9 Best Day Trips From Seoul, South Korea

A vibrant, exciting capital city that’s a good mix of the traditional and the modern, Seoul boasts of so many attractions that you can explore it for days. Seoul pretty much has everything that it’s unimaginable to get out of the city even for a day. There are palaces, temples, nature trails, massive shopping areas, street food hubs, colorful fashion, and extraordinary fun — but how about a taste of Korea in an entirely different landscape?

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Here’s a handy list of some of the most fascinating day trips from Seoul to make the most of your trip.

9 Best Day Trips From Seoul, South Korea

1. Hwaseong Fortress

Hwaseong Fortress

Located in Suwon is the Hwaseong Fortress, which was built by King Jeong-jo back in 1796. A UNESCO World Heritage site due to its cultural significance and impressive architecture. Hwaseong Fortress is the most popular attraction in Suwon, a city to the south of Seoul.

Spread out over five kilometers and surrounded by high walls, Hwaseong Fortress is closet to the stunning Paldal Mountain. You could actually spend half a day exploring its grounds and the forested walks. Visitors can also hike the perimeter of the walls and take in some excellent views.

Once you’re done exploring the fortress, head to the traditional market nearby where you can try all of the classic Korean street foods, or stop into a restaurant to try galbi or grilled beef ribs the local delicacy.

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2. Paju

The northernmost point that you can reach from Seoul before arriving at the Korean border, is the city of Paju. Easily reached from downtown Seoul, you just need to hop on the Paju-bound bus from Hapjeong station and the trip takes around 30 minutes. Paju is well-known for being the home of the Paju Book City, a cultural complex featuring publishers, printing, and distribution enterprises.

You can explore the streets learning the various stories behind the businesses, or visit famous book cafes such as Darakwon and Moongongsa. You can wander through the scenic Provence Village, with its colorful stores and cafes, painted with adorable murals. There is also the charming Gyeonggi English village, designed to look like a mini London.

Paju is also where you can find the Korean DMZ, or demilitarised zone, where you can join a tour to peer into North Korea.

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3. Nami Island

Nami Island

Technically a micronation, Nami Island has its own currency, flag, national anthem, and passport. When you cross the border have your passport stamped for a nice little keepsake. To reach Nami — you can either take the ferry which is just 30 minutes, or the exciting and fun zip line, where you soar 940 meters through the air and above water.

Shaped like a half moon, the picture perfect Nami Island is a wonderful day trip from Seoul. It is ideal for visitors who want to spend the day strolling around lantern adorned gardens and quiet forests. Make sure you wander around the breathtaking Garden of Morning Calm, Korea’s oldest garden. Take stunning photos at the tree-lined lanes that consist of paths flanked by trees decorated with colorful lanterns, such as the Maple Land of True Love. Explore the island by walking or biking, and enjoy a much-needed respite from the hustle of the capital city.

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4. Pocheon Art Valley

 

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A wonderful day trip where you’ll get to relax and enjoy some quiet time is a visit to the Pocheon Art Valley. Art and nature merge in this stunning park, which was made out of an old rock quarry. The rocks of the quarry were blasted out to form a stunning man-made lake surrounded by dramatic, jagged rock formations.

A beautiful park with an artistic vibe, it’s nice to just stop here, have a picnic as you enjoy the surroundings. As you wander around Pocheon Art Valley though, you will find dozens of inspiring open exhibits and murals from local artists. Not surprising because the scenery is art in itself.

5. Busan

Busan

Less than three hours thanks to South Korea’s high-speed rail system Korea Train Express (KTX), Busan is a haven for foodies and outdoor adventure aficionados. And yes, the ride is perfectly safe, you won’t encounter scary creatures on the way.

Home to a vibrant seafood market and the International Market, Busan is packed with delicious and interesting dishes to try. Make sure you sample local delicacies such as Dong-nae pajeon (seafood and green onion pancake), or some traditional favorites. If you’re the active type,  Busan has hills, mountains, and cliffs with well-marked hiking trails.

Enjoy views of the sea and the rest of Busan from the top, and if you want to relax before heading back to Seoul – there’s the Hur Shim Chung Spa. It is one of the oldest spas in South Korea, known for its natural hot spring.

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6. Sokcho

A good place to sample seafood based Korean dishes is the culturally rich fishing town of Sokcho. It is located close to the majestic Seoraksan national park, and an ideal Seoul day tour as it has plenty to offer.

A haven for foodies, Sokcho’s seafront is lined with seafood restaurants which sell delicacies that are unique to this region. You may also board a boat to Abai Village, a  region that is home to those who fled from the North after the Korean War. Since it is close to Seoraksan National Park, a visit to Sokcho is also a perfect base point for hiking Mount Seorak and its surroundings.

7. Yongin

Yongin

For kids and kids-at-heart is a fun Seoul day trip that offers both entertainment and history to visitors. Located just to the southeast of Seoul, Yongin is home to a number of fun-filled attraction such as Everland. It is South Korea’s largest theme park and home to all sorts of fun tides from roller coasters, to kiddie boat rides. During the winter, Everland is home to some of the best ice-skating and sledding facilities in the country.

A stark contrast to the lively and colorful Everland is the Korean Folk Village, with hundreds of traditional Korean houses. It’s a little touristy, but the village acts as a “living” museum to depict what life was like in Korea through the centuries. Here you’ll see some traditional performances such as martial arts, dances/musical performances and even wedding ceremonies scheduled throughout the day.

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8. Chuncheon

 

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The town’s name Chuncheon means “traditional market”, and is better known as a shopping destination.  However, this is also one of the best places to visit if you want to get away from the city for a while. Just an hour by train from Seoul, Chuncheon is home to Cheongpyeong lake and the Cheongpyeong Temple, with the picturesque mountains in the backdrop.

Like the rest of South Korea, Chuncheon has quite a number of weird hotels and accommodations. Most of the rentals in this region follow certain themes like rooms shaped like a giant soju bottle, or a replica of Snow White’s cottage. If you still have time, make sure you check out the small French cultural village called Le Petite France which has pretty colorful buildings and live music performances.

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9. The DMZ

 

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If you’re looking for a different kind of thrill, one of the most unforgettable day trips from Seoul that you’ll find yourself in is a tour of the DMZ. Located just north of Seoul, the Demilitarized Zone is the most heavily fortified border in the world. This four-kilometer-wide strip of land straddles the borders of North Korea and South Korea. Definitely one of the tensest places you’ll ever visit, this is where stoic border guards stare each other down in eerie silence.

It is perfectly safe to go here, especially if you’re part of a tour. Make sure you take the one that includes a visit to the Joint Security Area (JSA) for a closer look at North Korea. This tour even enters into North Korea territory via a border-straddling conference room where nothing but a hawk-eyed North Korean border guard stands between you and the reclusive North.

Other destinations that you must visit when in the area are the Third Infiltration Tunnel and Dorasan Station, a haunting unused train station with strategic rail links between Pyongyang and Seoul.

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