Tea may have ceded ground to coffee across the nation, but Seoul’s traditional Insadong district still has dozens of secluded places serving traditional brews.
South Korea tea ceremony © mnimage/Shutterstock
Relax by the lake as kings once did at this secluded “Secret Garden”, which nestles at the back of a UNESCO-listed palace in central Seoul.
© Alon Adika/Shutterstock
Here you can sleep in a traditional wooden hanok house heated from underneath by gentle flames, in one of Korea’s most agreeable cities.
#04 Boryeong Mud Festival
Korea’s dirtiest, most enjoyable festival takes place each July on the west coast – don’t forget your soap.
Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon beach, South Korea © yochika photographer/Shutterstock
Get drunk the local way with this milky rice wine, which has undergone a huge surge in popularity of late.
The epitome of kitsch, most notable for its diorama room portraying twentieth-century events such as teddies tearing down the Berlin Wall, landing on the moon and going down with the Titanic.
The most distinctive temple complex in the country, Guinsa’s paths wind snake-like routes up a tight, remote valley in Korea’s heartland.
#08 Dosan Seowon
The wonderfully unspoilt countryside surrounding the city of Andong is studded with gems, and this former Confucian academy is one of the best.
#09 West Sea Islands
Over three thousand islands are sprinkled like confetti around Korea’s western coast – pick up a map in Mokpo, get on a ferry and lose track of time.
A 24-hour market in a city that never sleeps, Dongdaemun is a Seoul institution, with sights and smells redolent of decades gone by.
Shaped like a soft volcano, this national park’s ring of peaks provide the country’s most mesmerising displays of autumn foliage.
#12 The DMZ
Take a step inside the 4km-wide Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea: the world’s frostiest remnant of the Cold War.
Seoul’s latest “secret” area is a quiet maze of roads tucked away behind the royal palaces. Here you’ll find elegant restaurants and cafés – and very few tourists.
A near-mandatory part of a Korean night out is a trip to a “singing room”, the local take on Japan’s karaoke bars.
A fire at the centre of your table and a plate of raw meat to fling onto it – could this be the world’s most fun-to-eat dish?
© Yeo Jung Kim/Shutterstock
Overlooking the river in sleepy Gongju, the walls of this fortress follow an almost caldera-like course; in the middle you’ll find dreamy pavilions and walking paths.
Korea’s most surreal village has a train station on the beach, a ship-hotel atop a cliff, an American warship and a North Korean spy submarine.
The former capital of Silla is the most traditional city in Korea, and should be on every visitor’s itinerary.
#19 Socialist realist art
That which has become ironic in Eastern Europe remains iconic in the DPRK, with colourful murals found all across the country – send one home on a postcard.