South Korea is known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to trends. After all, the meteoric rise of K-pop, K-dramas, and Korean films also led to the popularity of K-beauty, K-fashion, and of course, Korean food! Other than visiting the usual tourist spots, there are several trendy things that locals love! So, for those planning to (re)visit the country, this is your guide to the hottest things to experience in the country.
South Korea is becoming a top place to visit for many, whether they’re into K-pop or just looking to discover what the country has to offer. According to the Satistia Research Department, the country received a record-high number of visitors in 2019 before the pandemic. But since 2000, there’s been an overall growth in visitor arrivals in South Korea. It’s not surprising that Hallyu or the Korean wave contributed to the increase in those interested in seeing the country. But other than popular culture, there’s been a growing trend in other aspects whether it’s beauty, food, or fashion.
So, do you want to see and experience what’s trending in South Korea? Whether it’s your first time or nth time, there’s always something new to discover. We have listed down the hottest things to do in South Korea so you can plan your trip better. Who knows, it might just be the next global trend!
Your guide to the trendiest things to do in South Korea
1. Find your ‘personal colour’
Yes, our favourite Korean celebrities have immaculate skin thanks to top-class beauty products and skincare routines. But the newest trend to grace the beauty scene is finding your personal colour. So, are you a ‘warm spring’ or a ‘cool winter’? Your personal colour is the best colour palette that suits you. You can find this through an analysis of your natural colour tones. From beauty influencers to K-pop idols, a lot are hopping onto this trend. Personal colour consultants like Cocory and Uireh Colour help discover the best shades for your next OOTD, makeup, and hair.
2. Take a perfect ID photo
Gone are the days when your ID photo is nothing more than a dull memory. South Koreans just know how to elevate the ID photo-taking experience. So, whether you’re going for a simple passport picture or a full-out photoshoot, your photos won’t be dull and boring. Make use of the props, influencer-like mirrors, and amazing lighting. We recommend Recorded and Sanho Mansion that are the top picks among Korean beauty influencers.
3. Capture your special moment
South Koreans really know how to have fun with their photos! Just take a stroll on the streets of Hongdae in Seoul or Nampo in Busan and you’ll likely find a photo-taking booth. Only in South Korea, it’s not really a booth but an entire shop—taking the photo-taking experience to the next level. This trend allows you to capture photo-taking moments with your besties or family in Y2K-inspired instant photos. Just like its counterpart in Japan known as purikura, you can also customise and personalise your photos! It truly makes for a great souvenir. Popular spots include life4cuts and Photoism.
4. Get your K-pop fix
Whether you’re a fan of K-pop or not, you can’t deny that a trip to South Korea is incomplete without visiting a K-pop inspired spot. Sometimes, you don’t even need to actively look for it because they’re just there. We’re talking about large-scale pop-up activations and elaborate cafes for fans. There are also tours that take you to K-pop music video filming sites!
Among the best in town is Booking.com’s exclusive K-pop experience at RYSE Autography Collection, which is in partnership with K-pop soloist Kang Daniel. You get to experience what it’s like to be a star in the executive suite. Other experiences include going on a BTS tour, which starts with a visit to the old BigHit building, a lunch at Yookjung Sikdang, and then a stop at their former dorm-turned-cafe, Hyuga Cafe.
5. Go cafe hopping
Those who have been to South Korea know that they have a strong cafe culture, particularly in Seoul. Or if you’re visiting for the first time, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the cafes. We don’t blame you if you spend your trip just cafe hopping!
Among the must-visit in town include NUDAKE Haus Doas, an artisanal dessert brand under the cult brand, Gentle Monster. If you want to get a taste of the famous ‘pandoro’ in Cafe Onion, be prepared to line up and wait. But we promise the hanok-themed cafe is worth your time. Honestly, we can give an endless list of cafe recommendations but no matter which cafe you visit, it is guaranteed to be good.
6. Relive your favourite K-drama scenes
Do you have a favourite scene from a certain Korean drama or film that you want to recreate in real life? Or do you simply just want to see where they’re filmed? Good news! There are plenty to visit in South Korea, whether you’re in Seoul or elsewhere. From the iconic breakwater from Guardian: The Lonely and Great God or the nostalgic retro places featured in Twenty Five, Twenty One, it’s time to relive your favourite moments IRL. In fact, there are specific tours just for this! The city’s municipality even actively promotes them as must-visit spots.
For instance, the famous breakwater from Goblin is located in Jumunjin, Gangeung which is perfect for a day trip from Seoul. (Side note: Even the iconic BTS bus stop is located there.) Meanwhile, a majority of Twenty Five, Twenty One was filmed in the city of Jeonju, which is famous for its hanok (traditional Korean house) village. You can also head to Nonsan and visit Sunshine Land, which was specifically built as the set for Mr Sunshine. Now, it’s a theme park open to the public. Fans of Hometown Cha Cha Cha can retrace the steps of their favourite characters in Pohang. The list is just endless!
7. Live in paradise
If you have the budget for it, pamper yourselves and live like an A-lister at some of the most luxurious hotels. The Shilla Seoul is a favourite among many top celebrities. In fact, a number of stars have held their weddings there.
Just a stone’s throw away from Incheon Airport is Paradise City Hotel. You might recognise it as a top pick for hosting large-scale events. It’s also featured in K-dramas such as Hotel Del Luna and Vincenzo. But it’s most famous for being the ‘paradise’ setting for Single’s Inferno contestants. So, why not experience this paradise too?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What should I do in Seoul for the first time?
There are many things to do in Seoul for first-timers. You can visit popular tourist spots like Namsan Tower, Hongdae, and Myeongdeong.
- Do I need a visa for Seoul?
Some passport holders need a visa to visit South Korea. It’s recommended to visit the official website of the South Korean embassy or consulate of your locale for more details.