Korea has lots to offer outside of Seoul. Over the last decade, I’ve published, updated, and expanded this list many times. For 2022, here what I think are the “Top 80 Things to do in Korea OUTSIDE of Seoul.” This year, I’ve have added a Kakao Map with instructions at the bottom of this post to help you find these places. Let the countdown begin!
Things to do in Korea Countdown: #80-61
80) Chuja-do Island / 추자도
Chuja Island is a set of twin islands between Jeju and the mainland. This small island doesn’t get many visitors outside of two daily boats. The best way to explore it is to hike Olle Trail 18-1 which does an 8 loop around the island. Many claim it is the most challenging of the 26 Jeju Olle Trails, so try it if you’re up to the challenge. Around the island are interesting mosaics, beautiful natural scenery, and plenty of friendly locals.
79) Paju Book City / 파주 출판 단지
Paju Book City was a planned project by the Korean government. It gave cheap land to struggling publishing companies to continue their work. Consequently, the publishing companies created an area for Seoulites to escape the rustle bustle of the city. Paju Book City has bookstores and libraries, big and small. It even has a book themed hotel!
78) Bird Estuaries of Jeju / 제주 새 서식지
Jeju’s subtropical climate make it ideal for migrating birds. There are three areas which birds call home that I particularly enjoy. The first is in Hallim-eup in north west Jeju. Right before sunset, large flocks take flight, covering the sun, making for some stunning photography. Next is the bird estuary in Gujwa-eup where few venture here outside of enthusiastic bird watchers. This creates the perfect, serene environment for large and rare birds. Lastly is an abandoned fishery along Olle Trail 2. Endangered birds found nowhere else on the island live here. All 3 can be found on the map mentioned above.
77) Bibong Dinosaur Egg Sites / 비봉 공룡알 화석지 [TWHS]
The dinosaur egg and track sites in Boseong-gun, had been on my radar for years. Korea submitted this site for UNESCO World Heritage Site consideration 15 years ago, but the bid failed. What makes this place interesting is not actually the tracks or eggs themselves. In all honesty, they are kind of hard to spot. What’s cool is that this site is completely abandoned. The decaying dinosaur statues and the remains of an outdoor museum are perfect if you’re into abandoned places. This area is also an abandoned port with decaying boats that have been sitting there for years.
76) Geojedo Beaches / 거제도 해변
Geoje is an “island” west of Busan, connected by an underwater tunnel and a number of bridges. The tunnel costs 10,000 won, but its better than taking the 4 hours detour to go around. The beaches are overall quite nice. Head south to any beach along within Hallyeo Haesang National Park and you’ll find something good.
75) Gwangalli Beach / 광안리 해변
Gwangalli is one of Busan’s most recognizable beaches. It has this iconic bridge on the horizon and plenty of bars to keep you hanging out late into the night. It’s a nice alternative to the much busier Haeundae Beach.
74) Gapyeong / 가평
Gapyeong is a town on the very outskirts of the greater Seoul area. While I am not very fond of Gapyeong’s famous Nami Island, the food is divine and its ‘Dalk Galbi’ rivals that of even Chuncheon. In addition to Namiseom, there is also a bungee jump and two zip lines for the adrenaline junkies out there. If you want to make a day out of it, try some of the ATV courses which you can book from the information booths in the train station. Don’t pass up the opportunity to eat one of Korea’s best meals.
73) Thomas Edison Museum / 에디슨과학박물관
Did you know there is a large Thomas Edison Museum in the middle of nowhere, Korea? How in the world did this happen?
The legend goes that a very wealthy resident was obsessed with the American inventor. He spent a fortune gathering old Edison branded appliances and vehicles. While the government tried to convince him to move the museum to the capital, it was in vein. However, if there is one thing he loved more than Edison, it was his hometown of Gangneung. This museum and homage to Edison is surprisingly nice and definitely worth a look.
72) Jeonju Film Street / 전주영화의거리
About 25 years ago, Jeonju, Korea grew weary of being a 1 trick pony. Known mostly for its Hanok Village, Jeonju sought to create something new to attract visitors. The Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) was the end result. Today, Jeonju has a total of 7 theaters in less than a kilometer of street which hosts the yearly festival. Outside of the event, it is still worth a look. However, if you can, try to visit in May and catch a movie at the Jeonju Dome to get the full, red carpet experience.
