South Korea’s Highlights
South Korea is one of few countries on the globe where high-tech ultra-modern buildings coexist harmoniously with ancient structures, and national traditions seamlessly blend into the modern lifestyle of South Koreans. One of the main problems remains the separation of the Korean people, who are forced to live in two states. But let’s get away from political problems, and present the main attractions of South Korea, with beautiful photos and descriptions.
In the heart of Seoul stands a majestic palace designed by renowned dignitary Jeong Dojong in 1394. The country’s main palace has been impressing tourists for years with its grandeur and unusual architectural design.
The majestic building has been repeatedly rebuilt, and after the Japanese invasion in 1592, some of the luxurious halls were burned down and restored only in the mid-19th century.
Every morning at the walls and gates of the palace there is a change of guard, whose guards are dressed in traditional antique clothes. But interestingly enough, the guards have beards glued on, to give them an air of solidity.
Soraksan National Park
In the northern part of South Korea, in Gangwon-do Province, there is a lush park that was designated a national park in 1970.
It is a peaceful and comfortable place to not only relax your body and soul but also to see rare species of plants and flowers. Here you can enjoy the majestic scenery of wildlife, and the park is famous around the world for its amazing geysers and waterfalls.
In addition to the beauty of nature, one can also visit the Shinhyngsa Temple, lost among the greenery and hills, which is the oldest Buddhist building in the country.
This is one of the few ancient landmarks in Seoul City that has managed to retain its original appearance. The Palace of Prosperous Valor, as its name is translated from Korean, stands in the center of a large park, and is one of the five largest palaces in the country.
Construction of the complex began in 1405, culminating in the triumphant erection of the majestic Donghwamun Gate. Today, there are 13 buildings on the territory of the palace complex.
The palace gardens are home to trees, some more than 300 years old, and one of the gardens has a “Jade Creek” with a waterfall and canal dug as early as 1636.
Hae-dong Yeongunsa Temple
Religious attractions continue with the majestic Hae-dong Yeongunsa Temple, located in Busan City. The temple is part of a large Buddhist monastery, and was erected as early as the late Goryeo period.
Unlike other similar structures usually built in the mountains, this temple was built on the seashore. So says an ancient legend, that the monk in a dream appeared to the lord of the sea, and ordered to build a temple in his honor.
There are beautiful altars and Buddhist shrines and cultural treasures within the walls of the temple.
In Korean, the name of the majestic defensive structure translates as “Flowering Fortress,” and by analogy with the Chinese landmark, it has often been called “Suwon Fortress Wall.
The fortress was built in the late 18th century, and its architecture harmoniously combines Eastern and European styles. The fortification has four gates located in four parts of the world.
In 1800, an extensive report on the fortress was created, consisting of 10 voluminous volumes. It was this old document that helped in the restoration of the fortress in the twentieth century.
The capital of South Korea is also one of the most contrasting cities in the world where new buildings have blended into the atmosphere of antiquity. One such ancient structure is the magnificent Jongmyo Temple.
It was built during the reign of King Taejo in 1394 at the same time that Seoul became the capital of the ancient state. The beautiful temple was once the longest building in Asia, but it was destroyed in one of the many wars, and in 1601 only part of the temple was restored.
Today the capital’s temple consists of two large, luxurious halls, and the structure itself is surrounded by a garden and many buildings serving household purposes.
Seoul Television Tower
This masterpiece of engineering appeared in the city in 1971 and became an unusual decoration of Seoul.
Over time the tower, which is 236 meters high, has cafes, restaurants, and observation decks that offer magnificent views of the city and its hilly surroundings.
The tower itself is located on a mountain, so that the height from which you can see the city is more than 500 m. The TV Tower has become the most visited attraction in the state in recent decades, as it is visited by 8 million people annually.
There is also a Catholic shrine in Seoul. This is a cathedral built in the nineties of the XIX century, consecrated in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
The church was built in the Neo-Gothic architectural style with Baroque elements and has practically no exterior decorations but the interior is decorated in the strict traditions of Catholicism.
The historical and architectural monument has become a place of pilgrimage for Catholics in Asia. Many events are associated with the building itself, including the 1987 student hunger strike that took refuge behind its walls.
South Korea’s major attractions would not be complete without the traditional village of the Joseon Dynasty. This amazing monument of cultural and historical heritage spreads out on the banks of the Nakdonggang River.
The beautiful village is often compared to a lotus flower floating on the river, and some even believe that the two polar powers of Yin and Yang have converged in the village.
On the territory of the village preserved the traditional way of life, operates a school of Confucianism, a workshop for making national masks. Surprisingly, the architecture of the Joseon Dynasty has also been preserved.
When visiting the beautiful places of South Korea, you should definitely go to the island, nestled in the Korean Strait, called Jeju.
