16 Things to do during the Summer in South Korea
If you are ever given the opportunity to travel to South Korea, take it! There is so much to see and do in this amazing country.
I was fortunate enough to spend 10 weeks of this past summer in Seoul, South Korea. While it seems to be more common for students to opt for European adventures, I absolutely fell in love with South Korea and it has become one of my favorite places in the world.
16. Go to a themed cafe
If there is one thing that is very unique to South Korea, it’s their cafe’s. Now, not every single cafe is themed, but the ones that are are pretty awesome (and my favorite themed cafes) are dog cafes. What is a dog cafe you may ask? Well, a dog cafe is a wonderful place that is full of adorable puppies and dogs that you can play with for as long as you want for the small price of one drink. That’s it. Your “admission” into the dog cafe is buying one drink and then you can play with a bunch of adorable dogs. It is truly a life changing experience. For those who prefer cats, do not worry, there are many cat cafes as well. There are also sheep cafes, raccoon cafes, Hello Kitty cafes, poop cafes, the list goes on and on.
15. Go to a sporting event
Even if you are not a big sports person, going to a sporting event in South Korea is definitely worth while. While I was in South Korea I went to a soccer game and a baseball game. The soccer game I went to was held at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, which is pretty cool if you’re a soccer fan like I am. If you think American baseball games are fun, wait until you experience a Korean baseball game. Each team has cheerleaders, yes baseball cheerleaders, and each player has their own specific cheer that the crowd will sing in unison as they walk up to bat. The atmosphere at a Korean baseball game is unreal and so much fun.
14. Have a bite to eat in Itaewon
Itaewon is a very international area in Seoul. Here you can find all types of cuisine from Indian to New York Brunch to Mexican food- Itaewon has it all. It is a great place to eat no matter what you’re craving, but is especially great for those days when you want to take a break from kimchi and rice and have a burger for a change!
13. Visit temples and palaces
Temples and palaces are another cultural part of South Korea that you have to experience at least once or twice. Luckily, they aren’t too hard to come by. If you have a couple days to spare, a temple stay would be a great way to experience the culture or South Korea and really get a chance to think deeply and reflect. If time is not on your side, I would suggest visiting Bongeunsa Temple which is in the Gangnam area of Seoul. The different halls of the Temple are incredibly detailed and absolutely breathtaking. The many palaces in South Korea have hundreds of years of history behind their walls. I would suggest the Gyeongbokgung Palace because of its location. The Gyeongbokgung Palace is located near four other palaces and right next to the National Folk Museum. All of these options in one place makes for a great afternoon!
12.Check out some museums and historical sites
There is so much history in South Korea, it would be a shame to not take a look at a few of the museums and historical sites they have to offer. A few sites I would suggest checking out are the National Folk Museum, which is next to Gyeongbokgung Palace, The War Memorial of Korea, and Seodaemun Prison. If you’re not a big history buff, check out the Trick Eye Museum and Love Museum in Hongdae. These museums are great for those who love taking quirky pictures!
11. Go to N Seoul Tower
You can’t go to South Korea and not see the N Seoul Tower. I went to Seoul Tower twice during my time in Korea, once during the day and once at night. If you don’t have time to make two trips like I did, I would suggest going at night. You are given the option to hike to and from the Tower or, for those crunched on time (or less in shape, lets be honest), there is a cable car that will take you up and down. If you want to go to the top of the observation tower, which I highly suggest, especially at night, it will only cost you 10,000 won and is so worth the beautiful panoramic view of the city!
10. Shop in Myeongdong
If you want to shop in Korea, Myeongdong is the place you want to be! Whether you’re looking for touristy gifts for friends back home, fashionable Korean clothing stores, or skincare products, you’ll be sure to find it in Myeongdong. There are street vendors as well as stores containing anything and everything you could possibly want!
9. Explore Hongdae
Hongdae is the home to Hongik University and one of the college areas of Seoul. Hongdae is great for shopping, clubs, and food. Street vendors are everywhere and you can find a lot of things for a good price! Hongdae is a great place for college students who are abroad to meet other college students, local or not!
