The Republic of South Korea has long been a hidden gem of Asia and a favorite tourism destination in the region. In fact, with 14.2 million visitors in 2014, South Korea is the 19th most visited country in the world.
It’s only recently that more Westerners have started to explore the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and come back with tales of this fabulous country.
With millennia of cultural history, beautiful beaches, top ski resorts, and a fantastic cuisine, it’s easy to see why South Korea is becoming so popular. Get your passport, organise travel insurance for South Korea, and go explore and discover.
Perched between China and Japan lies the beautiful Republic of South Korea. Legend has it that Korea was founded in 2333 BC, and when you see the marvelous architecture, shrines, and temples, it’s not difficult to see millennia old traditions at work. Nothing exemplifies the age-old traditions contrasted with modern technology more so than the nation's capital: Seoul.
Located in the north of the Republic, Seoul is home to 11 million people and a truly amazing city to visit.
You’ll find various palaces scattered around town, from Gyeongbok-gung, the first palace used by the Joseon Dynasty, to Changdeok-gung, which was built in 1405, and Changgyeong-gung, the summer palace for the Kings of the Koryao dynasty.
There are also lots of temples and shrines that are worth visiting, and if you have a day to spare, make sure to visit Seoul's amazing array of different parks.
Seoul is also home to various amusement parks, such as Lotto World and Everland (the Korean version of Disneyland).
North of Seoul is North Korea and the internationally famous Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea. The DMZ is an interesting place to visit, be aware though that this is a very serious place. There is a strict dress code, photography is not permitted, and neither are gesturing or pointing. Also make sure to have South Korea travel insurance before coming to the DMZ.
A popular destination for tourists is the Gangwon province, located in the northeast of South Korea. This area consists mostly of mountains and is one of the most beautiful areas of South Korea.
Here you’ll find Korea's favorite mountain: Seoraksan. Due to its abundance of plant and tree life, Seoraksan changes colors with the seasons, making it an absolutely spectacular site.The park also offers some great hiking routes. In the region you’ll also find several temples and fortresses, which offer stunning views of the National Park.
Around the cities of Samcheok and Donghae are a series of caves that are worth exploring, with probably the most famous being Hwanseon Cave, which is the largest limestone cave in Asia and home to many rare species. Before doing any major cave exploration though, get your travel insurance sorted for travel to South Korea.
The south of South Korea offers a very different experience from the north. From skiing resorts and mountains, the scenery changes abruptly to offer hundreds of small, beautiful islands dotted around the southern coast, and if you head out to sea a bit you’ll find Jeju.
The volcanic island of Jeju is the honeymoon capital of Korea, and while it does not have wide range of cultural offerings, it does offer great scenery and around springtime an amazing array of wild flowers bath the island in color.
While not yet as famous as Japanese or Chinese cuisines, Korean food is slowly spreading around the world. The flavors may take a bit of getting used to, but they do prove to be quite addictive.
The single most famous dish of South Korea is probably Kimchi, which is fermented cabbage in a chili sauce. Korean barbecue is also quite popular, though more with the tourists than the locals.
Do make sure to eat seafood when you are in coastal regions, as the variety and freshness of it are absolutely wonderful.
Korea is quite a safe place for travellers, and there is little to worry about. Do make sure to be well behaved when visiting the DMZ, but otherwise travellers can truly feel free to explore and discover.
South Korean public transport is very well developed, and you can easily travel around most of the country by train. If you are planning on staying for a while, it may be worthwhile to get a rail pass, as train travel can become expensive.
For more information on Korea, visit the South Korea Tourism Website.
Banner photo credit: KOREA.NET - Official page of the Republic of Korea via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA