There’s alot more to South Korea than Seoul, although we all know there are plenty of amazing things to do in Seoul to fill a lifetime. We have put together a list of the 27 best things to do in Korea that might inspire you to see the beauty of Korea beyond Seoul.
Don’t limit yourself to the nation’s largest metropolis. You can easily take advantage of the great public transportation this country has to offer and explore more places. Not only is it fairly cheap, but you will have an opportunity to see some magnificent places, whether it be historical, along the countryside, or one of the many gorgeous mountains.
If you want to see more photos or learn more details including how to get to these places make sure you check out the links included for each city.
Booking a trip to Korea? Check out our appendix of where to stay in Korea for each of the cities mentioned below as well as our guide for where to stay in Seoul by neighborhood and budget to help you plan your trip!
27 Things to Do in Korea Outside of Seoul
1. Head to the sea at Busan
Busan is Korea’s second largest city and right on the water. You can check out the cool coastal city by seeing one of it’s many temples, the most popular being Haedong Yungungsa temple right on the water.
Explore the fish market and try the local specialty dish Dwaeji Gukbap. There’s also a colorful village, beaches, and parks with great views.
Not only does Busan have great beaches, delicious dwaeji gukbap, beautiful temples, but it’s got a relaxed vibe, and a great night life. This makes Busan one of the best places to include on a Korea trip! Fore more, check our guide on all the cool things to do in Busan on your first trip.
2. Go to the Unique Pocheon
Northeast of Seoul and a bit more difficult to get around in is the gorgeous mountainous area of Pocheon. Here you can visit a beautiful rock quarry, an amusement park, and even a penis restaurant. You heard that right, a penis restaurant!
Check out a day trip to Pocheon including Herb Island and Pocheon Art Valley, you can purchase tickets at a discount here.
3. Wander around Jeonju’s Hanok Village
Jeonju is famous for their bibimbap and makgeolli. Both are insanely delicious. Frankly, all the food in this city and nearby is pretty delicious! Trust us and stay in a hanok (traditional Korean home) while visiting. During spring Jeonju has an annual International Film Festival held here.
If you want to see the country’s cultural side then you should definitely add Jeonju to your list of what to do in Korea Check out our post for a guide on all there is to do in Jeonju.
Don’t have a lot of time? You can take a day trip to Jeonju Hanok Village from Seoul with KKday. Purchase your tickets online in advance.
4. Make a storybook escape to Gapyeong
Just outside of Seoul and accessible via Seoul subway! You can try some delicious Dak Galbi (Stirfry Spicy Chicken w/ cheese – our favorite Korean dish!)
The three main attractions here are Namiseom Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Le Petit France. Stay the night at one of the many themed pensions, like Cozy Theme Pension where you can sleep in a giant soju bottle or ramen cup!
If you only have a day, just do a tour that covers all three of the main spots. Purchase your tickets at a discount here.
5. Plan a weekend getaway to Ganghwado Island
This island off the coast of Incheon is a great weekend getaway. There are temples to explore, royal headstones, fortress walls, mudflats, purple azalea mountains, and hiking. To find more about Ganghwado check out this post by the Hedger’s Abroad.
6. Head out to Sokcho
This northeast coastal city has a beach, a scenic lake, fresh seafood, a teddy bear farm, and Seoraksan National Park is just a quick bus stop away. We recommend checking out Sokcho and Seoraksan, but you will quickly realize you will need to come back to see more of Seorak! Check here for our full guide on the best things to do in Sokcho.
7. Hike around Seoraksan National Park (or take the cable car)
Seoraksan is easily the most beautiful national parks in the country and for that reason alone should be added to your list of things to do in Korea.
A hop skip and jump away from Sokcho, you can make Seorak a quick day trip and take a cable car up to a peak, or spend the weekend selecting one of the many amazing hikes among the karst mountains that this place has to offer. You can see our full guide to Seoraksan National Park here.
If you could only go once, go during the fall if possible. It’s seriously outta control. See our photos of Seoraksan in the fall here
You can actually take a day tour from Seoul to Seoraksan in the fall if you’re short on time! You can purchase your tickets online here.
