We travel around Korea. A lot. If I had it my way, we would go on road trips every single weekend. That’s easy for me to say because I don’t work or drive so by the weekend I am beyond anxious to get out of Ulsan and my little expat bubble. Dave is really understanding and even though he is completely exhausted by the weekend, he lets me drag him all over this amazing country. (To be honest, I think he probably prefers it to when we stay home on the weekends because then I usually get the organization bug and he still gets put to work!)
One of the big reasons why I blog is to inspire people to travel around Korea because it’s a truly beautiful country. Most of us are here for anywhere between one to three years and I can honestly say that it’s just not enough time to see all that Korea has to offer. Since we started traveling so frequently, I get asked one question repeatedly: “How do you find all of these places?!” The answer is kind of complicated. There isn’t one magical source of information. My blog will continue to be a great place to get travel ideas, but here are few of my main resources when planning adventures around South Korea:
Word of Mouth
Since I have been living and traveling in Korea for about 3.5 years now, I have gained a lot of my knowledge of the country organically. When I was teaching (and even now), I would hear friends talk about places they’d visited and it piqued my curiosity.
Make sure you’re asking friends where they’ve been and what they recommend. Some places are worth the hype and some places aren’t. Friends are one of the best ways to get information. Plus, it’s always nice to hear about someone’s experiences firsthand.
I love using facebook for travel ideas. There are a lot of really good facebook pages out there that are constantly posting about different places to visit in Korea. Here are some of my favorites:
Another tip is to go to these facebook pages and scroll down until you see “LIKED BY THIS PAGE” on the left sidebar. You can click on that and see all of the facebook pages liked by that page. Most of the tourism and city pages like other Korea related facebook pages and some of them might be of interest to you.
Pinterest is where my Korea Bucket List idea originated. If you’re not already on Pinterest, sign up (then follow me)! It’s a huge resource of information and it’s a great way to plan your travels. Simply type in “Korea” (or any other search terms) to the Pinterest search bar and you can decide if you want to search pins, boards, pinners or interests. Select pins and scan through and pin anything that you find interesting. You can search boards and then follow ones that look interesting, or select interests and choose what types of pins you want to see.
Here are my top 3 favorite Korea related pinterest boards:
- Life Outside of Texas’s Korea Bucket List board
- Korea – Things Korean, a huge group board
- South Korea by travel bloggers My Tan Feet
CNN Travel’s 50 beautiful places to visit in Korea Article
I am on a mission to visit as many of these “beautiful places” as possible before our time in Korea is over. So far I’ve been to 17 of them. This type of goal is pretty hardcore and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone. I’ve actually been pretty let down by several of the places in the article. My opinion is that the article was based around beautiful photos, not necessarily beautiful places. Some of the places on the list are incredibly time sensitive. While they might be beautiful on a snowy day or while the area is lined in cherry blossom trees, some are pretty average on a normal day.
One of the places I was most disappointed with was number 7 on the list, Jeungdo Salt Farm. It was pretty awful and not beautiful at all. Plus, we didn’t really see much salt farming going on. We probably went at the wrong time of year, but there was no English information available so we weren’t able to figure out when the right time of year is.
Alternatively, the most rewarding place we have been so far is the Garden of the Morning Calm. It definitely lived up to the hype!
One thing that stands true about Korea is that there’s always some type of festival going on. We’ve been to festivals based around body painting, mask dances, lanterns, fireworks and hydrangeas, just to name a few.
The Visit Korea site has a pretty extensive list of festivals in Korea that you can see here. You can also browse through the list of festivals that I have blogged about. A lot of our trips do tend to be based around festivals. If you don’t mind the crowds, they are usually a lot of fun!
There are so many people blogging about Korea. It can be hard to filter through the people that are blogging just to keep their family and friends updated about their life abroad (nothing wrong with that!) and the ones that are posting quality material written for people wanting to travel around Korea.
Here are some of my favorite Korea-related travel blogs:
- One Weird Globe – Chris has left Korea for Thailand, but he has a lot of great content up on his site that is well worth checking out, including a guest post by me.
- Waegook Tom – Tom is currently living in Taipei (and loving it!), but he got his start into blogging while living in Korea (hence the blog name). He spent almost 4 years in Korea and during that time paid off all of his evil credit cards.
- Grrrl Traveler – Christine taught English in Korea and did a lot of traveling while she was here. She’s a big inspiration and has some really informative posts about traveling in Korea.
- Bobo and ChiChi – Scott and Megan are based in Seoul and take really amazing photos and post really great travel articles.
- Open Road Before Me – Nathan is about to leave Korea and set out on a new adventure, but he has lots of great Korea posts up on his blog. He’s a big fan of traveling around Asia and likes to hike so if that’s your thing, check out his page.
- Evan and Rachel – These two are the some of my favorite people in Korea. They have been living in Korea for 4 years and they mostly vlog about life in Korea and about teaching in Korea. They occasionally have some great videos about places to visit in Korea as well.
