Explore South Korea

Explore South Korea
South Korea is easily one of the most baffling countries in Asia. While it might take years to understand the complicated social order and culture of South Korea, visiting here will be one of the most rewarding travel experiences you’ll ever have. South Koreans embrace travellers with open arms – and often with great curiosity.

You’ll find everything here. Mountain valleys, beach cities like Busan, traditional villages, and super high-tech cities like Seoul. There’s an epic festival somewhere every week, and boredom is out of the question. Whether you’re sampling every Korean dish under the sun or simply exploring the country’s cities on foot, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a grand adventure.

Myeong-Dong district nightlife in Seoul
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Busan

Places to Visit in Korea

  • Seoul
  • Suwon
  • Incheon
  • Gangwon
  • Jeonju
  • Buyeo
  • Jeju
  • Islands of the West Sea

Unique Things to See and Do in Korea

  • Sample teas in a traditional tearoom
  • Camp out in a traditional hanok in Jeonju Hanok Village
  • Check out the Boryeong Mud Festival
  • See the Guinsa temple complex
  • Spend a lazy day at the beach in Busan
  • Club hop until dawn in Seoul
  • Escape the crowds in the West Sea Islands
  • Get outdoors in Naejangsan
  • National Park

Korean Culture

It’s useful to go into South Korea knowing a little about the culture. This will ensure your trip is an enjoyable one! The dominant language in Korea, of course, is Korean. Koreans have a strong national identity, and language has a lot to do with it. And did you know that most of South Korea is atheist? Nearly half the country does not practice a religion; however, nearly all Koreans uphold Confucian values and traditions.

The most important part of Confucian tradition is family values.  The father is always the head of the family, and must provide for the family. Marriages are often arranged. The eldest son has special duties – most importantly of which is looking after his parents. Even his wife and children come secondary (and tertiary, after siblings). Yep, that’s a lot of pressure.

When you meet a South Korean, you must bow slightly. Often a South Korean will extend a handshake to a traveller – but the most senior person must be the one to initiate it. Gift giving is an incredibly important (and confusing!) part of Korean culture. Gift giving is always reciprocated, and it’s disrespectful to offer an expensive gift when it cannot be returned. If you’re invited to a Korean home, bring flowers or chocolate. Wrap gifts in red or yellow paper, don’t sign a card with red ink, and use both hands to offer the gift. Yes, we’re serious.

In a Korean household, remove your shoes at the door. Wait for someone to seat you at a dining table – there is often an order. The oldest person is served first. When using chopsticks, don’t point them at someone! Don’t spear your food with the chopsticks, and when you’re speaking or drinking, place your chopsticks on the table. When you’re offered second helpings, refuse the first time. And finish everything on your plate!

Succinctly confused? It’s all a delightful part of Korean culture. Embrace the challenge!

Getting Around Korea

There are many domestic flights around South Korea, despite its small size, and the prices are reasonable.

Did you know…?

Even fast food (like McDonald’s) can be delivered in Korea! Even better, you can leave your dirty dishes outside and the delivery boy will actually come back to collect them.

Bibimbap , Korean dish

Did you ALSO know…?

When a child is born in Korea, their age is automatically set at one years old — there is no such thing as one months old, two months old, etc. So if you come to Korea, you’re actually a year older than you were in your home country.

First Birthday Cake
To visit any of the thousands of islands surrounding the country, ferry routes are available in abundance.

You can also get anywhere in the country by bus or train. The train system is particularly impressive in South Korea, and you’ll rarely find a delayed route in the entire country. If you can’t reach a destination by train, there’s sure to be a bus to take you. It doesn’t make much sense to hire a rental car, especially if you can’t read the road signs.

The larger cities have subway systems, and all cities offer public transit of some sort. Taxis are also available, and affordable. Taxis are always metered.

Best Time of Year to Travel to Korea

Autumn (from September to November) is considered the best time of year to visit South Korea. Temperatures are warm, there are festivals galore, and rainfall is minimal. Plus the autumn colours in the mountains are just spectacular. Spring is also a great time to visit, especially when cherry blossoms are in bloom all over the country.

Summer in Korea can be very, very muggy and uncomfortable. Monsoon season is between early July to late August. Winter is long and cold, and more pronounced in the north.

Ready to plan your visit to South Korea? Check out these popular guides and trips.

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