Top 10 Reasons to Visit South Korea
Looking for a unique destination? Keen to experience a different culture and country? Check out 10 good reasons why you should book a flight to South Korea...
1. The food
Korean food is divine. Make sure to have kalbi - Korean-style meat - at a fancy restaurant, and have bulgogi, another kind of Korean-style meat, bibimbap, an exquisite rice and vegetable dish that’s usually served in a stone bowl, that Korean Air offers on its meal service, and kalgooksoo (a hand cut noodle soup). Don’t forget about the street food! Try tteokbukki (spicy rice cakes) and hotteok (sweet pancakes). If that’s not enough, Korean fried chicken can be had anywhere at anytime in the country, and McDonalds delivers 24/7!
2. Café Culture
American people get their coffee to go. Korean people almost never do. Cafe’s and little bakeries are EVERYWHERE in Korea. So many, in fact, that there is a law stating that bakeries cannot be within a certain distance of each other, because there are just so many. Cafe’s are meeting spots and people will stay there over coffee for hours before going elsewhere. The themed cafes are not to miss as well, like the dog cafe, cat cafe, and even the CNN Cafe in the heart of Gangnam! If you would like to integrate into the local culture and be more than just a tourist view our guide to going to work in South Korea. A popular option with foreigners is to take a TEFL course and then teach English in Korea.
3. The Beauty Shops
Everywhere in Seoul but especially Myeongdong, there are beauty shops. They offer everything that Sephora has and more, for much cheaper. The quality is pretty good, and the stores are always having sales because competition is fierce. Common sales include 10+10, where you buy ten face masks and get ten free, or 1+1, where you buy one item and get another one of that same type of item for free. Hand lotions at some store are ₩6 with the 1+1 promotion. A hand lotion at Sephora for the same size is $12, plus tax. Stock up!
4. Shopping in General
Korea’s got all these trendy stores that don’t exist in America, and its young people care a lot about fashion. The big department stores like Lotte and Hyundai are great for exploring, and the markets like Namdaemun and Dongdaemun are also must-visits.
5. The Incheon Airport
Incheon Airport is consistently included in the top five best airports of the world, often ranking at #1. JFK and LaGuardia look primeval to Incheon’s aesthetic, and the insides don’t even begin to compare. Incheon’s got a golf course, an ice skating rink, a casino, and a Korean culture museu,. Also, private sleeping rooms. Get there early before your flight to take advantage of such a great place.
6. The Subway
New York City is notorious for having an unnavigable subway system. Its stations are dirty, dark, and are a breeding ground for rats. Seoul’s subways are well-lit, free of rats, and both the stations and trains have high speed wifi that doesn’t stop working even when every patron is using their phone. There are even Korean dramas being produced that are tailored to be watched during subway rides with six minute episodes. The stations are also clean and easy to navigate, and some serve as bomb shelters as well. Some subway stations have big markets that are worth exploring for the cheap clothes and atmosphere too.
7. See Gangnam for Yourself
Go to the famed Gangnam area and determine for yourself if Gangnam Style is a real thing or not. Note - no one dances Gangnam Style in Gangnam. Don’t do it.
8. Jejudo and Other Islands
Jejudo has lots of Korean history, and so do the other Islands Korea owns. Jejudo is a volcanic island, and its topography is laden with fables. Other islands exist that non-Korean people may not know about, like Oedo, which is a giant botanical garden. They’re all worth a visit, especially in the off-season. Beware, some of these lesser-known islands are the only places in Korea without wifi! You might want to book a tour of South Korea to see the highlights.
9. UNESCO Sites
South Korea is home to eleven UNESCO World Heritage sites, and they are all worth a visit. The island of Jeju itself is a UNESCO site! In addition, Jeonju, a small area in Korea, has been recognized by UNESCO as a City of Gastronomy because of all the tradition Korean food available there. Jeonju is also the home of the original Choco-pie, and that bakery sells out every day. Go early and don’t miss out.
10. The DMZ
North Korea and South Korea are not friends. But both countries are full of history and the closest you can get to North Korea as a tourist is the DMZ. So much history happened right there, and it would be a shame if you went to South Korea and didn’t see what is reality for many people.
By Casey Chon