South Korea is known for many things; K-pop, electronics, Taekwondo, kimchi, and even beauty products, to name a few! But what are the most famous landmarks in South Korea? Could you name one? Let’s take a quick tour through this fascinating country to find out!
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
- The Blue House
- Jeonju Hanok Village
- Suncheonman Bay Wetland Reserve
- Bulguksa Temple
- The DMZ Zone
- Mudeungsan National Park
- N Seoul Tower
The 8 most famous landmarks in South Korea
Possibly South Korea’s most famous landmark, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of five residences of the Joseon Dynasty found in Seoul. It was built in 1395 but destroyed by fire during the Imjin War in the 1590s. Sadly, the Palace was left abandoned for centuries until restoration work began during the reign of King Gojong (1852-1919). With over seven thousand rooms, it’s no wonder that restoring the palace took a while!
Gyeongbokgung Palace is now a collection of museums and historical sites surrounded by gardens and ancient stone pagodas. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place on the hour between the hours of 10am and 3pm. This is a visual feast of the senses and has been performed since the 14th century. Many day tours of Seoul will visit Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The Blue House, or Cheong Wa Dae, is the former presidential palace and executive offices of the President of South Korea. The Blue House opened its doors to the public for the first time in 2022. Built in 1991 in the gardens of Gyeongbokgung, the Blue House is named for the 150 thousand striking blue tiles that compose the roof. Stunning parks and gardens, and beautiful buildings constructed in the traditional Korean architectural style give visitors a never-before-seen insight into the fascinating history and rich culture of South Korea.
History comes alive in the beautiful, slow city of Jeonju Hanok Village. Here, visitors can stroll the cobblestone streets and marvel at the traditional Korean hanok houses, famous for their unique roof edges that tip up towards the sky. Most hanok houses are divided into two sections – sarangchae (where the men lived) and anchae (usually found deeper inside the house, where the women slept).
Another unique feature of hanok is the ‘ondol’ heated flooring system, necessary for the freezing Korean winters. The best way to experience Jeonju Hanok Village is by exploring the many quaint alleys and streets on foot.
It’s time to discover one of the most famous natural landmarks in South Korea. Suncheonman Bay Wetland Reserve is a famous field of reeds found on the southern coast and is the largest in South Korea. This densely packed colony of reeds stretches for kilometres and stands taller than a fully-grown adult, and we must admit, watching the reeds sway in the breeze is mesmerising. Over 140 species of birds have made this beguiling wetland reserve their home, and a boardwalk through the reserve gives visitors the best views of the park.
The next famous landmark is the Bulguksa Temple complex for its stunning location on the slopes of Mount Toham (south-eastern coastline) and its huge importance in the Buddhist religion. Unfortunately, much of Bulguksa Temple was destroyed during the Japanese invasions known as the Imjin Wars (1592-1598). Following the war, the temple was rebuilt, albeit much smaller than the original.
Bulguksa Temple is the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and is home to six of South Korea’s national treasures. Recognised as an outstanding example of the Golden Age of Buddhist art during the Silla Kingdom, the artwork here can be dated back as early as the 700s. The entire site is an UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the Seokguram Grotto and is a must-visit when in South Korea!
A famous landmark in South Korea for all the wrong reasons, the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) marks the border between South Korea and North Korea, running along the 38th parallel. This stretch of no man’s land between the two countries is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.
Surprisingly, the DMZ is also a major tourist attraction with several observation areas offering visitors a sneaky peep over the wall into the very private North Korea. However, it’s widely agreed that the visible North Korean villages are fake and designed to give viewers a rosy picture of life in North Korea that is not necessarily correct. Dubbed the 'Propaganda Village', the use of telescopic lenses has led to the conclusion that none of the buildings have any windows or even interior rooms. Nonetheless, no trip to South Korea is complete without a visit to this intriguing landmark.
Small but impressive, Mudeungsan National Park is named after the region’s tallest peak, Mount Mudeungsan (standing proudly at 1,187m). The park is also encompassed by a stunning mountainous area near Gwangju, in the country’s southwest corner. Known for its spectacular rocky peaks and gorgeous hiking trails, there are many things to see and do here. Visit the oldest temple in Gwangju, Jeungsimsa Temple, or if you’re feeling up to it, trek to the three famous peaks. You can also explore the Uijae Museum of Korean Art, which showcases traditional landscape, flower and bird paintings by the famous local artist, Heo Baek Ryeon.
N Seoul Tower by Robby Mccullough/Unplash
Last, but certainly not least and possibly the easiest to see is the high-tech N Seoul Tower, or Namsan Seoul Tower. Located on top of Nam Mountain in central Seoul, this communication and observation tower was opened to the general public in 1980. With an elevation of almost 480m, the N Seoul Tower soars above downtown Seoul offering visitors breath-taking 360-degree views from its observation decks.
Home to several high-quality restaurants (at various heights and locations throughout the N Seoul Tower), a roof terrace, retail shops and the famous observation decks, the N Seoul Tower is an exciting tourist attraction in its own right.
Prepare for your trip: 15 Useful South Korean Phrases for Tourists
Visit South Korea with Bunnik Tours
Feeling inspired by our list of the most famous landmarks in South Korea? Ready to add them to your bucket list? There’s no better way to experience these landmarks than to visit them on a Bunnik Tour! We’ve been running small group tours to South Korea for many years. Book a South Korea tour online or get in touch with one of our friendly Travel Specialists to learn more about our Asia tours today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are three major landmarks in South Korea?
While there are a number of must-see landmarks in South Korea, the three biggest include the Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bulguksa Temple complex and the DMZ zone. You will visit all of these famous landmarks and more on our Discover South Korea & Japan and South Korea in Depth small group tours.
What is South Korea famous for?
When we think of what South Korea is famous for, we generally think of its vibrant cities, the K-Pop music scene, fried chicken and Korean BBQ, its high-tech electronics industry... and also the flipside of that, its calm and relaxing spa culture and beauty scene. But from our quick tour of South Korea, it is clear that South Korea also has a vast array of landmarks steeped in culture and history.
What is the most visited place in South Korea?
The most visited place in South Korea is Gyeongbokgung Palace,where you can see the Changing of the Guard ceremony which takes place on the hour (between the hours of 10am and– 3pm). Other popular landmarks of South Korea include the picturesque hillside village of Busan and Jeonju Hanok Village.
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