10 trendy places to visit in South Korea
Experience the blend of tradition and modernity in South Korea during your next visit!
South Korea has consistently been one of Singaporeans’ top vacation destinations, and demand for travel is only increasing, if the growing number of flights to the country are any indication.
The country is rich with culture and long history, but also has new and special sights to offer. A new question has emerged for travellers in a post-pandemic world: which places are still worth seeing?
Fill your itinerary with these 10 unique sights that you should visit during your next trip to South Korea!
Dive into South Korea’s nightlife in the streets of Itaewon, the new hub for youths looking for freedom. While initially a red-light district, the neighbourhood is known for its energetic party scene, and is the country’s melting pot, where many minority communities live.
The vibrant streets are not only home to Seoul’s clubs, but also some of the most experimental fusion food restaurants that serve many delectable dishes.
Whether you want to turn up at a club or dig into Korean-style tacos, Itaewon is the perfect place to meet interesting people and live out the exuberance of youth.
Artsy, hipster, and Instagrammable – that’s Yeonnam-dong summed up in three words.
If you want to relax and experience South Korea’s growing café culture, the neighbourhood is lined with small boutiques and restaurants where you can sample delicious desserts and treats.
Sit back, enjoy a cup of coffee and snap some aesthetically pleasing photos for your feed, because Yeonnam-dong has Instagrammable interiors and food to please both the eyes and the tastebuds.
3. Gyeongbokgung Palace
Go back in time and recreate scenes from your favourite historical dramas at the Gyeongbokgung Palace which was home to the kings and the government of the Joseon era from the year 1395.
To truly immerse yourself in a different period of history (and enter the palace for free), make sure to stop by the stores nearby to rent a traditional Korean costume, or hanbok.
There’s nothing better to tie the experience together than moving into the future –– so stop by Nuldam Space, a nearby cafe where you can write and mail a letter to your 2023 self.
4. Gwangjang Market
Calling all foodies! Prepare to have a feast at Gwangjang Market, where stalls are stacked with mouth-watering authentic Korean street food.
Korean cuisine has a variety of dishes and regional interpretations, with each town adding unique flavours to classic dishes, and the market has assembled a long menu of appealing choices that will expand your taste palate.
In fact, a stall worth visiting is the Gohyang Kalguksu Stall, which specialises in hand-pulled noodles and was featured on Netflix’s Street Food.
Make sure to come early to secure a spot as the stall has limited seating and lunch hour sees long lines of people waiting to beat the summer heat with their spicy cold noodles.
Dongdaemun is not only the largest wholesale and retail shopping district in South Korea, it is also the largest fashion district.
The neighbourhood has flea markets and shopping malls stocked with the trendiest clothing and apparel. Splurging is inevitable, since Dongdaemun has something in every style, from the best deals to the most high-end of luxury goods.
But its true beauty lies in how the city never sleeps.
Aside from stores that close late, Dongdaemun is renowned for the night market that operates daily from the evening until 3am. Watching the city come to life at night is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
6. Naksan Park
Naksan Park is a perfect summation of Seoul’s landscape, blending mountainous views and the magnificent city skyline.
The park is at the base of Naksan Mountain, and its name comes from the mountain’s resemblance to a camel’s back. The hiking trail is relatively easy with a gentle slope, which is great for beginners who want a simple introduction to Korea’s mountains.
One of the defining features of the park is The Fortress Wall of Seoul, which was initially built to defend the city from intruders, but is now a prominent marker of Korea’s pre-colonial history.
7. Garden of Morning Calm
It’s time to take off your mask and smell the roses.
The Garden of Morning Calm, situated north of Seoul, has natural scenery filled with gorgeous flowers. Nature lovers who want a little sunshine and a breath of fresh air away from the buzzing urban city of Seoul will enjoy the garden’s greenery and walking trails.
Although the flowers are only in full bloom in the spring, it is still worth visiting all year round. The garden also changes its roster of plants often, showcasing a range of botanic views and displays to match what each season has to offer.
8. Nami Island
Slow down and escape the hustle and bustle of the city and visit Nami Island –– a small piece of land just outside Seoul which operates like its own tiny country, complete with its own flag and plenty of bizarre attractions.
While it only takes a short ferry ride to reach the island, thrill seekers can choose to take a zip-line from an 80-metre-high tower instead.
Upon reaching Nami Island, there’s lots of nature to see, and bicycles are available for rent to explore the ends of the island.
Nami Island is most beautiful in autumn, when the leaves are changing from bright green to a warm red. The fall foliage, combined with the cool breeze and calm scenery is definitely a sight to behold.
9. Gamcheon Culture Village
Erected on the side of a sloping mountain, this colourful village resembles a little Lego town, and houses cafés and art shops with handcrafted pieces from both local and international artists.
The village itself was revamped as an art project that provides homes for the people of Busan, and its winding alleyways are decorated with murals and mini exhibits designed by the residents themselves.
Don’t let the steep sets of stairs intimidate you. Actually witnessing this architectural project is worth the journey!
10. Busan Air Cruise
Get a bird’s-eye view of Busan’s glimmering sea and city skyline on the Busan Air Cruise, departing from Songdo Beach.
Aboard the cable car, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the sunset. You’ll arrive at Amnan Park, where fans of The Little Prince can also enjoy a little exhibit at the viewing deck with statues from the book, which are prime spots for snapping photos.
Upon returning to Songdo Beach, there’s a wide selection of regional delicacies such as flavourful seafood and pork broth that you can savour while admiring the Busan seascape.