South Korea with Kids

Author: Dan Brewer

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If you are looking for a safe, clean and fun place for a family trip in Asia, you should consider traveling to South Korea with kids. There are so many things about South Korea which make it a great destination for a family holiday. When we had to cancel our first family trip to Korea due to the Coronavirus, we were bitterly disappointed, so once the world opened back up, we rebooked our trip as soon as possible, and we’re so glad we did!

Although they are a little reserved in the bustling big city of Seoul, the Korean people are so friendly and kind to children. The cities are full of kid-friendly attractions, cultural experiences and even beautiful outdoor recreation. Meanwhile, Jeju Island (where Koreans love to vacation), is an outdoor paradise with a volcanic centre and a ring of beautiful beaches. With so many incredible places to travel with kids, there are few destinations in Asia better for a family vacation than South Korea.

a family stands in a colorful building along the walls at the UNESCO fortress in Suwon, South Korea.

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Planning a South Korea Family Vacation

When to Visit South Korea with Kids

The good news for families wishing to visit South Korea, is that almost anytime of year is a good time to go. The best times to visit South Korea are typically in the spring (as we did for mild weather and cherry blossoms) or in the fall (for mild weather and autumn foliage). If you enjoy winter sports, South Korea has plenty of winter activities as well.

High Season in South Korea

High season for South Korea is July – August, when the weather is the warmest all year. Korea’s beach destinations like Busan and Jeju Island are particularly popular in high season, but if you’d like to escape the crowds, you can escape to some of the national parks for some great hiking.

two kids hiking on a family trip to Seoul, Korea.
Even hiking seems exotic in Korea.

If you are considering a family trip to Korea in summer, you should be aware that monsoon season is typically between late-June and late-July. The main impacts of the monsoon are very high humidity and frequent heavy rainfall.

A visit to South Korea with your kids in high season also means expensive accommodations and big crowds at the top tourist destinations in Seoul, Busan and Jeju Island. Book your accommodations as early as possible if you are planning a family vacation to South Korea during high season.

Kids love the cute and cuddly characters found all throughout South Korea.

Shoulder Season in Korea

Shoulder season for visiting South Korea with kids tends to be between late May – June and late-September through October. The weather is milder than in summer and if you visit outside peak cherry blossom or fall foliage season, you will enjoy less tourists crowds and more affordable accommodations.

We enjoyed our family vacation to South Korea in April, just missing the peak cherry blossoms in Seoul. It was always busy in the cities, so it was hard to tell if it was ‘less crowded’, but when we got to the beaches and natural attractions in Busan and Jeju Island, it wasn’t crowded at all.

a cherry blossom in front of a large temple building at the UNESCO Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

How Long to Visit South Korea with Kids

South Korea is blessed with a wide variety of destinations for families to choose from. Families can choose from the history and pure energy of Seoul, the beaches of Busan and the volcanic island of Jeju Island.

With so many amazing regions to discover, you could easily visit South Korea with kids for a month and still not see everything. Traveling with kids, this isn’t typically realistic, so coming up with the best South Korea itinerary for your family will depend entirely on your interests and how much time you have.

a 7-year old boy looks at a bright pink character while on a family holiday to South Korea.

We visited South Korea with our kids for two weeks. Starting with the two major cities, we finished on the highly popular resort getaway of Jeju Island. We had an excellent visit seeing the highlights of the country in two weeks, but it left us itching to return for a second family trip to South Korea to explore more of it’s beautiful natural areas in the interior.

As we do for every family trip, we created our South Korea itinerary by considering the interests of every family member. Celine and I wanted to enjoy the rich culture and natural beauty of Korea, while the kids always love fun attractions and time on the beach.

Below we share our original 2-week South Korea trip itinerary. As you can see, we tried to find a balance between the places we wanted to see, as well as plenty of family-friendly attractions for the kids.

Getting Around South Korea with Kids

A highly modern Asian economic power, it’s super-easy to get around South Korea with kids. Chances are good that you’ll be flying into Incheon International Airport just outside Seoul to begin your family vacation to Korea. The efficient train from the airport into the city is a great introduction to how easy it is to get around with kids.

