Ask five friends which places are the best to visit in South Korea and you’ll get five different sets of answers. South Korea has many fascinating tourist attractions, and it’s easy to fall in love with its beautiful places. ❤Receiving tips and advice from everyone’s “Korea Bucket List” made us feel more and more excited for the trip. Thanks to recommendations, creating our own itinerary was a piece of cake.
My fiancé, sister, best friend, and I went around Seoul in four days with its efficient mass transport system. Since we’re all into trendy stuff, adorable cafes and delicious restaurants, what better place to stay than right at the heart of shopping in Seoul: Myeongdong. 🙂 (Read this post for my review of Casa Myeongdong Guesthouse and Budget Hotel.)
Our perfect idea of travel was to taste the best of Korean street food, shop for Korean makeup and skin care, try out Korean fashion, visit Korean palaces and wear hanbok, and simply enjoy the city’s cool weather. If you’re like us and are planning to go to Korea soon, this post may be helpful. Read on! 😛
Top 10 Places We Visited in South Korea in Four Days
1. Grevin Seoul Museum (서울 그레뱅 뮤지엄)
Grevin Seoul is the biggest wax museum in Asia. It holds several wax figures of known celebrities like Psy, Lee Min Ho, Jang Geun Suk, John Lennon, Brad Pitt, Jackie Chan and famous icons such as Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Michael Jordan. They looked and felt almost real, which was quite eerie. 😛 The concept originated from France’s famous beeswax museum, the Musée Grévin. We spent an hour taking pictures and walking through the 14 main theme sections inside.
Address: 23, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 을지로 23 (을지로1가)
Monday-Thursday, Sunday 10:00-19:00
Friday, Saturday 10:00-21:00
* Last admission 45 minutes before closing.
Admission / Participation Fees:
Adults (ages 19-64) 18,000 won
Children (ages 5-18) & Seniors (ages 65 or older) 15,000 won
How to Go/Nearest Subway Station:
City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1,2), Exit 6. Walk straight for 5 mins.
Euljiro 1-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 1. Walk straight for 3 mins.
2. Myeongdong Shopping Street (명동)
Myeongdong is one of the primary shopping districts in Seoul. Since our hotel was situated right in Myeongdong, we just shopped happily and leisurely around without the worries of getting lost or having problems going back to the hotel late at night.
Many designer shops and department stores line the streets and alleys and every store is filled with fashionable goods and trendy stuff. Korean cosmetic and skin care brands like Innisfree, Etude House, Holika Holika, The Face Shop, Tony Moly, Laneige, and Nature Republic can be found repeatedly in almost every block! Myeongdong is also a good place for tasting Korean street food and local restaurants. We had lots of fun. 🙂
Address: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 명동길 (명동1가)
How to Go/Nearest Subway Station: Myeongdong Station
3. Lotte World
Lotte World was one of the highlights of our trip. It is a major recreation complex in Seoul, which consists of the world’s largest indoor theme park (a Guinness World Record) that is open all-year around. Since we booked our flight via Air Asia, we scored a huge discount for the ticket. For the one-day pass, the price went down from the regular KRW 52,000 to KRW 36,000 per person. 🙂 I showed the screenshot of our Air Asia ticket on my phone.
Lotte World is linked directly to Jamsil subway station. Shopping malls, a luxury hotel, a Korean folk museum, sports facilities, an ice skating rink, and movie theaters are all in one place. It also has an outdoor amusement park called “Magic Island,” which was decorated in Halloween theme featuring zombies and haunted houses since it was Halloween when we went there. Attractions and rides are great for both kids and adults. Do expect long queues and waiting times though.
4. Namiseom Island (남이섬 종합휴양지)
Namiseom Island (or Nami Island for short) is small but there’s so many things to see and do. This was where Winter Sonata drama series was shot. It’s named after General Nami, who led a great victory against the rebels in the 13th year of the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejo (reign 1455-1468). We traveled to Nami Island from Myeongdong through the subway, Gapyeong City Tour Bus, and the ferry. Total travel time was two hours.
People say that the best time to go to Nami Island is either during autumn or winter. We’re glad we caught the autumn leaves in sight. Everything looked lovely with yellow, orange and red hues dominating what was once a lush green flora. Most tourists we saw here were Korean families enjoying the view, cycling, and having a picnic on the grass. Overall ambiance was relaxing and peaceful as we felt closer to nature. It’s my favorite place in Korea thus far. 🙂
Address: 1, Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do 강원도 춘천시 남산면 남이섬길 1
07:30-09:00 (Departure from Gapyeong Naru: Intervals 30 minutes)
09:00-18:00 (Intervals 10-20 minutes)
18:00-21:40 (Departure from Nami Naru to last ferry: intervals 30 minutes)
Admission Fee: (includes a round-ferry ticket, usage fee, and additional tax)
General Rate for Adults: 10,000 won
Discounted Rate: 8,000 won
Special Rate: 4,000 won
How to Go/Nearest Subway Station:
Go to Gapyeong Station and take the hop-on/hop-off bus for the Gapyeong City Tour.
5. Petite France (쁘띠프랑스)
From Nami Island, we rode the Gapyeong City Tour Bus and hopped off to Petite France. Traffic was heavy on a Saturday, so travel time was doubled from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Worse was that we stood the entire time when we were on the bus. Anyway, visiting Petite France was worth it! 🙂
Petite France looked like a French cultural village set in the Korean countryside. It consists of 16 French-style buildings where guests can lodge and experience French food, clothing, and household culture. The small village contains a memorial hall dedicated to Saint-Exupery, the author of the celebrated French novel, Le Petit Prince (1943). As such, it is called the Little Prince theme park. At the same time, this place serves as a youth training facility (Goseong Youth Training Center). It’s also where Secret Garden, My Love From the Star, and Beethoven Virus television series were shot.
