South Korea — Overview
In 1943 towards the end of World War II, the Korean peninsula was decolonized and divided in two. It remains divided today between North Korea and South Korea and visiting the DMZ, or de-militarized zone, is an important part of understanding the history and precarious balance between the two war-torn countries. South Korea is steeped in history, dating back to 2,300 BC, which means there is plenty to see and explore on this beautiful peninsula.
Officially called the Republic of Korea, South Korea is home to 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, ranging from imperial palaces, ancient burial tombs, and shrines to fortresses. The country also has some amazing natural wonders, including Jeju volcanic island, Cheonjeyeon Waterfall, Wolchulsan National Park, and Seoraksan Mountain, to name a few. There are plenty of outdoor activities to be enjoyed, from hiking, biking, and skiing, to rafting, and exploring the numerous islands surrounding the area.
The outdoor Namdaemun market is a great place to explore and find bargains in Seoul. Asian women and Koreans love shopping and fashion and there are more cosmetics companies than one could count in Korea. Whether its snail facial masks or snake cream, the latest beauty fad is just around the corner. Korea also has excellent places to buy leather goods, with great bargains on jackets, shoes made to order, and bags.
Accommodation options are plentiful, whether it is for budget or luxury, as there is something for every wallet in Korea. Most of the large international hotel chains are present in the big cities, but there are also lots of good Korean options to choose from and in most cases offering the same level of service as their international counterparts, but at lower costs. Outside the cities are reasonably priced inns, however accommodation at the ski and beach resorts should be booked ahead.
Most international visitors to South Korea arrive via the main international airport at Incheon. Gimpo Airport, which is actually closer to Seoul is increasingly servicing more and more international flights and is more convenient for getting into the city center. Transportation is easy, with airport limousine buses offering direct connections to most major hotels in Seoul. Taxis are safe and affordable, making them a good transportation option within the downtown area. Seoul also has an excellent subway network.
South Korea is continually expanding its high-speed train network making this a good option to get from city to city. The KR Railpass is a great way to save on train travel in Korea. Self-driving is also an easy option with good roads and safe conditions. Domestic flights are also an option for visitors on time constraints.
- Enjoy spicy Korean food – Korea BBQ, ray myeung, and samgetang are must-eats!
- Shop your heart out in Myeong-dong
- Explore the beautiful Jeju Island in the south
- Spend half-a-day relaxing at a Chimjilban bath house and spa
- Enjoy world-class skiing in Gangwon-do Province
- Go bargain hunting at Namdaemun Market
- Enjoy a 14-course Royal Korean meal
- See thousands of treasures at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul
- Observe one of the many festivals taking place throughout the year