Korea Travel Guides

Andong

Andong is a fascinating area to visit and a centre for the Yangban (aristocrat) class. When the Andong Dam was built in 1976, many of the cultural relics would have been destroyed. Luckily these were moved to the Andong Folk Village and Folk Museum, both located near the foot of the dam, which visitors can now enjoy viewing today.

Buddhist Temples

South Korea has literally thousands of picturesque and historic temples. The vast majority of these were built in remote mountain areas. National parks have been established around many of the temples, offering hiking and other outdoor activities. Beopjusa Temple Complex in Songnisan National Park houses a 25m standing Buddha. Haeinsa, in the mountains of Kayasan National Park, houses a set of 13th-century printing blocks for the entire canon of Buddhist scriptures. Other interesting temple complexes are Bulguksa, Jikjisa, Tongdosa (near Busan), Hwaomsa (near Namwon) and Songgwangsa (near Gwangju).

Parks

Dadohae Haesang National Park
Park off the southwest corner of the peninsula, this marine national park is made up of over 1700 islands. Hongdo Island is worth visiting for its sheer cliffs, bizarre rock formations, spectacular sunsets and wooded hillsides cut by steep ravines. Heuksando Island is more populous and flatter and better for lazing about in the sun.

Dodong Mineral Springs Park
Take the cable car and get a birds-eye view of Ulleungdo from Manghyangbong peak. The park's mineral-water spring is near the top and some claim drinking it has all sorts of medicinal benefits. There are also two museums located here.

Hallyeo Waterway National Park
Park is made up of picturesque coastlines, 368 islands, hundreds of temples and assorted historical relics. This beautiful national sea park has caves, rock formations and impressive mountain scenery. The seaport village of Chungmu, the main resort town, is 90 minutes by hydrofoil from Busan. From Chungmu, transportation is available to several islands. Opportunities for deep-sea fishing, temple viewing and relaxation abound along the entire southern coast of Korea. Hallyeo Waterway National Park stretches 150km from Geoje Island to Yeosu.

Seoraksan National Park has deep mountain gorges, clear streams, remote temples and granite pinnacles and lots of hiking trails worth exploring. Visit the Sinheung Temple, Ulsanbawi and Heundeulbawi rocks, Yukdam and Biryong waterfalls, Gwongeumseong Fortress, the Geumganggul Cave and the Biseondae Plateau. Seoraksan is surely the country's most beautiful summit and is one of the ‘must see sights’ in the country. 120km north-east of Seoul.

Songnisan National Park about 80km northeast of Daejeon contains the Beobjusa Temple, home to Korea's tallest Buddha statue (33m high). Nearby is the Twin Lions Stone Lantern, the Stone Lotus water container and other national treasures. 150km south of Seoul.

Busan

Busan is South Korea's largest port and second-largest metropolis. There's plenty to offer visitors in the way of sightseeing: Take in the view from Busan Tower, in Yongdusan Park, and visit the Yi Sun-shin statue, the Jagalchi fish market or the U.N. Cemetery (where fallen U.N. soldiers from the Korean War are buried) and the Municipal Museum. Taejongdae Park, has wonderful sea views worth seeing. The beaches here tend to get crowded but it’s the hot-spring spas that are what most folk visit for. Also in the area are Geumgang Park and Beomeosa, a seventh-century temple area.Visit this website for photographs of Busan in South Korea

<p>Busan is a departure point for Jeju Island, 340 km south-east of Seoul&nbsp;</p>

Buyeo

Buyeo is where you’ll find the Buyeo National Museum. Area sights include the Unjin Miruk Buddha (23m high), King Muryeong's Tomb and Baekhwajeong Pavilion. Buyeo is 150km south of Seoul.

Daegu

Daegu is the nation's third-largest city allow a half day to shop and to visit Dalseong Park and Suseong Lake, the fifth-century Donghwasa Temple, or climb Gatbawi Peak in Palgongsan Provincial Park to see its stone Buddha image. 240 km south-east of Seoul.

Daejeon

Daejeon played host to the 1993 World Expo and maintains an interesting science park. Gyeryongsan Mountain to the west of the town has hiking trails and the Gapsa and Donghaksa temples nestled in the hills. South-east of town is Jikjisa Temple in a gorgeous setting in the mountains, is not to be missed as are the Yuseong Hot Springs here.

