SOUTH KOREA | ONE WEEK ITINERARY FOR FIRST TIMERS

SOUTH KOREA | ONE WEEK ITINERARY FOR FIRST TIMERS

When planning our recent visit to South Korea our main goal was to experience a mix of traditional and modern Korean culture, and that is exactly how we would sum up our trip. It may feel overwhelming when trying to decide which cities to visit, how you are going to get around and what dishes you should not miss, but you no longer need to stress – we’ve done the hard part for you.

If you are busy planning your trip to South Korea we have you covered! Here is our complete one week itinerary for first timers, full of snaps, videos & guides on what to see & do here in South Korea.

One Week Itinerary

Day 1 – 3: Seoul

A visit to Korea would not be complete without spending a couple of nights in the capital, Seoul. Here you can explore both ancient temples and skyscrapers – next door to each other! Being able to experience the hustle & bustle of this major city, along with the serenity of the temples and ancient villages scattered through out makes Seoul an extremely unique city.

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Street Food at Gwangjang Market

If you are looking for traditional Korean street food here in Seoul than you need to hit up the Gwangjang Market. This bustling market has a huge variety of stalls selling all types of popular street food. Our favourites dishes to try are mungbean pancakes and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes).

Bukchon Hanock Village

Full of traditional hanok style homes that people still live in today, this is the spot where old meets new. Spend the afternoon walking up and down the hilly hanok lined streets and snap way too many photos. This ancient village has been preserved for over 600 years!

Taekwondo Class

Taekwondo is one of Koreas traditional sports and what a better way to learn more about it than doing a 2 hour beginner’s class in the sport. You can have a black belt instructor train you on simple movements for attack and defence and how to discipline the mind. After some practice you can even have the opportunity to have a go at breaking a wooden board!

Gyeongbokgung Palace wearing a Traditional Hanbok

The Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 and is one of the largest palaces in South Korea. Unfortunately in the early 20th century it was destroyed by the Japanese but has been gradually reconstructed over the years. A unique way to visit is to first head to one of the many stores renting traditional Hanboks nearby the palace. Dressing up in the traditional dress and roaming the ponds and residential villas of the palace was one of our favourite experiences here in Seoul.

Go Shopping in Hongdae

Seoul is amazing for shopping. A neighbourhood that is a favourite of ours for shopping is Hongdae. It even has a street called ‘Hongdae Shopping Street’, you could easily spend an entire afternoon here.

Read more: How To Spend 48 Hours in Seoul

Day 4 – 5: Gyeongju

Gyeongju, also known as the museum without walls, must be on your South Korea itinerary! This ancient capital is home to stunning temples, UNESCO parks, museums & unique experiences.

Experience a Temple Stay

There are dozens of working Buddhist temples around South Korea today. As most Korean temples are located in the mountains surrounded by peaceful greenery, participating in a temple stay is a wonderful way to escape the hustle & bustle of the cities while rejuvenating your soul and body.

We had an incredible night stay at Golgulsa temple where we were provided a uniform, given a strict itinerary and Buddhist vegetarian diet. We took our time learning more about why they live this way whilst trying it out ourselves to get a better understanding of this way of life.

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Seokguram Grotto

Built in the 8th century on the slopes of Mount T’oham, the Seokguram Grotto is a beautiful sight to see, containing a monumental statue of the Buddha looking at the sea in the bhumisparsha mudra position.

Daereungwon Tumuli Park

Spend an afternoon strolling through Daereungwon Tumuli Park and marvel at the collection of giant burial mounds. Here you can see more than 20 tombs including the Chunmachong Ancient Tomb. The tomb, which was excavated in 1973, is open for display and a total of 11,526 artefacts were discovered here!

Hire a Bike

Gyeongju is best explored on bike. We were lucky enough to be travelling during cherry blossom season, and pedaling through the town was an amazing way to experience this beautiful spot in South Korea.

Day 6 – 7: Busan

Located in the southern region of Korea, Busan is a seaside gem. It is extremely popular with locals, boasting a number of beaches, temples and shrines, delicious seafood dishes, and small, undiscovered villages. This is by far our favourite place in all of Korea that we visited!

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Busan Fish Market

Busan is home to the country’s largest fish market. If you are a lover of seafood we suggest heading here for lunch. With narrow lanes teeming with decades-old stalls and food carts run by little old ladies selling an incredible variety of fresh seafood – this a spot you do not want to miss!

Gamcheon Culture Village

This vibrant neighbourhood is one of Busan’s top attractions. Nestled into the side of a mountain, this former slum is a mixture of pastel coloured tiny houses located on steep slopes and tiny alleys. We really enjoyed the history, street art and food this neighbourhood has to offer.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

This is one of the only oceanside Buddhist temples in all of South Korea, and is also one the country’s most unique places of worship. With more than 600 years of history, this was our favourite temple we visited during our time in South Korea – one you do not want to miss!

Busan Tower

If you are looking for a good vantage point that gives you panoramic views of the city we recommend heading up to the top of Busan Tower.

Oryukdo Skywalk

This horseshoe-shaped bridge in set 35m above the sea and is entirely made of glass. Busan has a bunch of amazing coastal walks and the one that leads to the skywalk is our favourite (and a fun way to end your morning walk).

READ MORE: SNOWSHOEING ADVENTURE IN JAPAN

Thanks to KTO Sydney for inviting Flying The Nest to explore Korea, as always all opinions are our own.

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