Located in East Asia, South Korea is a country that offers a multitude of diverse and varied landscapes. From long sandy beaches to mountainous peaks to modern cities and traditional villages, South Korea will suit everyone. In this blog post, I share the best 2-week South Korea itinerary with all the must-sees and my recommendations. After reading this travel guide, you will have everything you need to know to plan your trip to South Korea and enjoy it to the fullest.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to get to South Korea?
South Korea is a peninsula of more than 100’000 square kilometers, surrounded by water. The only land border with South Korea is with North Korea, located in the North part of the country. Therefore, the best way to reach South Korea is by air. Seoul and Busan are the two main cities that will allow you to enter by air from overseas. Seoul has two international airports, namely Gimpo and Incheon, while Busan has only one airport called Gimhae.
On a side note, if you come from the surrounding countries namely Japan and China, you should know that it is also possible to reach South Korea by ferry.
When to visit South Korea?
There are 4 distinct seasons in South Korea:
- Winter: from December to February – with a lot of snow and freezing temperatures
- Spring: from March to May – with mild temperatures and beautiful flowers
- Summer: from June to August – with a lot of rains and the monsoon period starting in late June
- Autumn: from September to November – with mild temperatures and beautiful colorful landscapes
Each season has its particularity and advantages. But overall, South Korea can be visited all year round. However, if possible, I advise you to avoid summer to keep away from typhoons.
In other words, the ideal period to visit South Korea is autumn and spring. Indeed, the peninsula is packed with nature. Therefore, the colorful orange leaves and flowers will sublimate the country for sure.
However, some regions of South Korea are also ideal for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. So, if this is one of your interests, visiting South Korea in winter can be a perfect time too!
How long to stay in South Korea?
Even though South Korea is only 100,000 square kilometers in size, the country offers many wonderful places to visit. Consequently, you will need several weeks to explore the peninsula to the fullest, either by public transportation or by car.
In my opinion, if you want to fully immerse yourself in the Korean culture, a 2-week stay will be the ideal time to fully enjoy the peninsula without rushing things out. However, if you don’t have the possibility to free yourself for 2 weeks, a 10-day stay will be a very good introduction.
“You will find a 2-week South Korea itinerary below. You can adapt the proposed itinerary to 10 days if necessary.”
How to move around South Korea?
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Public transportation in South Korea is very efficient and well-developed. It will be easy for you to go from one city to another.
There are two main bus companies across South Korea:
- Express bus
- Intercity bus
Both companies offer fast routes without too many stops (or even none at all sometimes). The prices vary slightly from one company to another with a tendency to be slightly cheaper for the Intercity bus company. To make your choice, all you have to do is look at which bus terminal is closest to your accommodation. Indeed, the different bus terminals are often not located in the same place.
Regarding trains, there are two different types of trains:
- High-speeded trains: the fastest public transportation but the most expensive one
- Conventional trains: efficient but the trip is longer (with many stops) compared to a high-speed train or a bus
Usually, bus trips are more expensive than conventional train trips.
Finally, in case you decide to move around South Korea by public transportation inside the same city. I suggest you read the part about why you should buy a Tmoney card. Note that the Tmoney card cannot be used for trains or Intercity/Express buses, but only for the local buses in the same city.
- Advantage: low cost and no need to worry about the road rules
- Disadvantage: dependent on schedules and does not allow access to all points of interest
“I advise you to download the free app called NAVER to know what bus you have to take. Also, to guarantee your ride, it is very important to book your seat in advance (2 to 3 days prior), whether you are traveling by train or bus from one city to another. Click here to book it now.”
Renting a car during your stay in South Korea can be the ideal solution to discovering the peninsula freely and at your pace. Indeed, this means of transport will allow you to visit the more remote places of South Korea, other than just the points mentioned in the itinerary below.
However, in addition to having an international permit, renting a car requires a significant additional budget.
If you decide to rent a car I advise you to use the Rentalcars platform to compare the best deal options in South Korea and book your car right away!
- Advantages: autonomy and accessibility to all points of interest
- Disadvantage: expensive and adaptation to different traffic rules than in your home country
Where to stay in South Korea?
The cost of living in South Korea is rather high compared to other Asian countries. However, if you plan ahead, it is possible to stay in spacious accommodations for an average of US $30 per night off-season, and around US $50 in high-season.
