Looking for an adventure you'll never forget? Try river rafting or a kayaking adventure in Gangwon-do Province to get your adrenaline pumping. Whatever your level or budget, you'll find a trip to suit you.
No better way to cure a fear of heights than to jump off of a 64 foot structure, right? If you're ready to face your fear, there are plenty of bungee jumping outfits ready to help you out. Many sites also provide other thrilling activities such as banana boat riding, and even an ejection seat.
Looking for a way stretch your imagination, or travel back in time? Go back 1200 years to the Shilla Kingdom at Shilla Millenium Park, tour through the world's first labyrinth made completely of glass at Jeju Glass Castle, or ride the world's steepest wooden roller coaster at Everland.
View the fantastic cityscape from the Hangang River in Seoul, or explore the depths of Jeju's subtropical sea in a submarine tour.
Watching movies is as popular in Korea as the rest of the world, and there are a variety places to watch movies, ranging from small art theaters to massive mega-plex cinemas. It is possible to watch almost all the latest Hollywood releases, but who would want to do that when Korea's movies are so hot? Luckily, some of the big theatres offer English subtitles for Korean movies.
Hot Springs & Saunas
It's time to take a break. How about a lavish spa experience at one of Korea's high end hotels, sweating away all those toxins at a Jjimjjilbang (Korean Sauna), or soaking in one of Korea's more than 70 hot springs?
A trip to Korea offers a whole set of new experiences: sightseeing at Seoul’s historic palaces, shopping for bargains in the night markets, and sampling the local food. However, to get a real taste of the city’s vibrant culture, why not check out some of Seoul’s art centers. The city’s huge state-of-the-art art houses offer everything from Broadway musicals and classical concerts to modern art exhibitions and charming outdoor cafes. If you’re looking for something more edgy, head to the art hall in the Hongdae area, to check out the work of Korea’s young artists. There are art centers for Korea’s traditional performing arts too, and these offer a relaxing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. A visit to some of the city’s art centers will offer an inspiring glimpse into the exciting culture of Korea.
If you are a beach bunny, check out the wide selection of beaches Korea has to offer. Take a "sand bath" at Gyeongpo Beach in Gangwon-do province; watch the splendid sunrise at Naksan Beach, or you could head out to Daecheon beach for a bath in its thick, mineral rich mud. Jeju-do's Jungmun beach is the place for extreme sports athletes, as the clean water and powerful current make it perfect for sports like waterskiing and windsurfing.
The Changdeokgung Palace
The primary palace of the Joseon Dynasty was Gyeongbokgung palace. Overlooking Sejong-ro, Seoul’s main street, its grand, majestic features rightfully have become a symbol of the prestigious Joseon Dynasty. Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Gyeonghuigung palaces were all subsidiary palaces located inside the capital of the Joseon Dynasty. These palaces served as residences for the royal family in case Gyeongbokgung Palace was undergoing routine repairs or was damaged by fire. Unlike the main Gyeongbokgung palace, the simple, unimposing style of Changdeokgung Palace is neither majestic nor grandiose.
It may come as a surprise to learn that the monarchs of the Joseon Dynasty spent longer periods of time at Changdeokgung Palace than at Gyeongbokgung Palace. This is primarily because Gyeongbokgung and other palaces were burnt down during the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592. Changdeokgung Palace, rather than Gyeongbokgung, was rebuilt after the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592. From then on, Changdeokgung served as the primary palace, replacing the destroyed Gyeongbokgung Palace. But ever before that disaster, the monarchs of the Joseon Dynasty preferred Changdeokgung Palace to Gyeongbokgung. Changdeokgung Palace was and is regarded as being constructed in the quintessential Korean style, part of the reason it was so highly favored by the Joseon kings. The palace is listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site for its historical significance, simplicity and subtleness. The UNESCO committee described the site as an outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design. The UNESCO committee also stated that the design of the palace was exceptional because the buildings exist in harmony with the natural environment.
The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was the world’s first planned city. The Hwaseong Fortress is regarded as having been more thoroughly and systematically designed than comparable structures of its time, including those in Saint Petersburg, Russia or Washington, D.C. in the United States.
The Hwaseong Fortress, belonging to the Haenggung Palace of the Joseon Dynasty, was constructed for King Jeongjo in 1796. Haenggung is a subsidiary palace which accommodated the King's temporary stays outside the main palace in the capital. The Hwaseong Fortress was constructed by King Jeongjo for his stays in the Haenggung when he made visits to the Suwon region to have memorial services for his father, Crown Prince Sadosaeja. Aside from subsidiary palace functions, the Hwasung Fortress was also constructed to serve more practical purposes as the second capital of the Joseon Dynasty. King Jeongjo had in fact planned to move into Haneggung of Hwaseong Fortress when he became the supreme King after passing on his throne to his successor. However, with young King Jeongjo's sudden death in 1800, the Hwaseong Fortress was forgotten by Koreans.
The Hwaseong Fortress stands as a testament to the advancements in technical theories and applications made during the Joseon Dynasty. An enormous amount of money and manpower was used in the project, on a scale of unprecedented in magnitude in the history of the Joseon Dynasty. It was an immense civil engineering project which could not have been initiated and completed without King Jeongjo's unique determination.
