Korea Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations
Korean Peninsula is a rugged mountainous terrain, bounded by the Yellow
Sea, the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan. The land is green and cut
with deep valleys and bays. Countless islands huddle along the southern
coastline. Koreans are a proud, energetic people with faith and a will
to survive-despite centuries of other nations using their country as a
battleground. North and South Korea are not only divided in ideology but physically, along the 38th parallel (DMZ). South Korea
has seen its share of ups and downs in recent decades, such as the
head-spinning rise to economic dynamo throughout the eighties, followed
by the knockout punch from the Asian crisis of '97. Thankfully,
however, the political upheaval and social unrest of the past now
appear to be on the upswing with global relationships strengthening.
Moreover, the economy is getting back on track. For the visitor to South Korea,
the essential business of adventure, leisure and memorable moments amid
a warm culture and an inviting landscape are well intact.
South Korea Map
Pagoda in Seoul
Korean War quite nearly demolished the city and as such, much of it is
new. Multi-lane freeways snake through canyons of high-rise buildings
where national heritage sites timidly display their war wounds.
Protected, preserved and nurtured by the nation, these precious
treasures survived and are now admired by visitors and locals alike.
The river Han-gang runs through the city. Parks push in from the
outskirts surrounded by universities and sport complexes built for the
Olympic games of 1988. Great public transport whisks you about the city
stopping at all the happening places and cultural venues. Shops, pubs,
bars, bistros and boutiques are lively and profuse. Take the family to
Lotte World for a day of Disney-style adventure. The entertainment
complex also houses an ice-skating rink, hotel and swimming pool. If
you wind-up spending more time than anticipated in Seoul because
there's too much to see and do, don't worry about it, everybody does.
On the 'don't miss' list:
Seoraksan Mountain, South Korea
one or all of the five remaining gates (originally 9) to the walled
capital of the 14th century. In just 98 days, some 200,000 workers
constructed an 18.5 kilometre (11.5 miles) wall of stone and earth
around the city by order of King T'aejo during the Yi dynasty. The
graceful yet imposing structures stand in stark contrast to the sea of
concrete surrounding them. A palace tour perhaps? Kyongbokgung Palace,
built during the Joseon dynasty, destroyed during the Japanese
invasion, rebuilt again in the late 19th century, destroyed again in
the Korean War and now, restored again, showcases an exquisite pagoda
and a truly gargantuan throne room. As long as your there, visit the
National Museum and the National Folklore Museum, occupying opposite
ends of the extensive grounds. Not too terribly far away is the
Changgyonggung Palace, built in 1104 during the Goryeo dynasty.
Chandokkung Palace is a stone's throw away from the Changgyonggung
Palace, and Chogyesa Temple is southwest, just over a kilometre as the
crow flies. Pagodas, shrines, parksA^... There are great places to meet up
with interesting history and people. Namsan park, south of downtown, is
where the third tallest tower in the world stands. The excellent War
Memorial, northwest of Yongsan military base, delivers the sobering
reality of warfare.
The Korean Folk
Village is pleasant experience. The stylized rural village is actually
home to the people who work here. There are artisans' workshops, a
brewery, a Confucian school, a Buddhist temple and a market place.
There are dance performances and festive parades held every day.
Regular bus service from Seoul is available.
National Park, near the DMZ on the east coast, is rough and ready for
adventure enthusiasts seeking craggy peaks, extreme waterfalls, and
rapids to rave on about. Of course, if you would rather just relax by a
beach or wander 'round ancient temples, you can-it's all there! Hiking
for the hearty, cable car rides for a peek at the top, hot springs,
tenting in the pines or luxurious beds amid the manyA^...the choice is
Songni-san National Park is
located-as the name implies-'remote from the mundane world' and smack
dab in the middle of the country. Hikers hoof it over to this park in
droves because it has heaps of terrific trails. Of course, the fact
that Popchu-sa Temple is one of the most important and beautiful
artefacts in the country, may have something to do with it as well. The
multi-level wooden Buddhist temple was built in 553 AD and rebuilt in
1624 after the Japanese invaders burnt it down in 1592. Then again,
perhaps it is the 33 metre (108 ft.) bronze Buddha image that has
tourists flocking to these hills.
Bulguksa temple, South Korea
far north of Pusan (Busan) on the southeast coast, one finds the very
interesting provincial town of Gyeongju (Kyongju). The secrets and
ruins of the Silla dynasty await archaeological buffs here. For others,
the highlight will be the Bulguksa temple, a masterpiece of Asian
artistic prowess. Tadohae Haesang National Marine Park, off the
southwest corner of the peninsula, is a popular tourist destination.
Come to think of it, the whole Korean Archipelago with its thousands of
islands and beaches offer more than just a couple of choices for
stunning land and seascapes, dramatic sunsets and 'Tropical Breezers'.
Hitting the slopes with the boards during the winter months is always
exhilarating. With more than 60 courses to choose from, whacking golf
balls is a hit for many visitors and locals alike. Just for fun, try
your hand at the slap-happy national martial art, Taekwondo.
Celebrations and festivals? SheeshA^...more than you can shake a stick at!
The most important being the Harvest Moon Festival,which falls in early
September. People go home to their families to honour their ancestors.
Buddha's Birthday is big. It's in late April and features late night
lantern parades. March and September brings crowds to Confucian shrines
to hear traditional court music and to observe colourful ritual
performances. There is just so much more to discover hidden within the
hills and vales of this vigorous nation. Describing South Korea does not do it justice; better to come and see for yourself.