8. Go camping at Naksan Beach
This beach has to be one of the most underrated beaches in Korea. Not only does Naksan have white sand and bright blue water but there is a gorgeous temple overlooking the beach on a cliff.
You can easily get a hotel or bring your own tent and camp right on the beach. The best part is that you can see Seoraksan’s mountains in the backdrop.
9. Go off the beaten path at Hajodae Beach
Hajodae Beach is a quiet beach town that doesn’t see too much tourism. The beach is beautiful and has white sand and blue waters. You can easily camp right on the beach with your own tent or stay at a nearby hotel. This is the perfect quiet beach getaway you are looking for.
10. Go skiing at Muju
Nestled in the Gucheon-dong Valley in the Deogyusan mountains is the delightfully quaint village of Muju with a ski resort and temples nestled around Deogyusan National Park.
We recommend going in the winter to hit the slopes or coming back in late summer to hit the firefly festival. Heading to Muju for skiing or snowboarding is at the top of our list for best things to do in Korea during the winter.
11. Visit a lesser known city — Daegu
Located smack in the middle of South Korea, this fourth largest city after Seoul offers ziplining, a hanok village, panoramic city views from atop a mountain, an amusement park, and even a cable car ride.
12. Catch the sunrise at Pohang
Located on the coast of Eastern Korea you can catch amazing sunrise by the sea near the infamous hand, enjoy fresh local seafood, relax on the beaches, and check out a local Japanese village. It’s a lovely way to spend part of your Korea trip.
13. Spend the weekend in Yeosu
Yeosu is situated on the southern coast of Korea overlooking tons of tiny mountainous islands. You can easily spend a weekend here on the mainland checking out the cable cars (featured above,) the Expo Center, and Dolsan park.
You can also hit up some of the nearby islands for hiking and a quiet, countryside getaway. Check out this post by Hedger’s Abroad to learn more about why visiting Yeosu is one of the best things to do in Korea.
14. Catch the sunset at Suncheon Bay
Suncheon Bay is located just north of Yeosu and is the perfect place for a sunset. You can check out the observatory, hike, explore the mountains, and just enjoy the stunning views. To find out why this is one of the best things to do read more on Suncheon Bay from the Hedgers Abroad.
15. Stay at a traditional hanok in Andong
If you don’t make it to Jeonju don’t worry you can still experience a traditional homestay in a hanok in Andong.
You can also knock off another UNESCO World Heritage Site at Andong Hahoe Folk Village. This folk village offers traditional homes with straw roofs. Don’t forget to try the stronger soju famous from this area!
16. Take a ferry ride over to Muuido
A short ferry ride from Incheon rests the island of Muuido. This island is an awesome summer getaway! You can sleep in little huts along the beach for the evening and bbq underneath the stars.
Not to mention there’s also hiking to explore! These private rooms are right on the beach and cost no more than $20 making it an easy recommendation as one of the best things to do in Korea outside of Seoul.
17. Visit Mudeungsan near Gwangju
Gwangju is a great city for nature lovers. It offers beautiful hikes at Mudeungsan National Park where you can hike up to interesting hexagonal columns formed in the rocks at the two popular peaks.
You can also visit the May 18 Memorial Park and honor those who lost their lives at the massacre in 1980.
18. Step back in time in Gyeongju
Check out another one of Korea’s UNESCO sites at Bulgulska temple, check out the nearby grotto, visit the famous royal burial mounds, visit the famous Anap Pond, and check out the interesting architecture at Gyeongju Tower. Check out Life Outside of Texas for a peek at Gyeonju Tower.
Take a day trip to Gyeongju from Busan. You can book your tickets here.
19. Get close to the North Korean border at Paju
Northwest of Seoul just by the border of North Korea rests Paju. Paju has an observatory that over looks North Korea. Catch a glimpse inside North Korea via binoculars. A perfect alternative for those who don’t wanna do the DMZ tour.
