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Top 10 Destinations for Ecotourism in Korea

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

There are so many great reasons to visit Korea. Whether you’re a lover of K-pop, kimchi, or spectacular views—Korea has a little bit of everything for any kind of traveler.

Korea is rich in history, culture, food and there is no shortage of natural stunning beauty throughout. Here are some of the top places in Korea to visit on your next ecotourism vacation.

What is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism is sustainable travel. It is travel that supports the local culture, landscape and economy. It often will get you off the beaten path and encourages travelers to slow down.

Ecotourism can be done pretty much anywhere. We believe Korea is a great place you should travel on your next vacation. If you’re worried about not understanding the language and not being able to get around—just hire a personal assistant to hold your hand on your next trip!

Here are all of the places and experiences you should add to your bucket list for your trip to Korea.

1. Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung temple in South Korea
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This stunning chain of buildings is located on the ridge of Bugaksan mountain and was home to the local royalty. This network of buildings features stunning architecture and awe-inspiring design. Take a tour through the library, palace garden,and pagoda. There is a museum next to the palace for those who wish to delve deeper into the history of the area.

2. Jeonju

A nice temple restaurant in Jeonju
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Jeonju is arguably one of the most historic cities in all of Korea. In Jeonju you’ll find no shortage of stunning ancient temples and shrines. This city is filled with old hanocks which are old homes. Some still remain private homes, while others are open for tours. Touring these homes gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like back in the Joseon Dynasty.

Indulge in Koreas rich food culture in Jeonju too. You’ll be supporting the local economy and supporting a stunning ecotourism destination.

3. Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan Mountain
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National parks are always some of the easiest and most effortless ecotourism destinations. Seoraksan National park is special in that it was deemed the Yosemite of Korea. Grab some delicious camping and hiking snacks and summit Daecheongbong Peak—the third highest peak in all of Korea—or check out one of the two Buddhist temples located inside.

Regardless of what your ideal ecotourism destination looks like, there is a little something for everyone in this 163.6 square kilometer park.

4. Gyeongbokgung Palace

Temple at Gyeongbokgung
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After just a few minutes researching Gyeongbokgung Palace you’ll learn that this iconic destination has had quite the tumultuous past. Between being bombed, rebuilt, then overtaken by the Japaneese, then rebuilt a few more times— its easy to see why this location is so fascinating to visit.

Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 and was finally restored in 1990.

5. Hallyeo Maritime National Park

Sea side cliffs at Hallyeo Island
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

This stunning national park features miles of rugged and magestic cliffs towering over the ocean. Take the gondola to the top of a mountain and look out over the 300 plus islands off the coast of the park. Or better yet, take a ferry and go visit one yourself!

This National park is only an hour drive from Seoul and is full of breathtaking views and stunning hiking trails.

6. Jeju Island

Haenyeo Fishing Village at Jeju Island
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Jeju Island is said to be the Hawaii of Korea. This island was created by volcanic activity and is full of pristine beaches. Visit the abundant lava tubes and gaze upon the tallest peak in Korea—Hallasan. Hallasan is a dormant volcano that towers 6,388 feet above the ocean.

Jeju island is also home to a group of diving woman that free dive hundreds of feet off cliffs to catch different seafood. Between the spectacular views, bold free diving women, hotsprings, spas and island getaways—Jeju island is a must see on your trip to Korea.

7. Heonhwa-ro, Gangneung

Sea side cliffs at Heonhwa-ro
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Rent an overlanding vehicle and make this once-in-a-lifetime drive. This road hugs the jagged coastline of the east sea and was designed to perfectly showcase the surrounding landscape. This road winds around the towering coastline and the railing system was designed to keep the view unobstructed.

8. Gwangjang Market

Foodat Gwangjang Market in Seoul
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Delve deep into some of the most decadent foods that make up Koreas bustling food scene. Located in the heart of Seoul, Gwangjang Market is home to tons of different food stalls that act more like mini restaurants than a traditional food truck.

Walking through this market youll be enticed with decadent samples and free smells. Don’t forget to try some of the Korean classic dishes such as mungbean pancakes, bibimbap, gimbap, sundae, and tteokbokki.

9. Jingwansa Temple

Jingwansa temple mountain on the hill with clouds
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Located in Bukhansan National Park, Jingwansa Temple gives visitors an authentic Buddhist temple experience. This national park is only 15 minutes from the heart of Seoul. This temple was established in 1000 BC and offers a plethora of information and guides on Buddhism and the life of a monk.

Beyond that, the rest of the national park is worthy of your afternoon as well. Bukhansan is home to three towering peaks that can all be summited, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails with views of ancient fortress ruins.

10. Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple with buddhist ceremony
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The Bulguksa Temple is said to be Koreas most important. The local government deemed the Bulguksa Temple the Historic and Scenic Site Number One. The temple is located on the peaks of Mount Toham in Gyeongju and was crafted in 528 AD.

This temple boasts being home to seven of the countries national treasures. Here you will find treasures, sacred pagodas, and many statues of Buddha. This temple was destroyed and invaded several times throughout its history, but the sacred artwork was always hidden and has been preserved diligently for hundreds of years.

Korea is a Must See Destination

No matter what kind of vacation you are looking for, you are sure to have a stellar time traveling in Korea. Between the plethora of national parks, rich culture, sandy beaches, and bustling food culture and nightlife—Korea is truly a magical place.

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