South Korea Travel, Backpacking & Gap Year Guide
South Korea is an incredible country with exciting destinations, ancient temples and modern high tech cities. Highlights include sampling local cuisine, exploring cities like Seoul, seeing new technology and visiting ancient temples. Get information, advice and inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to travel, go backpacking or take a gap year in Korea.
South Korea Travel Ideas, Backpacking Trips & Gap Year Programs
Travel to South Korea
View our South Korea guide with travel tips, ideas for the best things to see and do when backpacking or on a gap year and advice about itineraries, costs, how to save money, and more!
- Capital - Seoul
- Government - Republic
- Currency - Won (₩)
- Country Size - 98,480 km²
- Population - 49,044,790 (approx)
- Language - Korean
How to Get to South Korea
The only way to get to South Korea is by air or by sea. Most international tourists arrive via flights which into lang into Incheon internationa in Seoul. An alternative is to arrive by boat from Japan or China. You can find direct flights from the UK to South Korea, the journey takes around 11 hours. From the US several international airlines fly direct from airports throughout the country with the journey taking around 14 hours.
Best Time to Visit South Korea
You can visit South Korea all year round but we highly recommend arriving during spring which is around April to June. The climate is not too warm and this is when the flowers are blooming and it is very pleasant to travel around the country. Summer, July to September is generally very warm and also has a lot of rain due to it being monsoon season. Winter in South Korea, around December to March can be extremely cold.
Top Places to Visit in South Korea
There are so many places you should consider adding to your South Korea travel itinerary, here are some of our top recommendations:
- Seoraksan National Park
- Jeju Island
- Yeongam Gurim Village
- Bukchon Hanok Village
- The Demiliterized Zone (DMZ)
- Andong and Hahoe Folk Villages
There are a number of famous local festivals held throughout the year in South Korea, here are some you should try to catch:
- Cherry blossom festivals
- Jeonju International Film Festival
- Buddha’s Birthday
- International Mime Festival
- Boryeong Mud Festival
- International Puppet Festival
- Firefly Festival
- Gwangju Biennale
- Andong Mask Dance
- Busan International Film Festival
- Baekje Festival
- World Martial Arts Festival
- Gimchi Festival
- Pepero Day
South Korea Travel Tips
The cost of traveling in Korea is one of the biggest things which might hold you back, this is a very expensive destination even by Western standards. Food is one of the biggest appeals of visiting this country, you can find restaurants for all budgets and bowls of noodles are generally very cheap.
This can be your biggest cost here, hotels charge high prices whilst there are not that many budget range hostels on offer. This is why you might want to apply to join a tour where accommodation is usually included in the price you pay.
Food & Eating Out:
To save money you might want to get food at local markets and at supermarkets where you can buy packet food like noodles fairly cheaply. There are Western food options available so if you are having cravings for 'normal' cuisine or feeling a bit homesick you can usually get a burger and chips is most locations.
Gap Year in South Korea
Interested in taking a gap year to South Korea? Good decision. This country will be a huge culture shock but it will be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life.
There are lots of different gap year packages and programs available in places like Seoul, search options and apply today. If you would like to stay a little longer you could apply to spend your gap year working in South Korea. A popular option is to take a TEFL certification course and then work as a foreign language teacher. Salaries and living conditions are high and you will get to meet other people from all over the world.
Public transport is cheap and effective, the subway system is fast whilst traveling overland on a bus can seem confusing at first but its a great way to see more of the city. Some things you might not know about life in Seoul / South Korea is you can get food delivered to your door 24 hours a day.
Seoul is quite a lively city, a lot of people stay out or party till the early hours and it helps when shops, restaurant and internet cafes stay open. A visit to a relaxation spa is recommended, you will be able to mix with locals and other internationals. Also one more thing we have missed, you will have to try karaoke - one of the locals passions which people in Seoul love!