Are you a hodophile? Today, why don’t we hop in for an adventure in these beautiful and jaw-dropping tourist attractions in South Korea. In addition, we will also learn some useful Korean words to help you sound like a local in case you visit the country soon. If you are ready for that, then let’s get started!
Have you been to South Korea? 한국에 가본 적이 있습니까? (Hanguge gabon jeogi itseumnikka?) If you’re an avid Korean culture fan, it’s impossible that you have never dreamed about going there. South Korea is truly a gem of East Asia, from historic sites and tourist attractions down to K-drama filming locations. Who wouldn’t fall in love with beautiful cherry blossoms on Nami Island or the natural scenery in national parks? Who wouldn’t be amazed at historical sites with fascinating history?
So now, we will walk you through some tourist attractions in South Korea that international visitors want to see. These tourist attractions will truly reveal South Korea’s scenic beauty.
South Korea’s Tourist Attractions
Aside from cosmetic and skincare products, K-dramas, and the K-pop industry, South Korea is also known for its high-tech cities, breathtaking sceneries, sub-tropical islands, and historical sites. It is a country with high contrasting attractions ranging from temples, palaces, mountains, and extremely modern skyscrapers. Even just for half a day, you can really have an amazing trip and adventure in South Korea. There are a lot of wonderful places to visit in this East Asian country, and that is what we are going to discover now. So, fasten your seatbelt because this will be going to be a long journey.
1. North And South Korea Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
Korean: 한반도 비무장 지대 (Hanbando Bimujang Jidae)
Remember the heartbreaking scene of Se-ri and Captain Ri that happened in this place? Well, every “Crash Landing On You” fan will never forget about this place in South Korea. Just like in this K-drama, South Korea, and North Korea are still at war. So, the first must-visit attraction in South Korea that we will discuss is the DMZ.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a no-man’s land border between the two Korean nations. The Korean Armistice Agreement determined the border strip between each country at the end of the Korean Wars. It is also formerly known as Joint Security Area (JSA).
The DMZ is heavily guided by military personnel, but tourists can still visit through an official and guided tour. This tour will let you see some fascinating things like the 3rd tunnel dug by North Koreans for invasions and the Dora Observatory, where you can take a glimpse of North Korea.
2. Changdeokgung Palace
Korean: 창덕궁인정문 (Changdeokgunginjeongmun)
The Changdeokgung Palace is one of the must-visit tourist attractions in South Korea that tourists shouldn’t miss. It is one of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon era. It is also the second royal residence.
The palace boasts an amazing view of nature, but this palace is more than just the principal residence of the royals. Hides beneath this beautiful palace are the Huwon Secret Garden. It is called a secret garden because no one but the royals can enter without permission. This garden will give you a majestic view of trees, plants, rivers, and lotus ponds.
3. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Korean: 경복궁 (Gyeongbokkung)
History and resilience. These might be some of the best words you can associate with Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is the place where the royal family lived, and in fact, it was always the preferred residence of the royal. This palace was built during the early times of the Joseon dynasty.
This palace built in 1395 during the Joseon dynasty has gone through an incredible state of great disturbance. It was destroyed, bombed, occupied by the Japanese, rebuilt many times, but it is still standing strong after being restored. If only the walls of pillars of this palace could talk, they would share a lot about Korean history.
4. Gwanghwamun Gate
Korean: 광화문 (Gwanghwamun)
This tourist attraction was originally built with the Gyeongbokgung Palace in the 15th century. It is the main gate of this palace. This giant gate has also been destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times over the years, but it remains one of the most iconic structures in South Korea, especially Seoul. It is one of the most popular filming locations of K-dramas. If you happen to visit Gwanghwamun Gate, make sure to watch the Changing of Guards Ceremony that has been performed since 1469.
5. Hwaseong Fortress
Korean: 화성 (Hwaseong)
The Hwaseong Fortress is also one of the historical tourist attractions in South Korea. This fortress surrounds the town of Suwon with imposing stone walls and archways, which hide a lot of battle scars from the past. It was built between 1794 and 1796 by King Jeongko to honor his father. King Jeongko’s father had a horrible death under his grandfather’s hand. From this, we can say that this fortress is truly a statement of South Korea’s rich history and culture. Because of its capturing beauty, it became a UNESCO world heritage site.
