Places to Visit in South Korea

안녕하세요! Hello there.. Thank God, I had few occasions to do business trip in South Korea. My first business trip was in autumn 2010. I enjoyed three months there in a chilly weather. Then, my second one was a short biztrip in February 2011. It was only 10 days because the schedule was so tight.

Lucky me, in the midst of busy work there (in my company, working until midnight or working in weekend is an ordinary thing), I had several times taken time to travel around Korea, especially around Gyeonggi-do province. So in this blog post, I want to share places I have visited during my time in Korea, and I think those are recommended places to visit if someday you visit this country. I will share my short story in every place I ever visited in Korea. Here we go... *warning: this will be a long long blog post ^^*


1. Everland
Everland Resort (에버랜드 리조트) is the largest theme park in South Korea. It is located in Yongin city, about 40km from Suwon. I visited this amusement park at Chuseok (추석) holiday this year. FYI, Chuseok is a three-days holiday for Korean; actually it is a harvest festival. I went there on September with my college friends who are doing post grad study in Korea. Although it was flooded due to the heavy rain that day, surely it was an amazing experience. And who knows you will be trapped in flood in the developed country such as South Korea, haha :)).

At Everland (Halloween season) with KAIST-ers

For you, roller coaster lovers, there are some roller coasters there, including the T Express. One of the most must-do in Korea is riding T-Express, which is the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world!! 77 degrees, w00t!! :) Click here for Youtube video made by American tourist about T-Express.

Background: T-Express wooden roller coaster, Everland

2. Caribbean Bay
Caribbean Bay (Cabi) is the most interesting water park in Korea. It is located in Everland Resort complex, in Yongin. Many friends suggested me to visit this place because we could meet many hot girls ;-) Unfortunately, when I went there, it was rainy Chuseok holiday, so they were not as many as I thought. However, it's still great experience! :). Thanks to my new friends from KAIST Daejeon who invited me to join them. My favourite pool in Cabi is Sea Wave pool. Honkkkk..... :D

Sea Wave @ Caribbean Bay

Bonus: Cabi promotion video clip  ;-)

3. Lotte World
Lotte World (롯데월드) is the largest indoor theme park in Korea (or, in the world! *according to Guiness World Record).

Ice skating at Lotte World's underground
Lotte World also has outdoor amusement park, which is called "Magic Island". I think it is the best place to visit in Korea during winter :)

SP team in front of Magic Island, Lotte World


1. Hwaseong Fortress
Hwaseong (화성) Fortress is a wall surrounding the center of Suwon city. It is the one and only most interesting site in Suwon (well, maybe because I don't know yet the others ^^). This fortress has several gates to enter, but I suggest you to enter from the gates of Haenggung (행궁), a palace in the middle of Hwaseong fortress. From there we can go to the top, then walk around center of Suwon along the wall. The scenery is great at up there, moreover Hwaseong is listed by UNESCO as one of world heritage. So, it is very recommended to visit.

Hwaseong Fortress
My suggestion: don't forget to bring your camera (off course, yeah!), rent hanbok (한복), which is traditional Korean dress, then go to the park behind the Haenggung to have nice portrait. And if you're lucky, you may rent the traditional warrior armor there. :)

Traditional warrior armor at Hwaseong

2. Gyeongbokgung
Gyeongbok Palace (경복궁) is a royal palace located in Seoul, near Gwanghamun Square. I think it is the best and largest palace in Korea. If you see Gyeongbokgung from Gwanghamun, you will see a mountain behind the palace. Nice. And FYI, "Gyeongbokgung" means "Palace of Shining Happiness". Cool name! :)

Gyeongbokgung, the best palace in Korea! :)

Rent free Hanbok, only at Gyeongbokgung

3. Deoksugung
Deoksu Palace (덕수궁) is probably the easiest palace to find in Seoul. It is located in front of City Hall (서울 시청). Just like another palace in Korea, you will see almost similar building inside Deoksugung. Nice place to spend your time in the capital city of Republic of Korea.

With Deoksugung's guard

4. Korean Folk Village
Korean Folk Village (한국 민속촌) is a living museum which gives us the natural atmosphere of traditional Korean life and culture. It is located in Yongin, the same city where Everland Resort is. We can see the traditional building and Korean folk activities. There are special performances there such as: farmer's dance (풍물), equestrian show, wedding ceremonies (혼례), and tightrope-walking performance (줄타기). FYI, Korean Folk Village is the shooting location for "Janggeum" TV series.

