In recent years South Korea has become a popular global travel destination widely known for its K-pop and beauty industries, with most tourists flocking to the city’s capital, Seoul! Seoul is an incredibly lively city, and a great place to live or vacation. But beyond Seoul’s borders, there are a ton of other cities worth exploring, each with their own special draws. Thankfully, Seoul’s subway system is fast and extensive and reaches beyond Seoul. If you are looking for a trip you can take without buying a ticket for the KTX train, consider one of these five locations that you can reach by subway for your next day trip!
One of the most popular day-trips from Seoul, Suwon is the largest city in South Korea’s Gyeonggi-do province. Located about 30km south of Seoul, Suwon almost became the country's capital city in the 18th century. These days, it is most well known for its World Heritage sites and famous chicken street. Take a look below for some recommendations for what to do during your day trip to Suwon!
How to get there: Take subway line 1 or the Bundang (분당) line to Suwon station (수원역).
In 1997 Hwaseong Fortress (수원 화성) was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and to this day is Suwon’s top attraction. The fortress represents the 18th century Joseon Dynasty and surrounds the city. Start your climb from the southern Paldalmun Gate (팔달문) – designated as National Treasure No. 402 – and make your way around the ancient crescent-shaped walls.
Hwaseong Haenggung (화성행궁) is the biggest palace that was built outside of Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty. Located at the center of Suwon’s Hwaseong Fortress, this is where the King Jeongjo used to stay when he travelled during the war. Guided tours are available and you can also play a game of traditional Korean archery on the palace grounds!
This one is for all you foodies who travel to eat! Fried chicken and beer – or chimaek (치맥) as they like to say – is a favourite meal of Koreans. In Suwon, follow the trend and head to the famous Suwon Chicken Street (수원통닭거리) with the rest of the locals where you can find dozens of chicken restaurants that have been in business for more than 40 years!
Located about one hour from Seoul is the charming city of Paju. The culture-rich city might not be as populous as Suwon or Yongin, but the diverse attractions that exist make it a great day trip to take from Seoul. There is also an outlet located in Paju where you can get popular sneaker brands for a great price!
How to get there: Take the Gyeongui-Jungang (경의중앙) line to Paju station (파주역).
Heyri Art Valley (헤이리 예술마을) is a beautiful art village where you can find hundreds of boutique museums, music halls, art galleries, and theatres, Heyri Art Valley is the perfect place to visit to see some great architecture and curated landscapes. Take some time to admire some modern art and the relaxed artist lifestyle outside of buzzing Seoul.
Imjingak Resort (임진각관광지) is located a short distance away from Heyri Art Valley and 7 kilometers from the Military Demarcation Line, Imjingak Resort was built in 1972 with the dream of unification. If you are interested in the DMZ tour but not in the heavy security checks, this is a great place to experience a free tour extremely close to the world’s most heavily militarized region without all the fuss. Try to spot the Freedom Bridge which was used by South Korean soldiers who were returning to the South after the Korean War armistice was signed. You can also see messages tied to the fence asking for the reunification of Korea.
Panmunjom Joint Security Area (판문점) is located in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), 50 kilometers north of Seoul, and 10 kilometers east of Gaeseong, in North Korea. Here you can experience a one-of-a-kind tour where you can be in close proximity to North Korea without going through customs. Guided tours are offered if you sign up in advance!
Seongnam is home to some of the wealthiest areas in South Korea, often referred to by locals as the new Gangnam. It’s not too far from Seoul, but far enough that you can relieve yourself from the stresses of Seoul life and enjoy the quiet surroundings. One of the areas in Seongnam, Bundang (분당) is also a popular destination for those in the fashion industry, as it is home to many clothing production facilities. Here are some suggestions for your day in Seongnam!
How to get there: Take the Bundang (분당) line to Yatap station (야탑역).