We used a wide variety of transportation to get around South Korea. Here are the best ways to get around South Korea with kids:

Flying in South Korea with Kids

Domestic flights within Korea are cheap and easy. We had two domestic flights within the country and found it an enjoyable way to cover long distances, especially when traveling to and from the resort island of Jeju.

Two kids use Seat to Sleep pillows on a flight to Seoul, Korea.

High Speed Trains in Korea with Kids

One thing we have learned traveling the world with our kids is that they love high speed trains. The KTX is South Korea’s high-speed rail service, connecting most major cities in the country including Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Gwangju, and Daejeon. Reaching speeds in excess of 180 mph – 300 km/h, the Korean high speed trains make otherwise boring travel days into an awesome adventure for the whole family!

The KTX high speed train arrives in Seoul Station before its 3-hour journey to Busan.

Subways and Buses

While in Seoul and Busan, we travelled everywhere using the extensive subway systems in the country. It was so fast and easy to get around the major cities, that we didn’t need to take a taxi a single time.

a 9-year old girl looks out the window on a public bus in Seoul, Korea.

Rental Car

With extensive, fast and efficient public transportation, you won’t need to bother with a rental car in the major Korean cities. But, if you venture into the beautiful natural areas of the country, you may appreciate a rental car.

We got a rental car in Jeju Island and loved the freedom to explore every corner of the island at our own pace and schedule.

Where to Stay in Korea with Kids

One thing we’ve learned from our family vacations to Asia, is that there is a huge variety of family-friendly accommodations. We’re sure you will have no problem finding the perfect place to stay for your family.

When we traveled to Asia with younger kids, our priority was to have kitchen facilities to ensure we had food our kids could eat (while we ate amazing takeaway food). Because of this need, we found vacation rentals to be the best option for our family.

a family enjoys a healthy home cooked meal while staying at an Airbnb in Korea.
Our vacation rental in Jeju Island was a lifesaver.

We also appreciate the other family-friendly amenities in vacation rentals such separate bedrooms and laundry facilities. When traveling with kids, don’t underestimate the value of having separate bedrooms. Not only can parents have some privacy at night, but well-rested kids are much better travelers.

Korean food isn’t as widely known internationally as Japanese or Thai food. While adults should have no problem finding delicious Korean food, but it’s not always the most kid-friendly food. If you are traveling to Korea with a picky eater, check out our post on how to find food in South Korea for kids.

a happy 7-year old holds a chicken skewer after a family hike in Seoul, South Korea.
Our son was always happy when we found him food he liked.

Our priorities have changed somewhat now that our kids are older (aged 7 & 9). Now that they’ve traveled enough, they put a high priority on buffet breakfasts and swimming pools. Although these amenities were hard to find in the big cities.

For our family vacation to Korea, we stayed at hotels in Seoul and Busan, although neither had breakfast or pools. We stayed in the hotels anyways as it was difficult to find a vacation rental in a good, central location. We rented an amazing 3-bedroom house on Jeju Island, which was a life-saver as it was hard to find western-friendly restaurants outside the main city.

a mom plays a fun game of foosball with her son at the kid-friendly Moxy Insadong Hotel in Seoul.
Our awesome hotel in Seoul was awesome!

Our South Korea Family Trip Itinerary

To help you plan your family trip, we share our 2-week itinerary for South Korea with kids.

It’s important to find balance with family travel. Although we planned many family friendly activities in South Korea for the kids, we also added activities we love to do (like hiking) to our itinerary. You’ll see our family-friendly South Korea itinerary tried to achieve a good balance, hopefully making both parents and kids happy and satisfied.

Golden lanterns sway in the breeze at the Cheonchuksa Temple in Seoul, South Kora.

South Korea 2-Week Itinerary Overview

  • Days 1-6: Seoul
  • Days 7-9: Busan
  • Days 10-14: Jeju Island
  • Day 15: Seoul

15 Day South Korea Itinerary & The Best Things to do in Korea with Kids

As mentioned above, we traveled to Korea with our kids who were aged 7 & 9. We loved spending 2-weeks in Korea with kids over their Easter break from school. Rather than try to cram in every single highlight of the country, we focused on three main destinations, giving us lots of time to experience each area and find some of the best things to do in South Korea with kids.

