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Top 10 Things to do in South Korea for First-Timers

Popularly known as the “Land of Morning Calm”, South Korea’s spellbinding natural beauty is a sight to behold.

With majestic hills, blue skies, and tranquil lands, it’s no wonder many visit to find peace and calm. But even then, there are many things to do and places to visit for the active and “on-the-go” traveler.

Here are some exciting things to do in South Korea:


1. Take art and culture classes in Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village

Located in the heart of Bukchon Hanok Village, the Bukchon Cultural Center offers guests several workshops about calligraphy, tea ceremonies, traditional paper dolls, knotting, dyeing, and patchwork.

All these and more are done in an effort to educate the public about traditional Korean culture and hanok (traditional Korean house) practices.

  • Location: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Operation Hours: 9 AM to 6 PM (Mon to Fri) and 10 AM to 5 PM (Sun and Sat)
  • Fees: Free admission
  • What You Need To Know: In addition to classes and workshops, the center also hosts cultural events, movie screenings, and concerts to further promote hanok.

2. Wear traditional Korean costumes at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Tourists Wear Hanbok

There are several hanbok rental shops near major tourist spots  that have different rates, rules and rental times – so you may want to check which one would be more accommodating to your preference.

After picking out and putting on your traditional Korean garb, you can head over to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and enter free of charge!

Enjoy the moment and take as many photos as possible: play with contrasting colors, use the buildings as backdrops and make use of the pillars, as well.

  • Location: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Operation Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM (November to February), 9 AM to 6 PM (March to May), 9 AM to 6:30 PM (June to August) and 9 AM to 6 PM (September to October)
  • Fees: Adults (ages 19-64) 3,000 won and children (ages 7-18) 1,500 won
  • What You Need To Know: Preschoolers (age 6 and younger), seniors (ages 65 and older), and people wearing hanbok are granted free admission.

3. Go cosmetic shopping at Myeongdong

Editorial credit: Pius Lee /

Dubbed South Korea’s Times Square of Beauty, this is the go-to shopping district for everything K-beauty.

Known for its natural ingredients, nourishing formulas and cute packaging, K-beauty products are such a hit with both local and international users that its no surprise that you’ll often find this area buzzing with customers.

You can find brands such as Innisfree, Etude House, Sulwhasoo, Skinfood and more.

  • Location: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Operation Hours: Dependent on the different stores
  • Fees: NA
  • What You Need To Know: Shoppers rejoice! You can find several department stores here such as Lotte Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store, Myeong-dong Migliore, Noon Square and M Plaza.

4. Have fun at Lotte World

Lotte World
Editorial credit: Guitar photographer /

Lotte World is perfect for kids and for the kids-at-heart! Filled with exciting rides, an ice rink, a folk museum, a spa, a theater and more – there’s so much for guests, local and foreign alike, to do.

The theme park is open all year-round, though some attractions may be closed from time to time due to maintenance.

  • Location: 240, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
  • Operation Hours: 9:30 AM to 10 PM
  • Fees: Click here for the rates
  • What You Need To Know: If you get tired from a whole day of fun, then you can check out three of the nearby hotels: Lotte Hotel WorldHotel Lake or Jam Sil Tourist Hotel.

5. Ride the world’s fourth steepest wooden rollercoaster at Everland

Editorial credit: Stockforlife /

Taking advantage of its surroundings, Everland’s T-rex was built on a hill giving its a riders a jawdropping view before taking their breath away as they go down the world’s fourth steepest and ninth fastest wooden roller coaster.

  • Location: 199, Everland-ro, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do
  • Operation Hours: 10 AM to 10 PM
  • Fees: Click here for the rates
  • What You Need To Know: Everland has several rides and attractions, but another draw to Everland is “Zootopia” which is home to 2000 animals and 201 species.

6. Chill out at Cheonggyecheon Stream

Cheonggyecheon Stream
Editorial credit: Chokchai Suksatavonraphan /

What once was a neglected waterway has now become one Seoul’s go-to’s when one wants to chill and relax.

Visitors can hang around and talk with friends, have a quick snack or take a leisurely stroll as the stream passes several major tourist spots such as Deoksugung Palace, Seoul Plaza, and Changdeokgung Palace.

  • Location: Cheonggyecheon-ro, Sinseol-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Operation Hours: Open 24/7
  • Fees: NA

7. Go shopping at Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market
Editorial credit: Guitar photographer /

Namdaemun Market’s been around 1964, and until now is still one of Seoul’s biggest night markets. As early as 10:30 PM, visitors can see shoppers trickling in – all looking to browse or buy a variety of items such as glasses, kitchenware, toys, mountain gear, hats, flowers, and imported goods.

  • Location: 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Operation Hours: 11 PM to 4 AM (daily except Sundays)
  • Fees: NA
  • What You Need To Know: Nearby tourist spots include the Sungnyemun Gate, Seoul Plaza, the Chojun Textile and Quilt Art Museum, City Hall and the Bank of Korea Money Museum.

8. Visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone

Editorial credit: Meeh /

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is one of the most tense places on earth despite its name – but even then, it is safe enough for visitors who can only come with tours.

Tours include visiting historical sites in the area such as Imjingak Park, Freedom Bridge, the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the DMZ exhibition theater, and the Dora Observatory from which you can better see North Korea.

  • Location: A 160 mile wide line along the width of the Korean peninsula that separates the North from the South
  • Operation Hours: Dependent on tour joined
  • Fees: Dependent on tour joined
  • What You Need To Know: You will be required to bring your passport, also a dress code is to be followed: no shorts, skirts, sleeveless tops, sandals, flip flops and more. The reason you need to follow the dress code is reportedly because North Korean soldiers take photos of disheveled guests and use them as propaganda for their citizens saying that other countries are too poor to afford proper clothing for their people.

9. Watch a hilarious performance at Myeongdong NANTA Theater

Myeongdong Theater
Editorial credit: sekitarief /

The NANTA show entails a comedic performance that integrates a variety of motion and Samulnori rhythm. Because it’s non-verbal, the performance is universal drawing the crowd in with grand gestures and pulsating sound.

  • Location: 26, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Operation Hours: Performances start at 5 PM and 8 PM (Mon to Fri); 11 AM, 2 PM, 5 PM and 8 PM (Sat) and 2 PM, 5 PM, 8 PM (Sun)
  • Fees: For ticket prices, click here

10. Watch some of your favorite K-pop stars perform

K Pop Performance
Editorial credit: Pal2iyawit /

If you’re a huge K-pop fan, then a visit to MBC’s Show Champion is a must! This TV show features live K-pop performances from several top musicians and idols – so its no surprise that tickets to the show or lines to get in tend to be very long. To get in, one simply has to arrive at the venue and line up.

  • Location: 596 Hosu-ro, Ilsandong-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do
  • Operation Hours: Fans can start entering the premises as early as 5:30 PM
  • Fees: NA
  • What You Need To Know: Some of the performances may be pre-recorded, so its best to check if the group you want to watch live will be performing on their designated dates.


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