South Korea holidays are a fusion of the classic and contemporary, with ancient history and modern culture perfectly melded to fascinate even the most seasoned traveller.
Seoul is a bustling capital that brims with striking architecture and has offered the world everything from K-pop to Korean fried chicken.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, there are green rolling hills, coastal villages and sub-tropical islands to discover. From traditional Buddhist temples and picture-perfect cherry trees to skyscrapers and high-tech subways, you’ll never get bored with the many faces of South Korea.
Be sure to try the local cuisine during a family holiday or honeymoon in South Korea, as the spicy, fermented and barbecue flavours whet appetites the world over. It's time to start dreaming about your holiday to South Korea.
Whether you’re seeking an active holiday exploring South Korea’s scenery, a trip to discover a different culture with the family or a city break in Seoul, you’ll find attractions of every kind.
South Korea luxury holidays should start in Seoul, which boasts five impressive imperial palaces.
The grandest is Gyeongbokgung and its history can be traced back to 1395. Be sure to catch one of the changing of the guard ceremonies that take place regularly throughout the day, featuring officials dressed in traditional Joseon costume.
The longest serving royal residence was Changdeokgung and many say it boasts the most impressive architecture. Seek out the Secret Garden within the complex for a moment of tranquillity.
The kids will love the ride on the cable car to the top of Namsan Mountain on your family holiday to South Korea.
Once you get to the summit, you’re not quite at your destination yet, as the peak is crowned by the soaring N Seoul Tower.
Stretching 236 metres into the sky, it’s the second highest point in Seoul and offers panoramic views of the city.
An exhibition space featuring 36 LCD screens tells the story of Seoul and is great for learning more about South Korea’s past.
No honeymoon in South Korea is complete without a visit to Jeju Island, with its beach resorts, crater lakes and hiking trails.
Here you can scale Mount Hallasan. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a dormant volcano, and from the summit you can admire both the bright blue crater lake and views over Jeju.
Nature lovers will be in their element on Jeju Island. Cheonjeyon Waterfall not only looks mighty with its three-tiered falls, but it also houses many rare plants in the rockpools below.
Wandering around local markets is a big part of the city break experience and in South Korea there are several shopping options.
Dongdaemun Market really comes alive at night when rows of yellow tented stalls are set up to sell their wares.
As well as clothes and souvenirs, Dongdaemun Market is famous for its street food. To try out local delicacies, such as deep-fried mung bean pancakes and steaming bowls of noodles, browse the stalls and see which ones are the most popular with locals before making your choice.
Seoraksan National Park is named after the country’s highest mountain and is a popular hiking destination – perfect for an active holiday in South Korea.
As well as the peak stretching 5,600 feet up into the sky, there are several other places to hike to.
These include Biseondae Rocks, with stunning views, Geumganggul Cave, nearly 2,000 feet up a series of steps and Sinheungsa Temple, with its seated bronze Buddha.
The Hongdae neighbourhood of Seoul is home to an arts university and a thriving cultural scene. It has a unique vibe that’s worth experiencing and plenty of tempting restaurants and cafes.
Check in to the L7 Hongdae by Lotte for a luxury South Korea holiday that includes a rooftop pool and gym.
Head south of the Han River to find the Gangnam district, which offers a quintessential city break in South Korea.
There are high rises and shopping malls aplenty here, as well as acclaimed food spots, making it a great choice if Korean barbecue is your thing.
The Dormy Inn fits in with its high-rise neighbours and has its own Korean spa.
Stay in Anguk-Dong at the modern Orakai Insadong Suites and you'll be close to a slice of traditional Seoul - giving you the best of both worlds.
The Hanok Bukchon Village is made up of traditional wooden houses and in this district you can enjoy tea at an authentic teahouse or try your hand at local arts and crafts.
The currency in South Korea is the won (KRW) and there are plenty of ATMs in Seoul, although not all will accept foreign debit cards. Withdrawing money in rural areas can be more difficult.
Korean culture is highly respectful. When meeting locals bow to say hello and in homes, and some restaurants, you will be expected to remove your shoes before entering.
Korean is the official language of South Korea, but English, Chinese and Japanese are also widely spoken.
In South Korea, the two key holidays are Seollal, Korean New Year on the first day of the lunar calendar (typically late January) and Chuseok – a three-day harvest festival in October.
There are an impressive 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Korea, with 13 of them being cultural and the final one, natural.
The whole of Jeju Island has been designated a natural UNESCO site and its biodiversity speaks for itself. Enjoy volcanic peaks, craters and lava tubes as well as pristine beaches and waterfalls.
On the cultural side, there are palaces, temples and villages to explore.
The Temple of Haeinsa was built in the 15th century to house a vast collection of Buddhist texts that were printed using woodblocks in the 13th century - and is worth visiting on your South Korea holiday.
Korean food has become so well-loved across the world that seeing kimchi on the menu has become almost the norm. Be sure to sample authentic South Korean food during your visit to Seoul, Busan and the rest of the country.
Among the dishes you mustn’t miss are bulgogi, a combination of marinated beef with onion and garlic, sweet and sour noodles known as japchae and haemul pajeon, a seafood vegetable pancake.
While there are more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants in South Korea, be sure to check out some of the street food stalls too. These spots are cheap but delicious places to dine.
At least some of the time on your South Korea holiday is likely to be spent in Seoul and it’s hard not to notice the capital’s futuristic architecture.
The instantly recognisable curved metal shell of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza was designed by the late Zaha Hadid and is an evocative example of her work.
Meanwhile, the Lotte World Tower is a 1,820-feet tall skyscraper, the sixth highest building in the world. Its 123 floors include office space, shopping and dining options and an observation platform for stunning views. All of this is served by a state-of-the-art double decker lift.
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