Days 1-6: Seoul

Seoul is a truly amazing city and we could have easily spent more time in Seoul with kids than 6 days. It’s modern, clean and jam-packed with culture, kid-friendly attractions and natural beauty. As you can see, we fit a lot of kid-friendly activities into our visit to Seoul. Here are the highlights:

Cheonggyecheon River Park

We introduced ourselves to Seoul with a walk in this amazing inner city park. This stunning river, which once lay hidden beneath a highway, has been transformed back to its natural state, now serving as the heart of central Seoul.

the Family Can Travel family explores Cheonggyecheon River Park on a family trip to Seoul.
We had a ton of fun at Cheonggyecheon River Park.
Seoul Food Tour

We didn’t know much about Korean food, so we signed up for a 3-hour Seoul Food Tour on our very first day in Korea with kids. It was a HUGE help in finding food that we all liked for the rest of our trip. We loved this food tour so much, that we now look for food tours everywhere we go.

a 7-year old boy tries new food on a Korean food tour on a family trip to Seoul.
Our son really surprised us with how many new foods he tried!
Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace

Although they are very impressive and important to the Korean culture, to be honest, our kids found them a little boring. They are still worthwhile visits on a family trip to Seoul, but don’t expect to spend a full day at either.

spring flowers at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Korea.
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

Fish markets are a super-fun place to take kids while traveling in Asia, and the Seoul fish market is no exception. Our kids loved the massive, scary looking king crabs, as well as the cool stingrays, eels, squids and shrimp.

Namdaemun Market

The biggest market in Korea, we visited Namdaemun Market several times during our trip. It was here that we discovered Hotteok pancakes, which we literally ate non-stop for our entire Korean holiday.

The entire Family Can Travel family enjoys Hotteok Pancakes at a food market in Seoul, Korea.
We LOVED these Korean pancakes!
Namsan Mountain Park

We loved interacting with the friendly locals while on a walk up to the N. Seoul Tower. The forested walk was beautiful and the views of Seoul from the top were amazing.

Dobongsan Trail

We can never go very long without hiking, especially with so many mountains in the area. The Dobongsan Trail was beautiful and featured our favorite Buddhist Temple of our entire South Korea family vacation.

the Family Can Travel kids hike the Dobongsan Trail on a family trip to South Korea.
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Just south of Seoul, we enjoyed an awesome walk around the fully restored walls of the huge Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. It’s worth the effort to visit this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site.

two kids enjoy the walk around the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress on a family vacation to South Korea in April.
Children’s Museum of the National Museum of Korea

We love when our kids get to play and interact with the local kids. The Seoul Children’s Museum was a fun, colorful and interactive place for our kids to play and learn. The best part was that many of the local kids were so excited to practice their English with our kids.

Lotte World Aquarium

Seoul is home to at least three amazing aquariums. We chose to visit the Lotte World Aquarium as it also gave our kids the chance to see the sixth tallest building in the world. Our daughter had an incredible encounter with a friendly beluga whale that she won’t soon forget.

two kids are pressed up against the glass to get a closer look at the friendly beluga whale at the Lotte World Aquarium in Seoul.

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We have a ton of information on these activities, getting around, where to stay and more in our full post of visiting Seoul with kids.

Days 7-9: Busan

After spending almost a week in the capital of South Korea, we were ready to visit the vibrant coastal city of Busan – known for its beautiful beaches and laid back approach to life. Getting there via high speed train was an adventure in-of-itself! Although the pleasant early spring weather was still too cold for the beach, we packed a ton of activities into our 3 days in Busan with kids.

Gamcheon Culture Village

A popular stop on bus tours of Busan, we made our way there via public transportation. This gave us a chance to explore this incredibly colorful & creative neighborhood away from the tour bus crowds. The Gamcheon Culture Village was a really fun activity for kids in Busan and should be part of your itinerary too.

Two kids pose for a photo in some novelty rain boots in the colorful Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, Korea.
Busan Air Cruise Cable Car

We took a glass bottom cable car for a very scenic ride across the bay near Songdo Beach. From up high you can see the amazing sculpture of a humpback whale in the ocean below, as well as the Songdo Cloud Trails, which are worth a visit if you are already in the area.

