What To Do In Itaewon | Travelling South Korea (2023)

Welcome globetrotters and wanderlust warriors! As you continue exploring the wonders of South Korea, it’s time to add a new destination to your list: the vibrant neighborhood of Itaewon. Situated in the heart of Seoul, this hip and trendy district is brimming with excitement and culture, guaranteeing an unforgettable experience for all who visit Itaewon 2023.

Whether you’re a foodie eager to sample the world at one street or a shopaholic itching for eclectic finds, Itaewon has something for everyone, with endless surprises waiting for you at every corner. So ready your itinerary as we delve into the thrilling and dynamic world of Itaewon, and discover the top activities and attractions that will make your time here truly exceptional.

From mouth-watering cuisines and iconic Itaewon nightlife to cultural attractions and hidden gems, let’s embrace the magic of Itaewon together!

Introduction To Itaewon

Itaewon is a vibrant and culturally diverse neighborhood located in the heart of Seoul, South Korea. This bustling area has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, thanks to its unique blend of international flair and rich history. With an abundance of eclectic shops, diverse eateries, and world-class museums, Itaewon offers a little something for everyone.

By day, visitors can wander through the various museums and galleries that showcase both traditional Korean art and contemporary masterpieces from around the world. You’ll also find the largest mosque in the country, the Seoul Central Mosque, as well as numerous halal-certified restaurants along Islam Street.

As the sun goes down, Itaewon truly comes alive, transforming into one of Seoul’s premier nightlife hubs, complete with its own Itaewon bar street, clubs, and restaurants. Whether you’re seeking delectable cuisine, fascinating history, or a memorable night out on the town in a classic Itaewon pub, you’ll find it all in the bustling streets of Itaewon.

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Itaewon: A Short History

Itaewon, a multicultural hub in Seoul, South Korea, boasts a rich history that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The area initially served as a transportation center where travelers could get horses, and its strategic location beneath a mountain and above a river made it a convenient spot for militaries. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Itaewon grew in importance as the capital was relocated to Hanyang, now known as modern-day Seoul.

In the 1880s, as foreigners began to enter Korea, embassies and inns sprung up in the region, making Itaewon one of the most prominent spots for foreigners and travelers. The district later transformed into a shopping district twenty years after the Korean War (1950-53).

Today, Itaewon is famous for its US military base, Haebangcheon (HBC) Village clubbing district, and the upscale Hannam-dong street, attracting locals and visitors alike to its unique blend of diverse cultures, trendy restaurants, and lively nightlife.

1. Visit The Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

If you’re in Itaewon, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, an impressive space showcasing both traditional Korean art and contemporary pieces from around the world. The museum offers visitors a unique experience, as it is split between three buildings designed by prestigious architects Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel, and Rem Koolhaas.

The Mario Botta-designed building houses primarily Buddhist artifacts, Korean ceramics, calligraphy, and paintings, while the Jean Nouvel-designed space displays Korean and international art from 1910 to the present. For families with children, the Rem Koolhaas-designed building is home to the Samsung Child Education and Culture Center. Free English tours are available on weekend afternoons, and visitors can rent audio guides at the ticket office to learn more about the impressive collection.

To get there, take Seoul Subway Line 6 to Hangangjin Station and leave through Exit 1. The museum is just a short walk up the hill, and it’s open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:30am to 6pm. Keep in mind that it’s prohibited to take photos or videos inside the museum, and if you want to avoid crowds, it’s best to visit on a weekday morning. Make sure to include the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in your Itaewon itinerary, as it’s an unmissable experience for art and architecture lovers alike.

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2. Explore the Itaewon Global Village Center

Itaewon, a vibrant neighborhood in the heart of Seoul, is known for its international community and diverse range of activities. One of the most popular destinations for tourists and expats is the Itaewon Global Village Center, which offers a range of services for foreign residents and visitors. The center provides information and resources on everything from housing to healthcare, as well as language classes and cultural events.

For those looking to fully immerse themselves in the local culture, the center also offers guided tours of Itaewon and other nearby neighborhoods, providing a deeper understanding of the history, traditions, and customs of the area. Whether you’re a new resident or a seasoned traveler, the Itaewon Global Village Center is a must-visit destination when exploring what to do in Itaewon.

