Discover South Korea: the essentials to prepare your trip

Long too associated with North Korea, South Korea is a very open country full of contrasts. Between very modern cities and traditional countryside, it has many assets likely to appeal to the greatest number. In this article, find out why this country is an excellent destination for a trip.

South Korean culture diverges. Indeed, it is modernizing more and more, as is happening in most of the rest of the world. However, the traditional and Buddhist culture of the country is very easily found in the more remote cities as well as in the countryside. You will therefore be able to observe a real difference between urban and rural South Korea. And it is this mixture of tradition and modernity that now makes this country so culturally rich.

Summary

  • Seoul
  • Seoraksan National Park
  • Gyeongju
  • The Buddhist temple of Haien-sa
  • Hahoe Village
  • Busan
  • Jejju Island
  • DMZ

Seoul

The South Korean capital is unsurprisingly one of the most popular destinations in the country. At the same time, this city is full of resources to do many activities without ever getting bored. Although Seoul impresses with its grandeur and excess, the city is not just about tall buildings. You will also find some charming neighborhoods there, including some where you can find traditional residences dating from the beginning of the 20th century. During your walks in the capital, you will certainly notice the large number of palaces and other monuments that bear witness to the rich history of South Korea.

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Seoul, North Korea
Credits: Max Pixel

Seoraksan National Park

This site classified as a biosphere by the South Korean government and UNESCO is a small natural wonder in the northwest of the country. This park of more than 400 km² is a delight for hiking enthusiasts. Indeed, it is necessary to walk to access the different panoramas of Seoraksan. The shortest ride takes 30 minutes, while the longest can take up to 14 hours. These more or less long hikes are rewarded with breathtaking rocky landscapes.

south korea national park
Credits: Unsplash

Gyeongju

Gyeongju is a historic city located in the southwest of South Korea. The one that was the capital of the kingdom of Silla for 1000 years a century BC, is now known for its many very well preserved remains. This destination will allow you to directly immerse yourself several centuries ago in this part of the world. The scenery there is quite simply magical, especially during the spring.

Gyeongju, South Korea
Credits: Pixabay

The Buddhist temple of Haien-sa

South Korea has no shortage of Buddhist temples. But if you were to see only one, we advise you to visit Haien-sa which is very representative of what can be seen in the rest of the country. Founded in 802, it is one of the most visited. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is also a sacred book dating from the 13th century. This indisputable treasure is made up of more than 80,000 wooden tablets on which 50 million ideograms are engraved!

Hahoe Village

This village brings us back directly to the past, to the time of the Joseon dynasty between 1392 and 1910. Surrounded by the Nakdong River, the whole town has an architecture as traditional as the atmosphere that reigns there. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. With a bit of luck, you might visit the city during the festival dedicated to local masks. Otherwise, a museum exhibits them the rest of the year.

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Hahoe Village, South Korea
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Busan

Busan is the second largest city in the country. This is not essential, but still worth a look. Located by the sea, it has many very nice neighborhoods and corners. It is particularly pleasant to recover from a long stay inland while being cut off from the rest of the world.

Jejju Island

Jeju Island is a volcanic island located 85 km from the South Korean coast and about an hour by plane from the capital. The island was born from a now extinct volcano: the Hallasan culminating at 1950 meters above sea level. This paradise island in the south of South Korea is now the favorite place for young Koreans for their honeymoon. Nicknamed “Lovers’ Island” or “Samdado Island” (the island of three treasures), Jeju is a dream location.

Jeju Island, South Korea
Credits: Max Pixel

DMZ

This Korean Demilitarized Zone bears witness to Korea’s recent and current history. This place has become one of the favorite destinations for tourists, because it allows them to understand the history of the country they are visiting and of the whole world. Accompanied by a guide, you will see many vestiges of the Cold War and the present between North Korea and South Korea.

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Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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