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How to Plan Your Trip to South Korea 2024/2025 (6 Easy Steps)

By Vicky LengUpdated Feb. 26, 2024

South Korea is a popular destination for many travelers, especially for families with teenagers and couples. Besides its history, nature, and modernity, South Korea offers unique and lively experiences, such as K-pop, the hanbok, Hanok hotels, bibimbap, and more, which continue to draw travelers from all over the world.

In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know to plan a wonderful trip to South Korea, including the top places to visit, how long you should spend there, the best times to visit, and the costs.

Do I Need a Visa to Visit South Korea?

Nationals of many countries are exempt from needing a visa to enter South Korea, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Most travelers could stay in South Korea without a visa for 90 days.

Top 4 Places to Visit in South Korea

With so many wonderful destinations in South Korea, we know it could be difficult to narrow down where to visit. Below are some recommended places to visit for your first trip, based on our knowledge and feedback from our clients.

1) Seoul — Capital City with a Perfect Blend of History and Modernity

A performance at Gyeongbokgung in SeoulA performance at Gyeongbokgung

As the bustling capital city of South Korea, Seoul is a must-see city when planning a first trip to South Korea. It offers plenty of experiences that would enrich your trip.

If you want to explore history-filled attractions to deepen your understanding of South Korea, don't miss a visit to one of the oldest royal palaces, Gyeongbokgung, and the quiet Korean traditional village of Bukchon Hanok.

Beyond the representative attractions, you could also wear a traditional hanbok and stay in Korean-style accommodation to enrich your trip.

If your children are interested in K-pop, you could see the idols at the famous broadcasting buildings and visit the renowned Korean Wave music companies.

2) Busan — Bustling Seaside City

Haeundae BeachHaeundae Beach

Busan is a charming seaside city known for its glistening beaches. You could enjoy the comfortable sea breeze and feed seagulls at Haeundae Beach and sample fresh seafood.

As well as beautiful sea views, Busan has many culture-rich attractions. Visit Korean Buddhist temples with stunning sea views, such as Haedong Yonggung Temple, and enjoy the unique art of Gamcheon Culture Village with its multicolored houses.

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3) Gyeongju — Ancient Capital with a Long History

Bulguksa Temple in GyeongjuBulguksa Temple in Gyeongju

Gyeongju, the ancient and medieval capital of South Korea, has a rich history that spans thousands of years and has well-preserved ancient buildings. There, you could explore some UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Bulguksa Temple, which has stood for over a millennium, and Yangdong Folk Village, which is home to the largest hanok village in Korea with Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897) buildings.

4) Jeju Island — Formed by Volcanic Activity and Suitable for Relaxation

Jeju IslandJeju Island

Known all over the country for its picturesque natural views, Jeju Island is one of the most popular destinations for travelers to escape from the country's larger cities and relax for a few days.

Jeju Island was formed by volcanic activity, resulting in various natural landscapes, such as the Manjanggul lava tube, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

You could enjoy exciting sea outdoor sports, such as surfing, deep diving, and snorkeling. Additionally, you could relax by basking in the wonderful sunrise or sunset on the sandy beaches.

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Best Times to Visit South Korea

Cherry Blossom with Seoul TowerCherry Blossom with Seoul Tower

South Korea has four distinct seasons and it's suitable to visit all year round.

The best times to travel to South Korea are in spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when you could enjoy pleasant weather, clearer days, and the best scenery. In spring, you could admire the blooming cherry blossoms and in autumn, you could view the vibrant red foliage.

Summer (June to August) is hot and humid in South Korea, and it is the rainy season as well. But it does not rain every day and you could still enjoy a flexibly planned trip. Compared with July and August (the summer vacation months), June is cooler and less crowded, which makes it a better time for families to visit South Korea.

Winter (December to February) is cold and dry in South Korea, making it a good time to bathe in the hot springs. Christmas and New Year are two of the busiest periods to travel so we suggest that you plan ahead at least 3–6 months in advance as hotels are easily booked up.

Just contact us if you are thinking of a trip to South Korea. We'd like to create a wonderful trip based on your needs and interests, whatever the weather.