In the historical district of Gyeongju, lie the remains of an ancient city that was the capital of a kingdom for one thousand years.
Ancient City of a Thousand-Year Kingdom, Gyeongju Historical Heritage Region
Gyeongju, nestled in the heart of Gyeongsangbuk-do, is one of the world’s most notable ‘ancient cities.’ For over one thousand years, Gyeongju was the capital of the Shilla kingdom, ranking it amongst other great epicenters of civilization, such as Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the East Roman Empire, Baghdad, the capital of the Islamic Empire, and Janggang (now Xi'an). Even more unusual than the Shilla dynasty’s thousand-year rule is the fact that Gyeongju remained the capital of the Kingdom throughout the entire period.
The Shilla dynasty dated from BC 57 to AD 935 and spanned the reign of 56 different kings. During the height of the Shilla Empire in the 8th century, it is estimated that Gyeongju had around 78,936 houses (according to, History of the Three Countries (Samgukyousa), Korea’s oldest history book). The sheer size of the town along with its population of more than 800,000 is one of the factors that sets Gyeongju apart from other ancient civilizations. Gyeongju was and still is the home of Korean spiritual culture. Many tales, legends and stories which constitute the main framework of Korean culture originated from Gyeongju. Many modern Korean words also originated from Gyeongju and its surrounding area during the peak of the Shilla dynasty.
There are two main world cultural heritages sites in Gyeongju. One is the Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple area, regarded as the culmination of Korean Buddhism, and the other is Gyeongju’s historical heritage region, which contains a wealth of artifacts dating back to the Shilla dynasty. More than 150 old Shilla tombs are found in the center of Gyeongju alone. Due to the area’s abundance of artifacts, the registration of historical treasures was made by groups, instead of by individual artifact. The historical remains in the Gyeongju region can be classified into 5 different categories.
They are the Namsan District (which houses many Buddhist artifacts), the Wolseong District, (which features the ruins of the Shilla Dynasty palace), the Daereungwon District, (where the old tombs are clustered), the Hwangryongsa District, (where there are relics of the giant temple of Hwangryongsa), and the Myunghwal Fortress district, (situated on the mountaintop in order to defend the capital). Fifty-two cultural heritage sites are registered in UNESCO under the name of the “Historical Artifacts of Gyeongju”. Of the fifty-two, the two places with the greatest historical significance are Namsan and the ruins of Hwangryong Temple.
Historic Villages of Korea- Hahoe and Yangdong
Although there are numerous historical villages in Korea, the most representative are “clan villages.” In Korea, a clan is a social group comprised of people of the same paternal line, family name, and ancestral home; it also includes women who have entered into the clan by marriage. Consequently, the term “clan village” refers to a village in which one or two clans form the majority of the village’s residents and play a central role in making decisions about village life.
Though the entire Korean peninsula is scattered with historical neighborhoods and cultural gems, clan villages make up 80% of all historical villages, a major spread since their establishment in the early part of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Of these pockets of time-honored beauty, Hahoe and Yangdong are Korea’s longest surviving and most well-preserved traditional clan villages. Both villages were home to the yangban (ruling noble class) during the Joseon and together are regarded as the epicenter of Korea’s Confucian culture.
Hahoe and Yandong face outward towards quietly flowing river waters and are guarded by forested mountains at the rear. Long ago, each village was constructed with sensitivity to the unique mountain and waterside climate. Not only built to be able to withstand temperature and humidity changes throughout the year, village houses, pavilions, study halls, and Confucian academies were specially constructed and arranged so as not to violate Confucian etiquette and the principles of Feng shui.
In addition to their unique spatial arrangements, the villages hold priceless archives and artwork from Joseon Era Confucianists and are some of the few remaining places that strictly observe traditional family and community rituals and events. In recognition of these attributes, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee officially put these historical villages of Korea on the UNESCO World Heritage List at its 34th convention meeting in Brazil.
Jongmyo is the royal shrine where the memorial services for the kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty were performed. The structure represents the greatest religious implications from a Confucian perspective. Since the principal ideology of the Joseon Dynasty was based on Confucianism, the services performed in Jongmyo must also be viewed as an extension of political activities.
The Jongmyo Shrine, Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju, and the Tripitaka Koreana of Haeinsa Temple were the first monuments to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple sites are precious national treasures that feature the essence of Buddhist art from in the times of the Shilla. The Tripitaka Koreana, is the most complete corpus of Buddhist doctrinal text in the world. Korean people also view these sites as extremely precious and were not surprised in the least when they became World Heritage Sites.
The Jongmyo Shrine, however, is relatively small compared to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty, and has less aesthetic value than other structures like, for example, Changdeokgung Palace. In spite of this, the Jongmyo Shrine was one of the first Korean national monuments listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This demonstrates that the Jongmyo Shrine has an indigenous value that has been largely neglected by the Korean people. The value of the shrine does not come from the structure itself, but rather from its historical background. The real value of the Jongmyo Shrine is in its excellent preservation of the history of the Joseon Dynasty through its dedication to all the deceased kings and queens over 500 years in one place. As more is learned about the Jongmyo Shrine, more values are discovered that justify the legitimacy of it as one of most precious national monuments in Korea.