Interestingly, it is the largest island of the country and the smallest province of the South Korean state. Before it became part of the state of Korea, it was an independent province with its own administration.
The island is full of unique caves, beautiful waterfalls, and the flora and fauna are represented by rare species that are found only in this part of the world. Most striking are the monumental sculptures of black basalt.
Located in the South Korean capital, the bridge, romantically called the Rainbow Fountain, is the longest bridge with fountains in the world.
Among similar structures, it is distinguished by the fact that the jets of the fountains do not go up, as usual, but to the sides and down. In the evening and at night the fountains are illuminated, which really creates an unforgettable rainbow effect.
Immediately after its opening in 2009, this unique structure of Seoul was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
About other beautiful bridges in the world you can learn in one of the articles on our site most-beauty.ru. We also have an interesting material about the amazing fountains of the world.
In the city of Gyeongju during the Unified Kingdom of Silla built a temple, which became a symbol of prosperity and power of the state, and the triumph of Buddhist philosophy.
At the gate of the temple are perpetual guards, giants carved out of wood. Just behind the gate there is a small stream, over which a bridge is thrown. Everyone who walks across the bridge, crosses at this time the real world and the world of the Buddha.
At the end of the twentieth century, the temple was completely restored and opened its mighty gates to visitors.
In 1988, the Asian nation hosted the Winter Olympics, and for the occasion, an amazing Olympic Park was laid out, fitting perfectly into South Korea’s sightseeing map.
In the very center of the park is a unique composition of stones, on which each Olympic participant signed his or her name. In addition, there are more than 200 sculptures of artists from all over the world on the vast territory.
The park has gyms, equipment rentals, health centers, which can be used by everyone.
Korean National Village
Koreans cherish their national traditions, and the city of Yongyin has allocated a huge area on which they have built a traditional Korean village.
The purpose of such a rare sight is the Koreans’ desire to acquaint foreigners with their wonderful culture and everyday life. The narrow streets are lined with craft shops where everyone can order a souvenir as a keepsake.
In the squares of the village directly in the open air show their skills dancers and theater artists. In addition, this is where you can taste exotic Korean national cuisine.
The construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam created a magnificent crescent-shaped island. You can get to the island by boat or cable car.
Everyone can find something to their liking and the island to do here. Tourists are waiting for a wonderful beach, amusement park, swimming pool, and those who want can walk through the majestic forest. After your stay on the island you will have beautiful pictures and a lot of warm impressions.
One of the unique features of the beautiful island is the complete absence of power lines and poles, and all communications are laid into the thick earth.
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
No matter how you look at it, there is no escaping politics, and every tourist visiting South Korea tries to visit the 4 kilometers demilitarized zone.
It runs along the 38th parallel as a result of the armistice, and there are 7 cities on its territory, so you have to plan a week to have time to see everything.
Despite the formidable name, the DMZ has its own attractions. First and foremost, there is the Imjingak Peace Park, with its Korean War exhibits, and the village of Panmunjom, where two houses stand next to each other. One, painted blue, is controlled by UN soldiers, while the white-painted building houses North Korean soldiers.
Our fascinating trip to South Korea has come to an end, where we got to know the beautiful places of this wonderful country and learned many interesting things about its attractions. Now our dear reader knows what to visit in South Korea and what to see first.
Top 24 Best Sights of South Korea
South Korea can be compared to a kind of technological express train, which is rapidly rushing into the hi-tech future. At the same time, the residents of the state even at their crazy speed of life manage to maintain their identity and cultural integrity.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our Telegram channel.
What to do in South Korea
Koreans’ respect for history and roots is reflected in the carefully preserved architecture. Lovers of antiquities and art will love the local palaces. Gyeongbokgung is an ode to the greatness of former rulers and a rich museum. Toksugun combines both European and Asian styles in its exterior and decor.
Those interested in Buddhism should definitely visit the Pomosa Monastery, where, in addition to viewing the interiors, they offer to learn spiritual practices. Pulguksa Temple is a real treasury with the most ancient religious artifacts, which are protected by the state.
Visiting nature reserves and parks is a great way to break up a cultural vacation. Pukhansan Reserve awaits fans of hiking in the picturesque countryside. Namsan is a piece of wilderness in bustling Seoul, a place where weary metropolis residents rest their bodies and souls.
Fans of wildlife should head to the local museums. Trickeye invites you to plunge into the world of optical illusions. Likewise, the Lium, a repository of traditional and contemporary Korean art, is an interesting place to visit.
The pompous structure, whose name translates as “Palace of Radiant Happiness,” is one of five such structures built during the Joseon Dynasty. The complex was built in 1395, the same year that Seoul officially became the capital of Korea.
In the sixteenth century Gyeongbokgung suffered considerably from the barbarities of the Japanese who invaded the peninsula. It was not until the early 20th century that its restoration began gradually.
