A travel guide to South Korea – Kiwi.com

A travel guide to South Korea – Kiwi.com

Here’s our manual to Seoul and the provinces of South Korea. Discover the food, customs, dos and don’ts, how to vacation all-around the country, where to keep, and the greatest time of yr to take a look at. No matter if you’re a backpacker, town lover, or a solo traveler on a budget, here’s anything you have to have to know

South Korea has develop into 1 of the leading destinations for vacationers to Asia in the previous decade or so. It’s not as expensive as, say, Japan, but it’s also not someplace you can stay on a several pennies each working day. It is fantastic for solo vacationers and its dimension usually means you can see a lot in a reasonably small continue to be.

There are four unique seasons as perfectly, so when you go suggests very distinctive encounters. Spring (March — May perhaps) is vivid and blooming, with pink cherry blossom all all over. Summer months (June — August) is superior for climbing in the higher mountains, but scorching and humid reduced down, and fall (September — November) is warm more than enough to investigate away from the chaos of the cities. Winter season is incredibly chilly without a doubt, with snowboarding in the hills, but it also usually means there’s not considerably else likely on away from the metropolitan areas.

With all that in mind, let us get likely!


Woman walking down a busy shopping street in Seoul — ShutterstockSeoul could look manic and bewildering at initially, but it’s a area that’ll before long make you really feel at ease and encouraged — Shutterstock

Seoul is every thing South Korea: manic and bewildering at to start with, with customs and practices that appear to be intended to befuddle, but by currently being open up, truthful and welcoming, you will come across that Koreans are the exact same. Really don’t assume English to be spoken just about everywhere you go, but be amicable and you are going to get assist in return, irrespective of the language barrier.

It is obtaining its pop culture minute correct now, attracting more website visitors than at any time, and Seoul is as enjoyable and lively as any other main town, but has the unconventional edge of seamlessly threading the 21st century by means of the fabric of its previous. For each and every neon billboard, there are regular craft stalls and airy artwork galleries for each individual incongruous Irish bar, there’s a peaceful garden temple.

Stage again in time

Gyeongbokgung Palace — ShutterstockGyeongbokgung Palace — Shutterstock

You’ll just about surely be drawn to Gyeongbokgung Palace, relationship from 1395 and the largest of the 5 Grand Palaces created by the Joseon dynasty. Its 7,700 rooms ended up restored in the 19th century, and the palace is one particular of the country’s most beloved cultural treasures.

To see how the ordinary people today lived all around that time, you can visit Namsangol Hanok Village, a living museum that lets you to see how many strata of modern society lived and labored, from commoners to royalty. Each dwelling, from humble 1-place shack to stately household, is adorned as it would have been all through the classical Joseon era, and its scenic surroundings and tranquil atmosphere make this a amazing excursion back again in time. It’s closed on Tuesdays, but if not, the village is cost-free to enter.

Feeding on and singing: two of a Korean’s great pleasures

Bibimbap — ShutterstockBibimbap is hearty, colourful and quintessentially Korean — Shutterstock

If you are touring by itself, after you have expended the working day checking out, the ideal way to meet up with new individuals (and make a slight fool of your self in a very good-natured way) is karaoke. Koreans enjoy a bit of karaoke, and when the sun goes down, the neon-drenched streets of the Hongdae community host all-night sessions regarded as noraebang. Get some fried hen and a pair of beers down you, and sign up for the enjoyable!

For other delicious treats, you will pretty much absolutely face bibimbap (a rice pot with meat, veggies and egg), bulgogi (marinated barbecue beef), and the ubiquitous kimchi (spicy, pickled vegetable, just about generally cabbage). Bear in thoughts, that vegetarian dishes can be difficult to arrive by whilst greens, noodles and rice make up a large part of Korean delicacies, there will normally be meat provided. You could possibly want to brush up on your chopstick skills for plucking out what you do not want!

Even more afield

South Korea’s wonderful transport network, coupled with its somewhat small measurement, suggests there’s completely no justification not to cast your web broader. The train journey from Seoul to Busan (the northwest to the southeast), for instance, normally takes just beneath 3 hours, and there is a great deal to take a look at in this wealthy and intriguing nation.


Busan itself is the 2nd-premier town and the country’s biggest port. Densely designed in narrow valleys between mountain ridges and two rivers, the city operates down to the ocean, and spreads out together the coast and into the forest. It is also the country’s major summertime spot, with the city currently being home to six shorelines, such as Haeundae, backed with a curved boardwalk, and Gwangalli, bustling with cafes, bars and places to eat. The mountains that surround the town are great for climbing, with miles of trails by way of the woods, and regional conservation efforts are also vital: see the Daejeo Ecological Park and its hen sanctuary and river restoration job, for instance. 


83Tower in Daegu in the distance from Duryu Park — ShutterstockVibrant and forward-hunting, Daegu is a some thing of a magnet for college students and professionals — Shutterstock

The prepare that received you to Busan will probably have long gone via Daegu, property to all around 2.5 million men and women and one particular of the powerhouses of 20th century Korea. Right now, an appealing combination of cutting-edge engineering and style industries, coupled with robust Buddhist beliefs, make Daegu a bit of a magnet for foreign students, English instructors, cultural investigators, and other individuals looking for a fun, lively town that is it’s possible not as obvious as Seoul.


