Ánnyeonghaseyo,'' (ann-yoh-hah-say-yoh) or the most common phrase for ''hello'' is what travellers will mostly hear when going to South Korea. This East Asian country has a rich culture and a unique language of its own, making it one of the most sought after destinations in the world. It's located on the strip of land jutting out from the Asian land mass, with the Sea of Japan on the east and Yellow Sea on the west. This puts South Korea in a strategic position, which has affected much of its history.
The South Korean geography is a rolling dynamic between mountains and valleys with plains and river basins. The eastern part has high mountain ranges with narrow coastal plains. Go west, and the terrain is widely different with its broad plains, hills, and rivers. The nature here forms a fascinating backdrop, whether summer or winter. These, including the cultural highlights, have brought millions of tourists that made South Korea the 20th most visited country in the world in 2012.
International flights usually come from Incheon International Airport located in Seoul. The capital attracts the majority of travellers due to its cosmopolitan vibe and traditional scenery. On one hand, tourists can go to Lotte World, a huge theme park, or see a film in 4D for a stimulating cinema experience. Seoul also has the fastest 4G LTE Internet connection, making it easy to share videos showing first-hand experiences of the city.
There are also cultural sites to visit in Seoul. The Gahoe Museum, for instance, has exhibits on traditional Korean arts and crafts. The Gyeongbokgung of the Joseon dynasty, the royal castle, is also a must-see. It's a massive complex with more than 5,000 rooms that serve as a testament to South Korea's noble past.
Once you get out of the city, make time to explore the Seorok-san National Park on a private camping tour. After a hiking trip up Ulsanbawi and checking out the breath-taking panoramic scenes, travellers can visit the town proper, the Demilitarised Zone, or cycle along the Eastern coast. From Seorok-san, they can go to Gyeongju, a nominated UNESCO World Heritage site. Other than a national park, Gyeongju also has the Seokguram Grotto, a Buddhist site that serves as a fascinating example of Silla art. There is also the Cheomseongdae Observatory built in the ancient times, and the Korean tapdancing museum.
How to get around within South Korea
The public transportation in South Korea is a convenient way to explore the sights. The first option is to go on domestic flights to reach the destination quickly. If planes aren't preferred, trains are also accessible with exclusive railway passes for foreigners. Those with unlimited passes can use the KTX express, the regular Saemaeul, and the Mugunghwa trains. The Gyeongbu Line, for instance, connects Seoul to Busan, another beautiful area in South Korea.
Additionally, buses make it easy to explore. There are two types, namely the Express or Gosok buses that go straight to intended destinations and the Intercity or Sioe buses that make a series of stopovers on different areas of a particular town or city.
Ferries are also something to think about, especially when going to the islands and bays around South Korea. Domestic ferry lines, for instance, serve at Incheon, Jeju, Busan, and Donghae.
How to get there
When going to South Korea, travellers will most likely land on the Incheon International Airport in Seoul. For those coming from Asia, the air carriers are Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Eastar Jet, Emirates, EVA Air, Philippine Airlines, Shandong Airlines, and more. The North American airlines flying to this side of the world include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Air Canada. European carriers, on the other hand, are Air France, British Airways, Finnair, and Lufthansa.
There are also flights going to other international airports in South Korea. Visitors can look for planes going to Gimpo International Airport or Jeju International Airport, depending on their destination.
Images by Flickr/Emmanuel Dyan
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