There will always be a special place in my heart for South Korea. It’s essentially where Chris and I really got to know each other. We had to live together in a tiny studio apartment with a HUGE cat, all while experiencing a new country and culture for the first time. We fell in love ...
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5 reasons to hop on a plane to South Korea right now

There will always be a special place in my heart for South Korea. It’s essentially where Chris and I really got to know each other. We had to live together in a tiny studio apartment with a HUGE cat, all while experiencing a new country and culture for the first time. We fell in love with each other and with Korea relatively quickly. And now we want YOU to fall in love with it too. So, we’ve concoted a list of five reasons why you should travel to South Korea right NOW.

1. The food.

South Korea is the land of BBQ. Not in the traditional American way that you might think, but in the grill-it-yourself-at-your-table-with-a-plethora-of-side-dishes way. It’s amazing. We’re big fans of samgyupsal. It’s like thick pieces of bacon that you cook to perfection that is then wrapped inside a large piece of lettuce that’s filled with sprouts, roasted garlic, a spicy bean paste, and kimchi. Are you drooling yet?

South Korean BBQ in Seoul

Another favorite is the savory haejangguk. We would order this meal at least once a week while we lived in Korea. It’s a spicy soup made from oxtail and coagulated blood. Let’s just go ahead and state right here that there aren’t many Korean meals that cater to vegetarians. That being said, I’m not a big fan of strange food (read: blood) but I found this dish to be oddly addicting. It’s great with a side of rice and kkakdugi kimchi.

what is haejangguk in South Korea

 
2. Winter treats.

You might think I’m cheating with this one, but let me explain. There are a few dishes that can only be found in South Korea during the colder months. As spring is almost here, it is imperative that you hop a flight to South Korea to enjoy some of these morsels before they disappear for another 6 months.

I have two favorites when it comes to winter treats and both are found from street vendors. Bungeoppang is a ridiculously tasty dessert that is basically a fish-shaped doughnut that’s stuffed with either red bean paste or cream. I’m a big fan of the latter although both are served up warm and gooey and wonderful. The best part is the crispy outside that’s coupled with the warm sweet treat awaiting your tastebuds within.

Delicious bungeoppang street food in South Korea

Another special treat is hotteok. Don’t tell the bungeoppang, but I might like hotteok better. It’s basically a fried pancake that is stuffed with a medley of sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. It’s also served piping hot and the filling tends to drizzle all over you as you eat it- hence the plastic cups. Check the excitement over my first hotteok of the season below.

where to find hotteok in South Korea

3. Temples. 

South Korea is home to some of the most stunning and unique temples we’ve ever seen. One of my personal favorites is the dragon temple located just outside of Pohang. The outside is clearly shaped like a dragon and the inside is reminiscent of a windy cave. There’s little to no light, low ceilings, and hundreds of lanterns hanging throughout. It’s easily one of my favorite places in the country.

Dragon Temple in South Korea Pohang

Things to do in Pohang, South Korea

Definitely head to Korea and check out the temples. They come in all shapes and sizes and will welcome you with open arms. May 25th is the day that Buddha’s birthday will be celebrated in South Korea and there’s really no better time to explore the temples than this.

4. The [cat] cafes.

Korean’s take their coffee very seriously. There’s a plethora of unique coffee shops littered across the country. I’m a big fan of the cat cafes that have been popping up in the last few years. I don’t necessarily go there for the coffee… I go for the allergies. Kidding. I love being able to drink a latte, play with cats, and then leave before the litter box needs empyting.

Seoul cat cafe

Kitties aside, I love Korean coffee culture. Latte art usually accompanies every cup and most shops will give you a “service” or free treat. My only complaint is that it can be hard to find any milk substitutes. Those that are lactose intolerant might have to stick to americanos or drip coffee, but even those can be fancied-up.

Best South Korean coffee shops

5. The Markets

One of my favorite past times in Korea is visiting the local markets. Jukdo market was the place to be on the weekends. I loved strolling through the market, watching fisherman unload the catch of the day, smelling whatever the vendors were cooking, and partaking in some of the best people watching around. It’s also a great way to take in some of the culture. You can find traditional meals, pottery, paintings, and even a multitude of souvenirs for your friends and family back home.

