UNESCO heritage sites in South Korea

If you are a keen traveller, you may have heard the term ‘UNESCO world heritage site’ before. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and they have a committee who act to secure the world’s cultural and natural heritage. A landmark or area can be selected for the UNESCO list, based on its unique cultural or historical significance.

South Korea currently has eleven cultural heritage sites and one natural heritage site. That means there are plenty of places to add onto your list of things to see! We highlight some of the attractions that you may not have heard about in this article. Read on to find out more!


Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava tubes

Jeju island is well-known for its beautiful views and scenery. In 2007, UNESCO’s World Heritage committee recognized the island’s parasitic volcano (called Oreums) and lava tubes, with its unique geological features. It is also an area that houses several rare species. There are five lava caves that form a tube system. Hallasan national park is also worth a visit, with Hallasan mountain providing a striking feature in the centre of Jeju island. The mountain itself is surrounded by Oreums!


© kimsuna.17.04.2015. Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay


Hahoe and Yangdong historic villages

These two villages are considered wonderful examples of historic clan housing. They are surrounded by mountains and are close proximity to the river and fields. Explore the study halls, historical residences both for commoners and those of higher standing, and the beautiful scenery that have been praised for their beauty throughout history!


© vhdpqj. 06.05.2014. Pixabay

Image source: Pixabay


Hwaseong Fortress

The Hwaseong Fortress is located in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do. It was constructed during the reign of King Jeongjo during the Joseon Dynasty. The Fortress was constructed as an act of devotion to his father, to protect the tomb holding his remains. The impressive walls still hold out strongly today, and serve as an example of advancing developments in construction. The methods used were new at the time, unlike other fortresses in Korea.


© RUINS. 05.10.2015. Pixabay.

Image source: Pixabay


The Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

The Royal Tombs refer to 40 well-preserved tombs located in 18 different areas around Seoul. They are an integral part of Korea’s tradition and represent values including harmony with nature. This is why the locations of the tombs are so beautiful. Yeongneung is the tomb where King Sejong and his wife Queen Soheon are buried. You may recognize King Sejong from his legacy of inventing Hangeul.


© National Research Institute for Cultural Heritage. Credit: Seo Heun kang

Image source: UNESCO World Heritage


Baekje historic areas

There are lots to see here, including a fortress and royal tombs. The Baekje Kingdom is one of three ancient kingdoms in Korea. The buildings were constructed during a period of prosperity in Baekje and are worth a visit. A large temple can be found in Mireuksaji with the largest stone pagoda in Korea!


© Pablokim. Pixabay. 12.08.2016

Image source: Pixabay

As we mentioned, there are a total of 12 UNESCO heritage sites found in Korea, so these suggestions are merely scratching the surface! Have you visited any of these places before? Let us know!

Want to explore Korea? Download our free 72 Hours in Seoul Travel Guide here!

Featured image source: © manyunkim. Changdeokgung palace. 29.04.2016. Pixabay.

Louisa Lee

Enthusiastic writer and foodie. Enjoys discovering new music, films and books, as well as travelling, trying various cuisines and learning about different cultures. My music player is never too far away - life just isn’t complete without music!



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