South Korea’s main sights

South Korea

South Korea appeared on the world map after the division of Korea into two parts. A little more than 70 years have passed since then, but in that time the country managed to pass a difficult path from the poorest in its region to one of the most highly developed in the world, especially in the automotive, optics, robotics, aerospace industries. Seoul, the capital, is among the most modern cities on the planet. The magnificent mountainous nature is the main decoration of the country. Mountains cover most of South Korea’s territory. Snowy peaks alternate with rushing mountain rivers. There are over 3,000 small islands spread around the peninsula.

Attractions of South Korea

1. Gyeongbokgung

Gyeongbokgung Palace is rightfully considered the main historical landmark in South Korea, and is called the crown jewel of Seoul’s five historic palaces. Gyeongbokgung was built in 1395 by Lee Seong-gye, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, and is also called “Northern Palace” because it is located north of the other palaces. The palace’s name translates as “Palace of Happiness. The palace was destroyed by fire during the Japanese occupation in 1592-1598, but was later completely rebuilt during the reign of King Gojong. When putting together an itinerary for a trip to South Korea, be sure to include Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace is a magnificent rectangular palace that currently houses the National Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea, as well as royal apartments, gardens, and elegant lotus ponds.

Official website: www.royalpalace.go.kr

Gyeongbokgung Palace the main attraction in South Korea

2. Myeongdong

Myeongdong is South Korea’s main shopping street and was one of the top 9 most famous shopping streets in the world for 3 consecutive years in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Mendong means “bright tunnel”. This street contains boutiques of all the world’s brands, it is the fashion center of Southeast Asia. The four most famous shopping malls in South Korea, Migliore, Lotte Department Store, Avatar and High Harriet, are located on Mendong. Mendong Street is also home to many Korean national restaurants and Western and Japanese restaurants.

Myeongdong, top interesting places in South Korea

3. N Seoul Tower

N Tower or Seoul Tower is located on Mount Namsan and offers stunning panoramic views of Seoul and the surrounding area. Seoul Tower is considered one of the symbols of Seoul, it opened its doors to visitors in 1980.

Seoul Tower, a guide to unique places in South Korea

4. Cheonwade (Cheong Wa Dae)

Cheonwhae or Blue House is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Korea, the Korean version of the White House. Cheonwadae literally translates to “house with blue tiles or blue house. “The blue house” is located on the site of the royal garden of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). The official residence is built in the traditional Korean style.

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Cheonwhae, a guide to interesting places

5. Bukchon Hanok Village

Located between the two palaces, Gyeongbokgung in the west and Changdeokgung in the east, Bukchon Hanok Village is famous for having the largest concentration of traditional Korean wooden houses.

Bukcheon Hanok is a traditional residential neighborhood in Seoul that boasts 600 years of history. Its location and architecture reflect the Neo-Confucian view of the world and nature during the Joseon Dynasty. Hanok architecture pays much attention to the topographical features of the site on which it is built.

Bukcheon Hanok Village, guide to unique places on tour

6. Changdeokgung (Changdeokgung)

Changdeokgung is the second of the five great palaces in South Korea and was built in 1405 during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The last emperor of Korea died in this palace in 1926. The palace has had a great influence on the development of Korean architecture and landscape design, as well as related arts, for many centuries. It reflects complex architectural values coordinated with the surrounding landscape.

Changdeokgung, what to see in South Korea

7. Jongmyo Shrine

Jongmyo Shrine is the oldest and most authentic Confucian shrine to have survived. It was built in 1394. It is dedicated to the memory of the deceased warriors and their wives of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (1392-1897). Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

8. Bukhansan National Park

There are several Buddhist temples in the park and for the more patient ones who can climb the mountain, there is a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area. Bukhansan is home to more than 1,300 plant and animal species and boasts a wealth of historical and cultural heritage sites as well as over 100 Buddhist temples and hermitages.

8. Everland

Everland is an amusement park located in Yongyin, a suburb of Seoul. Operated by Samsung Group, Everland is South Korea’s largest amusement park and one of the top 10 most visited amusement parks in the world. It is visited by more than 10 million people a year. The park features more than 40 attractions. Everland is also known for its magnificent flower arrangements and beautiful gardens. Everland is one of the major attractions of South Korea.

