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Hey, stranger! Planning to spend 2 weeks in South Korea? I got you! This South Korea itinerary lets you soak up the culture, see the sights, do some hiking and relax on the beach.
Psst – don’t miss a thing during your trip thanks to my 40 South Korea bucket list items!
I recently followed the below South Korea travel itinerary so you can rest assured it’s tried and tested. I made all the travel mistakes so you don’t have to. What else are blogs for, right?
SOUTH KOREA ESSENTIALS
Accommodation: Booking.com / Hostelworld
Getting there: air (Skyscanner)
Getting around: Train (Trip.com) / bus
Pre-book a Tmoney transport card
Pre-book private airport to hotel transfer
Stay connected: SIM card / portable WI-Fi
Travel insurance: True Traveller (European travellers) / Hey Mundo (other nationalities) / Safety Wing (digital nomads)
What kind of South Korea itinerary is this?
The itineraries below are relatively fast-paced. You’ll see 4 places
If you want to see a new place each day and whiz around fast, this might not be the 2 week South Korea itinerary for you. I’m an advocate of slow travel but I appreciate you want to see a lot during 2 or 3 weeks in South Korea so I’ve aimed for a middle ground.
How long do you need in South Korea?
I believe 14 days in South Korea is enough to see it properly, providing you pick just a few places of interest. This will allow you to explore two major cities, Jeju Island and another destination of your choosing. Of course, the more time, the better!
Read next: 30 Korea travel tips
Internet & SIM cards in South Korea
There’s good Wi-Fi in South Korea, from hotels to cafes and even in the subway stations. However, when you’re out and about, you may want to stay connected by using a SIM card.
I found out the hard way that tourists can only purchase SIM cards at the airport. Shops and market stands rarely sell them to travellers without a Korean residency card.
I’d recommend being organised and ordering one in advance. Book your UNLIMITED 4g SIM to collect at Seoul airport or upgrade to include a Tmoney transport card.
Alternatively, rent a pocket Wi-Fi device and return it at the airport when you leave. If you’re taking a big trip, it might be worth buying your own mobile Wi-Fi hotspot to bring with you.
Read next: 101 Asia backpacking tips
How to get around South Korea
The train and bus are both quick and efficient which saves valuable time during a South Korea itinerary. Trains can be booked on Trip.com, partner of Korail (the official railway network of Korea). Click the three stripes in the top right corner then the flag to change it to English.
Buses are notoriously hard to book online for foreigners so it’s recommended to just turn up. I did this and always got a seat.
It’s also possible to fly between Korean cities although I chose not to for environmental reasons. However, you’ll need to fly when visiting Jeju Island. I use Skyscanner to find the best deals on flights.
Read next: all my South Korea travel tips
Getting from Seoul airports to the city
Getting from Incheon International Airport to Seoul: the international airport where you’ll probably be arriving is connected to Seoul Station by the AREX Express train (from T1 and T2 direct to Seoul Station), the All Stop Train (from T2, making 13 subway stops to Seoul Station). Finally, the Incheon Airport Bus costs 15,000 won and taxis start from 3,800 won.
Getting from Gimpo Airport (domestic flights) to Seoul: a taxi on the metre should cost 15,000 won; the AREX All Stop train takes 20 minutes and costs 1,450 won, and the 6021 bus costs 7,000 won and takes 45 minutes.
Budget for 2 weeks in South Korea
Korea is much more expensive than countries like Vietnam and Thailand but still cheaper than most Western countries. It’s a similar price to Japan. Here’s a quick summary of how much you can expect to spend during two weeks in South Korea:
Transport: A couple of my shorter journeys (i.e. Busan to Gyeongju and Daegu to Jeonju) cost just 5,000 KWR ($4 /£3.30) but the fast train between Jeonju and Seoul was more expensive at 30,000 KRW ($25 / £20). I could have saved money and caught a lengthy bus but for the most part, trains and buses are similar prices.
Make sure to budget for flights to Jeju and back. They start at around 30,000 KRW each way. I use Skyscanner for flight booking.
Accommodation: Beds in hostel dorms start at 22,000 KRW ($19 / £15) and private rooms cost around 32,000 KRW ($30 / £22). Hotels start at 45,000 KRW per night ($40 / £30). I suggest Hostelworld for finding hostels and Booking.com for hotels, homestays and apartments.
Read next: complete budget guide to South Korea
Street food: The good news is that you can eat during your South Korea trip for as little as 2,000 KRW ($1.50). It won’t be nutritious but it WILL be tasty. It’s worth noting most of the best street food markets are in Seoul and Busan; markets in smaller cities are more like wet markets selling fresh produce (which you can buy to make a healthy dinner if your accommodation has a kitchen).
Restaurants: You’ll find meals from 5,000 KRW in modest restaurants. Bibimbap can be cheap as chips (and nicer). For more upmarket restaurants (and those in cool areas of Seoul), expect to pay up to 20,000 KRW a meal.
