May 24, 2024

South Korea is one of the most popular destinations in the world and it’s easy to see why. Rich heritage and culture, delicious street food, beautiful scenery, and an enticing atmosphere make avid travellers quickly fall in love with the country. 

However, if you’ve already visited Seoul and are craving something a little different for your next trip to South Korea, we’ve got you covered with these five alternative destinations you should consider for your next Korean trip! 

Not sure how to start planning your trip to South Korea? Let the experts at Korea Travel Fair 2024 help you out!

Taking place at Marina Square from 17 to 19 May 2024, Korea Travel Fair 2024 if where you can talk to travel experts from Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) about all things Korea, and score some awesome travel deals while you’re at it! Find out more about travelling to Busan, Gangwon, Jeju, Yeosu, Gwangju, and more right from the experts!

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Busan, the coastal gem of the Korean Peninsula

Busan, the energetic younger sibling to Seoul, pulsates with a unique charm that draws travelers seeking a perfect blend of relaxation, cultural immersion, and urban excitement. Known for its stunning scenery and equally enticing hospitality, Busan is home to some of South Korea’s most stunning beaches and historical sites. 

Top things to do in Busan

Explore Busan’s coast with a ride aboard the Haeundae Beach Train

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One of the best things to do in Busan is to hop aboard the Haeundae Beach Train and enjoy a scenic ride along Busan’s mesmerising coastline! It is the world’s first battery-charged eco-friendly sightseeing train and runs for 4.8km along the Busan Green Railway Trail. 

The train travels between six stops from Mipo (where the journey starts usually) to Songjeong, where passengers can hop on and off at their convenience. The route passes through a variety of landscapes including beaches, forests, and the Dalmaji Tunnel, allowing you to see some of Busan’s most memorable sights all in one go! You can also soak up the sun on Haendae Beach!

Fill your Instagram feed with pictures of Gamcheon Culture Village

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Gamcheon Culture Village is arguably the most iconic location in Busan, thanks to its famous artsy vibes and chill atmosphere. Once a struggling hillside slum, Gamcheon Culture Village underwent a revitalization project in the 2000s and which transformed it into the vibrant, colourful neighbourhood that it is today. 

As you explore the village and its maze-like alleys, you’ll find colorful murals, sculptures, and art installations, all of which are perfect for that #potd. One particular spot to look out for is the “Little Prince” statue, a popular spot for photos. You’ll also love the breathtaking hillside views and ambient cafes that whisk you away from your daily routines. 

Hop between serene temples

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When in Busan, one of the essential activities is to simply hop between its beautiful temples. Two of the most popular temples in Busan are the serene Beomeosa Temple, one of Korea’s largest Buddhist sanctuaries, and Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, an architectural wonder perched dramatically on the seashore.

Enjoy the scenic views and serene atmosphere as you delve into the history and culture of Busan through the various exhibits and prayer halls in the temples. However, do take note to be respectful as you enter these revered sites! 

Enjoy a seafood feast at Jagalchi Market

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Did you know that the largest fish market in Korea is located in Busan? Every morning, the sprawling Jagalchi Market becomes the city’s most bustling location as fishermen haul their catch to shore, and locals throng the market in search of the freshest catch of the day. 

Heading to Jagalchi Market in the morning is not just an opportunity to experience the local vibes of the city, but also to fill your tummy! The market offers an overwhelming array of seafood to sample in its cooked seafood section, where you can find everything from fresh sashimi to hearty seafood porridge. We highly recommend the abalone porridge, it is superb! 

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Gangwon, a pristine winter wonderland

Gangwon Province, a scenic escape north of Seoul, is a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Nicknamed “Korea’s Alps,” Gangwon boasts towering mountains, hiking trails, and world-class ski resorts which were venues for the 2018 Winter Olympics. In addition, Gangwon also surprises with cultural gems like the impressive Naksansa Temple and the charming city of Sokcho, known for its delicious seafood and lively atmosphere. 

Top things to do in Gangwon

Ski at Korea’s top ski resorts

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Among all the locations in South Korea, Gangwon Province, in particular, locations like Pyeongchang and Chuncheon, experience heavy snowfall every winter. Because of this, many of Korea’s best ski resorts are found here, such as the famous Yongpyong Resort, Alpensia Ski Resort, Elysian Gangchon, and more. 

Apart from snowy slopes fit for both beginners and experts, most of the ski resorts in Gangwon Province also offer whimsical scenery and plenty of activities. In fact, during the height of winter, you can even join ice and snow festivals like the Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival, which features mesmerising snow sculptures and loads of activities for the whole family!

Fall in love with Gangwon’s natural gems

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Apart from ambient ski resorts, Gangwon Province is also famous for its plethora of awe-inspiring natural scenery. That’s no surprise thanks to its alpine location! 