3. Stroll through the Itaewon Antique Street

If you’re looking for a unique and charming experience in Itaewon, a stroll through the Itaewon Antique Street should definitely be on your itinerary. This one-kilometer stretch of road features an array of antique shops and vintage boutiques selling everything from antique furniture and vintage clothing to rare books and old maps.

The street is located near the Itaewon Station, making it easily accessible for locals and tourists alike. If you’re interested in antiques and collecting vintage items, you can spend hours browsing through the stores. The wide selection of shops means that you can find trinkets, furniture, and accessories to fit any budget. Whether you’re an antique collector or simply seeking some unique souvenirs, a trip to the Itaewon Antique Street is a must-do if you’re wondering what to do in Itaewon.

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience in Seoul, look no further than the Itaewon shopping district. This lively neighborhood is known for its diverse array of stores and boutiques catering to both locals and tourists alike. From high-end fashion to vintage clothing, you’ll find it all in Itaewon.

Beyond the shopping, the area is also home to many trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it a perfect spot to spend the day or night. Whether you’re a fashionista on a mission or just looking for some retail therapy, a trip to Itaewon should definitely be on your list of what to do in Itaewon.

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5. Experience the Itaewon Nightlife

If you’re looking for a night out in Seoul, Itaewon is the place to be. It’s a cosmopolitan neighborhood that has become a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It’s known for its bustling nightlife, a vibrant mix of cultures, and international cuisine. One of the top things to do in Itaewon is to experience the nightlife scene.

There are plenty of bars, clubs, and music venues to choose from. Some bars are laid-back and casual, while others are more upscale and feature live entertainment. Whatever your style, you can find a place to suit your mood in Itaewon. The energy of the area is electric, and the atmosphere is unbeatable. So, if you’re wondering what to do in Itaewon, you can’t go wrong with a night out on the town.

6. Taste authentic Korean cuisine

Itaewon is the place to go if you want to experience some of the best Korean cuisine that Seoul has to offer. One of the top things to do in Itaewon is to taste authentic Korean food. Itaewon is known for its diverse food culture, offering everything from street food to high-end dining experiences. However, for a truly authentic taste of Korea, heading to a traditional Korean restaurant is a must.

Some of the best Korean restaurants in Itaewon focus on Korean BBQ or grilled meats, where guests can cook their own meat at the table. Other must-try dishes include bibimbap, a rice bowl topped with vegetables, meat, and a spicy sauce, and jjajangmyeon, a Korean-Chinese noodle dish with a savory black bean sauce. At traditional Korean restaurants, it is customary to take off your shoes and sit on the floor, adding to the authentic cultural experience.

7. Visit the Namsangol Hanok Village

One of the must-visit attractions in Itaewon is the Namsangol Hanok Village, which is a beautifully preserved traditional Korean village right in the heart of the city. The village offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life in Korea, with its intricate architecture, wooden floors, and tiled roofs. Visitors can expect to see a variety of traditional Korean houses, including a study, a living room, an aristocratic house, and even a matrimonial room.

The village is surrounded by picturesque gardens that contain towering trees, including a ginkgo tree that is over 400 years old. Visitors can enjoy wandering through the village while taking in the stunning surroundings. With its rich cultural heritage and peaceful atmosphere, the Namsangol Hanok Village is one of the best places to visit in Itaewon to experience the traditional way of life in Korea.

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8. Enjoy the N Seoul Tower

If you happen to find yourself in Itaewon, one of the top things to do while in the area is to visit the N Seoul Tower. This landmark is a must-see for anyone traveling to Seoul. Located atop Namsan Mountain, the N Seoul Tower provides visitors with unparalleled views of the city. You can take a cable car up to the mountain, and once there, you can choose to enjoy a breathtaking meal at the revolving restaurant or simply take in the stunning vista.

The tower is also an ideal location to capture amazing pictures, especially during sunset. This iconic attraction is a great representation of the beauty and diversity that the city has to offer, making it a top attraction for anyone interested in knowing what to do in Itaewon.