In total, 2 weeks in South Korea cost me 1,000,000 KRW ($830 / £620). This is a hostel & street food budget!
2 week South Korea itinerary overview
Days 1-5: Seoul. Explore Bukchon Hanok Village, Bukhansan National Park, Ihwa Mural Village, Gwangjang Market (amongst others), Insa-dong, Myeongdong, the DMZ, museums, Hongdae and Gangnam.
Days 6-7: Sokcho for hiking in Seoraksan National Park (option for nature lovers and hikers) OR Jeonju (option for culture vultures and foodies).
Days 8-10: Busan. Visit the Temple by the Sea (Haedong Yonggung), Haeundae Beach, Gamcheon Culture Village, Nampo district, Seomyeon district and hike Igidae Coastal Walk or Taejongdae Park.
Days 11-14: Jeju Island. Discover the East, West and South coasts during different days.
Got an extra week? Keep reading for my 3 week South Korea itinerary.
Days 1-5: Seoul
I’m assuming you’re starting your 2 weeks in South Korea in Seoul. If you’re beginning in Busan
Where to start with Seoul? After 2 years travelling around Asia, I felt at home in Seoul. Within days I’d decided it was my joint-favourite Asian city (tied with Hanoi).
It has everything: traditional palaces, informative museums, nature hikes, street art villages, quirky cafes, street food, fine dining, boutique shopping, crazy nightlife… The list goes on and on!
Read next: The ultimate 5 day Seoul itinerary
Is the Discover Seoul Pass worth it? From $37, you’ll get free entry to over 50 attractions and discounted entry to over 100 attractions AND a transport pass. I would say it’s worth it should you plan your time tactically and visit as many of the included attractions in the validity period. Research what’s included in the Discover Seoul Pass.
How to get around Seoul
For a huge city, Seoul is easy to navigate. The expansive Seoul subway has 20 lines with a map displayed in each station, but you can also download a Seoul subway mobile app (there are several to choose from).
I also enjoyed travelling by bus because it’s nice to be above ground and see the city as you go. Although navigating a bus network in a city where you don’t speak the language may seem overwhelming, it’s not so bad: the journeys even show on Google Maps. You just need to pop your money in the box by the driver (so make sure you have the right change).
The buses are priced according to colour so use this guide to bus travel in Seoul to work out what you need to pay.
Fun transport: the Yellow Bus Tour Seoul and the Seoul City Tour Bus are sightseeing buses for tourists, both included in the Discover Seoul Pass.
Day 1 – Bukchon Hanok Village OR Bukhansan National Park
OPTION 1 – tour traditional architecture at Bukchon Hanok Village, preserved to reflect the architectural styles of the Joseon period (14th century-1897). Bukchon comprises a few hundred houses built, as all traditional hanoks were, facing north with water in front and a mountain behind.
Bukchon retains all the charm of an ancient hanok village while offering visitors the chance to get immersed at cultural centres, cafes and tea houses. You can even stay overnight as many hanoks are now guesthouses.
Take a 3-hour self-guided walk around Bukchon. Note that most attractions are closed Sundays.
Getting to Bukchon Hanok Village: Take the subway to Anguk Station (Line 3), take Exit 3 and follow signs.
Afternoon: After your morning culture dose, why not try walking Seoul City Walls? Hike along sections of this 18km wall constructed during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) overlooking spectacular city views. Better yet, it’s free! Naksan Mountain Trail is the easier trail (2km) and Baegak Mountain Trail is slightly longer (4.7km). The other great thing about Naksan Park is the wonderful sunset views from the top.
DAY 1, OPTION 2 – If you’re feeling energetic, a hike in Bukhansan National Park will certainly be a memorable addition to your trip. My favourite thing about Korea is how easy it is to jump on a city bus and arrive in nature.
The Bukhansan Peak hike takes 4-5 hours (but you may wish to set aside 5-6 if you like to stop and take photos) but there are also other, more leisurely, trails in the park. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, I have no doubt this will be a highlight of your South Korea trip itinerary.
Getting to Bukhansan: Take subway Line 3 to Daehwa Station and board the 704 bus outside Exit 1. Get off at Bukhansanseong Fortress Entrance.
Tips for Bukhansan: Hiking boots are preferable but comfy trainers will do. Make sure you have enough suncream, water and a hat in the summer, and rain gear in cooler months.
Related tour: since Bukhansan Peak can be a challenging climb, you may want to go with an expert guide who will provide you lunch, water and hotel pick-up. Book a day hiking tour.
DAY 1, OPTION 3: More about theme park adrenaline than the great outdoors? Spend the day at Lotte World instead. This theme park with water flumes, aquariums and the famous Lotte Tower observatory is a popular, modern attraction where you could easily spend a whole day, especially if travelling with kids.