Today, the palace is open to the public. One must see the Gyeongjeongjeon Throne Hall and Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, a graceful structure on granite columns that literally “floats” in the middle of a pond. There are folklore museums and palace museums on the grounds. The latter displays the treasures of former rulers.
This beautiful palace, located on the western side of the Korean capital, is often called Seogwol, which can be translated as “western palace. It was built in 1618 as a secondary residence for the royal family. It is noteworthy that the architect took into account the landscape, so all the structures fit harmoniously into the surrounding landscape.
Originally the complex consisted of 100 buildings, divided into female and male halves. Almost all of them were damaged during the Japanese invasion. At the moment it was possible to restore only a third of them. Among the major gems are Heungwamun, the main gate leading to a fashionable hotel on Gyeonghigung Palace grounds, and Toksugun Bridge. A stroll through the quaint park will be a special pleasure.
The smallest of Seoul’s palaces was built in the fifteenth century. The modest size by royal standards is explained by the fact that Toksugun was intended not for the monarch but for Prince Wolsan. During the war with the Japanese, when all other palaces were destroyed or captured by the enemy, the royal court settled here.
Of the more than one hundred structures, only 12 have survived. They are notable for their architecture, which is a mixture of Korean and European traditions. Tourists should not miss Daehanmunjeon Pavilion, Chikchodang Coronation and Reception Hall, and Hamnyeongjeon Royal Quarters. The Jeong Gwanghoon Tea Pavilion was designed by a Russian architect.
The Seokjeongjeon Hall has now been transformed into a museum to house palace furnishings and works of art.
Seoul Television Tower
The Namsan or N Tower (236 m) is considered a symbol of South Korea. It is always crowded with visitors attracted by its many attractions. The main attraction is the 360° viewing platform with its spectacular views.
There is also a digital observatory, Teddy Bear Museum, two restaurants, a bar, and a walking terrace with a huge number of locks. They were left by couples in love as a symbol of a strong and unbreakable relationship. You can get to the TV Tower by cable car.
Rainbow Fountain Bridge
The longest fountain bridge (1,495 m) is located in Seoul and connects the opposite banks of the Hangang River. Every minute about 190 tons of water rushes down the span. It is especially striking in the evening when it is lit and illuminated by a jet of water in all kinds of colors and shades.
The citadel, whose name translates to “blossoming fortress,” once guarded the peace of Suwon City residents. Today it is an open-air museum. The powerful walls with round towers and impregnable gates are about 6 km long. The fortifications, built at the end of the 18th century, harmoniously combine Asian and European architectural traditions. The yard of the fort offers spectacular views.
The Buddhist Monastery, located 13 kilometers from Gyeongju City, consists of 7 sites. All of them are listed as National Treasures of the country. They are the stone pagodas of Seokkathap and Tabothap, several gilded Buddha statues, and the Cheongunggyo Bridge.
The main hall of the temple is Daeungjeon, where the main religious rites were performed. Behind it is Musoljeon, the Hall of Silence. These are the oldest buildings, dating back to the 7th century.
The largest Buddhist monastery in Korea is in Busan. Its 11 buildings are nestled on the slopes of Geumjongsan Mountain. Religious visitors and tourists are offered an extensive religious program in addition to the architectural highlights. It includes meditation, handicraft making, talks with monks, and a vegetarian meal at the end of the tour.
Sokkuram Rock Temple
The artificial grotto is located on the grounds of Pulguksa Monastery. It was built in about 774 from heavy granite blocks. The structure successfully imitates a rocky cliff, only the curved roof betrays a man-made structure.
A narrow corridor leads to the main hall, in the center of which on a massive pedestal sits the Buddha, height 3.5 m. The light that shines in through a single window shines on the face of the Enlightened One only once a year, on the summer solstice.
The museum, founded by Samsung, houses an extensive art collection. The complex consists of two galleries and an educational center.
- The first gallery exhibits more than a hundred artifacts from ancient times to the late 19th century (the decline of the Joseon Dynasty). They include paintings, ceramics, calligraphy, jewelry, furnishings, and more.
- The second contains items of contemporary Korean and foreign art: paintings by Bacon, Warhol, Basquiat, and other artists. There is also an interesting selection of sculptures and installations.
Trickeye Museum of Optical Illusions
Museum of a new format, where each picture is accompanied by the effect of augmented reality. People come here not so much to look at, but to take pictures. To get breathtaking shots, you have to download a special application trickeye at the entrance and you are already climbing up a steep wall, defeating a monster or landing on the moon. There are a lot of creative options. Touching and interacting with the exhibits is allowed.
National Museum of Korea
The largest and richest museum in the country is located in Seoul. It was founded in 1945, and not so long ago the expositions moved to a modern high-tech building, similar to an ancient fortress. The area of the exhibition space is almost 138,000 square meters. The National Museum is one of the top 10 largest museums in the world.
