South Korea continues to be one of the most sought after destinations for travelers, K-pop fans and K-drama viewers. Thanks to shows like DP and Squid Game that appeared on Netflix in 2021, Korea continues to fascinate the world with its history, culture and of course the most important aspect[at least to me] food. If you’re reading this article, then it’s safe to assume that you have thought about visiting Korea in the future but are unsure where to start the trip.
Like many, the first location you may have thought of is Seoul. And while Seoul is a great place to visit or live in, I can tell you there are some great locations you should visit first over Seoul. Take Busan for instance. To this day, many continue to debate over which is the better city between Seoul and Busan. If I was given the choice to live in either city, I would take the latter any day.
For me at least, Seoul is too massive, too overcrowded and too expensive. And on some days, the air quality can be so horrendous that you shouldn’t go outside at all. Not to mention, the people who live in Seoul seem to be more stressed out.
When it comes to Busan, you have the opposite. The locals(both Korean and foreign community) are more relaxed. It probably has to do with being close to the beaches. Busan is a wonderful city with so much to offer. Haeundae continues to be one of the best places to hang out, grab some street food and beer and just kick it at the beach.
Busan has tons of seafood restaurants and you should explore the famous Jagalchi Seafood Market where you can buy seafood and take it to one of the many restaurants in this market where they will cook it for you. Also, if should you want to travel to or from Japan, you can take a ferry or head to Busan-Gimhae airport for a shorter ride.
I swear, Daegu doesn’t get enough love from anyone when it comes to Korea. For instance,
when it comes to living in Korea, most of the expat community would rather live in Seoul or
Busan. As someone who has lived here(and wrote a book about it) I can say Daegu is a great
place to live and have a great time.
I would have to say, a huge advantage that Daegu has over Seoul and Busan is the Daegu Chimac Festival. Think about it….A music festival with fried chicken and beer my guy! For me that’s an automatic win. Not to mention the festival takes place at Duryu Park which is across the street from E-World amusement park.
If you want to learn more about Daegu, check out my e-book “The Black Travelers Guide to Daegu, South Korea.“
I recently learned about this city from one of my Korean teachers and when I started to research
this city, I knew I had to visit Gyeongju soon. Fun fact, Gyeongju was the original capital of
Korea, for certain amount of time and there is a Hanok(Korean style home) themed Starbucks that
is worth the trip for a few pictures.
So far Seokguram Grotto, and other various Buddhist sites, have caught my interest and want me to explore this city. I’ve also had my eye on exploring the traditional villages, such as Gyochon Traditional Village and Yangdong Folk Village. There’s something about visiting historical villages, that are intact, that I personally believe makes traveling worth the experience.
This famous island is also known as The Hawaii of Korea. Jeju has been on my radar for so
long. I’m surprised I haven’t made a trip to this island city. This island continues to be a vacation
destination for many Koreans.
I’ve had students(pre-pandemic) tell me how they went to Jeju and had a blast there. If you’re an outdoors person, then Jeju is definitely the place you should visit. There are many waterfalls that are worth chasing, such as Cheonjeyeon(천제연 폭포) or Cheonjiyeon(천지연 폭포). Of course there are numerous beaches for you to explore and spend the day at. While it is possible to get around the island by bus, it would be easier to rent a car if you have an international license.