THINGS YOU MUST DO IN KOREA
- Try Local Cuisine & Dishes
- Enjoy Outdoor Activities
- Admire Interesting Architecture & Art
- Immerse the Upbeat KPOP
- Visit World Heritage Site
- Experience Island Life
- Get Involved in Korean Festival & Event
1) Try Local Cuisine & Dishes
Korean traditional food. anyway very famous international food. @ kowitstockphoto / Adobe Stock
The Korean experience will be incomplete if you don’t some authentic Korean dishes. Krean cuisines is one of the spiciest, tastiest and most multi-dimensional in the world. It isn’t short on either savory or sweet dishes. People love trying authentic food while in Korea. The best part is that it can be bought from the most expensive restaurant and cheapest food stall and there’s no end to the deliciousness in either.
Here are some famous Korean foods that you must try while in Korea:
- Kimchi: Kimchi is a preserved mixture of pickled cabbages, red peppers, scallions, onions, garlic and seasoning. It’s very spicy and very tasty, and is one the first dishes that comes to mind when talking about Korean food. Also, did you know that there are more than 100 different kinds of kimchi? Tells you something about the love Korean people have for this food.
- Bibimbap: Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish with rice being topped with cooked vegetables, egg and meat. It’s a light dish that can be eaten if you’re not big on spices, and offers a much-needed contrast to the generally spicy Korean dishes.
- Bulgogi: Bulgogi is the name of a Korean sweet meat dish that is prepared with love and lots of flavor. It’s almost quintessential to Korean cuisine which is why you must try it if you ever visit Korea. There’s also bulgogi-flavored fast food these days available on menus which is worth a try.
- Tteokbokki: A conversation about Korean cuisine is complete without mentioning tteokbokki. These spicy, sticky, absolutely irresistible rice cakes can either be eaten alone, or in other dishes such as korean instant noodles and much more.
- Korea fried chicken: Korea fried chicken is like regular fried chicken, except coated in the most flavorful special korean sauce. This sauce is sour, spicy and overall amazing. Korea fried chicken is usually topped with mild sesame seeds that provide an interesting contrast.
- Ginseng chicken soup: Ginseng chicken soup or samgye-tang is the traditional sick food in Korea. It consists of a young stuffed chicken cooked in a mild-but-tasty broth that makes it a healthy dish
2) Enjoy Outdoor Activities
Bukhansan National Park, South Korea @ CJ Nattanai / Adobe Stock
There are many outdoor activities to enjoy in South Korea. This may come as a surprise as Korea is known for its busy metropolises, but it’s true. South Korea has all the facilities, as well as the natural settings to enjoy a day out hiking, skiing or doing any other outdoor activity. People love South Korea as an adventure-filled destination due to the many weathers the country had simultaneously and the many amazing landscapes.
Here are some outdoor activities that you can enjoy while you’re in South Korea:
- Hiking: You can have all kinds of hiking trips while in Korea. Be it an afternoon jaunt or a full-fledged mountain hike with some ethereal views as the backdrop, you can do it all in Korea. The best place to hike in Korea is probably Jeju Island. This is because it has volcanic cones or oreum and scenic views from the Hallasan Mountain. Other than that, you can have some enjoyable coastal walks in Busan.
- Skiing: Skiing is quite possibly one of the best outdoor activities in South Korea. Korean resorts are highly similar to the ones you see back home. A popular skiing resort is Yongpyong. The resort has slopes on over 3 mountains and a huge range of apres-ski activities.
- Diving: Diving is yet another outdoor activity that’s extremely enjoyable on Korean beaches. People love Jeju as a diving destination with its beautiful coral reefs, several uninhabited islands and volcanic landscape. A diving trip in summers is vastly different in Korea than winter, and this is a thing that should be kept in mind.
- Snorkeling: Snorkeling is also an enjoyable outdoor activity for many travelers in South Korea.It is also done best on Jeju just like diving. Snorkeling equipment is available on Korean beaches.
3) Admire Interesting Architecture & Art
A Korean drummer at pansori playing @ Yeongsik Im / Adobe Stock
Korea is a historic nation rich in culture and heritage. This is also reflected in the country’s famous architectural and artistic pieces. The Koreans had a distinct style in construction that can be seen across its temples and other buildings.
People love visiting these sites for educational and insightful purposes. You get to learn not only about the Korean way of life as it was in the past, but also the way the nation interpreted art, entertainment and architecture.
Traditional visual arts were influenced by Chinese and Buddhist art styles. They used to be colorful, involving ink brush painting and had other originally Chinese styles. On the other hand, the modern visual arts in Korea include the famous dansaekhwa or monochrome painting which emerged in the 1970s. This style still remains important today with various major Korean artists adopting it. Nam June Paik is the most famous Korean painter.
There are many mural villages across Korea and one of them is theIhwa Mural Village in the Seoul region. The mural village has murals drawn on its walls from artists all over Korea. It’s a beautiful part of the Korean culture and one that you must see.
Pansori is one of the many performance arts found in Korea. It involves a solo woman flicking her fan dramatically and singing along to the drumbeats of her male partner. Changgeuk is performed by a larger group. Other performance arts include samulnori, salpuri and talchum.
Korean temples are a major part of Korean heritage and culture. They are over 900 in number. These Buddihst temples offer tributes to the holy figure in the form of fascinating statues. Some famous temples in Korea are Bongjeongsa Temple in Seoul, the Jogyesa Buddhist Temple and many others.
