A First Timers Guide To Korea

Matt Maraia , Aug. 14, 2017, 9:36 a.m.


If you’re planning your first trip to South Korea and you need a little travel advice, these are few things you should really consider adding to your itinerary. South Korea is BIG, so you obviously can’t do it all. We broke this list up into regions for you to easily navigate around and get the most out of your trip.

Seoul:

Chances are, if you’re a first time visitor you’ll be making your way to Seoul, so let’s start this off right. First things, first, head straight for the city’s downtown area. There you can wonder at traditional architecture at Gyeongbokgung Palace, go get lost in the labyrinth of tiny alleys and gorgeous old Korean homes in Bukchon Hanok Village and stuff yourself on endless Korean eats in the neighborhood of Insadong.

You’ll need a full day for this one but enjoy the great outdoors on a cruise or bike ride along the Han River, it’s gorgeous.  

For those who love to hike, Namsan Mountain and N Seoul Tower has amazing city views. Nearby is the National Museum of Korea, which houses thousands of ancient artefacts which provide a unique insight into the country’s past.

For my fashion and design fans, make your way to the stunning  Dongdaemun Design Plaza, the epicenter of Seoul’s design and fashion trends.

Finally, head south of the Han to experience Gangnam Style in the city’s upscale neighborhoods. Load up on K-beauty products and the latest looks in Sinsa-dong, rub elbows with Hallyu stars in the cafes of Apgujeong, and experience Korean nightlife in the swanky bars of Cheongdam-dong. Don’t forget your drinking manners or to play some fun drinking games at a bar.

JeonJu:

A must-stop, Koreans say “Eat once in Jeonju, and you’ll be spoiled for life”. Situated in the country’s southwest, Jeonju is renowned for its gastronomy, making it one of the best cities to delve into Korean cuisine. JeonJu has been dubbed internationally as Korea’s “Foodie Capital.” Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a big bowl of bibimbap (rice bowls with veggies and red pepper paste), as the dish was originally created here. It’s truly an amazing place to experience the traditional side of Korea. Wander cobblestone alleys, browse art galleries, waste away an afternoon in a quaint tea house and spend the night in a hanok (a traditional Korean home) in the heart of the city.

Busan:

Tucked away on the south side of Korea, is the beautiful city of Busan. With an impressive landscape of mountains and beaches, and a countless number of hot springs and seafood restaurants, Korea’s second-largest city is an animated coastal metropolis that first-time visitors often consider the highlight of their stay. Spend an afternoon at Gamcheon Culture Village, a hillside community brimming with brightly colored houses covered in murals. Afterwards, take in the tranquil beauty of Haedong Yonggung Temple, one of the only oceanside Buddhist temples in the entire nation.

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