One of the most famous natural gems in Gangwon is Seoraksan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a different view and experience depending on the season in which you visit it. In addition, one particular hidden gem that will take your breath away is Daegwallyeong Pass in the Pyeongchang Alps, featuring alluring views of the surrounding hills. There’s even a ranch there where you can interact with cuddly sheep!

Embark on a K-Culture journey

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Given Gangwon’s natural beauty, it’s only natural that the province is home to some of the most iconic K-Drama and K-Pop music video filming locations, many of which are recognisable even at first glance. 

Some of the famous must-visit K-Pop locations in Gangwon include Jumunjin Breakwater and Woljeongsa Temples (filming locations of Goblin), Jumunjin Beach, where you can find the iconic bus stop featured on one of BTS’s album covers, the Sogeumsan Suspension Bridge (featured in It’s Okay Not to Be Okay), and more. In short, Gangwon is the perfect location to recreate your favourite K-Drama scenes! 

Treat your tastebuds to authentic Korean cuisine

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Korean food is always delicious but in Gangwon Province, you can sample some of the most authentic traditional Korean cuisine, which you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. 

For example, Chuncheon is widely known as the birthplace of dakgalbi, a classic Korean dish that consists of chicken that is stir-fried on a large cast-iron skillet. Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street is where you want to go to sample this sumptuous Korean dish! Meanwhile in Gangneung, there is a village called Chodang where you can eat delicious tofu made with seawater. Alternatively, you can sample Ojingeo Sundae (stuffed squid) in the coastal town of Sokcho. 

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Jeju, South Korea’s most romantic island

The stunning island of Jeju needs no introduction. Dubbed by locals as the “Island of the Gods,” Jeju is a volcanic paradise known for its stunning natural beauty, punctuated by the majestic Hallasan Mountain in the centre of the island. In Jeju, you’ll find beautiful beaches and coastal vistas, unique cultural gems, and a ton of fun activities that cater to all travel styles.  

Top things to do in Jeju

Immerse yourself in South Korea’s most beautiful scenic spots

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There is no shortage of postcard-worthy scenery in Jeju, that much is obvious. Whether it be catching a beautiful sunrise at Seongsan Ilchulbong, walking amidst a sea of clouds at the peak of Hallasan Mountain, or admiring the cascading falls of Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, there are so many mesmerising sights to see in Jeju. 

There are also lesser-known hidden gems like Jusangjeolli Cliff and Seopjikoji Hill that offer a diverse range of vistas. In fact, you can probably fill an entire day’s worth of activities just by hunting down these lovely sights! 

Reconnect with Mother Nature with guided forest tours

For those who love immersing themselves in natural surroundings, Jeju provides the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and dive into Mother Nature’s embrace. “Healing forest tours” is a concept that became popular in Jeju after the pandemic and involves guided tours in pristine forests that also include relaxing activities. 

One of the best locations in Jeju for this therapeutic experience is Seogwipo Healing Forest, where you can walk amidst towering cypress trees and lay in a hammock as you enjoy the sounds of the forest. You will surely come out of the whole experience feeling refreshed and revitalised! 

Soak up the sun on Jeju’s famous beaches

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When in Jeju, you simply must head to some of its popular beaches and coastal hangouts. Jungmun Saekdal Beach is where you will find the best waves for surfing, while Hyeopjae Beach offers plenty of sun and sea breeze, and even gives you a view of Biyangdo Island in the distance. 

You could also head to the Handam Coastal Trail where you can walk alongside Jeju’s breathtaking coastline and hop between a cluster of cafes and restaurants. 

Check out some of the island’s top new modern attractions

Since 2020, Jeju has welcomed an influx of newly-opened attractions, many of which have become famous thanks to their social media presence. One particular attraction is the Snoopy Garden, which many K-Pop idols have visited publicly. Here, you’ll find plenty of photo spots and a beautiful garden adorned with statues of the popular Snoopy! 

You could also visit 9.81 Park and experience Gravity Racing and other thrilling activities, or immerse yourself in spectacular digital art at the Jeju Arte Museum

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Yeosu, a hidden gem waiting to be explored

Yeosu, nicknamed the “City of Beautiful Waters,” is a captivating coastal city renowned for its scenic beauty, delicious seafood, and rich history.  Travelers flock to this hidden gem for stunning beaches like Manseongri Beach, known for its black volcanic sand and vibrant cafes, as well as historical sights.

Top things to do in Yeosu

Hop aboard the Yeosu Maritime Cable Car

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The highlight of a trip to Yeosu is no doubt, hopping onboard the Yeosu Maritime Cable Car and embarking on a scenic ride from the mainland to Dolsan Island. The views are simply fantastic! For an even better experience, consider getting a cable car with a glass bottom for added views of the ocean below. 