The Peak of Korean Buddist Art
Seokguram grotto and Bulguksa Temple
Gyeongju is an ancient city that is highly representative of Korea. It was the capital of the Shilla dynasty for a thousand years from BC 57 to AD 935. The most notable remains in Gyeongju are the Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple. These monuments capture the essence of Korean history and Buddhist culture and remain a source of intense pride for Koreans everywhere. Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple are often included when introducing Korea abroad as well as being a part of the mandatory itinerary on field trips taken by Korean students.The Bulguksa Temple even appears in the lyrics of an old folk song that begins with a reference to the ringing of the bell in Bulguksa Temple.
In 2000, Gyeongju was registered as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site under the title of the Gyeongju Historical Heritage Region, but the famous Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple are not included under this heading. These sites had been previously registered as UNESCO world cultural heritage sites along with the ancestral shrine of the royal family and the Tripitaka Koreana at Haein Temple in 1995.
Preserving a Cultural Phenomenon
On beautiful Mt. Gayasan in Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, stands Haeisna-one of the three principle Buddhist temples in Korea. Haeisna represents the distinguished cultural legacy of Korean Buddhism, with more than 1,200 years of heritage. Having been home to many virtuous priests over the past century, it is also one of ten Avatamsaka educational temples in Korea, known as the first Dharma Jewel Monastery. It was given this title due to the fact that it enshrines the Goryeo Daejanggyeong (Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka). The Tripitaka (Sanskrit for “Three Baskets”) Koreana holds a collection of printed wood blocks, called the Janggyeong Pan, which are on UNESCO’s World Memory list. The Janggyeong Panjeon is the house that preserves the Tripitaka Koreana, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage.
One of the most cherished national treasures of Korea is the Goryeo Daejanggyeong (Goryeo Dynasty Tripitaka). Korean poet and former Buddhist monk, Ko Un, whose name is regularly mentioned among the favorites nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, once said that the only adequate description of the Tripitaka Koreana is “cultural phenomenon.” It is said that the Goryeo Daejanggyeong can be compared to the Egyptian Pyramids in terms of the mystery of the ancient technology used in the construction. A lesser known fact, however, is the value of the wooden structure within Haeinsa-the Janggyeong Panjeon, a depository for the collection of the Goryeo Daejanggyeong. The following is a list of several examples of the inherent value that this structure has allowed us to discover.
The 40 Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
Within the forty royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty are interred 27 kings, queens, and those monarchs that were posthumously granted the title of king or queen. The tombs date from the time of the dynasty’s foundation in 1392 until its fall in 1910. Of all the royal tombs of Korea’s past dynasties, the tombs of the Joseon Dynasty are in the best condition. In fact, rarely have royal dynastic tombs worldwide been so well preserved in their entirety.
Favorable Geomantic Locations
The sites for the royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty were chosen based on geomantic traditions: they had to be located between 4 kilometers and 40 kilometers from the center of Hanyang, the dynastic capital. The tombs had to be facing south toward a body of water and had to be protected by a hill. They could not be located on a mountain or in a field. Each site was considered a divine space, and therefore had to be isolated from other areas that were already in use by surrounding mountains or other topographical features. As a result, the royal tombs are located in lush green spaces around the suburbs of Seoul and provide visitors with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature in an urban setting.
Composition of the Royal Tombs
When the royal tombs were constructed, man-made facilities were kept to a minimum in order not to damage or interfere with the natural surroundings. The design of the tombs was carefully planned, so that various ancestral ceremonies and rituals could be performed there on a regular basis. Over time, certain traditions developed for the construction of the tombs. Near to the tombs, a small building was constructed, which was used when preparing for ceremonies and rituals. When you walk past the building, a forested area and a stone bridge over a stream comes into view. In front of the tomb, a red gate with cylindrical pillars was placed, this symbolized to visitors that they were entering a tomb site. After passing through the gate, you enter the center of the tomb site. The royal tombs were built by piling earth into a huge mound and have a number of features, such as doors, and stone guardian statues standing in front of the tombs. Throughout the Joseon Dynasty, the royal tombs maintained their basic design, but gradually adapted to the topographical conditions and circumstances of the times. The 40 royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty were officially listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in June 2009. This was due to their unique architecture, the comprehensive preservation of all of the tombs from the 500-year dynasty, and their locations, which were decided by Confucian and geomantic traditions. Excluded from the list were the Jereung and Hureung tombs in North Korea.
Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix Held in Nation’s Racing Capital
The Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix, which opens a new era for Korean sports, will be held at the Korea International Circuit (KIC) in Yeongam, Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province).
Old Confucian Charm
Korea’s newest UNESCO World Heritage site, Yangdong Village is no kitsch folk village of recently built traditional homes cobbled together to give domestic and foreign tourists a taste of old Korea.