Day 2 – Ihwa Mural Village, Gwangjang Market, Insa-dong & Myeongdong
Morning: Fans of street art, or simply cool and colourful places, should pay a visit to Ihwa Mural Village. Like many mural villages in South Korea, this was once a rundown area that didn’t benefit from the flow of tourism to the city. The residents took fate into their own hands and gave their area a lick of paint… Or rather, thousands of licks of paint!
Getting to Ihwa Mural Village: The nearest subway station is Hyehwa Station. Take Line 4 there and follow signs to exit 2.
Tips for visiting Ihwa Mural Village: Wear comfy shoes and prepare for the steep steps leading to the village. Be respectful when taking photos: these are locals’ homes, not your selfie station!
Gwangjang Market: For lunch, eat Seoul street food at this famous market not far from Ihwa Mural Village. Walk in 20 minutes or jump on a bus. Options include fried chicken, dumplings, bindae-tteok (mung bean pancakes) and more.
If you’ve watched Netflix’s Street Food documentary, you may recognise chef, Cho Yonsoon, serving her famous knife-cut noodles. Eat them in soup with lashings of kimchi.
Afternoon: Journey to Seoul’s Insa-dong neighbourhood (just a 6-minute ride on subway Line 1 from Gwangjang Market), one of the oldest and most traditional neighbourhoods in Seoul (aside from Bukchon Hanok Village which you’ll have seen on day 1 of this Korea itinerary).
Wander the traditional shops to get a feel for Insa-dong and sample flavoured tea and snacks at an authentic tea house. My favourite is Old Shin Tea House set inside a peaceful hanok. The plum tea is delicious.
Getting to Insa-dong: Take Line 3 to Anguk Station (Exit 6) or Line 1 to Jonggak Station (Exit 3).
Late afternoon: Jump on a 10-minute bus from Insa-dong to Myeongdong for a complete contrast. This bustling neighbourhood is flanked by skyscrapers and home to more beauty stores than you’ll have seen in your life. Head inside for free product samples.
Despite being an upmarket area, there’s affordable street food at the open-air Myeongdong market. After gorging your heart out on tteokbokki, tornado potatoes and other Korean treats, you could finish your day by walking through Namsan Mountain Park to the Seoul Tower for sunset. Beware it gets crazy busy at weekends and there are long queues; book a skip-the-line ticket in advance or get free entry with the Discover Seoul Pass.
Day 3 – DMZ day trip
Take a day trip to the DMZ, a must for any South Korea 2 week itinerary. This buffer zone between South Korea and North Korea has a tragic history which you can learn about during a guided tour.
Walk inside Third Tunnel, look through binoculars towards the Peace Village (a propaganda village built by NK to give the impression all is well in their country) from Dora Observatory, and visit Dorasan, the final train station before the border that will hopefully one day reunite families separated by the DMZ.
Recommended tour – since you can’t visit the DMZ independently, book a DMZ tour with Viator.
Note – as of 2023, tourists are now allowed to visit the Joint Security Area (JSA) after 2 years of closure. I haven’t noticed any popular tour companies add this back to their itineraries but I’ll keep checking.
If you opt for a half-day trip, you’ll get back to the city early afternoon. Head to Hongdae for more weird & wonderful cafes, shopping
Read next: Tips for visiting the DMZ from Seoul
Day 4 – museum & culture day
No South Korea travel guide could miss the rich cultural heritage in Seoul. Visit the palaces, museums and galleries, breaking up the day by visiting Tongin Market for lunch. Here you can exchange tokens for a lunchbox of local food.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is the oldest and most impressive of the five palaces in Seoul, built under the Joseon Dynasty. If you just have time for one, I’d recommend Gyeongbokgung because it’s the most beautiful, and easily accessible in central Seoul near Heungnyemun Gate.
Built in 1395, this detailed and delicate palace could take half a day to explore. But if your time’s limited, make sure to visit at 10am or 2pm (apart from Tuesdays when the palace is closed) to witness the impressive changing of the guard ceremony.
More palaces in Seoul to add to your South Korea itinerary
Changdeokgung Palace – surrounded by beautiful gardens measuring 78 acres, this is another serene palace to visit in South Korea’s capital with fewer crowds than Gyeongbokgung. With several pristine gates and temples, it’s little wonder it’s protected by UNESCO. Visit for a guided tour in English at 10.30am or 2.30pm. Closed Mondays.
Deoksugung Palace – briefly Seoul’s main palace during an era when the others had burnt down. Find it near City Palace.
Changgyeonggung Palace – like the others, this palace is bursting with history, having been destroyed several times during Japanese occupation. Luckily, it’s survived and is a lovely place to explore today.
Gyeonghuigung Palace – the youngest and least-visited of the Seoul palaces is a hidden gem with more than 100 halls. It’s beside Heunghwamun Gate so makes for an easy add-on when visiting Gyeongbokgung.
