South Korea Mini Guide
A diverse range of people visit the country. From business travellers keen to trade with one of Asia’s tiger economies to tourists who want to come to see the traditional sights of the country outside of the busy modern cities. The tension with the North Korean government also gives the country a frisson of excitement which attracts those interested in seeing the demilitarised zone near the border.
How do I get Into South Korea?
South Korea has three main international airports; Incheon and Gimpo in Seoul and Gimhae Airport in Busan. These field most of the international flights to the country from Europe and North America. Asiana and Korean Air both fly from London Heathrow
to Incheon and to fly to other parts of South Korea you’ll need to organise domestic flights which mainly leave Seoul from Gimpo Airport. Once at the airport you’ll find transport into the city very easy with a fast subway style train system linking the airport with Seoul and Gimpo Airport. Alternatives are to hire a car at Incheon if staying in the city and then travelling around the country.
What is There to See and Do in South Korea?
South Korea is split into nine distinctive regions, each offering something different to the visitor. Gyeonggi is close to the demilitarised zone and contains the capital Seoul. Suwon, another major city of the region has a fabulous 18th century fortress which is now a UNESCO site. Gangwon on the northeast coast is an eclectic mix of jungle, beautiful beaches and strangely, ski resorts. South Chungcheong has what most people would expect of South Korea with mile upon mile of rice paddies but it also has several spa facilities using the hot springs of the region. The Gyeongsang region has the majority of South Korea’s cultural sites but also a number of its best beaches and holiday resorts. South Jeolla has many beautiful tropical islands and is a honeymooner’s dream. It’s also renowned for its delicious food. Jeju is a large South Korean island off the coast which is volcanic and is popular with South Korean honeymooners.
What is the Food Like in South Korea?
Korean cuisine is in a division of its own with spicy food mixed with fermented ingredients such as kimchi - fermented cabbage and doenjang - fermented soybean paste. The flavours can take some getting used to and there’s a lot of salt used in Korean cooking but it’s definitely worth trying.
South Korea Factfile
- South Korea is officially the whole of the Korean peninsula with the north not recognised by the UN
- The country’s origins stretch back nearly 4,500 years
- Korea comes from the name of the dynasty, Goryeo that ruled the region hundreds of years ago
- The border between North and South Korea is the most heavily guarded in the world
- The country was embroiled in the first war of the Cold War era in 1950 which claimed the lives of over 2.5m people
South Korea is being touted as the new Vietnam or Cambodia, there’s a lot to see varying between the military might on the border and the natural wonders and temples. Car hire in South Korea is a great way to see the country but although generally developed, there are many parts of the country where roads are just dirt tracks and a car is a rarity.