9. Lotte World

Lotte World is a major health complex in Seoul. It includes the world’s largest indoor theme park (listed in the Guinness Book of World Records), which is open year-round, and the Magic Island outdoor amusement park, an artificial island on a lake connected to the shore by a monorail. Lotte World has many shopping malls, a luxury hotel, a Korean folklore museum, sports facilities, movie theaters, and more. It was opened on July 12, 1989, Mir Lotte is visited by 7.6 million people annually. Mir Lotte is one of South Korea’s major attractions.

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10. Soraksan (Seorak)

Seoraksan is the highest mountain in the Taebaek mountain range in Gangwon-do Province in eastern South Korea. It is located in a national park near the city of Seokcho. After Hallasan Volcano on Jeju Island and Chirisan in the south, Mount Soraksan is the third largest mountain in South Korea. The area around Soraksan is famous for its national park, at the entrance of which tourists are greeted by two waterfalls, Yuktam and Piryeong. Soraksan attracts many tourists, especially in the fall.

11. Busan Aquarium

The Pusan Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Korea, and one of the most talked-about tourist attractions in South Korea. The aquarium is home to about 35,000 marine animals of more than 250 species. Here you can see penguins, clawed otters, electric eels, sharks, piranhas, giant turtles, and many more unique sea creatures. The Busan Aquarium is a delightful way to spend a few hours marveling at the richness of the ocean.

Official website: www.busanaquarium.com

Busan Aquarium

12. Hwaseong Fortress

Hwaseong Fortress is another of South Korea’s unique World Heritage sites. The fortress is located in Suwon City, south of Seoul. The fortress was built in 1796 to protect the capital from Japanese invasions. Hwaseong Fortress includes 41 watchtowers and nearly 6 kilometers of fortress wall. If you travel to South Korea, be sure to visit this ancient fortress.

Official website: ehs.suwon.ne.kr

Hwaseong Fortress

13. Jeju Island

Jeju-do Island is one of South Korea’s most popular vacation destinations and can be reached by ferry from Busan. Located on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju-do Island enjoys relatively warm weather all year round, enabling locals and travelers from other countries to visit the island regardless of the season.

Besides the best beaches and resorts in South Korea, there are many interesting sites on the island, such as the History Museum, the Independence Museum, and the fascinating Hanyeo Museum, about the tradition of Hanyeo women divers on Jeju Island, as well as the Green Tea Museum and the Museum of African Art, which boasts the best collection of African art in Asia. The towering Mount Halla is also certainly one of the island’s top attractions.

Attractions of South Korea

Collected in one post the attractions of South Korea with photos and descriptions and the best places to visit if you come to the country of morning freshness. For convenience, I divided all interesting locations into categories.

If you do not know what to see in South Korea, I also recommend reading this post.

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Attractions of South Korea

DMZ or Demilitarized Zone.

One of the most popular places tourists visit is the so-called DMZ. It divides two Korea, its width is 4 km, length is more than 240 km, and the whole area is full of mines, barbed wire, shells and weapons. It is one of the world’s last remnants of the Cold War, and it is here that representatives of the two countries meet and negotiate.

DMZ Korea

North and South Korean Border

You can buy a day tour from Seoul to the Panmunjom settlement area and see the tunnels, the so-called JSA (Join Security Area), where the talks take place. It is interesting that before the visit you sign a document where you take responsibility in case of your death, the situation there is really tense.

Tours cost 85,000-135,000 won ($85,000-135,000).

Palaces and traditional architecture.

You’re unlikely to get past the capital, so in Seoul be sure to stop by the two royal palaces, Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung . There are actually more palaces, but these two are a must see.

Gyeongbokgung is a kind of Korean Kremlin, located next to a huge square (it reminded me remotely of Tiananmen in Beijing). It was built at the end of the 14th century, but was partially destroyed several times by the Japanese. Very cool to go to the changing of the guard ceremony (several times a day), it looks very bright and colorful!

Gyeongbokgung Seoul

Changdeokgung Palace is considered an aesthetic ideal of Korean traditional architecture with gardens, bridges, gates, throne room, and other pavilions.

Changdeokgung Seoul

Koreans themselves love to rent traditional costume and go for photographs against the graceful lines of the palace.

Also in Seoul just between the palaces is the traditional Bukchon Hanok Village . There are about 900 wooden houses called hanok. They are freshly built but give a good idea of what South Korea used to look like.

Bukchon Seoul

Traditional Quarter in Seoul

Something similar can be seen at Hanoe Folk Village (near Andong City) and Jeonju Hanok Maeul (near Jeonju City).

