When people visit South Korea, they tend to only visit Seoul. Without a doubt, Seoul is the easiest city to explore in South Korea (also you will likely fly into here) and it certainly worth a visit. However, in my opinion, the best city in South Korea isn’t Seoul – it’s Busan! Gyeungju has a piece of my heart too – and you can see this city in just a day. Follow my two week travel itinerary for South Korea and I promise that you will get a better sense of the country and see more of it than other travellers.
Seoul (5 days)
There is so much to do in Seoul that you could spend your whole trip here. However, it pains me when I hear that people spent their entire trip to South Korea here – 5 days is enough. As stimulating and exciting and Seoul is – it doesn’t capture the whole essence of South Korea. Seoul is more international and modern than other parts of the country, making it a lot easier to travel than any other city and is almost a world of it’s own.
You cannot make a trip to South Korea without checking out this crazy capital. Read my blog post about 10 Places to visit in Seoul.
Daegu (2 days)
Deagu city is a more toned down version of Seoul. It is known for fashion (it is said that the best dressed Koreans live here) and for nightlife. Seoul also has both of these things, but I find Daegu more manageable. It is still busy (we are in Asia after all) but the city isn’t as big or overwhelming. Daegu just seems more personable – it’s a lot easier to meet and talk to other expats.
Tired of shopping? One fun thing to do in Daegu is to visit the high ropes!
I recommend visiting here to see what a large South Korean city looks like (besides the capital).
Gyeongju (day trip)
In my opinion, this is the most charming place in South Korea! I love Gyeongju. This is where you can truly get a taste of Korea culture. It is a small historical city that you can take a quick 1 hour bus or train to from Daegu – making it the perfect day trip!
In this historical city, you will notice that most building are built in the traditional Korean architectural style. In the middle of the city are the most unnatural, giant, green rolling hills. These hills are actually tombs of ancient kings! If you are going to check out one place in this city, make sure to take a walk through the tombs.
The second place I recommend is the Bulgulksa Temple. I visited a lot of temples during my year and a half living in South Korea – and this is among my favourites. Read my blog post, Visiting South Korea’s Most Historical City, for more amazing things to check out here.
Busan (4 days)
Welcome to my favourite city in the country! Busan has everything that you want; ocean, mountains, city life, culture…and the countries largest spa! Even if you only have a week in South Korea, spend one of two of those days in Busan – you won’t regret it. Before heading here you must read my Quick Guide to Visiting Busan so that you don’t miss out on anything.
Back to Seoul (2 days)
Jump on the KTX back to Seoul. I know that this may seem like a long trip but on this speedy ‘bullet train’ it’s only about 2.5 – 3 hours long. Spend the last day doing anything on your bucket list that you didn’t have time to do (trust me – there is always lots to do in Seoul).
Bonus: Jeju Island (4 days)
If you have extra time you can take a quick flight over to Jeju island. South Korean’s refer to this as the “Hawaii of Korea.” There are a couple of things to be aware of when going to Jeju though.
First off, South Korean’s love Jeju so any weekend flights will be very expensive – and don’t even bother on a long weekend, flights will be sold out months before. During a trip though you have the advantage of flexibility and so can book a flight during a weekday when more seats are available and prices are way lower (jeju Air).
Secondly, the island is a lot bigger than you might think and apparently the transit system isn’t the best. If you really want to explore the island you should look into renting a car.
Tip: You could fly out of Busan and then fly back to Seoul
What would you add onto this two week travel itinerary to South Korea? Leave a comment below!