October 9th is a date that holds a very special place in the hearts of Koreans everywhere. This day celebrates the time when, hundreds of years ago, King Sejong (in power 1418-1450) formed a panel of advisors to methodically create ‘Hangeul,’ the Korean alphabet.
Pusan International Film Festival
Movie buffs all across the country are on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the Pusan International Film Festival.
Great Baekje World Festival - Travel back to the Baekje Kingdom of 1,400 Years Ago
The ‘Great Baekje World Festival’ is a major cultural celebration highlighting the history and culture of the Baekje Kingdom, a proud dynasty that lasted 678 years from 18 BC to 660 AD.
Chuseok – Korean Thanksgiving Day
Chuseok is by far the biggest and most important holiday in Korea. It is a time when family members from near and far come together to share food and stories and to give thanks to their ancestors for the abundant harvest.
Chuseok Holiday in Modern-Day Korea
Nowadays, the three most-celebrated holidays in Korea are: the New Year, Dano, and Chuseok. Also known as 'Hangawi,’ Chuseok falls on the 15th of August according to the lunar calendar and is, without a doubt, the nation’s most important holiday.
Korea Festivals: September - November
Once September rolls around, the temperature starts to drop and a collective sigh can be heard all across the nation as people everywhere start to feel relief from the summer’s suffocating heat.
As temperatures climb and the air seems to be saturated with humidity, weather-weary people all across the nation are heading to the beach or the forest to escape the heat.
The Gangneung Danoje Festival - A World Heritage Representing Thousands of Years of History
Ancient Koreans once believed that dates of the lunar calendar with two uneven numbers were auspicious days. For this reason, the first day of the first month (New Year), the fifth day of the fifth month, and the seventh day of the seventh month according to the lunar calendar have long since been celebrated as major holidays and were occasions for people to share food, fellowship, and folk games.
Tea, History, and a Whole Lot of Fun! Mungyeong Traditional Tea Bowl Festival
There are so many interesting festival that take place in Korea during May that one could even say that it’s the national month of festivals! This year, VisitKorea decided to make a special trip to one of Korea’s distinctive festivals: the Mungyeong Traditional Tea Bowl Festival.
Fun for Everyone! - The Boryeong Mud Festival
Each year, the Boryeong Mud Festival attracts over 80,000 international visitors, making it Korea’s most popular festival among non-Koreans.
Korea has much in common with China and Japan in terms of dining style due to frequent cultural and historical exchanges. But over time, Korea has developed its own unique cuisines.
Korea was once a primarily agricultural nation, and boiled rice has become Koreans’ stable food. Stable food and side dishes are clearly distinguished in Korean table settings. A traditional Korean meal consists of a bowl of rice and side dishes. Koreans use a wide arrange of ingredients such as meat, fish, vegetables and seafood with unique seasonings. As there are many ways to cook these ingredients, Koreans have developed diverse kinds of cuisines.
Bap, a staple of Korean food, is steamed rice. It may also include other grains. There are many kinds of bap depending on the ingredients such as huinbap (white rice); japgokbap (rice with barley, millet, and beans); byeolmibap (rice with vegetables, seafood and meat); and bibimbap (rice mixed with namul and beef).
Juk is one of the Korean dishes that was developed in early times. It consists of grains simmered for a long time with 5 to 7 times the volume of water. There are many varieties of juk depending on the ingredients. Juk is not only served as a main dish but it can also be part of a special meal. It is served to patients and eaten for health.
Korean noodles are made by kneading wheat flour or buckwheat flour and drawing the dough into long coils. Noodles helped develop the use of chopsticks in Korea.
Mandu and Tteokguk (Dumpling soup and sliced rice cake pasta soup)
Mandu is a dumpling made of thin wheat flour wrappers stuffed with fillings then steamed, or boiled in jangguk (soy sauce soup). It is a specialty of the northern area of Korea. Tteokguk consists of diagonally sliced white rice cakes that are simmered in jangguk. It is served on the first day of the year.
Guk is a soup of vegetables, seafood and/or meats boiled in plenty of water. Some varieties are malgeun-jangguk (clear soy sauce soup), tojangguk (soybean paste soup), gomguk (rich beef soup) and naengguk (chilled soup). The standard Korean table setting always has bap and guk. Guk has helped develop the use of spoons in Korea.
Jjigae has less water and more solid ingredients than soup, and it is saltier. Varieties include malgeun-jjigae (clear jjigae) and tojang-jjigae (soybean paste jjigae).
Jeongol (Hot pot)
Jeongol started as a royal court food. It consists of meat, seafood, mushrooms and vegetables simmered in broth at the table just before serving for dinner or as a dish to accompany liquor.
Jjim (Steamed dish)
Jjim is a dish of main ingredients cooked with seasonings in deep water. It may be boiled with soup just above the solid ingredients, or steamed.
Seon (Steamed or parboiled stuffed vegetables)
Seon means “good ingredients.” It is a dish of vegetables such as pumpkin, cucumber, eggplant and cabbage or tofu stuffed with beef and/or mushrooms that is steamed or parboiled in broth.
