10 Reasons Why You Should Visit South Korea

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I just can’t spread the message fast enough about how amazing South Korea is.  

I just hit my 13-month anniversary of living just outside of Seoul, and life keeps getting better and better everyday.  I’ve never experienced a country as energetic, cultural unique, exciting, and fun as Korea. It’s like a world of paradise that I’m living in.   

Maybe you’ve read my recent guest article on U.S. News (which also got picked up by Huffington Post) about “Why you should visit Korea”, or perhaps you’re read my other posts about Seoul on my blog.  

In any regard, I want all of my friends, mutual friends, family, acquaintances, fellow travelers, backpackers, everyone in my network and all citizens of the world to know that South Korea is a remarkable place in every category across the board.

Read on to discover” 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit South Korea:

1. Eat authentic Korean BBQ

IMG_1893Korean Food is without a doubt my favorite cuisine in the world.  Korean BBQ is the most traditional meal around and it’s always prepared in top-notch quality. I eat it 3-4 times a week. 

A typical Korean BBQ meal involves grilling fresh cuts of beef or pork at your table.  You’ll be srved unlimited portions of side dishes, including soups, fresh vegetables and spicy sauces.  Every single meal involves kimchi, which is a spicy fermented cabbage dish.  

Almost all ingredients are locally grown, so the food is about as fresh as it gets. The city’s traditional food markets, Gwangjang and Namdaemun, showcase fresh handpicked vegetables that are used in Korean cuisine. Cabbage, garlic, cucumber, potato, spinach, bean sprouts, chili peppers, zucchini and mushrooms can all be found at the local markets.

 

2. Go to Busan’s beautiful beaches

IMG_6249Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, and it’s located on the South Eastern tip of the Korean Peninsula.  The beaches in Busan are world-famous for its pristine beauty and a lively atmosphere.

Busan is also famous for it’s fresh seafood- specifically octopus- which people come from all over the world to sample the tasty cuisine.

The most famous beach in Busan is called Hae-Un-Dae beach, which is compared to Miami Beach in Florida.  It’s arguably the most beautiful beach to hang out at by day, and it’s the place where all youngsters go to party by night.  Head down to Busan from May-September and enjoy the fantastic Korean atmosphere!

3. Experience Seoul’s nightlife

IMG_7078I claim Seoul to have the Best nightlife in the world.  Yes, the absolute best.  I’ve partied in over 40 big cities across North America, Europe and Asia since 2012, and nothing is on the level that Seoul is on.

The nightlife in Seoul feels like a nonstop party, and drinking alcohol is a frequent social event among friends.  Almost everyone drinks a popular local rice liquor called soju, which is normally served in a green glass bottle.  It’s similar to sake of Japan, but soju is actually the most popular liquor sold in the world (more than 61 million cases were sold in 2013).

Whether you like to kick back and enjoy a beer with some friends, or dance at a nightclub, Seoul has something for you. Head to Gangnam to the posh nightclubs, Itaewon for the cultural diversity, and Hongdae for the hundreds of pubs to experience the best after-hours entertainment.   Almost nothing closes until the sun rises.

For more info, see my guide on the Best Clubs in Gangnam!

4. Learn respect in the culture

Untitled design (6)Korean culture is fascinating.

The people live by a unifying “work hard, play hard” mentality. Whether they make their living as businessmen or construction workers, Koreans put every last effort into accomplishing success.  This mindset is unstoppable and contagious. 

Respect is heavily ingrained into Korean society, especially when someone interacts with an elder or someone they don’t know. For example, Koreans will always give a proper bow when greeting (they don’t shake hands), and they always use two hands when giving or receiving something as a sign of politeness.

I’ve learned countless lessons from the day-to-day life in Korea- all of which have made me a better person with a positive outlook on life.

5. Get years ahead in technology

IMG_0736It seems like Korea is five years ahead of the world in technology.

At night, the streets never darken thanks to the perpetually illuminated neon lights, which make Las Vegas look like a rural suburb. Inside nearly every room of every building in Seoul has a giant Samsung TV screen mounted on the wall.  Other top-of-the-line Samsung & LG products like computers, cell phones, printers and air conditioners are seen everywhere. Samsung even produces a brand of high-tech cars commonly seen on the streets of Seoul.

But above all else, the readily available and utterly fast Wi-Fi speeds are perhaps the most impressive of Korea’s tech-driven economy. In fact, South Korea is renowned for being the most connected country in the world, thanks to its widespread Wi-Fi availability (you can pick up a Wi-Fi signal from any coffee shop, restaurant or street corner).

It’s seriously like living in the future.

6. Admire Buddhist temples

IMG_1996After living in Asia for a while, and visiting many Buddhist countries (hello Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam), I have gained a huge appreciation for this religion.  You might be surprised to hear that Buddhism spread all around Korea centuries and centires ago.

All around Seoul and the countryside are hundreds of colorful, detailed Buddhist temples.  They preserve a rich, ancient heritage to Buddhism, which was introduced to Korea in the fourth century. According to a recent government survey, about 25% of Koreans still identify themselves as Buddhist. Buddhist temples like Jogyesa, Myogaksa, Bongeunsa and Jingwansa (situated within Bukhansan National Park) are some of the city’s must-see religious sites around Seoul.

I’ve learned that Buddhism is all about peacefulness, loving and kindness.  Buddhists take all the negativity around them, and learn how to turn it around by developing a positive mental state of mind.

How incredible is that?

