Planning a trip to Korea? It is a fascinating country that is truly foreign. Here is my Korea Itinerary for 14 days that you can use to start planning yours! If you are looking for a Korea 1 Week Itinerary then I would suggest using this as your base and just pulling out the things to do in Korea that are most important to you for your trip to South Korea.
Korea Itinerary Day One
Arrive Seoul South Korea
Seoul is, of course, the main point of entry for Korea and a great place to start your South Korea Itinerary. Seoul is one of the biggest cities in the world and can be quite intimidating. The Seoul subway station system is great but it is not the easiest to understand as I have never seen so many stops on an underground! And the stations are huge!
It is critical to check which is the best exit for you to use for where you are going or you could get very confused. And very sore feet! But this subway is one of the best ways to discover Seoul.
Finding a hotel in Seoul wasn’t that easy when travelling there for the first time. If you don’t speak any Korean I would highly recommend staying at a hotel that has a speaker of your native language. Many Koreans driving taxis etc are illiterate so even if an address is written down they may not be able to understand. Having someone to explain this at the hotel is really helpful – particularly for getting taxis!
I really liked Splaisir Hotel Dongdaemun. The location is great. Dongdaemun is a busy area with loads of shopping – and the shopping malls tend to have restaurants on their higher floors which makes it easier to get dinner. The rooms at this Seoul hotel were quite boutique and very clean.
Seoul Itineraries Day Two
A great first-day activity in Seoul is visiting the Demilitarized Zone and the North/South Korea border. This is a fascinating day trip/excursion which I highly recommend. It takes about 2/3 of the day so you will be back in Seoul for an afternoon coffee! I actually think visiting the Demilitarized Zone was the best thing I did during my stay in Korea.
Do make sure you book the DMZ Tour ahead – this Korea tour sells out fast. A bus will take you towards the border. There are then several stops on the way to the DMZ. The train station that never happened. The Bridge to Nowhere. And best of all the actual border itself where you will be able to take a couple of footsteps into North Korea!
⇒ For everything you need to know for a DMZ Tour check out this great post from Husband in Tow.
One of the biggest challenges in Korea is finding restaurants where you can read the menu and order something you’ll actually enjoy eating! There are some really fun options to do street food markets and cooking lessons in the evening which I would highly recommend. When travelling South Korea taking tours is a great way to make things easier. I would consider taking a Korea tour package if you are looking for a more relaxing trip to Korea.
The language gap is very large in Korea – one of the largest of anywhere I have travelled. I highly recommend taking tours whilst in Korea. It will save you a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to get around and will provide you with much more information on the area. I wish I had done more tours when I was there! A Korean tour guide can make all the difference.
⇒ Stay at Splaisir Hotel Dongdaemun
Korea Trip Itinerary Day Three
Time to explore Seoul! Try a mix of old and new with one of Seoul’s most famous palaces, a super cute shopping district and the amazing and futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Seoul has two main palaces – Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeon. I chose to visit Gyeongbokgung – I wasn’t sure I needed to visit two palaces and I fell that was a wise decision! Again there are few tours in English so this is one to pre-book.
When you visit the palace or palaces (they are quite near each other) do head to Insadong. This is a super cute area with shops and restaurants. Yes, it is very touristy but there are also loads of locals. This is also the home to the rather well-known Poop cafe – you can drink your coffee in a mug shaped like a toilet! Korean kitsch at its best!
Bukchon Hanok Village is also close by. This Korean Folk Village will give a sense of what life would have been like in Korea in the past. Bukchon Hanok Village is particularly photogenic if you are able to visit in cherry blossom season. Cherry Blossom season in Korea varies from year to year but is generally around March/April.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza was designed by famous architect Zaha Hadid. It is a jaw-dropping place. I highly recommend putting aside some time to explore it. It is big! There are exhibits inside – some paid and some free. Gift shop – of course! And quite a few food places as well as places to relax outside. It is also very photogenic! And there is no entrance fee!
South Korea 2 Week Itinerary Day Four
Fly from Seoul to Jeju Island South Korea
Jeju Island is in the far south of South Korea. I stayed in Seogwipo on Jeju which is in the south of the island. We visited the rather unique Loveland on the way from the airport to Seogwipo eg we had the cab stop there. This is a rather unique tourist site.