There are over 220,000 items in the funds, about 130,000 artifacts are exhibited. These are archaeological finds, ceramics, weapons, sculptures, national clothing and other things related to the history and culture of South Korea.
This is not really a museum, but a folklore village that preserves traditional Korean Hanok houses. They are notable for their tiled, curved roofs and painted facades. Photographs with such a picturesque backdrop will be vivid and memorable.
If you want, you can look inside any house. The hospitable hosts will show you the rooms, teach you how to play Korean instruments, and offer to learn some primitive handicrafts. Most of the houses in Bukchon were built in the 14th century, and they have preserved their authenticity well into the present day.
Natural Sites and Parks
The national park (80 square kilometers) is famous for its beautiful forests, ancient temples, mountains, waterfalls and talkative streams. There are many hiking trails of varying length and difficulty. Almost all of the trails end at the higher elevations of Mangyeongdae, Insubong, and Baegundae. Panoramic views of Seoul and the surrounding area are a reward for tireless hikers.
In addition to natural sites, there are also manmade ones available to visit. The park’s main attraction is Buhangsanseong Fortress. Its winding wall encloses the reserve.
Seoul’s Namsan Park stretches on the hill of the same name. The locals love to visit here. They come to enjoy wild, almost untouched nature, which is rare in a busy metropolis.
There are plenty of sights to see here, too. The park has a TV tower, several fountains, jogging paths, and the Palgakyong Pavilion, a structure in traditional Korean style.
Busan City Park
The largest park (525 hectares) in Busan is laid out on the site of a former American military base. The once dull space has been turned into a recreational and entertainment center.
Here there are shady alleys for strolling, playgrounds and sports grounds, a small zoo, many artificial ponds with humpback bridges, squares with fountains and even an artificial waterfall which operates by the hour. Numerous cafes and restaurants invite you to quench your hunger after an active and contemplative vacation.
A walking area about 10 kilometers long is located in the heart of Seoul on both sides of Cheonggyecheon Creek. The waterway was once in bad shape because of sewage and garbage. Then it was rolled up into a pipe and an expressway was built on top of it.
Over time, authorities gave the creek back to the city and the surrounding area was landscaped. Green oases, benches, fountains, and an abundance of other decorative elements were added.
Entertainment and shopping
Lotte World Park.
This is the largest indoor amusement park in the world. Its area of 13 hectares has many attractions, the largest ice rink in the country, a water park, several restaurants, bars, cinemas, a giant shopping center, a theater with regular shows, a museum and a hotel with 504 rooms. It is unrealistic to enjoy all the activities in a single day.
This is one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Seoul, where you can combine shopping and walking. There are countless artisan shops that sell one-of-a-kind items: souvenirs, leather goods, jewelry, etc. Local restaurants serve Korean cuisine at its best.
Antique shops are full of outlandish wonders, and sometimes you can find real rarities going back to the glorious Korean past. Tea lovers should visit one of the tea shops. Among the familiar varieties there are exclusive teas for gourmets with fat wallets. Aesthetes are welcome in art galleries. Maybe a painting by an unknown Korean artist you bought will become an expensive masterpiece in the future.
Busan’s main market, where ordinary citizens as well as owners of simple and fashionable restaurants – including those located outside of Korea – shop. The huge building sells all kinds of seafood, from simple to gourmet. The catch is the freshest without any sign of chemical preservatives.
A few floors up, there are restaurants. You can order à la carte, or have seafood bought at the market cooked for you.
Another huge amusement park is located in the suburbs of Seoul. The area is divided into 5 themed areas with over 40 attractions, a zoo, water park, safari park, several cinemas, concert stage, more than 10 gardens and much more. The park regularly hosts themed festivals.
The dynamic center of Seoul is always full of young people, mainly because of nearby Honik University, progressive clubs, trendy bars and restaurants. There’s a vibrant cultural scene not only inside but also outside. Street musicians and dancers gather crowds of gawkers and money as they demonstrate their skills.
Eo-Ulmadang-gil street is crowded on both sides with market stalls. They sell everything from vintage goods to consumer goods produced in the Middle Kingdom.
South Korea’s oldest market is noisy, crowded, and always something happening. The rows of stores and stalls pressed tightly together have turned into long streets. Namdaemun sells everything from food and jewelry to clothes and souvenirs. There are plenty of restaurants and open-air spots with inexpensive Korean fast food.
It’s a shopper’s paradise for shoppers of all income levels. Its streets are filled with rows of stores, boutiques, and malls. Its beautifully decorated storefronts and colorful signs entice shoppers to spend money. Myeongdong is also an ideal place to sample a variety of Korean dishes. They are served in restaurants and sidewalk cafes.