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Traditional Korean style architecture at Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea © Vincent St. Thomas / Shutterstock
Traditional Korean style architecture at Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea © Vincent St. Thomas / Shutterstock
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Stunningly Beautiful Places To Visit In South Korea

Picture of Angela Lee
Updated: 9 February 2017

Internationally known for rapid, modern technological advances and urbanization, South Korea preserves a large amount of tradition as well as natural beauty. As a result, it is a country full of spectacular sights of both industrialized, urban cities as well as cultural, suburban and rural areas. It is a diverse country for both city tourists and wild adventurers. Here’s our guide to some of South Korea’s best places.
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Namhansanseong Fortress

2,000 years ago Namhansanseong Fortress served as one of the four largest fortresses that protected the country’s capital, back then called Silla, from Tang China. Today, it currently stands as a historic monument for tourists in the Namhansanseong Provincial Park on top of Mount Namhan.

Namhansanseong Fortress, Sanseong-ri, Jungbu-myeon, Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, +82 31 743 6610

Namhansanseong Fortress | ©Republic of Korea/ Flickr
Namhansanseong Fortress | ©Republic of Korea/ Flickr
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Gobungun, Changyeong

Gobungun, Changyeong is a green grassy field that has the appearance of many small hills. It is actually a site of over 180 ancient tombs that date to the fifth and sixth centuries. The majority of the tombs were built for those of royalty or high governmental status.

Changnyeong-eup, Changnyeong-gun, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea

Hamangun County | ©Republic of Korea/ Flickr
Hamangun County | ©Republic of Korea/ Flickr
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Gyeonbokgung Palace

Established in 1395, Gyeonbokgung Palace houses the Throne Hall, which stands as one of the most, if not the most, iconic structures of the Joseon Dynasty. It was the center for essential state affairs as well as storage for ancient Korean royal books that were looted by the French military.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 3700 3900

Gyeonbokgung Palace | ©Kate Nevens/Flickr
Gyeonbokgung Palace | ©Kate Nevens/Flickr
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Changgyeonggung Palace

Located in the heart of Seoul, Changgyeonggung Palace served as the residential palace for queens and concubines of the Jeoson dynasty. During the Japanese colonial rule, the building became a zoo and a botanical garden, but later returned to its former refined status.

Changgyeonggung Palace, 185 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 762 4868

Changdeokgung Palace | ©Republic of Korea/Flickr
Changdeokgung Palace | ©Republic of Korea/Flickr
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Inwangsan

Inwangsan is a 338-meter high mountain that hosts numerous castles built on the outskirts of Seoul to protect the city from foreign invasions. Today it serves as a popular tourist spot to view of Seoul’s features, including the palaces, N Seoul tower, and the Korean president’s residence, the Blue House.

Inwangsan, Cheongunhyoja-dong, Seoul, South Korea

Inwangsan | ©Will Polard/Flickr
Inwangsan | ©Will Polard/Flickr
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Seoul Seonggwak Fortress Wall

An 18.2-kilometer long stone wall that served to protect Seoul from foreigners during the Joseon dynasty, the Seoul Seonggwak Fortress Wall is a historic site that is part of a walking tour program. Starting from Dongdaemun, tourists walk along the fortress wall and continue on to Naksan’s park and museum.

Seonggwak Fortress Wall, 69 Jongno 6 (Yuk) -ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82 2 2148 1823

Courtesy of Visit Korea
Courtesy of Visit Korea

Upo Wetlands

Known as South Korea’s largest natural swamp, which covers 5,500 square kilometers, Upo Wetlands is home of over 1,000 species. The government enlisted it to become a part of the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance to protect it from environmental degradation, and has been protecting it since 1998.

Upo Wetlands, Changnyeong-gun, Yibang-myeon/Yueu-myeon/Daehap-myeon areas of Changnyeong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, +82 55 530 2238

Sunset at the Swamp/ ©Pixabay
Sunset at the Swamp/ | ©Pixabay
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Andong Hahoe Village

Known for its preservation of most of its original structures, Andong Hahoe Village is South Korea’s most iconic folk village that has been a birthplace for scholars and nobles of the Yu clan since the 16th century. Today, it remains as a one-clan community that has conserved many of its traditions.

Andong Hahoe Village, 40 Hahoe Jongga-gil, Pungcheon-myeon, Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea, +82 54 854 3669

Hahoe Village |©~Mers/ Flickr
Hahoe Village | ©~Mers/ Flickr
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Samhwasa

For centuries, Samhwasa has been a scenic point for inspiration. Poets, as well as painters, sought out the Samhwasa Temple to view the West peak of Dutasan Mountain, which was said to look like a phoenix and a crane, and the East peak like a dragon and a tiger.

Samhwasa, 172 Samhwa-dong, Donghae-si, Kangwon, South Korea, +82 33 534

Close up of the Valley/ ©Pixabay
Close up of the Valley/ | ©Pixabay

Yonghwa Beach

Yonghwa Beach is unique in that both seawater and freshwater are available due to the Hwacheon stream. Thanks to its accessibility to both salt and freshwater, it is one of South Korea’s most valued sources for fresh seafood. In fact, many travellers visit Yonghwa Beach solely for the seafood.

