South Korea Quick Facts
- Visa: Not required for stays of up to 90 days
- Population: 49 million
- Capital city: Seoul (population 10 million)
- Religion: Christianity (32%), Buddhism (24%), none (43%)
- Currency: South Korean Won (KRW)
- Typical dish: Bibimbap (mixed rice with spicy sauce and various toppings)
- Cost of the local tipple: Soju (£1)
Holidays to South Korea
There are few trips as underrated as a tour of South Korea. For many, little is known outside of Gangnam Style or the phone in their pocket. In recent years however generalisations are beginning to change. Korean art, films, TV and pop music have global fanbases. The food – among the most unique of all Asian cuisines – is creeping into Europe and could be the next big dining trend.
Few lands have seen such transformation in the past half century. At the end of the Korean War not many would have thought this largely destitute nation would in a few decades become one of 20 largest economies on the planet. Tellingly, South Korea remains the only country worldwide to have graduated from former recipient to current donor of global aid – a process begun in 1953, and ended in 1995. The intermediate years saw economic development on an industrial scale; the so-called ‘Miracle of the Han River’ has led to a global stereotype of South Korea as somewhat grey: lacking the cultural or historical import of China to the West, or the technicolour futurism of Japan to the East.
This is a misconception: South Korea is buzzing. Nowhere is this epitomised more than the capital Seoul, a sprawling urban mass of juxtaposition: neon-lit shopping arcades are crammed in amongst traditional markets; multi-lane highways lead to expansive parks; domino-like rows of tower blocks are broken by centuries-old temple complexes. Outside of Seoul, the bulk of the country is largely mountainous and quite beautiful, with a broad range of adventure to be had - particularly around Seoraksan and Songnisan. Smaller cities of Busan, Gwangju, Jeonju each have their own unique personality and offer something different, while one is never far away from a rich and varied history - particularly in the cultural hubs of Andong and Gyeongju.
At equal points futuristic and reverent, always surprising and never dull, a holiday to South Korea will greatly reward the curious traveller. Find out more by taking a look at our sample tours on the left, or contact us directly for a tailor-made itinerary.
Some of South Korea's highlights
- Trekking in the dramatic Seoraksan National Park
- Sampling fresh seafood in the second city of Busan
- Enjoying the beaches and mountains of volcanic Jeju Island