Address: 1063, Hoban-ro, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do 경기도 가평군 청평면 호반로 1063
09:00-18:00 (Last admission: 1 hour before closing.)
Adults: 8,000 won
Teenagers (Middle & High School Students): 6,000 won
Children (ages 3-Elementary School Students): 5,000 won
Seniors (ages 65 & above) / People with Disabilities: 6,000 won (proof of identification required)
How to Go:
[Bus] From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal or Sangbong Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Cheongpyeong. Or from Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal, take a local bus bound for Goseong-ri (고성리). Alternatively, take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus to Petite France.
6. The Garden of Morning Calm
From Petite France, we rode the Gapyeong City Tour Bus once again and alighted at the Morning Calm Garden. This place houses Korea’s major botanical gardens, attracting about 700,000 tourists from home and abroad annually. The garden aims to promote the beauty of Korean flowers and plants to the world. Its design focused on curves, spaces, asymmetric balance, and Korea’s unique beauty to express classic elegance.
The Garden of Morning Calm is covered with a rich tapestry of color from the thousands of flowers and trees in full bloom. Conquering the entire area was very tiring. We climbed several flights of stairs to get to the topmost part where we found a greenhouse displaying many colorful flowers. The top location is a perfect spot for artists and photographers who want nature as their subject. It’s a wonderful feeling as well to breathe in fresh and cool air.
Address: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do 경기도 가평군 상면 수목원로 432 (상면)
Adults: 9,000 won
Student: 6,500 won
Children: 5,500 won
How to Go:
[Bus] From Sangbong Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal take a bus bound for Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal. Or take bus 1330 at Cheongnyangni Transfer Center (in front of Lotte Department Store) and get off at the Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal. Alternatively, take the Gapyeong City Tour Bus to Morning Calm Garden.
7. Itaewon Special Tourist Zone (이태원 관광특구)
Itaewon is a multicultural place where over 20,000 foreigners live and is widely recognized by international visitors. This is why restaurants here offer various cuisines that cater to both Korean and non-Korean nationals. Streets of cultural diversity looked more interesting and beautiful after 9PM.
The bar district/nightlife here is said to be probably the best in Seoul. We did not come to Itaewon to drink or socialize in bars but to hunt for more chic clothes and accessories. 😛 This area is crowded with shops selling clothes and bags, leather products, and souvenir items. Prices of items are higher in general as compared to those in Myeongdong.
Address: Hannam-dong and Itaewon-dong in Seoul 서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 , 한남동 일대
How to Go/Nearest Subway Station: Itaewon Station
8. Namdaemun Market
Another place to go shopping galore is Namdaemun Market. Stalls of inexpensive clothing, hats, carpets, housewares, fabrics, jewelry, mountain gear, fishing equipment, stationery, kitchenware, accessories, toys, food, flowers, and appliances can be found in the streets. Prices of stuff are affordable as you can expect from a wholesale market, so there’s no wonder why the market is usually crowded. Namdaemun Market is open from 11:00PM to 3:00AM. It’s a great opportunity for bargains and also for taste the best of Korean street food some more.
How to Go/Nearest Subway Station: Hoehyeon Station
9. Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
It would be sad to visit Seoul without going to one of the palaces. Out of the five grand Korean palaces that exist today, we chose Gyeongbokgung Palace because it’s Korea’s most famous royal palace. It was built in 1395 and has been destroyed and reconstructed numerous times. Gyeongbokgung served as the home of Kings of the Joseon dynasty, the Kings’ households, as well as the government of Joseon. The place is well-maintained and clean. The National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum are located within the premises of the complex.
We joined the English tour (for free) to learn more about Korea’s history, its architectural traditions and court customs. After the tour, we took our time strolling around the pavilions and halls within the palace’s spacious walled grounds. The compound is huge and it’s a good place for photoshoots. Entrance is free if you wear hanbok (but you need to pay for the rental outside).
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)
Closed on Tuesdays
Adults (ages 19-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won
Children (ages 7-18): 1,500 won / Group (10 people or more): 1,200 won
How to Go/Nearest Subway Station:
Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 5
Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 2
10. Changdeokgung Palace
Changdeokgung Palace is only one subway station away from Gyeongbokgung Palace Station, so if you have time, go and check it out. 🙂 It deserves a look not only because it’s one of the most historically significant attractions that represent the beauty of Korea but also because Changdeokgung Palace was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in December of 1997. It would be nice to learn its importance from the time of Seongjong, the 9th king of Joseon, when a number of kings began using it as a place of residence.
Changdeokgung Palace was the second royal villa built as a primary palace following the construction of Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405. Its grounds comprise of a public palace area, a royal family residence building, and the rear garden. Known as a place of rest for the kings, the rear garden boasts a gigantic tree that is over 300 years old, a small pond and a pavilion. The best time to see the garden is during fall season when the autumn foliage is at its peak and the leaves just starts to fall. Unfortunately, weather did not cooperate that day. It was raining when we went there, so we were not able to stay as long as we wished.
Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (와룡동)
Feb-May, Sep-Oct 09:00-18:00
Closed on Mondays
Adults (ages 25-64): 3,000 won / Group (over 10): 2,400 won
Children and Teenagers (ages 18 and under): Regular 1,500 won
How to Go/Nearest Subway Station:
Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station (Subway Line 1, 3 or 5), Exit 6. Walk for about 10-min to arrive at the palace entrance.
Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 3. Walk straight from the exit (towards east) for about 5-min to arrive at the palace entrance.