Cecilia Garland - May 18, 2009
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To go on a luxurious holiday in the currently weak economic times seems a folly. There is no need to deprive oneself of the joy – what matters is where to go. South Korean Seoul is one of the most ideal destinations which have the potential to beat the credit crunch.  For many months, holiday makers have been hesitant to spend their savings on luxurious tours all over the world. Truly, this does not seem the right time to check-in a 5* hotel in the city centre and enjoy champagne and strawberries every morning. Instead of saying a categorical NO to a well-deserved time off or feeling guilty for letting go of the savings, there is another way; travel smart. One of the perfect destinations which combine very reasonable prices and the rich vibrant character of a multicultural world is South Korea. Visiting Seoul is a powerful experience. The city is so energetic and colourful. Its long history is easily traceable anywhere you look – old buildings, spectacular temples, beautiful parks. The real deal comes with local traditional Korean houses. Even though staying here is slightly more expensive than in hostels, they are usually in the very heart of the city centre and present a unique chance to experience the true Korean culture. Getting around the city is very easy – with a sophisticated public transport system including buses and subway, however local taxis are reasonably priced and plentiful as well.While taking a stroll in the city’s antique districts, which incidentally fits perfectly a romantic’s dream, visiting the many magnificent palaces and temples is an absolute must. The five palaces built by the Joseon dynasty are a marvel of richly ornate buildings and striking gardens. Changdeokgung Palace is an ancient Jewel, a UNESCO registered site, where several times a day, guided tours are organized for the tourists. Shopping and eating in Seoul is a true bliss. So many markets make it rather hard to choose. Eating local specialties is also part of the exquisite cultural experience and the city is swarming with tiny restaurants and stalls where one is able to find pretty much all of the local culinary specialties.Never leave without visiting at least one of local Buddhist temples (or even stay in one overnight if you can bear the 3:30 am wake up call) and experiencing local famous bathhouses. A romantic stroll around the city is certainly very charming, though why not to hire a bike to explore the area around Han River or hike to any of the majestic mountains surrounding the city. Unforgettably friendly and charming is the South Korean capital. What is even more interesting, is the price for staying here – you will not regret it.

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