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.

Encounter a thrilling mix of old and new in South Korea. While neon signs and high-tech industries may abound in its cities, this nation promises more than just hustle and bustle, with sleepy coastal fishing villages and grand temples to explore here too.

Established in 1948, South Korea, or the Republic of Korea as it is officially known, composes the southern half of the Korean peninsula, along with thousands of outlying islands. The capital city, Seoul, is a buzzing metropolis at the heart of the country’s technology scene. For the best bird’s-eye view of Seoul, head to the observatory at the N Seoul Tower, which offers a 360-degree view of the cityscape and the summit of Mount Namsan.

Back on the ground, visit Deoksugung Palace, a modern palace flanked by a traditional gate, and watch the daily Changing of the Royal Guard. In the evening, attend a traditional Korean performance at the Jeongdong Theater.

For a complete change of pace, venture to the white-sand Haeundae Beach in Busan. Stretching around 1 mile (2 kilometers) long, this beach offers a relaxing break from the buzz of city life.

Find Bulguksa Temple on the slopes of Mount Toham on the southeastern coast. This Buddhist temple complex features unique Silla-era pagodas and a monumental sea-facing statue of Buddha.

South Korean food is flavorful and spicy. Be sure to try kimchi, spicy fermented cabbage, often used as an accompaniment to main dishes bibimbap, a mixed rice and vegetable dish, often topped with egg and meat and bulgogi, barbecued marinated beef.

The largest airport in South Korea is Incheon International Airport, located in Seoul. Each of the country’s major cities has their own subway system, with signs written in both English and Korean, and journeys paid for using rechargeable money cards. Taxis are abundant and inexpensive, and ferries run regularly from the mainland to the hundreds of outlying islands. Visit South Korea during spring, and you’ll likely be blessed with warm temperatures and little rainfall.

See where ancient and modern collide in this fascinating East Asian nation.

South Korea Travel Guide Video

Popular cities in South Korea

Seoul showing a city, a high-rise building and a river or creek
Seoul
Known for Shopping, Castle and Culture
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

  • Lotte World
  • Lotte World Tower
  • Gyeongbok Palace
Dongpirang Village showing a house, a bay or harbour and general coastal views
Busan
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

  • Gwangalli Beach
  • Haeundae Beach
  • Shinsegae Centum City
Jeju City
Jeju City
Known for Seafood, Hiking and Sightseeing

Reasons to visit

  • Hyeopjae Beach
  • Hamdeok Beach
  • Iho Beach
Seogwipo
Seogwipo
Known for Sea, Waterfalls and Museums
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

  • Seongsan Ilchulbong
  • Seopjikoji
  • Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market
Wolmido which includes outdoor art
Incheon
Known for Dining, Shopping and Chinatown

Reasons to visit

  • Songdo Central Park
  • Port of Incheon
  • NC Cube Canal Walk
Incheon showing a city, a sunset and a high-rise building
Incheon
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
  • Port of Incheon
  • NC Cube Canal Walk

Popular places to visit

South Korea