View over Hanok Village in Jeonju — ShutterstockThe rooftops of Hanok Village — Shutterstock

Jeonju, in the west of the nation, is regarded through Korea as getting the birthplace of two critical cultural touchpoints that we’ve beforehand outlined: the Joseon dynasty, and bibimbap. It somehow absorbs close to 10 million visitors a year, with most coming to see Hanok Village. Even though Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul is a residing museum, Jeonju’s case in point is an real village with residing, respiratory people, its 800 regular structures contrasting splendidly with the fashionable city created around it.

Peace and disquiet

Hanok in the Korean countryside — ShutterstockYou’ll have a better chance of lodging in a hanok if you branch out into the countryside — Shutterstock

The countryside in South Korea is just as well worth discovering as the metropolitan areas, and it will typically give you a entirely various check out on Korean lifestyle and hospitality as well. City stays are normally confined to your typical resorts, Airbnbs and the like, but in smaller locations, you may very well be capable to remain in a hanok, 1 of the traditional houses outlined higher than.

Hanoks are ordinarily wood framed homes, with curved, tiled roofs. Simple in style, with sliding doors, a mattress on the flooring for sleeping, and sometimes with heated flooring, they are atmospheric and calm, and several will occur with an night meal or traditional breakfast as section of the bundle.

Gyeongju and Panmunjom

The DMZ from the South Korean side — ShutterstockArguably one particular of the most serious locations on the world, the Demilitarized Zone provides a big quantity of tourism to both of those Koreas — Shutterstock

To continue stepping again in time — even even further than the Joseon dynasty — head to Gyeongju, historic money of the Kingdom of Silla (57 BCE – 935 CE). For a couple of generations it was the fourth largest metropolis in the planet, and is now referred to as a ‘museum without walls’. So how very best to see everything? Acquire component in a cycling tour connecting all the temples, palaces and other historic sights, led by a well-informed guidebook.

Lastly, for anything that feels unreal but even now casts a surreal cloud over the nation, pay a visit to Panmunjom. This is the site of the DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone, separating North and South Korea, a 4-kilometer strip of land surrounded by landmines, pillboxes, tank traps and troops. It serves as a a little bit stressing warning that you’re gazing across into North Korea, and when you head to the JSA (Joint Safety Area) and landmarks with names like the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the Liberty Home, and the Bridge of No Return, it brings household the fact that this isn’t just playing at soldiers.

To pay a visit to the DMZ, you have to go as portion of a tour, and kids beneath the age of 12 are not allowed. If you want to cross the Military Demarcation Line (the actual border), you have to signal a waiver accepting that you’re mindful you are coming into a hostile space, and that enemy action could end result in damage or death. You are going to technically be in North Korea and, though the waiver seems frightening, it is very performative: the border acts as a demonstration of peace in between the two nations, and tours are inspired as each heritage lessons and as a boost to the overall economy.

Magical mother nature

View over Jeju island beach — ShutterstockJeju Island was birthed by a solitary volcanic eruption — Shutterstock

Jeju was fashioned by a single volcanic explosion all around two million years in the past, and its mighty caldera can be viewed from rather significantly just about everywhere on the island. Legend has it that it was dwelling to a race of demi-gods, but they are obviously lengthy long gone, and the island is now devoted to tourism. Certainly, it was so occupied in the late 90s that seashore pollution became a significant challenge. Spurred into motion, the island’s authorities is pushing for the whole put to be carbon-neutral by 2030, and close to 50 {ed4a5fd24114d7ae6500c97fa7652b3915c7d898a0860a9d70161be4f9c5b00d} of the electrical vehicles registered in South Korea are on Jeju.

It’s a mecca for surfers and beach front bums, and is also property to a few Unesco Environment Heritage Websites. Climb the mountains, investigate the lava tube caves, and bathe less than clear, blue waterfalls in the forest lakes. It is a excellent locale for island cuisine also, with beach bars serving freshly caught, barbecued seafood.

In any other case, test Suncheon Bay, all-around 4-5 hrs south of Seoul. The town of Suncheon is one more eco-desired destination, and the Bay is residence to wetlands that house all over 140 species of chook. Huge fields of reeds and meandering water make the complete put a splendidly peaceful scene, and to come across out a bit more about the science driving the reserve, there’s an excellent museum.

The close by Suncheon Bay Nationwide Yard is a enormous landscaped location involving versions of gardens from other countries, which include Thailand, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Turkey, the British isles and far more. It also has wild regions to assist the insect population, and a vast community of pathways, bridges and picket walkways to enable you get close to. It is not likely you can see it all in one particular day. Also in the Suncheon location is Seonamsa, a attractive Buddhist temple and hermitage, once again with massive gardens in which to basically wander and ponder.

South Korea is packed with factors like these. Destinations you’ve in all probability hardly ever heard of, but which are abundant, magical, and not to be missed. For these types of a compact country, there’s so substantially to do and see, so approach your excursion to see a little bit of everything… just before coming back with Kiwi.com again to see a little bit a lot more!

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Genie Mathena

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