South Korea Unlocked: An Expert's Guide to Discovering Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations, Budget-Friendly Travel, Cultural Sites, and More
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12th Jul | 7 min read

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    Stephanie, aka NieNie, is a Korean-American and the travel blogger behind Adventures with NieNie. She's been living her life abroad for over 4 years now, with 3 of those years spent in South Korea and 1 year in Germany. It’s her goal to help others plan their dream destinations and learn about living abroad.

    Stephanie went on her first international trip to South Korea at the age of one and has continued to visit every other year. She now lives abroad, just like her parents did, and is following her dream of traveling and learning about other cultures.

    Stephanie is a passionate traveler who loves to share her experiences, including her mistakes, as she explores the world. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on her latest adventures and insights as she navigates this beautiful planet.

    If you're planning a trip to South Korea, Stephanie's expert tips and insights are a must-read! In this blog post, she shares her top recommendations for must-see sights, hidden gems, and unique experiences that will help you make the most of your South Korea itinerary and create unforgettable memories.

    Adventures with NiNie

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    Discovering Hidden Gems: A Guide to Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel in South Korea

    The fact that South Korea hasn't seen a lot of tourists is one of the best reasons to visit there and nearby. Many tourists seem to be intimidated by traveling to countries where they don’t know the language, and Korea is one of them. It’s new to the map, and there is so much more to see and explore outside of just Seoul, Busan, and Jeju.

    Click here to connect with other solo travelers who want to share costs and experiences while traveling to South Korea

    South Korea in 2 Weeks: A Comprehensive Itinerary for the Perfect Trip

    I would definitely say two weeks; however, I always say do what you can manage. Not everyone is lucky enough to take two weeks off, and others have the opportunity to travel for months. The ideal 2-week itinerary for traveling to South Korea for me would be:

    Incheon - 1-2 Days

    Seoul - 3 Days

    Gangneung - 2 Days

    Gyeongju - 3 Days

    Busan - 3 Days

    Jeonju - 1 Day

    Jeju - 3 Days

    Discovering the Charm of Geoje: A Guide to the Best Beach Town in South Korea

    Some of my favorite places to travel in South Korea are off the beaten path. I absolutely love traveling to Geoje during the summer months. It’s a small little beach town fairly close to Busan, where we drive. We love coming here to swim, eat local seafood, and get away from the bigger cities and tourist crowds.

    Other places I would recommend would be Jeju, Danyang, Paju, Gyeongju, and Gangneung. If you have time, I would also suggest taking a trip down to Jeonju. They have a beautiful old hanok village there where you can rent hanboks and take photos. It’s a popular destination to visit and be immersed in the culture.

    Seeing South Korea's Cultural Sites Without Breaking the Bank

    A lot of the palaces and temples are affordable. The temples are free to see and the palaces are around $3 entrance fees. They are very affordable and you can find a temple in almost every area in South Korea.

    I suggest taking public transportation. It's quite cheap and taking the long-distance buses will take longer but save you a lot more money than taking the train to each destination.

    Top Neighborhoods for Budget-Friendly Backpackers

    The best areas to stay for backpackers planning a long-term trip honestly depend. I would start off in Myeongdong or Hongdae.

    If you like to party, Hongdae and Itaewon are great locations to grab drinks and food.

    Itaewon is a foreigner-friendly location to drink.

    Myeongdong is centrally located and perfect for shopping.

    South Korea's Shoulder Seasons: Why Spring and Fall Offer the Best of Both Worlds

    The best time to travel to South Korea would be during the Spring or fall. In the springtime, you can see some amazing and beautiful cherry blossoms.

    During the fall you can see the colors of the leaves turn and the pretty pink muhly. The weather is usually best during these times of the year.

    The summer is way too hot, humid, and rainy to visit and the winter can be too cold for some people, but still doable.

    Safety Tips for Travelers to South Korea: Staying Safe and Aware

    Overall, South Korea is quite a safe country, however, in any country, you may face difficulties with the locals. There will always be good and bad people.

    For people of color, especially black people, you may encounter people who will want to touch your hair. This is mainly because South Korea is a homogenous country. They don’t have much experience with black people other than tourists and the occasional English teacher in South Korea.

    Be careful not to start any fights, use profanity, or talk badly about anyone. These are all considered illegal in South Korea. When it comes to fighting, even if you fight to protect yourself, you can still be arrested and get into trouble. There are no laws on self-defense.

    Meet locals in South Korea and go on trips with them

    Adventures with NieNie

    Visa-Free Entry to South Korea: Countries and Requirements

    It depends on which country you are traveling from.

    Many people from the United States and Europe will have an easy time traveling to South Korea.

    It is unfortunately difficult for those from Southeast Asia and South Asia.

    Unfortunately, South Korea has a problem with many citizens from these countries overstaying their permitted visa time, which makes it more difficult for them. However, it is possible if you take the time to look into what your country’s visa requirements are.

    Transportation Options To Get Around In South Korea

    Public transportation hands down. South Korea has some of the best public transportation in the world, including buses, trains, planes, and subways.

    However, you can easily rent a car there if you have an international license. Having a car in Korea would be good to see some of the things that are in the countryside and difficult to get to or may take more time than some of the public transportation.

    From Street Food to Fine Dining: Exploring the Diverse Flavors of South Korea

    This one is a tough one. There are so many delicious food options in South Korea, and it really depends on your palate.

    Traditional Korean Food

        Korean BBQ - Galbi, Pork Belly (samgyupsal), Bulgogi

        Korean Fried Chicken

        Kimchi Jjigae

        Soon DuBu Jjigae


        Buddae Jjigae



    Traditional Korean Street Food

        Kimbap 김밥 – Dried Seaweed Rice Roll

        Eomuk (Korean Word) or Odeng (Japanese Borrowed Word) – Fish Cake

        Tteokbokki – Spicy Rice Cake

        Mandu 만두

        Dried Squid 오징어

        Pajeon – Scallion Pancakes

        Kimchi Pancake 김치전

        Roasted Chestnuts

        Sweet Potatoes

        Japchae – Glass noodles with veggies and meat

        Sundae – Korean Blood Sausage

        Bindaetteok – Mungbean Pancakes

    Korean Street Food Desserts


        Bungeoppang 붕어빵

        Waffles 생크림 와플

        Strawberries on a stick 딸기

        Dalgona (Modern Name) or Ppopgi (Korean Traditional Name)

        Tteok – Korean Rice Cake sometimes filled with red beans


        Sikhye Sweet Rice Drink

        Kkwabaegi 꽈배기

        Manju 만주

    Unique and Fun Things to Do in South Korea

    There honestly are so many. You can find something to do in every city that you visit.

    There are tons of cafes, tons of places to take photos, and tons of beaches.

    You can go parasailing in Danyang, visit temples, drive a motorbike along the island of Udo near Jeju, and so much more. Honestly, I cannot even decide on one of my favorite experiences in South Korea. There are so many.

    Requirements for Teaching English in South Korea

    I taught English in South Korea for over 3 years.

    When it comes to teaching English in South Korea, you do have to have a few things in mind, especially for a visa.

    You have to be from one of seven English-speaking countries in order to get a visa to teach English in South Korea.

    Those countries are the USA, Canada, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Second, you have to have at least a bachelor’s degree. It doesn’t have to be in English, but you have to have a college degree.

    Finally, you have to have a TESOL or TEFL certification. This is necessary to teach English in South Korea.

    Other helpful travel tips from the pros!

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