Featuring a majestic palace, fortress walls, pagoda-style gates, and artillery towers, Hwaseong Fortress is a paradise for South Koreans. If you’re planning to visit this tourist attraction, it is better to do it during the autumn season when they celebrate the Suwan Hwaseng Cultural Festival. Enjoy their cultural exhibits and events and some of the historical reenactments also.
6. Bulguksa Temple (Gyeongju)
Korean: 불국사 (Bulguksa)
Being the ancient capital city of the Shilla Kingdom, Gyeongju has a massive collection of historical tourist attractions in South Korea. One of these attractions is the Bulguksa Temple. It is a UNESCO-listed heritage site that was built in 528. Like the other historic sites, this temple has also gone through many renovations throughout its history.
This temple will amaze you in its buildings with intricate carvings and some of South Korea’s most valuable treasures. Since there is so much history to unravel, it is better to bring a knowledgeable tour guide with you to make your trip meaningful and worth it.
7. Namsan Seoul Tower/ N Seoul Tower
Korean: 남산서울타워 (Namsanseoultawo)
This is exactly the tower where Jan Di and Jun Pyo in “Boys Over Flowers” had their first date. Remember how they were trapped in a cable car? Well, you don’t exactly have to be a K-drama fan to recognize this tower. It is one of the most iconic towers in Seoul.
Namsan Seoul Tower is indeed one of the must-visit tourist attractions in South Korea. You can never leave this country without visiting this 500-meter above sea level tower. With this height, you can completely see the city below. It’s near Mount Namsan, which will give you a great view. When you’re on top of the tower, you can enjoy the indoor and outdoor viewing decks, restaurants, a cable car, and more. This tower also illuminates when the night strikes, especially during seasonal light shows.
8. Lotte World
Korean: 롯데월드 (Rottewoldeu)
One of the most heartbreaking scenes in K-drama today is the breakup scenes of Choi Woong (Choi Woo-shik) and Kook Yeon-soo (Kim Da-mi) in the hit K-drama series “Our Beloved Summer.” One of these breakup scenes happened in one amusement park called the Lotte World.
Aside from the historical sites, South Korea also has a lot of ultra-modern tourist attractions. One of them is the Lotte World. This amusement park can be found in the middle of downtown Seoul and is based on the Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in South Korea. The Lotte World Tower also offers a great view from its multiple observation areas. Visitors can also shop, dine, and have a great experience in a luxury hotel.
This theme park is perfect for having fun times with your family, friends, and partners. Both adults and children can enjoy this because a hotel folk museum features traditional performances, movie theaters, and more.
9. Jeju Island
Korean: 제주도 (Jejudo)
One of South Korea is known for is its skincare products. When we talk about skin care products, there’s one that will always be associated with – Jeju Island. This volcanic island is one of the most beautiful places and tourist attractions in South Korea. To give you an idea of how beautiful it is, go back to the K-dramas “The Legend of the Blue Sea,” “Secret Garden,” “Boys Over Flowers,” and “Squid Game.”
Jeju Island is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in South Korea because of its incredible beauty. It is the home of Hallasan, a shield volcano, and is considered the highest mountain in South Korea. Jeju Island is interesting for tourists is the volcanic mountains and lava tubes. It is called “Korea’s Hawaii.” This island is also known as the “Island of the Gods.” This appellation came from the legend that demi-gods once lived on this island.
10. Jeonju Hanok Village
Korean: 전북 전주 한옥마을 (Jeonbuk Jeonju Hanokmaeul )
The city of Jeonju is one of the most visited cities in South Korea, along with Seoul and Busan. It is one of the most loved tourist attractions in South Korea because of the hanoks or traditional Korean houses. The Hanok Village managed to maintain its cultural values and traditional shape even if the city of Jeonju is already highly industrialized.
One of the best things that you can enjoy in this city that you can’t get from the major cities of South Korea is a slow life as if time has stopped. Life is simple; that’s why it is also known as the “slow city.”
There are many things you can do when you’re in Jeonju Hanok Village. If you take pictures, why not wear a hanbok (traditional Korean clothes) since you’re in a traditional village? Jeonju may not have the grandest skyscrapers and high-tech buildings, but it’s the home for traditional Korean cuisine. What’s more interesting is Jeonju is where the traditional Korean food bibimbap originated. So, it’s a sin not to eat Bibimbap when you get there. Other fun stuff to do is take a tour of local historical sites and spend a night in hanok houses.
11. Bukchon Hanok Village
Another village in South Korea where you can have a fantastic view and experience of traditional Korean houses is the Bukchon Hanok Village. This is one of the most historical and important tourist attractions in South Korea because this is where the government officials and relatives of the royal family live.
