For any traveler thinking of visiting South Korea, Seoul is the number one destination on their list. With an astonishing number of shops, cafes, restaurants, and wild nightlife, it's hard to grow tired of a city that offers so much. But sometimes it's nice to get out of the city and change up the scenery. South Korea is only 100, 210 km². To put that in perspective, it would take nearly ninety-nine South Koreas to make up the landmass of the United States. NINETY-NINE! The country's landscape is notable for its rolling mountains and abundance of beaches. Luckily for both visitors and residents, South Korea is a small enough country where a quick four-hour road trip could actually bring you to the other side of the country.
Muuido is a small island that is just two and a half hours away from Seoul by public transportation. If you're coming from Incheon Airport, the island is actually directly west of the airport. This island is a great place to relax. There's tons of seafood and clean beaches. Muuido is known for its little huts that are available to rent along the beach. At low tide, you can even walk to Silmido island from Silmi beach! Gather a few friends for a quick weekend away from the city. So close to Seoul it could easily be a quick day trip.
9 Nami Island
Nami Island is easy to get to and is about two hours away from Seoul. With transportation direct through the subway line or the KTX (Korea's highspeed train), you can find yourself on Nami Island after a quick nap on the train. Famed for its charming tree-lined pathways, the island has been featured on a couple of K-dramas, such as Winter Sonata. Nami Island is beautiful during any season. Rent a bike during Spring or Summer and cruise along the bike paths. Or visit during the Autumn season to witness the beautiful fall foliage.
Being the second largest city in the country, it is no wonder that Busan is one of the top places to visit in Korea. There are so many things to see and do. Busan has the world famous Jalgachi Fish Market. Walk in and savor the smell of fresh seafood as vendors try to sell you their catch of the day. Once you decide between any of the fresh catches, be it salmon, king crab, mussels or lobsters, the vendors will escort you to the second level where restaurant stalls are ready to prepare your food. Sling back a couple of shots of soju before heading out to experience the nightlife. If clubbing isn't your scene, then the beach is where you'll want to be. Buy a few fireworks then launch them at Haeundae beach and watch them explode in the night sky. While you're in Busan, you won't want to miss Gamcheon Cultural Village either -- a fun colorful village on the hills of Busan.
For some adventuring, Sokcho is the perfect place to go. Here you'll find one of Korea's most beautiful mountains, Seoraksan Mountain. Seoraksan is 1,708 meters above ground and offers gorgeous views any time of the year.
It's the third tallest in the country. With all these mountains, its no wonder that hiking is a popular weekend activity in Korea. If you plan well, you'll be able to hike during the fall to see the leaves change to bright reds and orange. The trip from Seoul is about three hours by car and four hours by public transportation.
The Gyeongju Historic Area has 52 registered sites under the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. This place is packed with history. Most sites are free to visit as they're out in the open for anyone to explore. While there are dozens of tourist sites to see, some of the most visited locations would be the Gyeongju Royal Tomb of King Naemul. Biking past it, you probably wouldn't realize you've been zipping through the park past royal tombstones as the tombs look like massive green mounds popping out of the ground, these are called tumuli.
Jeonju is another historical town that famed for their Jeonju Hanok Village, magkeollis (a light rice wine) and bibimbap. In Jeonju, it is a must to sample the bibimbap, a staple in Korean cuisine which is made up of rice and a variety of colorful vegetables all served in a hot stone bowl, and often topped with meat and an egg. Visiting this town is like stepping back in time. Tourists, both domestic and international, come to walk through the old village and wear hanboks (traditional Korean clothing). Stop by Wansan Park to take in all the nature. The park is filled with all kinds of flowers and beautiful aromas.
4 Jindo Island
Jindo is a unique little island found in the southwestern part of Korea. It is famously known for the festival in the month of February during the Lunar New Year. During this time of year hundreds of tourist flock to Jindo Island to witness the parting of the seas leaving a narrow pathway to walk between the two bodies of water.
It's a pretty extraordinary sight to see. Jindo Island is about 4 1/2 hours from Seoul, six hours if you are driving. Apart from the mysterious sea dividing, Jindo is also famously known for its dog Jindo Gae, the jindo dog.
Just three and a half hours from Seoul is Korea's largest green tea fields in Boseong. Aim to visit in May when the green tea leaves are at their greenest. During this time, Boseong also hosts its Green Tea Festival with tea exhibitions and shops. Try their famous teas or even sample their green tea infused pajeon (fried Korean pancake). If you are visiting during the holidays, Boseong also has their Tea Plantation Light Festival for visitors to see the rolling fields light up in beautiful twinkling colors.
Suncheon Bay is a great romantic weekend getaway. But you don't need a significant other to enjoy the beauty this bay has to offer. Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve is home to an overwhelming number of bird and tree species. The reeds grow tall and sway for 570 acres. For a complete sea of green, summertime would be the best time to visit. For more yellow colored reeds, then autumn is your best bet. Come with your camera and be prepared to take some incredible sunset photos.
There's no need to book a flight to Kyoto to walk amongst towering bamboo trees in Japan's Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. South of Seoul, is Korea's very own bamboo forest. Damyang is a little over a three hour trip from Seoul. Although the forest is blissful and gorgeous in every way, there are not too many tourists to be found in this area making it the perfect spot for photographs. As you explore the path with soaring bamboo shoots overhead, you'll eventually stumble upon a hammock. Hop on and gently swing as you take in the tranquil green forest and appreciate the heights.