Namhansanseong Provincial Park (남한산성) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was designed, built, and defended by Buddhist monk-soldiers as an emergency capital for the Joseon dynasty. These days, Seoulites drive out here on the weekends to enjoy the lush greenery and fresh mountain air. You can enjoy one of the many walking and hiking trails here or bring a blanket and sit in one of the picnic areas underneath the trees. There are also many restaurants here where you can enjoy a traditional Korean meal overlooking the mountains when you get hungry.
Also known as European Street, Jeongja Cafe Street is the perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon enjoying brunch or sipping an americano and reading a book. In the summer, cafe owners hang lights in the street and bring out cozy chairs and low tables onto their patios for customers to sit outside and enjoy the Korean summer.
The name of this one really says it all. Bundang Central Park (분당 중앙 공원) is located in the affluent Bundang-gu in Seongnam. Stepping inside this park feels like stepping inside New York’s Central Park, but with cherry blossom trees and mountains in the background. Take a walk around the lake or along the shady tree-lined paths that wind through the quiet park. This is one of the two major parks in Bundang, the other is Yuldong Park.
If you can believe it, within the city of Incheon there exists more than just the airport!
If you miss the seaside but don’t want to travel too far from Seoul, take a trip West to Incheon, where you can find Muuido Island among other attractions! Muuido is a small island that is popular with travellers seeking a quick break from the city.
How to get there: Take the AREX Airport Railroad Express (공항철도) to the end of the line to reach the beaches, or take line 1 or Incheon line 2 (인천2) to Juan station (주안 역) to be closer to the city center.
Muuido Island is just a short ferry ride away and is surrounded by a couple smaller islands (Silmido Island and Somuuido Island) as well. Here you can enjoy great beaches and the relaxing East Sea. You can also go hiking at Horyonggoksan Mountain (호룡곡산) near Hanagae Beach. It's a two-hour hike, but the views overlooking the islands are worth it.
Finding fresh seafood in Incheon is easy seeing as it’s the second-largest port city in South Korea. But if you want a local and unique experience with a huge selection, try Sorae Pogu Traditional Fish Market. Their specialty is fresh blue swimming crabs. After you buy your fresh fish, take it to one of the many restaurants located in the market so they can cook your freshly picked seafood immediately.
After your beach and market activities, take a trip to Spasis to enjoy a relaxing hot bath. Spasis is the biggest jjimjilbang (spa and sauna centre) in Incheon, and they provide a wide range of services including cave sauna rooms, restaurants, swimming pools, billiards, a movie theatre, a fitness room, a children’s room, and computers! Spasis is the perfect place to unwind and wash up before returning to Seoul.
Located east of Suwon and southeast of Seoul, Yongin is a major city in Gyeonggi-do. The city is well connected to Seoul and takes about 40 minutes by subway to reach the city center. The most well-known attraction in Yongin is Everland Theme Park, especially popular among young Korean couples for themed dates and Instagram photoshoot opportunities. Here are a few things to do in Yongin!
How to get there: Take the Bundang (분당) subway line to Jukjeon station (죽전역).
If theme parks are your thing, make time to stop by Everland Resort for an adrenaline-filled day of fun. In addition to the many rides, Everland also hosts various themed festivals all year round. If rides do not interest you, try taking a walk through the beautiful gardens and enjoy the ecological safari world also located inside the park!
Created with the purpose of giving visitors a chance to experience traditional Korean culture the Korean Folk Village (한국 민속촌) was created back in 1974. Step back in time to the Joseon Dynasty as you enter the village and with houses that were reconstructed from different parts of Korea. You can also watch performances such as martial arts on horseback and tight-rope walking!
Cafes are everywhere in Seoul, and cafe hopping can definitely be considered a hobby. Among the hundreds of cafes that exist, Yongin’s Bojeong-dong Cafe Street (보정동카페거리) is a must-see for anyone who loves coffee. Enjoy the lush greenery as you relax over a cup of coffee at one (or a few) of the cafes located along Bojeong-dong Cafe Street.