When visiting Itaewon, make sure to add a visit to the Hongdae Shopping Street to your list of must-do activities. This lively and bustling district is known for its trendy street fashion and accessories, unique boutiques, and vintage clothing shops. You’ll also find an answer to the question “does anyone know a really great Hongdae bar“…as there are many.

Whether you’re looking for the latest in Korean fashion or a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home, the Hongdae Shopping Street has something for everyone. The area also boasts numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars, making it the perfect spot for a day of shopping and dining. With its vibrant atmosphere and diverse selection of shops and eateries, the Hongdae Shopping Street is a must-visit destination in Itaewon. Be sure to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to explore everything this exciting district has to offer.

10. Explore the nearby parks and green spaces

Itaewon, a bustling neighborhood in the heart of Seoul, presents numerous opportunities for entertainment and leisure. One activity that often gets overlooked, however, is exploring the nearby parks and green spaces. Despite being a densely populated urban area, Itaewon features several tranquil oases where visitors can immerse themselves in nature and escape the bustling city streets. From the popular Namsan Park with its iconic N Seoul Tower to the lesser-known Hyochang Park and its scenic pond, there are plenty of options for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Other notable green spaces include the Hangang Park with its picturesque river views and the Seoul Forest, an expansive park that boasts an array of recreational facilities such as a skate park, an insect museum, and bike rentals. Whether you’re a nature lover, a fitness enthusiast, or simply seeking a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, exploring the nearby parks and green spaces is a great way to spend your time in Itaewon.

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To sum it up, Itaewon is definitely worth a visit for those who are looking for a fun and diverse experience in Seoul. From international cuisine to vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this bustling district. Take a stroll through the streets, try a new type of food, shop at the unique boutiques, or hit up the clubs and bars for a night out. Whatever you decide to do in Itaewon, you’re sure to have a memorable time.


What is Itaewon in Korea famous for? ›

Itaewon (Korean: 이태원; Hanja: 梨泰院; IPA [itʰɛwʌn]) is multi-cultural commercial area located in Seoul, South Korea. it is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Seoul, known for its nightlife and trendy restaurants.

Is 4 days enough in Korea? ›

4 days in Seoul is perfect to see a lot of highlights of this wonderful city without rushing too much. If you are looking for Seoul travel tips, click here. There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links.

What are the do's and don ts in South Korea? ›

Avoid drawing parallels between the Korean culture or language to Japan. Korea should be acknowledged for its distinctiveness and difference from other East Asian cultures. Avoid exhibiting anger or distress in heated displays or outbursts of emotion. Doing so may cause you to lose face .

Is 11 days enough in South Korea? ›

While 10 days are enough to explore many attractions and top sights in South Korea, this list was updated to expand the itinerary to 12 days, which allows travelers to visit more iconic towns and cities in the beautiful country. The additional places worth seeing in South Korea include Daegu and Gyeongju.

What is the famous street in Itaewon? ›

Itaewon Shopping Street is a 1.4-kilometer-long road located near Itaewon Station. There is an enormous variety of shops, entertainment venues, and restaurants lined along both sides of the street.

Is Itaewon a party city? ›

This Itaewon club in Seoul is the best place to enjoy the nightlife, make new friends, date, or simply hang out with friends. Every weekend is a unique celebration in the Itaewon club where you can enjoy special events such as The White Party, Ladies Night, Game Night, Meet Your Match, and many more.

Which month is best to visit South Korea? ›

The best time to visit South Korea is between March and May if you want to see the vibrant pink of the cherry blossoms in bloom. If you want to see the landscapes come alive as the leaves change in the cooler weathers, then we'd recommend visiting between September and November.

How much money do I need for 1 week in Korea? ›

The average price of a 7-day trip to South Korea is $1,452 for a solo traveler, $2,504 for a couple, and $1,084 for a family of 4. South Korea hotels range from $45 to $202 per night with an average of $67, while most vacation rentals will cost $110 to $440 per night for the entire home.

