South Korea is a land of vibrant experiences, unusual delicacies and red maples.

TRAVEL

Admire the city from a height of half a kilometre, standing on a transparent floor. Take a walk through the park on the overpass, which was recently used by cars. Take a photo near the monument in the form of hands repeating the movements of the famous hit “Gangnam style”. Eat a live octopus, drinking coffee from a toilet-shaped cup. Reschedule for less than $15 in a unique spa area with saunas and pools. All this is possible in a modern, high-tech, futuristic Asian country – South Korea.

It is open to tourists and so friendly that it provides discounts for foreigners to visit many attractions.

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Аэропорт Инчхон. Image by Won-hyoung 김원형 from Pixabay

Seoul – past and future in one city

Incheon Airport, which welcomes visitors to South Korea, is striking with its ultra-modern design and the space escalator brings tourists closer to an unforgettable experience. There are several ways to get to the city from the airport: by ordinary train, by express train, by bus or by taxi.

The capital at first glance seems to be the city of the future, impressing with skyscrapers made of glass and concrete. You can see the city from a height from the Lotte World Tower. It is the sixth tallest skyscraper in the world. Its observation deck is 550 metres high. It is special for its glass floor, which suddenly turns from opaque to transparent. You can also admire the panorama of YTN Seoul Tower by climbing Mount Namsan using a cable car.

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Lotte World Tower. Image by cmmellow from Pixabay

By building skyscrapers and creating high-tech robots, Koreans are reading history and architectural monuments. Buildings from different eras get along well in Seoul. Fans of ancient architecture can visit five royal palaces. One of the oldest is Changdeokgung Palace, built in the 15th century. It is recognised as the most beautiful of the palaces. A noteworthy part of the building is the secret Pivong Garden, where over 26,000 trees grow.

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Changdeokgung. Image by dae jeung kim from Pixabay

The oldest is Gyeongbokgung Palace, located in northern Seoul. In Korean, the name means “Palace of radiant happiness”.  It is an open-air museum. During the tour, you can visit the ancient throne room and pavilion, which stood on 48 granite columns in the middle of the lake.

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Gyeongbokgung. Image by Luc Perron from Pixabay

An island of nature in the midst of an urban landscape is the Cheonggyecheon creek, which stretches for 11 km right in the centre of Seoul. Previously, it was hidden in an underground canal under a highway. Today, it is a place for walks, with walkways paved with bright tiles and bridges in the form of stones that slightly rise above the water.

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Cheonggyecheon. Image: ©© Commons.wikimedia.org / 螺钉

Another modern attraction in Seoul is the Banpo Bridge (Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain), which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest fountain bridge. Water jets illuminated by different colours pound down and fall into the Hangangan River.

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Banpo Bridge. Image by yeon woo lee from Pixabay

Busan’s ancient sights, bird sanctuaries and fish market

Bus, train, aeroplane, sea boat – any of these modes of transport can be chosen to get from Seoul to Busan over 400 kilometres.

Busan attracts monuments of antiquity. There is the Beomeosa Temple, which is over 1,300 years old. The shrine consists of 160 buildings, including the ancient Iljumun Gate, a three-storey pagoda from the IX century. More than 500 species of wisteria bloom on the territory. Three incarnations of the Buddha are kept here.

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Beomeosa Temple. Image: ©© Commons.wikimedia.org / Alexey Komarov

There is a Migratory Bird Reserve in Busan at the mouth of the Naktongan River. Over 150 species of birds fly here, including eagles, ducks and swans. It is possible to get closer to the birds by boat with a guide.

At the Jagalchi Market, you can not only buy fresh fish and shellfish, but also try seafood prepared right here and now. In the mornings, fishing boats dock at the market pier. And at the annual Chagalchhi festivals, you can taste over 300 kinds of seafood delicacies.

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Jagalchi Market. Image: ©© Commons.wikimedia.org / Czolya

Danpung – незабываемое очарование южнокорейской осени

The danpung season (단풍) in South Korea comes in the autumn, when trees are painted with a bright palette from tender yellow to bright red. Red maples, which can be admired in South Korea and Japan, attract particular attention. Tourists from all over the world come to see them. Tanphun usually begins in late September in the South Korean mountains of Seoraksan. In mid-October it arrives in the Odaesan mountains, and at the end of the month in the Jirisan and Naejangsan mountains.

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Image by Valiphotos from Pixabay

Meteorological companies make annual forecasts of the red maple season, which begins in the north of South Korea and gradually moves towards the south.

The most beautiful “maple” locations in Seoraksan National Park are: Cheonbuldong Valley, Osaek Jujeongol Valley and Baekdam Valley. Naejangsan Park attracts famous maple tunnels.

Resting in the Korean mountains in autumn, you can follow the famous hiking trails, climb one of the peaks, set up a tent at a camping site, take pictures of the mist rising in the morning over a mountain lake against a background of red maple forest.

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Image by Pepper Mint from Pixabay

Transport, food, shopping, overnight stays and vivid experiences

In order to reduce transport costs when travelling around South Korea, it is worth buying transport cards. They can be intra-city or inter-city. The latter are used to travel by train, including tourist trains, whose routes take you to the most picturesque places and remote places of interest.

Food and cuisine in South Korea have a special relationship to them. They serve dog soup, rice sweets, all kinds of seafood dishes, fermented kimchi spicy vegetables and much more. Street food is very popular in the country. These are meat and vegetable kebabs, puff pastry rolls, Tornado potatoes, pancakes, noodles, tofu broth, kimbap with rice and various fillings. It is cheaper to eat outside, according to the Koreans themselves, than to cook at home.

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Image by sanghyuk cho from Pixabay

South Korea is a shopping paradise for lovers. Giant malls, day and night markets, shopping streets offer a huge variety of goods, and the taxi fries system allows foreign tourists to return around 10% of their value.

For overnight stays in South Korean cities, you can choose a hotel, one of the many low-cost hostels, or a rather unexpected place for foreigners. Tourists are offered to stay in a house called a khanok. Hanks are located in folklore villages scattered all over the country. They are attractive for immersion in Korean flavour. An interesting accommodation place for advanced travellers is the Chimchilban. It is a South Korean spa with elements of an entertainment centre. Inside, you can find saunas, baths, salt and jade rooms, swimming pools, massage chairs, Playstation and places for relaxation and rest. The time spent in chimchilbans is not limited, including all night long.

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Hanok in South Korea. Image by hong kim from Pixabay

South Korea is a country that Europeans should not try to understand. It is better to try to accept all its strangeness: from a poop park with a museum in the form of a toilet to shocking food. Here you can enjoy the beauty of nature, play with animals in raccoon, sheep and meerkat anti-stress cafes, live for a few days in a Buddhist monastery, visit ancient sights and just make selfies, which, incidentally, was invented in South Korea.


The author of the article: Mesteshova Anna

Main image: Hachiyuuki from Pixabay


Tickets to South Korea and, in general, anywhere are conveniently picked up and booked via the Skyscanner search engine:

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