The Korean peninsula is a tantalizingly unexplored slice of East Asia – a pine-clad land of mountains, misty archipelagos and rice paddies of emerald green, studded with urban pockets of incomparable joie de vivre. While its troubled history has made Korea’s very existence nothing short of miraculous, amazingly its traditions and customs have largely survived intact – and for visitors, this highly distinctive culture is an absolute joy to dive into.
The blue and red circle at the heart of the South Korean flag neatly symbolises the divided Korean Peninsula, but also the fluid mix of the ancient and the modern in the country officially called the Republic of Korea, where the vast majority of visitors will spend their time. South Korea is a dream destination – an engaging, welcoming place where the benefits of a high-tech nation are balanced alongside a reverence for tradition and the ways of old Asia.
South Korea’s compact size and superb transport infrastructure mean that tranquillity can be found in easy reach of the urban sprawl. Hike to the summits of craggy mountains enclosed by densely forested national parks. Some of those same mountains transform into ski slopes come winter. Get further off the beaten path than you thought possible by sailing to remote islands, where farming and fishing folk welcome you into their homes and simple seafood cafes. Chill out in serene villages surrounded by rice fields, sleeping in rustic hanok guesthouses.