Korea Autumn Bucket List: The Best Things To Do in South Korea During Fall Season
I have to admit, summers in Korea can be dreadfully hot and humid and winters are the exact opposite – freezing and dry. Spring and fall are where the country seems to come alive with its colorful flora and fauna and seasonal festivals competing for attention. There’s only one catch: the changing of the seasons is extremely short. That’s why I like to plan out my spring and fall activities and getaways so that I don’t miss out on anything. Here’s my Korea autumn bucket list with the best things to do in South Korea during the fall season.
Updated September 2019
Sip On Delicious Tea
If you have followed my travels for a while you will know that I am a sucker for tea. That’s why I love nothing more than heading to a local teahouse to get my fix. However, there are not only hot beverages you can enjoy when visiting a teahouse. It’s the relaxing ambiance, the delicious scent that fills the room and being able to spend hours and hours there without getting a sense of ‘wasting time’.
My favorite teahouse in Seoul is Tteuran, located inside a beautiful hanok house in Ikseon-dong. What I love about this place is the green courtyard you have excellent views of from the inside. It’s not only the cozy atmosphere and delicious teas that have made Tteuran popular. The fact that it was the filming location of the 2009 Korean-Japanese movie Café Seoul also attracts countless fans.
It is no surprise that the old town of Jeonju is also filled with teahouses. However, Gyodong Dawon seems to be one of the last few that appreciate authentic tea art. The tea master takes his profession so serious that photos are strictly prohibited during his sessions. The menu is short with only a handfull of teas on it. The most popular variety is called hwangcha (황차) and is a golden-hued tea that was exclusively served to kings. Today, the tea is grown right here in Gyodong Dawon’s courtyard.
Enjoy The Fall Foliage At Korea’s National Parks
When traveling to South Korea, you’ll quickly realize there’s one thing Korea has more than enough of: mountains. With over 20 national parks across the country, there’s always a scenic hiking route nearby. Bukhansan, for instance, is a popular place for hiking lovers as it is the tallest mountain near Seoul. Other popular national parks include Seoraksan, Jirisan, and Songnisan. No matter which national park you choose to conquer, you will be rewarded with colorful trees and scenic views that resemble scenes of traditional Korean paintings. Be sure to bring enough water and snacks to make it to the top.
Try Delicious Meals With Seasonal Fruits and Veggies
South Korea is doing a great job of promoting seasonal fruits and veggies. Fall is the perfect season if you like persimmons, sweet potatoes, corn or Korean pears. Sanchon, a Korean temple food restaurant in Insadong, also builds its 16-course menu around seasonal veggies and herbs from mountains around the country. This is a place where the health benefits of the ingredients are just as important as their flavors. Book a table here for dinner and enjoy delicious vegan dishes prepared according to Buddhist beliefs with a fascinating dance performance at 8 PM.
For a more exclusive experience, head to Ryunique in Sinsa-dong. Chef Ryu lived and cooked abroad for years when he decided to return to Korea to open his own fine-dining restaurant. He prepares his artful dishes with seasonal ingredients for a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. For Ryu, food presentation is just as important as the taste. That’s why only at Ryunique, you will find smoked chestnuts dumplings topped with honeycomb carefully placed on real moss and leaves. If that doesn’t scream like fall season, I don’t know what does.
Soak Your Feet In A Hot Medicinal Bath
The changing of the seasons brings with it a wave of cold and flu symptoms. A great way to avoid getting sick is a medicinal foot bath. Solgaheon Healing Café in Bukchon is a teahouse in disguise but offers so much more besides delicious Korean teas. Besides healing rooms and traditional steam treatments, it’s the foot baths that draw people here. You soak your feet in 45-degree Celcius hot water infused with Korean medicine tailored to your body’s needs. While you can enjoy the foot baths inside, sitting outside in the courtyard offers a much more unique experience. Drink your tea before or during the bath and prevent a cold from ruining your exciting fall season.
Attend one of the many Seasonal Festivals
South Korea seems to make a festival out of everything but fall season comes with a few not-to-miss festivities for everyone. The Seoul Lantern Festival is one of the most popular festivals every year attracting thousands of visitors from across Korea. Every year a different theme is brought to life with countless beautiful lanterns.
If you haven’t had the honor to make kimchi yourself yet, head down to Gwangju to join the World Kimchi Culture Festival. Dedicated kimchi lovers let you in on their secret to the perfect kimchi during the festival. If you’re a soybean lover, head to Paju for the Jangdan Soybean Festival.
Do a Temple Stay
Are you looking to recharge and spend some time in a quiet and tranquil place after a busy summer? A temple stay might just be the best option! A temple stay is cultural program in several South Korean Buddhist temples where participants can experience the life of a Buddhist monk or nun. During your stay, you will learn about various aspects of Korean Buddhist culture and history and engage in activities, such as meditation, tea ceremonies, yebool praying and more. Some temples even offer martial arts activities!
Best temple stay programs in Korea
- International Seon Center Temple Stay, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul
- Myogaksa Temple Stay, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Jogyesa Temple Stay, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Beomeosa Temple Stay, Geumjeong-gu, Busan
- Bulguksa Temple Stay, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
- Haeinsa Temple Stay, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
- Guinsa Temple Stay, Danyang-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do
- Yakchunsa Temple Stay, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Get ready for fall in South Korea!
You better start planning your fall season in Korea because winter is right around the corner. Whether you prefer to hit up a few teahouses, hike some mountains, eat your way through Korea’s seasonal cuisine or all of the above, don’t waste any time and make new memories.
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The hotels recommended below are hotels I have personally stayed at and recommend to other travelers.
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