Explore Korea On A Free, Visa-Free Transit Tour

Seoul is such a big, vibrant city—why stop at the airport? Now, travelers passing through Incheon International Airport don’t need to suffer long layovers bored out of their minds. Instead, it’s possible to squeeze in a quick sightseeing session with the Free Transit Tour Program.

 Hoards of international travelers pass through Incheon International Airport for connecting flights on their way to other destinations. With these travelers already at the country’s doorstep, Incheon International Airport and the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) are taking the opportunity to pull back the curtain and showcase the top attractions in South Korea.

With the Transit Tour program, tourists who are in the airport for a layover can explore South Korea for free, even without a visa, for a day. Choose from a variety of tours present different sides of the country, each one lasting from one to five hours.



1-Hour Tours: Visit Yonggungsa Temple or Paradise City

Piotrus via Wikimedia Commons

Step out of the airport for the Temple Tour or the Paradise City Tour, which are only an hour-long and perfect for travelers who only have a short time to kill.

It’s a quick trip to the 1,300-year-old Yonggungsa Temple, a Buddhist temple with an 11-meter Maitreya statue. Stroll along the expansive grounds and see the pair of ancient zelkova trees, which is said to be as old as the temple itself.

On the other hand, Korea’s new multi-complex resort Paradise City is the place in Incheon to indulge in world-class entertainment facilities, including a casino, spa, and a kids’ zone. Marvel at over 2,400 artworks in the art gallery, which displays works from renowned artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst.



2-Hour Tour: Discover Incheon’s Old and New Attractions

Fredrik Rubensson via Flickr

If you’ve got a little more time, sign up for a tour that takes you on a two-hour journey of Korea’s past and present. Wander around Songdo Hanok Village, a charming neighborhood where streets are lined with houses featuring the traditional hanok architecture.

Then, head to Triple Street to explore the premium shops, restaurants, and cafés at this shopping hub.



4-Hour Tours: History, Adventure, and K-Culture

~ kyu via Flickr

Travelers who can spare a longer tour can embark on a more comprehensive four-hour tour during their layovers.

See another historic temple in the country, the beautiful Jeondeungsa Temple, which dates back to the late 4th century when Korea was first introduced to Buddhism. Visit Deokjinjin, a fortress that defended the Ganghwa Straits during the Goryeo Dynasty and various invasions.

Another four-hour tour is a trip to the Gwangmyeong Cave, a unique attraction at a former gold mining site before it was shut down in 1977. While it’s still believed to contain gold deposits, the cave is now a popular tourist spot as a cave theme park with unique experiences, cultural events, and even a wine bar. 

For fans of Korean entertainment, the K-Culture tour stops by the hip Hongdae, where many of the urban, music, and entertainment hotspots are found. It’s known as one of the havens of indie performers in Seoul with a fantastic selection of vintage shops, clothing stalls, clubs, and restaurants. Drop by the World Cup Stadium to tour the largest football stadium in Asia.



5-Hour Tours: Tradition and Shopping

via Shutterstock

With a five-hour tour, travelers can more fully immerse themselves in the Korean culture. Get to know the traditions of the country by traveling to the stunning Gyeongbokgung Palace, the first and largest royal palace built during the Joseon Dynasty in 1395. Then, head on over to the neighborhood of Insa-dong to delight over antique shops and folk art galleries.

Meanwhile, shopaholics will enjoy the tour that takes them to popular shopping districts such as Myeong-dong and Namdaemun Market.