If you find yourself enamoured by South Korea and its perennially popular exports like K-dramas and Blackpink albums, perhaps it’s time to plan a trip to the beloved destination in 2022. Just imagine knocking back warm soju at a cosy Hongdae bar or admiring the serenity of Hallasan Mountain’s snow-blanketed landscape. Need a little help with your itinerary? Here’s a list of our favourite attractions to get you started.
With its glitzy skyline and fashionable denizens, Seoul is the epicentre of K-culture. But beyond the bustle of Gangnam and the buzzy whirlwind of Myeongdong, there are less obvious gems to uncover.
Samcheong-dong is a picturesque neighbourhood that juxtaposes historical hanok houses with an eclectic mix of contemporary art galleries, hip cafés and indie boutiques. Its laid-back vibe is perfect for a more down-tempo jaunt.
Nearby, the stately Changdeokgung Palace, a sprawling UNESCO World Heritage Site, is about a 30-minute bus ride away. Built in 1405 as a Royal Villa, the 110-acre palace was later transformed into the official royal residence of the Joseon dynasty in 1592.
The culture trip continues at Mullae Art Village, a small community of artists and ironworks craftsmen in Mullae-dong, about 8km from central Seoul. Gape and Tik-Tok your way through its maze of street art, outdoor sculptures, industrial workshops and art studios. Need a break? Order a coffee – or a boozy shot – at one of the several cafés in the area.
If you’re making your way back to Incheon Airport, seize the chance to explore the area. Winter might not be an ideal time to visit the beaches of Incheon’s off-shore islands, but there’s always Wolmido Island, connected to the mainland by a monorail. Attractions here include the Wolmi Theme Park, featured in popular Korean variety shows (Running Man, anyone?), as well as the lush foliage of Wolmi Park, which has an observatory boasting panoramic views.
Where to stay: Ramada by Wyndham Seoul Sindorim, located near Sindorim and Guro stations, and a 12-minute train ride away from Mullae Art Village; Ramada by Wyndham Seoul Dongdaemun, a four-minute drive to Samcheong-dong; and Howard Johnson by Wyndham Incheon Airport, with convenient access to public transportation and a free airport shuttle service. Learn more here.
Affectionately known as the Hawaii of South Korea, Jeju island is home to rugged coastlines, turquoise waters and ancient lava tube caves, all of which have been inscribed as the country’s first UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
Hiking up Hallasan Mountain, the highest dormant volcanic mountain in the country, is a must for outdoor enthusiasts, and there are four different trails that you can take. Try the Gwaneumsa Trail for the best views, an 8km hike that includes a stunning summit of Baengnokdam lake, a crater with a diameter of 550m.
Jeju is also synonymous with the haenyo, women freedivers who hunt for octopus, abalone, clams and seaweed at 10–20m below the sea without any breathing apparatus. Catch these inspiring matriarchs – some of whom are in their 80s – at work in locations such as Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. You can also learn about their history and culture at the Haenyeo Museum, or savour their catch at Dodu Haenyeouijip, an eatery located near Jeju International Airport.
Where to stay: Ramada Jeju Hamdeok, Ramada by Wyndham Jeju City Hall and Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Jeju Ocean Front are all conveniently located in the heart of Jeju’s downtown district, with attractions such as Jeju Dongmun Traditional Market and Jeju National Museum within close proximity. Learn more here.
If Seoul is the heart of K-Culture, then Busan is the country’s economic powerhouse. South Korea’s second-most populous city houses the sixth-busiest port in the world, and a number of financial institutions. Despite its reputation as a bustling industrial hub, there’s plenty to explore for the intrepid day-tripper.
Busan has over 30 natural hot springs, perhaps the most in a South Korean city. Drop by Centum City Spa Land for an immersive jjimjilbang (traditional bathhouse) experience – the facility comprises 22 spas with natural spring water pumped up from 1,000 meters underground, 13 themed jjimjilbang and saunas and an open-air foot spa.
After a heady turn at the spa, it’s time for lunch at the Jagalchi Fish Market. Locals flock to the largest seafood market in the country to buy fresh and dried seafood from stalls run primarily by ajummas (an affectionate Korean term for middle-aged women, meaning “auntie”). Purchase live seafood from stalls across the ground floor before taking your ingredients up to one of the restaurants on the second floor to have them whipped up into a meal for an additional charge.
Where to stay: Ramada Encore by Wyndham Busan Haeundae, a 10-minute train ride away from Centum City Spa Land, and a stone’s throw from Haeundae Metro (should you plan to venture further into the city). Learn more here.
This scenic and laid-back coastal city in the South Jeolla Province is known for hosting the World Expo in 2012, an event that attracted about eight million global visitors.
And it seems another blockbuster event is set to make its debut in Yeosu. It’s recently been announced that the Yeosu World Island Exhibition, a symposium for island countries to “gather and share their history and culture” will be held in 2026, with the aim of developing Yeosu into a hub for marine tourism.
While there’s still a few more years before the launch of the exhibition, you can swing by the World Expo for a peek into the scale of the city’s 2012 milestone. About 22 buildings and structures line the city’s eastern waterfront, and highlights include a rooftop observation deck perched atop two former cement silos at the Yeosu Sky Tower.
Where to stay: Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Dolsan Yeosu, an oceanfront accommodation with convenient access to attractions such as Manseongri Black Sand Beach. It’s also about 45 minutes away from Yeosu Sky Tower via public transportation. Learn more here.
Produced by SilverKris for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
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