10 places to visit in South Korea
Here’s a refresher on where to go on your next trip to South Korea.
If you were among K-drama fans who fantasised about travelling to South Korea for a holiday, then the announcement of the commencement of a Vaccinated Travel Lane between Singapore and South Korea must have gotten you excited.
From Nov 15, Singaporeans can travel to the Land of the Morning Calm without a need to serve quarantine.
There’s so much to do and so much to see, which begs the question: Where should you go first?
Here are 10 places we think you should definitely check out on your next trip to South Korea!
1. Gyeongbukgong Palace
Gyeongbukgong Palace is the first and largest of all royal palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted from 1392 to 1897. Serving as the main royal palace during its time, the palace is rich with history and is now home to the National Palace Museum, as well as the National Folk Museum.
Centuries may have passed since the palace’s activity, but the staff still adhere to their duties strictly to keep their heritage alive.
The Royal Guard Changing Ceremony at the palace takes place at 10am and 2pm daily for about 20 minutes each, so try not to miss their performance.
2. Bukchon Hanok Village
Live out your period drama dreams in traditional Korean costumes at the Bukchon Hanok village.
Even though there’s a village in its name, the area isn’t exactly residential, and rather resembles a street with lots of traditional Korean wares such as trinkets and clothes.
Situated within walking distance of the Gyeongbukgong Palace, there are multiple stores offering traditional Korean costumes for photo-taking opportunities, so don’t be shy to dress up a little and pretend to live a day in the past.
3. Namsan Seoul Tower
Why seal the deal with a ring when you can literally lock that promise in?
Just like Asia’s very own City of Love, the tourist hotspot is known for exchanges of heartfelt messages, be it endearing feelings of friendship or romantic affection.
Many K-pop groups are known to leave messages behind in the area, so you might be lucky enough to catch your faves’ autographs on one of these padlocks.
Unfortunately, the staff do clear out the older ones every once in a while, so your feelings better be stronger than a padlock!
Don’t be fooled by the prices of their street food, they taste much better than you think.
With food carts and makeup stores at every corner, walking through the streets of Myeongdong almost speeds time up with how occupied you’ll be eating and shopping non-stop. Some that you should definitely try are the famous egg bread in various food carts along the street, as well as the famous dalgona candy from Squid Game.
The quality of some street snacks, though, change depending on its ingredients, so be aware of what’s in the season when you go on your eating spree.
Though not so much a tourist attraction, Hongdae is the perfect spot for teenagers to live out their youth.
Known for their culture of street busking, many students perform K-pop dance covers here as part of their interest. The area is also frequented by many K-pop trainees to partake in these activities, such as G-IDLE before their debut.
With its lively atmosphere and music that never seems to stop, Hongdae romanticises the true feeling of being young and really brings out the meaning of YOLO.
6. Lotte World
Lotte World might as well be South Korea’s very own Disneyland.
Popular with people from all walks of life, the amusement park is made up of two main areas, an indoors one called Adventure, and the outdoors one Magic Island. Be prepared to book two days’ worth of tickets, because there’s just so much to do, you won’t be able to go on all the rides within a day.
Just for a day or two, Lotte World gives you the opportunity to just have fun and be a kid again, just as you should be enjoying yourself on this holiday.
7. Noryangjin Fish Market
Like most fish markets, Noryangjin begins their day as early as 3am with their famous fish auctions, where it’s a survival game to fight for the best quality fish.
However, despite how fishy things can get, the market is also known for its sashimi restaurants, where daredevils can try eating their live octopus. As disgusting as eating a live, moving animal sounds, it actually just tastes like very fresh seafood! Or so I’ve heard.
Don’t forget to pack some Zyrtec in case things don’t work out!
8. Gamcheon Culture Village
The village is an architectural definition of an organised mess.
Gamcheon Culture Village is a photographer’s dream. With its beautiful colours and slope-like shape, this village presents photo opportunities at almost every corner quite literally.
The place has also been nicknamed “Korea’s Santorini” and “Macchu Picchu of Busan” as it resembles a labyrinth. However, just for this place, it might be better to get lost. You never know where’s next photo-op you could stumble upon here.
9. Manjanggul Cave
You’ll be surprised to learn that there’s more than meets the eye in this 8km long cave. As the 12th longest lava tunnel in the world, the cave was formed thousands of years ago when the now extinct volcano Geomunoreum erupted.
Despite the years that have passed since the rock formations, the lava sculptures are well-preserved, especially the world’s largest laval column standing at 7.6m.
The cave is also home to the most number of animal species in the Geomunoreum Lava Tube System, including the largest known bat colony in Korea at 30,000 common bent-wing bats, so be mentally prepared to encounter these flying creatures.
10. Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
Fans of Crash Landing On You will surely be familiar with the DMZ.
Though a little more out of the way than the other locations, this border is rich with the history of the Korean war, an event that happened not too long ago and is still fresh.
A walk through the tunnels here is a dive into the past, a glimpse into the movement of North and South Korean armies during the war.
As obscure as the DMZ sounds, the last time this place made headlines was during the 2018 Trump-Kim Summit, where former US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-Un shook hands, both parties on either side of the border.