20 UNIQUE KOREA TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Here’s a list of the most amazingly unique Korean attractions that you’ll absolutely want to add to your South Korea bucket list.

From dressing up in traditional hanbok clothes and visiting hanok houses, to sitting down with some ramyeon noodles and watching the cherry blossoms, there are many amazing places to spend your time in Korea.

So let’s find out about these wonderful places together!!


Index


1. SEOUL TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

1-1. N SEOUL TOWER

N SEOUL TOWER

The N Seoul Tower is an iconic location in Seoul, viewable from all around thanks to its location on top of Namsan Mountain in central Seoul.

The original date spot in Seoul, this is is a hit with locals and tourists alike and features millions of love locks left by romantic couples from all over the world.

You can get to the N Seoul Tower on foot, hiking up the small hill, but the best way is by the cable car.

Once you’re at the top, head to the observatory for lovely 360 degree views of Seoul, including the mountains of Bukhansan National Park.

There are lots of shops, restaurants, and attractions at the N Seoul Tower, too, making this a fun place to explore for an evening.


1-2. ROYAL PALACES IN SEOUL

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace

There are 5 beautifully preserved / restored palaces for you to explore in central Seoul where you can peek into ancient throne rooms, walk through picturesque gardens, and experience the life of an emperor or empress.

The 5 Royal Palaces in Seoul are Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, and Gyeonghuigung.

Gyeongbokgung is the oldest and largest of the temples and one of the most incredible Landmarks In Asia that you should definitely check out.

I personally recommend Changdeokgung as it’s equally impressive but also includes The Secret Garden – a beautifully preserved royal garden which only a select few can see each day (bookings needed).


1-3. SEOUL SKY(LOTTE WORLD TOWER)

SEOUL SKY TOWER

The best place to see Seoul is from the Seoul Sky Observatory on the 120th floor of the Lotte World Tower.

The Lotte World Tower, the world’s 6th largest building, stands like a diamond finger pointing up into the heavens in the centre of Seoul.

Spread over 7 floors, from the 117th to 123rd floor, there are lots of things to do here.

Are you brave enough to take a selfie on the glass floor?

Or even braver to take a walk outside the tower on the Sky Bridge? Certainly not for the faint hearted!


1-4. BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE

BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE

Bukchon Hanok Village is a little piece of history tucked away in central Seoul, between two royal palaces.

It’s the perfect place to see traditional style Korean houses – hanok.

The area is packed with beautifully preserved hanok buildings where you can pose for pictures, pop your head inside, explore small galleries, sit and enjoy some Korean tea, and lots more.

You’ll probably recognise this area if you’ve seen pictures of Seoul, it’s one of the best places to see traditional Korean buildings, and you get an awesome view of the N Seoul Tower, royal palaces, and Myeongdong as a background.

This should really be on your South Korea bucket list if it’s your first time to Seoul and don’t forget to rent some hanbok when you visit, too.


1-5. CHEONGGYECHEON STREAM

CHEONGGYECHEON STREAM

Another great place to escape the summer heat and enjoy something uniquely Korean, is a trip to the Cheonggyecheon Stream in central Seoul.

The Cheonggyecheon Stream was created as a place for gathering, harmony, peace, and unity, giving Seoulites a place to come and cool off in the summer heat and to walk together away from the concrete jungle.

For tourists, this is a wonderful chance to experience the light and lantern festivals that often occur along the stream, as well as take a break to hop over the stepping stones and get some colourful photos.

The start area, Cheonggye Plaza, usually has events for tourists, including hands-on activities to learn about Korean culture and history.


1-6. TONGIN FOOD MARKET

TONGIN FOOD MARKET

I love the food at traditional Korean markets and the food at Tongin Food Market is no exception.

Unlike regular markets, Tongin Food Market has one big difference – you can mix and match your own doshirak.

Doshirak are traditional Korean lunch boxes that typically come with a selection of different foods inside, such as rice, fish, meat, veg, or other side dishes.

For a set fee, you’ll get the lunch box and some golden coins you can use to purchase whatever you want from the market.

Tongin Food Market has dozens of stalls inside, so its best to wander around for a while and choose whatever looks best to you.

I’d recommend the mandu (dumplings), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and kocchi (skewered snacks).

Visit with some friends so you can each try a bit from every stall and experience the most delectable market foods.


Hongdae

Hongdae is arguably the coolest place in Seoul and for many good reasons.

Home to big name fashion & discount stores, award winning restaurants, nightclubs, cute cafes, escape rooms, activity cafes, art galleries, and so, so so much more, you can visit Hongdae many times over and never get bored.

My favourite spots (to show tourists) are the Thanks Nature Sheep Cafe, Bau House Dog Cafe, VR & arcade game buildings, Kakao Friends Store, the many wonderful restaurants & craft beer bars, and the stores near Hongik University subway station.

One of the top unique Korean experiences for art lovers, students, and bargain hunters.

If you’re after bargain clothes, snacks, souvenirs, or accessories to take home, Hongdae is the place for you.

If you’re planning to visit Korea, I definitely recommend staying in Hongdae.

It’s a great place to explore local Korean culture.


1-8. FASHION MARKETS(DONGDAEMUN)

SEOUL’S FASHION MARKETS Dongdaemun

Shopaholics looking for the best bargains have so many options available to them in Seoul’s Fashion Markets.


There is a wide range of discounted goods, with everything from knock-off Supreme sweatshirts to bargain brand names and lots more.


Some of the best areas to explore Seoul’s fashion markets are Namdaemun, Myeongdong, and Dongdaemun, which all have large traditional markets.

Dongdaemun is the best for clothing and also features wholesalers who can ship internationally, as well as department stores and shopping centres.


Wherever you go, make sure to bargain and get the best deals. If you need an extra suitcase to bring it all back in, you can buy those, too.


1-9. HAN RIVER

HAN RIVER

Summer In Korea is hot and although it’s not the best time to visit, there are some incredible unique Korean experiences you can discover at this time.

The one enjoyed by many Seoulites (and me) is heading to the Han River, grabbing a cold beer and some ramyeon noodles, and taking in the riverside culture that springs up in summer – boarders, musicians, markets, games, and more.

Go to Yeouinaru Station and head to the Han River and you’ll find shops selling various flavours of ramyeon with automatic cookers that will prepare everything for you at the touch of a button.

Grab a can of Cass, find a table or spot of grass, and enjoy. You can even rent a tent and make an afternoon of it, watching the sun set and the many lights of Seoul spark on.

Also you can take a cruise along the broad Han River in Seoul and watch the sunset while the city starts to shine.

The river is the perfect places to see the sights of Seoul. You can see the N Seoul Tower, the Olympic Stadium, and the famous Yanghwa Bridge.

You’ll pass by many bridges along the way, but one is more magical than the rest – the Banpo Rainbow Bridge.

This bridge was installed with a full spectrum of colourful lights that shine down through jets of water.

This creates a stunning rainbow waterfall on the north side of the bridge.

The lights are turned on between April and October.


2. TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE SEOUL

2-1. See The Most Dangerous Border at the DMZ

DMZ TOUR

South Korea and North Korea are technically still at war, despite recent attempts to finally bring peace to the peninsula.

Separating these two countries, and dividing the Korean people, is the De-militarised Zone (AKA the DMZ), lined with landmines, outposts, and thousands of soldiers.

Fortunately, it’s not that dangerous most of the time, which means you can go and see it for yourself while travelling to Seoul.

DMZ tours will take you to several famous sights from the ongoing Korean war, as well as allow you to access the Panmunjom ‘Peace Village’ – an area on the border between the north and south.

In Panmunjom you can have what is undeniably a unique Korean experience – you can walk into North Korea and pose with Korean soldiers from both sides.