7. Have fun on a budget

IMG_7034While Seoul may not be as inexpensive as other destinations in Asia, it can be traveled cheaply, which is why many backpackers and budget-minded travelers make a stop here.

Food, in particular, is very affordable. Street vendors, which are stationed throughout the city, are the cheapest option. You can get mandu (Korean dumplings), ddeokbogi(Korean spicy rice cakes), fried chicken and more for less than $3 USD. As long as you avoid the touristy restaurants, a traditional Korean BBQ meal will cost you no more than $12 USD (soju and beer included).  Especially in my rural town, I can eat a Korean BBQ meal for $8USD (booze included). 

Accommodations are just as reasonable. Hostels offer rooms for less than $10 USD per night, and cheap hotel rooms can be found throughout the city. However, if you want to experience even more Korean culture, consider staying at a jjimchilbang (a Korean spa). For 7,000 KRW per night ($7 USD), you’ll have the opportunity to experience Korean culture first-hand. The base price includes a mat for sleeping, access to the spa and showers and a change of clothes to sleep in. Depending on the jjimchilbang, you can also pay a little extra to get a massage or a haircut.

8. Hike incredible mountains

IMG_5435The landscape of Korea is filled with mountain ranges, which makes hiking is a very popular sport and activity among Koreans.  Especially around Seoul, there are dozens of trails that are located inside of the city.   My favorite hike in Seoul is at Bukhansan Mountain- located just North of the city center.  There are several trails on this mountain of all different levels, but the views at the top are magnificent.   You can see the entire city of Seoul!

Beware of the way Koreans (typically older people) dress when they go hiking.  It’s hilarious.  They are decked out in hiking gear from head to toe, and they even carry skiing poles with them.  It’s hard not to laugh when you see them.

9. Meet awesome people

ss3Korean people are awesome.  They are very open minded, friendly, and welcoming.  They will treat you with upmost respect, and they genuinely are curious to know you as a person.  I have made so many amazing Korean friends since I’ve been living here, and I am very thankful for all of them.

I’ve traveled all around Asia, and I haven’t found people as heart warming as Koreans.  This country has truly emerged as my second home, in Asia- some 8,000 miles away from my home in the USA.  

I can’t stress enough about the incredible Korean hospitality and friendliness.  You just gotta come here to see it yourself! 

10. Get tropical in Jeju

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 9.56.52 AMJeju is a tropical island off the Southern Coast of the Korean Peninsula.  It is known as the “Hawaii” of Korea, as it shares many of the same features such as warm climate, beautiful beaches and tropical mountains.   If you ask any Korean, I’d bet that their family has taken a trip to this wonderful place.  In fact, more flights are flown between Seoul and Jeju per year than any other two destinations in the world (by a long shot). 

If you are in Korea during the summer months, they you’ve gotta take a visit to Jeju!  Flights are $100-150 round trip from Seoul and the trip will defnitely be worth the experience 🙂 

If you want any personal advice on travel in Korea, then don’t hesitate to contact me!

Have you been to Korea?

28 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why You Should Visit South Korea

  1. Actually in my school there is an essay writing competition on why i want to visit South Korea?
    So i need your help regarding this.

  2. Actually in my college there is an essay writing competition on why I should visit south Korea?
    So I need ur help regarding this.

  3. Actually in my school there is an essay writing competition on why I should visit south Korea?
    So I need ur help regarding this.

  4. Hello! This blog has convinced me even more to go visit Korea! But how much would the flight be? Is it too expensive, or affordable?

  5. Thanks a lot Drew. This blog has been extremely useful for me. I’ll not miss any chance to visit South Korea.

  6. This is quite osm …..my school asked to write an essay on south korea though m already Korean lover but I didn’t know much to write ….U helped me a lot ….One day I would sure visit Korea ……Thanks sir !!

  7. I’ve heard many different opinions on Korea, mostly negative! After reading your thoughts on it though, that completely cleared my mind~ I’m a big kpop fan and I’ve always wanted to visit South Korea! Our school is having a 3 country trip to china-japan-korea and I’m very hyped! I just wanted to ask, do you have to know basic Korean to get around or do most shops and restaurants cater for foreigners?

  8. T has always been my dream to go to Korea when i graduate from school cuz i love everything about them and tnx Drew for your encouraging article.

  9. Hi Drew! Thank you for an awesome info about Korea! Could you please help me what/where is the cheapest Korean Spa or sauna in Seoul. How about in Hongdae area? Thank you so much!

  10. Thank you for the info! You got me very excited for my trip to South Korea 😀 BTW where would you recommend staying? like hotels in seoul. I will be staying there for a week, but I’m still figuring out where to stay.

    1. Nice article DREW !
      and for Cindy, If you don’t care too much about luxurious staying, you can go to any hostels. And even for many koreans, many people use public sauna in towns. There are “jjimjilbang(korean)”s its 24 hours opened public sauna, its cost is less than 10$. You can spend a daytime with traveling and go to sleep the saunas. Try once if you don’t mind too much ! for fun 🙂

        1. Hey! Awesome article! I’m gonna do volunteer work in Korea for a year! Hopefully, I catch unto the language,haha. After college I wanna teach there too! Is it a profitable business?

          1. Thank you!! Hope you have fun! Yes, you can make a lot of money teaching English in Korea. I wrote a lot about it on my site

  11. Awesome! My experience in Korea is just beginning, but I have been loving it! Just went hiking in Bukhansan today and got to finally see how decked out Koreans get for their hikes! Great list!

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