My understanding is that Jeju Island is commonplace for Korean couples to go on their honeymoon. As Korea is generally quite a conservative country it is likely that the newlyweds may not be terribly experienced.
Therefore these “love” parks have lots of sculptures of different sexual positions, sex organs and well lots of rather interesting takes on genitalia in general. This would not be a good place to go if you are travelling with your parents!!! But it is quite amusing and a uniquely Korean experience!
⇒ Thinking about your next holiday? Colombia is a great spot to visit – check out my 2 Week Colombia Itinerary for Boutique Hotel Lovers
Once in Seogwipo, it is possible to walk to the Cheongjeyeon Waterfall and Saeyeongyo Bridge which are lovely.
I did find Seogwipo a rather confusing place. Virtually all the hotels are in a town area that really doesn’t feel like it is anywhere near a coastline. Again, a bit like Seoul and Korea in general if I had of known then what I know now I definitely would have taken more organised tours during my Korea touring. It was quite hard work trying to figure out how to get around – with lots of unsuccessful attempts and sore feet!
The day’s activities:
⇒ Stay in Seogwipo Vistacay Hotel Cheonjiyeon
Korea Itinerary 14 Days – Day Five
The coastline of Jeju Island is stunning! However, it is not that easy to get around (are you noticing a theme in my Korea blog?). I struggled a lot to figure out the buses and then ended up getting a taxi to take me for the day. Even this was tough as the language barrier is huge. I did manage to visit:
- Lizard Island
- Seongsan Ilchulbong
- Sangumburi Crater
- Manjanggul Cave
This was perhaps the highlight of Jeju Island. It was a relief to get away from the weird almost industrial feeling Seogwipo! Do take your camera as there is much to photograph in these locations.
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South Korea Itinerary 14 Days – Day Six
Climb Mount Hallasan. This is a lovely trek up Korea’s highest mountain and there are several different paths to be taken depending on how energetic you are feeling. The paths on Mount Hallasan are generally very clearly signposted and there are a couple of stops with food.
The path is clearly signed so there is no need to get a guide. We found it easy to get a taxi to the starting point of the trek. However, it was not so easy to get a cab back. If you can, try to agree a time to meet your taxi driver or get a number to call them on when you are finished climbing Mount Hallasan.
⇒ Stay in Seogwipo Vistacay Hotel Cheonjiyeon
Jeju Itinerary Day Seven
We spent day 7 in Seogwipo and found some interesting options! First up was the Lee Jung-Seop Gallery. He is one of the most famous artists in Korea. He was an artist around the time of the Korean war and Lee Jung-Seop Gallery is lovely.
Seogwipo has some lovely waterfalls which are well worth visiting. Again, it is not that easy to find them but once you get there it is worthwhile! Seogwipo market feels very local. I suggest heading there at lunchtime. We looked at where there were queues and what they had ordered and basically followed along – and earnt some rather tasty snacks as a result!
2 Weeks in South Korea Day Eight
Fly to Daegu South Korea
Daegu is virtually in the middle of Korea and in a bit of a basin – which makes it very warm in summer!!! Of all my South Korea travel cities it was the easiest place to get around – possibly as Daegu is a bit smaller and more of a grid layout.
A bus tour is always a great way to get a feel for a city and Daegu was no exception. Also, I used the bus tour to take me to the starting point for the Apsan mountain cable car. This was a fantastic thing to do! I visited Daegu in the height of summer so there was no way I was going to hike up the mountain. However, if your visit is better timed than mine I highly recommend walking up Apsan mountain and it seemed clearly marked.
The view from the top of Apsan Mountain is stunning! Full panorama views over Daegu! There are also locks on the barriers which make for nice foregrounds for photos.
Stay at Novotel Ambassador Daegu
Korea Itinerary Two Weeks Day Nine
Kim Kwang-Seok was a popular folk singer in Korea. He died in 1996 by taking his own life. Kim Kwang-Seok sold over 5 million records. He was born in Daegu and there is now a street named after him.
