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South Korea: Once you arrive - Must read

Five things to do in South Korea

South Korea is packed with fun and exciting things to do during your study abroad! Here are some ideas of what to do…


South Korea’s vibrant and exciting culture provides something for everyone, and plenty of activities to get you to step out of your comfort zone. Whether you are looking for a non-stop night out or a relaxing island weekend, South Korea’s got you covered.  


1. Spend a day at a Korean Bathhouse

These traditional bathhouses are very popular with the locals and are a great way to relax after a long flight or finals week. Bathhouses, known in Korea as ‘jjimjilbang,’ usually consist of warm baths (which are separated by gender) and communal saunas. Many bathhouses also offer additional spa treatments – like massages and exfoliating scrubs - but these vary depending on the establishment.  Many bathhouses also offer overnight accommodation, which can be in a large, shared room or in individual sleeping capsules.


Korean bathhouses are a big part of Korean culture and are taken very seriously, so make sure to do some research before experiencing a bathhouse. One thing’s for sure, this is a great way to experience Korean culture – get stuck in!


2. Visit Gyeongbukgung Palace in Seoul

Of the five palaces in Seoul, Gyeongbukgung is the largest and most popular among tourists. This palace was built in the late 1300s and was home to the Joseon Dynasty. There are tours almost every day in multiple languages – including English – and Gyeongbukgung offers traditional clothing to visitors to try on for free!


A visit to this palace gives insight into the ancient traditions of Korea and allows visitors to take a look at what life was like for the Korean Royalty. For more information, check out the Palace’s website.


3. Explore Korea’s spirits

South Korea is known for its loving relationship with alcohol. The country’s craft beer culture is becoming more popular, but a night out is not complete without trying Korea’s traditional drinks. Soju, a vodka-like alcohol, and makgeolli, an opaque rice wine, are a great way to experience South Korean culture. Both of these drinks date back hundreds of years, and are served traditionally in some bars and restaurants. You can often find establishments that brew their own makgeolli and soju!


4. Food in Jeonju

One of the largest cities in the southern half of South Korea, Jeonju is known for its amazing food. The restaurants in Jeonju are top notch, but the street food steals the show. Just wandering through the labyrinth of streets in the city, or stopping by one of the many markets, you will be sure to find enough food to keep you full for days.


Jeonju is also known for its makgeolli bars, so be sure to grab a pot of this yummy spirit when you visit!


5. Jeju Island

If you are looking for an escape from the big city, the island of Jeju has just what you need. Located south of the Korean peninsula, Jeju features a tropical climate and dormant volcanoes that make it the perfect place for a getaway.


You can sunbathe on the sandy beaches, hike one of the many trails or sample the delicious seafood made by some Jeju locals. Just an hour flight out of Seoul, Jeju Island is a wonderful place to explore South Korean culture. 

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About Author

Ella Frazer is a student at the University of Puget Sound studying English Literature and Religion. She is currently studying abroad in London and is busy enjoying the collection of museums, constantly losing her way, and being of legal drinking age. When she is not writing for Hotcourses Abroad, you can usually find her searching for manuscripts at the British Library.