Palaces built by major Korean dynasties still stand in Korea today and act as reminders of Korea’s glorious past. In 1395 C.E The Joseon dynasty built 5 palaces and the largest one of them was named Gyeongbokgung palace. The design is distinctly Korean and the palace is spread on over 40 hectares of land. ANother major palace in Korea is the Changdeokgung palace, also known as East Palace. Both of these palaces represent Korean architecture at its finest.
Other architectural structures such as the Seoul Olympic Stadium are also very famous and have been built along modern standards of construction. These advanced structures hold events, are tourist attractions and earn revenue for the Korean economy.
4) Immerse the Upbeat KPOP
Statue and Tourists taking photos of the beautiful scenery around at Nami Island in seoul,South Korea,19 November 2019. @ Phuaorneer / Adobe Stock
Kpop is a hybrid of the terms Korean and Pop. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry today with Korean stars being famous all over the world for their upbeat music and groovy dance moves. You can enjoy Kpop while in Korea by buying merchandise, listening to records or even attending concerts!
5) Visit World Heritage Site
Namhansanseong Fortress in Seoul , South Korea @ CJ Nattanai / Adobe Stock
South Korea is not short on world heritage sites either. UNESCO has declared a considerable part of the country worthy of the world heritage site title. These sites are great tourist attractions as well, and if you like sightseeing, you should definitely pay a visit! Visitors usually end up loving them due to the care with which the Korean government has maintained them and kept them open for public leisure.
Here are some of the most famous World Heritage Sites in Korea:
6) Experience Island Life
Grassfields and fence with view over ocean and Ilchulbong in the background, Seongsan, Jeju Island, South Korea @ Loes Kieboom / Adobe Stock
Korean Islands are a must-visit when you go to Korea. The serene environment on these islands, away fro the hustle-bustle of the big cities, gives you the chnace to retire and reflect. These islands are very popular with tourists but still maintain their peaceful atmosphere. You can have a relaxing time here! Tourists love them for this reason too.
- Jeju Island: The exhilarating island of Jeju-si is located off the Korean’s Peninsula’s Southwestern coastline. It’s picturesque natural beauty is what brings thousands of tourists and locals to its arms each year. The island is so famous for its beauty that it has received several UNESCO awards including a Geopark and Cultural Heritage Sites. The volcanic island has a lot to offer; you can sit by the beach and watch haenyo or sea divers splashing into the sea to look for different things. You can also climb up the Hallasan Mountain and enjoy the breathtaking views.
- Hongdo Island: Hongdo Island is situated in the Yellow Sea. There’s a lot to do and a lot to see at Hongdo Island which is one of the best islands in all of South Korea. You can unwind in a calm environment and have the time of your life!
- Geoje Island: Geoje Island is situated in Geoje city and this is also one of the best islands to visit in South Korea. It’s an amazing place where you can see different landscapes including, of course, the sea.
7) Get Involved in Korean Festival & Event
Jinju Namgang Yudeung or lanterns festival with traditional lanterns illuminated at night floating on Nam river Jinju South Korea @ Keitma / Adobe Stock
The Korean people seem to be a very cheerful lot - at least from the number of festivals they have each year! The many different festivals are either cultural or in celebration of different achievements. These festivals are overflowing with colors, laughter and all things joyful. And this is why you should try to attend at least one while in Korea.
The Korean people are very welcoming of even people of different ethnicities. They swear by “the more the merrier” saying and will treat you like one of their own. This is why travelers have no hesitation taking part in Korean festivals. If not anything, they’re a great way to spend time in a joyful atmosphere.
- Taebaeksan Snow Festival: Taebaeksan Snow Festival takes place each year during winter when the city gets covered in silvery snow. The festival attracts people from all over Korea and the world who come to enjoy the chilly atmosphere and the many activities. These activities include building snow sculptures, The Snowflake Hiking Competition, ice sliding, ice fountain, starlight festival and much more.
- Boryeong Mud Festival: The Boryeong Mud Festival takes place each year during summers. Hundreds of thousands of people gather at Daecheon Beach every year to completely lose themselves in the muddy fun of the festival. Although the festival was started in the 1990s to promote the health benefits of the mineral-infused mud, many activities can be done while you’re there. These include mud wrestling, mud slides, “mud king” as well as fireworks.The days starts off with lots of mud splashing and mud sliding, and ends with concerts from some of the biggest names in Korean entertainment industry.
- Jeju Fire Festival: The Jeju Fire Festival takes place in late February and early March in Jeju city. It involves setting fire to the Saebyeol Oreum hill in Jeju as part of an ancient tradition. The practice welcomes good harvest and good health for the coming season. The beautiful sight of the burning hill can be seen along with other activities such as special performances, torch marches and folk games.
- Jinju Lantern Festival: This is probably the most breathtaking festival of all. Jinju Lantern Festival takes place in October each year. Bright, vibrant and beautiful lanterns of various shapes and sizes remain afloat on the Nam River The river bank also holds thousands of wishes from Korean locals in red lanterns. The festival dates back to 1952 when lanterns were lit to stop Japanese soldiers from attacking the Namgang River. Besides seeing the lovely lanterns, you can also do other activities such as having amazing street food and making a lantern of your own.