How Many Days to Spend in South Korea

For a first trip to South Korea, we recommend a 10-day trip to explore the highlights in the top cities from north to south covering Seoul, Busan, Gyeongju, and Jeju Island.

Below are three well-selected South Korea itineraries ideal for vacations of three popular lengths (7, 10, and 14 days), each offering authentic activities to enrich your trip.

1) 7-Day Essence Itinerary: Explore Seoul and Busan

South Korea itinerary

Here is the handpicked itinerary, for inspiration:

  • Days 1–4: Seoul
  • Days 5–7: Busan

7 days are enough to explore South Korea's top two cities of Seoul and Busan. You could wear a traditional hanbok to stroll around culturally-rich Bukchon Hanok Village and stay at a traditional Hanok hotel in Seoul, take a day trip to explore well-preserved UNESCO sites in Gyeongju, and relax with the sea breeze in Busan.

2) 10-Day Classic Itinerary: the Most Chosen Korea Tour Plan

South Korea itinerary
  • Days 1–3: Seoul
  • Days 4–5: Gyeongju
  • Days 6–7: Busan
  • Days 8–9: Jeju Island
  • Day 10: Departure

This 10-day itinerary is based on the 7-day itinerary with the addition of Jeju Island. It's perfect for first-timers to explore the best of South Korea without rushing and to enjoy its natural beauty.

On Jeju Island, you could explore unique volcanic landscapes, enjoy sunrise or sunset on a sandy beach, and enjoy some free time doing outdoor activities such as snorkeling and surfing.

3) 14-Day South Korea and Japan Itinerary

14 days is ideal for a trip to both South Korea and the neighboring country of Japan, spending 1 week in each country. Not only could you immerse yourself in Korean culture, but also you could experience kid-favored anime elements, stay at a ryokan with an onsen, and watch a geisha performance in Japan.

Asia Tour Travel Guide

Here is the handpicked itinerary, for inspiration:

  • Days 1–3: Seoul
  • Days 4–5: Busan
  • Day 6: Fly to Osaka in Japan
  • Days 7–9: Kyoto
  • Days 10–11: Hakone
  • Days 12–14: Tokyo

Week 1 in South Korea: Seoul–Busan

Start your wonderful trip in South Korea. Experience traditional activities in Seoul, such as trying on a hanbok to meander around Bukchon Hanok Village, and relax on a sandy beach and feed some seagulls in Busan.

Week 2 in Japan: Osaka–Kyoto–Hakone–Tokyo

Fly to Osaka to continue your trip in Japan. In the impressive medieval capital of Kyoto, you could dress up like a ninja to learn techniques from a ninja master, wear a kimono to visit the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, and feed friendly deer in Nara.

Take the Shinkansen to Hakone, the well-known home to hot springs, and stay at a Japanese-style ryokan with an onsen.

In Tokyo, the capital city perfectly combines history and modernity. You could meander around the Asakusa district with its Edo-era vibe, make sushi with an experienced chef, and buy your favorite anime products at Pokémon Center.

Check more details about plan a 12-Day or 2 Week Itinerary in South Korea and Japan.

How Much Does a Trip to South Korea Cost?

The private tour cost in South Korea is about US$400–500 per day per person based on a family of 3–5 people, including 4-star hotels, a full-day itinerary, tickets for attractions, private cars, and private guides.

Travel costs are typically one or two times higher in peak times such as the cherry blossom season in March to April, Christmas, and New Year. Therefore, we recommend that you plan your trip at least 3–6 months in advance.

How to Get To and Around South Korea

South Korea's high-speed railwaySouth Korea's high-speed railway

Most flights from international starting points, such as North America, Europe, and Australia, land at Incheon International Airport in Seoul or Gimhae International Airport in Busan. These airports are conveniently close to their corresponding cities and are international hubs for some of South Korea's leading airlines.

Most cities in South Korea are conveniently connected by the KTX (South Korea's high-speed railway), which is the most comfortable and efficient way of traveling. For instance, the journey from Seoul to Busan takes approximately 2½ hours.

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Get Inspired with Some Popular Itineraries

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More Travel Ideas and Inspiration

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