Hidden Gems – Discovering Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations in Korea

Hidden Gems – Discovering Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations in Korea

, a country often associated with the bustling metropolis of , the ancient palaces of Gyeongju, and the vibrant culture of , has much more to offer than its well-trodden tourist paths.

While these cities are indeed spectacular, the true charm of Korea lies in its lesser-known destinations.

These hidden gems provide an authentic glimpse into the country's rich history, stunning landscapes, and unique culture, away from the usual tourist crowds.

In this guide, we will journey through some of the most enchanting off-the-beaten-path destinations in Korea, each offering a unique experience that promises to leave a lasting impression.

Korea's Volcanic Jewel

jeju island korea

, often called the “ of Korea,” is a stunning destination renowned for its unique volcanic landscapes, pristine beaches, and rich cultural heritage.

Home to Hallasan, Korea's highest mountain, and the breathtaking Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, Jeju offers numerous outdoor adventures, from and horseback riding to diving and .

The island's lush forests, lava tubes, and picturesque waterfalls create a natural paradise that attracts nature lovers from around the globe.

When making Korea travel plans for Jeju Island, don't miss the vibrant local markets, exquisite seafood, and traditional villages that showcase the island's unique charm and hospitality.

Jeju's blend of natural beauty and cultural richness makes it an essential stop on any Korean itinerary.

Gateway to Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park

Nestled on the eastern coast of Korea, Sokcho is a picturesque city that serves as the gateway to Seoraksan National Park. Unlike the more frequented national parks, Seoraksan offers a serene retreat with its rugged mountain peaks, lush forests, and crystal-clear streams.

The park is home to the iconic Ulsanbawi Rock, a must-visit for avid hikers. The six granite peaks of Ulsanbawi provide a challenging yet rewarding climb, offering panoramic views of the park and the East Sea.

In autumn, Seoraksan is particularly breathtaking as the foliage turns into a vibrant tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers.

The Heart of Korean Tradition

Hahoe Folk Village

Andong is a city where time seems to stand still. Known as the cultural heart of Korea, Andong is home to the Hahoe Folk Village, a UNESCO World Heritage site that preserves the traditional Korean way of life.

Here, you can wander through well-preserved hanok houses, watch traditional mask dances, and partake in age-old customs. The village is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, including the tranquil Nakdong River and the dramatic Buyongdae Cliff.

Andong is also famous for its annual Mask Dance Festival, which attracts performers and visitors from around the world, offering a lively and colourful celebration of Korean heritage.

A Culinary Capital

Jeonju food capital

While Jeonju is gaining popularity, it remains a hidden gem compared to Seoul or Busan. Jeonju is renowned for its delicious cuisine, particularly bibimbap, a mixed rice dish that has become synonymous with Korean .

The city's Hanok Village is a delightful blend of traditional and modern, where you can explore centuries-old houses that now host quaint cafes, art galleries, and boutique shops. Jeonju is also the birthplace of Korean paper or hanji, and you can visit workshops to see this delicate craft in action.

A visit to Jeonju is incomplete without sampling its street food, which offers a tempting array of flavours reflecting the city's rich culinary heritage.

A Sea of Green

Boseong green tea plantation

For those seeking tranquillity and natural beauty, Boseong is an idyllic destination. This small county is famous for its sprawling green tea fields, which create a stunning landscape that is both peaceful and picturesque.

The Boseong Green Tea Plantation offers visitors the chance to walk through the vibrant fields, sample freshly brewed tea, and even participate in tea-picking experiences.

The area is particularly beautiful in May during the Boseong Green Tea Festival, when the fields are at their most lush. Beyond tea, Boseong is also home to Yulpo Beach, where you can relax and enjoy the serene coastal views.

The Island of Mysteries

Jindo Island

Jindo Island, located off the southwestern coast of Korea, is known for its mysterious and fascinating natural phenomena. The most famous of these is the Jindo Sea Parting, often referred to as the “Moses Miracle of Korea.”

During this event, the sea parts reveal a narrow path connecting Jindo to the nearby Modo Island. This natural wonder attracts thousands of visitors each year, eager to walk across the sea bed.

Jindo is also home to the Jindo Dog, a breed known for its loyalty and intelligence. The island offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, with its picturesque landscapes, traditional festivals, and warm, welcoming locals.

An Island Escape


Ulleungdo is an island that feels like a world apart from the mainland. Located in the East Sea, Ulleungdo is a volcanic island characterized by its dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and lush forests.

The island is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering opportunities for hiking, fishing, and exploring its unique volcanic landscape.

One of the island's highlights is the Seonginbong Peak, the highest point on Ulleungdo, which provides breathtaking views of the surrounding sea and islands. Ulleungdo is also famous for its seafood, particularly the locally caught squid, which is a must-try delicacy.

Gyeongju – The Ancient Capital

Although Gyeongju is not entirely off the tourist radar, it is often overshadowed by Seoul and Busan. Known as the “museum without walls,” Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom and is a treasure trove of historical sites.

The city is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Grotto, and the royal tombs of Tumuli Park. Gyeongju offers a deep dive into Korea's rich history, with its ancient relics, stone pagodas, and traditional architecture.

A visit to Gyeongju is like stepping back in time, providing a profound appreciation for Korea's cultural and historical heritage.


South Korea's hidden gems offer a diverse range of experiences that go beyond the conventional tourist attractions.

From the serene landscapes of Sokcho and Boseong to the cultural richness of Andong and Jeonju, these off-the-beaten-path destinations provide a deeper understanding of Korea's beauty and heritage.

Whether you are an adventure seeker, a history buff, or a culinary enthusiast, exploring these lesser-known locations will leave you with unforgettable memories and a newfound appreciation for this fascinating country.

So, the next time you plan a trip to Korea, venture off the beaten path and discover the hidden gems that await you.

About The Author

Juliette Bates

I am a travel writer and Digital Nomad and have travelled to 54 countries around the world.

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