If you are in Busan and get tired of the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, check out Seokbul-sa Temple. It’s a beautiful walk and get an impression of traditional temple architecture.

Seokbulsa

Haein-sa (Haein-Sa) Temple near Daegu is one of the most beautiful in South Korea. Here, 80,000 thousand wooden tablets contain sacred Buddhist texts.

Haeinsa South Korea

Gyeongju City has a whole host of ancient Silla Dynasty sites, many of them on the UNESCO list.

Gyeongju South Korea

In Suwon, a suburb of Seoul, you’ll find ancient city walls and fortresses called Hwaseong.

Suwon South Korea

What else can I see in South Korea?

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National parks and outdoor activities

South Korean national parks have everything for an active, yet quite comfortable vacation: stairs, gazebos, drinking fountains, fences, toilets, and more.

Jeju Island is an ideal place for small hikes, enjoying nature, and beach vacations. There is a large extinct volcano called Hallasan at the center, and there are special trails called Olle Trails throughout the island.

Jeju Beach

Jeju Island Beach

Jeju Falls

Jeju Falls

You can even go scuba diving, see a few waterfalls, and have all the fun you want on Jeju – the tourist infrastructure here is excellent.

On the neighboring small island of Udo, you can also take a nice walk, because there are also Olle Trails and enjoy the silence and solitude.

Udo Island

Soraksan National Park is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Korea, especially during the fall months. It is easily accessible by city bus from the seaside town of Seoncho.

Soraksan Park

South Korea’s sights – Soraksan Park

Although Wolchulsan National Park (near the town of Mokpo) is the smallest in South Korea, it is known for its bizarre cliffs and a 52 meter high bridge spanning between two peaks.

Wolchulsan National Park

If you come in winter, be sure to go skiing or snowboarding at one of the ski resorts. Yeonpyeong is simply the most popular, Phoenix Park is only 40 km from Seoul, and Star Hill attracts Korean youth.

Yeonpyeong

Yeonpyeong Ski Resort

Markets and malls

You’ll find more than one market and mall in every Korean city. Here are just the most famous ones.

In Busan, visit Shinsegae Centum City, recognized as the largest mall in the world! It’s a shopping paradise, but the prices bite.

Shinsegae Centum City

Also Busan has the largest fish market in South Korea, Jagalchi . It’s right next to the port and you can buy all kinds of frozen foods you can imagine.

Jagalchi Market

Where to go in Korea – Jagalchi Fish Market

In Seoul, go to Namdaemun Market and Myeongdong Market Street .

Myeongdong

To buy something unusual, you can go to Daegu medicinal herb market or Incheon ceramics market .

Unusual Buildings

A large concentration of everything modern in the capital and Busan – these two cities are striking for their size, skyscrapers, giant bridges and unusual architecture.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza is a futuristic building in downtown Seoul designed by the famous Zaha Hadid.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza Seoul

What to see in Korea – Dongdaemun Design Plaza

The Seoul City Hall also looks very unusual, and the most interesting thing is inside. First of all, there is no air conditioning in this huge building, the air movement is provided by natural ventilation. Secondly, the building is simply buried in greenery. Despite the seriousness of the institution, the City Hall is visited by tourists.

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Seoul City Hall

The 123-story Lotte World Tower, even by the standards of Seoul, is enormous and visible from many parts of the city. Come to the entertainment complex and appreciate the scale. Here you can walk around the glass transparent floor and swim in the highest swimming pool in the world.

Lotte World Skyscraper

The Busan Cinema Center in Busan looks as if an alien ship has landed in the center of the city.

Busan Cinema

Unusual Museums and Parks

Yes, of course you can visit the Museum of Korean History, various art galleries and contemporary art galleries. But there are a few places in South Korea where you will definitely remember your trip.

Haesindang Park, an erotic folklore park near Samchok. It’s famous for its phallic figures made of wood, stone, and whatever else you can find. It is believed that if you can not get pregnant, then visit the local temple, and then surely you will have a boy. Other than that, the park is just a nice stroll. It is interesting that Koreans come to the park with their whole families, together with their children.

Haesindang park

Sex Museums. There are three thematic museums on Jeju Island at once: Jeju Loveland, Museum of Sex and health, and World Eros Museum. The island is popular with newlyweds who come here on their honeymoon, and visit these museums for fun and funny pictures.

These are not all the attractions of South Korea, of course. In reality there are many more, here I have listed the most famous of them.

Busan South Korea

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