South Korea Travel Guide

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South Korea is a country which may seem hard to understand at a first glance and that’s because what we’re dealing with here is a place of weird contrasts and striking contradictions. After the devastating war in the fifties, South Korea begun a long and successful transformation, from a predominantly agrarian and backwards country towards an economic powerhouse, which is today. But, in today’s South Korea, old traditions and high technology found a way to coexist, and they’re both equally embraced by its people.

Hence, South Korea is that kind of a country where you can admire ancient temples and state of the art skyscrapers in the same place and also a country with a frantic/vivid pace of life contrasting with the serenity of the nature. South Korea’s unique etiquette and customs can be perceived as a honey trap for intrepid travelers and foreigners. However, if you come visiting with a friendly smile and you show some respect, you’ll be welcomed instantly and embraced with open arms by the locals, which may seem to you like some of the most jovial people on the face of this Earth.

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It’s also worth mentioning the fact that Koreans are a very proud people, very patriotic and fierce nationalists, but with good reason. These lands have a tumultuous history and this reflects into the cultural fabric of South Korea. With a land mass of 99,720 square kilometers and a population of 49 million, South Korea is a very interesting traveling destination, with the main city and capital being Seoul, a place bursting with historic highlights and a delightful place to be in if you’re a history buff. There are many places to visit while in Seoul, such as Joseon-era Gyeongbokgung Palace, a truly spectacular place, the great South gate of Namdaemun or the incredible, Kafkaesque even Seodaemun Prison.

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All these historical places live together in harmony next to giant shopping centers, high-end offices and world class restaurants. The rest of South Korea is a land filled with temples, fortresses and archaic palaces and the visitors are delighted admiring the old  burial places of ancient kings, like the Seokbulsa Temple in Busan or Gyeongju. There’s also worth mentioning the demilitarized zone, the famous no man’s land delimiting North and South Korea, where huge areas are covered in barbed wire and patrolled frantically by heavily armed soldiers and border patrols, where the tension is so high you can feel it in your teeth. The atmosphere is so tense, you’ll feel just like in a Hollywood production, but as real as it gets.

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However, South Korea is not all about ancient history, not entirely I mean. In terms of natural beauty, the country is absolutely wonderful, offering its visitors a plethora of diversity, including epic national parks, hot spring islands, beautiful sandy beaches and wild mountain peaks. If you’re into South Asian cuisine, South Korea will delight your senses with all sorts of gourmet dishes, including rice wine and pickled cabbage.

What makes South Korea one of the most exciting places on Earth is the melange of jarring paradoxes, strange foods and bizarre customs. These things sometimes make you feel like you’ve arrived in the strangest place on Earth, but there’s a flip side to that coin, i.e. sometimes you’ll feel just you’ve never left home. That’s South Korea in a nutshell for you.

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If you’re into spicy foods, South Korea has a surprise for you: Suwon City, where you can cruise around and enjoy the spiciest dishes you’ve ever tried in your life. Fair warning, this is not a place for the faint at heart. Suwon is one of Seoul’s suburban zones, one of the biggest actually and its city walls are on UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The point is that in Suwon City you can take a shot at Jjambbongan incredible spicy seafood, and after tasting it, make sure you live in a place with a bidet. Other regional foods include boiled rice mixed with egg, meat and chili peppers/veggies, marinated beef cooked on a grill, Kimchi, spicy stews and (spicy, of course) rice snacks. While on it, you can also try ginseng wine, milky liquors made from sweet potato/rice and Hite, a mild lager type of beer.

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To enter and visit South Korea, you’ll only require a bio-metric passport, but no Visa if you’re from the US, EU, Australia or Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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