South Korea holds a special place in the hearts of us Malaysians. K-drama, Korean BBQ, and gosh, K-pop (don’t get me started)– K-wave is showing no signs of fading away and South Korea remains as one of my top travel destinations! But did you know, South Korea has a whole lot of hidden gems that are yearning to be unyoked for the rest of the world to explore? With over 3,000 officially affirmed islands, here are 9 must visit places the next time you’re visiting South Korea!
1. Ganghwa Mega Luge @ Ganghwa, Incheon
First and foremost, many do not think much about Incheon, well, except for Incheon International Airport. The truth is, there are many things to see and experience if you’d like to make the most of your day especially to those who took an early flight into the country and don’t know what to do until your check-in time.
Located just 40 minutes away by car, you should definitely check out Ganghwa Mega Luge– Asia’s largest luge with 2 courses with the longest track at 1.8km! Picture this- you’re riding a non-motorized wheel sled that runs using the tracks slope and gravity which can easily be manoeuvre and braked.
If you’re in for an adrenaline rush, this is the place to be!
Address: 281-1, Seondu-ri San (Mt.), Gilsang-myeon, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
2. Café Joyang Bangjik @ Ganghwa, Incheon
Ganghwado is an island famous for their top-notch ginseng. Aside from keeping your body warm by devouring spoonful of nutritious Ganghwa’s ginseng chicken soup, some people just prefer having a good strong cuppa at the hippest café in town.
In this case, Café Joyang Bangjik is definitely a place like no other (not even in Malaysia!). Café Joyang Bangjik is a modern café remodeled from an old textile factory. To be more precise, the first textile factory in South Korea! Though this café has just opened doors back in July 2018, it has slowly but surely gained the likings of the locals. Plus, it has a huge compound for you to take tonnes of #OOTD!
Address: 589-23 Sinmun-ri, Ganghwa-eup, Kanghwa, Incheon, South Korea
3. K-Live Hologram & Monster VR @ Songdo, Incheon
Can’t seemed to get rid of the Hallyu from your system? Embrace it wholeheartedly (like yours truly) through a one of a kind hologram experience, K-pop style!
K-pop stars like G-Dragon and PSY will be performing at close proximity at a very wallet friendly price tag! At K-Live Hologram, you can’t really tell if you’re actually at the real concert (if not better) because it is programmed to have interactions with the audiences. Say wut!
Right next to it is the Monster VR, which is the home to more than 40 different types of VR (virtual reality) experiences, such as Jungle Adventure, VR Theater, VR Gaming, VR Exciting etc. Whether you have had prior experience with VR, you definitely must check this out!
Address: Floor 6, Building D, Triple Street, 1-33, Songdogwahal-ro 16beon-gil, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon.
Bonus: Where to stay? World Best Hanok Hotel, of course!
At Gyeongwonjae Ambasssador Incheon, get ready to be whisked back to the days of yesteryear with its intricate traditional Korean architecture. With only 30 rooms available, this is definitely an exquisite place to unwind.
If you must know, many K-dramas were filmed here, such as Goblin with A-list casts, Gong Yoo and Kim Go-Eun!
Address: 200 Technopark-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, 22004 Korea
4. Hanhwa Aqua Planet Aquarium & Maritime Cable Car @ Yeosu
Take a step closer to Mother Nature at Yeosu! Yeosu is relatively unknown to the world until 2012 where a huge expo took place. Fast forward to today, Yeosu holds unique landmarks of its own, so much so that the locals from as far as Songdo will flock over to Yeosu via KTX high-speed train!
At Yeosu, be sure to check out Hanhwa Aqua Planet Aquarium, the 2nd largest aquarium in South Korea with a record of approximately 1 million visitors every year. That is a lot of human! Hanhwa Aqua Planet Aquarium has over 34,000 marine organisms and about 280 species, such as the Beluga whale (white whale). Also, famous K-drama, “The Legend of the Blue Sea” by Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji Hyun was filmed here, too!
Address: 61-11, Odongdo-ro, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do
Catch the sunset across the horizon by taking a 10 minutes stroll from Hanhwa Aqua Planet to Maritime Cable Car.
Maritime Cable Car is South Korea’s 1st cable car to cross over a body of water, connecting the Dolsan Island with the mainland. This is the place to witness the costal beauties.
Address: 3600-1, Dolsan-ro, Dolsan-eup, Yeosu, Jeollanam-do
5. Nagan Fortress (Nagan Eupseong Folk Village)@ Suncheon City
Nagan Fortress is one of the well-reserved old villages in South Korea where the paths of the past and present meet. Within the fortress contains a 600 years of history, with well-preserved cultural properties and ancient trees! Did you know? There are still a number of locals who actually live in the village.
Address: 30, Chungmin-gil, Nagan-myeon, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
Jeonju is the food capital of South Korea and the origin of bibimbab (and choco pie). Located in the heart of the city, Jeonju Hanok Village is the epitome of an intertwined city of the past and present- a historical charm nestled in the midst of an industrialized city.
While you’re here, it is highly recommended for you to fulfill your inner saeguk dreams with an epic hanbok experience. With tonnes of hanbok rental services nearby, there’s definitely something for everyone.
Address: 29, Eojin-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do
Can you survive the harsh life of a military?
If you’ve caught Mr Sunshine on Netflix, this place over here is definitely the place to live out your military fantasies!
Sunshine Land has a Survival Experience Center, Military Experience Center, and best of all, drama & movie filming set in the 1900-1950s.
K-drama Mr Sunshine’s filming set was built here from scratch, with the iconic Glory Hotel standing tall within the vicinity, welcoming the public since the film wraps up earlier this year.
Address: 24, Biryegol-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
K-pop fans out there are definitely no stranger to this. SMTown Museum is indeed a museum for SM living idols (pun intended) – a complex cultural playground to learn about the histories of SM artists, such as BoA, SHINee, Super Junior, and Girls Generation!
From learning about how SM contents are being produced till the making of costumes and props, SMTown Museum is like a candy store to SM fans out there!
Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Running Man is perhaps the most successful game-variety show in Asia where its star players must complete missions at various places to win the race. If you’re familiar with Running Man, each mission is nothing short of actions and laughter as each member tries to outsmart one another by using their wits and skills!
So, what better way to have a taste of Running Man than to be at its very own Thematic Experience Center? Staying true to the essence of speed, IQ, and time, one must collect as much points R-points as possible at various game stations within an hour’s time.
Trust me, as tiring and nerve-wrecking it can be, this turns out to be one of the best experiences I had in Seoul.
Address: B1, Hana Building, 41, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul