20 things to see and do in South Korea other than attending the Olympics

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2107 file photo, the air traffic control tower is in sight as a plane takes off from San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco. Video captured the moment that an off-course Air Canada jet flew just a few dozen feet over the tops of four other jetliners filled with passengers. On Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board will consider the probable cause of the close call at the airport. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
The power of wanderlust is real. Catch a glimpse of these gorgeous destinations across the globe, and you'll start packing your bags ASAP. If you can decide where to go first, that is.
Slide 1 of 21: Tourists will be flocking to South Korea this February for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games being held in PyeongChang. Here are 20 things to see and do there other than watching international athletes compete at the highest level.
Slide 2 of 21: No visit to South Korea is complete without a stop in its capital, Seoul. It’s the largest city in the country and features many attractions that represent the duality between modern and traditional Korea. From markets and parks to museums, palaces, and temples, you could easily spend several days exploring the city.
Slide 3 of 21: The island of Jeju-do is one of the most popular attractions in South Korea. The volcanic island is often referred to as South Korea’s Hawaii—people go there to relax and take in the panoramic views of the mountains and spectacular waterfalls.
Slide 4 of 21: The Korean Demilitarized Zone, also known by its acronym, DMZ, is the strip of land that separates South Korea from North Korea. It is a well-protected, four-kilometre-wide (2.5-mile) border that will give you a better grasp of the situation between the two countries. You can easily book an excursion with one of the many tour operators that travel there.
Slide 5 of 21: Lotte World and Everland amusement parks will excite young and old alike. Lotte World is one of the largest indoor amusement parks in the world and is located in downtown Seoul. Everland is a more traditional amusement park, often compared to Disneyland. More adventurous travellers can visit Jeju Loveland, an erotic-themed amusement park.
Slide 6 of 21: K-pop music (short for Korean pop) is an integral part of Korean culture. It is very much pop music, but with a few elements that are unique to the country—you have to see it to truly understand. Attend a concert to get the full experience.
Slide 7 of 21: Sometimes described as one of the most surreal villages in South Korea, Jeongdongjin has a train station on the beach (probably the world’s closest station to the ocean) and a hotel in the shape of a cruise ship perched on a cliff. The town is also famous for its exceptional sunrises.
Slide 8 of 21: Korean cuisine is a must-try. Among the most popular authentic dishes are barbecued meat (completely different than North American BBQ), kimchi (a popular side dish), and bibimbap (a rice, meat, egg, and vegetable dish).
Slide 9 of 21: While the island of Jeju-do is one of the most popular destinations in the country, the volcanic island of Ulleung-do is lesser-known and offers similar spectacular panoramas that will suit travellers who like to be far from the madding crowd.
Slide 10 of 21: Seoraksan National Park is named in honour of the highest mountain in the country with the same name. People flock there primarily for the fauna—which is simply spectacular. The park is also very popular with hikers and photographers.
Slide 11 of 21: Tourists will be flocking to South Korea this February for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games being held in PyeongChang. Here are 20 things to see and do there other than watching international athletes compete at the highest level.
Slide 12 of 21: The Hallyeosudo gondola, in Hallyeohaesang National Marine Park, is almost two kilometres (1.2 miles) long—the longest in South Korea, and takes you to the summit in nine minutes. From there, you can descend on foot or by gondola.
Slide 13 of 21: Among the many attractions in the capital of Seoul, there are five ancient imperial sites: the largest palace, Gyeongbokgung (often compared to the Forbidden City in Beijing), Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and the Jongmyo Shrine, all of which have different stories to tell.
Slide 14 of 21: Tea culture is often associated with China and Japan, but it is equally important in South Korea. Visit Boseong and Hadong green tea plantations or check out the Insadong quarter in Seoul to discover the tea houses.
Slide 15 of 21: The Dosanseowon Confucian Academy was established in 1574 by the disciples of Yi Hwang, also known by his pen-name Toegye, who died in 1570. Today, it is a historic site where visitors can learn about Korean spiritual culture.
Slide 16 of 21: There are many temples in South Korea. Among those that tourists are allowed to visit are Haedong Yonggungsa, on the ocean, Bulguksa, located in Gyeongju National Park and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Guinsa, headquarters of the Cheontae Order of Korean Buddhism.
Slide 17 of 21: To experience Korean life before technology, visit Jeonju Hanok Village. There you’ll find more than 800 hanoks, traditional Korean houses, plus a cathedral, an ancient Confucian academy, authentic restaurants, and much more.
Slide 18 of 21: The Independence Hall of Korea will give you a deeper understanding of the Japanese occupation of South Korea, one of the most difficult periods in the country’s history. The memorial, featuring seven exhibition halls, was built to commemorate the victims who were killed during the conflict.
Slide 19 of 21: People who love unusual tourist attractions will adore the Trick Eye Museum in Busan, Seoul, and Jeju. In these museums, you can actually play with art—visitors are encouraged to “participate” in the pieces, making it seem like they are part of the art works.
Slide 20 of 21: Busan is a major port city in South Korea. Among its most popular tourist attractions are Gwangan Bridge (also known as the Diamond Bridge), which is illuminated at night, and the very popular Haeundae Beach. An international film festival takes place there, and the Jagalchi Fish Market is not to be missed for seafood lovers.
Slide 21 of 21: South Korea is renowned for its many festivals. Just about any time of year you choose to visit, you can attend one of the numerous events that are taking place. Among the most popular and unusual is the Boryeong Mud Festival, which is held at the end of July.