Hanbok rental in Seoul
It’s a popular activity for tourists and locals alike to dress up in hanboks AKA traditional Korean clothing. As a White person, I initially felt uncomfortable at the idea of wearing clothing from another culture, in mind of cultural appropriation. However, Koreans will certainly encourage you to!
If you feel comfortable, renting a hanbok will also get you into the Seoul palaces for free!
- National Folk Museum of Korea – here you can learn about Korean life in the days gone by
- The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art– a vibrant contemporary art gallery
- National Museum of Korean Contemporary History – the place to understand recent history including Japanese rule and the split with North Korea.
Day 5 – fun
End this section of your South Korea itinerary by exploring Seoul’s modern side.
Morning: Head to Gangnam to visit ‘
Next, grab lunch in stylish Sinsa-dong neighbourhood. There are countless cool cafes packed with fashionable young Koreans.
Afternoon: visit Itaewon district for hipster hangouts and the world’s best sandwich at Casablanca, or instead take a leisurely river stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream. This is a peaceful place in Seoul where you’ll glimpse undisturbed wildlife.
Where to stay in Seoul?
I would highly recommend Hongdae which is full of shops and cafes but isn’t as busy as the heart of the city. It’s easy to get everywhere from the metro station, plus there are many bus connections. Check out:
- Hostel – You can’t do better than Bunk Guesthouse Hongdae, one of the best hostels I’ve stayed at in 10 years of backpacking. The friendly owner remembers everyone’s name, there was complimentary breakfast, and my dorm room had a private lounge with sofas and TV. It was like a home from home. Check availability from US$44 for two nights.
- Budget hotel – Just 5 minutes from the subway and less than 900 metres to Jongmyo Shrine and Changdeokgung Palace, Hi Guesthouse Insadong is a clean and friendly base with breakfast and excellent shared facilities, including a sun terrace with BBQ, kitchen, laundry, and living area. Check availability from US$40.
- Mid-range – With an unbeatable location, clean, modern rooms, and the friendliest staff around, it’s no wonder that Daeyoung Hotel Myeongdong is one of Seoul’s top-rated hotels. Check rates from US$60.
- Splash-out – with gorgeous double rooms, a panoramic skyline view of the city and an indulgent breakfast buffet served in a stylish restaurant area, 9 Brick Hotel is where you can really splash out. Check rates from US$120.
- Apartment – for the convenience of a private apartment not far from Hongdae, check out the comfortable studios at Dada Stay. Check rates from US$90.
Where to eat in Seoul
Well, where to even begin! There are so many places to eat in Seoul from fine dining to street food. Since I think my audience is comprised mainly of solo travellers and budget travellers, I’ll focus on the latter by telling you about some best food markets in Seoul…
Myeongdong Market – in the heart of the thriving beauty district, this is a great place to nurture your body by shopping for skincare essentials… While also indulging your stomach with typical Seoul street foods sold at open-air stalls!
Namdaemun Market – this is one of the city’s most authentic night markets with a large indoor section with butchers stalls and fresh produce, and many stands outside. This market begins to wind down at 6pm so visit for lunch or an early dinner.
Tongin Market – a vibrant daytime market near the main palaces and museums. Buy a ‘lunchbox’ and tokens to exchange for yummy local dishes.
Gwangjang Market – probably my favourite market, packed with every Korean delicacy under the sun! Better yet, it’s home to Cho Yonsoon’s knife-cut noodles that featured on the Netflix Street Food series.
Also, a Korean BBQ meal and a dak galbi meal (rice cakes, chicken, cheese and gochujang sauce cooked on a hot plate) is a must for any South Korea itinerary! Annoyingly, they don’t usually serve them for one person but I managed to find a restaurant that would, for a slight surcharge.
If you’re on a budget, make sure to eat bibimbap, one of the cheapeast and best Korean dishes!
What to do in Seoul at night?
Well, how long have you got? From crazy clubs to boujee bars and everything in between, this city truly never sleeps. But it’s not all about alcohol: you’ll see friends and couples drinking coffee at 2am and groups crowded around tables at buffet restaurants ’til sunrise.
Then, there are talented buskers who perform free K-pop concerts in the streets of Hongdae. There’s always something fun going on, not limited to the activities below:
- Take a pub crawl – join a guide and group of fellow partygoers visiting 4 bars in lively parts of town.
- Ghost stories walking tour – hear dark tales and learn about legends and true crime during this unique evening walking tour!
- Take an evening boat cruise or dinner cruise down the Han River
- Hike or take the cable car (then ride the elevator) to the top of the Seoul Tower for sunrise or night views
- Catch a NANTA show using traditional Korean music and performance to tell the hilarious tale of chefs throwing a chaotic wedding banquet
- Karaoke! Noraebang is the local name for karaoke, usually located in private booths you can rent out with your friends. As someone with a terrible singing voice, I much preferred this to having a bunch of strangers watch!