2-2. Immerse Yourself In Nature At Nami Island

Nami Island

A short journey from Seoul, Nami Island is a natural wonder that’s amazing year round and has many beautiful attractions to discover.

See the giant metasequoia, golden ginkgo trees, as well as cherry blossoms, pines, and many other natural wonders.

Explore the many tree-lined paths, one of which was a filming location for the hit Korean drama Winter Sonata.

There are also traditional markets, cultural performances and local foods to try.

Nami Island is the perfect getaway for families, couples, and those looking for some tranquil peace. Nami Island caters for the adventurous, too.

You can enter the park on the Nami Island zip line and there are other water-sports nearby.

Getting to Nami Island is easy, with public transport or tour options available.


2-3. Try Korean Green Tea At The Boseong Green Tea Fields

 Boseong Green Tea Fields

The Boseong Green Tea Fields near Gwangju is the biggest plantation in Korea and setup to welcome curious tourists who wish to learn more about this delicious drink.

The sight of row upon row of fresh, bright tea leaves just waiting to be picked and drowned in hot water is incredible and like a postcard picture. Spend your time walking around the green tea bushes set on the side of lush hills where you might even be able to see the sea on a sunny day.

Other attractions, besides drinking lots of tea, include the Korean Tea Culture Park, the Tea Museum of Korea, and, of course, the gift shop. Korean green tea is refreshing, healthy, and one of the unique Korean experiences you can take home and share with friends and family.

If you’re visiting Jeju Island, you can also see green tea plantations at the O’Sulloc Tea Museum and Green Tea Fields.


2-4. Rule The Walls Of Hwaseong Fortress In Suwon

Walls Of Hwaseong Fortress In Suwon

Korea has a history of conflict, with many walls and fortresses needed to protect Korea from their neighbours or factions within the country.

One of the best fortress that remains standing if the magnificent Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon.

This fortress allows you to hike the 6km of walls in a big circuit that cuts through the city, explore the many fortress buildings, and try traditional Korean sports and games, such as archery.

This is one of Korea’s UNESCO World Heritage sights and is definitely worth a day trip from Seoul.

There are also beautiful gardens, cosy cafes, and markets near the fortress, as well as the famous Suwon Fried Chicken Street for Korea’s best chicken.


2-5. Find Thrills In Everland & Caribbean Bay Theme Parks

Korea’s answer to Disney Land or Universal Studios is the thrilling Everland and Caribbean Bay. These are a must for any thrill seeker’s South Korean bucket list.

everland

Everland is Korea’s largest theme park and boasts the world’s steepest roller coaster. This sends you hurtling down to the ground at an angle of 77 degrees and at 104 km/h! Great for thrill seekers, families, couples looking to create some unforgettable memories, and even animal lovers.

Caribbean Bay in korea

Caribbean Bay is one of the world’s largest water parks. With loads of rides, this is the best place to have fun and cool off in summer. Some of the best rides at Caribbean Bay include the Mega Storm, Aqua Loop, and the Tower Raft. Caribbean Bay also features an indoor infant pool, sauna, spa, diving pool, and many types of swimming pools.


2-6. Catch Your Lunch At The Hwacheon Ice Festival

Hwacheon Ice Festival

Running for most of January each year, the Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival is arguably the best Winter Festival In Korea. During this time you can take part in various winter activities, including ice fishing for sancheoneo (mountain trout), tubing on a giant ice slide, grabbing fish with your bare hands, and even ice sledding.

Those who don’t mind the cold water can join in the barehanded fish catching contest. Catch the one with the golden ring attached and you can win the grand prize! If you’re not really into fish, then check out the ice sculptures, snow sculptures, light displays, and festival food on offer throughout the village. There are several other ice fishing festivals and these unique Korean experiences provide a perfect winter activity to enjoy the snow.