Dosan Seowon

Dosan Seowon, one of the country's most famous Confucian institutes, is located north of Andong. West of the town you will find Hahoe Maeul Folk Village, a living folk village worth seeing. The area holds a very popular Mask Dance Festival each autumn, which is not to be missed if you're in the area at the time. The place is roughly 180km south-east of Seoul.Visit this website for photographs and further information about Dosan Seowon

Gyeongbokgung

Gyeongbokgung is the grandest palace in Seoul and lay in ruins for nearly 300 years until Heungseon Daewongun, regent and father of King Gojong, began to rebuild it in 1865. Despite damage during Japanese colonial rule, the majesty of surviving buildings like the 48-columned Gyeonghoeru pavilion, easily warrants a visit.

Gyeongju

Gyeongju was the capital for the Silla Kingdom (57 BC-AD 935). One of the highlight is Tumuli Park, where you can wander among burial mounds, some several stories high. A few have been excavated, and the interior of one is open to the public. Most finds in the area however, are exhibited in the Gyeongju National Museum, along with other artefacts from Gyeongju's golden age. 265 km south-east of Seoul.

Incheon

Incheon is where the new international airport is so may be your first taste of Korea. A major seaport, the city is noted for its fine seafood restaurants and fish markets. It's usually seen as a half-day trip from Seoul, but the trip can be lengthened to a full day by including a visit to Ganghwado Island, north of Incheon. The island contains the Jeondeungsa Temple, ginseng fields, the Samnang Fortress, dolmen (tall stone pillars), Chamseongdan Altar and other interesting sights. 26km west of Seoul.

Jeju Island

Jeju Island is 100km off the coast of the mainland and is distinctive as its very different from the rest of South Korea. It is an extremely popular tourist destination for Koreans, especially honeymooners. Jeju seems a world away from the mainland, even though it's relatively easy to reach - it's an hour's flight south of Seoul or a several-hour ferry ride from Busan, Mokpo or Wando. Visit in late spring, when Jeju is covered with yellow yuchaehwa flowers. The island's primary attractions are beaches, fishing, casinos, scuba diving, Hallim - a weavers' village, the hot springs and its coastal waterfalls which plunge almost directly into the sea. Other attractions here include the Folkcraft and Natural History Museum and an interesting market. Moksuk-won a natural sculpture garden of stone and wood located here is also worth seeing. Other attractions include saltwater baths in Sinyang, Hyeopje and Jungmun, the Bijarim nutmeg forest, tangerine groves, the Sanbanggul Buddhist Grotto, the Jungmun beach-resort area and Manjanggul Cave (the world's longest lava tube). Jeju Island is 485km south of Seoul.

Jeonju

Jeonju is the epicurean capital of Korea and a paper-producing centre, which draws travellers to its sixth-century Keumsansa Temple (Gold Mountain Temple) and 12m high Buddha. Tapsa Temple is also found in the area and other attractions include the Deokyosan National Park and the Mireuksa Stone Pagoda. 200km south of Seoul.

Onyang

Onyang is a hot-spring resort which is reputed to be about 600 years old. Also in the area is the Sudeoksa Temple and the Onyang Folk Museum. 14m high sitting Buddha is found near Cheonan, east of Onyang. 70km south of Seoul.Visit this website for photographs and further information about Ulsan Travel Destination near Busan

Demilitarized Zone

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separates North Korea from South Korea and can be visited on a full-day organized sightseeing tour from Seoul. Go on a tour that lets you walk into the Third Tunnel of Aggression (it was dug by North Korea to infiltrate the South) and offers the opportunity to stand on the Freedom Pavilion (where you can see North Korean soldiers looking at you through binoculars) and allows you to enter the room where the two sides still hold negotiations. 55km north of Seoul.

Samcheok

Samcheok is a quaint fishing village and a pleasant seaside spot. Nearby are the popular Yongchu Waterfalls, the Seongnyu Limestone Cave; the Jukseo, Mangyang and Wolseong pavilions; and Baegam Hot Springs and Deokgu Hot Springs. 190km east of Seoul.

Seoul

Seoul is the hub of the nation's government, economy and culture. It has plenty to offer the traveller, including modern accommodation, excellent public transportation and numerous colourful cultural experiences, worth exploring. Skyscrapers jostle for space with freeways and traffic jams and it’s a hive of activity that never seems to sleep. Here however, visitors will find ancient temples, as well as painstakingly restored historic palaces whose designs date back centuries. Great effort has gone into preserving Korean history and culture despite what seems like a headlong rush into the future. However a few steps away from the busy centre, you can find yourself in a traditional garden or a market as you would have hundreds of years before.

Sokcho

Sokcho, along the north-east coast; is a fishing town and is a good base from which to visit sights in the vicinity. The most important attraction is Soraksan National Park and other sights include the Naksansa Temple, Hwajinpo Beach, Unification Observatory with beautiful mountain scenery and a view of North Korea, the Uisang Pavilion, the Chonggan Pavilion, Choksan Hot Springs and has good skiing. 160 km north-east of Seoul.