Days 6-7: Sokcho & Seoraksan National Park
Just 2 hours from Seoul is a stunning part of South Korea that many tourists miss. The main reason to visit Sokcho city is to hike in Seoraksan National Park, a beautiful area full of stunning cliffs and endless forest.
If you love hiking and nature, don’t miss this stop from your 2 week South
Getting to Sokcho: Buses run from Seoul Express Bus Terminal, taking 2.5 hours to reach Sokcho and costing 18,000 KRW.
Day 6: Travel by bus to Sokcho. Check out Sokcho Beach.
Day 7: Spend a day hiking in Seoraksan. From your accommodation, catch a bus to the Outer Seorak entrance of the park near the Seoraksan cable car.
Just 10-minutes by foot from the entrance is Sinheungsa Temple with a 62-foot gold Buddha statue. Rumour has it this is the oldest Zen Temple in the world, built in the year 653. Better yet, a FREE bowl of noodles is handed out to every guest!
Where to stay in Sokcho
- Hostel – At just 1km from Lighthouse Beach and 400m from Sokcho Culture Centre, Sokcho Hutte is a conveniently located and budget-friendly hostel. Guests can enjoy the onsite bar, common area and delicious breakfast, alongside staying in clean, modern dorms with AC and private rooms with city or mountain views. Check availability from US$24.
- Budget hotel – Sokcho & Guesthouse is a top-rated accommodation near the beach. Don’t miss the daily American breakfast, and stop by the shared kitchen and lounge. The super-friendly hosts can help book tours and bus tickets. Check availability from US$55.
- Mid-range – Just 80 metres from Lighthouse Beach, you’ll have fantastic city or ocean views from your room at Heavenmark in Sokcho. Well-equipped modern rooms include air-conditioning, a TV, a balcony, a fridge, a kettle and a washer-dryer. Check availability from US$80.
- Splash-out – Make the most of the Sokcho scenery from every immaculate sea view room at Lotte Resort Sokcho. Facilities include a water park, arcade, mini golf, infinity pool, gym, restaurants, and rooftop pub. Check availability from US$200.
Alternative days 6-7: Jeonju
Prefer cities and culture to nature and hiking? Swap Sokcho for Jeonju to ensure this South Korea 2 week itinerary suits you.
Getting to Jeonju: From Seoul, catch the train or bus in just under 3 hours. Book your train on Trip.com or simply turn up at the bus terminal if you’re catching a bus.
The gorgeous little city of Jeonju is somewhere I’ve written about a lot since my visit. If you didn’t have time to visit Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, never fear because Jeonju is arguably even more charming. It’s a fantastic place to stay overnight in a perfectly preserved hanok house.
If that doesn’t persuade you, Jeonju is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy and the birthplace of bibimbap. Foodies, drop what you’re doing and get over here!
Read next: Complete Jeonju travel guide
Day 6: Arrive in Jeonju and get your bearings. Head for dinner at Family House for a bibimbap feast (pictured above). Although I initially thought ordering a 20,000 KRW meal was pricey, I was stunned at the sheer amount of food that arrived. This is how Rose died and went to bibimbap heaven!
Day 7: Explore Jeonju, visit the Hanok Village, eat at Nambu Market and spot street art Jaman Mural Village (a smaller version of Seoul’s Ihwa Mural Village).
Honestly, you could see Jeonju in
Where to stay in Jeonju
- Hostel – Happinessfull Hanok Guesthouse is a gem. This traditional hanok house is the real deal, with a modest floor bed and a TV showing K-pop and K-dramas. Although the owner could speak little English and I could speak even less Korean, she was so friendly and handed me maps and freshly-brewed tea. Check availability from US$35.
- Budget hotel – Whoever put together the rooms at Kama Hotel thought of every modern amenity you might need, from a TV with Netflix to hair straighteners. It’s conveniently located near bus routes and includes a simple breakfast. Check availability from US$45.
- Mid-range – With contemporary facilities, a great breakfast and city views, Hotel Arari is a clean and convenient base for exploring Jeonju. Check availability from US$57.
- Splash-out – The well-located Best Western Plus Jeonju has an onsite restaurant, gym, outdoor pool, and cocktail lounge, so you’ll be well set to return and relax after a day of exploring the city. Check availability from US$85.
Days 8-10: Busan
While some people describe Busan as just another big city, I liked it. No, it’s not as quirky or cool as Seoul but where is? Busan is still an excellent addition to any South Korea 2 week itinerary, as well as a launching point for reaching Jeju Island.
Getting to Busan: From Jeonju, you can catch a bus or train within 3 hours. If you were previously in Sokcho, you can take a
Day 8 – arrive and sightsee
Depending on your arrival time, there are plenty of activities for your first day in Busan. One option is visiting the Temple by the Sea (Haedong Yonggung Temple). Alternatively, kick back and relax on famous Haeundae Beach.