Hanok villages like Bukchon Hanok Village are significant in Korean culture because they preserved the ancient culture. The traditional Korean houses located there are either privately owned by real residents or rented to enjoy the experience. These living museums like Bukchon Hanok Village will take visitors back to ancient Korea about 600 years ago.
12. Namiseom Island/Nami Island
Korean: 남이섬 종합휴양지 (Namiseom Jonghaphyuyangji)
Calling all Winter Sonata fans out there! You have seen Nami Island a couple of times for K-drama fans, but for OG fans, it’s Winter Sonata that made it so popular worldwide. Nami Island is one of the most unforgettable tourist attractions in South Korea. It was named after the famous general buried in that place in the 17th century.
This half-moon-shaped island located in the province of Gangwon is best known for its autumn foliage. You can just spend your time walking on the walking trails or riding a bike. Walking in the different lanes will make you feel closer to nature. The Central Korean Pine Tree Lane, Ginkgo Tree Lane, and Metasequoia Lane are there. You can also stroll in the woods and riverside paths located in the Southern part of the island. Aside from the surreal scenery, you can also try to enjoy their pan-fried rice cake.
Who would forget the hit Korean action horror film Train to Busan? This movie will make you feel tense and scared, but I want you to know that Busan is far from being that scary. Busan is the 2nd largest city in South Korea, and it’s known for many different reasons. It is a large port city. It is also known for its mountains, temples, and beaches. It is a gem of South Korea.
One of the most notable tourist attractions in South Korea located in Busan is the Gamcheon Cultural Village. This village has a really interesting story because it used to be a slum or a home of the refugees from the Korean war. But, after different government agencies redeveloped it, it became a tourist attraction. From then, it became the artistic hub where artists could go there and freely express themselves in any form of art. The houses are so colorful, and you can feel the arts all around you.
14. Dadohaehaesang National Park
Korean: 다도해해상국립공원 금오도지구 (Dadohaehaesang gukripgong won geumodojigu)
To all nature lovers, this is one of the tourist attractions in South Korea that you will enjoy. The Dadohaehaesang National Park is the largest national park in South Korea. It covers almost 1,700 islands along the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula.
This heaven on earth offers an amazing combination of mountains, beaches, islands, and forests. It’s blessed with both land and water attractions that visitors can enjoy. Dadohaehaesang National Park is a perfect place to go because of its versatility to visitors.
Every type of tourist can enjoy this place whether they come to relax, take a vacation, or experience a thrilling adventure. You can go hiking or mountain climbing and enjoy the view of the sea from the top. The hiking trails will give you an extra dose of adventure, which will make your trip memorable.
If you just want to relax, you can just swim in the clear waters and explore the virgin islands. Since the climate is humid during summer, flora & fauna are in abundance. For animal lovers, there are lots of species that can be found, ranging from mammals, birds, reptiles, freshwater fish, and ocean water fish.
The diversity of Dadohaehaesang National Park makes it one of the best tourist spots in South Korea. For a fun-filled and relaxing travel experience, going to Dadohaehaesang National Park is a no-brainer.
15. Bukhansan National Park
Korean: 북한산국립공원 (Bukhansan Gukripgong Won)
Finding a national park within a city is very rare; that’s why Bukhansan National Park is one of the most visited tourist attractions in South Korea. Because metropolitan areas surround it, the national park is like an ecological island, so think of it as a green lung for the city. Since it’s located within the city, it is visited by around five million visitors each year; that’s why it’s listed as “Most Visited National Park per Unit Area” in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Bukhansan National Park is rich in historical, cultural, ecological treasures. This national park is truly a nature’s gem found in the city from the mountaintops, maple leaves, streams, and temples. There are lots of hiking trails and three granite peaks to climb. From there, you can enjoy the view of crystal clear streams flowing. Along the hiking trails, you can also find ruins of an ancient fortress.
However, maintaining it is very challenging because of the number of hikers and visitors annually. The national park’s ecosystem gradually weakens; that’s why it is strictly advised to follow the restrictions and guidelines for safety and maintenance purposes.
16. Odaesan National Park
Korean: 오대산국립공원 (Odaesan Gukripgong Won)
The Odaesan National Park was designated as the 11th national park in South Korea in Gangwon-do province. The name Odaesan means “Five Plains Mountains.” It’s perfect for the hikers because they will enjoy the pathways that go up to the snow-capped mountains, while skiers and snowboarders will enjoy Alpensia and Yongpyong.