8. Experience a Jimjibang
Jimjibangs are Korean spas.. sounds relaxing, right? Well, for most people, not at first. In South Korea, the norm is to be completely naked in these spas. Being completely naked walking around a spa is uncomfortable at first, but once you sit back in one of the various spa baths and come to the realization that no one is staring at you, it becomes a very relaxing experience. If you’re just not okay with being naked, no problem! It is perfectly fine to bring a swimsuit. The spa will also provide you with a shirt and shorts, kind of like pajamas, to wear in the areas of the spa without baths. The jimjibangs I went to had many different spa baths of varying temperatures, each having a specific benefit for the body. There were also several saunas of different temperatures, a relaxation room where you could find a mat and just lay in your “pajamas”, massage rooms, and even a little workout room!
7. Dress up in a traditional Hanbok
A hanbok is the vibrantly colored traditional Korean dress. They make dresses for women as well as pants and a shirt for men, so don’t worry about being left out, fellas! Hanboks can be rented for a few hours for fairly cheap. When we rented our hanboks, we were near the National Folk Museum and Gyeongbokgung Palace. We paid 15,000 won to rent the costumes for 3 hours and got free admission to the Palace since we were dressed up! You get to select your outfit and the skirts are so fun to twirl in. It gets pretty warm wearing the outfit, but the extra perspiration was definitely worth such a unique experience!
6. Eat Korean BBQ
I cannot express my love for Korean BBQ enough. First of all, you get so many sides with your meal. So. Many. Sides. Some common sides are kimchi, seaweed, mushrooms, and sauce, but they can vary at each restaurant. You get to pick what type of meat you want whether that be pork, beef, chicken, or other types of meat. The waiter will bring out hot coals and put a grill on top of it, which you will use to cook your meat. This is great because you get to cook your meat exactly how you want it! Lettuce wraps are given to load with meat, rice, sauce, or anything else you want, and then wrapping it up to enjoy!
5. Go Paragliding
What better way to experience the views of a brand new place than by running off the side of a cliff and seeing it from thousands of feet above? We went paragliding Boryeong and it was hands down one of my favorite things we did all summer. Nothing compares to the free feeling of flying in the sky over looking such a beautiful place.
4. Sing your heart out at a Noraebang
If you and your friends like to sing karaoke at home, you’ll love noraebangs. Noraebangs are karaoke rooms you can rent for a certain amount of time and sing to your hearts desire. The rooms are sound proof so you can’t hear your neighbor and they can’t hear you. There is even a button you can press to order refreshments to your room!
3. Zip line to Nami Island
Nami Island is an island in Chuncheon that is accessible by ferry or, for those of us who like a thrill, zip line. Zip lining to the island is more expensive than taking the ferry, but it was such an incredible experience. Nami island has a lot to offer such as walking along the beach, tubing, paddle boating, biking, and jewelry making to name a few.
2. DMZ & JSA Tour
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA) tour is an absolute must if you’re in South Korea because why not see, briefly stand in, and learn a little bit about North Korea? The JSA is the closest point tourists can get to North Korea and how many people can say that they have technically been in North Korea? There is so much to learn and see on this tour. Other great aspects of this tour are the 3rd infiltration tunnel which you can walk through and see North Korea through a small window and the Dora Observatory where you can look across the Demilitarized Zone and use binoculars to get a closer look at North Korea.
1. Boryeong Mud Festival
Boryeong Mud Festival occurs two weekends in July and is such a unique and fun festival. Mud Festival is exactly what it sounds like- a festival involving large amounts of mud. The mud is supposed to be great for your skin so don’t worry about getting down and dirty in the many mad activities they have! There are many giant bouncy slides, tug of war, mud wrestling, colored mud body paining, and a rave on the beach at the end of the day! Mud festival is such a blast and can definitely be conquered in one day.