South Korea Bucket List: Top 10 Must-Visit Destinations

Filipinos are certainly not strangers to Korean culture. In fact, we have learned to embrace the land that has given us K-dramas, K-pop, Korean skin care regimens, and most importantly, Samgyeopsal!  I can certainly say that South Korea is one of the best places to visit in East Asia – and not just because of its culture, but also because of the sheer beauty of the country. My trip to Korea is one that I definitely won’t forget because each place I visited gave me unique experiences that I will always look back on fondly.

South Korea Bucket List: Top 10 Must-Visit Destinations

10. Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

The Korean Demilitarized Zone, also known as the “DMZ”, is a thrilling experience for tourists who want to learn more about the history between North and South Korea. The Demilitarized Zone is neutral territory wherein we find the division of the two Koreas. Here, treaties, agreements, and possibilities of reunification are discussed.

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If you’re a fan of Descendants of the Sun, then you’ll find this place familiar because one of the first scenes of the famous K-drama was shot at the DMZ.

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During this tour, I got to walk through the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, a secret passageway that North Koreans built across the DMZ to attack South Korea. I even got to see the Propaganda Tower. Our tour guide shared that every Christmas, the South Koreans would light up the Propaganda Tower to show the North that the South had electricity while they didn’t. It’s quite childish, but I actually found it funny!

9. Namsan Seoul Tower

Romantics will love Namsan Seoul Tower. N Seoul Tower is the most popular tower in South Korea. It is also the second highest point in Seoul.

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Cheesy as it may sound, many couples flock to this place to share promises written on love locks and fasten them around the building — never to be removed.

8. Myeong-dong

Myeong-dong is a shopaholic’s paradise. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the hunt for the best beauty product or if you’re hungry for some Korean street food — Myeong-dong has got you covered!

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The bustling streets are anything but boring. Packed with shops from left to right, it’s impossible to leave this area empty handed.

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Aside from shopping, Myeong-dong is also a great place for entertainment. I actually got the opportunity to watch South Korea’s famous Nanta Cooking Show in Myeong-dong Theater. This non-verbal comedy had laughing out loud the whole night.

7. Petite France

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Does this sound familiar? Yes, you guessed correctly! That famous line is from ‘The Little Prince’ written by French aristocrat, Antoine de-Saint Exupery. The reason why I mentioned this is because Petite France is a French-inspired park in South Korea.

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The park is certainly pretty with its own quirks and charms.

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I enjoyed watching the marionette show during the morning of our tour. I was impressed by how skilled the puppeteer was as she controlled the marionettes to dance along to modern songs.

6. Garden of Morning Calm

The Garden of Morning Calm certainly went above and beyond my expectations. This place is home to over 5,000 species of plants and flowers.

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As I walked around the grand private garden, I could not help but think I was in a movie scene where the heroine gets a glimpse of heaven during her state of unconsciousness. Sounds dramatic, but I’m not kidding! You really have to see it for yourself to understand.

5. Nami Island

Nami Island is a half moon-shaped island famous for the majestic trees that line its pathways.

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If you decide to go to Nami Island, I highly suggest renting a bike. There are education and training facilities there, as well as water activities to keep you busy.

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There are a lot of secret spots to explore here and I loved how time passed by so slowly as I biked around the area.

4. Gangchon Rail Park

My rail bike experience at Gangchon Rail Park was easily the best experience I had in South Korea. I was also quite surprised about it. The 8km sunset ride was so wonderful because of all of the scenic views. Not to mention, the weather was perfect, too.

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The ride also had its own surprises that I dare not share. You really have to try it for yourself!

3. Changdeokgung Palace

If you’ve watched a Korean movie or drama at least once in your life, then you can relate to fantasizing about walking around a palace wearing a traditional hanbok. I know I have!

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Exploring Changdeokgung Palace was extra special because of this opportunity.

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Moreover, we were allowed free entrance to the palace because we were wearing traditional hanboks. Not bad!

2. Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is the most iconic development in Korea’s design industry. DDP means to Dream, Design, and Play.

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The curves and powerful structures will truly make you appreciate the urban architectural design. It’s a great place to hang out and go people watching in my opinion.

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There are also many nearby establishments in the area where you can opt to shop or dine.

1. Gwangjang Market

Last but certainly not the least is Gwangjang Market. If you’re a fan of the Netflix show ‘Street Food’, then you have definitely heard of this place by now. Gwangjang Market is Seoul’s oldest traditional market. You can eat all kinds of Korean Street Food here — Tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), Haemul Pajeon (sea food and green onion pancakes), Dakgangjeong (popcorn chicken), and many more!

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(ALSO READ: Travel Guide to Paradise: Explore Dumaguete, Apo Island, and Siquijor in 4 Days)

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The complete South Korean adventure is definitely something that should not only be read about, but experienced in real life. If my article made you even a little curious, I promise you: visiting this wonderful country is something you will love yourself for. Book a flight, pack your bags, and you can thank me later. Happy Travels!

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