71) Sosu / Dosan / Byeongsan Seowon / 소수소원, 도산소원, 병산소원 [WHS]
In 2019, Korea got its 14th World Heritage Site with the Seowon Confucian Academies. Sosu, Dosan and Byeongsan are three within the greater Andong area. All are relatively similar but Dosan has free English guides and the most history (pictured). It was the site where many historical figures made their start in Korean academia and politics.
70) Film Site Suncheon / 순천드라마촬영장
If you are a fan of film and dramas from Korea, chances are you’ve seen the Suncheon Drama Filming Set. Films and shows (Pachinko) that take place in the 60s and 80s use this place for their sets. Today, it is an open museum for you to walk around, take pictures, and relive your favorite scenes.
69) Museom Village / 무섬마을
I bet you’ve never heard of Museom Village before? This tiny town in the middle of nowhere isn’t mentioned in any Korea tourism book, map or site I’ve ever seen. How did I come across it? I am glad you asked!
Korean rest stops are something else. These decked out pit stops have shops, food, and usually, pristine bathrooms. They are also perfect places to just snooze off if you’re feeling tired and it isn’t safe to keep driving. Stumbling to the bathroom at night, I had time to kill and decided to pay attention to the pictures that sometimes, inexplicably adorn the urinals. One has a picture of a folk village I had never seen with a rather unusual bridge (pictured). The caption only said one word, Museom Village.
Luckily it was nearby and, welp, I was there the next day. The bridge is indeed the highlight, and the town itself is worth checking out if you’re in the area. The locals are friendly and there’s even a shop or two to get snacks.
68) Nakaneupseong Folk Village, Suncheon / 낙안읍성 [TWHS]
Nakaneupseong Village is yet another site on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to ever make the cut. It is simply too similar to the already listed sites of Hahoe and Yangdong and UNESCO rewards uniqueness. Nevertheless, this less known and less visited village is absolutely beautiful. The hike along the surrounding wall gives you great vantage points to really appreciate the Chogajib (초가집) houses. If you’re already in Suncheon to check out the wetlands, add this to your itinerary.
67) Magoksa Temple / 마곡사 [WHS]
Magoksa is one of the 7 “Sansa,” mountain temples of Korea. It is a 30 minute bus ride away from Gongju City if you’re keen on hitting 2 World Heritage Sites in one day. Magoksa is also a participant in the “Templestay” program. Here, you can stay the night and experience a full day as a Korean monk. The autumn leaves lead to beautiful scenery too, with its reflecting pond as the main attraction.
66) Phoenix Park / 휘닉스평창 스노우파크
Phoenix Park is a great place for both beginners and expert skiers alike. Its location in Gangwon Province ensures that it gets plenty of natural snow. There are also ski schools and activities for kids, making it very family friendly.
65) Jeonju Nambu Market / 전주 남부시장
This market feels a little bit hidden at first. If you see the southern gate, you’re on the right track. On the surface, Jeonju’s market feels like any other market in Korea. However, you’re here for the food. Along the small alleys, you’ll find some of the best food you’ve ever tasted. If you see long lines for something, you know its going to be good.
64) Haeundae Beach Area / 해운대 해변
Haeundae Beach may not have the best water, but the area does have a great atmosphere. You can just stroll down the sandy beach or hit up one of the local bars on a summer night. I guess I am starting to warm up to Busan.
63) Black Sand Beach / 삼양검은모래 해변
If you’re in Korea and want a beach, absolutely nothing comes close to the ones in Jeju. Black Sand Beach is the first one that makes the list. It is on the northern coast and gets its color from the broken down volcanic rock. You might see more than one person rubbing it on their body. They say it is good for the skin.
62) Haedong Yonggungsa Temple / 해동용궁사
Yonggungsa is Busan’s most iconic temple. Set on a cliffside, this Buddhist retreat attracts thousands of visitors every year for a reason. If you can spare a day from the beaches, this should be your next stop.
61) Sokcho Beaches / 속초시 해변
Sokcho on Korea’s east coast has some very nice beaches. You can start at the center of town, but the ambiance and water gets nicer the further you go from the crowds. Seafood is what’s for dinner here, but barbecue by the beach is also popular.
Pro Tip – Sokcho is a popular starting point for anyone who plans to hike in Seoraksan.
- Discovering Germany: The Most Worthwhile UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Explore - November 5, 2023
- A Guide To Taking A Cruise With A Pre-Existing Condition - May 15, 2023
- Renting a Car to Drive Around Maui, Hawaii - February 1, 2023