Korea is home to many beautiful locations. With lush landscapes and well-preserved historical landmarks, there is truly something for everyone when traveling in Korea. Although traveling isn’t possible at the moment, we can still appreciate all of the beauty that Korea has to offer - and even add them to our bucket list to visit when we can! With that sentiment in mind, we’ve compiled a list of seven places you definitely have to visit when you come to Korea.
Andong Hahoe Folk Village
This UNESCO World Heritage Site truly encapsulates its name, which literally translates to “the village enveloped by water.” Andong Hahoe Folk Village was built in the Joseon period style of architecture and is home to many folk traditions. The village is also organized around the geomantic guidelines of pungsu-jiri-seolu, Korea’s version of feng shui; and is designed in the shape of a lotus flower.
Here, you can learn about the local traditions and culture and try out Korean delicacies. Another added attraction is the Andong Mask Dance Festival, which takes place every year at the end of September. It is the largest mask festival in the world with many performances, masks, music, dance and good food. Make sure to add this to your itinerary if you come at the beginning of October!
Suwon is city known for having a little bit of everything. With many markets for those interested in shopping, you are sure to find everything you’re looking for, and even some things you weren’t!
For those who want to learn more about Korea’s history, there is the iconic Hwaseong Fortress - with its imposing stone walls and impressive archways, this Joseon-era fortress is complete with four pagoda-style gates, artillery towers, and observation decks. Another magnificent landmark at the site is the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace, a temporary palace where the king and his royal family went for relaxation or getaway and a shelter during war expeditions.
The Haeinsa Temple is a 1,200-year-old structure that is central to Korean Buddhism, with its name meaning “reflection on a calm sea.” Hainsa belongs to the Chogye Order, a Zen school of Buddhism. It is also home to the oldest intact Buddhist canon. If you are Buddhist, or simply want to learn more about Korean Buddhist culture, the temple also offers a “Temple Stay” program where visitors can experience the life of Buddhist practitioners and learn the various aspects of Korean Buddhist culture and history through stories told by monks.
Boseong Green Tea Fields
With approximately 40% of Korea's tea produced in the rolling fields of Boseong, this location is definitely one for the tea lovers. While exploring the fields and appreciating the spectacular view, you can enjoy delicacies such as fresh green tea ice cream and green tea pork belly. If you happen to visit during May, Boseong puts on a five-day green tea festival, where visitors can learn how tea is made, from when it is picked to when it is produced; as well is pick the leaves and make their own tea!
Undoubtedly one of the most well-known vacation spots, Jeju Island’s white sandy beaches and beautiful sunsets are a must-see. For those who love seafood, Jeju’s Hyeopjae Beach is particularly known for its delicious abalones and conches, served fresh in the seafood restaurants dotting the beach.
At Ggotji Beach, you will find two large rock formations on the beach that are known as Granny and Grandpa Rocks. According to Korean legends, the wife of a commander from the Silla Dynasty became a rock whilst waiting faithfully for her husband, who now sits beside her. The sight of the sun sinking between the two rocks is unmissable!
Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty, boasts the nickname “a museum with no walls” due to the many due to the presence of many cultural and archeological sites. The city centre is surrounded by distinctive, round grassy tombs (known as tumuli) as well as traditional architecture. One of the most memorable sights in Gyeongju is that of the city’s iconic, colourful hip roofs alongside the rolling green hills.
Every year, Gyeongju also hosts a cherry blossom festival, an event that attracts both locals and tourists who want to enjoy a scenic walk alongside Bomun Lake. The festival features many different kinds of activities that differ year by year. In the past, there have been live concerts, fireworks, the Gyeongju cherry blossom marathon and a beer festival!
The Garden of Morning Calm
This beautiful arboretum is one of Korea’s most popular tourist destinations, and was designed in 1996 by professor Han San-kyung of Sahmyook University with the ambition of spreading the Korean interpretation of beauty. The arboretum is divided into twenty sections, with the most popular section being Sukgeun Garden, which takes the shape of the Korean peninsula, and symbolizes the desire for reunification.
For those who are interested in spending more time in this exhibit, the Garden of Morning Calm is also home to a flower shop, a coffee house, a tea house, some small shops and a Korean restaurant!
Have you visited Korea before? If not, where would you want to go? Let us know in the comments below!