Chill out even further at Spa Land inside Shinsegae Centum City (shopping centre) in the evening. This is a traditional Korean jjimjilbang with a nude hot pool area. Visit after 8pm for a discounted ticket.
Read next: Busan 3 day itinerary
Day 9 – Gamcheon Culture Village & Nampo
Afternoon: Head to Nampo district to climb Busan Tower, check out Jagalchi Fish Market, shop at Gukje Market and eat Korean street food in Biff Square.
Read next: The best day trips from Busan
Day 10 – hiking in Busan
Take a morning hike, add either Igidae Coastal Walk or in Taejongdae Park, across the bridge on a small island, to your South Korea itinerary.
Relax in the afternoon at Gwangalli Beach then visit
More details about these hikes are listed in my guide to the best Busan day trips.
Where to stay in Busan
I would highly recommend Seomyeon neighbourhood because it’s full of cafes, restaurants and bars and it’s also the station where most of the subway lines connect, meaning it’s easy to get everywhere.
- Hostel: Book Blue Backpackers, run by a friendly family. This hostel down a sleepy side street makes it quiet at night, plus there’s complimentary breakfast and a comfy lounge area. Check availability from US$16.
- Budget hotel: Stay at Seomyeon Brown-dot hotel gold for some of the area’s most affordable yet comfortable rooms, with TVs and en suite bathrooms. Breakfast included. Check availability from US$40.
- Mid-range: Unwind at Nampo Ocean2heaven Hotel, which has an onsite fitness and spa centre with a sauna and baths. It’s conveniently located with city or sea views from each room. Check availability from US$75.
- Splash out: For stylish rooms with mountain views and an excellent array of onsite facilities, including a gym, golf centre, spa, and sky bar, you can’t go wrong with a stay at Avani Central Busan. The breakfast spread is superb, too. Check availability from US$140.
- Apartment: Close to Busan station and the port, Le Collective boasts stylish, spotless suites with city views and easy access to vibrant Chinatown. Check availability from US$100.
Where to eat in Busan
Jagalchi Fish Market – for seafood in Busan, don’t go anywhere else! This is a thriving market where you’ll find fish, crab, oysters and so, SO much more. The way the market works is you pick a fish on the first floor, then head upstairs to eat it in a restaurant.
Gukje Market Street – Gukje is the largest market in Busan, serving every local dish under the sun. One of the famous is bibimdangmyeon AKA glass noodles.
- Milmyeon – noodles in a meat-based broth topped with egg, veggies and gochujang sauce is the typical dish of Busan.
- Eomuk – fish cakes are a popular Busan dish, served in various shapes and flavours, including on sticks.
- Kimbap – yummy rice and veggies in sushi rolls. Unlike Japanese sushi, it usually doesn’t contain fish.
- Buchimgae – moreish seafood pancakes.
Days 11-14: Jeju Island
Jeju Island is a must for your 2 week South Korea itinerary. It’s been voted a New 7 Wonder of Nature alongside the Amazon and Cape Town’s Table Mountain. It’s so popular that Seoul to Jeju has officially been declared the world’s most popular flight route!
The power of nature is what makes Jeju so special. Formed by ancient lava, you’ll feel it many places like the magnificent Manjanggul tunnels, Jusangjeolli Lava Cliffs and the beautiful ‘sunrise peak’ jutting off the coast, Seongsan Ilchulbong.
Getting to Jeju: The best way to get to Jeju Island is by air. Many visitors fly Busan to Jeju but you could also consider flying from Seoul to Jeju and then into Busan. In this case, rejig this itinerary accordingly.
You can also fly to Jeju Island from Daegu, Cheongju
How to get around Jeju Island: Hiring a car gives you the most freedom. Use Rentalcars.com to find a vehicle and pick it up in Jeju City. Otherwise, Viator offer a range of affordable day tours. While you can catch public buses on Jeju, these are infrequent so expect to see fewer attractions.
Day 11: Arrive in Jeju and settle into your surroundings. If you have time, visit a beach or the infamous Jeju Love Land (a risque theme
Day 12: Explore the West Coast of Jeju. Visit Hyupjae Beach, Hallim Park, O’sulloc Tea Museum and Cheonjeyeon Waterfall. If you don’t have a car, book a West Coast tour.
Day 13: Travel the East Coast of Jeju Island stopping at Gwangchigi Black Sand Beach and Manjang Cave. Attend the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage women diver show to learn about these highly-skilled female divers (haenyeo) who dive down 10 metres without equipment to catch seafood. If you don’t have a car, book an East Coast tour.
Day 14: Why not take a Mount Hallasan day hiking tour or have a beach day before flying back to the mainland in the evening? If your onwards destination is in Asia, you might even be able to finish your 2 weeks in South Korea by flying there directly from Jeju Island.
