Copy of LINDA blog post featured image - 3

Hidden Gems in Korea: Destinations That Are off the Beaten Path

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Are you ready to discover the hidden gems in Korea? While the country is famous for its bustling cities and iconic landmarks, there are many destinations that are off the beaten path and waiting to be explored. These hidden gems offer a unique perspective into the rich culture, history, and natural beauty of Korea that is often overlooked by tourists.

Least Known Must-visit Places 

From quaint villages and tranquil temples to stunning natural landscapes, these hidden gems will leave you spellbound. So, forget the crowded tourist spots, venture out, and explore the hidden treasures of Korea that will take your breath away. 

Chuncheon

Chuncheon, often called the “Romantic City”, is a picturesque area surrounded by beautiful mountains, crystal clear rivers, and scenic lakes that can be found in northeastern Korea.

While in Chuncheon, visit Soyang lake, the largest man-made lake in the country. It’s a great spot for picnics or simply taking a leisurely stroll. 

Gangchon village is also a charming spot if you like the countryside. You can take a rail bike or ATV and enjoy some amazing landscapes.

Chuncheon has a street for food that’s packed with snacks and dishes you have to taste —  everyone is sure to find something they like. Dakgalbi, a spicy stir-fried chicken dish that is served with a variety of vegetables and rice cakes, is a must-try.

For mountain biking enthusiasts, there are bikes you can rent at fair prices. Some rentals are more expensive than others, for example, if you lease a bike near the lake. But you can get quality bikes at good rates too. Just consult a tourist help desk or a neighborhood store and people will be happy to help you find a rental.

Namwon

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Namwon is the place for you. Peaceful and serene, it’s located in the southwestern part of South Korea and offers a refreshing, quiet stay.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Namwon is the Gwanghanru Pavilion which was built according to Korean tradition and offers magnificent views. 

For history buffs, there is Jeongamsa temple built during the Silla Dynasty. The temple has exquisite architecture and beautiful meditative energy about it. It is also situated amid lots of trees which adds to its mystical aura.

Namwon is also famous for its buckwheat noodles, made from locally grown buckwheat. They have a unique flavor and texture that has converted many visitors to become fans of the locally produced wheat noodles. 

Gwanghallu Pavilion at Night

Gwangju

Gwanju is a city rich in culture and history. Located in the southwestern part of South Korea, it’s famous for its historical monuments and traditional crafts.

The Mudeungsan National Park is one of the biggest attractions with its picturesque hiking trails. Not only do you get to see gorgeous views of the mountains but you can also enjoy ancient tombs, temples, and historical landmarks that are strewn around the park.

Gwanju also has a vibrant arts and crafts scene with artists showcasing their pottery, bamboo weaving, and other creations at fairs and festivals that happen year-round.

For foodies, there are lots of treats in store. Don’t miss the Nwangnam-ppang, a local sweet bread that’s unique to the area, and gonggal-ppang, a type of cake filled with red bean paste.

Suwon

Suwon lies in the northwestern part of South Korea. One of the biggest draws of Suwon is the Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 18th century, this fortress is a masterpiece of traditional Korean architecture.

The Suwon Hwaseong Museum also draws crowds because of its impressive collection of royal weapons that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. While here, you can also catch a glimpse of local pottery, clothing, and other items.

Suwon is also famous for galbi, a special Korean dish that’s made by barbecuing marinated beef or pork ribs. 

The old town area of Suwon is easily walkable, so be sure to check out my Suwon Hwaseong Fortress – Exploring on Foot guide!

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Changwon

Located in the southeastern part of South Korea, Changwon combines the beauty of lush forests, beautiful mountains, and clear beaches in one special region. 

In addition, Changwon is home to the famous Masan Fish Market which has fresh seafood and local delicacies. Meanwhile, the Changdong Art Village community boasts rich art and historic architecture. Whether you’re a foodie or an art lover, Changwon offers several points of interest for you.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are a few great hiking trails that traverse some of the most scenic natural spots in Korea. The city also hosts the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the largest festivals of its kind in Korea. It attracts over two million visitors each year.

2020 Korea Cherry Blossoms Forecast
Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Other Hidden Gems in Korea

Amazed at the range of places to visit? Well, there’s more. Apart from these, there are other rare finds to explore in South Korea. Let’s dive right in.

Mountain Ansan Jarak-gil Trail

The Mountain Ansan Jarak-gil Trail is for adventurous souls. It’s located in the Gyeonggi Province, a favorite among locals though not that well known among tourists. The difficulty level for this trek is not too high. 

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or traveling with family, the distance and terrain can easily be covered. The route is about 10 kilometers long and takes roughly four to five hours. There are numerous spots along the way where you can rest while enjoying some absolutely amazing panoramas. 

