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South Korea is a leading tourist destination for good reason. The booming metropolis of Seoul combined with the natural beauty of the coastline makes the country an incredibly diverse place to visit. Of course, the quirkiness of South Korea adds to the interest travelers have in visiting. Whether you’re exploring the busy streets of Seoul or taking it slow in the mountains, here are 20 must-see spots for your journey.
1. Get a Korean body scrub
Known as a ‘jjimjubang’ to the locals, this intense spa treatment is an important facet of Korean culture. When you arrive, plan to get completely naked. You’ll then soak in hot water before relaxing in a heated room. Next, it’s time for the fun! Laying down, you’ll be scrubbed from head to toe with a sandpaper-like mitt that removes dead skin. When you’re finished, your experience will be topped off by rinsing your body with warm milk before heading to the sauna. If this doesn’t sound like your idea of relaxation, you also have the option to sit peacefully in the heated room.
2. Visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Korean Peninsula
Also known as the DMZ, this fortified area separates North and South Korea. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to take a tour or peek at North Korea through binoculars. The area is relatively untouched, which has consequently made it a great place to check out endangered animals.
3. Visit a Mysterious Island
Historically, Jeju Island is known as a place of mystery and fantasy. The entire island is a result of volcanic activity thousands of years ago, which results in stunning natural scenery.
4. Teamlab World, Seoul
Located in Seoul, this interactive art exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to dance, learn, and play at the same time. The technologists are a team comprised of programmers, artists, animators, architects, and other creatives that build the dynamic art displays.
5. Korean Karaoke
Quite possibly one of South Korea’s favorite pastimes, karaoke plays a prominent role in Korean culture. Song rooms, or ‘Noraebangs’, are private rooms that can be rented by the hour and typically include access to a karaoke machine, food, and drinks. Helicon and Luxury Su are two of the most popular karaoke rooms in Seoul.
6. Seoul Rage Room, Seoul
Have you ever felt the need to let it all out? If so, you’ve come to the right place. The Seoul Rage Room allows visitors to completely destroy various items. Their most basic plan includes ceramics, but electronics can be purchased for an additional cost. You can also BYOD (bring your own device) for an additional cost.
7. Visit a Themed Coffee Shop
Ever dreamt of sipping your morning coffee with a raccoon? Maybe a cat or a dog? South Korea has you covered in all departments. Head to Bau House Dog Cafe, Blind Alley and Cat Cafe Myeongdong for the best themes with your cappuccino.
8. Play Dress Up, Seoul
As you wander the streets of Seoul, you’re likely to see women dressed in Hanboks, which are vibrant, traditional dresses. If you want to try one for yourself, head to Meokbang Studio where you can get dressed up and walk around the city’s art district.
9. Samsung d’light, Seoul
Samsung’s d’light Museum is the perfect place to get a glimpse of the latest and upcoming technology. Its hands-on exhibits offer insight into what innovative tech is on the horizon in the areas of lifestyle, shopping, education, and communication.
10. Homestay in an Ancient Village, Seoul
Stay with a local family in a homestay, where you can get a glimpse into traditional Korean culture. Bukchon Hanok is one of South Korea’s oldest neighborhoods with some structures dating back to the 14th century. Homestay’s website will connect you with a host family.
11. Stay Out of the Sun at the Beach
Ironic that one would go to the beach to stay out of the sun, but believe it or not, Koreans go to great lengths to avoid the rays. Don’t be surprised if you see a multitude of people fully clothed and hanging out under umbrellas at some of South Korea’s busiest beaches.
12. Hello Kitty Cafe
Brimming with all things pink, this themed cafe serves up Hello Kitty coffee, cakes, cookies, and some small dishes. For the full experience, be sure to order the strawberry pancakes and a latte, which will undoubtedly be served with kitty latte art on top.
13. Spend the Weekend with Monks
Another way to get a glimpse into Korean culture and history is with a temple stay. The unique experience allows you to be fully immersed in life at a Buddhist monastery. In addition to eating traditional temple food, you also have the opportunity to meditate, learn the practice of prostrating and participate in tea ceremonies.
14. Try Bingsu
While there are a million and one combinations of this sweet treat, Bingsu is traditionally a mix of shaved ice, condensed milk and a myriad of toppings. They can be ordered at most coffee shops.
15. Experience a Multibang
‘Bang’ is the Korean word for room, so you’ll see it frequently attached to other words. Similar to a noraebang, a multibang is a rentable room that includes computers, games, karaoke, and even ice cream. There are even PC bangs, which are popular spots for gamers.
16. Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital
Known as one of South Korea’s scariest places to visit, this abandoned mental facility is said to be haunted. While the reasons behind its closing are up for debate, it is unquestionably spooky.
17. Walk Across the Ocean, Jindo-gun
Across one specific time of the year, perfect conditions allow rocks, sand, and pebbles to protrude out from the sea to create a path to walk from island to island. The Miracle Sea Road Festival occurs in April and offers various activities focused around this phenomenon.
18. Safetown Amusement Park, Taebaek-si
This unusual attraction allows visitors to experience natural disasters first hand. The attractions are designed to educate people on safety when it comes to earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
19. Toilet Museum, Suwon-si
Mr. Toilet House, also known as the Haewoojae Museum, is home to a toilet-shaped building brimming with information on toilets and sanitation. Originally built in celebration of the creation of the World Toilet Association, it is now a major tourist attraction.
20. Yongma Land, Seoul
This small amusement park has been abandoned since 2011. Once a thriving, family-owned theme park, Yongma Land is now an eerie place filled with 1980s advertisements, broken attractions, and faded decor. While the rides no longer work, the park does offer ample photo opportunities.