At the far end of the Busan Air Cruise Cable Car, there’s tons of fun stuff for the kids, including a suspension bridge, animatronic dinosaurs, an interesting snail-themed playground and even cute, life-sized zombie bobbleheads. We also enjoyed a beautiful family hike through the Healing Forest.

The Family Can Travel kids enjoy a visit to the suspension bridge on the Busan Air Cruise Cable Car on a family trip to South Korea.
Beomeosa Temple

The Beomeosa Temple, a key Buddhist site in South Korea, is blessed with a striking mountain setting. Surprisingly accessible by subway and bus, we easily reached its remote location.

Our children were captivated by the vivid lanterns, large, colorful warrior statues, and the friendly monks. We paused to hear the monks’ chant before golden Buddhas in the main temple.

a family walks through a colorful line of lanterns leading to the Beomeosa Temple near Busan, Korea.
Geumjeongsan Mountain Hike

To further enjoy the beautiful setting of the Beomeosa Temple, we went for an amazing, and somewhat challenging, family hike further up the mountain. With many cherry, maple and pine trees lining the path, the forest was magical. The Geumjeongsan Mountain hike culminates with a stop at a a sacred viewpoint.

a 7-year old boy from Family Can Travel, climbs a rope to a sacred viewpoint on the Geumjeongsan Mountain Hike in Busan, Korea.
Our kids loved the short rope climb to the viewpoint.
Cheongryeon-Am Buddhist Temple

We discovered this amazing Buddhist Temple by pure chance while on the Geumjeongsan Mountain Hike. This temple features a large golden Buddha is surrounded by a circle of smaller Buddhas.

A large golden Buddha at Cheongryeon-Am Buddhist Temple in Busan, South Korea.
Igidae Coastal Walk

Busan is known for its beaches and beautiful coastline. The Igidae Coastal Walk is a family-friendly Busan hike which features the very best coastal scenery in the area. It had more hills than we were expecting, but it was worth it – the Igidae Coastal Walk was stunning.

Busan Children’s Grand Park

With rain in the forecast, we opted for a relaxed activity near our hotel and headed to the Busan Zoo. Finding it closed for the season, we instead enjoyed a really fun outing at the nearby Busan Children’s Grand Park.

We explored the main forest trails and wandered around the picturesque Seongjigok Reservoir before reaching a collection of awesome playgrounds where our kids played for hours. The rain held off, offering our kids a much-needed break from our busy Busan itinerary.

a huge playground in the Busan Children's Grand Park.

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We have plenty of additional information in our full post on visiting Busan with kids.

Days 10-14: Jeju Island

We loved the two biggest cities in South Korea, but we are active, outdoorsy people at heart, so we were very excited to hop on a plane and fly to Jeju Island – where the South Koreans go on holidays. With a massive volcanic centre, the landscapes around Jeju Island are a pleasure to explore.

Here some of the amazing things we did on Jeju Island with kids:

Manjanggul Lava Tube Cave

With cooler weather in the forecast for our first day in Jeju with the kids, we chose an indoor activity – the Manjanggul Cave. This remarkable lava tube, part of Jeju’s UNESCO geopark, has a walking section about 0.6 miles – 1 km long, making for a pleasant family walk without being too strenuous. A massive lava tube is just such a cool thing to explore – what kid wouldn’t love that?

Two kids pose for a picture in the damp darkness of the Manjanggul Caves.
Kimnyeong Maze Park

We normally avoid tourist traps like the plague, but this was so close to the Manjanggul Lava Tube Cave that we decided to give it a try. There’s much more to do than just the topiary maze, and to be honest with you, we actually had a lot of fun at the Kimnyeong Maze Park.

kids having fun at Kimnyeong Maze Park on Jeju Island, South Kora.
Jeju Island Beaches

It was mid-April by the time we visited Jeju Island, and although the weather was pleasant, it wasn’t warm enough yet to enjoy a proper day at the beach. But as any kids knows, you don’t need to go into the water to have fun at the beach. We visited many Jeju Island beaches during our stay including:

Woljeongri Beach: Features soft, white sand with beautiful deep turquoise colored water. The kids went crazy running on the sand and playing around the tide pools.

