World ? Asia ? South Korea

South Korea: The Best Historic Sites

  • Changdeokgung (Seoul): If you want to see how Korean royalty used to live, this palace is a prime example. This spot's famed Secret Garden alone is worth the visit.

  • Jongmyo Royal Shrine (Seoul): There's a reason this myo (royal shrine) is a World Heritage site -- it's the most important one in the country and is home to the longest traditional wooden building left in Korea. Try to time your visit for the spectacular annual memorial ceremony for the dead Joseon kings (usually the first Sunday in May).

  • Suwon Hwaseong (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do): The best restored fortress in the country, this impressive wall has historic gates and towers climbing a mountain in the middle of the now modern city.

  • Ganghwa-do (Incheon, Gyeonggi-do): This island, off the coast of Incheon, is home to about 80 dolmen, prehistoric rock tombs dating back thousands of years.

  • Gwanghallu-won (Namwon, Jeollabuk-do): Home of the legend of Chunhyang (a traditional love story about a nobleman's son who falls in love with a courtesan's daughter), this garden is not only a mecca for lovers, but a spot where pansori, an opera-style perfomance, made its debut. Try to visit between April and October and catch the free performance at noon.

  • Daereung-won Tumuli Park (Gyeongju): There's something eerily peaceful about the tumuli (tombs) that house the remains of Shilla kings. Although only one of the tombs has been excavated, just seeing the grassy mounds is interesting enough.

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