South Korea, although a small country, is packed full of different things to try, do, and visit. From delicious street food in the Namdaemun Markets to delicious food in small coastal towns (I’ve been doing a lot of eating on this trip, if you couldn’t tell). This is a little guide for you if you’d like to get off the beaten path during your time in Korea.
As I have now spent a collective month in Korea over two visits, I am definitely the most qualified person to tell you all about this culturally rich and diverse country, and all in a neat five hundred words. So strap in and take some notes.
If you’re coming to South Korea, odds are you’ll be touching down in Seoul. Its a huge city with all the hustle and bustle, butthe Wagga Wagga man inside of me enjoys a quiet town where you can stroll on the sidewalks without fear of being ran down by an UberEats scooter.
This brings me to Gyeongju, a quaint town of 200,000 located about 250 kilometres south-east of Seoul. It was the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom in the 7th-9th. From this it has a bunch of cultural spots, including 35 royal tombs around the city. It’s an easy bus ride from Seoul and gives you a new perspective on South Korea’s interesting vibe.
It’s also quite close to Busan, making it an easy-to-reach stopover in your travels. While there I’d recommend grabbing a bike and going for a cruise, and checking out the Gyeongju National Museum.
Another smaller town with an interesting vibe is Tongyeong. A coastal town a close to Busan and Gyeongju, located on an island a few kilometres from the South Coast. This place is one of my favourite cities in South Korea, with its busy fish markets with cheap sashimi and Mireuk Mountain as it’s backdrop, it’s a place not to pass up.
It’s also the home of Korea’s culturally iconic Turtle Boat (peep the @anu_globalprograms for photos from my takeover!), and was the scene of a few large naval battles from JNSERT TIME, which you can learn all about at Mireuk Mountain, as it provides the history and points out the locations of each one while you’re walking up the gentle trail to see the beautiful views at the summit.
For more mountaineering action visit Sokcho, on the coast directly east from Seoul. It is the base for visting for Seoraksan national park, one of the most well known hiking locations in Korea. It’s a beautiful location all year round, and particularly in autumn, with the orange leaves making a great background for your snaps. Sokcho is also a resort town so if you’re looking for a relaxing beach visit while you do your Korean exchange in the middle of winter I’d still recommend it. Sool up the sweet sweet winter discounts for the supreme budget experience.
When you come to South Korea and would like to see more lesser known parts of the country, be sure to check out these cities and you will not be disappointed!