Paju also has an artist community so be sure to stop by Heyri Art Village. It’s super cute and offers great food, lots of museums and some fun activities.
When you’re down, enjoy an ice cold draft beer at the nearby English Village. Where everyone is encouraged to speak English! All the activities in Paju make it one of the best things to do in Korea.
Take a day trip to Paju and visit all the highlights of the area with a tour. You can purchase your tickets at a discount online with KKday.
20. Head down to Namhae for another seaside getaway
Another island off the south coast of Korea. Opt to stay at a seaside pension during this wonderful weekend getaway. You also can enjoy the art village, beautiful rice terraces, the beach, a German village, and an American village!
To find out more check out this post from Life Outside of Texas!
21. Do a temple stay (anywhere!)
One of our favorite recommendations of things to do in Korea is enjoy a peaceful weekend living like a Korean monk during a temple stay.
Most temples in Korea are situated in the mountains and offer a gorgeous view. We did our templestay at Beopjusa Temple in the Sogni mountains, although there really are TONS of other temples to choose from to have this experience. Check out the templestay English website for other locations.
22. Sip on some green tea at the Boseong Tea Fields
Head down south to the picturesque Boseong tea fields and try green tea and our favorite, green tea ice cream. You can also head to Yulpo Beach from here or Damyang’s Bamboo Garden.
23. Hike up Gyeryongsan National Park
Sip on some of the local chestnut makgeolli and hike through the gorgeous mountains of Gyeryongsan. While hiking check out the pagoda, temples, multiple peaks, and waterfall along the way.
End the evening sleeping in Dajeon to cross off another Korean city off your travel list.
24. Cross the sea at Jindo Island
Every year in the spring the island of Jindo off the southern coast of Korea hosts an annual parting of the sea festival.
Korea has crazy tides and every year the sea parts and you can walk on water in this particular area. Stay at a local pension and enjoy the countryside, don’t forget to check out the famous Jindo dogs!
25. Escape Jeju Island
This list of the best things to do in Korea wouldn’t be complete without Jeju. Jeju is considered to be the Korean Hawaii. This volcanic island has plenty to do and is probably best spent on a long weekend trip. Check out the natural beauty this place has to offer by hiking Hallasan (Korea’s highest peak) or explore the Olle Trail.
You can check out one of the quirky areas, like Loveland! But the best thing to check out would have to be the natural beauty. Check here for more things to do in Jeju on There She Goes Again
26. Visit Taebaeksan in Any Season
Taebaeksan is another gorgeous mountain range on the east coast of Korea. Taebaek is great place to visit in the spring when the azaleas are in full bloom as well in the winter when they hold their annual Ice Festival.
27. Go to a hotspring at Asan
Who said you had to go far to enjoy a weekend away? Just outside of Seoul is Asan, famous for Korea’s oldest and most famous hot springs.
Soak the weekend away in one of the many hot springs this area has to offer, like Asan Spavis. Don’t try to do it in one day like we did, we were rushed the entire time. It’s a great place to find a room and enjoy two days at the spa.
The best time to visit Korea
There is no wrong time to visit Korea, but there definitely are more ‘comfortable’ times to visit this country. Believe it or not Korea does have all four seasons, however, they are dramatic. From cold and chilly winters to hot and humid summers plus a monsoon season – if you’re finicky with weather or just want the most ideal conditions you’ll want to plan ahead.
- Summer – (July – August) This is actually one of the most difficult times to travel throughout Korea, but a very popular time people book vacations, as its the monsoon season. Expect heavy rains and very hot and humid weather!
- Fall – (September – November) This is one of our favorite times in Korea as the weather is very mild, pleasant, and you get to experience the changing of the leaves!
- Winter – December – Mid March) Winter can get VERY cold in Korea but don’t let that fool you, while it ‘can’ get cold, some of the weather isn’t THAT cold and is still manageable. Better yet, this is when you can experience some of the most popular attractions and places without crowds. We loved exploring Korea in the winter because of this reason!