Yonghwa Beach, Yonghwahaebyeon-gil, Geundeok-myeon, Samcheok-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea, +82 33 572 3011

Sea/ ©Pixabay
Sea/ | ©Pixabay
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Cheonjiyeon Falls

Known as the connection of the sky with the land, Cheonjiyeon Falls is a legendary site where seven divine beings descended from heaven to bathe in the pond: the name means ‘the pond of the gods.’ To respect the holy space, a Seven Fairies Festival is held every May.

Cheonjiyeon Falls, 2-15 Namseongjung-ro, Cheonji-dong, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea, +82 64 733 1528

Waterfall/ ©Pixabay
Waterfall/ | ©Pixabay

Miryang Maneosa

According to legends, the temple Miryang Maneosa was once home of the son of the dragon king, who was turned into the five-meter-long rock that is on the temple. Rumors claim that any woman who could not conceive sons would be able to after wishing on the five-meter tall rock.

Miryang Maneosa, 4 Yongjeon-ri, Samnangjin-eup, Mirang-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, +82 55 356 2010

Mount Halla

The highest mountain in South Korea, is Jeju Island’s most iconic milestone that has been designated as one of South Korea’s Natural Monuments. It is home of over 4,000 different types of animal species, especially around a crater lake called Baengnokdam.

Hallansan, Ara-dong, Jeju-do, South Korea

Jeju excursion on Mount Halla | ©Yoo Chung/ Flickr
Jeju excursion on Mount Halla | ©Yoo Chung/ Flickr
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Darangee Village

A small ecological village in Namhae-gun, Darangee Village maintains its cultural and traditional efforts to preserve over 100 steps on farmlands on a 45-degree mountain slope. Due to the village’s dedication to its maintenance efforts, it produces a large amount of the nation’s rich natural resources such as crabs.

Darangee Village, 895 Honghyeon-ri, Nam-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, +82 10 4590 4642

Village Landscape | ©Pixabay
Village Landscape | ©Pixabay
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Yangdong Folk Village

A traditional village that maintains its Neo-Confucian culture and architectural style of the early Joseon Dynasty, Yangdong Folk Village stands as the most valuable among South Korea’s six folk villages. It is one of the largest villages in South Korea that preserves ancient aristocratic lifestyles as well as folklore materials.

Yangdong Folk Village, 134 Yangdongmaeul-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea, +82 70 7098 3569

Yangdong Folk Village |©Yeowatzup/Flickr
Yangdong Folk Village | ©Yeowatzup/Flickr

Bomun Pavilion, Gyoengju

Located in Gyeongju, a city nicknamed ‘a museum with no walls,’ Bomun Pavilion is South Korea’s prized gazebo that is adjacent to a pond, where one could see cherry blossoms during spring, luxuriant green leaves during summer, ruby and mustard flora during autumn, and soft white snow during winter.

Bomun Pavilion, 454-3 Bae-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea, +82 54 745 7601

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Haeinsa Temple, Hapcheon

Haeinsa Temple is a significant milestone that houses some of the country’s most precious religious artifacts. These include the world’s oldest intact Buddhist canon, the Tripitaka Koreana, the oldest wooden Buddha statue in South Korea, and UNESCO world heritage storage hall of Buddhist Sutras called Janggyeong Panjeon.

Haeinsa Temple, 10 Chiin-ri, Gaya-myeon, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea, +82 55 934 3000

Haeinsa Temple |© YongSIC/Flickr
Haeinsa Temple | © YongSIC/Flickr
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Boseong Green Tea Field

An enormous field full of green tea leaves alongside the slopes of several hills, the Goseong Green Tea Field produces over 40 percent of South Korea’s tea leaves. To celebrate the flourishing fields, the neighboring residents hold a festival every May and decorate the fields with small colorful light bulbs every winter.

Boseong Green Tea Plantation, Nokcha-ro, Boseong-eup, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do, South Korea, +82 61 852 2593 ext. 2595

Boseong Green Tea Fields |©영철 이/ Flickr
Boseong Green Tea Fields | ©영철 이/ Flickr
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Anapji (Anap Pond)

The Anapji or Anap Pond is an artificial pond man-made around 1,500 years ago during the Silla dynasty as part of the palace where flowers and birds flourished. To this day, three structures still stand on three separate artificial islands with patches of lotus flowers framing the pond.

Anapji, 102 Inwang-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeonsangbuk-do, South Korea, +92 54 772 4041

The Pavilions of Anapji Pond reflected in the Water/©Shutterstock
The Pavilions of Anapji Pond reflected in the Water/ | ©Shutterstock
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Cheongsando Island

Despite its nomenclature meaning ‘Blue Mountain Island’ for its panoramic green mountains and deep blue sea, Cheongsando Island was once part of a military base to prevent foreigners from invading. Today, however, it is famed for its residents pursuing a slow life, making it Asia’s first ‘Slow City’.

Cheongsan-do, Cheongsan-myeon, Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do, South Korea

Cheongsando Island/ ©Shutterstock
Cheongsando Island/ | ©Shutterstock
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Sankwang Temple

An emblem of traditional Korean architecture and culture in the southernmost part of South Korea, the Sankwang Temple is where the largest annual Lotus Lantern Festival in the country is held. During the festivities, the temple is decorated with numerous lanterns with geometric as well as lotus shapes.

Sankwang Temple, 131 Mountain, Cho-eup, Dongjin-gu, Busan, South Korea, +82 51 808 7111