This article was created in partnership with Wendy Wu Tours.
It’s fair to say, South Korea doesn’t exactly come top of mind when you’re considering where to go for your next Asian getaway. Yet if you’re a fan of the cultural, historical and natural wonders that places like China and Japan have to offer, then South Korea is definitely worth the visit.
With its complex history, picturesque countryside, striking infrastructure, flavourful food and array of UNESCO world heritage-listed sites, the country is completely fascinating to explore. And what makes it even better is that it is yet to be overpopulated with tourists.
Due to being hidden in the shadows of its northern neighbour, South Korea is a relatively undiscovered jewel of East Asia. If there was ever a good time to travel there, it would be now while the crowds are still at a minimum. Even the popular cherry blossom season in South Korea attracts significantly fewer crowds than in Japan.
Helping travellers make the most of their trip, by exploring standout attractions and uncovering local quirks and traditions that go beyond K-pop and Korean barbeque, are the experts at Wendy Wu Tours. Their all-inclusive tour itineraries ensure that all arrangements are taken care of as you venture from city to city and visit scenic treasures, likely unheard-of.
Exploring the best of South Korea
There’s always something exciting happening in South Korea’s dazzling capital city of Seoul. From fashionable and technology-driven architecture, shopping districts and pop culture, to the remains of Buddhist temples, palaces and street markets; the city takes on an intriguing blend of modern and traditional.
Highlights in Seoul include a visit to Gyeongbok Palace to watch the Royal Palace Guard Changing Ceremony; the National Folk Museum, showcasing traditional life in Korean history; Insadong Antique Alley, where many antique stores, art galleries and secondhand book stores can be found; Jongmyo Royal Shrine, a former place of worship that is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site; and N Seoul Tower, the second-highest point in Seoul where you can get panoramic views over the city.
Busan is South Korea’s second-largest city and largest seaport. While the atmosphere here is certainly more laid back than Seoul, the coastal city is full of character among its beaches, mountains, temples and exquisite seafood.
Take in the view from the 120m tall Busan Tower, an icon of the city, before strolling through the popular Kukje Market and Jagalchi Fish Market. Also in Busan is the chance to walk across the Oryukdo Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge set on a seaside cliff; or one of Korea’s most famous and beautiful beaches, Haeundae Beach.
Known as ‘the museum without walls’, Gyeongju is a city of cultural and historical relics. It was the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom for over 1,000 years making it now home to a staggering number of tombs, temples, statues and ruins. You can find the best of these at the Gyeongju National Museum and Tumuli Park.
Just out of the city, make sure to check out Seokguram Grotto stone temple, built in 774 and Bulguksa Temple, built 528 – both of which are designated UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Mt Seorak National Park
Mount Seorak National Park is a spectacularly scenic mountain area of high, granite peaks, lush green valleys, and dense forests. As a UNESCO Biosphere Protection site, with habitat for many rare species of plants and animals, it is one of South Korea’s most dramatic natural treasures.
Close by, check out the magnificent Naksansa Temple, a seven-storey Korean Buddhist temple that stands on the slopes of Naksan Mountain overlooking the East Sea. The temple boasts a 1,300-year history and stands alongside a 15-metre high Buddha statue.
Created as a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea at the end of the Korean War, the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) is part of the most heavily militarized border in the world and a popular day trip for visitors in Seoul. Explore the Bridge of Freedom, used by South Koreans returning home after the Armistice Agreement was signed; and the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, a 1.6km underground tunnel constructed by the North as part of an invasion strategy, only it was discovered before it could be used. The informative DMZ Theatre & Exhibition Hall also provides a detailed recount on Korea’s dividing history.
Perhaps one of the prettiest times to visit South Korea is during their Cherry Blossom season that runs from March to April. During the season, be sure to visit the town of Jinhae, just 45 minutes from Busan, to admire the wonderful flowers in full bloom at the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Another place famous for its beautiful display of cherry blossoms is Bomun Lake in Gyeongju. Wendy Wu Tours have included a one-night stay here during their March 14-day Scenic South Korea Tour so that guests can enjoy the best blooms of the season.
As an additional bonus, if you book Wendy Wu Tours Scenic South Korea departing March 23, your travel partner will get to fly for FREE!
Find out more: wendywutours.com.au/partner-flies-free