South Korea is a country in East Asia forming the southern section of the Korean Peninsula.
A nation where traditional meets contemporary, particularly so in the financial hub and capital city, Seoul, South Korea has something for everyone.
Whilst wandering through the buzzing capital you’re likely to stumble across many ancient shrines. Be on the lookout for Bongeun-sa in the heart of Gangnam, an enormous Buddhist temple comprising a ‘gate of truth’ and a ‘main’ shrine decorated with intricate artworks.
Seoul is a haven for food lovers as well. Make sure you pass through Gwangjang Market, the largest food alley in the city with over 200 stalls. Local specialities include mung-bean pancake, rice wine and bibimbap, a bowl of mixed rice and barley with vegetables.
There are, in total, 12 UNESCO listed sites in South Korea, which gives a clue to its impressive heritage. One of the most notable is the Bulguksa Temple in the southeast. Considered a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art, it is home to a variety of national treasures including stone pagodas and detailed bronze statues.
Another memorable experience would involve visiting the Gamcheon Culture Village, a slum like no other. It was once a bleak mountainside community but in 2009 the houses, steps and lanes were spruced up with bright and colourful paint. It’s now a magnificent sight, comparable to a multi-coloured Mykonos in Greece.
Another notable village is Jeonju in the west. It has over 800 Hanok, a traditional Korean-style house, but most contain art galleries and restaurants. Some even hold workshops teaching ancient skills such as alcohol distillation and paper making.
There’s also plenty to do if you’re looking for a more active holiday. You can hike up the 182-metre tall crater-shaped volcano on Jeju-do Island, just off the south coast. You can also enjoy a sunrise expedition after spending a night in the small, local village of Seongsan-ri.
There are a couple of ferry routes connecting Japan and South Korea; from Fukuoka in southern Japan and from Osaka, which is further east, to Busan.
For sailing within Korea, there are frequent crossings between Chuja, Jeju and Wando.