While Seoul is a pretty bomb city, it’s not the only must-see spot in South Korea. But I get it – not everyone has time to go city-hopping. That’s the great thing about day trips: sleep in one hotel, then bounce around to whatever sightseeing your heart desires when the sun comes up. With this list, I’m aiming to shout out the best day trips from Seoul. You can use it for your next trip to Asia, or just bask in a debauchery-loving gal’s travels.
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Where To Stay in Seoul
Am I going to be recommending a different hotel for every post? Yes. That way, no one can accuse me of being boring. That doesn’t mean I’m picking these names out of a hat, though.
Daeyoung Hotel, for example, sits a short walk from the bustling Hoehyeon Station. It’s close enough to make travel convenient, but not so close that the sounds of traffic and trains screeching will keep you from sleeping. In other words, it makes for a perfect fit if you’re taking any day trips from Seoul.
PHOTO CREDITS: DAEYOUNG HOTEL VIA HOTELS.COM
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Best Day Trips From Seoul
1. DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) – Definite Must-See
While you might not think such a sobering subject would make for a good trip, a visit to the DMZ is the best kind of travel.
You learn a crap-ton about history, check out some cool abandoned buildings (including this creepy old amusement park), and get as close as you dare to North Korea. It’s the closest most people will get to kicking a tyrant in the groin. Having been there myself, you can’t beat the uniqueness of this attraction.
You do need a guide to get in, though. I’d recommend booking one of Viator’s tours to the DMZ; they have half, full-day, and gondola options, so there are loads to choose from.
2. Heyri Art Valley for Some Wild Aesthetics
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I am a lover of all sorts of alternative art. Heyri Art Valley definitely lives up to that.
It was built by artists, for artists – a sort of cultural haven for artists to live, work, and present their art. It’s got interesting ideas and design popping out all around, divided into different areas and concepts. There’s a creation space, festival space, international exchange space, and more; pretty fascinating stuff. Makes me wish I’d known about it sooner so I could’ve visited when I was in Korea last.
As a bonus, it’s not too far from the DMZ. If you’re crunched for time, you can squeeze both into the same day.
3. Nami Island in Chuncheon
Gonna call it – this is the most gorgeous day trip destination you can reach in under an hour. If you take the ITX Train, anyway; otherwise, it’s an hour and a half. Nami Island itself is smack-dab in the middle of a big ol’ river, with regular ferry service going from the shore to the island.
It’s most famous for the Garden of Morning Calm, but it has some other nice walking paths. You’ll definitely want to check it out in spring or fall – i.e., when the flowers are in full bloom or the leaves are changing color. Might as well make the most of it, right?
4. Meta Provence Village for a Colorful Splash of France
Whenever I travel, I’m always snapping pictures of the unusual, eye-catching, and beautiful things I see.
Meta Provence Village has all three of those. It’s basically the perfect destination for amateur and professional photographers alike. This stylish, French-styled town has greenhouse gardens, classically-inspired outdoor sculptures, and pastel-colored houses.
Like Heyri, I wish I’d known about this one beforehand, because the whole village seems like such an inspired Korean take on European art.
5. Incheon. Just. Anywhere in Incheon.
Being right next South Korea’s capital makes Incheon perfect for day trips from Seoul. There’s lots to see, and different tours you can book to make things simple. Some highlights I’d recommend are Chamseongdan Altar and Sangdo Central Park.
Normally I’m not huge on tourist-flooded temples – seen one, seen ’em all, I say – but Chamseongdan is no tourist trap. It’s a bare-bones brick platform and altar built on top of a mountain. And it’s got some pretty heavy cultural significance, too, since this is where the founder of Korea is said to have made religious sacrifices. Prooooobably most of that’s just storytelling rather than fact, but it still has a view you can’t beat.
Sangdo Central Park, meanwhile, is an artificial park – as in, the place was basically a desert before, but they slapped in a lake and some trees, and now it’s not. It’s a pretty impressive one, too – it has water taxis, cool architecture, observation towers, the works.
6. Cave Theme Park? Sign Me Up.
Gwangmyeong Cave has an interesting history. Once upon a time, it was a mine for silver and gold, but nowadays it makes its silver and gold via a tourist trap. (Lousy joke? I don’t care. Lambast me in the comments.)
Okay, okay, it’s not really a tourist trap or a cave. Instead, it’s more of an underground amusement park. And not some cheesy Disney knock-off, but a kinda-weird, kinda-cool concoction you won’t find anywhere else.
It has a horror house (fitting), a light and sound show, a cave tour (of course), an upcycled art gallery, lots of stairs, and a bit of history dolloped on top. I know you probably read about one-of-a-kind all the time on travel sites, but Gwangmyeong is legit one-of-a-kind.
7. Korean Folk Village in Yongin
History buffs of the world: this was made specifically for you. Yes, you. This is a whole ass village reenacting the Joseon Dynasty, which ranged from the 14th to 19th century. Pretty wide swath of time if you ask me, but they make it work.
The bus ride there is a bit of a chore, being an hour long, but not as bad as some other places. And this amusement park offers plenty to make it worth your while: rides, performances, music, and even some craft classes.
From the reviews I’ve read, the vibe is best during peak season when there are lots of people. Makes sense. It’d be a pretty sad village if it weren’t bustling, amiright?
8. Tour Gangneung in the Summer
Some day trips from Seoul show you the city sights. Others, like Gangneung, have some of the most picture-perfect views of nature that Korea has to offer.
You can swing by any time of year, but summer is the best. Hang out at Gyeongpo Beach or the Prickly Water Lily Wetland. Maybe go tubing while you’re there? (If you do, let me know how it turns out. I am le curious. /not-French.)
Gyeongpodae Pavilion, a lakeside temple, is another worthwhile stop. It even comes with cherry blossom trees in the spring.
Day Trips from Seoul Aren’t My Only Schtick
While I do have a few other South Korea posts up (with another on the way), I cover travel from all over. Day trips, cool attractions, itineraries – ya girl’s got ’em all. Be sure to follow me and leave a comment telling me about your own travel experiences!
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