Where to stay in Jeju
- Hostel – Backpackers don’t have to sacrifice on sea views at the friendly Yesjun Guesthouse. It has a complimentary breakfast, a really friendly front desk, a kitchen, a restaurant, a games room, a simple breakfast, and a garden with bean bags next to the ocean. Check availability from US$17.
- Budget hotel – Jeju Pureun Hotel has air-conditioned units with a fridge, microwave, kettle, TV, and complimentary toiletries. It’s also wheelchair accessible, and some rooms have visual aids. Check availability from US$30.
- Mid-range – Located close to the beach and many attractions and restaurants, The Grang Seogwipo is an ideal base. Rooms are spacious with a city view, and an a la carte or American breakfast is included. Check availability from US$90.
- Splash-out – After a day exploring, what’s better than unwinding by the outdoor pool with a cocktail, booking a massage, or tucking into a delicious meal at Toscana Hotel’s onsite restaurant? Rooms include a balcony, bathtub, and floor-to-ceiling windows so you can order room service and enjoy the view. Check availability from US$190.
Where & what to eat in Jeju Island
- Black pork – this is the island’s signature dish, made from a specific breed of pig. Served with all the yummy Korean sides like gochujang, kimchi and veggies, it’s a treat! Sukseongdo is a popular place to try it.
- Haemultang – this a yummy seafood hotpot popular on the island. Try it at Samseonghyeol Haemultang.
- Matcha – as it’s grown on the island, make sure to find a cafe serving the local Jeju blend!
3 week South Korea itinerary
Since most people spend 2 weeks in South Korea, I decided this was the most useful itinerary to put together. But I personally spent 3 weeks in South Korea which, in my opinion, is
If you have 3 weeks in South Korea, there are a couple of stops I’d suggest adding, Daegu and Gyeongju. This 3 week South Korea itinerary also means you can include both Sokcho and Jeonju so there’s no need to choose. I’ll breeze through the stops we already mentioned and elaborate on the new destinations:
Days 1-5: Seoul. As per 2 week South Korea itinerary above.
Days 6-7: Sokcho. As above.
Days 8-9: Jeonju. As above.
Days 10-12: Daegu
The fourth biggest city in South Korea is a sweet spot to spend a day or two especially if you like hiking.
Day 10: Arrive in Daegu.
Day 11: Catch a bus to Palgong
Day 12: Start your day with coffee and unlimited free pastries (yes seriously) at Schumann and Clara. Have a city day or hike up to Apsan Park where you’ll get spectacular sunset views over the city and countryside from the deck at the top.
Where to stay in Daegu
- Hostel – Located in downtown Daegu near the subway and bus routes, Empathy Guest House is a handy and comfy place to stay. Check availability from US$19.
- Budget hotel – Blo by Blo is a quiet hotel with a hot tub and terrace. It’s conveniently located near the metro with minimal but clean rooms. Check availability from US$60.
- Mid-range – For a cute and sustainable accommodation option, go for Aega Hanok Guesthouse. With aesthetic, Korean-style rooms and passionate hosts, it’s an excellent choice for anyone wanting to get a taste of traditional Hanok-style stays. Check availability from US$90.
- Splash-out – If you want to truly relax in Daegu, then Susung Spa Resort is perfect. You have everything you need to unwind with two pools, a garden, a spa centre with hot tubs and a sauna, and a restaurant with a lake and mountain views. Check availability from US$150.
Tip – Check out Life of Brit’s Daegu hiking guide. Brit lived in Daegu while teaching English so she is your girl for tips (and always replies on Instagram).
Days 13-14: Gyeongju
History lovers spending 3 weeks in South Korea shouldn’t miss Gyeongju, home to the Silla Dynasty from the 1st to 7th centuries. It’s also an excellent stop for foodies. I didn’t find anywhere else quite like Gyeongju which is why I liked it.
Day 13: Explore Daereungwon Tumuli Park (ancient manmade hill tombs filled with gold and jewels), Wolji Pond and Cheomaeongdae Tower.
Tuck into a traditional ssambap meal: small bitesize portions of food wrapped in leaves. For dessert, sample Hwangnam (sweet bread filled with red bean paste).
Foodie visiting Korea? Don’t miss my South Korea food guide!
Day 14: Catch a bus to Bulguksa Temple and hike up to Seokguram Grotto at the top (comfy footwear necessary). On the way home, stop at Gyeongju National Museum to learn about the ancient Silla Dynasty.
Another fun addition to your South Korea trip itinerary, should you have time, is a templestay experience at Golgulsa Temple near Gyeongju. Surrounded by stunning Hamwolsan Mountain scenery, Golgulsa is somewhere you can practice Sunmudo, a Korean-Buddhist blend between meditation and martial arts. Stay a night, several nights, or even up to a month!
On a tight schedule? It’s possible to visit Gyeongju as a day trip from Busan rather than stay overnight.
