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Things to do in South Korea

Things to do in  South Korea

Welcome to South Korea

Nicknamed the Land of Morning Calm, South Korea is a nation of extremes. Major cities like Seoul and Busan are abuzz with bright lights and a 24-hour lifestyle, while the pace of life in sleepy rural communities ticks by the same way it has for centuries. Seasonal weather changes see glorious sunshine, heavy monsoons, clear skies, and harsh humidity as the months pass, and South Koreans swing between their traditional hearty cuisine and the latest international fast-food chains. Travelers to South Korea can find new discoveries round every corner, with activities and adventures to suit all tastes and ages. In the capital city, Seoul, visitors can explore UNESCO World Heritage–listed landmarks such as Changdeokgung Palace and Gyeongbokgung Palace on sightseeing tours, and experience the bustling markets of Gwangjang, Insadong, or Namdaemun, where locals shop for everything from fresh produce to valuable antiques. Savor the diverse flavors of Korean cuisine on a food and craft beer walking tour, or visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where the tension between North and South Korea is palpable. In the countryside outside Seoul and Busan, day-trippers can rub shoulders with locals along popular hiking trails around Mt. Geumgangsan, Mt. Hallasan, and Mt. Taebaeksan, or relax in sunshine as the waves roll in on Jeju Island, South Korea's popular paradise retreat.

Top 15 things to do in South Korea

#1
DMZ

DMZ

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Nowhere is the tension between North and South Korea more palpable than in the no-man's-land known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ. As a divided nation, only 2.5 miles (4 km) separate the North from the South at what is the most heavily armed border on earth. The 150-mile (241-km) zone has served as a buffer since the 1953 cease-fire agreement between the United Nations and North Korea that put the Korean War on hold.More
#2
Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace

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Arguably the most beautiful and easily the biggest of Seoul’s five main palaces, Gyeongbokgung (also known as the Northern Palace) is one of South Korea’s must-visit attractions. Built in the 14th century, this is the oldest Joseon Dynasty palace in the nation, and it’s right in the heart of Jongno-Gu, the most culturally happening part of Seoul. Come for 600 years of history—and one brilliant changing of guards ceremony.More
#3
Gamcheon Culture Village

Gamcheon Culture Village

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Gamcheon Culture Village spills down a hillside in a riot of colors just outside Busan. The village, nicknamed “Santorini on the South Sea” and “the Machu Picchu of Busan,” was once an enclave for refugee members of the Taegeukdo religious movement. Today, the neighborhood attracts visitors with its steep cubicle houses, galleries, and cafés.More
#4
Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower)

Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower)

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Head to the top of Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower) in hilly Namsan Park, the largest in Seoul, for some of the best panoramic views over the South Korean capital. The 777-foot (237-meter) tower offers three observation decks and half a dozen restaurants where you can soak in the views, day or night.More
#5
Haeundae Beach

Haeundae Beach

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Busan’s proximity to the sea is one of its charms, and Haeundae Beach is perhaps the most famous beach in South Korea. Nearly a mile long (1.5 kilometers), this stretch of coastline is lined with some of Busan’s top international hotels, as well as an assortment of restaurants, shops, and the Sea Life Busan Aquarium.More
#6
Seokguram Grotto

Seokguram Grotto

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Known for being home to one of the finest Buddha shrines in the Asia, South Korea’s Seokguram Grotto looks out to the East Sea from Mount Tohamsan near Gyeongju. Commissioned in 742 AD by the Silla Kingdom’s chief minister, Kim Daeseong, it was built in honor of Daeseong’s parents from a past life.If you’re feeling fit, one of the best ways to get to the UNESCO World Heritage Site is by hiking under the canopy of trees from Bulguksa Temple, past tumbling waterfalls and wildflowers, to the top of the mountain where Seokguram Grotto sits.Pay the small entry fee and head inside, where the 3.5-meter tall granite Buddha sits on his lotus throne. Surrounded by panels of bodhisattvas and guardians, Buddha peacefully sits with his legs crossed in the bhumisparsha mudra position. The only structure to survive fully intact from the Silla era, look up at the ceiling -- it’s beautifully decorated with half moons and a lotus flower. For a truly special experience, come at dawn to see the sunrise over the East Sea in the distance.More
#7
Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village

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Flanked by Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace—two of Seoul’s Joseon Dynasty palaces—Bukchon Hanok Village comprises hundreds of traditionalhanok houses that today are home to restaurants, teahouses, cultural centers, art galleries, and B&Bs. It’s one of the best places to experience a taste of old Seoul.More
#8
Insadong

