Stopping right in your tracks due to the breathtaking scenic views is something that is going to occur quite frequently when you take a trip to South Korea. Home to 20 different national parks, which are scattered throughout the country, there are very few times that you will be too far from the splendid natural attractions, such as rugged mountains, waterfalls, streams and vibrant foliage. On top of that, you will encounter many serene gardens inside temples and palaces and the huge tea plantations, which are nothing short of awe inspiring. There are nine different cultural properties in South Korea and one natural property – the dormant volcanos and the lava-tube caves of Jeju-do. The impressive palaces and temples stand right next to charming, traditional villages full of the traditional homes of the region, the hanok. Imagine listening to your favorite kpop chart song while strolling through imminent beauty. If you are planning a visit, some of the must see areas and attractions that you should take time to find are highlighted here.
This is considered to be Hawaii, only in Korea. This is a semi-tropical island that is just south of the mainland. It is as close to paradise that you will likely find. This is also home to the tallest mountain in South Korea, Halla Mountain, where the hiking trails take you through miles of exquisitely manicured terrain. When you reach the top of the island, you will see truly spectacular views of the extinct volcano crater, with white sandy beaches surrounding the entire area. Take time to look at the Crater Tubes, as well, which were caves created from the receding lava of the Hallasan’s eruption.
Songnisan National Park
With mountains throughout South Korea, it is no surprise that hiking has become one of residents favorite weekend past times. One of the most popular areas for this is the Songnisan National Park, which is located in the central part of South Korea. Here you will find the Beopjusa Temple, featuring a Gold Buddha statute, making a great start for any hike. The mountain village also offers a number of home-stays and restaurants, where you will be able to stay overnight. When you reach halfway up the mountain, you will find a Birosanjang, or hut, where you will be able to encounter some real wilderness, which is extremely rare for South Korea. While the hiking is not too difficult, the views are something that you will never really forget.
Seoraksan National Park
This is the most famous park in all of South Korea. It is found just outside of the fishing village, Sokcho, located in the North-eastern corner of the Gangwon-Do. There are a number of things to do here, including hiking, gambling, rafting, spending time on the beach and even bungee jumping. In the winter time there are a number of ski resorts that you can visit in the area. The fact is that you could spend several weeks exploring this location, which is why you should dedicate, at least, a few days.
This is the location of the capital of the Shilla dynasty, which existed over 2000 years ago you will find cultural relics around every corner. You could spend days here and still not see everything that the location has to offer. It might even inspire you write a hit for the kpop chart! No matter what you do, the history in this location is all around, giving you an experience that you will never really forget.
Andong Folk Village
This is the home of the Mask Festival. While Andong is a very small city located in South Korea, it is extremely famous for the food offered right next to the train station. However, the highlight of the entire city is the Hahoe Folk Village where you can experience the mask dance that takes place every weekend and the two week-long festival that is held annually in the fall. One of the most appealing parts of visiting this area is that you can stay overnight in one of the traditional houses that is present.
This is the Demilitarized Zone, and may not be a beautiful site, but one that you should not miss. It is only 100 km from Seoul and here you will find that you can cut the tension with a knife. You will see soldiers standing at attention, while armed and the only way to experience this location is by joining in on a tour.
There is no question that the scenery, culture and history of South Korea offers visitors more than a few things to do. If you are planning a visit, including the locations highlighted here on your trip itinerary will ensure you get to experience the very best that the country has to offer. Also, if you don’t like hiking, then South Korea is likely not the right vacation destination for you, since this is how you will find the most spectacular views.