Things to do in South Korea
Busan - explore the Mount Yongdi Park and stunning views from Busan Tower
Originally just populated with pine trees the Mt Yongdu Park now consists of more than 70 different species of tree and offers excellent hiking opportunities. For even more amazing views of the region take a trip up the 120m Busan Tower and look out over the park and surrounding areas. The name Yongdu in Korean means dragon and from a distance the hill can been seen to be similar to a dragon’s head.
Daegu - tour the UNESCO World Heritage Haeinsa Temple
Korea is filled with hundreds of historical temples but one of the most important of these is the Haeinsa Temple in Daegu which in addition to being one of the oldest temples started in 1236 and still standing is the home to the Tripataka Koreana Woodenblocks. These are a historical pictorial of the repulsing of the Mongolian army and are made up of 81,340 different blocks of painting and lacquer. Take time to view these ancient wonders as well as over 200 other historical treasures housed at the museum.
Incheon - enjoy the views from Jayu (Freedom) Park
Jayu Park has something to offer everyone with great views across the harbor and city as well as hundreds of sculptures and statues. Named “Freedom Park” after the Korean War the statues include one of General MacArthur. This is a great place to come at sunset and see the sun reflect off the water turning everything a glowing red colour. The park also hosts Korea’s first observatory and has numerous dining opportunities.
Incheon - take a drive to Wolmido Island
Shaped like a half moon the island of Wolmido is a popular weekend spot for locals due to its proximity to Seoul. There is plenty to do here with over 50 different seafood restaurants serving local produce as well as numerous street performers entertaining passers by. There is also a local theme park with some great rides and if you have the time take a boat cruise around the island.
Jeju - enter the Manjang Cave
There are over 80 caves in Jeju and the largest of these is the Manjangul, cave once thought to be the largest cave in the world at over 8,928 km long. It is filled with volcanic sculptures formed when hot lava cooled as well as beautiful limestone stalagmites. The cave is also home to over 37 species of bat as well as other cave dwelling animals. The cave is open 9.00 – 18.00 from March to October and 9.00 – 17.00 from November to February
Jeju - See the Jeongbang Falls and enjoy the views
The Jeongbang Waterfall is one of 3 waterfalls to be found on Jeju Island and is a popular tourist attraction. The waterfall is 23m high and is one of the few waterfalls in Asia that fall directly in to the ocean. Access to the waterfall is possible everyday from 07.30 – 19.00 in the summer and 07.30 – 17.30 in the winter. There are also great views from the cliffs overlooking the sea and nearby islands
Seoul - admire the night time view of the N Seoul Tower
To truly see the beauty of Seoul take a trip to the top of the N Seoul Tower, formerly the Namsan Tower, and spend time on the observation deck taking in the views. At night time these are stunning with the lights of the city making amazing patterns down below. Combine a trip up the tower with lunch or dinner in one of the 3 dining opportunities that are in the tower. During the day also spend time in the botanical gardens at the bottom of the tower.
Seoul - discover the works of art and gardens of Gyeongbokgung Palace
The Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of the palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty in 1394 and then rebuilt in 1867. Much of the Palace was destroyed in WWII and is slowly being restored. The Palace consists of a series of gates, inner and outer courts and central buildings, many of which are open to the public for viewing. The site is filled with paintings and sculptures depicting the history of the royal family and the dragons that were thought to represent them
Seoul - explore the shops, houses, galleries and cafes of Samcheong Dong
For a real taste of Korean history take a tour around Samcheong Dong and see the houses built in traditional style set in the middle of a bustling city as well as the numerous coffee shops and cafes that the area offers. This is also a center for local artists so take an opportunity to pick up a piece of Korean culture.
Suwon - visit the 18th Century UNESCO World Heritage Hwaseong Fortress
Hwaseong Fortress was named as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1997, 200 years after it was finished in 1796. Its walls are 6 km long with 4 different gates offering plenty of access in and out for defenders. The fortress also had a number of unique defensive measures that cannot be found anywhere else in Korea and many of these are still on view today. There are also traditional Korean performances every Saturday afternoon between March and November.
Introduction to South Korea
A stark contrast of dynamic cities, bustling ports and mountain scenery, the fiercely independent South Korea has been welcoming East Asian tourists for a number of years. Westerners visiting the country on holiday are much rarer, but those that do choose to come here will be delighted with the wide range of tourist destinations. Most visitors begin their trip in the capital, Seoul, a sprawling city of 10 million people. A number of excellent South Korea hotels make it a good place to you're your bearings. It's not all traffic jams and pollution; there are parks, mountains and excellent local cuisine. Heading east, the Gangwon and North Chungcheon regions are notable for their natural attractions, such as mountainous national parks where skiing is possible. South of Gangwon, the North Gyeongsang region is South Korea's spiritual heart, where Confucian and Buddhist sites offer insight into the country's religious beliefs. South Gyeongsang is home to the second-largest city in the country, Busan, a busy south coast port that is better known among tourists for its beaches and hot springs.