Insadong

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Insadong is Seoul’s cultural and artistic hub, as well as the place to shop for local crafts, visit a traditional Korean tea shop, or catch an impromptu street performance. The neighborhood, located in the Jongno-gu district, offers one of the largest antiques and craft markets in the country, with many shops and cafés housed in historic buildings.More
#9
Teddy Bear Museum

Teddy Bear Museum

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The Teddy Bear Museum in Seogwipo features several galleries and an extensive gift shop dedicated to stuffed bears from around the world. The museum also contains the world’s smallest teddy bear, which measures just 4.5 millimeters.Within the museum, you’ll find the History Hall, the Art Hall and the Project Exhibition Hall. The History Hall explores the 100­year history of teddy bears, with various bears from different eras, antique bears, and famous scenes and artwork recreated with teddy bears. The latter includes the Mona Lisa bear and the teddy bears of The Last Supper. The Art Hall features modern artwork by international designers, as well as a number of bear animations. In the Project Exhibit Hall, the collection extends to teddy bears grouped into a number of different themes.The museum also has a cafe, plus a bar for adults that’s only open in the summer months. Outside in the museum garden, which is adorned with teddy bear sculptures, there are some fantastic views of the coastal landscape of Jeju Island.More
#10
Jagalchi Fish Market

Jagalchi Fish Market

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Visitors come from all over to sample the fresh seafood at Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan. The largest seafood market in the country, Jagalchi is unique in that it’s run largely by women—a tradition dating back to the Korean War, when many of the men were off fighting and their wives took over the family businesses.More
#11
Jeju Glass Castle

Jeju Glass Castle

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As the name suggests, Jeju Glass Castle in west Jeju is devoted to the art of glass. Hundreds of sculptures by artists from around the world span three zones. Highlights at this glass-themed, indoor-outdoor park include the Magic Forest walking trail and a stunning mirrored room. You can take short classes in glassblowing, glass painting, and a technique called lampworking.More
#12
Jogyesa Temple

Jogyesa Temple

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Established in 1910, Jogyesa Temple serves as the center of Zen Buddhism in South Korea. Highlights of the temple complex include Daeungjeon, Seoul’s largest Buddhist shrine, as well as a garden area with a white pine tree that is more than 500 years old.More
#13
Gangnam

Gangnam

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For better or worse, Korean rapper PSY's 2012 hit song "Gangnam Style" has drawn the world's attention to Seoul and the district of Gangnam. Long before the K-pop hit rocketed to the top of the charts, Gangnam was already one of Seoul's hippest neighborhoods—a spot in the southern part of the city where the young come to see and be seen.More
#14
Third Tunnel of Aggression

Third Tunnel of Aggression

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The Third Tunnel of Aggression is one of four known tunnels situated within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North Korea and South Korea. Located more than 70 meters beneath the ground and at 265 meters long, the Third Tunnel of Aggression is a highlight of any DMZ tour.The tunnel was built by North Korea in the 1970s, who initially denied its existence when South Korea discovered it later. The North were then said to have claimed it was a coal mine, before it was revealed that they had dug the tunnel in order to launch a surprise attack on Seoul. The South eventually took control of the tunnel, blocking off the demarcation line with the North via concrete barricades.Although the Third Tunnel is now very much a tourist site (there’s even a gift shop near its entrance), it still remains guarded and taking photography is forbidden once inside. The tunnel passage is dark, long, and narrow, and it’s a steep incline to access it.More
#15
Dae Jang Geum Park (MBC Dramia)

Dae Jang Geum Park (MBC Dramia)

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Previously known as MBC Dramia, Yongin MBC Daejanggeum Park is owned by Munhwa Broadcasting Company (MBC) and Yongin Municipal Office. This outdoor historical film set covers a vast area. It opened to tourists and the general public to visit in 2011.Fans of Korean drama are in for a treat, as series such as Jumong, Dong Yi, Queen Seondeok, Goryeo, and many more dramas, documentaries, and films were shot here. The park features permanent sets that consist of ancient buildings and villages, with architecture imitating that from the Korean Three Kingdoms era. In fact, Daejanggeum Park was created based on historical records and so accurately reflects the buildings, villages, and culture of ancient times.There are of course plenty of photo opportunities here, with a number of different sets to explore. There’s also a coffee shop and snack bar on­site.More

Trip ideas

How to Choose a DMZ Tour

How to Choose a DMZ Tour

How to Spend 3 Days in Seoul

How to Spend 3 Days in Seoul

Top activities in South Korea

Full Day Small-Group Royal Palace and Seoul Tour
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Seoul City Private Full-Day Tour Including Lunch
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Private DMZ Peace Tour: 3rd Invasion Tunnel(Monorail) and Suspension Bridge
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Korean Cooking Class with Full-Course Meal & Local Market Tour in Seoul
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Jeju Island Private Taxi Tour : 2 Full days

