South Korea really is a special country. It is beautiful in ways that you cannot understand unless you live there. It will be a blur of drinking soju, taking pictures of cherry blossoms 100 times a day and trying every dessert you come across. You will have more more magical experiences there than you can count!
Boseong (보성군) Green Tea Fields, South Korea
The green tea fields are 5 hours from Seoul by bus so it is a fun journey best began in the morning. When I went to Boseong, I missed the bus with all my friends and in a hung over daze I pulled myself together and somehow made it the 5 hours there. I definitely had a lot of help from a few kind Koreans along the way; one bus driver even took me to the Green Tea Field exit and dropped me off right on the highway!
Right at the entrance they sell green tea ice cream and once you make it to the fields there are complimentary GREEN TEA CHURROS PEOPLE! The green tea fields are really a place to simply walk around and take in the beauty. Right in the center there is a huge hill you can hike to get a view of all the green tea hills and a tiny little temple on a far away mountain. Anyone in good health should be able to make it to the top. Other than that you can run through the fields and take pictures with friends!
Stay in the Boseong Tourist Motel if you don’t want to make that 5 hour journey twice in one day. Be sure to stock up on soju and snacks because your party will most likely be the only one staying there. The floors are heated so you might as well pass out on the warm floor and drink until the South Korea sun rises!
Sokcho (속초시) / Seoraksan National Park (설악산), South Korea
If you want to feel like you are walking through dinosaur territory and hike until your legs are jello, this is the stop for you!
Sokcho is a quiet town with not much going on other than Seoraksan and Sokcho beach. Three days is the perfect amount of time to visit the beaches, Seoraksan and move on! You can take a 3 hour bus ride from Seoul to Sokcho and stay in Mr. Egg Guesthouse. It’s a 2 minute walk from the bus station with a kick ass, free breakfast! There are maps available there and the receptionist can direct anywhere you want. I opted for a secluded beach that was about a 15 minute walk and moderately hard to find. It was small, the water was crystal clear and there was no one in sight! If you’re looking for a bigger beach, Sokcho beach is the popular one.
The next morning you will plan on getting up extra early and catching the first bus to the starting point of your chosen hike. Daecheongbong Peak (대청봉) is the highest mountain in Seoraksan and can be reached from the Oseok starting point, about an hour from Sokcho. It should take you 3-4 hours to hike to the top if you’re moving at a moderate pace. The view is absolutely breathtaking as the mountains look like the backs of Stegosaurus dinosaurs! You can opt to hike downhill for the next 7-10 hours to get through to the other side of the park or just go back down and catch the bus to Sokcho. It is an extremely grueling walk but you will feel like you are walking through Jurassic Park, so have plenty of memory on your camera.
Jinhae (진해) / Busan (부산), South Korea
Jinhae is one of the iconic spots that many Koreans go to see an amazing cherry blossom festival. The Jinhae Gunhangje Festival is held in April which is also my birthday month, so I was thrilled to spend my birthday under the cherry blossoms! Jinhae is right by Busan, so you can do it right along side a trip to Busan, which is also a must-see destination in SK.
You can take a bus from Seoul to Busan in about 6 hours so it’s best to get a really early bus and sleep the whole way. Once you arrive in Busan, an amazing place to set up camp is Indy H0use which is walking distance from the bus and train station. Indy House has affordable, clean rooms and an awesome common area on the top floor to cook food and make friends. Once you are settled in, plan when you will get the 45 minute bus to Jinhae! Planning 3-4 hours for Jinhae is perfect as you will have plenty of time to take pictures, shop and of course, EAT! Once you arrive at the Jinhae bus station you will need to walk about 15 minutes past a large roundabout before you hit the river, but you will know as soon as you’ve found it!
For the rest of your time in Busan I recommend walking through one of the coastal parks, busing it to Gamcheon Culture Village and checking out Haeundae Beach!
Jeonju (전주시), South Korea
If you want to experience every Korean’s food heaven, Jeonju is the place for you. In fact, you should go with a Korean friend, because God forbid you miss out on the cinnamon makgeolli or raw bibimbap!
You can get to Jeonju by train or bus, either takes about 3 hours but bus is the cheaper option. Prepare to have a long day of eating and walking because that’s all you’re gonna do! I went with my friend, Kyung, and she knew ALL the spots we couldn’t miss. Jeonju is packed with Koreans and tourists so you will have plenty of time to take pictures and rest between eating as you will be standing in many lines. Don’t forget to stop by the Hanok (traditional home) village!
Jeju Island (제주도), South Korea
Finally, Jeju Island! You will hear many things about Jeju Island during your time in SK. South Koreans absolutely love it and tourists are all hoping to make the trip. You will have to formulate your own opinion on magical Jeju!
Book your flight a few weeks ahead and plan to have at least 3-4 days in Jeju. Of all the amazing places I will list the 6 you cannot miss:
This beautiful waterfall fills a crystal blue pool where you expect a mermaid to swim out. It’s magical, easy to get to and they sell makgeolli right at the entrance. Make the most of it- get a bottle of makjeolli to split with friends and take it in!
Jeongbang waterfall is one of the only waterfalls in the world that meets the ocean. You can walk all around the waterfall and along the rocks. Most importantly, they sell every kind of flavored chocolate you can imagine at the entrance.
Hallasan National Park, South Korea
Fun fact: -san means mountain in Korean, so it’s actually redundant to say ‘Hallasan Mountain’. Hallasan National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the highest mountain in South Korea. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a tough hike. I am pretty athletic but it was rough for me. However, I am from a very flat Florida and my friends that live in the mountains breezed through it! You will hike an hour or 2 up steps in a dense forest and when you make it out it is literally one huge clearing! The hike is far from over as you still have to go to the top where there is a crater! Plan for Hallasan to take up an entire day of your trip.
One of the most memorable parts of my time in SK is the day we rode bikes to Udo (-do means island in Korean). You can rent bikes on the mainland and catch the ferry to Udo early in the day so you have the whole day to explore. There are amazing beaches, scooters for rent and funny penis-men statues all over the island (you will understand when you see them). The one place you must eat for lunch is the peanut butter burger place. You will wait forever for your food but it’s totally worth it! Make sure to catch a ferry back in time to watch the sunset at…
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
I know I’ve mentioned Jurassic park previously, but does this not look like a place Pterodactyls would be flying around? Another UNESCO World Heritage Site totally worth the hike to the top (but much easier). The grass filled crater on top and spectacular view of the city is where you can satisfy all of your selfie needs!
Last but not least, Loveland. Prepare to be uncomfortable as you will never forget the sexual images at this hilarious theme park. I mean, if you are going all the way to South Korea, then Jeju, you owe it to yourself to stop at Loveland. Sex wise, if you can think it, they have a statue of it! There is awesome art, an unforgettable gift shop and an ice cream store that sells penis pastries (I got ice cream). Don’t forget to buy your sexual position chocolate and post cards for mom!
Hope you’re stoked for your South Korean adventures and this gave you some ideas!