A newcomer on the world’s travel scene, South Korea has become a much-talked-about sensation for numerous things. Several of them are about K-pop and K-drama, but this country is a lot more than just that.
You will be spoilt for choice while shortlisting the places to visit here as it brims with an unbelievable range of unexplored urban delights and natural sites. With the oh-so-divine and adrenaline-pumping experiences, South Korea has a little of everything that would surely spell its magic on you.
1) Bustling Cities- A Juxtaposition of Modern and Traditional
The cities of South Korea are the Asian chaos and yet, are filled with calm, polite, and ready to help natives. The neighborhoods brim with different characters of their own that make the cities more colorful and vibrant. Here the East uniquely merges with the Western culture as the intricate temples and palaces rub shoulders with the ultra-modern skyscrapers.
Currently, the capital Seoul gets extensively explored by the intrepid travelers, who love to soak in the fast-paced and lively vibes of this powerhouse of a city. Almost every patch of the towns is filled with energetic places such as the Hongdae Area.
Here, the Hongik University street is evidently filled with college students which will give you a perspective of the youth’s lifestyle. You will be bombarded with the pop culture along with a unique sense of self-expression. The area is peppered with cute cafes, cosy galleries, artistic wall-arts, fashion as well as art markets.
Gangnam Square inevitably reminds us of Psy’s song “Gangnam Style” which was shot here, but this square is known as the most expensive area in South Korea. You can even dance at the famous song and record yourself! Within Gangnam itself, you can explore the lovely area called Garosugil, which is brimming with quirky cafes, beauty products shops, and a lot many unique places to discover.
Itaewon and Insadong are also two remarkable neighbourhoods worth a visit. These placed ooze out quirkiness with their crammed teahouses and Korean eateries. You can gawk over the Antique Furniture Street, shop for traditional pottery goods, eat and drink in the quaint cafes and bistros, and party all night in the spellbinding clubs here. Another top fascination, Dongdaemun, is also a constant international crowd-puller.
For shopaholics, Myeongdong is the best bet! There is everything to buy- clothes, cosmetics, household items, and much more. By bargaining along the mid to high range retail stores, you will surely be spoilt for choice.
2) A Country Steeped in a 5000-Year-Old History
The history of Korea dates back to around 8000 BC. Yet, while growing as a modernised land, it lives with its past by conserving numerous ancient structures within it. The plethora of historical sites like the War Memorial, some of which are UNESCO heritage sites, add up to the charm of this country.
Of all these, one place that would fascinate the kids and adults alike is the Gyeongbokgung Palace or simply, the Royal Palace. The guard changing ceremony here is one of the most fascinating things that you shouldn’t miss.
Additionally, a visit to the famous landmark, N tower, is sure to give you those giddy romantic feels! This iconic symbol of Seoul is located on Mt. Namsan that is smack in the middle of the city and meets the high skies to give you the best panoramic views of Seoul.
3) A Utopia of Entertainment
Let’s take a break from the history lesson and head to the fun part! The biggest amusement park in Korea, Everland will fill you with glee as you explore the unique rides. Hop on to the famous wooden roller coaster where you will experience an adrenaline-pumping freefall from a whopping height of 150 feet! There is also live entertainment, and a surprisingly wide variety of gardens as well as animals such as the fuzzy pandas inside the park.
Another complex for recreation and entertainment is the Lotte World Tower, which is the fifth tallest building in the world. Apart from its towering height, this place has everything ranging from a shopping mall, a hotel to an ice rink, and a folk museum. And did we mention the world’s tallest swimming pool?
There is also a glass-bottomed Seoul Sky Observatory on top of the tower from where you and the kids can witness panoramic views of Seoul. Popularly known as the ‘Soul of Seoul’, this 360-degree observatory is sure to get you on a ‘high horse’!
4) Fun, Food and Festivities
Along with entertainment and fun also comes food and celebration. Korea’s calendar is full of various festivities and cultural events. Amongst these, the dreamy Cherry blossom festival in different parts of the country like Jeju Island and Hwagae is sure to take your breath away.
Although the blooms last only for 10 days but planning your trip around it is totally worth it. Other worth-a-visit festivals are the Boryeong mud festival or the annual fest in Seoul for South Korea’s famous food- kimchi!
And boy does the South Korean cuisine take you on a culinary roller coaster! Koreans take their food seriously and are very proud of it. Such a cuisine is also the result of South Korea’s natural isolation. Take Kimchi, for example. It is the favourite side dish in the country in which various vegetables are fermented in jars for months. This was one of the processes used to protect food in the harsh winters.
Other than this, there is a vast range of meat dishes, noodle dishes, seafood, soups, stews, and several vegetable side dishes. South Korea is also quite famous for its cafe culture, and the locals love their coffee. So much to try out and gorge on the tantalizing array of dishes, flavours, aromas, and textures in the unique and wacky cafes around the country, that you will have to specially plan a food trip here!
5) The Unruffled Countryside
As South Korea is famous for its mad food scene, bustling cities, and the impeccable transportation system, it doesn’t mean that serenity is far away from the crazy urban buzz. You can tap into the bullet trains and escape to the scenic countryside of this land.
There are rugged mountains to trek up to that are enveloped in the dense forests and get transformed into ski slopes for winter sports. The tranquil beach sides are some of the best ones where you can saunter along the glimmering waters of places like Gwangwon or Busan. You can even go to the off-beaten villages where the fishermen and the farmers will welcome you for a humble meal of homemade seafood dishes in their traditional houses.
If you are not sure about the off-beat destinations, you can experience urban camping on the shores of Han River where you can pitch a tent, try out the delicious Korean Barbecue, and forget that you are in Seoul.
Now, we don’t think you need some more convincing to come to this unique nation. With many regions to explore, South Korea is undoubtedly an exceptional choice for a vacation, and this is what makes it exciting with full of new things to discover.
It is an open country ready to be fully explored. So dive deep into its culture, and you will always want to return to find something more fascinating on each of your visits. You can also contact the Korea Tourism Office in New Delhi to seek more information when planning to travel to South Korea.
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