How much money is enough for South Korea trip? ›

If you are traveling on a budget you can probably get around with 80 000 krw a day but you might not be staying in the nicest hotels or have the best food. For those on a mid range budget, 120 000 krw should be enough and for those on a luxury budget, a minimum of 200 000 krw should be ok.

What is considered disrespectful in Korea? ›

Touching, patting, or back slapping is to be avoided during interactions. In addition, direct eye contact between juniors and seniors should be avoided because it is seen as impolite or even a challenge. Korea is one of the most demographically homogeneous countries in the world, racially and linguistically.

Do you tip in South Korea? ›

Tipping is not required nor expected in Korea.

What should I be careful of in South Korea? ›

Protests are generally peaceful and policed but can turn violent. Avoid large public gatherings and take extra care in any crowded space. South Korea remains safe for most travellers, with a relatively low crime rate. However, petty crime happens, especially in major cities such as Seoul and Busan.

How much spending money do you need for 2 weeks in South Korea? ›

Budget to spend around ₩548,037 for two for a week in South Korea. This assumes you're cooking some of the time and drinking some alcohol. If you enjoy eating out, you can expect to pay around ₩61,500 for a nice dinner for two, including an alcoholic drink.

Is Jeju worth it? ›

Only when you've checked off at least one of them would your attention shift to Jeju, the southernmost province of South Korea and an island isolated from the rest, offering its own unique culture and experiences. You'll see a different side of South Korean culture — and you'll find that Jeju is well worth the visit.

Is 2 weeks in Korea too much? ›

If you have 14 days in South Korea, you can explore the mainland and the charming Jeju Island. This is plenty of time to see the vibrant cities of the country, learn about the culture and history, and of course, stuff yourself with tasty local dishes. I honestly think 2 weeks is just perfect.

How many hours is it from Seoul to Itaewon? ›

The best way to get from Seoul Station to Itaewon without a car is to subway and line 6 subway which takes 18 min and costs ₩2,500 - ₩2,700. How long does it take to get from Seoul Station to Itaewon? It takes approximately 18 min to get from Seoul Station to Itaewon, including transfers.

What happened in Itaewon in Seoul? ›

On the night of 29 October 2022, a crowd crush occurred during Halloween festivities in the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul, South Korea. At least 159 people were killed and 196 others were injured. The victims were mostly young adults.

What is the famous Itaewon case? ›

The Itaewon Burger King Murder took place on April 3, 1997 when 22-year-old Hongik University student Jo Jung-pil (Hangul: 조중필; born 1974) was stabbed to death at Burger King in Itaewon. Arthur Patterson, 17 at the time of the incident (born to an American father and a South Korean mother), was the main suspect.

Where do Americans hang out in Seoul? ›

Gangnam. The business district of Gangnam is home to many expats, and even more places to shop, eat or drink. Expats like to come to Gangnam to get away from the inherent flashiness and military presence in Itaewon and hang out in places that are actually popular with Koreans as well as expats.

Who is the celebrity at Itaewon? ›

Remembering Lee Ji-han, the star caught in Seoul's Halloween stampede: the 24-year-old was a budding K-drama and K-pop idol filming a new series before he tragically died in the Itaewon crowd crush.

What clothes to wear in Korea in September? ›

Most locals are wearing jeans, leggings, skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and lighter weight sweaters, jackets, and windbreakers by the start of September in Korea. By the end of the month (or even earlier), it's cooled down enough that shorts and sandals would feel strange.

Do I need a visa to go to South Korea? ›

Do United States Citizens Need a Visa to Visit South Korea? No, US nationals do not need a visa to visit South Korea. However, they must either have an approved K-ETA or queue at the border to complete an arrival card to enter the country. The K-ETA visa waiver for American citizens is quick and easy to get online.

What is the coldest month in Korea? ›

January is the coldest month in Seoul, often with the lowest temperatures, almost always dropping below -10 °C (14 °F), and sometimes below -15 °C (5 °F).

Should I bring cash to Korea? ›

Although card payments are widely accepted, some merchants won't accept cards for purchases under ₩10,000. Also, only some ATMs will accept foreign credit/debit cards.So it's handy to have cash on you at all times to avoid a sticky situation.

