The list of beautiful places in South Korea is long and is filled with verdant plantation fields, ancient temples, an extensive offshore archipelago, and trendy neighborhoods.
The country is brimming with traditional folk villages that introduce travelers to its ancient culture. Thriving alongside are its modern, swanky cities with their high skyscrapers and brilliant skylines.
In a nutshell, South Korea is a complete package that appeals to explorers, vacationers, culturally curious, and history buffs too. There are popular cities buzzing with an urban lifestyle, countryside with their off-beaten paths, and distant destinations pegged with majestic castles.
Interestingly, when it comes to the Land of the Morning Calm, most people only think about traveling to its capital city Seoul.
However, there is so much more the country has to offer.
Here is a list of 10 beautiful places in South Korea to inspire a comprehensive and fulfilling trip to the gorgeous Asian nation.
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Best places to visit in South Korea
Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul
Settled adjacent to the bustling capital city is the old and well-preserved Bukchon Hanok Village.
Since, the village is located north of Seoul’s two prominent landmarks, the Jongno Area and the Cheonggyecheon Stream, it was named Bukchon which translates to Northern. Hanok is the native word for the traditional Korean houses that brim the district.
This picturesque neighborhood was formerly the residential quarter for nobles and high-ranking government officials.
Today, it boasts opulent houses, and winding alleys that work as a time capsule to its wealthy era. Dotting the place is also a collection of cozy guesthouses, upscale boutiques, tea houses, cultural centers, and restaurants.
Several houses have been refurbished into cultural museums, artisan workshops, and art galleries.
Its traditional architecture dates back to the Joseon Dynasty and is the main reason why Bukchon Hanok Village is among the most beautiful places in Seoul.
Other amazing things to do while you are in Seoul
- Wander around Gyeongbokgung Palace the largest palace of the Joseon dynasty.
- Visit the DMZ once considered as the most dangerous place on earth.
- Shop till you drop.
- Try the delicious Korean street food.
- Rent a Hanbok.
- Visit a themed café.
- The best things to do in Seoul.
- The perfect Seoul itinerary for first-time visitors.
- What to do when you have 4 days in Seoul.
- Best things to do in Seoul at night.
- Best day trips, day tours, and weekend trips from Seoul.
- Where to stay in Seoul.
- Best Airbnb in Seoul.
- 15 of the coolest hotels in Seoul.
Witness the country’s Morning Calm at the gorgeous Jinhae.
Located just 1 hour away from Busan, this stunning landscape also makes a wonderful day trip from Busan.
One of the reasons why this Changwon city is among South Korea’s most beautiful places is the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival.
Visit this beautiful place in Korea during April to take part in the country’s biggest spring fest. Decorated with the natural cherry blossoms in their full bloom, it offers a sight for sore eyes.
The most picturesque scene is witnessed at the Yeojwacheon Stream, where cherry blossom trees line both its sides and ornamental lights at night set a romantic mood. One of the nights ends with the spectacular Sokcheonhang Port Multimedia Fireworks Show.
Nestled in Gyeonggi Province, Gapyeong is where the Battle of Kapyong, a major Korean battle, was fought. Today, the city serves as a popular Korean travel destination that pulls thousands of travelers from across the world.
Dotting the beautiful city is a chic town called Petite France, which is reminiscent of Colmar. Gapyeong also boasts the pictorial Garden of Morning Calm housing 5000 species of plants.
Nature is lush at the district’s Nami Island and Gapyeong Rail Park.
Perhaps, with the bungee jumping and water sports adventure in Hoegok-ri, the place also becomes an attraction for thrill-seekers.
Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan is the third-largest and one of the most beautiful mountains in South Korea. Sprawling across its surroundings is the eponymous national park.
It is famous for its landscape, lushness, clear streams, and vibrant wildlife.
Pegged in the northeast of Korea, the mountain rises to a astounding heights. Daecheongbong Peak, with a height of 1,708 meters, is the highest peak within the park’s borders and offers exhilarating views.
A variety of nature trails encompass through the mountain, making it a welcome paradise for hikers of all skill levels.
