South Korea

Top Six Things to Do in South Korea – Carolina’s Travel Tips

Carolina Barraza

Carolina Barraza

September 15, 2018

We at TravelBud love to share travel stories, we believe travelling is of the greatest experiences one can embark on. We work day in and day out to make people’s dreams of teaching English and traveling abroad come true. Our team member Carolina, recently took a trip to South Korea and she’s brought back with her plenty of tips!

Are you wondering whether you’d enjoy yourself in South Korea? Here’s a list of six things to do in this beautiful country:

Palaces

Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Especially if you’re in Seoul, visiting palaces is a must! Out of the five grand palaces in Seoul, I got the chance to visit four, each of them with their own unique charm.

I enjoyed them all and recommend showing up for the free tours they offer in English. These will give you a brief history on Korea and will make walking around the massive grounds of each palace all that more enjoyable.

A couple of tips: buying the package deal with entrances to all palaces + the secret garden at Changdeokgung Palace will save you time and cash, and be sure to check out Deoksugung Palace at night, it’s beautiful!

Temples

Haedong Yonggungsa temple.

Haedong Yonggungsa temple.

Temples are alive and well in South Korea, with many locals still heading over there to offer their prayers.

If you have time, head over to the historical district of Gyeongju for a tour around Bulguksa temple from the Silla dynasty, one of the major Buddhist temples in the country.

If you happen to be in Busan, I really recommend checking out Haedong Yonggungsa temple, a unique masterpiece for its privileged location on the rocky cliffs along the Busan coastline.

Finally, if you are staying in South Korea for some time, look up a temple stay in your area! A temple stay is an experience offered by certain Buddhist temples in South Korea where locals and foreigners alike stay on temple grounds and live the “temple life” for a few days.

Your stay can be as short as one night or as long as two weeks, depending on the experience you’re looking for.

Parks

Cheonsong Geopark.

The serene Cheonsong Geopark.

South Korea is full of natural parks, which are perfect for spending a nice day out in the open air.

City parks are great for a bit of exercise and fresh air, and my two favorite ones were both in Busan: Dongbaek Park near Haeundae Beach and Taejongdae near the Nampo area.

Busan has a spectacular coastline of beautiful beaches, turquoise waters and rocky cliffs, all of which can be admired from these city parks. The walk around Taejongdae will give you a good cardio workout, so bring a good pair of walking shoes and drinking water!

Outside the city, South Korean national parks are breathtaking for their mountainous landscapes and great trees. I had the pleasure of walking around a small area of the Cheongsong Geopark, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my trip.

Beaches

The gorgeous Haeundae Beach.

The gorgeous Haeundae Beach.

Have I already mentioned how beautiful Busan is? A top beach destination in South Korea, this city makes for a great weekend getaway. Head over to Haeundae and Gwangalli beach, bring your towel and umbrella for the sun, relax and enjoy!

For a longer trip, Jeju Island is a Korean paradise on earth. The island is much larger than it seems, so plan to stay there a few nights to relax and take in all the gorgeous views.

Markets

Myeongdong night market.

Myeongdong night market.

Are you looking for souvenirs to take home? Are you a little hungry? Head over to a market!

No, seriously, markets in South Korea have everything. A curious mix of bargain shops, traditional Korean crafts and street food, Korean markets are the perfect afternoon activity to get to know your city and locals a bit better. Get yourself a potato spiral and start walking, you won’t regret it!

Shopping

Myeongdong Street.

Myeongdong Street.

South Koreans are no strangers to shopping. From luxury brands to bargains, you won’t feel like you’ll need to head back home any time soon to find that pair of sneakers you want to buy.

There’s something for everyone in terms of shopping, but two things jumped out at me: the food courts at department stores and all the skincare products.

food court at the world's largest department store.

Fancy food court at Shinsegae City.

Food courts at department stores are not messing around. You’ll frequently find these listed in travelers’ guides for where to eat in the city. After being to a couple of these, it’s no wonder why. My first experience was with the Hyundai department store in Daegu, located in the basement of the building.

Two laps around the floor weren’t enough to decide what to eat or where! And this one was nothing compared to the food court at Shinsegae Centum City in Busan (also in the basement), where I must admit to overindulging in sweets. They were just so tempting, I couldn’t resist!

Hyundai department store Daegu.

Hyundai department store Daegu.

Finally, the infamous Korean skincare products. Before heading over to South Korea, I thought I was prepared for long list of skincare options, especially Korean face masks. I was wrong. Korean skincare goes way beyond anything I ever imagined, and you have to be there to see how massive the market really is.

In shopping districts like Myeongdong, only one out of ten stores will sell something other than cosmetics and skincare. In Daegu, there’s even a whole Cosmetics Street!

Popular local brands like Innisfree and Nature Republic are pretty much everywhere. My suggestion? Treat yourself to a nice face mask after a long day, it feels like heaven!

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