South Korea

Things to do in South Korea

If you’re looking for what to do in South Korea, prepare to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. This is a nation of amazing contradictions, which make South Korea such a fascinating country to visit. Ancient Buddhist temples share street space with enormous shopping malls, and national parks and fluorescent-lit internet cafés are frequented with equal enthusiasm.

One of the most popular things to do in South Korea is to shop. Shopping is practically a national pastime here, and the best place to do it is Myeong-dong, an enormous mall that bills itself as the country’s top tourist destination. If you can’t find it at Myeong-dong, then it can’t be had anywhere. When you inevitably tire of all that commerce and want to take a break from the world, then head over to Bukhansan national park, located in northern Seoul (“Bukhansan” means “big mountain of the north”). Designated as a national park in 1981, the mountain offers sweeping views of both the city and the South Korean landscape and is a must-see for nature buffs.

Still not sure what to do in South Korea? Then consider going further afield. South Korea boasts an extensive system of hanok hotels that make it easy (and cozy) to explore the country’s interior; these small, traditional, and typically family-run hostelries are the best way to experience the country’s more rural charms.

Finally, no list of things to do in South Korea would be complete without Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest and grandest of the “Five Grand Palaces” built during the golden age of the Joseon Dynasty. Similar to the famous Forbidden Palace in Beijin, Gyeongbokgung was built in 1395 and gives visitors an insight into classical Korean culture at its zenith.

Forget powdered sugar, the doughnut flavors here run from banana pecan to Valrhona chocolate to crème brûlée. The shop is one of the newest outposts of the lower Manhattan original— they’re all the rage in the Far East right now.

Located off the southern coast of South Korea, this sex-themed site was conceived in 2004 as a way to teach Korean newlyweds about conjugal love.

Head to the candy-colored basement Stereo Bar, where a slogan written on an ashtray could pretty much sum up the national mood: don’t work too hard. Is it really worth to you?

The War Memorial of Korea features dioramas of life in wartime; its hokey cardboard nature notwithstanding, the exhibit shows a civilization that came within millimeters of being completely snuffed out.

Head to the Yongsan Electronics Market, also known as Electroland.

The new Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, up on Mount Namsan and overlooking the seedy Itaewon district, has been spearheading Seoul’s reputation as an arts destination.

This exquisite bar is truly a hole in a concrete wall, full of glamorous nerds munching on dried anchovies.

The Hurest Well Being Club sits between the 15th and 17th floors of a skyscraper, and offers great views of the surrounding office towers and the teenybopper shopping area of Myeong-dong.