Friday, August 10, 2018

A WEEK IN KOREA: Travel from the ancient to contemporary Korea (Seoul - Daegu - Busan)


Gentle weather in fall presents a prime time to travel. If you are considering coming to Korea, September to November is an excellent time to go around without guarding yourself with heavy coat or sweating from scorching heat. If you are lucky enough to spare a week this fall, plan ahead and mark this itinerary to fully experience Korea through history from the ancient contemporary Korea. This itinerary spans 3 major cities in Korea: Seoul, Daegu and Busan, all of which are conveniently on the express train, KTX routes.

Seoul is the capital city of South Korea and had been the capital of Joseon Dynasty for more than half a century. Consequently, it has an abundant number of historical landmarks. Ranging from a traditional folk village to temples and Confucian academies, there are so many to pick from. We suggest you make sure to palaces in Seoul that you can’t easily fine elsewhere in South Korea.

DAY1 Changdeokgung Palace Gyeongbokgung Palace & Folk Museum
DINNER: Korean BBQ(bulgogi)

Gyeongbokgung Palace & Folk Museum

Gyeongbokgung Palace was the heart of the Joseon Dynasty that lasted approximately 5 centuries. When you start to learn Korean history, Joseon Dynasty is the name of kingdom that appears over and over. The impressive architecture and its serene garden will immediately put you back to 600 years ago. After exploring the palace, make sure to check out its folk museum filled with numerous items used by Joseon’s royal families.     

Changdeokgung Palace
When the previous destination, Gyeongbokgung, was broke down from fire during the Japanese Invasion of Korea, Changdeokgun Palace started to serve as the home of Joseon court for almost 300 years. Located on the east side of Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung boasts exceptional beauty of its garden and architecture harmoniously blending with the surrounding. For that reason, it was listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Changdeokgung is as historically significant as Gyeongbokgung Palace but there are fewer tourists. Continue your afternoon at this quiet palace.

Depending on your travel style, you can add 1 to two more spot in your itinerary like Jongmyo and Dseoksugung palaces.
When the tour is over, you can stay in Seoul and head to Daegu in the morning. Or, you can head to Daegu by KTX train so that you can stay at a quality accommodation at cheaper price. . What to do at night: local bars, trendy cafes, shopping, beauty care, massages, etc

KTX: Seoul Station - Dongdaegu Station (100min)
Booking: Let's Korail Application or website(click here)


Daegu was lucky that it was not main battlefield during the Korean War. Because of that, Korean people’s every day life had been realatively well preserved. In Daegu, you will be able to fast-forward in Korean history and explore Korea from the 20th century.

DAY 2 Daegu Modern Culture Street( Cheongna Hill, Museum of Medical Missionary Works, Jeil Church 3.1 Independence Movement Road Gyesan Cathedral Old House of Lee Sang-hwa the old house of Seo Sang-don) Daegu Modern History Museum

DINNER: Street foods at Seomun Market

Daegu Modern Culture Street
Cheongna Hill
If this is your first time in Daegu, we suggest you book your stay in downtown because most of the popular attractions and historical sites are centralized in and around the downtown! 10 minutes from Banwoldang Station is situated Cheongna Hill. The name was derived from the fact that the buildings on the hill were covered in “green ivy”. Here, you will see three residential buildings built in the early 20th century for American missionaries. Later in 1999 and 2001, they were renovated to become museums to display the early works of missionary endeavor and medical artifacts from the 1800s to 1900s.

Cheongna Hill

3.1 Independence Movement Road / Gyesan Cathedral
The secretive stairs leading to Cheongna Hill is called 3.1 Independence Movement Road where students marched through to avoid Japanese. At the end of the road, you will notice a beautiful gothic style cathedral designed by a French priest but built by Chinese. It is the 3rth gothic style architecture built in Korea and is also the only cathedral that still stands and was built in the 1900s.

3.1 Independence Movement Road

House of Yi Sang-hwa and House of Seo Sang-don
Continue walking through the street behind the cathedral and you will reach the old house of Lee Sang-hwa, a renown Korean poet, and Seo Sang-don. The persistence fights against Japanese invasion is an integral part in Korean history.

Daegu Modern History Museum
One important and fun museum to check out is Daegu Modern History Museum. The building was first built in 1932 for Daegu branch for Joseon Siksan Bank. In 2003, it was designated as Tangible Cultural Property No. 49 for preserving Renaissance style architecture that represent Modern days of Korea.

DAY 3: Inheung Village Mabijeong Mural Village
DINNER: Jjimdak (Korean Braised Chicken)

Inheung Village
It’s day 3! I imagine you have become accustomed to a different scenery and people speaking a alien language! Now, it’s time to challenge yourself and travel to the outskirt of a Korean city! The charm of Daegu city is the fact that it embraces advantages of both city and countryside. Only traveling for 30 minutes by subway from downtown, you will be able to see fields and farms scattered around the buildings. Take off at Daegok Station and take a cab(too challenging?) to Inheung Village! Within 5 minutes, you will reach a Korean traditional folk village where people are actually living! You are welcome to stroll around the village and enter some of the open houses. You will see how everyday people had lived in the old days. Spending a peaceful afternoon while watching seasonal botanicals is a bonus!

Mabijeong Mural Village
Only 5 minutes from Inheung Village by car, Mabijeong Mural Village attracts visitors from around the world. It became known to many tourists after the famous Korean TV show, Running Men, featured in the village. Here, you can do hand-on experiences such as hand mill drip coffee and also try many snacks and food from the 1980s.

DAY 4: The Memorial Hall of the 2.28 Movement for Democracy Daegu Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine
DINNER: Korean-style Fried Chicken

The Memorial Hall of the 2.28 Movement for Democracy
One of the proud moments in Korean history is people’s resistance against dictatorship. The first democratic movement that triggered a series of historical movements took place in Daegu. It is a great place to start learning Korea’s history of Democracy.

Daegu Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine
After a history lesson, dip your feet in warm water outside Daegu Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine. When you are ready, start exploring again!

You can choose to stay the night in Daegu for a relaxing end of the day or head to Busan to stay near the ocean.

KTX: Dongdaegu Station - Busan Station (50min)
Booking: Let's Korail Application or website(click here)


As its nickname “dynamic city” suggests, Busan offers number one destination for a short getaway to an ocean city among Koreans. Its popularity goes beyond nationality and many expats and tourists mark their trace to Busan to enjoy the vibrant vibe of the city. We pick Busan as our last stop to enjoy the contemporary Korea.

DAY 5 Gamcheon Culture Village Jagalchi Market Gukje Market Yongdusan Park

Gamcheon Culture Village is a colorful village located on the hill along the ocean. Small houses were painted with vibrant colors that beautifully blend in with ocean and mountain. The view from the village is also worth visiting. Later in the afternoon, hit Jagalchi Market and Gukje Market for tasty dinner. At night, blend in with everyone including locals and tourist at Yongdusan Park which open until 23:00.

Gamcheon Culture Village

DAY 6 Haedong Yonggungsa Temple > Haeundae Beach

Let’s not miss out some historical spot! Visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple built in 1376. It is an awe-inspiring spot with 108 steps to the entrance and 10-meter buddah statue. One more spot to not miss is Haeundae Beach where all youth of Korea is supposedly gather here during summer and warmer days.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

DAY 7 Spend another day in your favorite city!

For the past 6 days, you’ve been to 3 major cities in Korea. They boasts their own charms and we highly recommend you spend your last day on your favorite city(or add a day to a city)