What month is the cheapest to fly to Korea? ›

High season is considered to be January, November and December. The cheapest month to fly from the United States is April. Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest South Korea flight deals.

Is 7 days in Korea enough? ›

Overall, I recommend not spending less than three days in Seoul, or else you'll likely miss out on too much. A week is a good introduction to the city and, if you plan it right, will give you enough time to see a lot of the highlights.

How much is a typical meal in South Korea? ›

While meal prices in South Korea can vary, the average cost of food in South Korea is ₩38,176 per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out an average meal in South Korea should cost around ₩15,270 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner.

How long can you stay in Korea with a tourist visa? ›

From April 1, 2023, to December 31, 2024, the Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) is not required for US citizens for stays of 90 days or less that are for tourism or business purposes. Visa required for all other purposes, including employment, teaching English, and for stays longer than 90 days.

How do you pay for things in Korea? ›

Popular payment methods
  1. KakaoPay. Digital wallets. KakaoPay is a South Korean digital wallet found within Kakao Talk.
  2. Korean cards. Cards. This payment method allows merchants to process Korean-issued cards.
  3. UnionPay. Vouchers, prepaid and giftcards, Cards. ...
  4. JCB. Cards. ...
  5. Mastercard. Cards. ...
  6. PayPal. Digital wallets. ...
  7. PayCo. Digital wallets.

Is smiling rude in Korea? ›

Smiling: As well as an expression of glee and humour, smiling can indicate that one is feeling ashamed or embarrassed in Korean culture. For example, a Korean may smile when they make a mistake. Sneezing: Sneezing is considered rude in Korea.

What not to wear in Seoul? ›

Clothing etiquette

While short-shorts and skirts are commonplace for women in Korea's major cities, exposed shoulders and low-cut tops are still considered taboo most places. Summers get hot in South Korea, so loose-fitting t-shirts are a good alternative to tank tops.

Is thumbs up offensive in Korea? ›

Single Thumb Up

If you want to say okay or good, you can give a thumbs up. Most of the time, Korean people don't say how impressed they are. They would show you a thumbs up with expressions of admiration and awe on their faces.

Can you drink tap water in South Korea? ›

The simple answer is yes, the water is potable. Tap water in Korea is safe to drink.

Is it rude to leave food on your plate in Korea? ›

It's advisable to put your utensils back on the table once you're finished with your meal to indicate that you're done, although many Koreans also leave them on top of their plates or inside the bowl, provided that it's empty.

Is leaving a tip at a restaurant an insult in Korea? ›

Tipping is not customary in South Korea. In fact, giving gratuities to waiters, cab drivers, and hotel staff may be considered disrespectful here as opposed to in many Western nations.

Can I wear leggings in South Korea? ›

You don't want to wear a leggings on the streets in Korea unless you wanna be on the spot. If you happen to wear a leggings at work or school, everyone will probably stare at you bluntly and might think your outfit is inappropriate.

Is Seoul English friendly? ›

While Seoul is the modern capital city of South Korea, many locals aren't fluent in English. It's generally not a very widely spoken language in South Korea. However, you'll have better luck finding a local who can speak English in main tourist neighborhoods, such as Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Hongdae.

Which Korea is safe for American tourists? ›

What is this? Yes, South Korea is very safe to visit. In fact, many people who come are impressed by the clean streets, friendly atmosphere, and low crime rate. Crime rates, especially against foreigners, are low.

How far does usd go in Korea? ›

South Korea travel costs can vary significantly, from budget food and accommodation options to top-end hotels and restaurants. The local currency, the South Korean won (₩) is worth around US$0.0008, which means that for each US dollar, you can obtain around ₩1200.

How long should I vacation in South Korea? ›

Even though there's no such thing as the perfect itinerary for Korea, the country is small enough that two weeks is enough time to adjust to the culture change and still have time to enjoy most everything.

How much is a house in South Korea? ›

As of January 2023, the mean purchase price of housing in Seoul, South Korea amounted to around 912 million South Korean won. The average price of apartments amounted to around 1.27 billion South Korean won, while the price of detached and row houses were about 962.7 and 347 million South Korean won, respectively.