Jorim (Braised dish)
Jorim is a cooking method to braise meat, seafood or vegetables with soy sauce or red pepper paste on low heat. The ingredients are cooked for a long time to allow the flavors to seep in. It may have strong seasonings and can last a long time.
Cho (Janggwa) (Seasoned and braised seafood)
Cho (janggwa) is a dish of boiled sea slugs, abalone and mussels with seasoning on low heat. Then starch liquid is added and boiled. The resulting soup is quite thick and glossy.
Bokkeum (Stir-fried dish)
Bokkeum is a stir-fry of meats, seafood or vegetables. There are two types of bokkeum dishes; one is just stir-fried in an oiled frying pan, the other one is stir-fried with soy sauce and sugar.
Gui (Grilled dish)
Gui is a dish of grilled meats, seafood or vegetables as is, or grilled after seasoning.
Jeon. Jeok (Pan-fried dish. Brochette)
Jeon is a dish of pan-fried meats, seafood or vegetables after they have been minced or sliced and coated with wheat flour and beaten egg. Jeok is a dish of pan-fried ingredients after they have been seasoned and skewered.
Hoe is a dish of raw meat, fish or vegetables seasoned with vinegar soy sauce, vinegar red pepper paste, or mustard. It can also be blanched in boiling water. Pyeonyuk is a dish of pressed and sliced beef or pork. Jokpyeon is a dish of long-simmered ox-head and ox-feet that is solidified and sliced.
Mareun-chan (Dry side dish)
Mareun-chan is a dry side dish made of salted and seasoned meat, seafood and/or vegetables that can be stored for a long time. It is enjoyed dried or fried.
Jangajji (Pickled vegetables)
Jangajji is a side dish of pickled vegetables that include Korean radish, cucumbers, bellflower roots and garlic in soy sauce, soybean paste or red pepper paste. It can be stored for a long time.
Jeotggal (Salt-fermented seafood)
Jeotggal is a side dish of marinated shrimp, anchovies or clams with salt that is fermented. It is served as a side dish or used as a seasoning.
Sukchae (Parboiled vegetables)
Sukchae is a dish of parboiled vegetables. It may be mixed or fried with seasonings. Sukchae is a popular basic side dish in Korea.
Saengchae (Fresh salad)
Saengchae is a seasonal fresh salad dressed with vinegar soy sauce, red pepper paste or mustard. It is sweet and sour. This method of preparation is best for preserving the taste and most of the nutrition in the ingredients.
Kimchi (Seasoned and fermented vegetables)
Kimchi is a dish made by marinating Korean cabbage and Korean radish with salt, seasoning it with red pepper, garlic, green onion, ginger and salt-fermented seafood, mixing it thoroughly and letting it ferment. Kimchi is the quintessential side dish in Korea. It is a typical fermented and storable food.
Tteok (Rice cake)
Tteok is a dish made by steaming, frying, or boiling rice powder or other grain powder after it has been sprinkled with water. It is served at ceremonies and holidays without fail.
Hangwa (Korean cookies)
Hangwa are traditional Korean cookies. There are many varieties depending on the ingredients or recipes such as yumilgwa, gangjeong, sanja, dasik, jeonggwa, suksilgwa , gwapyeon, yeotgangjeong and yeot.
Eumcheong are non-alcoholic beverages.
Whether you are a green tea enthusiast or an art lover, a history buff or a teddybear collector you will surely find a museum to satisfy your curiosity in Korea. Of particular note is the recently opened National Museum of Korea, which is the largest in Asia and the 6th largest in the world.
Cheongsong Folk Museum
Boryeong Coal Museum
Jeongdongjin Time Story
Museum of Old Roads
Mungyeong Coal Museum
Trick Art Museum
Indong Fossil Museum
The Lock Museum
Sudoguksan Museum of Housing and Living
Horim Museum (Sinsa)
Coreana Art & Culture Complex
Bank of Korea Museum
Jincheon Bell Museum
Joanne Bear Museum
Goseong Dinosaur Museum
Iksan Jewelry Museum
Korean Deung-Jan Museum
Bucheon Bow Museum
Gimpo Tea Etiquette Museum
Gyeonggi Ceramic Museum
Naju Pear Museum
Gangjin Celadon Museum
Gimcheon World Porcelain Museum
Korea Traditional Architecture Museum
Onyang Folk Museum
Gongju Folk Drama Museum
Seoul has been the capital of Korea for about 600 years, since the time of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Seoul was referred to as “Han Yang” during the Joseon Dynasty, but after the liberation from Japan, in 1945; the newly founded Republic of Korea officially changed its capital city’s name to Seoul. Seoul has developed into a bustling metropolis, acting as the hub for political, economic, social, and cultural matters. The Han River runs through the heart of the city. The river divides the city in two; the northern part of the city is a focal point for culture and history, while the southern part is well known for its business district. Seoul has hosted many international events including: 1986 Asian Games, 1988 Olympic Games and 2002 Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup. The success of these events has shown people that Korea is truly an international city. In Seoul you can find ancient palaces and Royal Shrines of the Joseon Dynasty, as well as Seoul World Cup Stadium, 63 CITY building, Lotte World, Han River, Namsan, Bukhansan Mountain National Park, Daehangno, Insa-dong, Itaewon, Myeong-dong, Apgujeong, Namdaemun and Dongdaemun Markets. On the outskirts of Seoul you can find Seoul Land, Everland, Caribbean Bay, The Korean Folk Village, Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, and Namhansan Mountain Fortress
As most of us know, there's life outside Seoul. Busan is often an overlooked city, as many flock to Seoul, bright lights, big capital. But ask any Korean and they will tell you - Korea's second largest city Busan is by no means the ugly sister in the family. In fact, Busan is the real Korea. Colorful, brash but endearing, Busan is a rough diamond that certainly speaks for itself, as spending time with the locals will show you. Busan may feel like second fiddle for now but it's time is coming.