20 things to see and do in South Korea other than attending the Olympics

Tourists will be flocking to South Korea this February for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games being held in PyeongChang. Here are 20 things to see and do there other than watching international athletes compete at the highest level.

Explore the capital of Seoul

No visit to South Korea is complete without a stop in its capital, Seoul. It’s the largest city in the country and features many attractions that represent the duality between modern and traditional Korea. From markets and parks to museums, palaces, and temples, you could easily spend several days exploring the city.

Discover the island of Jeju-do

The island of Jeju-do is one of the most popular attractions in South Korea. The volcanic island is often referred to as South Korea’s Hawaii—people go there to relax and take in the panoramic views of the mountains and spectacular waterfalls.

Visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

The Korean Demilitarized Zone, also known by its acronym, DMZ, is the strip of land that separates South Korea from North Korea. It is a well-protected, four-kilometre-wide (2.5-mile) border that will give you a better grasp of the situation between the two countries. You can easily book an excursion with one of the many tour operators that travel there.

Spend a day at Lotte World and Everland amusement parks

Lotte World and Everland amusement parks will excite young and old alike. Lotte World is one of the largest indoor amusement parks in the world and is located in downtown Seoul. Everland is a more traditional amusement park, often compared to Disneyland. More adventurous travellers can visit Jeju Loveland, an erotic-themed amusement park.

Experience K-pop music

K-pop music (short for Korean pop) is an integral part of Korean culture. It is very much pop music, but with a few elements that are unique to the country—you have to see it to truly understand. Attend a concert to get the full experience.

Check out Jeongdongjin

Sometimes described as one of the most surreal villages in South Korea, Jeongdongjin has a train station on the beach (probably the world’s closest station to the ocean) and a hotel in the shape of a cruise ship perched on a cliff. The town is also famous for its exceptional sunrises.

Try some local dishes

Korean cuisine is a must-try. Among the most popular authentic dishes are barbecued meat (completely different than North American BBQ), kimchi (a popular side dish), and bibimbap (a rice, meat, egg, and vegetable dish).

Visit the island of Ulleung-do

While the island of Jeju-do is one of the most popular destinations in the country, the volcanic island of Ulleung-do is lesser-known and offers similar spectacular panoramas that will suit travellers who like to be far from the madding crowd.

Explore Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park is named in honour of the highest mountain in the country with the same name. People flock there primarily for the fauna—which is simply spectacular. The park is also very popular with hikers and photographers.

Stroll through Damyang bamboo forest

Damyang Forest, filled with bamboo, is ideal for strolling. It’s also a wonderful place to discover hanoks, traditional Korean houses.

Take the Hallyeosudo gondola

The Hallyeosudo gondola, in Hallyeohaesang National Marine Park, is almost two kilometres (1.2 miles) long—the longest in South Korea, and takes you to the summit in nine minutes. From there, you can descend on foot or by gondola.

Discover Seoul’s five palaces

Among the many attractions in the capital of Seoul, there are five ancient imperial sites: the largest palace, Gyeongbokgung (often compared to the Forbidden City in Beijing), Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and the Jongmyo Shrine, all of which have different stories to tell.

Experience tea culture

Tea culture is often associated with China and Japan, but it is equally important in South Korea. Visit Boseong and Hadong green tea plantations or check out the Insadong quarter in Seoul to discover the tea houses.

Check out the Dosanseowon Confucian Academy

The Dosanseowon Confucian Academy was established in 1574 by the disciples of Yi Hwang, also known by his pen-name Toegye, who died in 1570. Today, it is a historic site where visitors can learn about Korean spiritual culture.

Visit the temples

There are many temples in South Korea. Among those that tourists are allowed to visit are Haedong Yonggungsa, on the ocean, Bulguksa, located in Gyeongju National Park and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Guinsa, headquarters of the Cheontae Order of Korean Buddhism.

Discover Jeonju Hanok Village

To experience Korean life before technology, visit Jeonju Hanok Village. There you’ll find more than 800 hanoks, traditional Korean houses, plus a cathedral, an ancient Confucian academy, authentic restaurants, and much more.

Spend an afternoon at the Independence Hall of Korea

The Independence Hall of Korea will give you a deeper understanding of the Japanese occupation of South Korea, one of the most difficult periods in the country’s history. The memorial, featuring seven exhibition halls, was built to commemorate the victims who were killed during the conflict.

Check out the Trick Eye Museum

People who love unusual tourist attractions will adore the Trick Eye Museum in Busan, Seoul, and Jeju. In these museums, you can actually play with art—visitors are encouraged to “participate” in the pieces, making it seem like they are part of the art works.

Visit Busan

Busan is a major port city in South Korea. Among its most popular tourist attractions are Gwangan Bridge (also known as the Diamond Bridge), which is illuminated at night, and the very popular Haeundae Beach. An international film festival takes place there, and the Jagalchi Fish Market is not to be missed for seafood lovers.

Attend the festivals

South Korea is renowned for its many festivals. Just about any time of year you choose to visit, you can attend one of the numerous events that are taking place. Among the most popular and unusual is the Boryeong Mud Festival, which is held at the end of July.

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