South Korean markets

 

Just remember that South Korea isn’t just a place to visit if you’re going to teach ESL. It’s a country that is absolutely stunning with some of the friendliest people around. And if you DO end up going, let us know. We have a ton of recommendations for you. Spoiler alert: Most involve food.

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11 Comments

  1. Karl
    March 15, 2015 at 7:35 am - Reply

    As if “land of BBQ” wasn’t reason enough???? Great post.
    Karl recently posted…Skiing The Poma Line at Pico Mountain in VermontMy Profile

  2. Nishadha
    March 16, 2015 at 8:16 am - Reply

    The food alone looks delicious. And I’m a big fan of beautiful temples too. I’m from Sri Lanka where the majority is Buddhist but our temples much more simpler compared to the ones found in Korea, Malaysia etc where they are beautifully painted and full of amazing sculptures.
    Nishadha recently posted…Villas for Rent in Boossa, Sri LankaMy Profile

  3. Kieu
    March 16, 2015 at 10:23 am - Reply

    So, I’m not big on cats (I know.. sorry!) but the FOOD alone is worth a return visit for me! 😉
    Kieu recently posted…Travel Costs & Highlights: PeruMy Profile

  4. Hannah @Getting Stamped
    March 17, 2015 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    You sold me at cat cafes!
    Hannah @Getting Stamped recently posted…Guide to India Visa on Arrival (TVoA)My Profile

  5. Adam @StreetFoodWorldTour
    March 17, 2015 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    I would love to go just for the food, Korean food…now I’m hungry!
    Adam @StreetFoodWorldTour recently posted…Infamous Spanish Seafood Paella RecipeMy Profile

  6. Jane Jaunts
    March 18, 2015 at 5:57 am - Reply

    Hearing so much about Korean food lately and as someone who does many of their trips based on what I see food wise, I will have to give it a try for sure. Who am I kidding though, you really had me at cat cafes as those furry little fellows are my favorites!

  7. Larry
    March 18, 2015 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I also love the super modern infrastructure they have there and the hiking opportunities …. great list guys!
    Larry recently posted…Fantastic tour: Monterey CaliforniaMy Profile

  8. Zascha
    March 22, 2015 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Oh I want to go there for the temples! So.beautiful.

  9. Katie
    April 16, 2015 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Yes, yes and yes! I need to send this around to my friends who I am trying to convince to come to Korea and visit me! South Korea is not really on the radar for a place to travel to, and to be honest, it wasn’t for me either. I moved here 7 months ago, and, like you, quickly fell in love with the country.
    Some things I would add for reasons to fly to South Korea right now:

    Hiking- the temperature right now is perfect for hiking, and there are so many mountains and hills and trails for all ability levels all over the country. Especially right now with all of the cherry blossoms and flowers, its beautiful!

    Festivals – So many interesting festivals! I just went to the Miracle Sea Parting Festival a couple of weeks ago, coming up are various beer festivals and flower festivals and mud festivals. Every weeekend you can expect to find some way to celebrate in any part of Korea!

    Moderate Prices – While its pretty expensive to get here from the US, once you are here it is not super expensive (especially for a modern country). Of course its more expensive than south east asia, but you can comfortably stay in Love motels or pensions, eat a full BBQ meal for less than $20 for 2 people, and do tons of things for free or very cheap, like temples and hiking and walking.

    Great post, will be sharing! Thanks!
    Cheers,
    Katie
    Katie recently posted…7 Ways to Have an Active Honolulu VacationMy Profile

  10. Muhammad jamshaid
    June 24, 2015 at 12:45 am - Reply

    wow great cat cafe. i saw 1st time as a cat cafe. i think Korean FOOD will be very delicious and tasty. i wish to eat korean food but i can’t this.
    Muhammad jamshaid recently posted…Happy anniversary quotes and wishes for himMy Profile

  11. dian mardiana
    June 26, 2015 at 11:11 am - Reply

    south korea is a special country , its people friendly and I really liked the course very special food …
    thanks for sharing,,,,i love it..!!
    dian mardiana recently posted…Street Gourmet Bandung – Wisata Bandung Terbaru 2015 !!My Profile

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