South Korea is one of the most intriguing nations in the world that have managed to embrace modern technology as well as rich traditions and preserve its history. Visitors have myriads of opportunities to make their Korean holiday memorable no matter if they are tempted by the remarkable wilderness or stunning cities. The country has it all.
Seoul – The Urban Jungle
With 10 million people, Seoul is the biggest metropolis in South Korea, exceeding even London, Berlin and New York. For those who are in the capital for the first time, the iconic N Seoul Tower is the perfect place to start the tour, especially after dark. Right in the city center atop Namsan Mountain, the 479-meter high tower provides fascinating panoramic views of the city.
Culture lovers will surely first head to one of the four UNESCO sites that Seoul is proud of. They include the oldest Confucian shrine (Jongmyo), Royal Tombs, an 18th century fortress (Hwaseong), and a 15th century palace (Changdeokgung).
Besides that, the city offers hundreds of bars, restaurants, boutiques and nightclubs, especially in the Hongdae district, as well as great places for the shopping enthusiasts – like the Dongdaemun Market including 26 shopping malls.
Gyeongju – The Capital of the Ancient Kingdom
Nicknamed “The Museum without Walls”, Gyeongju is one of the most popular attractions in the country. As the former capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, which retained its autonomy for 1,000 years, the city provides the visitors a unique opportunity to see a range of architectural and historical treasures on their Korean holiday. Gyeongju also includes three UNESCO sites – Gyeongju Historic Areas, Seokguram Grotto, and Bulguksa Temple, that are however often crowded with tourists, especially in the summer. Local National Museum displays over 16,000 artifacts, and as such is a perfect destination for any history lover.
Korean Holiday in a Korean Temple
Growing numbers of tourists choose a slightly unusual way to experience the local culture and stay for a few days in a traditional Korean temple. There are several isolated temples where the Buddhist monks live and invite visitors to immerse in the Buddhist culture and stay in the retreat.
Anyone interested should be ready to live like a monk including early wake up, meditation, vegetarian meals, and silence. Temple stay may not seem tempting to everyone but it certainly is a remarkable experience. Every year, more than 100,000 visitors opt for the temple stay on their Korean holiday.
Gyeongbokgung – A Palace from the Past
The name of this 14th century palace, located at the heart of Seoul’s government district, means ‘a palace greatly blessed by heaven’. Any traveler even slightly interested in remarkable traditional architecture or the legacy of the Joseon dynasty, will certainly feel in heaven when exploring the site. Uniformed guards only add to the regal atmosphere created by colorful tiling, curved roofs, and spectacular pillars.
The Bustling City of Busan
Travelers heading to the southeast should not omit to explore the urban charm of Busan. The port city is full of surprises even for experienced globetrotters and with the distinctive local dialect and rough character offers quite a different image of Korean life. Besides the historic temples that are always worth seeing the port offers remarkable coastline views as well as fresh seafood delicacies, like the very popular live squid.