Gyeongju, located in southeast Korea, was the capital of the Silla Kingdom for 992 years (BC 57-935), the longest surviving kingdom in the history of Korea. Not only is it astounding that it was ruled by 56 kings spanning a period of almost a thousand years, it is equally remarkable that the kingdom of Silla originally started as a small tribal state and later expanded to occupy more than half of the Korean peninsula. The area was initially known as ‘Seorabeol' or ‘Gyerim’, and it wasn’t until the end of the era in 935 that it was first referred to as 'Gyeongju.'
Living up to its former glory as the capital of the longest-surviving kingdom in Korea, Gyeongju still shines today, more than a millennium after the kingdom’s demise. Buddhism was introduced in Silla in the 6th century and played a significant role in strengthening royal authority and unifying the people, becoming the foundation of the area's art, tradition, and culture. Consequently, Gyeongju is the home of the greatest Buddhist art treasures in Korea, and is the nation's most popular fieldtrip destination.
Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto are Gyeonju's most celebrated relics and are said to capture the essence of the Korean Buddhist culture. These two sites were the first sites to be registered as UNESCO World Cultural Heritages in 1995. In 2000, five districts were added to the list of World Cultural Heritages under the title 'Gyeongju Historic Areas.' Gyeongju is a virtual cornucopia of history, meriting praise and preservation worldwide.
A major city of the East coast (and filled with wide, sandy beaches), Gangneung is regarded as one of Korea's top summer destinations. Its well-preserved traditions, historical relics, and tourist services have also made it a popular fieldtrip destination. Gangneung is home to the famed Gangneung Danoje Festival, which was designated a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005 for its ceremonies and rituals, traditional folk games, and other major cultural attributes that have remained relatively unchanged since ancient times. International interest in the city has continued to grow since the festival’s UNESCO designation and an increasing number of tourists visit the city each year.
From Seoul, Gangneung is only three hours away by bus. The coastal city is surrounded by mountains to the west and the sea to the east, resulting in an oceanic climate with milder winters and relatively cooler summers than the rest of Korea.
Among some of the city’s major sites is Daegwallyeong Mountain, which attracts visitors year-round to its recreational forest, ranch, and ski slopes. Not to be overlooked is the local cuisine; Gangneung is known for its fresh dishes made with quality potatoes, buckwheat, and cabbage. Gangneung offers something for everyone—beautiful beaches, refreshing pine tree forests, traditional culture, and much more!
The provincial capital city of Gangwon-do Province is nestled in the heart of the famous tourist city of Chuncheon. This city is tucked away in a basin with Uiamho Lake to the west, Chuncheonho Lake and Soyangho Lake to the north, and Sinyeongang River to the south making this a city surrounded by water. The numerous lakes in the region cause many foggy days. Close proximity to Seoul makes this a popular daytrip destination.
This popular riverside tourist destination has many places to visit, including Namiseom, Jungdo Island, Cheongpyeongsa Temple, Gongjicheon area, Wido Island, Soyanggang River, Samaksan Mountain, Deongseon Waterfall, Gugok Waterfall, Jipdarigol Natural Forest, and Chuncheon Hunting Camp. Looking at the topography of Chuncheon, one can clearly tell that it is a lakeside city, with Wido, Namiseom, and Uiam Islands near the center. As a result, aquatic sports are very popular. There are regular ferries at Soyangho, Uiam, and Chuncheon Lakes; many people enjoy fishing in these areas. Famous foods in Chuncheon include makguksu and dakgalbi.
Festivals in the region include the Snow and Ice Festival, Chuncheon International Mime Festival, Chuncheon Anitown Festival, Chuncheon Makguksu Festival, MBC Riverside Song Festival, Chuncheon Puppet Festival and Chuncheon International Theatre Festival. Chuncheon also hosts the Chuncheon International Marathon and the Korea Open Chuncheon International Taekwondo Championship. The many festivals in the region make it a great place to visit any time of the year.
