Traditional Architecture

Changdeokgung The most attractive of Seoul’s palaces, this World Heritage–listed site also has a ‘secret garden’.

Bukchon Hanok Village Around 900 hanok (traditional wooden houses) make this Seoul’s largest neighbourhood of traditional homes.

Seokbul-sa Hidden in the mountains of Busan, this temple perches daintily among enormous cliff-like boulders.

Jeonju Hanok Maeul Jeonju’s sprawling hanok village is a charming nod to Korea’s low-slung architectural style.

Hahoe Folk Village People still live in the rustic homes in this beautiful riverside village complex.

Haein-sa This delightful temple houses the Tripitaka Koreana: 81,258 wooden printing blocks containing Buddhist scriptures.

Dosan Seowon Lovely arrangement of traditional halls at this scenically located Confucian academy in the hills north of Andong.

Crafts & Shopping

Namdaemun Market Open round the clock, with more than 10,000 stores dealing in everything from seaweed to spectacles.

Shinsegae Centum City Shop till you drop in Busan at the world’s largest department store.

Icheon Ceramic Village See traditional kilns and buy beautiful pots directly from their makers.

Goryeo Celadon Museum Before you buy, watch celadon (green-glazed pottery) being crafted and kiln-fired here.

Daegu’s Herbal Medicine Market Stock up on anything from cheap ginseng to reindeer horns at this fascinating market.

Damyang Long famed for its bamboo products, this town holds a bamboo crafts festival in May.

Daein-sijang Fifty-plus artists have studios beside regular stalls at this traditional market in Gwangju.

Outdoor Activities

Jeju Olle Trail Discover Jeju-do's byways on this excellent series of hiking routes around the volcanic island.

Cycle along the Han River Pedal the cycle lanes linking the parks strung along Seoul’s major waterway.

Wolchulsan National Park Hike through Korea’s smallest national park over a vertigo-inducing 52m-high bridge spanning two ridges.

Seogwipo Korea’s best scuba-diving destination, with colourful corals, kelp forests and dolphins.

High1 Check out the ski season at this resort in the mountains west of Taebaek.

Seoul City Wall Hike beside and upon these ancient walls as they snake over the capital’s four guardian mountains.

Saryangdo Tackle jagged ridges, 400m peaks, ropes and ladders on the hike around this beautiful island.

Seoraksan National Park Hike from temple to temple, past waterfalls, fortress remains, peaks and valleys in a sublime landscape.

World Heritage Sites

Jongmyo The royal ancestral shrine set in peaceful wooded grounds is just one of several World Heritage sites in Seoul.

Namhansanseong Hike beside 17th-century fortress walls surrounded by beautiful pine and oak forests and wildflowers.

Hwaseong Suwon’s impressive fortress walls have been meticulously reconstructed with great historical accuracy.

Gochang Thousands of bronze-age tombs known as dolmen dot the hills around this small village.

Gyeongju Sublime ancient burial mounds undulate parts of town into gorgeous, grass-covered hillocks.

Jeju-do The dormant volcanoes, Halla-san and Seongsan Ilchulbong, and a network of lava-tube caves are all World Heritage worthy.

Haein-sa This serene and beautifully situated Buddhist temple is the repository for the priceless Triptaka Koreana.

Contemporary Buildings

Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park Zaha Hadid’s sleek building is straight out of a sci-fi fantasy.

Seoul City Hall This giant glass wave is a modern reinterpretation of traditional Korean design.

Busan Cinema Center Architecturally dazzling structure with the biggest screen in the country.

Paju Book City The hub of Korea’s book industry is based in a complex of futuristic award-winning buildings.

Songdo International City Marvel at this model urban development in the bay off Incheon.

Glass House Stunning glass, concrete and steel structure on Jeju-do, designed by Japanese architect Ando Tadao.

Museums & Galleries

National Museum of Korea Packed with national treasures spanning the centuries.

Leeum Samsung Museum of Art Three top architect-designed buildings and a dazzling collection of art from ancient to contemporary.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Make the trek out to Seoul Grand Park to see this classy art museum.

Asian Culture Complex Collection of galleries and performance spaces on the main site of Gwangju's May 18 uprising.

Arario Museum A quartet of renovated buildings in Jeju-si house showcase an outstanding collection of contemporary art.

Gyeongju National Museum Houses a superb collection of artefacts from the Silla dynasty and beyond.

Daegu National Museum One of Korea’s best regional museums, packed with everything from armour to Buddhist relics.

Top Tastes

Busan Sink your teeth into a twitching squid tentacle at Jagalchi Fish Market, or snack on the nether parts of chickens in tent bars.

Jeonju Eat bibimbap, Korea’s most famous culinary export (after kimchi, of course), at its birthplace.

Boseong Try the green-tea ice cream, green-tea noodles and green-tea biscuits close by tea plantations.

Chuncheon Along Dakgalbi Geori there are 20-plus restaurants serving the town's famous spicy chicken dish, dakgalbi.

Gwangjang Market Sample super-tasty and cheap street food in one of Seoul's massive covered markets.

Sokcho Platters of raw fish and other seafood delights at this east-coast port.

Sansawon Brewery & Museum Unlimited tastings during the tour of this producer of traditional Korean liquors.

Offbeat Experiences

Dragon Hill Spa & Resort Strip down for a communal steam and full-body scrub at this fancy jjimjilbang (upmarket sauna) in Seoul.

Chamsori Gramophone & Edison Museum If you love music and the spirit of invention, don’t miss this astounding collection of vintage machines.

Haesindang Park Admire phallic sculptures in this park in the fishing village of Sinnam.

Jeju's Sex Museums Gain a very adult education at Jeju-do’s trio of nookie-obsessed exhibitions.

Kumsusan Sun Memorial Palace of the Sun Pay your respects to the embalmed body of Great Leader Kim Il-sung in his former palace.

Mr Toilet House Hilarious poo-related exhibits and more serious sanitation issues at this toilet-shaped museum in Suwon.

Unification Park Climb aboard a captured North Korean submarine at this east-coast seafront park.

Early Printing Museum Being rained upon by countless hanja at an interactive display at this fascinating Cheongju museum.

Scenic Spots

Suncheon-man Rich mud beneath the rustling reeds attracts migratory birds and, in turn, scores of tourists.

Paekdusan One of the best reasons to visit the DPRK is this stunning and fabled mountain.

Bukhansan National Park Sweeping mountaintop vistas, maple leaves and rushing streams all within easy reach of Seoul.

Ji-dong Mural Village Outside Suwon's city walls, this labyrinth of grungy alleyways bursts with vibrant wall murals.

Samjinae Village Enjoy the slow life in this village of centuries-old stone walls, homesteads and heritage houses.

Jikji-sa Popular templestay in a postcard-pretty temple in a quiet forest.

Geumgang Park Cable Car Providing breathtaking views of Busan's mountains, harbour and cityscape.

Seoullo 7017 This elevated park on a disused highway overpass looks out onto views of central Seoul.

Island Life

Namhaedo You’ll blink several times and think you’ve been transported to southern France on this gorgeous island.

Ulleungdo This East Sea island offers mist-shrouded volcanic cliffs, traditional harbour towns and a breathtaking jagged coastline.

Udo Admire the Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone volcano from the white coral-sand beach on this lovely island.

So-Muuido Stroll around this car-free island at the southeastern tip of lovely Muuido.

Sapsido Offers undeveloped beaches, bucolic villages surrounded by rice paddies, and the salty smell of fish.

Namiseom Island Spot deer, ostriches and waterfowl on this wooded, lake-bound island southwest of Chuncheon.