Once you reach the island, the first place you’ll see is Dolsan Park, where the cable car terminus is. If you’re there around sunset, look back across the ocean and you’ll see Dolsan Bridge light up at night. It’s truly a memorable sight to behold! 

Take a (literal) walk to Odongdo Island

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Another popular island in Yeosu is Odongdo Island, which you’ll actually pass over if you ride the aforementioned cable car. However, we recommend simply walking across to Odongdo Island from the port on the mainland instead. That’s right, the island is so accessible you can simply get to it on foot! 

What makes Odongdo Island special is that it is filled with 3,000 camellia trees. When these camellias bloom, the entire island is covered in a vibrant hue of red, making it a truly magical location to visit. There’s also an ambient lighthouse with an exhibit you can check out. 

See the famous historical turtle ships

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One of the things that Yeosu is most famous for is its association with the legendary Korean admiral, Yi Sun Shin, one of Korea’s greatest generals during the Joseon period. He was best known for his invention and superior command of Geobukseon, turtle ships, which he used to obtain a famous victory against the Japanese navy. 

In Yeosu, you can find replicas of the turtle ships at Yi Sun Shin Park. Here you can admire the ships upclose and take a look inside, along with learning more about Korea’s fascinating naval history.

Challenge yourself with scenic hikes

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Finally, no trip to Yeosu is complete without embarking on a few scenic hikes. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from in Yeosu, namely, Hwangsan Mountain Park, which offers panoramic views of the city, and Yeosu Dodeok Mountain, which offers a challenging hike even for experienced hikers. 

If you’re visiting Yeosu in spring, you should check out Yeongchwisan Mountain, which is famous for its azalea flowers. Although be prepared for a bit of a hike! 

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Gwangju, the historical and cultural heart of Korea

Gwangju is known for its rich history, delicious street food, and stunning natural landscapes.  Nicknamed the “City of Light” for its role in Korea’s democracy movement, Gwangju offers plenty of historical sites and a plethora of South Korea’s most beloved delicacies. There are also lovely parks and temples for nature lovers to enjoy and explore.  

Top things to do in Gwangju

Stroll through the charming 5·18 Memorial Park

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One of the most historically significant locations to visit in Gwangju is 5·18 Memorial Park. Here you can step back in time and learn about a pivotal moment in Korean history and the country’s pro-democracy movement. The park is dedicated to those who fell during the brutal Gwangju Uprising of 1980, punctuated by the commemorative monuments at the National Cemetery. 

Flip through the history books at the Exhibition Hall of the on-site museum, and admire the art installations scattered across the peaceful green space that depict the sacrifices made during the uprising. The sombre yet meaningful spot is the heart of Gwangju and arguably the birthplace of Korea as we know it today, definitely worth a visit. 

Delve into Korean history and culture at the Gwangju National Museum

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Learn even more about the history of Korea at the Gwangju National Museum. This impressive museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, including archaeological finds dating back to prehistoric times! You’ll also be able to learn about the ancient Korean kingdoms (like the Silla Kingdom) through various treasures and unearthed artifacts, and admire plenty of traditional and contemporary art. 

Speaking of art, did you know that Gwangju plays host to the Gwangju Biennale? It is one of the most prominent and reputable events in the world of art! If you’re in Gwangju in September, make sure to check it out!

Immerse yourself in nature at Mudeungsan National Park

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Mudeungsan National Park is a designated national park that was established in 1972 as a provincial park before being upgraded to national park status in 2012. It spans an area of 75.45 square kilometers and is named after the 1,187m tall Mudeungsan, the park’s most prominent peak. 

Mudeungsan National Park boasts stunning natural beauty with diverse flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers and avid hikers. There’s also a 6th-century Buddhist temple that’s well worth the visit, nestled amidst the majestic mountains. 

Treat your taste buds to Gwangju’s famous street food

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Gwangju is one of the most famous foodie hotspots in South Korea, thanks to its array of delicious street food. Whether it’s the historical Gwangju Yangdong Market (started in 1910) or the vibrant Chungjang-ro Street (often compared to Myeongdong in Seoul), you’ll likely be able to find delicious food around every corner in Gwangju. 

Some of the must-eat food in Gwangju include tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), bibimbap (mixed rice with vegetables and meat), and mayak kimbap (rainbow rice rolls). 

Gear up for your next trip at Korea Travel Fair 2024!

And there you have it: Five mesmerising destinations in South Korea to consider for your next trip! 

Ready to embark on your next escape to South Korea? Before making plans, stop by Korea Travel Fair 2024 at Marina Square from 17 to 19 May 2024 and get the latest travel tips and deals!

Speak to travel experts specialising in travel to Busan, Gangwon, Jeju, Yeosu, Gwangju, and more to make your next trip to South Korea your best one yet! See you there!

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