The culturally abundant city of Jeonju can be found in the middle of the Korean peninsula. This historical city dates back to the Baekje Kingdom. Gyeon Hwon founded the nation after the dissolution of the three kingdoms in 892. Jeonju became the capital city, and provided present day Jeonju full of many treasures including a Traditional Korean village. It is recommended that tourists visiting Jeonju begin at this unique village. The village area includes a traditional hot spring and is surrounded by many popular tourist spots. This is a must-see for foreign tourists. The Joseon Dynasty was founded by Tae-jo Lee. His portrait is enshrined in this city. Other cultural gems include Pungnammun Gate, Jeonju Confucian School, Jeonju Traditional Life Experience Park, Jeonju Traditional Craftworks Exhibition Hall, Jeonju Treasures Center, Gangam Calligraphy Museum, Jeonju Traditional Culture Center, and Jeondong Cathedral, well known in KOrean Catholic history. In addition, the Jeonju Traditional Culture Center gives visitors the unique experience of life in a traditional Korean house, known as 'Hanok' in Korean. The Jeonju Hanok Living Experience Center also gives visitors traditional style accommodations in a comfortable setting. This is a great experience for foreigners.
Aside from the Hanok Living Experience Center, there are many other great places to visit, such as the Pan Asia Paper Museum, Jeonju World Cup Stadium, and Deokjin Park. Deokjin Park delights visitors in July and August with Lotus flower plants reaching heights of several feet high. If you have additional time, try visiting the nearby cities of Namwon, Muju, Jinan, and Jeongeup. During the autumn months, the Jeongeup mountain area is beautiful with its incredible fall foliage. Perhaps the most well-known aspect of Jeonju is the food. One of Korea's most famous foods originates from this area, Jeonju bibimbap. This delicious dish combines bean sprouts, Chinese bellflowers, spinach, dropwort, mushrooms, beef and other scrumptious foods with sesame oil, red pepper paste and other nutritious seasonings. A bean sprout soup mixed with rice is also a favorite dish of this area. Jeonju is also known for its variety of side dishes served, usually around 10 on a table.
The spirit of Jeonju can be found in its lively festivals. Some of these festivals include the Jeonju International Film Festival, Jeonju Daesaseupnori, Jeonju Sori Music Festival, World Calligraphy Biennale of Chonbuk, Jeon Pungnam Festival and Jeonju Paper Culture Festival which highlights some of Jeonju's most celebrated items including traditionally made Korean paper, fans and igang wine.
Andong is the home of Confucianism in Korea. During the Joseon Dynasty, Andong attracted scores of Confucian scholars becoming a pioneering city in Confucian thought. This city also contained the highest number of private schools from the Joseon Dynasty as well as Confucian schools. To this day, Andong still has around 26 private schools from the Joseon Dynasty. This city also acted as a home to the noble class during the Joseon period. Many of the homes of the noble class are still standing in Andong; some are kept up by the relatives of the original owner. Certain homes have established guest house accommodations. Two of the most famous places are Jirye Art Village and Jeonju Ryussi-musiljongtaek (Ryu noble family’s estate). These are great places to experience the essence of Korea’s traditional lifestyles.
Andong has become a famous tourist area ever since Queen Elizabeth visited in 1999. She spent her birthday in Andong visiting such places as Hahoe Village, Dosan Confucian School, Byeongsan Confucian School, Bongjeongsa Temple, Icheon-dong Soekbulsang (engraved Buddha on granite), Sinse-dong Chilcheeung Jeontap (7 story pagoda), Dongbu-dong Ocheung Jeontap (5 story pagoda), Ocheon relic’s site, Andong Folk Village, and Andong Soju Museum.
The most famous festival in Andong is the Andong Mask Dance Festival which is held every year starting the last week of September and running for 10 days. Some of Andong’s most famous native foods include jjimdak (spicy steamed chicken) and heotjesatbap (bimbimbap-like dish served with vegetables traditionally used in ancestral rites ceremonies), other popular dishes are geonjinguksu (noodles), kalguksu (hand-made noodle soup), and Andong sikhye (fermented rice punch). A popular product of the region is Andong soju (Korean alcohol).
Mungyeong is located halfway between Seoul and Busan, in the central region of the country. It is most well-known for the Mungyeongsaejae Mountain Pass, one of the main trade and travel routes of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The mountain pass connected villages to the capital city, allowing not only the transportation of goods, but the spreading of culture from one area to the other. Mungyeong is full of cultural relics; the town even has a “Museum of Old Roads” by the entrance of Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park, highlighting Mungyeong’s important past as the main bridge over the mountain.
The area is known for its long, proud tradition of ceramics and art. Ceramics masters pride themselves in preserving the old traditional process of producing pottery, down to traditional firing techniques. Artists in Mungyeong are also known for their quality brassware and traditional hanji paper crafts.
Mungyeong is an ancient town far from the big city. Drive just a few minutes from the city’s downtown area and you’ll soon find yourself deep in the countryside. The natural beauty of Mungyeong and its deep historical roots make it a welcoming oasis of refreshment for city-weary people all across the nation.
If you want to see the true soul of Korea you should not miss the opportunity to attend one of Korea's Oiljang (Five-Day) Markets. Korean people would traditionally go to these markets to pick up day-to-day items like apparel, agricultural and marine products, bedding, and handicrafts. Oiljang Markets are held every 5 days and are full of lots of exciting scenes that make for great sightseeing and photography. For a large scale market that is always open, try Namdaemun Market.
