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South Korea’s distinctive culture, along with its booming economy, makes for a very unique travel destination. With scores of sights to see, numerous things to do, and a variety of cuisines to try, any traveler’s South Korea itinerary will surely be packed with new and exciting adventures. From unique food escapades in Jeonju, historic war site tours in the DMZ, folk village tours on Nami Island, and walking or cycling tours around Seoul, experiencing South Korea and its unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures makes for a truly magnificent vacation.

How many days should you spend in South Korea? This guide will take you through the country’s top destinations to fill your trip to South Korea.

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How Much Time Should I Spend in South Korea?

South Korean vacation itineraries must include visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of the 5 palaces built during the Joseon dynasty.

While you can check out the major cities like Seoul or Busan in just five days, we’d suggest spending at least a week in South Korea. During this time, you can enjoy day trips around places like Suwon, which has its stunning 18th-century Hwaseong Fortress.

For a more complete South Korea holiday experience, we’d recommend a two-week itinerary. Two weeks in South Korea will allow you to visit most of the country’s highlights at a relaxed pace. Enjoy a cross-country road trip to Busan, or enjoy some island hopping to Jeju Island, combining city and beach vibes.

South Korea in 10 Days

South Korean travel itineraries are incomplete without seeing the colorful houses in Gamcheon.
You will have a lot of fun exploring the pastel labyrinth of alleys in Gamcheon.

Do not worry if you cannot stretch your stay to 14 days in South Korea. A ten-day South Korea itinerary allows you to venture far and wide. Add a trip to Busan to the one-week South Korea itinerary above for an ultimate experience. Despite being South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan boasts of a rich natural landscape — ranging from mountains to beaches and relaxing hot springs. Haeundae Beach, one of Busan’s most popular natural landmarks, is a one-and-a-half-kilometer stretch of white sand where families flock to swim, relax, and enjoy a variety of culinary options.

Other popular attractions in Busan include the rows of mountainside terraced houses in Gamcheon Culture Village, dubbed as the Santorini of South Korea. Haedong Yonggungsa and the Beomeosa Temples are also worth a day trip, if only for their gorgeous architecture. And do not skip a visit to the Jagalchi fish market, the largest fish market in South Korea, for a fun afternoon of sampling the freshest seafood you will ever get to taste. See all our 10-day tours in South Korea.

South Korea in 1 Week

A bowl of Japchae, a traditional Korean food.
Japchae is a "must-eat" when you visit South Korea.

Though one week in South Korea may not seem like much, it is enough to tour Seoul and its neighboring cities. The bustling city streets of the country’s capital are unlike any other, with busy food and shopping districts popular among locals and foreigners.

Spend the first three days of your trip soaking up the atmospheric streets of Seoul and going on mouth-watering food escapades. Korean street food is quite popular, and no South Korean trip is ever complete without it. Go on a walking tour of the city and immerse yourself in Seoul's rich art, culture, and architecture. 

For the remainder of your trip, explore the historical and cultural sites in Jeonju. The birthplace of bibimbap, Jeonju, is known as the gastronomic center of South Korea. Not only is the city a foodie destination, but it is also more laid back and traditional compared to Seoul. Here, you can rent a hanbok (traditional Korean clothes) while you walk around the city and spend a night in a traditional Korean house. See all 7-day tours in South Korea.

South Korea in 2 Weeks

Cheonjiyeon waterfall in Jeju Island surrounded by greenery.
If you want to be one with nature, then Jeju Island will prove to be your dream destination.

Two weeks in South Korea allows you to spend a couple of days in both Busan and Seoul, exploring their top attractions like Gyeongbokgung Palace and Gamcheon Culture Village, as well as see some other parts of the country. We’d recommend carving out time to visit the historic and culturally significant Korean Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea before heading south to places like Jeonju, where you will find traditional Korean heritage and architecture.

With two weeks in South Korea, you will also have time to visit Nami Island. The island is known for its gorgeous trees and cherry blossoms. It is also a must-visit destination for fans of K-Dramas, as many popular shows were filmed on this gorgeous island. Finally, treat yourself to a chilled-out couple of days on Jeju Island. Known for its stunning beaches, snorkeling sites, and volcanic structures, this island is the perfect antidote for the hustle and bustle of cities like Seoul. Describe your ideal 14-day holiday for a tailormade trip to South Korea.

South Korea in 3 Weeks

A bowl of red Haejangguk stew, a traditional Korean food.
Haejangguk, or the "hangover stew," finds its roots back in the Goryeo Dynasty.

You have the luxury of covering a lot of ground and really immersing yourself in every destination during a three-week South Korea travel itinerary. Expand your stay in each of the country’s major cities to get to know the place, or squeeze in extra destinations like Sokcho or Jeju Island.

Located in South Korea’s far northeast, Sokcho is a fantastic spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Its highlight is Seoraksan National Park, named after the highest mountain in the region, which is home to a variety of hiking trails suitable for everyone. A unique biosphere with thousands of plant and animal species, Seoraksan is home to deer, otters, the Siberian flying squirrel, and even the endangered Korean goral. Meanwhile, Jeju Island is a destination known for its romantic trips in South Korea. Offering gorgeous beaches, breathtaking sunsets, picturesque cliffs, and waterfalls, Jeju makes for an extremely romantic getaway.

Planning a Trip to South Korea?

Get in touch with one of our travel experts in South Korea for a customized trip. If you would like to book a package trip or join a group, check out our South Korea itineraries and tours.

Insider's tip: If you are thinking about getting a Korail Pass, here is what you should know. There are two kinds of Korail Pass: consecutive (3 or 5 days) and select (2 or 4 days). A consecutive pass is valid for three or five successive days from the date of issuance. Select pass, on the other hand, can be used any time within 10 days. To take full advantage of the Korail Pass, consider taking multiple trips in a day. For example, you could take a morning visit to Nami Island from Seoul, followed by an evening excursion to Busan. You can also take day trips from Busan to Gyeongju, followed by Andong, and then from Andong to Seoul. — Smita from smitabhattacharya.com

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Published by David Lee, updated on April 18, 2024
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