On top of being internationally known for rapid, modern technological advances and urbanisation, South Korea is also well-known for its preservation efforts in its tradition, culture as well as natural beauty. As a result, this country is a seamless mix of both industrialised, urban metropolitans as well as cultural, suburban and rural areas. If you’ve dreamt about visiting and vacationing in Korea, ditch the cities and include these natural attractions in your itinerary instead!
1. Taebak Mountain (태백산)
Also known as the holy mountain of the Korean people, the Taebak Mountain is a must-visit for nature lovers. As the main ridge that bridge North and South Korea, the Taebak Mountain range encompasses several peaks such as Yeongbong Peak, where rites to venerate Heaven would be conducted at the Cheonjedan Altar.
With every shift of the seasons, this mountain display a different yet alluring side: hot pink with azalea and mountain rhododendron in the spring; vibrant green with thick and lush fauna and pristine river springs in the summer; rainbow coloured with changing leaves in the fall; and pure white with snow in the winter. Walk your way up and visit the Manggyeongsa temple and the shrine of the stone statue of Bodhisattva of wisdom.
2. Jeju Island (제주도)
If you’ve been thinking of heading to Korea for vacation, Jeju Island is most likely to be on your South Korea’s nature sites checklist. On top of being one of the must-go tourist attractions, Jeju Island is quite popular amongst locals as well – and it’s easy to see why.
Boasting lush nature, waterfalls and white sand beaches, Jeju is an absolute paradise for those who wish for a short respite from the fast-paced and stressful life that is often associated with metropolitan cities. It also offers other attractions, from stunning architectural design to an adult-only theme park and museums.
3. Udo Island (우도)
If you’re looking for a spot that exudes the same beauty as Jeju but offers less human traffic, Udo Island is the perfect place for you. Situated on the eastern end of Jeju Island, Udo Island got its name by resembling a lying cow. Famous for its scenic sights, local heritage (female divers, stone tombs and stone walls), this island is also full of amenities and tourism outlets such as sand massaging, fishing and tour submarines.
4. Samhwasa (삼화사)
For centuries, Samhwasa has been an incredible scenic point for inspiration and creative muse for many poets and painters alike. This Buddhist temple straddles along the entrance of the Mureung Valley of Dutasan Mountain. Revered as this region’s Mother Mountain, the Dutasan mountain is truly a sight to behold. The West peak of Datusan Mountain was said to look like a crane and a phoenix, whilst the East peak like a tiger and a dragon.
Apart from taking a one day trip for sightseeing, you can also consider the Samhwasa’s Templestay Program if you wish to fully immerse in all that nature has to give, or hope to do a little bit of inner reflection.
5. Seoraksan National Park (설악산국립공원 )
Hot springs, rock formations, dense forests and ancient temples – what more could you ask for? Seoraksan National Park, home to Mount Seorak, is the third highest mountain in the country. It’s a popular hiking destination that features deep valleys, dramatic peaks, jagged ridges, and most importantly, jaw-dropping scenic landscapes. Amongst all the attractions in this national park, some of the must-sees include the bronze statue of the Buddha at Sinheungsa Temple and the Ulsanbawi Rock.
It’s easy to get carried away by Seoul but know that South Korea has so much more to offer. Travel outside of South Korea’s capital and you’ll find an entirely new side of the country that will charm you off your feet.
To ease your travels, it’s best to equip yourself with Korean language proficiency and fluency. Not only will you be able to navigate through the country easier, but you’ll also be able to understand the cultures and traditions and their nuances a little bit better, deepening your sense of wonder and appreciation. Kickstart your travel preparations in earnest by enrolling yourself in a Korean language course today!