Where to stay in Gyeongju
- Hostel – I stayed at Blueboat Hostel, which is a cosy hostel run by a friendly local who will give you tips and local advice. It’s a great place to meet other backpackers. Check availability from US$18.
- Budget hotel – For a comfy and clean room close to the centre, G HOUSE Mini Hotel & Guesthouse has you covered. Breakfast included. Check availability from US$45.
- Mid-range – Rivertain Hotel has spacious rooms with spa baths and complimentary breakfast in the heart of town. Check availability from US$100.
- Splash-out – Overlooking beautiful Lake Bomun, Lahan Select Gyeongju is a tasteful and welcoming resort with a gym, two swimming pools, indoor golf, and various dining options. Check availability from US$140.
Useful info for 2 weeks in Korea
What is the best season to visit South Korea?
March to May and September to November are optimum as the weather is pleasant. In the spring season, you may see cherry blossom and in the later season, you’ll see the country become beautifully autumnal.
Saying that, I visited in June (summer) and although it was hot and sticky at times, it was bearable. This is also a good season for hiking as temperatures are cooler in the mountains.
December to February are freezing cold so only visit if you’re really prepared.
Note – make sure you know when Korean holidays fall as many businesses will be closed. Korean New Year is the first day of the Korean calendar. Chuseok falls on day 15th of the 8th lunar month.
Is Korea safe?
As a solo female traveller, I found South Korea to be very safe. I felt comfortable walking at night as well as during the day. Petty crime is not a big problem and violent crime is near non-existent. See my solo travel archives for safety tips for women.
Here’s a guide for Black travellers in South Korea and LGBT+ travellers in South Korea.
What language is spoken in South Korea?
That would be Korean. Although the language is complex, the alphabet is actually quite simple. Some travellers told me they’d learnt it in a day! Doing so would definitely help you recognise dishes on menus. Failing that, have Google Translate close to hand and be prepared to do a little miming from time to time.
What plug do you need for South Korea?
South Korea uses plug type F with two round pins, like many other Asian countries. The standard voltage is 220 V with a frequency of 60 Hz.
Do you need a visa for South Korea?
More than 100 nationalities – including US, UK, Canada, EU, Australia and New Zealand – can enter South Korea visa-free. Check if your nationality is on this list and how many days you can stay for. If not, you’ll need to apply for a visa.
South Korea travel tips
- Unlike some countries, tipping isn’t necessary in South Korea
- For city travel, pick up a Tmoney card. They cost 500 KRW (you get back 3,500 of the 4,000 deposit) but save you money in the long run, plus you never have to queue at ticket machines. Buy yours now or get it with a SIM card combo
- Korea is a difficult place to travel for veggies. Download the HappyCow app.
Read my top 30 Korea travel tips here.
Best apps for a South Korea trip
- Seoul subway app – there are several apps to help you navigate the subway system.
- Kakao Talk – the Korean version of Whatsapp, should you make local friends (always a good idea).
- Google Translate – naturally!
- Naver Maps – since Google Maps gives you very limited information in South Korea, I recommend this local alternative for navigation.
South Korea essentials
- Copy of Lonely Planet Korea.
- A Korean phrasebook & dictionary.
- To stay connected, a 4g SIM to collect at Seoul airport or a rental pocket Wi-Fi device
- A handy bum bag with secure zip to keep your belongings secure.
- Reusable coffee cup (collapsable) for hot takeaway drinks.
- A reusable water bottle that you can fill up with filtered water (your accommodation will have this).
- Alternatively, a filtering water bottle that allows you to safely drink tap water.
- Metal straw and cloth bag set to reduce the use of plastic straws.
- Travel luggage – I use I recommend the Osprey Farpoint (men’s) (women’s).
- A camera – I use the Sony DSC-HX350 Digital Compact Bridge Camera which I think is one of the most affordable options based on the zoom and quality of photos.
- A GoPro if you’re into making videos – I use the HERO8 Black.
- Solo travel pick: a tripod or mini GorillaPod to get yourself in the shot – I use the Manfrotto tripod and Joby GorillaPod.
Thanks for reading my South Korea 2 week itinerary!
See you next time for more adventures,
Ps. Liked this 2
VISITING SOUTH KOREA?
These are my trusted resources:
Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Buses – buses are comfy and efficient. It’s tricky for foreigners to book online so it’s best to turn up on the day.
Trains – use Trip.com, partner of Korail (the official railway network of Korea) to book your tickets in advance. The website accepts international payment options, unlike Korean rail websites. Click the three stripes in the top right corner then the flag to change it to English.
Driving in Korea – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals. Hiring a car will be especially useful on Jeju Island.
For hotels in Korea, I use Booking.com – they also have self-catering apartments. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Browse South Korea tours and activities on GetYourGuide. I also check Viator and Klook in case they have a better price.
For food tours with passionate local chefs and foodies, check out EatWith.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and tips!