Find below the accommodations that I recommend for your visit to South Korea. Just click on the link to book directly!
SEORAKSAN (Sokcho city)
Sokcho is the nearest town to Seoraksan National Park, making it the ideal city to stay in. The Mark Sokcho hotel is located right next to the bus stop that gets you to the entrance of Seoraksan National Park.
Busan is such a big city that it can be difficult to know where you should stay during your time in South Korea. That’s why, I recommend that you stay at this beautiful hotel located in Nampo district.
Where to eat in South Korea?
While cooking at home can be a good way to control what you eat (especially if you follow a special diet such as vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), it is not necessarily the most economical solution. Indeed, food products are very expensive in South Korea, with vegetables and fruits being the most expensive ones.
In my experience, the cheapest food store is the Emart hypermarket. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of them around Seoul city, so you have to go to the local grocery store, who inflates the prices.
LOCAL FOOD MARKETS
If you want to eat local dishes, the food markets are the best place to do so! The local food market in Seoul city is packed with many food stalls from savory to sweet treats. Actually, you won’t find a lot of food trucks outside dedicated food markets. Gwangjang Market is one of the most famous markets to try out Korean food.
Convenience stores in South Korea sell food products such as ready-made meals, frozen food, noodles, sandwiches, and basic necessities such as shampoo or toothbrushes. This kind of store is very popular in South Korea and you can find one on every street. There are four main convenience stores:
- Seven Eleven
- E Mart
Each convenience store provides hot water, microwaves, tables, and chairs so you can eat.
As you might have understood by now, food in South Korea is expensive. So, although there are some budget-friendly restaurants, most of them offer dishes between US$ 15 -20. Of course, if you go to a famous or fine restaurant, the prices of the dishes can be even higher (between US$ 20 – 60).
Things to know before visiting South Korea
A 2-week South Korea itinerary
South Korea is not just Seoul. In fact, the country offers incredible landscape diversity and fascinating history, with a unique culture. The itinerary below offers you the opportunity to discover National parks, megacities, beaches, and traditional villages.
I share with you a complete itinerary for your 2 weeks in South Korea. If your time is more limited, you can adapt the itinerary below to 10 days. I have put a side note where you can reduce the number of nights to fit 10 days in total.
SEOUL - 5 NIGHTS
10-day itinerary option: 3 nights
Capital of South Korea, Seoul is a key stop during your visit to the peninsula. Indeed, this megalopolis offers a multitude of things to do from museums to hiking. Read my complete Seoul City guide to get the details on the activities I recommend doing.
SEORAKSAN NATIONAL PARK - 2 NIGHTS
Did you know that South Korea is packed with many National Parks? Without a doubt, Seoraksan is one of the most stunning ones and won’t disappoint you.
Sokcho is the nearest city to Seoraksan National Park. It is located only 15 km from the entrance of Seoraksan Park, making it the ideal place to stay. From Sokcho city center, take bus number 7 or 7-1. One way costs 1,350 won per person.
BIRYONG FALLS TRAIL
Biryong Falls trail is one of our favorite hikes in Seoraksan National Park. With a length 4,7 km (return – this is not a hiking loop), this is the perfect trail to start exploring this beautiful National Park. There are some sections of the hike with a lot of stairs, so just be aware of that. Count about 2 hours to complete the hike.
4,7 KM (return)
NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE FEE
4,500 won per person
Without exaggeration, the view at the top of the Ulsanbawi hike is the most beautiful we have seen during our stay in South Korea. However, you will have to use your legs to get there because there are a lot of stairs. But it is so worth it, believe me!
“If you hike Seoraksan National Park during the winter season, don’t forget to take crampons under your shoes because the hiking trails inside Seoraksan National Park are very slippery.”
7,2 KM (return)
NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE FEE
4,500 won per person
seoraksan sinheungsa TEMPLE
Located inside Seoraksan National Park, Sinheungsa temple is a stunning Buddhist site surrounded by mountains. A must-see while visiting Sokcho.
10 minutes away from the park entrance
NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE FEE
4,500 won per person
If you visit South Korea during the summer season, know that Sokcho City is home to a beautiful sand beach. If you visit South Korea in summer, I suggest spending time at Sokcho beach after hiking in Seoraksan National Park.