South Korea - War Memorial Museum

Attacks made on Korea are documented within this museum. The museum starts with the Three Kingdom period and goes on to the Korean War, including an area where Korea was involved in the Vietnam War. There are also well over 13,000 war articles and a few aeroplanes to be seen outside.

Suwon

Suwon has a restored 18th-century fortress worth viewing and outside the city is the Korean Folk Village, one of the country's top tourist attractions. It features traditional buildings, each one representing a different Korean lifestyle. People live and farm here using old fashioned techniques. The Inchon Pottery Village located here, is the best site in South Korea to buy traditional porcelain. Not far away too, is the 2,000-year-old Namhansan Castle, the Shilla dynasty temple Shinrruk-sa, and the 15th-century Tomb of King Sejong. 32km south of Seoul.

Top Things to Do

Jump on a boat and make your way across to Cheju Island (Jeju Island) about 96km off the southern Korean coastline. This is the largest island in Korea, also called Island of the Gods. Full of strange rock formations, volcanic craters, caves and grottoes it’s like another world. Pursuits for the fit and adventurous include hiking through the world's longest lava tube, climbing Songsan Illch'ulbong (Sunrise Peak), hunting, scuba diving, horse riding, fishing and golf. Other attractions here include the Folkcraft and Natural History Museum and an interesting market. Moksuk-won a natural sculpture garden of stone and wood located here is also worth seeing. Don’t miss the saltwater baths in Sinyang, Hyeopje and Jungmun, the Bijarim nutmeg forest, tangerine groves, the Sanbanggul Buddhist Grotto, the Jungmun beach-resort area and Manjanggul Cave. The island is 485km south of Seoul. Tip: For festival lovers, be here in early October for Cheju's cultural festival.Visit this website for further information about Jeju Diving Area

Visit one of the many wonderful national parks. A good one is the famed Hallyeo Waterway National Park. Made up of picturesque coastlines, 368 islands, hundreds of temples and assorted historical relics. This beautiful national sea park has caves, rock formations and impressive mountain scenery. The seaport village of Chungmu, the main resort town, is 90 minutes by hydrofoil from Busan. From Chungmu, transportation is available to several islands. Opportunities for deep-sea fishing, temple viewing and relaxation abound along the entire southern coast of Korea. Hallyeo Waterway National Park stretches 150km from Geoje Island to Yeosu.

Don't miss seeing Kyongju one of world's great historic sites. Top tourist attractions here are Tumuli Park, site of the recently excavated Chonma-chong (Heavenly Horse Tomb) and 19 other tombs; Pulguk-sa, one of the oldest surviving monasteries in the country and one of Korea's five great temples; Punhwang-sa Pagoda (the country’s oldest temple) and Sokkuram, the shrine on Mt. Tohamsan. Kyongju National Museum is said to be the country's best house of treasures. Tip: If you're in Kyongju in October, don’t miss the Shilla Cultural Festival.

Get physical! Outdoor Sports abound here and if you enjoy skiing, swimming, hiking, horse riding, cave exploring (spelunking) scuba diving and other similar adrenalin pumping action, South Korea caters to your tastes beautifully and there’s tons to do to keep you fit and healthy on holiday here.

Check out the 'Other Side'! Panmunjeom is where the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separates North Korea from South Korea and can be visited on a full-day organized sightseeing tour from Seoul. Go on a tour that lets you walk into the Third Tunnel of Aggression (it was dug by North Korea to infiltrate the South) and offers the opportunity to stand on the Freedom Pavilion (where you can see North Korean soldiers looking at you through binoculars) and allows you to enter the room where the two sides still hold negotiations. 55km north of Seoul.

<p>Be sure to book your tour a few days in advance as tourists must be approved prior to visiting the DMZ.&nbsp;</p>

If the Armistice Commission is meeting, the treaty site is closed, but it's possible at those times to get permission to observe the talks. Check with the Korea National Tourism Organization in Seoul for details.

One can't afford not paying the country capital, Seoul a visit. The hub of the nation's government, economy and culture it’s a must see spot. It has plenty to offer the traveller, including modern accommodation, excellent public transportation and numerous colourful cultural experiences, worth exploring. Skyscrapers jostle for space with freeways and traffic jams and it’s a hive of activity that never seems to sleep. Here however, visitors will find ancient temples, as well as painstakingly restored historic palaces whose designs date back centuries. Great effort has gone into preserving Korean history and culture despite what seems like a headlong rush into the future. However a few steps away from the busy centre, you can find yourself in a traditional garden or a market as you would have hundreds of years before.