Korean Farmer's Dance

Tight-rope walking performance @ Folk Village

5. Namsangol Hanok Village
Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥 마을) is a mini folk village which is located near Chungmuro Subway Station, Seoul. I had never known about this place until I visited my friend's dorm in Chungmuro. Well, it is like Korean Folk Village, but much simpler. There is a Seoul Time Capsule inside this place, built to celebrate Seoul's 600th anniversary.

Seoul Time Capsul


1. Namsan Seoul Tower
N Seoul Tower (엔 서울 타워) is located in Mt. Namsan, Seoul. As wiki said, it is a communication and observatory tower. We can see great panoramic view of the city up there, while in the ground there is a Teddy Bear Museum. I think it is a definitely great place to visit especially if you go there with your girlfriend (if any) :p

Namsan Seoul Tower

2. Aiins World
Aiins World (아인스 월드) is an outdoor miniature park, located in Bucheon, a city between Seoul and Incheon (international airport). We can find many miniature replicas of famous sites around the world there. Must-bring thing there is CAMERA! There are footsteps in Aiins World, which will position you to the best angle in the front of each building. Hana.. dul.. set.. kimchiiii!! ← it is Korean language for "one.. two.. three.. cheese!" =)

Eiffel miniature at Aiins World

3. Yeouido Park
Yeouido Park  (여의도) is a recreational area located in Yeouido Island, Seoul. This park has exclusive bicycling and walking track around the island. You can rent a (bad old) bike or a double seat bicycle there and cycle around the island while see the view of Han river on another side. Well, maybe it will take about 4-5 hours of cycling for a round. It is really a nice place to hang out with your friends, especially after having Sunday service at Yoido church. :)

Yeouido Hangang Park

4. Ttukseom Resort
Ttukseom Resort (뚝섬 유원지 역) is a line 7 subway station on Seoul. My friend, who currently doing post grad study in Konkuk, brought me there and said that place is his favourite site to enjoy the night view of Han river. Ttukseom Station building looks like a sleek tube, with a nice park around it. Surely, I think it is the best subway station to have relaxation :)

Ttukseom Resort - © Foreign/er Joy


1. National Science Museum
National Science Museum is an education museum located in Gwacheon, a city close to Seoul. There are several areas in this science museum: Basic Science, Advanced Technology, Traditional Science, Natural History, Insectarium, Planetarium, Dinosaur Park, etc. If only I have married and have children in Korea, I will bring my children there for sure.. :)

Gwacheon National Science Museum

2. King Sejong Museum
King Sejong Museum is a museum located in Gwanghamun, which tells about the most famous Korean king, Sejong the Great (세종대왕). He is so famous because of Korean kingdom's military, science and technology development in his reign. One of his legacy is Hangul alphabet, which I think it's a genius idea to make life easier because it is much easier to learn Hangul than Hanja (Chinese character). Brilliant. Tips: don't forget to take photograph in the front of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-sin (이순신) statues. :)

King Sejong Museum

3. National Folk Museum
National Folk Museum (국립민속박물관) is located inside Gyeongbokgung. There are three exhibition halls inside the museum which display traditional folk life from prehistory to modern era. If you go to Gyeongbokgung, don't miss visiting this museum.

4. Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum is located in the basement of Seoul Namsan Tower. It exhibits the history of Korea from past to present through Teddy Bear dolls. The Teddy Bears are posed in scenes of historical aspect of Korean life. It's really creative museum!! :)

Teddy Bears exhibit traditional Korean life

For you shopaholic, Seoul is one of the best place to spend your money. Fortunately, I'm not a shopaholic ;-), but I'd like to window-shop around Seoul. This is a list of where to shop in Seoul, Korea:

1. Namdaemun Market
Actually, Namdaemun (남대문) means "Great South Gate". Near that gate, there is a tradional market called 남대문 시장. It is the BEST place to find souvenirs for your family and friends. You can buy many things in the street stands or in shop building behind them. They sell accesories, fabrics, tradional handycraft, etc. Souvenir sellers in the shop building usually give lower price than sellers in the street stands, but they don't open their shop on Sunday. So, I suggest you to visit Namdaemun on Saturday or other days except Sunday for better price! :)

Namdaemun Market

2. Myeongdong
Myeongdong (명동) is my favourite place to buy clothes with good fashion. Many people say that it is the trendiest shopping area. You can find many international brand there with various range of price. Nice place to sight-seeing :)

Myeongdong Theater

3. Dongdaemun
Dongdaemun (동대문) means "Great East Gate". There are many malls near Dongdaemun. My favourite one is Doota / 두타 (Doosan Tower) because of its trendy fashion. Besides, you can find cheaper clothes in street shops near Dongdaemun Stadium.

