You’re too lazy or confused to make your own damn itinerary? No problemo, I’ve got you covered. The reason I’ve never done a post like this is because, well, I don’t know you and have no idea what you would like or dislike, but I’ll just assume you’re a mini-me and would like what I like. Let’s get started.
1-Day Korea Itinerary
You’re killing me here…1 day? Really? What is this, a long layover? Oh yeah, probably. Well, this is what you do:
- Gyeongbokgung– Hit up the main palace and make sure to try one of those hanboks they rent off to the west (get a damn compass). If you don’t have time for that, no biggie. Walk around, take your selfies, and finish off on the north east end because you can also hit up the …
- National Folk Museum of Korea – Yeah, I know I said the National Museum was better, but ain’t no one got time for that, you have a flight to catch. Besides, this is a nice substitute and gives you a good quick rundown of the country.
- Lunch/Early Dinner – You’re starving. Following this itinerary to the letter, you obviously didn’t eat breakfast, and that is by design my friend. You see, kamjatang (or kamjaguk for you purists) is an enormous meal and the last thing you want is to do is explode and paint my wonderful city with your guts. That’s just rude. Head over to my favorite restaurant, Taejo Kamjaguk (태조감자국) (yeah yeah, its not technically ‘tang’ but really, it’s the same) in Sungshin Women’s University Area (line 4 on the subway). Exit 3, immediate left, and left onto the alley, its on your left on a tent outside. There are no signs in English and no pictures, but they only serve 1 thing in 4 sizes (for 1, 2-3, 4, 5-6 people respectively) so just use fingers. Not down to eat outside? They have a second location near it.
- Sungshin University Area – Look, this is my home base and we may even bump into each other, but that’s not why you’re here. You’re gonna be stuffed…like REALLY stuffed after that kamjatang and well, I just want you to exercise a bit while walking around a not so touristy area of the city.
- Hongdae OR Gwangjang Market – If you want to party your butt off, head over to Hongdae for some drinks or clubbing. It’ll be open all night long if that’s what you want. If that’s not your thing, you can head instead to Gwangjang Market which has tons of smaller street foods and is one of the oldest markets in the city. If you’re 21 or so and are super energetic, nothing stops you from doing both.
3-Day in Korea Itinerary
You managed to pull yourself away from the office long enough to stop by for a long weekend. Good for you, but its still gonna be a busy three days. Since you have a little more time, I won’t go too nuts packing your schedule.
- Sejong-ro – Across from Gyeongbokgung’s main entrance is the main town square along Sejong-ro with the statues of Korea’s two greatest heroes: Sejong the Great and Yi Sun Shin. I put this first because it gets crowded later in the day and it is a nice view as you walk up to the palace. That hideous building on the east is the American Embassy which is older than time itself, but just don’t stare at it directly and you won’t turn to stone.
- Gyeongbokgung – Same as the 1-day itinerary, because it is the best thing to do in Seoul, after all. Skip the Folk Museum though, you’ll visit the big one later and you’re not a chump in a hurry anymore. Get that hanbok rental first… if you want, or not.
- Insadong – Walk to Insadong. Don’t be lazy, it really isn’t that far and you can think about your food options along the way. I recommend that you DON’T eat some overpriced crap here, but feel free to snack on street food in the meantime. This area has a ton of traditional shops and galleries along with a bunch of crummy souvenirs. If you want to get something cool, get a name stamp or an Andong Mask as you probably won’t leave Seoul on this trip.
- Lunch/Early Dinner – Sorry, I caught you starving again. Insadong ends at Jongno 1-2ga, which is a great place to get some food and maybe even an early beer. I recommend dalk galbi at Yoogane or Bongchu Jjim dalk behind the Jonggak Bell, but there’s Taco Bell too if you want. Don’t look at me like that, some people like Taco Bell and eat it willingly! These are both chains, but they are good ones.
- Jongno-1-2Ga – Damn, you’re stuffed. Walk it off by walking around Jong-no and head south when you’re done. You can pass by the Cheonggyecheon Stream and if it is May or November, see some cool lanterns as it starts getting dark.
- Hongdae – If it’s a weekend, wrap up your night at Hongdae and party hard. Good luck getting a cab… better just stay up till the subways start running at 5am again.
Wake up at 6am, too bad you have a hangover buddy, because you have a date with some North Koreans:
- DMZ (Joint Security Area) – Yup, you guessed it, the damn De-militarized Zone, the most militarized place on the planet! The USO tour is a must and it also must be booked in advanced… like 2-3 weeks to be safe. Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier? Nah, you’re a responsible adult. The DMZ tour takes most of the day and starts with an early morning meet up and ends around 5. With travel time, expect a 8am-7pm round trip.
- Kondae – No, I didn’t just change Hongdae into Kondae, this is a real place if you paid attention to this Seoul list. Anyways, it is another night spot place for college aged students, but no one will think you’re weird if you’re a bit older. Okay, some people might but 에라 모르겠다 right? You can also catch a late dinner if you didn’t during your DMZ trip and it lets you explore another less touristy part of Korea, which is a nice mix after spending most of the day with foreigners on the USO DMZ trip.
Get breakfast this time, its cool.
- National Museum of Korea – This museum will put all of that ancient stuff into context from the dawn of time till the Japanese invasion. They have some free tours too if you plan ahead and there are sometimes cool exhibits across from the main building. A few months ago, I caught an Egyptian one which was cool.
- War Museum – Tanks, airplanes and ships are just some of your rewards for visiting this tear-jerker of a museum. I kid, it is really good and it kind of puts all of Korea’s conflicts into context too.
