#01 Insadong tearooms

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.

#01 Insadong tearooms

#02 Huwon

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.

Things not to miss in South Korea: The Huwon Garden at Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul, Korea.© Alon Adika/Shutterstock

#03 Jeonju hanok village

Here you can sleep in a traditional wooden hanok house heated from underneath by gentle flames, in one of Korea’s most agreeable cities.

#03 Jeonju hanok village

#04 Boryeong Mud Festival

Korea’s dirtiest, most enjoyable festival takes place each July on the west coast – don’t forget your soap.

#04 Boryeong Mud Festival

#05 Makkeolli

Get drunk the local way with this milky rice wine, which has undergone a huge surge in popularity of late.

Things not to miss: Soybean milk in wine glass.© aodaodaodaod/Shutterstock 

#06 Teddy Bear Museum

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.

Korea Teddy Bear Museum© fullerdada/Shutterstock

 

#07 Guinsa

The most distinctive temple complex in the country, Guinsa’s paths wind snake-like routes up a tight, remote valley in Korea’s heartland.

#07 Guinsa

#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.

#08 Dosan Seowon

#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.

#09 West Sea Islands

#10 Dongdaemun Market

A 24-hour market in a city that never sleeps, Dongdaemun is a Seoul institution, with sights and smells redolent of decades gone by.

#10 Dongdaemun Market

#11 Naejangsan National Park

Shaped like a soft volcano, this national park’s ring of peaks provide the country’s most mesmerising displays of autumn foliage.

Things not to miss in South Korea: Autumn Maple red in Naejangsan national park, South Korea.© jaaoe.bc/Shutterstock

#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.

#12 The DMZ

#13 Buamdong

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.

Things not to miss: woman eating crunchy korean fried chicken street food in Seoul, South Korea.© SAHACHATZ/Shutterstock 

#14 Noraebang

A near-mandatory part of a Korean night out is a trip to a “singing room”, the local take on Japan’s karaoke bars.

#14 Noraebang

#15 Galbi

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?

Korean dinner table, galbi, beef, Korea.© Yeo Jung Kim/Shutterstock

#16 Gongsanseong

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.

Things not to miss: Gongsanseong is a wall of the Baekje Kingdom in Gongju, South Korea.© photo_jeongh/Shutterstock 

#17 Jeongdongjin

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.

#17 Jeongdongjin

#18 Gyeongju

The former capital of Silla is the most traditional city in Korea, and should be on every visitor’s itinerary.

#18 Gyeongju

#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.

Things not to miss: Pyongyang, North Korea.© Kanokratnok/Shutterstock 

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