I love to travel! The opportunity to travel is one of the main reasons I’ve stayed in Korea for almost 4 years. Traveling can be a weekend jaunt to a nearby country or a more in depth trip between teaching jobs or contracts. Local travel is just as interesting and there are many suburbs to explore around Seoul via the subway or express bus service. Here are my top picks for a quick day trip outside of Seoul.
Day Trip One: Everland/Caribbean Bay – This popular amusement attraction, perhaps the most popular in all of Korea, is less than two hours from Seoul. Located in Gyeonggi Province, the park is split into an amusement park and water park. This park boasts the T-Express, named the ‘Best Wooden Roller Coaster,’ due to its steep drop. Expats can visit the park on a budget too. Take advantage of ticket discounts for foreigners offered on different websites. Discounts can be as much as 50%.
Don't let cold weather prevent a visit. The indoor sections of Caribbean Bay stay open even when it is cold, and warm water runs through the rides.
Day Trip Two: Suwon – Check out the famous Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, a major city neighboring Seoul that can be reached by multiple subway lines. The fortress is a must see place for history buffs. Built in 1794, parts of the original fortress still exist including parts of the fortress damaged during the Korean War that have been refurbished. Weekend activities at the Hwaseong Fortress include traditional dance performances and archery.
Tour the palace and then head behind the palace to walk Suwon Hwasong, the fortress wall that used to surround the city. It is so large that if you don’t feel like walking the entire length, you can travel the wall by a small train.
Suwon is not only known for the Hwaseong Fortress, it is also popular for Suwon Galbi (Korean beef ribs). Replenish your energy after exploring the city at the plethora of Galbi restaurants and bars located outside the main train station.
Day Trip Three: Paju – Travel to Paju for a day of reading, viewing art and outlet shopping. Paju is about a 30-minute bus ride from the popular Hongdae district in Seoul. This is one of the more quiet destinations on my list because Paju is known for its books. Paju is filled with book cafes and art museums, and is a great day trip to reclaim your thoughts. For a small fee, you can tour the Paju English Village where many Korean dramas and music videos have been filmed.
If a quiet, thoughtful day isn't quite your speed, spend the day shopping at the Paju Shopping Outlets. Outlet shopping in Korea is still more expensive than the U.S., but I really like visiting outlet malls in Korea because they are designed like the outdoor outlet malls in Las Vegas.
Day Trip Four: Incheon - Most expats that take a teaching job in Korea eventually land inIncheon, but many do not take the time to explore it. When I visitIncheon, I like to go to Chinatown. This is also the only Chinatown in Korea recognized by the Korean government - and eating here is a must! Restaurants are full of Korean-infused Chinese food. My favorite is the baked meat buns.
Less than a 10-minute walk from Chinatown is Jayu Park, the first Western-designed park in Korea built after the Korean War. A large statue of General MacArthur sits inside the park and is a hot spot for photo taking by foreigners. Incheon also offers beaches such as Wolmido and Muuido. People travel to Incheon just to see the sea - even in the winter!
These 4 areas are easily accessible by different subway lines and buses making for quick, cheap and interesting getaways from Seoul. Turn a free day into a mini-vacation. Just because you need a quick vacation, does not mean you have to break the bank!
Marc has been living in Seoul working at the ChungDahm's Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. During those 4 years, he worked his way up from being a teacher and is now a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.