The famed pottery centre of Icheon, 60km southeast of Seoul, is surrounded by mountains. Shoppers and ceramics lovers may want to stay here overnight to have time to look around or dabble in making something at a hands-on workshop, but otherwise the place can easily be visited in a day from Seoul.
Heyri & Paju Book City
Less than 10km south of the DMZ, Heyri is a charming village of small-scale contemporary buildings that couldn’t be more of a contrast to the heavily fortified, doom-laden border. Conceived as a ‘book village’ connected to the nearby publishing centre of Paju Book City, it has blossomed into a community of artists, writers, architects and other creative souls.
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) & Joint Security Area (JSA)
The 4km-wide, 240km-long buffer known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) slashes across the peninsula, separating North and South Korea. Lined on both sides by tank traps, electrical fences, landmines and armies in full battle readiness, it is one of the scariest places on earth.
Set in lush hillsides 40km south of Seoul, this mammoth amusement park offers more than just thrill rides and fairy floss. The main theme park, Everland, is filled with fantasy buildings, fairground attractions, impressive seasonal gardens, live music and parades. Lit up at night, the park takes on a magical atmosphere and there are always fireworks.
Bukhansan National Park
Granite peak-studded Bukhansan National Park is so close to Seoul that it’s possible to visit by subway – which partly accounts for why it sees over 10 million visitors a year. It offers sweeping mountaintop vistas, maple leaves, rushing streams and remote temples.
The 40-odd royal tombs of the Joseon dynasty are World Heritage listed and scattered across Seoul and Gyeonggi-do, with a couple also in the North Korean city of Kaesong. In these tombs, each similarly arranged on hillsides according to the rules of Confucianism and feng shui, are buried every Joseon ruler right up to the last, Emperor Sunjong (r 1907–10).