Most of these trails take only a few hours to complete and offer scenic vistas on the way. One of them being the Geumganggul Cave.
The park itself is humongous at 163.6 square kilometers and spans through four cities and counties. With its dense lushness, flora, and fauna, it was the first to become a national park in Korea. While flanked by the tall Seoraksan summit, the park is also dotted with over 30 other small mountains.
Another popular site in the park is the Ulsanbawi Rock, a formation of six granite peaks.
One of the best ways to view the park is via the cable car that goes up to the Gwongeumseong Fortress.
Additionally, the park also boasts cultural sites like the historical Buddhist temples of Baekdamsa and Sinheungsa.
The wildlife is also rich here.
Observe closely and you might spot rare Korean musk, Siberian flying squirrels, or even an Asian black bear.
Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond in Gyeongju
No list of most beautiful places in South Korea is ever complete without the mention of this stunning landmark. Once the residence and a banquet site for national events organized by the crown prince of the Silla Kingdom, the palace today stands, seemingly afloat, on the Wolji Pond for tourists to marvel at its majestic nightscape.
The history of the pond is fascinating. The pond was named Anapji Pond until pottery was discovered with the name “Wolji” meaning a pond that reflects the moon.
Tracing the shores of its emerald waters is the regal palace. Amidst this royal site lies Gyeongju National Museum with over 30,000 relics, a Wolji Miniature, and much more. There’s also a souvenir shop from where you can get books about the palace’s history and replicas of some relics. It is a gold mine for the history buff in you.
However, what makes the Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond one of the best places to visit in South Korea is their beauty past sundown. Awash in a flood of light, the palace gleams as the pond lives up to its name with the reflection of the luminous moon.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Busan
Tucked by the sea, the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple enjoys a calm ambiance.
Also known as the Temple on the Coast or Water Temple, it is a popular spot to watch the sunrise, especially on the first day of the year.
During April, the beauty of this cultural site stuns everyone with blooming cherry blossoms.
And later, on Buddha’s birthday, it lights up with hundreds of paper lanterns, becoming the best place to witness Busan’s Lantern Festival.
At the entrance, rows of 12 larger-than-human zodiac animals, other statues, and various carved stones welcome you.
Past the unique sculptures is a 7-story pagoda and three temples that preserve the unique religious traditions of the country. One of them is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy.
The main temple complex is guarded by four stone lions signifying joy, sorrow, anger, and happiness.
You will also find large statues of Yacksayeorae Healing Buddha and Laughing Buddha here. At the shrine of Daeungjeon Main Hall rests the oversized golden statue of the Future Buddha.
Perhaps, the most notable religious sculpture is the mystical statue of Goddess of Mercy or Haesu Gwaneum Daebul, on which heavy snow never settles and around which arrowroot flowers grow all year round.
In short, this temple is where Buddhism and nature intertwine to create a meditative atmosphere to practice spirituality.
Enjoying the amazing views of the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is one of the best things to do in Busan.
Other amazing things to do in Busan
- Take colorful pictures at the Gamcheon Cultural Village.
- Take the Songdo Cable Car and admire Busan from above.
- Relax in a Korean Spa.
- Get a tan on the beach.
- The perfect 2 day Busan itinerary.
- The best area to stay in Busan for first-time visitors.
- Amazing things to do in Busan at night.
- How to choose the best day tour from Busan.
The scenic Jeju Island, fondly known as Island of the Gods, is among the most beautiful places in Korea and rightly so.
Located just off the South Coast of the country, it boasts a scenic setting that drives jetsetters, holidaymakers, and honeymooners by the thousands.
Lush with unparalleled tropical beauty, it is a romantic destination perfect for couples as well as nature lovers.
The island also features a volcano called Hallasan that overlooks the 224km semi-tropical national park.
Hallasan also commands the wild coastline with numerous waterfalls and the world’s longest lava tube.
Wrapped inside these tubes is the Manjang cave with a 1km eerie passageway.
Dotting this idyllic destination are also a whole series of Dol Hareubang statues carved from lava rocks. They are thought to represent gods and where placed at the gates to stop demons from entering.
