For all the tourists who dream of traveling to South Korea, Seoul is normally the first—if not the only—place on their list. We can't blame them, though—the ultra-modern city boasts of several iconic tourist spots, including K-drama filming locations, the dynamic shopping and nightlife area that is Myeongdong, the hip spot for arts and indie culture a.k.a. Hongdae, and many others that will make every K-pop fangirl’s heart flutter with excitement.
You're probably too fixated on the capital of the Land of the Morning Calm now, but there is actually more to South Korea than meets the eye. While many are after the energetic wonder that is Seoul, others look for scenic spots where mountains and greenery are present. Think cultural sites where you can experience the rich history of the country, and restaurants where you can get a taste of fresh seafood right out of the water. For tourists who want to explore South Korea and its other precious corners, here are five places that you can visit that are as enchanting as Seoul:
1. Jeju Island
For those who want to take their time off and smell the flowers (because you literally can!), Jeju Island is your go-to destination. It’s where you can indulge yourself in paradise, with the many mountains and lush greenery surrounding the entire island that offers total relaxation. If you want to go active during your trip here, head to Mt. Hallasan National Park, where you have options on which mountain you want to climb and discover trails after trails of landmarks. Jeju Island is the definition of respite—get that much-needed break while enjoying the best that nature has to offer.
Tip: Don’t forget to try their famous Jeju Black Pork BBQ and hallabong, a type of tangerine with a comforting smell that’s both sweet and tart.
Beach lovers, rejoice! You can swim to your heart’s delight during your travel to South Korea! Busan is where you can see the line where the sky meets the sea. It’s known for having the most beautiful beaches (like the Haeundae Beach) in the country. You can also have a taste of the freshest seafood, from grilled fish to raw octopus (yes, you read that right). Apart from feeling the sand on your toes, it's also a treat to take Instagram photos to your heart's content when you visit the Gamcheon Culture Village—Korea’s version of the Santorini in Greece—where you are sure to be mesmerized by the rows of colorful terraced houses.
Gyeongju is not called the “museum without walls” for nothing. With a vast number of temples and traditional festivals, the coastal city is rich in history as seen on its many ruins and relics. It's perfect for those who want to have a glimpse of what the former capital was like thousands of years ago. Revisit South Korea back in the day and feel like royalty when you drop by the Gyeongju National Museum, where various items from the Silla dynasty are displayed.
Familiar with the famous bibimbap dish? This is where it came from! The well-loved Korean dish made with warm scoops of rice and generous serving of vegetables (sometimes with meat and egg, too) and topped with gochujang is popular not just in Jeonju, but across the world as well. Jeonju is known as the food capital of South Korea, with its flourishing street food stalls that tourists and locals alike are excited about. Artsy cafés are also sprawled here and there; you can sip a cup of coffee inside a hanok (Korean traditional house) for a different experience. At nighttime, you can spend the evening drinking with your friends at the Jeonju Makgeolli Alley, where you can find an entire road that serves the popular raw rice wine.
Home to the largest textile and clothing manufacturing companies, Daegu is every fashionista’s dream come true. To advertise its expertise in the said industry, it hosts several fashion exhibits and textile galas every year, including the "Preview in Daegu"— an international textile fair that showcases various textile materials and holds fashion design contests. From luxury malls to street stores and vintage shops, you will never run out of choices as you walk the streets armed with shopping bags.