Touch upon the royal Korean history by visiting Korean palaces like Gyeongbokgung, its numerous pavilions, and the royal guard changing ceremony. Stroll around Bukchon Hanok Village and admire unique Korean architecture and stunning Buddhist temples. Learn how to make kimchi and kimbap and dress in a traditional Korean dress hanbok. And get spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping – Seoul wasn’t called a shopping paradise for nothing!
And since it’s winter season – a detour to a ski resort is a must!
Do this itinerary yourself or join our 5 day fullboard tour to experience the best of South Korea!
Korea trip highlights
- Tour of main Seoul attractions: Gyeongbokgung palace & national folk museum, N Seoul Tower and Gwangmyeong cave (the tour includes a private guide)
- Visit to picturesque Chuncheon and Nami island
- Cruise on the Hangang river with cultural performances
- Cooking class: kimbap and kimchi
- Try on hanbok, the traditional Korean dress
- Shopping at Myeongdong Market, Itaewon, etc.
This Korea itinerary is perfect for those who are looking for short holidays in Korea. Enjoy a relaxed Seoul city tour with plenty of free time to explore the nooks and hooks of this buzzling city, visit Nami island, ski, shop or eat halal Korean BBQ!
DAY 1: KUALA LUMPUR ─ CHUNCHEON ─ NAMI ISLAND
After a quick meal, transfer to Chuncheon (yes, I’m skipping Seoul but don’t worry, you will come back here for the Day 3). The main attractions of the capital city of Gangwon Province are the nearby Petite France and Nami island. Since getting there is a tad tricky and requires a private vehicle, I suggest that you get on a private tour that covers these two attractions.
The Petite France village is famous for its memorial hall dedicated to Saint-Exupery, the author of the celebrated French novel Le Petit Prince, as well as French food and cultural activities.
The highlight of the day is the Nami island tour with a ferry ride. This beautiful island was the shooting place of a popular Korean drama “Winter Sonata”.
After the tour, check in the Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort (엘리시안 강촌 스키장), located within a beautiful valley. It has multiple ski slopes, suitable for skiers of all levels: from beginners to experts.
DAY 2: SKI RESORT
Spend all day skiing and enjoy a panoramic view of the beautiful winter scenery.
DAY 3: GIMPO ─ GWANGMYEONG
Head back to Seoul to Gwangmyeong: take train to Yongsan Station and then Gwangmyeong; and then from KTX Gwangmyeong Station take a bus #17 to a unique Gwangmyeong cave. It’s a cavern theme park where you can experience gold and rock mining and snap pictures of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ movie characters. Who knew you can stroll in the gardens so deep underground? P.S. The is a Sky View deck outside the cave with the view of Gyeonggi area / Seoul.
After exploring the underground world, I recommend taking the Ara cruise on the Hangang river where you’ll have a chance to watch cultural performances and have a buffet lunch with amazing Seoul riverfront as a backdrop. To get there, take the bus #5633 that stops next to Hwangyongsa temple.
Those who love shopping should visit Gimpo’s Hyundai Premium Outlet, featuring 230 brands.
Alternatively, become a chef and make the traditional Korean staple kimchi at Kimchi Academy House; and try on the traditional Korean hanbok clothing, known for its bright colors and simple cuts. A beautiful traditional house at Insa-dong PR Center will make a perfect background for your Instagram pictures!
P.S. Having trouble navigating with paper maps? Download one of our recommended Korea travel apps.
DAY 4: SEOUL
Today I’d suggest you to visit the Gyeongbokgung palace, including its majestic Gwanghwamun gate, observe royal guard changing ceremony and learn more about Korean history at the National folk museum of Korea.
Next, take a bus #402 to Namsan Park. Previously the strongest city defence structure built on 4 hills, nowadays it’s a peaceful green park. My favourite spot is Palgakjeong Pavilion, but those who want a truly superb view of the South Korean capital city (and even the sea) should head to Namsan Seoul Tower (479.7m).
The Myeongdong, the primary shopping districts in Seoul, is just a short stroll away. Take your time to explore Korean cosmetic shops, as well as look for Korea herb shops and the Ginseng centre.
DAY 5: SEOUL
Start your morning at one of the most popular places to visit in Seoul – Bukchon Hanok Village at Samcheongdong. It is a “home to hundreds of traditional houses, called hanok, that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse themselves in traditional Korean culture.” (Visit Korea).
Psst, there is another palace – Changdeokgung Palace – just around the corner, a treat to Korean history and architecture buffs.
Next, stop by the 14th century Jogyesa temple that is only 15 minutes away (take the bus #162) to admire and snap shots of beautiful Korean temple architecture.
No visit to South Korean capital is complete without experiencing Noryangjin Fish Market. This market is filled with endless restaurants where you can take the fresh catch to be cooked in any way your heart desires. To sample some of the best (and freshest) seafood you’ll ever come across take line #1 till the Noryangjin station.
If you feel adventurous and is interested in eating a live octopus, you must ask for ‘sannakji’!
I also enjoyed a quick stop at one of the Seaweed factory shops called Songhakkim. The best part of it is that you can always get to try free samples, though I got a few packages of their seaweed snack with almonds. It was a hit among my family and friends so I did regret not buying more!
I spend the rest of my day 5 chilling in the Hongdae area.
“Hongdae is a neighborhood known for its youthful and romantic ambience, underground culture, and freedom of self-expression. Unique cafes, cozy galleries, accessory stores, fashion shops, live cafés and clubs, art markets, and gourmet eateries make this a popular hang-out for local youth and a fascinating place to walk around. These unique places plus the cultural events, street performances, and festivals held here make Hongdae an area that is always packed with people and excitement. Special streets such as ateliers’ street (lined with private institutions for art students preparing for university entrance exams), Picasso’s Street, and Club Street are also must-go places if you’re hoping to fully experience the Hongdae area.” (Visit Korea)
If you’re visiting Seoul in spring, you must not miss a stop Yeouido Park for the Spring Flower Festival for a breathtaking display of cherry blossoms (read more about South Korea flower seasons).
Also if you’re a fan of all things horror, we recommend that you visit one of these spooky places whilst you’re in Korea. Our favourites in Seoul are Lotte World and Dark side of Seoul Evening ghost tour.
It was a perfect breather before the last day!
DAY 6: SEOUL ─ ITAEWON ─ KUALA LUMPUR
After your breakfast head to a local supermarket for gifts and Korean snacks shopping. I recommend Lotte Mart at the Seoul Station (Exit #1) where can find tons of unique and tasty Korean food items and products, such as daily essentials, cosmetics, toys, fashion items and homeware, at discount prices that won’t break your budget.
Don’t rush to the Seoul International airport in Itaewon right away. I suggest that you stop by Seoul Itaewon mosque, the first mosque in South Korea, and Itaewon shopping street for another shopping sprint and the last Korean meal before you leave.
End of our Korea tour and goodbyes!
Halal lunches and dinners in Seoul
When you come to Seoul, you must try these 21 halal Korean dishes and halal Korean BBQ! For the latter, I recommend Yang Good BBQ; while I also loved Makan restaurant in Itaewon (check my article on halal Seoul restaurants).
Muslim-friendly hotels in Seoul
Tripfez offers a booking platform for Muslim-friendly hotels in Seoul.
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