- Lunch/Early Dinner – Scroll up and read about Taejo Kamjaguk. If you don’t want to go all the way to Sungshin Women’s University, you can skip this and just eat in Gwangjang Market.
- Gwangjang Market – Walk around to exercise after your huge meal and get some snacks if you want.
- Myeongdong – You can’t leave without seeing this shopping bonanza first hand. You’re probably full by now and won’t want any of the food, but that’s a good thing as it is grossly overpriced. Nevertheless, it is a nice place to visit if only to see the scale of shopping culture in Korea.
I think I covered most of the Top 10 things to do in Seoul, so that’s a pretty successful trip wouldn’t you say?
7-Day Korea Itinerary
Finally, some real flexibility, but I’m going to take you out of Seoul for this one. These days can be done in any order you want.
Days 1-3 – Exactly like the 3-day itinerary above.
- Andong and Hahoe Village – I don’t think there ever should have been a doubt that easily the best thing to see in all of Korea, Hahoe Folk Village, would be in this itinerary. Unfortunately, it is a bit away from Seoul and requires a 3 hour bus to Andong followed by a 30 minute bus to Hahoe itself. It is totally worth it, but get an early start. Instead of going straight to Hahoe from the bus depot, it might be a good idea to try some jjim dalk in the city as this amazing Korean dish is from Andong. While getting in and getting out in a single day is possible, it is very rushed so just stay a night here. I recommend you stay in a Hanokstay in Hahoe itself because while it is fascinating in the day time, at night and in the early morning, it is truly world class. The next day, roam around Hahoe in the morning and maybe check out Andong before you leave.
- Haeinsa Templestay – Head to Gayasan National Park early in the morning to make sure you make it on time for the Templestay program. Templestay is another unique accommodation type which you definitely should try, but its not for wimps as you will get up at 3am the next morning. From around 3pm to the next morning around 10am, you will be busy with the templestay program so read up on it. If you get here early, take a hike in Gayasan. The program includes full Buddhist vegetarian meals so you’ll be set on that.
Alternatively, if you choose not to do the Templestay program because staying in a large room with a bunch of strangers in a temple in the middle of a mountain is not your thing, still visit Haeinsa in the daytime and just leave before dark. Seeing the Tripitaka Koreana alone is worth the hassle. You can fill up your last day by heading over to Gyeongju and visiting the Ancient Shilla Area not far from the station, the Anapji Pond, and Bulguksa for good measure.
Head home when you’re done. Really, don’t forget to leave! GET OUT I SAID!
14-Day Korea Itinerary
Mr. Fancy pants over here got two weeks off and is spending them all in Korea. Good for you, I’ll try not to disappoint!
Days 1-3 – Remain the same as the 7-day itinerary, hitting up most of the top spots in Seoul, but there is a slight change of plans after that to allow for a more efficient path.
- Gangneung and Ulleungdo – Gangneung is great for its beaches, but what you’re really doing here is trying to maximize your time in Ulleungdo. The ferry’s don’t go often and it might require you to stay a night in the coastal town, but that’s okay since Gangneung will keep you busy. Both this and Ulleungdo are some of the ‘best kept secret’ in Korea. Hope you don’t get sea sick cuz this boat ride can get rough.
Days 7-10 – Follow days 5-7 of the itinerary for the 7-day Korea trip above. You won’t have to use the alternative and go to Gyeongju because you’ll be doing that anyways the next day.
- Gyeongju – Live the alternative day y for the 7-day itinerary, his up the main Shilla sites and Bulguksa. One day is a bit rushed, but you’ll manage!
Days 12-13 (morning)
- Jeonju – Cut across the country to head over to Jeonju, the home of bibimbap. To be honest, I don’t care too much for bibimbap, but the hanok village is pretty cool. While it is nice any time of day, it is especially nice in the morning, so if you chickened out in Hahoe, try to do a hanokstay here!
Day 13 (afternoon/evening)
- Gochang Dolmens – Take a day trip to Gochang and on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t you want to know how ancient people got buried way back in the day? I know I do. Okay, I made that sound boring as hell, but it is really pretty amazing… like a mini stonehenge, but more Korean! Head back to Seoul and you can stay the night in the south since you’re going to Suwon tomorrow anyways.
- Hwaseong Fortress – Follow the subway down to Suwon and take a short bus ride to this super ultra amazing fantastic fortress they got down here. Here’s a full guide. When you’re done, you can wrap up your Korean adventure in Gangnam and do it Gangnam Sty…NO, no, that song was terrible, NO!
Alternative – Some people are really hell bent on visiting Jeju Island, and that’s great, Jeju is pretty damn cool, but how do you fit it in? I would cut Gyeongju, one of the days in Gangneung/Ulleungdo, and either cut out Gochang or the Templestay in Haeinsa to get a 3rd extra day. Take a round trip flight from Daegu airport so you don’t have to double back to Seoul, or just wait till the end of the trip and fly from Seoul. The price will be about the same with budget airlines. With three days, and hopefully a car rental (public transport/taxis are doable but inconvenient), you can hit up most of the spots mentioned on this list. I would just make sure I hit up the Maze Park, Hamdeok beach, Halla mountain, and the waterfall down south.
I considered making a super long Korea itinerary for those of you who are coming for 1-3 months, and yes, I know you exist, but I found the endeavor rather pointless. I already went through the trouble of putting the lists of things to do in Seoul and out of Seoul in order, so it just ends up being finding the most efficient route between all of those spots.
Okay I’m done.
(Any questions? Ask below!)