As a foreigner whose lived in Korea for 3 years now, I always find myself wondering what to do during the holidays. Chuseok or ‘Korean Thanksgiving’ is a national holiday celebrated exclusively by Koreans. During the Chuseok holiday, most cafes and restaurants close and our Korean friends head home to celebrate with their family. Therefore, expats like myself end up stuck at home watching Netflix. However, Chuseok is an amazing time to enjoy Korean travel without the crowds! Let’s take a look at what foreigners can do during Chuseok and Autumn.
I personally believe that you can experience a country in a whole new way during public vacations. In Korea, that could be Chuseok or Seollal (Lunar New Year) and even Christmas. However, with Chuseok comes the natural beauty of autumn in Korea. So what is there to do this time of year?
A popular activity for expats and even some Korean families during Chuseok is going hiking. In fact, Gangwon-do’s Seoraksan is hugely popular during this time. If you live in Seoul, you don’t need to travel far for good hiking spots. With Bukhansan and Gwanaksan mountains on your doorstep, there’s nothing stopping you!
Furthermore, in the age of Covid-19, hiking is a great low-risk activity where you can maintain social distancing.
Visit a Traditional Market
Traditional Markets should definitely be on your list of things to do regardless of when you come to Korea. They are a great opportunity to sample Korean culture, traditional food and chat with the locals. Previously, I’ve gotten free snacks from the vendors as a reward for speaking Korean well.
Right before the Chuseok holiday, these markets are bustling with the rush of families in preparation for the festivities. Moreover, as vendors compete, they slash their prices like crazy! It is an ideal time to pick up some fruit, veg or even souvenirs, super cheap.
Some English-speaking markets include:
- Namdaemun Market
- Mangwon Market
- Gyeongdong Market
Visit a Korean Heritage site (For Free)
Korean heritage sites are popular with domestic and foreign travellers, which can often mean expensive entry fees and huge crowds. Well, on Chuseok, you don’t have to worry about paying as entry is completely free! Where else would you feel more thankful than at the illustrious Gyeongbokgung Palace on Chuseok?