Having the largest natural forest in Korea, Odaesan National Park is home to different kinds of plants and wildlife. There are 25 species of mammals and 860 species of alpine flora. It is also known for a wild type of ginseng (isnam) called sansam that grows in its forest. It is believed that this rare root has health benefits and can last a long time. It is also said that the waters from this mountain can also cure diseases.
Another interesting fact about Odaesan National Park is that a part of it is located in Pyeongchang-gun. This is the third-largest county in South Korea, and it is well known in different winter sports. It hosted the Winter Olympics last 2018. The area has wonderful ski resorts, snow trekking, sledding, and other winter activities.
17. Seoraksan National Park
Korean: 설악산국립공원 (Seoraksangukripgongwon )
One of the beautiful mountains of Korea is found in the Seokrasan National Park – the Seoraksan Mountain. The word Seokarsan means ‘Snowy Peaks Mountain,’ and you’ll get an idea of what it looks like from this name. This mountain is Korea’s third-largest mountain, known for its beautiful hiking trails and majestic scenery of nature like waterfalls and cliffs. With this, it’s not that surprising that it’s one of the best tourist attractions in South Korea.
Aside from the Seokarsan Mountain, the park also has several hills, smaller mountains, and rock formations like Ulsanbawi Rock. But, if you’re not into hiking, Seokarsan National Park has a cable car. You can enjoy the park’s scenic beauty without any hassle or struggle. The best place to stay for fantastic scenery is in Outer Seorak (Oeseorak) area.
Being the first area to be designated as a national park, Seoraksan National Park offers a lot of beautiful sceneries, historical sites, cultural sites, and adventure. Two Buddhist temples can be found in this park – Baekdamsa and Sinheungsa. These two temples are not just about history and culture; they are also true natural beauty.
The Sinheungsa temple is currently the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It is also the oldest Seon temple in the world. On the other hand, Baekdamsa is a temple translated to ‘Hundred Pool Temple’ because of the hundred pools surrounding the temple complex.
Seokarsan National Park’s flora and fauna will also amaze you. The park is a UNESCO Biosphere Protection site. It has been a nature reserve since 1965 because of the abundance of plants and diversity of animals found there, including the rare ones. You can see a rare Korean musk deer, Korean goral, otters, Asian black bear, and Siberian flying squirrel if you’re lucky enough. For animal lovers, this is a priceless experience.
18. National Museum Of Korea
Korean: 국립중앙박물관 (Gukripjungangbakmulgwan)
Where else can you easily learn about traditional Korean culture in this modern time aside from the museums? Luckily, there are many museums in Seoul since it’s South Korea’s capital city. When we talk about museums, the first museum to be on top of your list is the National Museum of Korea, the largest museum in Seoul.
The National Museum of Korea has incredibly vast collections ranging from history, art, and archeology. These are very important in giving a glimpse of the history of Korea and how Korean people lived from the stone age to modern times. You can never go wrong visiting a museum; this is one of the ideal tourist attractions in South Korea when you have limited time. Adults and children can enjoy it.
19. Seoul’s Street Food Markets
Korean: 서울의 길거리 음식 시장 (Seourui Gilgeori Eumsik Sijang)
One of the reasons why visitors and foreigners are drawn to Korean culture is their food. Of course, what is travel without trying authentic Korean food? There might be a lot of Korean restaurants in different parts of the world but eating Korean street food along the street of South Korea offers a different kind of authenticity and experience. Enjoy the open-air dining experience while embracing the South Korean vibe, like in K-dramas.
The street of Seoul, South Korea, is a haven for the best Korean street food like hotteok (stuffed pancake), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), odeng (fish cake), and bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes). There’s an infinite number of street food vendors in different parts of Seoul. Some of the famous food markets are Gwangjang Market (광장시장), Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market (서울 밤도깨비 야시장), and Myeongdong Street Food Alley.
20. War Memorial Of Korea
Korean: 전쟁기념관 (Jeonjaengginyeomgwan)
The Korean War that happened during 1950–1953 is a significant part of the history of South Korea. To document this part of their history, they built a huge museum called the War Memorial of Korea. They have different multimedia exhibits, documentary footage, artifacts, weapons, maps, and uniforms from the Korean war. They also have helicopters, tanks, and planes; in fact, they still have the replica of the patrol boat sunk by North Korea in 2002.
