The Wanderlust guide to the best of South Korea

A contradictory collision of ancient traditions and hyper-modern cities, South Korea is one of Asia's off-beat hotspots. Get there now!

6 mins

South Korea is a bewildering place. Capital Seoul is a bustling, 24-hour modern city – yet turn a corner and you’ll stumble across a 14th-century palace or quaint tearoom.

Hard-working Koreans know how to party and you can easily spend your days grilling your own food at Korean barbecue restaurants, murdering your favourite song in the Korean version of a karaoke bar, or partying in Seoul’s Hongdae district.

If cities aren’t your thing, holiday on an island, ski the slopes around Gyeonggi, or potter around the temples of Guinsa.

Seaoul N Tower at night ( N Tower at night (Shutterstock)

Looking for inspiration?

South Korea is an intoxicating blend of tradition and modernity, nature and technology. Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet, discovered that it was all wedded to a deep humanity. He encountered all aspect of the country in his journey around South Korea, as well as a friendly local or two to help him navigate the sometimes baffling ticket machines.

Indeed, you’ll find whatever your looking for in South Korea – whether that’s cherry blossoms, autumnal leaves, ice festivals or hi-tech cities – and probably better than most other places in the world.

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8 autumnal adventures – Simon Farnsworth

7 super-chilled ice festivals – Peter Moore

World’s top 8 smart cities – Holly Gurr

Ice Cream Tubes ( cream tubes, South Korea (Shutterstock)

Seoul food

Anyone who has ever tried kimchi – the spicy, pickled cabbage that constitutes South Korea’s national dish – will tell you that it’s a culinary experience quite unlike any other. Ruth Dodson travelled to Korea specifically to learn how to make it and was in turn introduced to a side of the country very few travellers get to experience. Young Jin Song also provides an easy-to-follow recipe to make your own kimchi at home.

If kimchi is a little too spicy for you, fear not. Marie Bankova is on hand to introduce you to the world of street food, Seoul style. From deep fried pig’s feet to ice cream tubes, you’re bound to find something you’ll love.

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How to make Korean baechu kimchi – Ruth Dodson

Recipe of the week: South Korean kimchi – Young Jin Song

A beginner’s guide to street food in Seoul – Marie Bankova

Street food in Gwangjang ( food market in Gwangjang (Shutterstock)

Capturing it all on film

Asian markets are a happy hunting ground for photographers, offering up a smorgasbord of opportunities: sizzling food and intriguing local delicacies, colourful piles of fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, and a wealth of portraits. But there is a knack to getting great photos without upsetting the locals. Steve Davey reveals all with a list of photographic tips for markets.

If it’s inspiration you are after, look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels to South Korea. Amazing.

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Photography tips: markets – Steve Davey

Readers’ photos from South Korea 

Lotus lantern festival ( Lantern Festival, South Korea (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our South Korea travel guide is the place to start. 

If you have a particular question about South Korea, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about South Korea. The answer to yours might already be there.

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South Korea travel guideWanderlust Team

Forum posts about South Korea

Community content about South Korea

Neon lights in Myeong-Dong ( lights in Myeong-Dong (Shutterstock)

Main image: Cherry blossoms over Gyeongbokgung Palace (Shutterstock)

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