Pop culture attracts many tourists to South Korea thanks to the popularity of its music, television drama, and movies. So intense is the Korean wave or Hallyu that it does not just contribute to the tourism sector but the country’s foreign investment.

COVID-19

Before the pandemic, this Asian nation attracted around 15 million people annually. Its tourism industry is slowly recovering from the effect of the health emergency, and as restrictions loosen, its capital Seoul and other South Korean cities are ready to welcome guests. The attractions are now well-rested after a break – all eager to welcome weary travelers. Annyeonghaseyo!

10 Andong

Tourists who want to dive deep into Korean culture beyond K-pop should visit Andong. It's a known cultural and folk traditions hotspot, thanks to the presence of many heritage sites and open-air museums. Its most famous attraction is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hahoe Folk Village. It is home to not just period architecture but folk ceremonies and traditions. Meanwhile, among vibrant events tourists can experience, the mask festival is the most interesting. Those who want to dabble in Confucianism can also visit three academies. When it comes to heritage, Andong means business.

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9 Daejeon

Daejeon is a metropolis where tourists can have the best of both worlds: technology centers and a lush natural environment. With that, anyone who wants to be near modernity yet be in the presence of Mother Nature can rest easy in this vibrant community. Aside from numerous museums, this bustling city is home to Yuseong Foot Spa and other hot springs, mountains like Sikjangsan and Bomunsan, rivers, and gardens. Daejeon is the perfect place to get away from it all yet be within the comforts of an urban jungle.

8 Suwon

Suwon is home to many sports teams and known to the economic world as the city where Samsung Electronics is headquartered. Beyond its love for sports and technology, Suwon is also proud of its culture, evident in its most popular attraction, Hwaseong Fortress, which encircles the city. The fortification is now a keeper of traditions where visitors can enjoy watching martial arts performances, royal guards’ ceremonies, and festivals in the square. Suwon knows how to impress even the tech-savvy, especially Samsung lovers.

7 Geoje

Geoje hosts numerous islands, like Geojedo, the second largest in South Korea, and the tourist-favorite Oedo. The latter is home to Hallyeohaesang National Park, a western-style botanical garden with more than 1,000 plant species. Jisimdo, meanwhile, is famous for its camellias, and Haegeumgang-do’s Sipja Donggul awaits those who want caving adventures. The city is also ready to share its past through heritage and cultural spots, like museums, castles, old buildings, and even a Korean War-era POW camp. Going to Geoje means going home.

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6 Gyeongju

The sea breeze will welcome anyone who visits Gyeongju. A major tourist destination, this coastal city boasts of its Silla heritage. There are many remains of the ancient kingdom in the city that it’s dubbed a “museum without walls.” Gyeongju National Park and the museum are the best places to peek into the city's monarchical past. Other unique attractions are ancient tombs, like Cheonmachong. The city is also proud of Cheomseongdae, considered the oldest observatory in East Asia. History buffs and even those who just want to take photos will enjoy exploring Gyeongju’s Silla sights.

5 Incheon

Incheon is among South Korea’s most famous cities, as expected, because of the presence of global enterprises. This bustling urban jungle has many sightseeing spots, like the country’s only Chinatown, the busy Jayu Park, some great restaurants, Wolmido and its historic beach, and the recreational spot of Aral Canal, among others. The city’s islands should not be missed, too, like Ganghwa, where hikers can enjoy exploring a mountain and a palace, and Yeongjongdo, a place of pristine beaches. From its iconic bridge to its hidden gems, Incheon will scratch anyone’s travel itch.

4 Gangneung

Waking up in Gangneung is a heavenly experience, especially since it has the town of Jeongdongjin, probably South Korea’s most famous sunrise-watching spot. As tourists enjoy a picnic on the beach, they will be enamored with the beauty of the horizon as the sun slowly starts its show. It’s the perfect way to commence the day, so a sunset visit is enticing, too. Aside from the beach, Gangneung is also lucky to have a lake at its disposal. In this municipal city, it seems like calm is available everywhere.

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3 Jeju City

Jeju City is the capital of Jeju island, a popular spot for sun-worshippers. Anyone who plans to explore the attractions of the island will pass through this city. It might not be the main attraction, but it has humble spots like Yongyeon Pond, a place to end the day with a chef’s kiss, the tranquil Halla Arboretum, and the central downtown area where wooden government buildings can be checked out. After exploring the city’s points of interest, the tourists will visit Jeju's beaches, inspired and ready for adventure.

2 Busan

Busan is filled with life, probably the reason why a horde of zombies is raring to visit it. The city is safe, though, as it’s an important business, educational, and cultural spot. Busan is teeming with numerous parks, beaches, cultural villages, and shopping districts. It’s even the home of the world’s largest department store, Shinsegae Centumcity. Temples and historical sites also dot the area, alongside performance centers and museums. After a day of sightseeing, tourists should drop by its spring resorts and spas, the perfect places to end the day. The list goes on, and the train to Busan is ready to serve the next batch of tourists.

1 Seoul

As it should be, the capital city of Seoul should not miss. Its modernity is superb, evident in towering skyscrapers, towers, and other high-rise buildings. Though an urban jungle, it's also proud of its historical spots, like the areas where prehistoric artifacts were discovered. Its cultural shrines are grand, too, namely, Changdeokgung, Jongmyo, Namhansanseong, and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon dynasty. Its museums, religious monuments, and modern architectural wonders are proof that the past meets the present in Seoul. The city is soulful, indeed.