Other Tourist Attractions In South Korea
|Tourist Attraction||Hangul (Korean)||Romanization||Description|
|Andong Hahoe Folk Village||동하회마을||donghahoemaeul||A traditional village from the Joseon dynasty|
|Blue House||청와대||cheongwadae||The official residence and office of the President of the Republic of Korea|
|Boseong Green Tea Field||보성녹차밭||boseongnokchabat||Stunning scenery and one of the largest green tea plantations|
|Chunwang Peak, Jirisan Mountain||지리산 천왕봉||jirisan cheonwangbong||Second Highest Peak in South Korea|
|Gacheon Daraengi Village||가천 다랭이마을||gacheon daraengimaeul||Famous for photogenic terraced rice paddies on the steep hill|
|Ggotji Beach||꽃지해수욕장||kkoccjihaesuyokjang||The largest beach in Anmyeondo island known for its beautiful sunset|
|Gwang-An-Bridge||광안대교||gwangandaegyo||South Korea’s second-longest bridge; Busan’s key landmark which is famous as a filming location|
|Haeundae Beach||해운대해수욕장||haeundaehaesuyokjang||One of Busan’s most popular beach|
|Hwadam Botanic Garden||화담숲||hwadamsup||An eco-friendly arboretum in Konjiam Resort|
|Hallasan National Park||한라산국립공원||hanrasangukripgongwon||A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site that features the highest mountain in South Korea|
|Haeinsa Temple||해인사||haeinsa||The head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Seon Buddhism is located in Gayasan National Park|
|Itaewon||이태원||Itaewon||Known for being the most foreigner-friendly district and high-spirited nightlife|
|Taepyung Salt Farm||태평염전||taepyeongyeomjeon||The King: Eternal Monarch’s filming location; the largest producer of sun-dried, organic salt in South Korea|
|Jingwansa Temple||진관사||jingwansa||One of the major temples in Seoul|
|Jindo Sea Parting / The Myeongnyang Strait||명량해협||myeongryanghaehyeop||Famous for the sea parting that happens twice a day (6:10 in the morning and 6:20 in the afternoon/evening)|
|Juknokwon||죽녹원||juknogwon||A cultivated Bamboo Garden in Damyang|
|Gyeonghwa Station||경화역 벚꽃길||gyeonghwayeok beojkkoccgil||A road with an amazing view of cherry blossoms falling down.|
|National Palace Museum of Korea||국립고궁박물관||gukripgogungbakmulgwan||A national museum of Korea in Gyeongbokgung palace|
|Naejangsan National Park||내장산국립공원||naejangsangukripgongwon||Korea’s best mountain for viewing crimson autumn leaves.|
|National Folk Museum||국립민속박물관||gukripminsokbakmulgwan||A national museum in South Korea located in Gyeongbokgung Palace that features historical objects and replicas to portray the Korean people’s daily life|
|Naganeupseong Folk Village||낙안읍성||naganeupseong||A historic village and the only remaining walled Joseon dynasty town found in Nagan-myeon, Suncheon, South Jeolla in South Korea|
|Pyeongchang County||평창군||pyeongchanggun||Known for the Odaesan National Park and hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics|
|Seongsan Sunrise Peak||성산 일출봉||seongsan ilchulbong||One of the best places to see the sunrise|
|Samsung Innovation Museum||삼성이노베이션뮤지엄||samseonginobeisyeonmyujieom||A museum opened by Samsung that presents the history of the electronics industry|
|Changnyeong Upo Wetland||창녕 우포늪||changnyeong uponeup||The largest natural wetland of South Korea|
Traveling To South Korea? Pack Some Basic Korean Words!
A trip to South Korea is one of the greatest travel experiences you’ll never forget. The richness of their culture and the scenic beauty of different tourist attractions in South Korea truly amaze you. But, your South Korea travel experience will never be complete if you do not make meaningful connections with the locals. Whether it’s only small talks or deep conversations, learning Korean is still essential and very helpful. So, if you’re eager to learn Korean, why not start a free lesson with Ling App now?
With this app, learning Korean and any other language feels like just playing a game. You can easily download it on your mobile phone or access the web version so you can learn anywhere and anytime you want. Say goodbye hassles of bulky dictionaries and the awkwardness of the language barrier. Since you’re in the land of high-tech gadgets, why not extend it to learning Korean? Download the app and start learning Korean with Ling App now!