- Spring – (Mid March – early June) this is a pretty pleasant time to visit Korea as you are coming out of the coldest months and transitioning into the warmer months. This shoulder season is also when you can experience the splendid cherry blossoms all throughout the country! You’ll want to look at the cherry blossom forecast though as its different dates depending in what part of the country you’re at!
Korea Travel Tips
One of the best Korea travel tips is currency exchange! We recommend having a travel credit card and an ATM card that you can withdraw cash easily at foreign ATMs. This will require you, if you’re not already a frequent traveler, to let your bank know your travel plans so they don’t block transactions while you’re abroad.
The local currency is Korean Won, KRW and the best way to get cash is via ATM. We recommend using bank ATMs only though like Citi, KEB, KB, and Woori are the most common.
If you prefer to go to a money changer we recommend doing this only in Myeongdong when you’re still in Seoul as this area has the best rates! Do not, I repeat DO NOT exchange money at the airport, you’ll get the worst exchange rates! Save your money for some of the best things to do in Seoul instead.
This next travel tip is important if you want to be connected 100% of the time you’re in Korea! While you can find wifi all over the city, there are places where the wifi just isn’t great or you won’t be able to find it especially in the countryside! What’s great is that Korea has really affordable SIM card options!
Choose from a SIM card that will connect you from as little as a one day visit to a 30 day visit! We actually miss how affordable and FAST Korean service is! You can buy SIM cards in advance here for as little as $5.
Things to Pack for Korea
While Korea is really safe and crime rates are low, it’s always nice to have This Pacsafe Shoulder Bag for your travels which slings over your body and is the perfect size to carry your day essentials while exploring anywhere. This lightweight bag has anti-theft features so you can enjoy traveling with ease of mind with Pacsafe’s anti-theft patent products whether you’re in a crowded area or on the subway.
This Pacsafe Anti-theft Backpack is another essential any trip. This backpack has a patented anti-theft design with lockable zippers and slash-proof material in this sleek and comfortable designed backpack.
Avoid high tech thieves with this 15 pack of RFID blocking sleeves that doesn’t require you to buy a special travel wallet, you can carry your favorite purse, wallet, or backpack by simply putting your credit cards and sensitive information in these RFID blocking sleeves.
Upgrade your wallet with this RFID Blocking Wallet by Pacsafe is the perfect pick. Always have your identification, bank cards, and credit cards protected from high tech thieves with this RFID blocking wallet in this sleek and slim design.
One of the best ways to keep valuables safe when you travel is this Portable Safe by Pacsafe. This is ideal when you’re hotel has a safe that is too small for your belongings, with it’s sleek and compact design so it doesn’t take up much space in your luggage offering maximum security with its stainless steel wire mesh covered in a piece of cut-resistant canvas fabric. You simply lock this portable safe to a secure fixture in your hotel room when you leave. This is great for travel in general.
This iPhone crossbody case is perfect for sightseeing as you can easily grab your phone for that perfect photo moment on the fly as well as keep your phone secured to your body.
We recommend Allbirds Women’s Wool Runner as well as the Allbirds Men’s Wool Runner for an everyday walking shoe that’s breathable, comfortable, and feels like you’re walking on clouds. Your back and feet will thank you later, plus they are really popular currently!
A good reusable water bottle is one of the best things you can have in your day bag or on you at all times – cut back on single-use plastic and have a good reusable water bottle for your trip.
Don’t leave on a trip without a good power bank. Don’t spoil your fun exploring all the fun neighborhoods and things to see in Seoul by having your battery die on you. If you’re anything like me you’ll be using your phone to take photos, navigate, and post to social media while you’re exploring.
When it comes to the city, this weather is not forgiving and you don’t want to get caught out and about in the rain without an umbrella, especially in monsoon season. That’s why we recommend this compact wind resistant travel umbrella for what to pack for Seoul.
Travel Insurance is one of the most important things travelers can get. If you’re traveling over 100 miles away from home, you should get travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance because you can buy anytime before or during your trip no matter where you are. (See our travel insurance review guide)
Covering everything from lost or stolen documents, electronics, or if you get sick unexpectedly, don’t leave home without it!
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