OT Itinerary: On An 8-Day Long Solo Adventure In South Korea

From Seoul's electrifying streets, Jeju's natural wonders and Busan's artsy vibe! Experience the best of South Korea in 8 days with this guide
Bukchon Hanok Village with Seoul city skyline
Bukchon Hanok Village with Seoul city skylineShutterstock

One rainy evening at home, I made a steaming cup of Shin Ramyun and watched something on Netflix. Blame it on the ramyun, but I put on a K-drama. One thing led to another, and I found myself researching South Korea. After getting lost in a rabbit hole of South Korean blogs and novels, I knew I had to experience this amazing country. So, I went on a 2-week solo adventure to South Korea.

If, just like me, you find yourself falling under the spell of South Korea, go on that trip! I present to you a perfect 8-day South Korea itinerary. And if this doesn't get your wanderlust going, try cup noodles on a rainy day.

Day 1: Seoul

Start your trip with dramatic views and a touch of romance at Namsan Seoul Tower. Take the cable car up for the iconic panoramic view of the Seoul skyline and visit the "Locks of Love" area—the Asian alternative to the Parisian bridge!

In the afternoon, bring out your inner gastronome at Gwangjang Market. Start with the Michelin-starred restaurant Buchon Yukhoe. Then, try the famous knife-cut noodles stall that appeared on Netflix. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kkwabaegi (twisted doughnuts) and wash it down with some Sikhye (fermented rice punch). When in Seoul, indulgence must not stop. Head to Gangnam and pamper yourself with a 10-step Korean hair spa.

Evening calls for a shopping spree at Myeongdong, where you can find everything you need and more! Adorable socks, the best Korean skincare products, vintage fashion finds, and even trolley bags to put all the items in.

Day 2: Seoul

Love locks at Namsan Seoul Tower
Love locks at Namsan Seoul TowerShutterstock

Kick off your second day in Seoul with an early morning lesson in history at the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ. It's best to book a tour to learn about the Korean War and the ongoing tensions between North and South Korea. Start with Imjingak Park, an important memorial site. Move on to the Third Infiltration Tunnel, which is one of the tunnels presumably dug by North Korean officials. Discovered in 1970, this tunnel is 73 metres below ground; it may sound like an eerie experience, but it's educational. End the tour at the Dora Observatory, the most awaited place in DMZ. You can peer into the North Korean propaganda village of Kijong-dong and the Kaesong Industrial Complex from this hilltop vantage point.

After that information-heavy trip, let your hair down at Itaewon. Spoil yourself silly at vintage shops, get pictures clicked at a funky photo booth, head to the Southside Parlour for cocktails with a view, and dance the night away at a hip club. 

Day 3: Seoul

Get up close and personal with the cultural side of South Korea! Hit the road and get to the Gyeongbokgung Palace; plan your visit around 10 a.m. to witness the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony. Add a little flair to your cultural trip by donning a Hanbok (traditional South Korean dress). Make the most of it, visit Changdeokgung Palace, and snap some photos of the secret garden.

Grab a bite at Onion Cafe, a Hanok-style cafe known for some of the freshest morning bakes. Stroll through Insadong's picturesque district, lined with trendy boutiques and eateries. At night, visit Hongdae and groove to the tunes of K-pop performances on the streets.

Day 4: Jeju

This island of the Gods will welcome you with wind, clear skies, and loads of sunshine! After checking in, rest up and head to explore the Yongyeon Pond. An oasis in the heart of this city is just the right place for a peaceful stroll. Take that strolling pace up a notch and choose from one of the Olle trails. These trails are a network of scenic walking paths that crisscross the island, offering breathtaking views of the coastline, volcanic landscapes, and quaint villages; my favourite was Route 16.

Take a well-deserved break at Cafe Bomnal, one of Jeju's charming coffee spots and order the carrot cake. Grab a seat by the window or sit outside for a gorgeous sunset. After sunset, visit the Dongmun Traditional Market, a feast for all your senses. Get a taste of everything from the food stalls, and don't forget to sample Jeju's famous tangerines. Browse stalls selling intricate jewellery, beautifully carved items made from Jeju's volcanic rock, and other traditional crafts that make perfect souvenirs.