Dongdaemun History and Culture Park (was Dongdaemun Stadium)

4. Insadong
Insadong (인사동) is a street in Seoul that have many shops along the way. They sell various things and sometimes it is cheaper than Namdaemun.

5. Itaewon
Itaewon (이태원) is a district in Seoul that you can find many people from various countries, esp. from US. You can find restaurants from many countries, such as India, Turkey, etc in Itaewon. Seoul Central Mosque (서울 중앙 성원) is also located in Itaewon.

There are so many festivals in Korea. I think it is because Korea gov are serious for their tourism program. Lucky me, when I was in Korea I could attend some festivals.

1. Asia Song Festival
Asia Song Festival (아시아 송 페스티벌) is an annual music concert whose performers are top Asian musicians. The performers for this year ASF are: BoA, Rain, Kara, Beast, Joe Cheng, Jane Zhang, Michael Wong, AKB48, Bie-the-Star, etc. FYI, Agnes Monica, Indonesian pop singer, has ever been ASF performer twice, in 2008 and 2009. I very recommend you to attend ASF if you have the chance, because it's free, gives many souvenirs, and the artists are great :)

G 20 Concert / Asia Song Festival 2010

2. Seoul Lantern Festival
There are some lantern festivals in South Korea. One of them is Seoul Lantern Festival. It is located in Cheonggyecheon, a stream in downtown Seoul, near the City Hall. There are so many lantern to be displayed in the festival. Tips: bring camera with high ISO or bring tripod if you want to be more serious to capture nice photo ;-)

Seoul Lantern Festival

3. Hi Seoul Festival
Hi Seoul Festival is a cultural festival that held every season (autumn, winter, spring, summer) in Seoul. This festival is about non-verbal performance such as street dance, puppet show, pantomime, acoustic, circus, etc. Hi Seoul Festival is located in Hangang Park, which is usually beginned and ended with firework show.

Hi Seoul Festival

Last but not least, it's about church. Most Korean people (about 47%) have no religion. However, 29% of them are Christian. We can find church easily in South Korea, but there is few churches that provide English service. Following list is large churches that I found in South Korea. I have several occasion to attend Sunday service in some of these churches.

1. Yoido Full Gospel Church
Yoido Full Gospel Church (여의도 순복음 교회) is a Pentecostal church located in Yoido Island, Seoul. This church has the largest Christian congregation in the world. During my time in Korea, almost every Sunday I had Sunday service in Yoido Full Gospel Church. In its main chapel, the sermon and songs are delivered in Korean language. However, we can sing the song with other language too because they provide English, Japanese and Chinese translation in the big screen. Moreover, during the sermon session, there will be live translation using radio earphone, so we can understand what the preacher said. As far as I know, there are several languages for the live translation: English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, and even Bahasa Indonesia! :) Besides the main services, we can also attend the small service in other building, including Indonesian Sunday service. Yes, I mean "kebaktian dengan bahasa Indonesia" :). It is because there are an Indonesian community in Yoido Full Gospel Church, and so do other nations. It is a great church that can help you grow in faith with Holy Spirit fulfillment.

Yoido Full Gospel Church

2. Young Nak Presbyterian Church
In the early weeks in Korea, my friend who is doing post grad study in Konkuk invited me to attend Sunday service in his church, Young Nak Presbyterian Church. Young Nak Presbyterian Church (영락교회) is a presbyterian church located near Euljiro 3-ga Station, Seoul. Young Nak Church have English service, which is attended by many foreigners. It is called IWE / International Worship in English. I think it is a good church to grow as Christian with other foreigners in South Korea :).

3. Myeongdong Cathedral
If you visit Myeongdong for shopping or just sight-seeing, you won't miss Myeongdong Cathedral (명동성당). As far as I know, it is the largest catholic church in South Korea. The building is in Neo-Gothic architecture. I haven't attended Sunday service in this church. But from the front of church, it is very good to take picture with the cathedral as background :).

So, those are some places I had visited during my time in Korea. I hope if you have an occasion to visit Korea, this post can be a little reference for you ^^. It was a great experience to visit The Land of the Morning Calm. I really miss this country :').

Cheers! :)

Seoul is 5,293 Km away from Jakarta

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