Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about which travel destination I would like to return to the most, once it’s safe to do so again.
Going through old photos and blog posts has been a great way to look back on all my travel memories and a fun activity to pass the time.
Out of all the countries I’ve been to, one stood out: South Korea.
I’m somewhat surprised that I haven’t had the chance to return since my last visit to Korea in 2016 as I enjoyed this trip a lot.
I’m aware that many readers would like to wait until it’s safe to travel again, and I agree. Feel free to use this article as inspiration towards planning your next trip to Korea once it’s safe to do so.
Hands down, Korea would be the perfect first destination I would travel to once I can go to Asia again.
Korea has incredible food and culture. It is safe and clean, and the people there are amazing. It’s also an accessible destination to travel around.
Furthermore, Korea is perfect for solo backpackers on a budget looking for a fun destination to explore.
In this blog post, I dive into why Korea would get my vote as the first place to visit once it’s safe to travel again. After reading this article, I hope you will also consider heading to Korea for your next trip abroad.
Here are my top reasons to travel to Korea.
Korean food is my favourite cuisine on the planet
Now, I know that’s a bold statement. I’ve been to a lot of places and tried many different cuisines, but there is something about Korean food that makes it my favourite.
I could write a whole blog post about why I love Korean food. When I’m asked which country has my favourite cuisine, I always say Korea.
Not only is Korean food healthy and balanced, it’s also full of flavour – and preparing the food with others is a fun way to socialise.
In addition, I’ve found Korean food to be an affordable and good value for travellers.
One of the best experiences I had was preparing a dish called Bulgogi, which is Korean BBQ beef.
My favourite BBQ spots are the ones you can find in student areas as they offer a more casual and laid-back environment and cheaper cuts of meat so that you can grill up a banquet.
Best to go with a local friend for your first experience to learn the ropes of the Korean BBQ.
Usually, you get seated at your group grill, then you cut the meat you wish to cook with scissors and grill to your heart’s content while using the provided prongs.
It’s a fun and tasty way to spend an evening in Korea.
Another aspect of Korean food that I enjoy is Korean street food. One dish that I particularly enjoy is called Mandu, which is a dumpling that can be found on most street corners until the early hours of the morning. It’s affordable and a convenient snack to enjoy at any time of the day.
Just follow the smell of the steam and find yourself a stool to sit down and enjoy a taste of Korean soul food, or you could also call it Seoul food (sorry, bad pun).
One aspect of the Korean culture that I enjoy is the unlimited selection of condiments.
If you wish to have more tea, water, chilli sauce, rice, pickled radish or kimchi with your set meal, you only have to ask, and there will always be condiments in hearty portions.
You can tuck into as many side condiments as your heart desires and have a real feast if you wish. It’s hard to travel on an empty stomach around South Korea.
One more recommendation for those that love fried chicken (like me!): you should experience Chi-maek.
Chi-maek is fried chicken that is enjoyed with beer. The word “chimaek” comes from “chi” for chicken and “maek” for maekju, which in Korean means “beer”.
Koreans love different varieties of fried chicken with different sauces and frying methods.
You will also learn a drinking game or two when enjoying this dish, so be sure to see if you can find a group of local friends to accompany you.
Also worth trying is the local soju drink, which is a popular alcoholic drink in South Korea.
This thing is worth mentioning. It is a shaved ice dessert covered in matcha tea powder – absolutely delicious. Ok, enough about Korean food already, I hope I’ve done an excellent job selling it to you. It is world-class quality and one of the biggest reasons why I can’t wait to return to Korea when I can.
Korea is safe, clean and easy to travel around
I found Korea super safe to travel around and felt welcomed and at home throughout my whole trip. Furthermore, all the places I stayed at were very clean and well maintained.
Travelling around Korea was rather easy. I found the country to be quite well connected and it was affordable to move around using public transport.
I managed to find a low-cost SIM card with 4G data which helped to navigate around.
Speaking about the internet – after talking to people, I found out that many homes have at least 1GB internet speed (or more), which is insane. The Wi-Fi was indeed super fast.
So, if you’re looking for a first destination to travel to in Asia that is safe, clean and easy to navigate around, Korea is a great option to consider.
Korean culture is worth exploring
Korean culture, in recent years, has become a global phenomenon. With K-style, K-drama, K-pop, and Korean films winning global awards, Korean culture has become globally known, and that’s great to see.
Korean culture is a perfect blend old and new, steeped in history and also a mixture of modern technology. Something for everyone.
The awesome people of Korea
During my visit to Korea, the Korean people made my trip extra special. I found the locals to be genuinely interested in where I was from and where I was going.
One shop owner spotted me from a distance and pulled me off the street into his shop and said that he wanted to serve me lunch.
He told me that his daughter was studying in London and that he wanted to practice his English. We had a light conversation with the words that we muddled up together. It was a rather delightful chat over tea.
The food was a lunch set of delicious and well-picked Korean dishes. When I went to pay, he didn’t want to accept my payment, he just wanted to wish me a pleasant trip in Korea.
This was my first ever lunch in Korea, and I was blown away by his hospitality. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the people and culture.
I found many of my encounters to be like this on my travels around Korea. People were curious, polite and willing to help and share their experiences about life in Korea.
It was the wonderful and lovely local people that made Korea a special place for me, which is another big reason why I would love to go back there.
Discover Korean history
To get a taste and understanding of Korean history, you simply have to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace on your trip to Seoul.
Located in northern Seoul, the Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 at the time of the Joseon Dynasty. It’s the largest of 5 grand palaces, and you could easily spend a whole day exploring all of the grounds.
I got lost on several occasions around the complex as I got fixated by the incredible historical architecture from this unique period of Korean history.
The large archways are coated in multiple colours, surrounded by a castle-like a fortress. It’s easy to walk around the grounds and take it all in.
Another highlight is the guards that protect the entrance and change regularly.
You do feel like you’ve gone back in time to this period, and many surrounding shops and restaurants also date back to this period. They’re worth checking out as well.
Thank you for reading my blog post about why I want to return to Korea
Thank you for passing by my blog and checking out my article about why I’m excited to be revisiting Korea one day.
I hope you’ve found it entertaining and useful and that you’re looking forward to booking your next trip to Korea shortly.
This blog post was put together in collaboration with Korean Tourism Organization for the #SeeKoreaNext campaign. Thank you for reading.