South Korea surprises many of its first-time visitors; a country on the cusp of economic success, it is an mix of outstanding natural beauty and cities that seem not to sleep.
Seoul sprawls over its territory, offering tiny neighborhood restaurants with brilliantly spiced food to night markets where you can buy just about anything. The night spots vibrate well into the night and are often bubbling over with young American soldiers. Gyeongsangbukdo pushes back against the modernity of Seoul with its ancient temples and peaceful vibe while Gangwon charming yet eccentric fishing villages provides a deeper look at Korean culture.
South Korea is downright cold in winter, which is from December to mid-March. Spring is fairly warm with temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius and summer is humid and very hot. June is a splendid time to arrive, though the famous cherry blossoms usually bloom in early April.
Like any large city, Seoul is a network of widely different neighborhoods sewn together by history and modern transit. Walking through some of these neighborhoods away from the central core of the city is perhaps the best way to get a sense of this place; walkers find themselves on narrow cobbled streets bordered by high houses, feeling a little like they wandering into a story book. The center of the city bustles aggressively with commerce, though there are havens to be found. The food is excellent, from the streets carts to the fine dining establishments.
While Seoul feels like a city undergoing a transformation, Gyeongsangbukdo seems to be wholeheartedly hanging on to its past, making it a wondrous place to spend some time. There are Confucian schools, striking pagodas, sombre tombs, temples and artistically divine Buddhas carved from stone. For those who wish to explore the spiritual history of the Korean people, Gyeongsangbukdo is a must-see space.
You’ll find Sinnam in Gangwon-do, a fishing village that, oddly, has a Penis Park where you can find phallic symbols of all shapes and sizes. Though there is more to Gangwon-do than phallic symbols, the architecture dates back to the Joseon dynasty and reflects the austerity and beauty that they Korean people so admire.
South Korea is a country with a complicated history, as its twin North Korea, attached to it but severed from it symbolizes. There is much to absorb when travelling through its cities and countryside, it is a place that grows on you as opposed to immediately charming you.
South Korea Airlines
Airlines providing service between Australia and South Korea include China Eastern Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, Qantas Airways, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific.
Australia to South Korea
Popular stopovers between Australia and South Korea include Nanjing, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Guangzhou, Dalian, Beijing and Singapore.
More information at the South Korea Holidays guide.