The street is filled with street art portraits dedicated to Kim Kwang-Seok and most of the time there will be a musician playing his music in the area. There are also quite a few cute cafes etc in this part of town.
Seomun Market is in the centre of Daegu and quite a large place. It is a more functional market vs a tourist market but has some interesting food options.
Accommodation options in Daegu are rather limited if you are a westerner. I highly recommend the Novotel. The location of the Novotel Daegu is brilliant – right in the heart of everything. And the Novotel Daegu has many staff who speak English and this was very helpful for my visit Korea experience.
Jeonju Day Ten
Day trip to Jeonju South Korea – bus from Daegu return. It was quite easy to figure out how to get to Jeonju from Daegu and very easy to walk to the old town of Jeonju from the bus stop. I highly recommend getting dressed up in the local costumes as do many Koreans! We attracted a good deal of attention and amusement as westerners dressed up in their outfits! This is a brilliant South Korea travel experience!
The old town of Jeonju is very photogenic and filled with stores and cafes. Don’t miss the Jeonju mural village. Jaman Mural Village is outside of the old town – you will need to cross the main road to get there. Jaman Mural Village is filled with street art over several levels and also has a few cafes. Extremely photogenic!
A day trip to Jeonju is definitely a full day trip. If dressing up like a Korean doll isn’t your thing then both Busan and Gyeongju are quite easy day trips from Daegu as well.
⇒ For more information on Jeonju read this great post on 8 Things to do in Jeonju South Korea
Daegu Day Eleven
Who could resist a Racoon Cafe? Literally, there are racoons wandering around this Daegu cafe. I didn’t feel comfortable getting too close but it certainly was an unforgettable experience! We also found a dog and cat cafe in Daegu. Sensibly there was one room for the dogs and one room for the cats!
South Korea 2 Week Itinerary – Day Twelve
Train from Daegu to Seoul.
Don’t miss Seoul Tower – the views are amazing! However, do pick your weather. There are quite a few hazy days in Seoul which will result in a poor viewing experience at Seoul Tower. If you get a good day get moving and get up that tower!
Or for something different consider a day trip to Nami Island.
⇒ Due to the challenge of getting around Seoul, I would highly recommend checking out some of these fun cultural themed half-day tour options.
⇒ Stay at Splaisir Hotel Dongdaemun
Seoul Itineraries Day Thirteen
Seoul Wall is the old wall that used to run around all of Seoul. Several parts of Seoul Wall are still in good shape. I found it easy to navigate Seoul wall on my own but it wasn’t easy to get there or get back. And do check about photography. When I visited it was illegal to take photos on the sides of the wall towards North Korea.
Ihwa Mural Village is not too far from a section of the wall. It is a cute area with street art and cafes. Ihwa Mural Village is perfect for Instagram!
Finally, the Korean War Memorial and the museum are extremely impressive! The area around the building is massive! And filled with ships and tanks and all things military. I found the exhibit on the Korean War in the museum fascinating. The gratitude of the Korean people for the western allies who supported them during this time is very moving.
As is the massive effort Korea as a country has put into taking itself from this weakened position to become a global player. Fascinating stuff and visiting the Korean War Memorial is a must-do whilst in Seoul! It should be part of any Seoul 7 days itinerary
Stay at Splaisir Hotel Dongdaemun
Korea Itinerary Day Fourteen
Fly out of Seoul.
To travel Korea is not the easiest of tasks! But it is still possible to do independently. The above is essentially a Solo Travel Korea Itinerary. Or if you remove Daegu it could be a Korea Itinerary 10 days.
A couple of things to note. Korea Seoul Time is GMT + 9 hours. The Korean days of the week are the same structure as in English – just of course in Korean! When it comes to how much to bring to Korea for 7 days or 14 days do check the weather forecast. I went in summer and it was hot hot hot!! But I do know the temperature drops alot in the winter.
Do you need a Visa for your Korea Trip?
It can be a real pain trying to figure out if you need a visa for a country and then all the hassle of figuring out how to apply, how long you can go without your passport, when the embassy is open etc. iVisa has completely revolutionised this process and put it all online and make it super simple and paper and hassle-free! Using iVisa is one of my top travel tips!
