Route: Seoul Chuncheon Gangneung Wonju Andong Daegu Gyeongju Busan Geoje
Duration: 14 nights
Transport: This route is a 14 day trip covering 9 of South Korea’s most popular cities. You’ll spend 14 nights in your accommodation and travel by bus and train during the day.
Summary: Take a few weeks to discover the wonders of one of Asia’s most underrated destinations, South Korea. Start off in the country’s vibrant capital, Seoul, before working your way south, hitting all the best spots on your way down. Experience everything from the quirky and futuristic cities of Seoul and Busan, to Andong’s stunning temples and several areas of real natural beauty, taking in as much of the culture and getting your fill of the local food as you go. For those of you looking for something new, South Korea definitely isn’t one to miss!
Get a mix of modern and traditional lifestyles, as well as some areas of real natural beauty!
Kick off this epic adventure with a taste of life in the capital, Seoul. Old meets new in a city where ancient traditions are intertwined with incredible modern features. Take in some of South Korea’s most scenic and beautiful natural areas in Gangneung and Chuncheon before heading south to the criminally underrated city of Daegu. A pit stop in Gyeongju gives a great opportunity to explore the ancient temples, before winding up your trip by experiencing everything the south coast has to offer.
In the capital of South Korea visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty and still one of the grandest typical structures in the city. Take a trip up to N Seoul Tower for a view of Seoul’s scenic skyline and a breathtaking panorama of light shows, which reflect upon the Hangang River. If you instead wish to immerse yourself in the culture, have a walk through the largest traditional market in Korea, Namdaemun Market: home to more than 10,000 stores that sell any kind of good, from traditional oriental medicine to cheap local snacks. To continue your traditional journey in discovering South Korea, don’t miss a trip to Bukchon Hanok Village, an ancient village that preserves a 600-year-old urban settlement. Also, grab a bite at Noryangjin Fish Wholesale Market, Seoul’s oldest and biggest indoor fish market selling the catch of the day. Wondering what to do at night? Dance the night away in Itaewon, the go-to district for anyone looking for wild nightlife, or book a private karaoke room to sing along with your friends, if you are more up for something chill.
Bus to Chuncheon – 1 hour
This beautiful little city surrounded by lakes, mountains and rivers is the perfect getaway if you want to avoid the crows of Seoul. This city is made for outdoor activities, bike paths along the river, hiking on nearby mountains, picnic on Jungdo Island, you name it. You can also wander around Gongjicheon Sculpture Park before heading to Cheongpyeong-sa temple, a national treasure nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. Don’t forget to try the local Dakgalbi while in Chuncheon, a grilled chicken with vegetables with spicy sauce.
Train to Gangneung – 3 hours
Gangneung, located on the coast near the longest mountain range in South Korea, this city is a must see. Visit the oldest Joseon-dynasty home of Ojukheon surrounded by gardens, lotus pools and bamboo groves. Relax at Gyeonpo Beach before heading to the pavilions of Gyeonpo ho and Gyeonpodae with its bicycle path running alongside the lakeshore. Deungmyeongnakgasa temple built during the Silla era is home to a 5 storied stone pagoda and the Celadon Sculpture of the 500 arahants. Also built in the same era is Bohyeonsa, which Gangneung’s oldest temple. Once you’ve had your fill of temples, check out Anmok Beach, less crowded than Gyeonpo but just as beautiful. Relax while sipping a coffee with your feet in the sand. Gyeongpo ho Wetland ecological park is a breath of fresh air while learning and observing wetland ecology.
Bus to Wonju – 3 hours
This small city near Seoul will be a breath of fresh air from the buzzing capital and is located close to a national park. Cross South Korea longest suspension bridge from where you’ll enjoy a breath-taking view of the mountains, cliffs and city in one take! Take a break at Miro Art Wonju Jungang Market to sample some delicacies food while exploring the converted art and cultural areas of the market. Visit Sangwonsa Temple which features the oldest grand temple bell in Korea, but more importantly is the most sacred ground for Buddhists in the country. Another temple worth visiting would be Guryongsa with its stunning straw tapestry in Korea and incredible golden building! While in Wonju you should definitely try Hanu, the local delicacy consisting of beef from locally bred cattle.