Gwangchigi Beach: I don’t think this is one of the top tourist beaches on Jeju Island, but it makes for a great walk, with excellent beachcombing opportunities.

Pyoseon Beach: What a fun and truly unique beach! The amount of sandy real estate that appears during low tide is staggering. It makes for the perfect place for kids to run and be crazy on the sand.

children play in the surf at Pyoseon Beach on Jeju Island.
Beachcombing at Pyoseon Beach

Hiking the Yeongsil Trail in Hallasan National Park

Can you tell we love hiking with our kids? For our first family hike on Jeju Island, we got up close and personal with Mount Hallasan – the volcanic peak at Jeju Island’s core. For three hours we immersed ourselves in a stunning and fulfilling hike just beneath Mount Hallasan’s peak.

Although the trail was moderately challenging with a fair share of stairs, the breathtaking volcanic landscapes along the Yeongsil Trail made every step worth it.

a family enjoys a walk together on a wooden boardwalk near the top of the Yeongsil Trail on Jeju Island.
Aqua Planet Jeju

On our third day in Jeju with the kids, we woke up to strong winds, so we headed straight for the island’s top indoor attraction – the Aqua Planet Jeju aquarium. As the biggest aquarium in Asia, Aqua Planet Jeju boasts an extensive collection of popular fish and sea mammals, complemented by a daily entertainment show (which our kids loved!).

exotic fish on display at Aqua Planet Aquarium in Jeju Island, South Korea.
Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest

You don’t need walls to escape strongs winds – forests do a great job too. The Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest provided a perfect windy day outing with the kids. We thoroughly enjoyed a leisurely family stroll through the enchanting forest, finding many wonderful surprises along the way.

Seongsan Ilchulbong

This small volcanic island just off the coast of Jeju Island is one of the top things to do on Jeju Island. We had been waiting for good weather to enjoy the climb to the top, but we were running out of days, so despite a foggy start to our morning, we gave it a go.

Sadly, we missed what are supposed to be amazing views from the Seongsan Ilchulbong summit, but hiking through such an interesting landscape in dense fog was a pretty cool experience too.

the Family Can Travel kids have fun in the fog while hiking Seongsan Ilchulbong.

Read More

We have plenty of additional information in our full post on visiting Jeju Island with kids.

A 1 Week Korea Itinerary for Families

If you don’t have 2-3 weeks for a South Korea family holiday, here are some ideas for a 7 day South Korea itinerary.

South Korea Itinerary Idea #1: Stay exclusively in Seoul or Busan

Seoul has an enormous amount of kid-friendly activities that you could easily spend an entire week there. Outside of beach season, you may struggle with a full week in Busan, but it you go during beach season, you’ll love a week-long family vacation to Busan.

the Family Can Travel kids eat brightly colored ice cream in Ikseondong Hanok Village, Seoul.
Our kids loved our trip to Seoul.

Korea Itinerary Idea #2: Seoul and Busan

South Korea’s two biggest cities are remarkably different. Seoul is the heartbeat of the country – a modern giant with a compelling history. Busan, on the other hand, is content to live the good life near the beach. 3 days in each city with a high-speed train in the middle would make for a very enjoyable trip to South Korea with kids.

a father and daughter enjoy the epic views from the Busan Air Cruise cable car across Songdo Bay.
Busan was a lot of fun!

South Korea Itinerary Idea #3: City + Island

In this itinerary, you could choose to spend 3 days in one of the major Korean cities, and then finish your time on the fun & beautiful Jeju Island. This way you get the best of both worlds.

Thailand Itinerary Idea #4: Jeju Island

Finally, you could easily spend a very enjoyable week on Jeju Island with kids, especially if you love the outdoors. In addition to the abundance of beautiful outdoor activities, there’s a ton of kitchy Korean tourist traps which you are sure to get a kick out of.

two kids pretend to be attacked by sharks in a super fun photo opp at the Aqua Planet Jeju Aquarium.
Family fun at the Jeju Island Aquarium.

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Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).