World famous as a great place to find the latest fashion items, Dongdaemun Market is not to be missed. It used to be a traditional market, but recently has taken on a modern feel. The clothing is made on-site and both retail sales and wholesale are common. Many of the clothes Tokyo's Shibuya district are actually made in Dongdaemun, as the Japanese love the quick response and flexibility in manufacturing provided. The port city of Busan is another great place to pick up unique items, as there are always new things coming in from overseas.
Looking for a luxury shopping environment along with world class designer products? Be sure to stop by one of the many luxury department stores. Some of the more popular ones are Sinsegae, Lotte, Galleria, and Hyundai. The world’s largest department store, CentumCity, is located in Busan, Korea.
Visitors possessing an outbound plane ticket can take advantage of the hundreds of international brands offered at special prices at Korea's duty-free shops. You can do your shopping at the airport or at any one of the duty free stores run by the major department stores like Shilla, Walker Sheraton, or Lotte.
Keen shoppers are always on the lookout for a great bargain, and in Korea, shoppers in the know, head to the outlet shopping centers, where brand items are on sale for discounted prices. Here you can find designer brands, like Burberry, Lacoste, and Marc Jacobs, whose prices have been slashed, sometimes to as much as 60% cheaper than in the department stores. These days you can pick up a designer dress at a Korean outlet shopping center, for what you would normally pay for a mid-range brand, and with the depreciating value of the Korean won, you’ll be making great savings on your airplane tickets, accommodation, and food, as well as at the outlet shopping centers. VisitKorea has prepared some tips for successful outlet shopping.
If you are searching for the perfect souvenir, be sure to stop into the Insadong district. While there, be sure to check out Ssamziegil, for fresh and unique gift items produced by young, up and coming artists Korean artists. Also in Insadong is the National Souvenir Center, a government run store offering guaranteed authentic, quality souvenirs. If in Jeju, check out the Korean Souvenir Department Store near the Jeju Airport.
Get out into the fresh air and enjoy some of the many beautiful sights in Korea's markets, parks, palaces and mountains. Go on your own or take advantage of Seoul's free walking tours.
Yachting and boating are becoming more and more popular among locals, and Korea's strategic location on the East Sea makes it an ideal port for international visitors. There are many new marinas being developed around the coast and also on the Hangang River which runs through Seoul. In addition, the Korea Sailing Federation offers sailing lessons for a wide variety of boats from yachts to right down to dinghies. Visit the Busan Yachting Center.
There are three race tracks in Korea to satisfy your craving for the excitement of horse racing. The Seoul Race Course is just a short train ride from Seoul, with two other race courses located in the beautiful coastal regions of Busan and Jeju Island.
Hunting in Korea is only permitted during the winter, and allowed only in designated areas which change from year to year. In most cases, a hunting license and permission from the hunting office are required. Visit the Gojeong Hunting Grounds.
Golfing is a very popular sport in Korea, and many Korean golfers have had huge success internationally. As such, there are a large variety of golf courses in Korea and many more are in the construction process.
Being a mostly mountainous country, it is no surprise that Korea boasts more than 15 ski resorts. They have spa and accommodation facilities as well, making them a great place for a winter getaway.
Strap your skates on and pretend to be world champion Kim Yu-na at an Olympic sized indoor or outdoor ice rink. Lotte World offers an indoor skating rink that is known to be the best in Korea, while every winter the front lawn of city hall transforms into an outdoor skating rink complete with skate rentals at the very affordable price of about 1,000 won.
Whereas in some countries tobogganing requires trekking out to the forest and finding a suitable hill, Seoul has a number of areas that are designated for sledding, and to save you from toting your sled on the subway, sled rentals are available at every location! If winter is still a long way away, places like Muju Resort even offer water sledding in the summertime!
The most scenic place for swimming would have to be on the banks of the Han River in one of the 6 outdoor swimming pools. But pools can be found in nearly every neighborhood, in sports centers, hotels and water-parks around Korea. Those looking for something a little special are the swimming pool at Lotte World Hotel, or those found at waterparks like Vivaldi or Everland's Caribbean bay.
Korea's big baseball win at the Beijing Olympics, and world famous soccer players like Manchester United's Park Ji-sung have only fueled the Korean people's passion for sports. If you want to see team spirit at its finest, try checking out a baseball or soccer game while you are in Korea.
The hosting of the '88 Olympics and the '02 World Cup brought world class sports infrastructure to Korea. World Cup Stadiums were built in Seoul, Incheon, Daejeon, Gwangju, Ulsan, Jeju, Suwon, and Jeonju. Stadium tours are available for those who wish to relive the World Cup.
There are a variety of cycling paths all over Korea, and many more in development. One of the most pleasurable ways to spend a day is biking along the Han River. Bikes can be rented at many places along the river including Jamsil and Yeoido. If you like watching cycling more than actually doing it yourself, play the odds at the Changwon Cyclodrome.
Being a coastal nation, of course it is possible to wind-surf many places, but the most popular places are Hangang, Busan, and Jeju. Lessons are available. Be sure to call a regional windsurfing association to inquire about weather conditions and fees.