EXO introduces travel destinations in Korea as the newly appointed Korea Tourism Honorary Ambassador of 2018. The members starring in these promotional videos present interesting experiences for tourists in 5 distinct themes: history & culture, Korean daily life, trends, adventure, and healing. The videos begin with a question from each member of EXO stating, “Have you ever, in Korea?” and are followed by scenes of EXO participating in various attractions based on each theme. Let’s go on a journey with EXO to the special travel destination themes!
Among many tourists in Korea, finding the most Korean experience is highly anticipated. There are many places that can fulfill that need, from palace tours to hanok (traditional Korean house) village tours, as well as DMZ tours where you can get close to the remnants from the Korean War, and so on. What is your most highly anticipated aspect of Korea? Let’s go on a journey in search of what you would like to see in Korea’s history and culture.
For a Korean-style destination, palaces in Seoul are most popular among tourists. In particular, Changdeokgung Palace is even said to be the most traditional and authentic of Seoul’s five palaces and has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is also great for long walks within the palace where you can enjoy viewing the harmony of traditional architecture and nature. The palace in the daytime is beautiful, however if you happen to visit during their special evening tours, open only during certain seasons, you will be able to view the ancient royal palace sparkling in the moonlight.
The Demilitarized Zone, more commonly known as the DMZ, spans through 7 cities and counties (Paju, Yeoncheon, Cheorwon, Hwacheon, Yanggu, Inje, Goseong) between Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do and was originally closed to the public. Recently however, a few parts of the DMZ have been opened to the general public, attracting many tourists and developing into a travel destination. Visitors who are interested are recommended to use group tour programs that visit the main spots since travel within the region still remains extremely restricted.
If you’ve already visited Korea and the traditional Korean destinations, you might be more interested in learning how Korean’s spend their time. The merits of Korea’s public transportation are already well known, from WiFi within subways to their late-night operations and active safety measures. In addition, indoor play culture, such as VR and indoor sports, is gaining popularity among young Koreans. Here are some Korean life style experiences that let tourists get a peek into the daily lives of Koreans.
This district is the background for the 2012 famous hit song, “Gangnam Style.” From the tall buildings and streets packed with cars at all hours to the people passing by busily, you can get a glimpse of modern Korea. Especially, Gangnam encompasses all the hot places frequented by Koreans in their 20s-30s; Garosu-gil Road, Apgujeong, Cheongdam-dong, COEX, and many more. It can take all day to explore the area because it is filled with cafés and restaurants, as well as places for shopping which include specialty shops with street fashion and famous name brand shops.
The Bamdokkaebi Night Market uses Korea’s goblin character with different themes in each of its locations, Yeouido, Banpo, Dongdaemun, Cheonggyecheon, and Oil Tank Culture Park. The night market is full of activities with zones for food trucks, photo spots, and make-your-own crafts as well as a variety of cultural concerts. The market continues the relationship of consumer and producer in a new way for young entrepreneurs as they create unique and original items that could not be found in previous shopping districts.
Koreans in their 20s and 30s stand in the center of the never-ending changing of trends. The places they venture become the basis for trends and their lifestyles become culture. Rather than franchise cafés that can be easily found on the busy streets of Seoul, cafés that have their own unique personality are becoming more popular. This change of pace in lifestyle is apparent in the rising interest of places like Ikseon-dong and Mangwon-dong, creating a culture of their own.
Ikseon-dong is full of fascinating alleyways. For residents, it is just their home, but for visitors, it is like a treasure hunt for interesting shops. The alleys are barely wide enough for three people, but if you keep walking you’ll find yourself surrounded by unique shops. The shops try to blend into the residential environment by maintaining hanok or old-style interior, but you will notice each shop has its own distinct concept. Thus, the vintage shops, clothes shops, and cafés come together to create an alley culture filled with the personality of Ikseon-dong.
The most diverse area in Korea would be Itaewon where people from all backgrounds are gathered and welcomed. In the past, Hangang River provided ease of transportation for foreign military soldiers and they often stayed in this area. Naturally, foreign influence from the soldiers came into Itaewon, creating the atmosphere it has today. At daytime, the distinct culture is mainly visible, but once it becomes night time, festivities take over. People from all parts of the world share stories of their culture, eat, drink, and become friends. This exotic culture attracts many Koreans as well. The neighborhood is home to many foreigners as well as shops with various cultural concepts.
There are many adventures for repeat visitors in Korea. The Boryeong Mud Festival, Suncheonman Bay tidal flat experience, Jeju Haenyeo (female diver) experience and so many more can only be experienced in Korea. There are also exhilarating experiences such as Namiseom Zipwire, Danyang Skywalk, and Tongyeong Skyline Luge. Let’s go on an adventure filled with activities at these travel destinations!
Surfyy Beach is Korea’s first private beach dedicated to surfing and has become famous among surfers. It has a separate area called the swimming zone where you can enjoy various water sport activities. There is also a bean bag zone and a hammock zone for maximum relaxation even for those not interested in surfing. Visitors have the freedom to enjoy all facilities offered by Surfyy Beach with the purchase of a Surfyy Pass. You can mingle with other visitors at the private beach during the after party, a special event unique to Surfyy Beach which takes place after sunset.
As the city slogan states, “cable car in the sky, luge on land,” Tongyeong is full of exciting activities. In particular, luge is easy to learn for children and is popular among touring families. After taking a lift to the peak 100 meters high, visitors ride the 1.5 kilometer long course at high speed. The thrill continues as the course has turns, curves, tunnels and a zone for speeding up. You can ride individually starting from a height of 110 cm and heights between 85 cm and 110 cm can ride together with an adult.
Spots that are perfect for healing include lush forests and blue oceans which can be found very easily in Korea. The harmony with mountains and oceans are so beautiful that Koreans travel for healing on their days off. You can go trekking in the mountains or relax on the beach. If you can’t travel too far, museums, concerts, and spas are great alternatives. Here, we introduce popular healing spots frequented by Koreans.
Saryeoni Forest Trail has a lush forest of cedar trees and is among the top 31 spots for scenery in Jeju. The forest is composed of Hinoki cypress, Korea oak, and a variety of different trees, and is home to many mammals, birds and reptiles such as the Eurasian badger and Quelpart island mink. The trail causes very little damage to the surroundings so visitors can experience nature at its finest. Regardless of season, the forest is great for trekking because the lush forest gives protection from the cold winter wind and hot summer sun.
The first national theater established in Asia, the National Theater of Korea, presents diverse performances spanning over Korea’s traditional arts, ballet, and opera performances. World renowned performance groups and organizations from overseas often hold performances here as well. Visitors can experience the arts in a variety of ways through their long-term and short-term art lessons. National Theater of Korea is especially popular among tourists due to its location near Namsan Seoul Tower and Myeong-dong.
* This column was last updated in June 2020, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.