South Korea

Welcome to South Korea, a dynamic blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge technology nestled on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. From the bustling streets of Seoul, a metropolis pulsating with energy and innovation, to the serene temples scattered throughout the countryside, South Korea offers a captivating mix of modernity and history.

With a rich cultural heritage dating back thousands of years, South Korea boasts stunning palaces, vibrant festivals, and mouthwatering cuisine that tantalises the taste buds. Delve into the world of Korean cuisine with savoury delights like bibimbap, kimchi, and bulgogi, or explore the country’s renowned tea culture in tranquil teahouses nestled amidst verdant landscapes.

But South Korea isn’t just about tradition – it’s also a global hub of technology and entertainment, with K-pop music, cutting-edge fashion, and esports dominating the cultural landscape. Whether you’re wandering through ancient alleyways in historic villages, hiking scenic mountain trails, or indulging in the latest technological marvels, South Korea promises a journey filled with discovery, excitement, and endless possibilities. Welcome to the Land of the Morning Calm, where tradition meets innovation in perfect harmony.

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  • History and Culture

    South Korea’s history is a tale of resilience and transformation, shaped by centuries of conquests, dynastic rule, and modernisation. From the ancient kingdoms of Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje to the tumultuous period of Japanese colonial rule in the early 20th century, South Korea has weathered countless challenges. The division of the Korean Peninsula after World War II led to the Korean War in the 1950s, resulting in the current divide between North and South Korea.

    South Korea’s culture is a vibrant tapestry woven from the threads of tradition and innovation. Confucian values emphasising respect for elders and societal harmony coexist with a fervent embrace of modernity, epitomised by the country’s rapid economic growth and technological advancement. Korean arts, such as traditional music, dance, and pottery, continue to thrive alongside contemporary expressions in film, fashion, and pop culture.

    Today, South Korea stands as a global leader in technology, entertainment, and diplomacy, yet it remains deeply rooted in its cultural heritage. Festivals celebrating ancestral rites, such as Chuseok and Seollal, provide glimpses into age-old customs, while the bustling streets of Seoul pulsate with the rhythm of modern life. South Korea’s journey from ancient kingdoms to a powerhouse of the 21st century is a testament to its resilience, creativity, and unwavering spirit.

  • Nature and wildlife

    South Korea’s diverse landscapes provide a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike. Explore the verdant forests of Jirisan National Park, where ancient trees tower overhead and hidden waterfalls cascade into serene pools below. Hike through the pristine valleys of Seoraksan National Park, home to rare flora and fauna, including the elusive Korean goral and endangered Asiatic black bear.

    Birdwatchers flock to the wetlands of Suncheon Bay, a haven for migratory birds such as hooded cranes and black-faced spoonbills. Meanwhile, the tranquil islands of Jeju offer opportunities to spot indigenous species like the Jeju horse and Jeju black pig, unique to this UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Marine enthusiasts can dive into the crystal-clear waters of Hallyeohaesang National Park, where vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life await exploration. From whale watching off the coast of Ulsan to sea kayaking through the picturesque archipelago of Tongyeong, South Korea’s coastal waters offer endless opportunities for adventure and discovery amidst breathtaking natural beauty.

  • Food and drink

    South Korea is a culinary paradise, where every meal is a feast for the senses. Dive into the world of Korean barbecue, where sizzling meats are grilled to perfection at your table and served with an array of savory side dishes known as banchan. Indulge in hearty stews like kimchi jjigae or budae jjigae, brimming with spicy flavours and comforting ingredients like tofu, vegetables, and noodles.

    No visit to South Korea is complete without sampling its iconic street food. From crispy fried chicken and savoury pancakes to spicy tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) and sweet hotteok (pancake filled with brown sugar and nuts), the bustling markets and food stalls offer a tantalising array of flavours to satisfy every craving.

    Quench your thirst with traditional Korean beverages like soju, a clear distilled liquor enjoyed neat or mixed with beer to make the popular cocktail known as somaek. For a non-alcoholic option, try sikhye, a sweet rice drink flavoured with cinnamon and ginger, or bingsu, a refreshing shaved ice dessert topped with fruit, red bean paste, and condensed milk.

    Whether you’re dining in a cozy neighbourhood eatery, sampling street food in a bustling market, or indulging in a Michelin-starred restaurant, South Korea’s culinary scene promises an unforgettable gastronomic journey that will leave you craving more.

  • Adventure and experiences

    In South Korea, there’s no shortage of unforgettable experiences awaiting travellers. Begin your adventure in the bustling capital of Seoul, where ancient palaces, vibrant markets, and trendy neighbourhoods offer a taste of traditional and modern Korean culture. Explore the majestic grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace, stroll along the charming streets of Bukchon Hanok Village, and sample mouthwatering street food at Gwangjang Market. The DMZ marking the border between North and South is also a must-do for history enthusiasts.

    Venture outside the city to discover the breathtaking natural beauty of South Korea’s national parks. Hike to the summit of Seoraksan or Hallasan for panoramic views of towering peaks and lush forests, or unwind in the tranquil surroundings of Boseong’s green tea fields. Along the coast, explore the dramatic cliffs and pristine beaches of the East Sea, or embark on a scenic ferry ride to the picturesque islands of Jeju and Ulleungdo.

    Immerse yourself in South Korea’s rich cultural heritage with experiences like a temple stay at a traditional Buddhist monastery, a taekwondo lesson with a master instructor, or a traditional tea ceremony in a serene teahouse. Indulge your senses with the tantalising flavours of Korean cuisine, from sizzling barbecue and savoury bibimbap to fiery kimchi and refreshing makgeolli.

    For a dose of modern entertainment, catch a K-pop concert, browse the latest trends in fashion-forward neighbourhoods like Myeongdong and Gangnam, or test your skills at a state-of-the-art esports arena. Whether you’re seeking adventure in nature, cultural immersion, or urban exploration, South Korea offers a wealth of experiences that will leave you inspired and eager to return.

Flag of South Korea
  • Capital city: Seoul
  • Language: Korean
  • Currency: Korean Won (KRW)
  • Time Difference: UTC +9
  • Flight Time: 12h45 to Seoul from London
  • Visa: Stamp on Arrival
  • Peak Season: April to June

Did you know?

Instead of asking “How are you?” many South Koreans ask, “Did you eat rice?” Highlighting their concern for your well-being.

South Korea Climate Guide