Train to Andong – 2 hours
This small town has a rich past regarding South Korean aristocracy, Buddhism and Confucianism. Being considered the most Confucianist city in South Korea lot of seowon can still be found in the city. You will have your fill of temples here as it is the capital city of Korean spiritual culture. The Folk Village of Hahoe is part of the UNESCO World Heritage, make sure to visit on a weekend to experience the dance mask and do not miss the tree inhabited by a goddess and the Byongdae cliffs, overlooking the Village. Bongjeongsa is the biggest temple in the city and is well worth a visit. Make sure you check out Jebiwon, a stone statue of Buddha believed to have been made over 2000 years ago with a lot of legends linked to it. Andong is one the home from the Korean alcohol soju so it’s worth sampling when you’re in town. Make sure to try Jjimak (chicken and noodle) in the old Andong market, as well as heotjesabap, a bibimbap made with soy sauce!
Bus to Daegu – 1 hour
Despite being the 4th biggest city, Daegu is often wrongfully overlooked. It has earned itself the nickname Dae-frica, due to it being the hottest city in the country. Get lost in Daegu’s incredible Modern Valley before checking out Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral. Head out to the Daegu Art Museum or check out the beautiful mural of Kim Gwangseok-gil Street, before getting lost in the Herbal Medicine Market discovering its traditional herbs and acupunctures shops. For a beautiful view of the city hike or hop on the cable car to reach Apsan Park. You’ll get the best view at sunset. If you’re not a big hiker, go for a wander around Suseong Lake and take a paddle boat out. Check out Gatbawii Stone Buddha, a 6M tall stone buddha is perched on the mountain overlooking a provincial park with a stone traditional Korean hat on its head. For delicious local food head out to Seomun market or bulgogi tents to mingle with the locals. Don’t miss out on the Jjimgalbi, spicy beef ribs, or the simple ttarogukbap, a local spicy beef soup.
Bus to Gyeongju – 1 hour
The city is proud of its rich culture and history, earning it the nickname “museum without walls”. It has the most temples, Buddhist sanctuaries and pagodas of anywhere in Korea. Wander around Tumuli Gongwon featuring the tombs of 23 monarch and their artifacts throughout the park and also Daereungwon Tomb Complex which is less romantic than the first but just as impressive! Visit Bulguksa Temple, a beautiful temple made up of stone terraces, two national treasure bridges, pagodas and much more. One of the most famous sites in Gyeongju is Seokguram, a Buddhist grotto way up in the mountains with a temple and an eerie feel with the stone statue of Buddha in the cave facing the sea! Another spot well worth a visit is the Anapji Pond, popular amongst couples, especially for wedding photos because of the beautiful lotus blossoms filling the pond. While in town make sure to check out Jungang night market for local food such as Hwangnamp ppang, and incredible savoury pastry, and some local mild rice alcohol known as Gyeodong Beopju!
Bus to Busan – 1 hour
South Korea’s second largest city has everything from beaches, amazing seafood, temples and mountains. It’s also home to the largest wall fortress in Korea, Geomean, made up of 17km of walls and including 4 impressive gates. Beomeosa is an impressive temple in the city with a very peaceful vibe and an incredible mountain backdrop. Haedong Yonggungsa is a beautiful temple overlooking the ocean. The secluded Seokbulsa Temple with impressive Buddhist images set in stone is another must see temple. Check out the Jagalchi fish market and mingles with the locals whilst sampling some delicious sea food! Relax on the beach either Haeundae, Busan’s most popular beach, or the slightly less crowded Gwangalli before heading to Gamcheon Culture Village. Get lost in this colourful mountainside district, a wash of colour from the roofs, alley stairs and murals. Take advantage of the city delicious food such as pork soup, wheat noodles in a cold meat broth or sweet-fried seed pancakes. As for the nightlife Soemyeon, Texas Street or PNU district are the best places in town.
Bus to Geoje – 1 hour
GeojeDo is the second largest island of South Korea and is connected to Busan by an 8km long bridge and tunnel. This island is a mix of beautiful landscape and urban areas. With its naval history, a visit to the History Park museum is a well worth your time to get a good understanding of the island’s history. The main must see here are Haegeumgang and Oedo Botanical gardens. Located in a national park, Haegeumgang is the perfect spot to enjoy amazing sunrises and sunset on the ocean. On the other hand, Oedo is a large botanical garden, on Oedo Island which is very popular amongst locals for its gardens and landscapes. If you are looking for wilder landscapes, Shinseondae and its purple green cliffs are the place to go. Check out Okpo or Gohyeon city centres for theb perfect place to sample some of the local delicacies, such as Gul Gui, locally caught oysters, or the local Bibimpap “Meonggeye Bibimbap”..