Look closely, they are quite reminiscent of Easter Island’s moai.
Apart from the statues and geological gems, the island boasts an extravagant theme park, Jeju Loveland, dedicated to sex. Massive nude statues can be seen locked in passionate embraces or caught in ecstatic throws.
Perhaps, holidaymakers will also be interested in the soothing water, oxygen, and massage therapy offered at the island’s Hanwha Therapy Resort.
The 16th largest city of Korea, Jeonju is a melting pot for an eclectic food scene, historical architecture, hanok guesthouses, scenic environs, and buzzing nightlife.
While there is a lot offered by this beautiful city, nothing surpasses the fame of its gastronomy.
Gourmets will fall in love with this UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
Even Koreans believe that food in general tastes best here.
Not only does the city serve delicious food, but it is also the birthplace of Korea’s start dish – Bibimbap, a rice bowl topped with veggies, an egg, and chili paste.
Today, a variety of bibimbap is served in the eateries and food stalls across the city. One variety that you must absolutely try when on a visit is the bibimbap waffle.
Another reason that makes Jeonju-si one of the best places to visit in South Korea is that here you can sleep and live like royalty.
Dotting the city are many lavish hanoks that have been turned into palatial hotels over time.
One of them is owned by the last King’s grandson, thus making it the perfect regal abode for anyone willing to taste royalty.
The Suncheon Bay in Jeonnam is a coastal wetland comprising of a 3.5km-long bubbling stream, an expansive tideland, wide reed field, and an eponymous national garden. Untouched by development and mankind, the bay area and its salt swamps have their natural scenes flawlessly preserved even today.
The addition of the Suncheon Bay Natural Garden has provided a verdant habitat for migratory birds, indigenous plants, and native animals. Its dense canopy is a collection of over 500 species of trees and 113 species of flowers. A variety of harlequin tulips and royal azaleas add vibrant colors to the garden.
Visit the garden in the month of May to watch a beautiful yellow wave of canola flowers take over its green canopy.
Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul
The UNESCO-listed Changdeokgung Palace tops the list of prettiest places in Seoul. The name of this palace translates to Prospering Virtue Palace.
Within its traditional Korean walls are five main palaces that were built during the Joseon Dynasty and illustrate the beauty of Korean architecture.
Enclosed inside its grand façade are several prominent highlights.
These highlights include the giant Donhwamun Gate, the formal Gwolnaegaksa Complex, and the Korean harem in Huijeongdang Hall.
Perhaps, the most important high point of a visit to the Eastern Palace is seeing the Huwon Secret Garden.
This fragrant area lies behind the Changdeokgung Palace and spans across 32 hectares.
The garden is so enormous it takes up 60% of the palace ground. Inside this beautiful Eden are multiple landscape lawns, lotus ponds, and over 26,000 specimens of trees.
The secret garden is also called Geumwon meaning Forbidden Garden because it was only meant for the king. Even high-ranking officials and nobles were prohibited from entering the garden.
Today, it is open to the public and allows anyone to breathe in the idyllic views of what can only be described as paradise on Earth.
When touring the beautiful places in Korea, even the most experienced and well-prepared traveler is in for a pleasant surprise.
When it comes to the places to visit in South Korea, a photograph seldom does justice to their splendor.
Whether you explore Seoul or a hamlet in its distant northern corner; the sea-side temple or a wetland reserve, Korea will surprise you with its scenic and cultural heritage at every step.
The most important tip would be to keep multiple camera batteries because you will be snapping every few seconds.
After all, South Korea is a land of fine architecture unseen elsewhere, pictorial cherry blossoms, high volcanic peaks, and 3000 offshore islands.
The country is a harmonic concoction of beautiful sites. Besides, it also serves scrummy food that will make even the least foodie person’s stomach growl.
A part of the country’s glory is also its festivals, be it the Lantern Festival or the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival. Korea is trendy and ancient; serene and effervescent; minimalistic and indulgent; religious and romantic – all at the same time.
There is no better place to visit on your next trip than South Korea.