This is great, thanks so much for putting all of these links in one place. We arrive in Seoul at the beginning of October and have no plans yet. I’ll be spending today clicking through all of this. Thanks again!
So great that you’re stopping in Korea on your RTW! Hopefully this post comes in handy when you’re planning your adventures. If you have any questions, just let me know!
Yea! Really good post Meagan. So much information is one place 🙂
Great picture of Daewonsa 🙂 I forgot you’d gotten out to see it, so glad you did. Thanks for linking to my blog, too!
There’s a lot of great advice in this article. There are so many awesome resources out there, leading to so many exciting new places to see. I still find cool new things in Pohang that I’d never known about!
Thanks for blogging about Daewonsa. I went there when a friend of mine was visiting me in Korea. Along the way we found what looked like an abandoned pension with a rusty train sitting out front. The area was covered in cherry blossom trees, which was perfect since most of the other trees had all lost their flowers.
Thanks for writing this! I’m constantly inspired by your weekend warrior travels and definitely have many of the places you’ve been to added on my Korea bucket list.
Thanks, Lisa! I am on a mission to see as much of Korea as I can before we leave. I have so many more places that we have been that I just haven’t had time to blog about. I’m so glad you find my blog helpful and I can’t wait to see the photos of your adventures.
Korea is an amazing place for weekend trips. There are endless places to go and it’s really easy to get around everywhere. Nowhere is ever too far away either. I loved living there and we were zipping off everywhere each weekend. China is harder to travel around ebcause the country is so huge. You have to fly a lot of places and/or ot takes to long for a weekend. but then again, Beijing has years worth of places to explore!
We try to travel around most weekends. I agree… it’s so great how close everything is. With me being from Texas and Dave being from Australia, we are used to long drives so the road trips don’t bother us one bit.
China must be really interesting and so different from Korea though! I still haven’t visited there, but I’d love to. So many places, so little time!
What a great resource this is! If I ever get to Korea …
How much longer will you be there?
Good question! We will leave Korea sometime in spring, but it’s possible we will be back. My boyfriends industry has lots of jobs in Korea so we will just have to wait and see.
I wish I could travel around as much as I dream to, but I have a very lazy Korea boyfriend who is not inspired to see the Korean country side. In his words “everything looks the same” even though I know that is NOT true 😉 However high up on our list is visiting Nami Island. Have you been there yet? I heard its very *romantic*. I hope to visit Damyang aswell! Fingers crossed I can visit it during October. Lovely pictures of the sunrise in Fall!
We are hopefully going to visit Nami Island this fall. It’s high on my list because the photos all look incredible. The trouble is getting the timing right… hopefully we can work it out.
Quite a great list. It’s unfortunate that lots of people need inspiration to travel this beautiful country but great that we have so many resources. I feel like there are new ones popping up all the time.
I totally agree. I think some people just don’t realize how many amazing places there are in Korea. It always blows my mind because Korea is so much smaller than Texas, but has so many more amazing places to visit. Plus, a lot of their history is so much older than ours and it’s great to see how hard they work to preserve it.
I also had the CNN article bookmarked. Definitely a good starting point.
Another resource I used was Lonely Planet. A friend gave me an old copy and I just skimmed through it to find some awesome, underrated places.
I definitely agree that more people should travel around the country because there’s a lot to see. This post should help those that need ideas.
Good tip about Lonely Planet. I’m so visual that most guide books tend to bore me, but I know they’re full of so much good information!
This is such a helpful list, sometimes I struggle to find resources in English. I have not heard of ANY of the places on that CNN List, but I definitely want to know more about them. And that festivals website is exactly what I’ve been searching for. Thanks for the resources!
A lot of the CNN places are way off the beaten track and may be better for people with access to cars. Some of the more famous ones are really great though… Garden of the Morning Calm, Suncheon Bay, etc.
I’m always speechless and disgusted by the posts I see on Waygook.org every now and then along the lines of “I’ve been in Korea 3 months and I’ve seen all there is to see.” WHAT?!?! I honestly wish I had the power to instantly deport them back to their home countries. What a waste!
There are sooo many things to see and do here, I never seem to run out and my list is always getting longer!
You have some great resources here, and I’ve definitely taken inspiration from some of your posts too! Thanks for the shout out. 🙂
Yes! This. Or when they say Korea has no green spaces and it’s all just city and concrete jungle… what?! It would take me years to see all of the places I’d like to see and I want to revisit so many of the ones I’ve already been!
I actually just started “Pinteresting” places to go in Korea, I don’t know why I’ve never thought about it before! haha. I’ve noticed that a lot of them are captioned incorrectly though (wrong city). Your blog is definitely how I’ve found a lot of places to go so thanks!
Thanks, Kirsten! That’s definitely a really nice compliment to hear. Pinteresting Korea was one of the first things I did and I always find it really interesting to see what types of posts people enjoy. So many people love Korea for varying reasons and it has such a cult following.