roads and scenic landscape. Located just an hour’s drive away from Seoul this makes it popular recreational sites all year round.
Jeju island is another well-known island in Korea. The largest among Korea’s islands, this volcanic province is home to the world-famous diving women and the mysterious dol hareubang or grandfather statues.
Cheongsando Island is another must-visit. Dubbed as Asia’s first Slow City, this quaint island off the southern tip of the peninsula is known for its picturesque scenery and the easy island way of life. The slow walk trails on the island take you through scenic canola flower fields featured in the drama Spring Waltz.
Visit KDrama filming locations
Speaking of dramas, many tourists also visit the country specifically to see filming locations of their favorite Korean dramas. If you are a huge fan of Korean drams here are a few key locations you should definitely visit.
Namsan Seoul Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Korea. Featured in the popular drama Boys Over Flowers, this tower gives a panoramic view of Seoul which makes this a popular place for couples on a date. The tower is open every day and can be easily accessible by bus from downtown Seoul.
Fans of the hit drama Goblin will find this next place a must-see. Samcheongdong Street is a fun little area where the old meets the new. The street is lined with beautiful traditional homes as well as modern trendy shops and cafes. The place is quite popular among locals as well as tourists because of its unique atmosphere.
If you are a fan of the drama Fight For My Way and would love to visit its famous Namil Bar then head down to Busan. This popular drama is shot on multiple locations in this southern city and features its iconic colorful mountainside buildings. He city is also quite popular among tourists because of its colorful Gamcheon Culture Village.
Discover Korea’s delicious street food
No visit to Korea is complete without sampling the food. Luckily for tourists, there is a wide selection of tasty delicacies to try. To get a taste of what Korea has to offer, here are popular places foodies should visit.
Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market is a popular night market known for its picnic grounds, striking colorful tents, and especially the many food trucks. These food trucks offer a wide array of trendy menu items that is a sure hit to the markets many regulars. Here you get to enjoy a delicious serving of Korean style fried chicken while watching tubers enjoy floating down the river.
Found within the heart of Seoul, Dongdaemun Night Market is one of the few markets that are open until 3 am in the morning. That is why a lot of food stalls here offer food that is popular late-night snacks perfect for shoppers with cravings. Local treats like mandu, Tteok-bokki, and Eomuk Tang a kind of fishcakes in skewers.
That wraps up the best things to do in South Korea. But as they say, the greatest adventures are found off the beaten path so go out there and explore this beautiful country.