Jeju Island Private Taxi Tour : 2 Full days

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Recent reviews from experiences in South Korea

star-5
Really great experience
Nicolas_J, Aug 2022
Korean DMZ Full-Day Tour including the War Memorial of Korea - No shopping
She is a wonderful english speaker and really nice as well !
star-5
Important sites to see in southern Korea
David_S, Aug 2022
Gyeongju city UNESCO sites full day Private tour
A great chance to see some of Korea's most important historical sites, some dating back to the 7th century.
star-5
Amazing cooking class
Haley_M, Aug 2022
Korean Cooking Class with Full-Course Meal & Local Market Tour in Seoul
Also, the air conditioning was strong, which was great for summer weather.
star-5
10/10!
Faatimah_J, Aug 2022
Korean DMZ Half-Day Tour from Seoul - No shopping
The tour departs very early in the morning, but returns around midday so you have the entire rest of the day to do other activities.
star-5
Cool trip
Maksim_F, Aug 2022
Best Half Day DMZ Tour from Seoul (No Forced Shopping)
It was so cool to see North Korea and its people through binoculars.
star-5
Fun day in Gyeongju
Daniel_S, Jul 2022
Private tour, 1Day Gyeongju city tour by KTX from Seoul-World Heritage Site
Was an easy trip on the KTX to and from Seoul and we got to see lots of fascinating Silla history.
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DMZ for a Day
Abigail_W, Jul 2022
Best Half Day DMZ Tour from Seoul (No Forced Shopping)
I went on this tour on a clear day with slight wind, allowing me to see the North Korean flag.
star-5
Excellent cultural tour
denniszaal, Jul 2022
Gyeongju UNESCO World Heritage Sites and History Full-Day Tour with Lunch
Very nice tour to see some culture and heritage of Korea.
star-5
Wonderful Korea!!
Brian_L, Jul 2022
Premium Private DMZ Tour & (Suspension Bridge or N-Tower) include lunch
He spoke great English.
star-5
Great experience. In...
Lorena_R, Jun 2022
Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Half-Day Tour from Seoul-No Shopping
Definitely if you come to South Korea you have to visit it.
star-5
Amazing place Amazing guide
Rossana_H, Apr 2022
Private DMZ Peace Tour: 3rd Invasion Tunnel(Monorail) and Suspension Bridge
I would 100% recommend this to all my family and friends planning to visit Korea
star-5
Best tour in Seoul!
LeeAnn_W, Aug 2022
Seoul Night "Private Tour"(Korean BBQ, N-Tower, Seoul Fortress, Local Market)
He knew how to get us into restaurants and attractions without a long wait.
star-5
Excellent and unforgettable experience!!!
Victoria_N, Aug 2022
Private Gyeongju tour including Seokguram, Bulguksa and Tomb park from Busan
The sights and history of Korea along with Jade’s fluency in English enhanced our tour.
star-5
A Blazing Tour!!
Diana_B, Jul 2022
Seoul City Private Full-Day Tour Including Lunch
Also, even though she had assumed that our trip to Namsan Tower would only last a few minutes, we spent close to an hour in the tower and she was unfazed and happy to see us enjoying!!!
star-5
signed up for this tour to get historic sites, and I got so much more. Helped rest of Korean trip!
Taylor_W, Jul 2022
Korean Palace and Market Tour in Seoul Including Insadong and Gyeongbokgung Palace
It happened to rain all throughout, but the sites were still so cool to see and never felt too rushed.
star-5
Patients with enlarged prostate can book any tour thtough Viator
HoYam_C, Jul 2022
Private Tour Nami Island with Petite France or The Garden of Morning Calm
It is usually difficult to find washroom especially at tourist attractions worldwide.
star-5
Highly recommended Tour
David_K, Jul 2022
Seoul Night "Private Tour"(Korean BBQ, N-Tower, Seoul Fortress, Local Market)
The tour covered a lot of the place we wanted to see and more.
star-5
Excellent Service
Bernadette_L, Jul 2022
Make Your Trip Around Nami Island With a Photographer Tourguide!!
We are thankful for the list of recommendations he has given us regarding the places to visit in Busan and Seoul.
star-4
Great for look back on history
sherry_m, Jun 2022
Korean DMZ Half-Day Tour from Seoul - No shopping
The day we went, we were able to see the North Korean flag through the telescope but we were not able to observe any guards on either side.
star-5
Great private tour & wonderful guide! Highly recommend for a thoughtful and curated trip!
Luxi_P, May 2022
Fully Customizable Private Tour of Jeju Island
We ended up doing Hallim Park, Osulloc tea plantation, and Jeongbang and Cheonjiyeon waterfalls.
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