Day 5: Jeju

Jeongbang Waterfall is one of the few waterfalls in Asia that plunges directly into the ocean
Jeongbang Waterfall is one of the few waterfalls in Asia that plunges directly into the oceanShutterstock

Push yourself to reach new heights today, as you climb the crater of Seongsan Ilchulbong, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for the most spectacular sunrise. After that, visit the Haenyeo (women diver) Museum. The divers are a symbol of tradition and are a cultural heritage. Continue the cultural lesson with a visit to Seongeup Folk Village to learn more about the rural life here in Jeju. Fuel up at a local restaurant serving up a feast of Bibimbap (a vegan option is available) and black pork.

Burn off some holiday calories with a stroll at Saryeoni Forest Path. It's 15 kilometres long and full of tall trees and pretty ponds. Cool off with a refreshing dip at Jeongbang Waterfall, one of the few waterfalls in Asia that plunges directly into the ocean.

Day 6: Jeju

Visit the breathtakingly beautiful O'Sulloc Tea Museum and learn the traditional art of drinking tea and the prevalent tea culture in South Korea. Head over to the nearby Innisfree House, a space created by a popular South Korean beauty brand. Grab some refreshments from the café and have a little picnic surrounded by nature. Try your hand at an available workshop at the time of your visit.

Continue the relaxed pace, head to Suwolbong Peak Summit, and patiently wait to spot dolphins! Time to hit the beach; go to Hamdeok Beach to sway with the gentle waves or dip your toes in the sand and read a book - it's the perfect end to your time on Jeju island.

Day 7: Busan

After a quick flight to Busan, check into your hotel and go out to chase views at Café Rooftop: A cosy spot to get a cup of freshly brewed coffee served with a side of sea breeze. All the outdoor fun in Jeju calls for some rest and relaxation; do it the Korean way! Visit the Spa Land in Centum City, an upscale Korean spa, or jjimjilbang. Choose from the array of themed saunas, melt your worries in the bathhouse, and get a scrub or a spa.

After the pampering session, head over to BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) square, the heart of Busan's entertainment district buzzing with street food vendors, high-street fashion, and bargain finds. Don't forget to get some photos on the handprint sidewalk featuring the signatures of famous film stars.

Indulge in lip-smacking local delicacies like Kkwabaegi or twisted doughnuts
Indulge in lip-smacking local delicacies like Kkwabaegi or twisted doughnutsShutterstock

Day 8: Busan

Find the most perfect picture frame at the ever-so-artistic Gamcheon Culture Village. This used to be an old slum area but has now been converted into a hip tourist attraction, and it looks like a Lego village from the viewpoint. Go on a self-guided treasure hunt around the maze-like village to find the best viewpoints, cafes, boutiques, and street art – your phone storage will be full by the end of it.

Get your spiritual vibes on with a visit to the stunning Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. After soaking in the tranquillity, ride a train in Busan. Head to the Haeundae Blueline Park, a repurposed coastal rail line converted into a surreal experience. The park includes two main attractions: the Sky Capsule and the Beach Train. The Sky Capsule runs between Mipo and Cheongsapo stations, while the Beach Train covers the route from Mipo to Songjeong.

In the evening hit the Haeundae beach for some downtime. For your last meal, grab some grub and set up a little picnic at the beach or choose from the many restaurants lined around to bid farewell to South Korea.

Getting There

The best way to reach South Korea is to fly into the country. All major metro cities in India have direct or layover flights to Incheon International Airport that is close to the capital city of Seoul and just an hour away via bus to the third largest port city of South Korea, Incheon. The shortest flight to South Korea is from the capital city of India, i.e., New Delhi. Airfare costs approx. INR 37,000 per person and it takes 10-15 hours one way.

Indian citizens need to apply for a visa to visit South Korea.

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