Well, after five years in this beautiful country, I officially only have one week left.
During those five years, I have seen and done some incredible things.
Below is my list of the ten things that anyone visiting Korea should do!
1. Go hiking
Korea is about 70% mountains, so no matter where you are, you are guaranteed to have a mountain close by! It’s a great way to see the sheer scale of Korean cities from up above or to just get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Hiking is insanely popular among older Koreans, they usually hike in groups and bring lots of beer and soju for when they make it to the top. But, you can always find quieter mountains and trails.
There is so much more to Korea than Seoul! I have always said the same thing about Ireland, so many people only visit the capital city and it’s such a shame because that is only the very tip of the iceberg. Korea has amazing historical towns like Gyeongju, beautiful beaches down south and on the East coast, skiing up north and lots of beautiful national parks. If you do get to Korea, make sure to get out of Seoul and see the real Korea!
3. Go to a festival
In the Spring and Autumn, Korea has hundreds of festivals. Some of my favorites are, the lantern festival in Jinju, The Green Tea Festival in Hadong, The Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae, The Fireworks Festival in Gwangali and one that I’ve never been to but would love to go to is the Andong Mask Festival.
Okay, this is pretty obvious. In recent years, Korean food has become insanely popular abroad. It is so delicious and a Korean meal is much more than just the food, it is an experience in itself. I love cooking my own food at the table while snacking on side dishes and drinking and having fun with friends.
5. Take a stroll down Insadong
I love this street! I don’t know why, because at the end of the day it’s a tourist trap, but I love it. Here is where you’ll find all of your souvenirs and Korean artwork. It is also home to some beautiful tea houses.
6. Go to the DMZ
This was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. The DMZ is the most heavily guarded border in the world, it is a border of two countries who are technically still at war. We booked through the USO and had to sign disclaimers saying that if we were killed it wasn’t their fault. There were so many rules to adhere to and it was all so intense and serious but it definitely gave me a better understanding of the war between North and South Korea.
You can read more about our experience here.
This was such an amazing experience for me and definitely one of the most unique things that I’ve done while here in Korea. It’s a great way to find some peace, learn more about Korea, it’s culture and Buddhism. It’s 100% a must do experience while in Korea.
You can read about our temple stay here.
8. Go to a noraebang
A noraebang is a singing room and best visited when you are drunk! These places stay open nearly all night long so you can go in, they will bring you to a room, you order some food and drink and then sing to your hearts content. My favorite noraebangs actually score your singing out of 100 which allows for a bit of competition. The photo above was taken at our favorite noraebang in Jangyu, they provide costumes and it’s so much fun!
Gyeongju is the historic capital of Korea. It is just full of temples, burial sites, historical buildings and amazing food. I have been here twice and absolutely loved it both times. There is so much to see and do while there that you’ll never get bored!
10. Go to a dog/cat cafe
You can’t beat having a little playmate while sipping on your coffee. We used to have a cat cafe in our city and I loved going there. It was a dream world for cats as it had lots of hidden nooks and they could climb all the way up to the ceiling. Unfortunately, it has since closed down but we do have two dog cafes (that I know of). Which keep us busy and allow Willy to socialize with other dogs.
You can read more about dog cafes here.
So, there you have it, this small country has some spectacular scenery, culture and food…makes sure you get to experience it all if you ever come here!
How about you? Is there anything that you would add or take away from this list?