South Korea, particularly the capital city of Seoul, is one of the most popular destinations in the world today. The vibrant modern city life is home to some spectacular relics of ancient times and a quirky culture that makes it intensely fascinating. Every guide out there will tell you all about the museums, palaces, and other spots of significance. But what about those spots that you’d only know about if you lived there?
Take some time off from your itinerary and explore these top 5 underrated places!
Over in Suwon, the Hwaseong Fortress is a huge draw. Many people are surprised to discover a UNESCO World Heritage fortress in Seoul at Namhansanseong Fortress. You’ll find 5 different courses you can hike along, all with their own sublime views. It takes about half a day to really dig in and explore, an ideal excursion in fall for the changing of the leaves or in spring while the weather is warming up. Plenty of unique Korean restaurants surround it. Choose any of them to satisfy your hunger after all that hiking.
This sweet respite in the city will make your forget you’re in the middle of one of the biggest metropolises on the planet. Locals love it because it’s a hidden gem consisting of 5 parks full of eco-friendly activities. The Culture and Arts Park has playgrounds, water areas, and a skate park, plus a waterside restaurant. The Eco Forest is a natural habitat for deer, elks, mallards, and other beautiful creatures. The other 3 parks offer even more with botanical gardens, observatories, and even a waterfront marina.
Historical sites are everywhere in Seoul, but one of them that even locals are surprised to find in Seonjeongneung. This is the burial ground of the Joseon Dynasty Kings. While it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s not as well-known as all the other historical landmarks in the country. From the first glance, you’d never think you were standing at the final resting place of royalty! It’s a peaceful place to go though, one that few tourists will ever have the pleasure of knowing.
Seoul is a city full of cafés and culture in the form of museums, though Buam Dong is one neighborhood tourists don’t often get a chance to see. If you have the rare delight of making your home here, you’d inevitably find this gem and stay here forever. It’s a less-crowded neighborhood than overly-popular Samcheong Dong, plus it has plenty of artsy stuff to explore. The Seoul Museum, Seokpajeoung (the royal villa), Changuimun Gate, and plenty of beautiful views await. Be sure to grab dumplings at Jaha Son Mandu and treat yourself to sweets at SCOFF British Bakery with brownies and scones.
The locals call it ‘Daehangno’ but this college neighborhood is much like Hongdae without all the crowds and throngs of tourists. Art installations, random street performances, and dozens of little theaters are tucked away here. If you love the arts, come explore this fascinating slice of Korean culture.
When visiting Korea, now you’ll know how to stray from the typical itinerary to discover the real pulse of Seoul!