One of its main highlights is the Ansan Observatory which is strategically perched in an area that lets you get a perfect bird’s eye view of the surroundings. Photography enthusiasts can get some of their best clicks from this vantage point.

Hongje-dong Gaemi Village

Situated in the heart of Seoul, this village is home to a thriving community of artists and other creative groups. The murals and street art that cover the walls of buildings and alleys are worth marveling at.

This place is for artists at heart as it is filled with quirky cafes, stores, and galleries that are sure to satisfy your artistic inclinations.

The village is atop a mountain, so if you climb to the very top, you can look at Seoul from various scenic angles. This is a spot where you can appreciate the Seoul skyline from a very unique perspective.

You can sip on artisanal coffee, buy souvenirs or collectibles, or indulge in conversation with the local community of artists.

Sky Bridge Tour

Although the Sky Bridge Tour is a thrilling and memorable experience, it isn’t for the faint of heart. The Sky Bridge is a famous suspension bridge in the city of Sokcho and the longest pedestrian bridge at 200 meters. 

It goes across the Ulsanbawi Rock so you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains as well as the East Sea.

Set at a height of 50 meters above the ground, the adrenaline-pumping walk across is totally worth it. For those who are even more daring, there’s a zipline that lets you “fly” across the entire Ulsanbawi Rock. 

Seodaemun Prison History Hall

The Seodaemun Prison History Hall reveals the darker side of Korean history. If that’s something you’re interested in, you should definitely give this place a chance. 

Located in the heart of Seoul, it was one of the largest prisons in the country during the Japanese colonial period. This was where numerous Korean freedom fighters faced extreme torture at the hands of colonial rulers.

Today, the prison is a museum where people can get a better understanding of the harsh realities that Korean freedom fighters faced.

The museum contains images and artifacts that help visitors understand the lives of the prisoners. They can also tour the cells to see firsthand the dire conditions they were made to live in.

Despite these sobering truths, structures like these stand tall and poignantly remind us of our errors so we can avoid repeating the same mistakes. Overall, Seodaemun is a must-visit for history buffs.

Why Is Korea Known as a Dream Destination?

My lists prove that there are lots of reasons to love Korea and reveal why many regard it as a dream destination. From ancient to modern delights, it has a wide range of experiences and adventures for every traveler.

If you’re looking to be amazed, Korea’s scenic beauty, art, culture, and the warmth of its people will energize and inspire you. In addition, Korea is a shopper’s paradise. Here, you’ll find a wide selection of traditional art pieces, rare collectibles, and even Korean skincare products. For art lovers, there are murals and street art in some of its neighborhoods as well as numerous galleries and exhibitions.

Conclusion

Unlike most tourist articles, we encourage you to explore the hidden gems in Korea. Though they aren’t as popular as other tourist hotspots like the Changdeokgung Palace and the Namsan Seoul Tower, the destinations we listed reveal Korea in a raw and more authentic light, allowing you to experience the country in ways that few tourists do.

Recommended Travel Guides for Korea

If you want to learn more about South Korea and have a handy travel guide in your pocket, check out these three options below:

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Seoul

This Top 10 Seoul guide is a great pocket guide that breaks down the best of Seoul into helpful lists of ten – from selected highlights to the best museums and galleries, and the most authentic restaurants, tearooms, bars, shops, and markets. I personally helped update the most recent version of this guide. Buy this book.

Lonely Planet Korea

You really can’t go wrong with a lonely planet guide in your hand luggage! I’m a huge fan of Lonely Planet and own this guide myself. What I love is the brand-new pull-out, passport-size ‘Just Landed’ card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info – all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel! Buy this book.

South Korea: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide

Calling all my solo female travel ladies out there – this guide is amazing! Part of the #1 Travel Guidebook Series for Women (and couples), this take on South Korea will help you avoid the scams, creeps, and tourist traps and skip ahead to the cities and adventures that are worth your time (and money)! Buy this book.

Linda's Pick
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/20/2023 05:57 am GMT
Best Guide Covering All Of Korea
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/20/2023 06:02 am GMT
Best for Solo Female Travelers
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 08:09 pm GMT

You might also like these articles:

Magoksa Temple in Gongju: A Visitor’s Guide

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Jeju Island Road Trip Guide for 1 Epic Week

Reading Time: 10 minutes

What to Do in Gongju – All the Baekje Sites You Need To See

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Get your Free Seoul City Check List

This downloadable check list for Seoul contains insider information on what to see, do, eat and where to shop and party in Seoul, South Korea.

Name(Required)

Pin it and save it for later!

Check out more Korea content:

Posted in

Linda

Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

linda-dunsmore-profile-2

안녕, I'm linda :)

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you find what you are looking for and return for more.

Follow Me

Where I am now

Cheongju, South Korea (2)

Linda Goes East Shop

Shop Korea-inspired home decor prints. Unique. Affordable. Korea.