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19 Things To Do In Korea In 2019

Aside from hoarding beauty finds in Myeongdong.
PHOTO: (LEFT) Instagram/hello_dongwon, (RIGHT) Instagram/twilabergania

In July 2018, it was announced that you can only get a tourist visa to South Korea through designated travel agencies now. Don't let that stop you from booking a trip to the amazing country, though! Let this list guide you (and prove to you that your money will be worth it), whether you're just waiting for a seat sale or you're already planning your itinerary for Korea.

  1. Go on a bike tour along Han River.

    Hop on a bike and marvel at the sights of the city. You'll cover more ground this way. You can visit all the parks or have a picnic! Just buy street food sold by ajummas or snacks in convenience stores.

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  2. Check out the uniquely themed cafes.

    Why settle for just plain old coffee when you can have it in a cat, dog, or sheep cafe, amirite? Seoul has them all! If you're in it for the 'gram, check out the Ddo-ong Cafe (named after the Korean term for "poop") or Style Nanda Pink Pool Cafe.

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  3. Take off to Dongdaemun Design Plaza.

    The DDP is definitely a must-see for anyone visiting South Korea. Take photos of the impressive spaceship-like architecture during the day, or check out the field of glowing roses at night. Afterwards, hit the malls and boutiques around Dongdaemun, the fashion shopping capital of Seoul.

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  4. Celebrate all things K-pop in Apgujeong.

    Head to Hallyu K-Star Road for a pilgrimage of your favorite acts like BTS, BLACKPINK, and TWICE. You'll stumble upon the famous talent agencies in the neighborhood, too, like JYP, Cube Entertainment, and SM Entertainment. You can also find trendy shops and havens for K-pop merch in the area!

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  5. Go "treasure" hunting in Bukchon Hanok Village.

    It's situated between two palaces: Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeonggung. Aside from the distinct architecture, there are plenty of gems hidden in this village. Rent a hanbok and feel like a noblewoman in the Joseon Dynasty. Try one of the many restaurants in the village, and retrace the filming locations of dramas like She Was Pretty and Goblin.

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  6. Catch a street performance in Hongdae.

    Aside from the endless shopping boutiques and trendy eats in this area, one thing you can't miss in Hongdae are the street performances. You can watch young bands or girl and boy groups dancing K-pop hits. You might even spot a cute oppa or two! Hehe! (P.S. There are plenty of chicken-and-beer and Korean BBQ-and-soju restaurants you can try, too!)

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  7. Find your zen in the Garden of Morning Calm.

    Escape from the city at this grand arboretum. It's two bus rides (an hour and 45 minutes) away from Seoul. You can alternatively book tours for a hassle-free trip. Stay until early evening especially during winter for a spectacularly lit sight.

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  8. Feel senti in Nami Island.

    This small island is an integral part of itineraries for Korea, especially for first-timers. It's just so beautiful and peaceful there that you can't help but feel a tiny bit sentimental. Book a tour to Nami Island, particularly if you can't deal with the stress of the subway-train-bus commute route getting there from Seoul.

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  9. Hike up a mountain.

    There are plenty of natural sights to choose from in Korea, and among the most breathtaking are their well-preserved mountains. Aside from Namsan (the mountain where the N Seoul Tower rests), the closest one to Seoul that you can try conquering is Bukhansan. You can also book tours to the popular Seoraksan and Naejangsan, where you can see the most beautiful fall foliage during mid-October till early November.

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  10. Stop over at Byeokje Station.

    Here's an underrated picture-perfect spot you can visit. The majestic view from the tunnel is enough reason to go to this one-of-a-kind bus station in Goyang, a city in South Korea's Gyeonggi Province. After taking photos, you can roam around the nearby Bukhanseong Fortress and visit other sites around the station. If you're lucky, you can even witness big events like the flower festival called International Horticulture Goyang Korea in the spring-summer season.

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  11. Explore Starfield COEX Mall.

    If you're looking for a book lover's paradise, nothing fits the bill better than the Starfield Library. Head to Gangnam to marvel at the sky-high shelves yourself. You can also shop until you drop at the COEX Mall, dubbed as Asia's largest underground shopping complex. K-pop fans can also take a tour of SMTOWN, a huge theme park dedicated to Hallyu stars like Super Junior, Girls' Generation, and EXO.

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  12. Have a hamburger in Itaewon.

    Itaewon feels like it plucked pages from countries around the world. There are Irish pubs, American bars, and Japanese ramen shops. There are also Middle Eastern fare and a Filipino restaurant! Try this rooftop resto called The 100 Food Truck, where you can chomp on giant burgers with soda or maekju (beer).
  13. Go skiing or sledding in Gangwon-do.

    If you score flights to Korea in time for winter, don't miss out on your chance to play in the snow! You can either try skiing or snowboarding (lessons included in some tour packages) or unleash the child in you by going sledding. One of the ski resorts you can check out is Vivaldi Park Ski World. Don't worry about getting lost on your way there since they offer free shuttles to and from Seoul.

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  14. Have fun in Everland!

    Let the child—or the Insta-obsessed adult—in you play at this huge theme park! If you come during springtime, take cool OOTDs with the wonderful tulips and other blooms as your backdrop. Maybe get a selca with a panda photobomber, too. And if you're feeling brave, try the adrenaline-pumping T Express, one of the tallest and steepest wooden roller coasters in the world!

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  15. Search for less crowded Instagram spots.

    You don't have to search far, really, but if you're up for an adventure and you want fewer competition, you can head to some ~*secret*~ IG-worthy landmarks. Check out the super cute Jeungpyeong Bicycle Park if, by chance, you're visiting North Chungcheong Province. Or how about Meta Provence in Damyang, South Jeolla?

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  16. Relax by the beach.

    Take a train to Busan to chill at Haeundae or to Gangwon-do to reach Sokcho Beach. Like in the Philippines, Korea's beaches are a four-hour drive, two-hour train ride, or an hour-long flight away. But unlike us, they have a designated swimming season—their summertime in July to August. 

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  17. Relive K-dramas in Jeju.

    Go beyond Seoul and the rest of South Korea's mainland! Visit actual filming locations like the Hallasan Mountain (from My Lovely Sam Soon), Seopjikoji Lighthouse (from Boys Over Flowers) and Sinchang Windmill Coastal Road (from Warm & Cozy). 

  18. Jeju Shinwha World

    Photos of this premium resort, as well as its world-class features, are ridiculously jaw-dropping. Aside from the exciting waterslides and theme park, you can enjoy attractions like YG Republique. It houses a sleek bowling club and hip café, which the K-pop artist G-Dragon actively took part in designing.

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  19. N Seoul Tower

    One of the best ways to end a trip to South Korea is by marveling at the cityscapes at this iconic tower. Reach the top through a scenic cable car ride, hop on one of those blue buses, or go on a hike if you feel like it! Sign and leave your love locks, or just watch the sun set at the top of the tower.

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