South Korea

Travel Guide
Bongeunsa Temple featuring a garden and outdoor art

With a landscape as diverse as its culture and cuisine, this breathtaking region of East Asia is a feast for the senses.

With forested mountains, ancient temples, traditional villages and large modern cities, South Korea fascinates visitors with its diversity. Shop in designer boutiques, travel through underground caves, drink tea with the locals and embark on mountain hikes.

Seoul straddles the Han River and is surrounded by mountains. The country’s business, cultural and economic hub has been South Korea’s capital for more than 600 years. Well-preserved ancient palaces, temples, shrines and monuments stand alongside modern skyscrapers, mega shopping malls and entertainment complexes.

Explore the many historic sights of this modern city. Tour the 14th-century palaces of Gyeongbok Palace and Changdeok Palace. The Great South Gate is one of the main gates of the old city. Shop for handcrafted souvenirs and antiques on the streets of Insadong. Enjoy a steaming mug of omija cha in one of the neighborhood’s traditional tearooms. Browse upmarket boutiques in Gangnam, the district made famous by the global hit song, Gangnam Style. Dine in European-style cafés and restaurants serving Asian cuisine in the Samcheong-dong district.

Seorak-san National Park is a vast protected area of mountains, forests, beaches and temples, a 3-hour drive from Seoul. Hike on trails that take from under an hour to three days to complete. Look for the park’s wildlife, such as the long-tailed goral and musk deer. Relax in the therapeutic waters of Osaek Hot Springs.

Visit Busan, the country’s second-largest city, to sunbathe on its beaches. Go on a guided tour of the Demilitarized Zone, the fortified border between North and South Korea. Venture through lava tubes in the volcanic Jeju Island’s caves formed by flowing lava.

Although South Korea has airports in several cities, most international flights arrive at Seoul’s Incheon Airport. To get between cities, use the efficient and extensive bus and train networks. Some major cities have metro and light rail systems. Alternatively, rent a car.

With great natural diversity, modern cities and a rich culture and history, South Korea offers the traveler numerous choices.

South Korea Travel Guide Video

Popular cities in South Korea

Seoul showing a city, a high-rise building and a river or creek
Known for Shopping, Castle and Cultural activities
The South Korean metropolis has some of Asia’s busiest markets and nightlife districts alongside tranquil teahouses and palaces surrounded by gardens.

Reasons to visit

  • Olympic Park
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza
  • Seoul City Hall
Dongpirang Village showing a house, a bay or harbour and general coastal views
Known for Beach view, Shopping and Seafood
Unwind on long beaches, relax in a multistory spa and explore the breathtaking coastal forests of Korea’s most popular summer destination.

Reasons to visit

  • Busan University of Foreign Studies
  • Lotte Department Store Busan Main Branch
  • Beomeosa
Known for Relaxing, Waterfalls and Cultural activities
Staggering coastal views, cascading waterfalls and a laid-back yet quirky city center welcomes nature-lovers to Jeju Island’s second-largest city.

Reasons to visit

  • Soesokkak Estuary
  • Jeongbang Waterfall
  • Seongsan Ilchulbong
Wolmido which includes outdoor art
Known for Dining, Shopping and Chinatown

Reasons to visit

  • Songdo Central Park
  • NC Cube Canal Walk
Incheon showing a city, a sunset and a high-rise building
Known for Dining, Shopping and Budget
Korea’s third-largest city is a fascinating mix of political history, modern shopping malls and entertainment districts, and remote outer islands.

Reasons to visit

  • Songdo Central Park
  • NC Cube Canal Walk

Popular places to visit in South Korea

South Korea