Long overshadowed by its headline-grabbing neighbours, South Korea is unfairly overlooked. But, those that do make the journey are richly rewarded with neon megacities, mountain-top temples and a truly unique cuisine that’s only just getting the attention it deserves. And, let's not forget the 'Korean Wave' of pop culture – from film to music – that's been taking the world by storm. It's all brought to life in a host of unforgettable experiences, including temple stays, wellness retreats and a nightlife that's among Asia's most vibrant.
Seoul & surrounds
Introductions are invariably made in Seoul, the country’s capital. This is where Korea pulled itself out of wartime collapse and into G20 prosperity in just 50 short years – an economic phenomenon termed the “Miracle on the Han River”. Having leapfrogged the likes of Russia and Australia, Seoul wears its riches on its sleeve, with great skyscrapers, glitzy neon streets and fine-dining restaurants all competing for your attention. It’s hard to imagine that the Demilitarized Zone with North Korea is just a day trip away.
Unique culture and cuisine
Yet, Korea hasn’t lost its roots. Even in the centre of Seoul, you’ll quickly stumble across bustling markets, Confucianist shrines and great palaces, all intricate carvings and beautiful colours. However, it’s perhaps Korean cuisine where tradition has lingered longest. Simply, there’s nowhere else in the world that does food like Korea, whether that’s the spicy tang of fermented kimchi, the impossible fluffy delight of seafood pancakes or the convivial joy of a night at a barbecue joint. It’s all washed down with gallons of soju liquor – the world’s most popular brand of booze. Koreans really do like to drink.
From countryside to coast
You would, however, be doing yourself a disservice if you limited yourself to Seoul. Second-city Busan impresses with golden beaches and waterside temples, Gyeongju is world-famous for its cherry blossom and ancient palace complex, and the country’s interior is ripe for hikes to forgotten mountain temples. However, for the true Korean holiday experience, get yourself to Jeju – a volcanic island where pristine beaches front gorgeous countryside and seafood is caught by haenyeo free divers.
With direct flights from the UK, South Korea is perfectly placed as a destination in its own right. But, if you want to combine it with other countries in the region, you'll find it extremely well connected. Speak to our specialists who'll help you design a South Korea holiday based on your individual requirements, whether that's a country-spanning two-week stay or a short stopover en route to Japan or a host of other Asian destinations.