2-7. Explore Jeju Island: A True Wonder Of Nature

Jeju Island

One of Korea’s most famous tourist attractions, and labelled as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, Jeju Island has an impressive array of natural environments to explore – from beaches to volcanoes, lava tubes, tea plantations and millions of beautiful flowers. This is one of my personal favourites of these unique Korean experiences and I never get bored of visiting this island paradise.

The most attention-grabbing feature is Hallasan, the gigantic volcano in the centre of the island that created Jeju, visible from most places on the island. Although not active, you can climb up to the top of the mountain and look at the crater lakes. You can hike to the top and back within a day.

Not only this, there are a few big cities and a tonne of weird and wacky museums to check out (even 2 ‘love’ museums!). If you’re looking for unique Jeju Island goods, make sure to sample the Jeju ‘black pig’ Korean BBQ, the hallabong oranges (juicy and fresh), and see the dol hareubang – ancient island statues made by the local people.


2-8. Experience Traditional Culture At The Jeonju Hanok Village

Jeonju Hanok Village

Jeonju Hanok Village in central Jeonju beautifully demonstrates life in a traditional Korean setting, with hundreds of hanok (traditional Korean) buildings, shops, cultural experiences, and delicious traditional foods – including Jeonju’s own famous dish, bibimbap. It’s one of those unique Korean experiences that shows you how people used to live, play, eat, and enjoy life.

It’s certainly not a museum, however. You get to be part of the experience, joining in traditional activities at the Jeonju Crafts Exhibition Hall, playing Korean games, dressing up in traditional Korean hanbok, and sitting on the smooth wooden floors of the hanok buildings whilst you eat. You can even stay overnight and see how people used to (and still do) sleep on the floor with futons and underground heating.


2-9. Get Muddy At The Boryeong Mud Festival

Boryeong Mud Festival

Don’t mind getting dirty or want to put on an all-body mud pack? Then the Boryeong Mud Festival is the place for you. This festival is one of the wildest in Korea and attracts the largest number of foreign visitors. Running throughout the second half of July, the cool mud is a great way to escape the Korean summer heat.

There are a wide range of activities on offer, including mud face painting, mud beauty products, and the Mudflat Games. The Mudflat Games are what make this festival so unique, with mud wrestling, mud football, and even a mud marathon to compete in.

After spending a busy day in the mud, why not sample some fresh hoe (raw fish) and watch the sparkling sun set into the calm ocean. Spectacular views, good food, healthy mud, and lots of fun – this festival should be high on your South Korean bucket list.


2-10. Sample Fresh Seafood At Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan

Jagalchi Fish Market

Jagalchi Fish Market, located in downtown Busan, is stinky, messy, and packed full of weird looking sea creatures, but also an experience that shouldn’t be missed when you’re in Busan. The thought of seeing millions of wriggling sea creatures might seem a bit strange to most people, but once you start walking around the busy stalls, you’ll find yourself enthralled with the many different types of fish and seafood on offer.

The good news for the curious travellers is that you can try many of the freshly caught seafood offerings. Make your purchases from the open markets on the first floor, then wait as they’re cooked (or served raw) for you on the second floor. Even if you don’t like seafood, this place is still worth checking out for one of those really unique Korean experiences. Keep an eye out for the active market sellers and walk around to find the best bargains.


2-11. Gamcheon Culture Village In Busan

Gamcheon Culture Village In Busan

Known as the Machu Picchu of Korea, Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan is high on all photographers’ bucket lists.

See hundreds of colourful buildings on the slopes of these coastal hills, as well as murals and sculptures created by local residents.

A lot of the art makes use of boring parts of the local landscape and turns them into Instagram-worthy locales.

You can follow the regular street maps, which will show you where to collect stamps along the way.

Or get lost in amongst the winding streets, up and down painted stairway murals.

There are even cosy little cafes hidden around the place to recover in.

For the best experience, enter via the northern entrance and you’ll find a lot of the most famous sites, including art from The Little Prince, love locks, sock shops, the Library Stairs, and others.


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