Korea Tourism – Boutique Hotels
I have to say Korea was a challenging location when it came to finding good boutique hotels. There are a lot of hotels, of course, but the boutique trend has not really hit Korea hard outside of Seoul. Here is what I was able to find:
Boutique Hotels Seoul
-In Seoul, Glad Live is in the now-famous Gangnam area. This is a stylish and sleek boutique hotel which starts at a very reasonable £66.
⇒ Compare prices on TripAdvisor ⇒ Book Now
-Also in Seoul is another Glad Hotel – Glad Hotel Yeouido. This one is in the high-rise part of Seoul and wonderfully describes itself as a poetic express in brick! Prices start at £70.
-The Splaisir Hotel in Dongdaemun has an absolutely fantastic location right near the stunning Dongdaemun Design Centre. It is also very close to several full-on shopping centres with lots of interesting food places. It is quite stylish and importantly has friendly staff who can speak English!
-the IP Boutique hotel is under Namsan Mountain and has a strong design aesthetic. Lots of glass outside and they love some strong colours inside and out. Prices start at £70.
-Down the road from the KY Heritage Hotel is the JW Marriott. I am not normally a Marriott person as it doesn’t meet my usual boutique standards but they had a rooftop bar and white wine by the glass and that was more than enough to get my custom in Seoul!! It did seem like a good place to stay – nice hotel and lots of good food options. Prices start at £260.
-If you want to go very upmarket the lovely Banyan Tree has a hotel and spa in the former Tower Hotel building. Each guestroom is inspired by the four seasons of the year and the five oriental elements: water, fire, metal, wood and earth. Prices from £240.
Boutique Hotels Jeju Island
Jeju Island is a slightly odd place. The coastline is stunning as is the climb up Mt Hallasan. But the cities of Jeju and Seogwipo feel industrial rather than resort like! Anyway here are a few options:
-In Seogwipo is the Vistacay Hotel Cheonjiyeon. I did visit this hotel in its opening month and was unimpressed with the service and very very small towels. However, apparently the big towels were on order and the staff were trying. The rooms were quite nice. There is a pool – although it was yet to open when we visited. The highlight was the downstairs bar which did have wine – the key thing I was always looking for in Korea. Prices from £40.
-For a more upmarket option check out the Shore Hotel Jeju which was a Hyatt and is on a sloping cliff overlooking the ocean. They even have a white wedding chapel which has featured on Korean TV! Rooms start at £167.
-the Lotte brand seems to have entered many different categories in Korea – including hotels! The Lotte Hotel Jeju features a windmill with a café and an in-house casino that is open 365 days a year! Their indoor spa and garden are the largest in Jeju and they have a volcano fountain show that kicks off every night at 830pm! Rooms from £143 a night.
-finally, Villa de Aewol is a lower cost option near the airport. It does have a 25-metre swimming pool, spa and on-site golf and a chic style. Rooms from £51.
OK, I have to admit it – I could not find a boutique hotel in Daegu. I am ashamed. I did really search. However, I did go to Daegu and I did need to sleep. I stayed at the Novotel – again not somewhere I normally stay. Absolutely fine but I would always prefer somewhere with more of a local flavour.
However, Korea is not the easiest country to get around and I must confess I was so happy to see the Novotel and I loved being somewhere that was nicely done with friendly English speaking staff and a great set up. The location is brilliant – the centre of Daegu – and honestly this is the place to stay in Daegu. Prices start at £100.
Flights to Korea:
Seoul is the usual port of arrival for most into Korea
And here are some of the best articles that I have found about Great Things to do in South Korea:
Or if you are travelling solo check out these group tour options:
⇒ Looking for some travel inspiration? Itineraries not only help you plan a trip they can also help you to figure out where you want to go next. Check out my itineraries for Austria, Nova Scotia in Canada, Colombia, Chile, Nepal, Namibia, Sicily, Turkey, Scotland and Jordan.
Who Paid for What in this Post
I covered all of the costs associated with my trip to Korea. This post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission – at no additional cost to you. I just wanted to make sure you knew.
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