Why is Jeju Island so famous? ›

Indeed, Jeju is officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site, Global Geopark and Biosphere Reserve, encompassing Korea's highest peak of Hallasan Mountain, the vast forested swathes of a semi-tropical national park, a wild coastline and the world's longest underground lava tube.

Is Jeju English friendly? ›

No English! One of the cool things about Jeju Island is that it's mostly visited by local Korean and Asian tourists. It is not a well-known destination otherwise. This makes it very special experience, but it also means that there is very little English-support on the island.

Why do Koreans love Jeju Island? ›

Although it's a part of South Korea it feels distinctly more relaxed and the locals speak a slightly different version of the Korean language. It's famed for the quality of its juicy tangerines, pork made from local black-pig, barbecued horse meat and fresh seafood (which you can have raw or cooked).

What is 52 hour rule Korea? ›

Under a law passed in 2018, South Korean workers can work a maximum of 52 hours a week, combining a standard 40-hour workweek with an additional 12 hours of overtime. Employers that breach the limit risk paying a fine or even jail time.

What should I prepare for a trip to Korea? ›

Current Requirements To Travel To Korea In 2023
Self-Health CheckYes (on arrival)
MasksNo (except in hospitals)
K-ETA or Tourist VisaYes (mandatory – some exclusions)
Health InsuranceNo (optional)
3 more rows
May 13, 2023

How many hours do Korean work in a week? ›

It was only as recently as 2018 that, due to popular demand, the country had lowered the limit from 68 hours a week to the current 52 – a move that at the time received overwhelming support in the National Assembly.

What is the rich neighborhood in Korea? ›

Gangnam districts

Are there foreigners in Itaewon? ›

Welcome to the Itaewon Global Village Center! At the Itaewon Global Village Center we offer a variety of services to support foreigners living in the area, and we have classes and programs that help foreigners understand Korean culture better.

What is the nickname of Itaewon? ›

Itaewon has long been known as the foreigner’s neighborhood in South Korea. The area got its name more than four centuries ago, when invading Japanese troops broke into a Buddhist temple there and raped the nuns.

What is the poorest city in South Korea? ›

Jeju, the poorest region in the country, has a GDP per capita level equivalent to 72% of the GDP per capita in Chungcheong, the richest region in Korea.

What does Itaewon mean in Korean? ›

Itaewon, meaning “large pear tree,” sprang up after the Korean War for wealthy soldiers that resided in the surrounding area. American soldiers from the base, along with travelers from around the world, have flocked here over the years for its party atmosphere and international flavor unique to South Korea.

Can you live in Korea only speaking English? ›

If you've ever visited another country and managed to book hotels, buy food, visit attractions, and travel on public transport without learning the local language, then you're probably able to live in Korea without learning Korean.

What is the name of the finest city in Korea? ›

1. Seoul: The Dazzling Capital City. The dazzling capital city will impress you with its dizzying mix of modern architecture, party vibes, pop culture, beautiful parks & glittering promenades making it one of the most famous places in South Korea and the best cities to visit in South Korea.

Where to sleep in Seoul? ›

Quick Overview of Where to Stay in Seoul
*Best Area For First Timers:*Myeongdong
Best For Backpackers:Ryu Guesthouse (Gangnam)
Best Luxury Hotel:Four Seasons Hotel Seoul (Jongno)
Best Mid-Range Option:VOCO Hotel by IHG (Gangnam)
Best Budget Accommodation:GRID INN (Jongno)
7 days ago

What currency does Korea use? ›

The South Korean Won, or KRW is the currency of South Korea. This currency uses the symbol “₩.”

Is 3 days enough in South Korea? ›

Three days should be sufficient for a first trip to Korea, especially if you have a Discover Seoul pass, though one week is ideal. The pass enables you to visit key locations once for free, and best of all, get discounts on other destinations and experiences.

Is 2 days enough for Seoul? ›

3-5 days is a great start. That gives you enough time to explore the highlights of the city, plus a day or two to get out and explore the surrounding areas. It's a city of endless surprises, so you'll only be scratching the surface, but it's enough time to get a feel for Seoul.


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