GYEONGJU - 1 NIGHT
Former capital of the Silla Kingdom, Gyeongju is an important city in the history of South Korea. On top of that, Gyeongju is the ideal stop on your way to Busan. Therefore, it is worthwhile to spend a day in Gyeongju to discover the city, with its gigantic tombs, and most important Buddhist sites.
The city is full of historical places including fortresses, hanok village, and tombs. I advise you to simply take the time to walk around the city center and discover all these points of interest. There is also a free museum that explains the history of the kingdom of Silla with objects dating from that period.
“Gyeongju is where you can taste the cheese pie in a form of a Korean coin, one of the best savory treats in South Korea. And it only costs 300 won.”
The Bulguksa temple was a very important Buddhist site during the Silla kingdom and still is. It also contains various National treasures. If possible, avoid visiting the temple during the weekend because it is much more crowded than on weekdays. It costs 5,000 won per person to visit the temple. Allow 1h30 to complete the visit.
BUSAN - 4 NIGHTS
10-day itinerary option: 3 nights
Located on the Southern coast of the peninsula, the city of Busan offers various activities, including beautiful wild beaches, colorful villages, and the most beautiful temple in South Korea.
blue line park
Blue Line Park offers a nice walk along the coast. You can start the trail at Cheongsapo station until Mipo Beach. It is an easy and flat 2,6 KM trail.
If you prefer you can also try the experience by renting a private Skytrain. It will do the same route that you can do on foot. One way ticket costs 35,000 won. To secure your spot, you should book online ahead.
HAEDONG YONGGUNGSA TEMPLE
Without hesitation, Haedong Yonggungsa is the most beautiful temple we visited during our stay in South Korea. Located at the edge of big cliffs and overhanging the ocean, the atmosphere is quite particular. On top of that, the entrance is free. If possible, visit the temple as early as possible to avoid crowds.
Jeoryeong coastal walk
As Busan is a coastal city, it offers many opportunities to walk along the coast. Indeed, the city has created many trails for hiking enthusiasts. How great is that!
Haeundae Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Busan and all of South Korea. With its fine white sand and blue waters, this beach is perfect to come and enjoy the sun in the summer or simply to stroll around in the off-season. There are also a few restaurants along the beach.
Even wilder than Haeundae beach, Dadaepo beach is the ideal place if you want to kitesurf or walk along the beach, far away from the city. Indeed, unlike the beach mentioned above, there are no restaurants nearby.
BIFF Street is a busy living street in Busan where you can find many food trucks, stores, and restaurants. You can also find many food markets and clothing markets. Great place to walk during the day and at night.
In Gamcheon village you will find a whole other type of architecture that you will have never seen since your arrival in South Korea. This small colorful village in the heights of Busan is a must-see! Honestly, it feels like being in South America for a moment.
JEONJU - 1 NIGHT
In addition to being the ideal stop on the way back to Seoul, Jeonju town is an ideal stop to immerse yourself in Korean culture by visiting the traditional Hanok village and its various museums. Being one of the biggest traditional villages in South Korea, it is the perfect place to spend a night in traditional accommodation, on futons.
JEONJU HANOK VILLAGE
Visit the traditional Hanok village and dress up in Hanbok clothes. There is a free English-guided tour every day at 11 am or 3 pm. During one hour, the guide tells you facts about Jeonju village and South Korea.
“If you enjoyed the cheese pie in Gyeongju, you can find them ihere too.”
Visiting Gyeonggijeon palace is certainly a must while in Jeonju. The entrance fee is 3,000 won (like all palaces across South Korea). You can join a free English-guided tour every day at 2 pm.
Jaman mural village
In addition to typical architecture, Jeonju is home to a colorful neighborhood where there are mural paints everywhere. The entrance is free.
To sum up, South Korea is an ideal place to visit if you want to combine different types of activities and landscapes. It is also easy to travel through the peninsula making it a perfect Asian country to see with family (with kids), couples, or friends.
I sincerely hope this blog post has helped you organize your trip to South Korea. Otherwise, if you don’t have your flight ticket to South Korea yet, then I hope to have convinced you to buy it!
Don’t hesitate to read my other blog posts related to South Korea to get more inspiration. In the meantime, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments below or by e-mail, it will be a pleasure to share more with you.
Sending you lots of love,