Top attractions in Seoul and Busan
If you are living and studying in Korea, you might think that you have plenty of time to do all the sightseeing here in Korea. But let me tell you, with the studies, assignments and examinations, often the semester passes very quickly and before you know it, it is time to leave. With Korea being the treasure trove of amazing places, make sure you get to explore as much as you can. For those who are overwhelmed by the number of things to do, here are five of the must-do attractions in Seoul and Busan to help you. Let us know if you want to know the top attractions in other cities too!
Gyeongbokgung Palace & Gwanghwamun Square
One of the most famous sites in Seoul, here you can see Korea’s main royal palace. If you visit at the right time, you can see the Changing of the Guard ceremony with plenty of Hanboks and drumming. The palace itself is full of traditional buildings and a beautiful artificial lake. At the front of Gyeongbokgung, you can see Gwanghwamun Square – a massive plaza with water features and two imposing statues; one of King Sejong and the other of admiral Yi Sun-sin.
Lotte World & Lotte World Tower
Located in Jamsil, you can visit Lotte World Tower, the 5th tallest building in the world. From there, you get an amazing view of Seoul and the surrounding area. You have to get a ticket to go to the observation deck at the top, but you can access a slightly lower floor with restaurants for free. Next to Lotte World Tower is Lotte World – an amusement park which is half indoors and half outdoors. There are plenty of rides and snacks there, and you can often see people dressed up in costumes walking around the area.
Namsan Park & N Seoul Tower
For something a bit more outdoorsy, you can visit Namsan Mountain, the largest park in Seoul, also located right in the heart of the city. Aside from the greenery of the park itself, you can also find other sites like Namsangol Hanok Village and Namsan Palgakjeong. You can hike up to the top, take a bus, or take the cable car. Whichever way you choose, you will find Namsan Seoul Tower at the top. This tower lights up at sunset to reflect the air quality, and provides a fantastic panoramic view of Seoul.
There are tons of things to do around Dongdaemun, and just walking around is a really nice experience. Cheonggyecheon Stream is a beautiful place to walk around, with a variety of decorations and things to see as you walk down the river. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (or DDP) is an impressive landmark in the centre of Seoul, and one of the gorgeous places to take pictures in this city. The building is architecturally striking and made, completely of curves.
Insa-dong is a traditional street, with a great mix of historical and modern things to do. It is full of antique shops, tea houses, cafes, and small restaurants. Also, if you are looking to buy souvenirs or gifts, it can be a great place to look around. One popular thing to try is a type of Korean honey snack called Ggultarae. This is made by stretching and folding a piece of dough into tens of thousands of threads and filling it with various fillings. Don’t miss it :)
Regarded as one of the best beaches in Korea, this is a must-go for anyone in Busan during the warmer months. While the beach can be very crowded, you can always find some space there to watch the beautiful sunsets. There are also often music acts around the beach (especially in the evening) and plenty of restaurants on the beachside where you can try Nengmyeon (Korean cold noodle soup).
Jagalchi Fish Market
Since Busan is on the coast, of course, this city is notable for its seafood. Jagalchi Fish Market is the largest seafood market in Korea, and you can see all kinds of seafood ready to be served. You can choose to eat in the main building, either by buying fish and taking it upstairs to be cooked, or by going straight upstairs to choose your seafood at the restaurant. Your meal will be taken out of the tank and prepared straight away for eating – so it’s some of the freshest fish you can eat. Alternatively, you can visit one of the surrounding seafood restaurants for a meal.
Bupyeong Kkangtong Market
Bupyeong Kkangtong Market is a massive indoor market, jam-packed with things to eat. You can sit down at one of the small restaurants, or at night you can make your way through the crowded lanes to eat from one of the stalls there. The range of options is massive – fish cakes, tteokbokki, seafood, noodle, basically anything you think of. This is a great place to eat and to experience the bustling atmosphere of a Korean market.
Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village is a colourful, interesting neighbourhood to visit in Busan. The houses are all painted in bright, vivid colours, connected by twisting alleyways. It is full of street art, art galleries, and small cafes. To navigate this slightly confusing area, you can grab a map from Busan Culture Village Tourism Information Centre for ₩2000. This map has a list of 12 stamps that you can collect from various locations around the village. It’s a great way to see a lot in one day!
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
One of the most beautiful and unique temples in Korea, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is built on the cliff-face and offers beautiful views of the ocean. It is unique in that it is not built in the mountains but on the shore, and is easily accessible for those in Busan. You can explore the bridges, pagodas, and statues, throw coins for good luck, and eat snacks at one of the many stalls. The temple features a lot of steps, including a staircase of 108 steps, symbolising the 108 human desires, lies and delusions in Buddhism.
Written by Ewan Smith