Welcome to the best South Korea Travel Guide on the internet. Click on any of the pictures to take you to a well researched article by yours truly and start planning your trip today.
If you don’t feel like planning yourself, I’ve made these pre-made itineraries that are ready to go!
If you decide that you love South Korea too much and would like to stay long term, maybe you can teach English here.
Check out the rest of our South Korea articles too for more insights on this amazing country. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the comments below. Usually I’ll reply in a day or two.
17 thoughts on “South Korea Travel Guide”
“Wait what…how can a world heritage ‘site’ be ‘site unspecific?’” This is not uncommon in, the Prehistoric Pile Dwellings spans 6 countries and has 111 specific locations.
Wow! This is quite hard for someone like me who is trying to check them off my list. I guess I just have to pick a few and go with my gut feeling. Have you been to that one?
Frankly, Europe is incredibly creative in their nominations. Perhaps, this partially explains why Europe is very over-represented on the UNESCO list. That and industrialized nations tend to have more world heritage sites.
Nevertheless, if you “Google” the Prehistoric Pile Dwellings, you’ll find it is important, but hardly impressive. So I doubt I will find myself there anytime soon! Perhaps even more surprising is the “Rock-Art of the Mediterranean Basin”, a Spain WHS, which has 727 separate locations within the country. As far as I know, there are only about 10 WHS with more than 50 specific locations making up (1) serial site. 9/10 are in Europe, the other is in Mexico. They are often pilgrimage routes.
So we can judge the Joseon tombs with 18 specific locations as not abnormal. Indeed, their most unique feature is that it is the most complete dynastic & preserved tomb complex in the world. Every single Joseon King (27 in total) have a royal tomb that is still here (including their Queen). This is not the case in any significant dynasties in China or Japan. Partly, because China and Japan did not routinely build the tombs into the sides of mountains, well away from the main areas of the city. China’s Ming Tombs are a WHS, but they are not complete, despite the Ming dynasty lasting several centuries less than Joseon.
Another unique fact, because of the grandness (or extravagance) of Chinese tombs, nearly all of them have been looted at some time or another. Only a few of the Joseon tombs have suffered this fate, which speaks even more about the choice to construct several modest tomb clusters spread out in surrounding rural areas of the capital.
I didn’t know this, thanks! I also heard an incredible story in Jongmyo on how the gravekeepers lied to the Japanese about who was inside to prevent them from being destroyed during the occupation.
I have technically been to the one in Mexico. It is a route that crosses half the country and I have been to two points of the route. I haven’t decided whether to count it or not though as I kind of stumbled upon it, but did get a detailed history about it (before it was a WHS).
Thank you so so much for all the information posted here. It gave me tonsa awesome ideas as I am trying to figure a good (I hope..!)itinerary around Korea now. Thumbs up!
I’ve been wanting to visit South Korea for sometime now and this post will definitely help me with my trip planning! Awesome work.
Thanks, Korea really is pretty awesome. This guide is due an upgrade real soon :). Say hi to Maddy for me!
We are taking our two kids this year and planning to go to Ulleungdo. Can’t wait. 🙂
Awesome! Hope you have a blast. Went there myself a few months ago.
I’m planning to visit South Korea for the first time in Spring next year (March/April 2019)
I plan to go Seoul, Busan and Jeju.
I see that you have quite a long list of places to go. Are they ranked according to your preference?
How would you recommend for first time visitors to Korea?
The two lists, top things in Seoul and top things in Korea (outside of Seoul) are in order (descending) of what I think is the most important. For recommendations (logistics kind of matter in this case) look at the itinerary list above. That gives you a better idea of how to plan it, including jeju.
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I had fun in Seoul and Suwon back in the day. Thanks for a great guide.
Awesome itinerary! Love how detailed it is, I’m sure it’ll make it very easy for first time Korea travellers.
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I love the culture and festival Korean celebrate they are cool and amazing.
Great post!!! I’m going to visit South Korea in March with my wife.
Right now I’ve showed her your tips and awesome pictures. Thank you very much!!!
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Hi! Not sure if you still update this Blog but one question, what’s your opinion on Confucius sites such as the Gyeongju Oksanseowon Confucian Academy?
Sorry for the late reply.
I think you are talking about the UNESCO Site Seowon – Confucian Academies. They were added in 2019 and that same year, I managed to see about 5 of the 9 but not Oksanseowon yet.
IMHO, for foreigners, they are some of the toughest to visit because they are remote (usually), have no translations into English (usually) and really don’t look much different than any other Korean historical site.
My advice for these is to first look up and review what it is you’re looking at.
With that said, at one of the other Seowon, one of the front desk ladies offers a free tour. She is actually a volunteer that visits Andong every weekend to give free English tours.
My take on almost all UNESCO sites (with maybe 2 exceptions) is that they are all worth visiting, and Seowon is worth visiting. BUT one of the least interesting ones in Korea for me.