South Korea

Baekyangsa Temple, Jangseong County, South Korea

The East Asian nation of South Korea is situated on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. It shares one of the world’s most heavily militarised borders with North Korea. The country is known for its dynamic cities of Seoul, Busan, Gunsan, Daegu, Gwangiu and Mokpo and its beautiful Buddhist Temples, coastal villages, islands and green countryside. The high-tech capital Seoul is a stunning example of history from the Joseon Dynasty with its five palaces; Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace. At night see the views from a different angle by stepping aboard a cruise boat with views of the Lotte World Tower, Skyscrapers and the Banpo Bridge with its longest bridge fountain of 1,140 metres all lit up by a rainbow of colours, it is truly an amazing experience.

Busan is a very interesting port city, known for its Temples and Mountains. It also has some idyllic sun-kissed beaches including Haeundae Beach with its Sea Life Aquarium and Gwangalli Beach, which has an amazing view over the Gwangandaegyo (Diamond Bridge). This bridge offers over 100,000 magnificent lighting effects at night with plenty of dining options located along the bridge itself. The Haedong Yonggung Temple is located along the coast and was built by the great Buddhist teacher Naong during the Goryeo Dynasty overlooking the ocean. This site showcases the traditional Korean religion. The Beomeosa Temple is a Buddhist shrine founded in 678 A.D., which sits at the base of the Geumjeong Mountain. It has many hiking trails for those inclined. The Gamcheon Culture Village is a very creative place to enjoy, take photos and make some memories, as it has an abundance of Korean art, paintings and graffiti. From the top of the mountain you can enjoy the stunning views over the town showing a kaleidoscope of colours in its dwellings below.

At the bottom of the peninsula lies Jeju Island. This truly magical island is a paradise for nature and beach lovers. It will dazzle you with its breathtaking rock formations, stunning crystal clear beaches like that of Hamdeok Beach and mountains. Some of the sites to be enjoyed include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the dormant Volcano of Hallasan Mountain rising 1950 metres above sea level. The Jeongbang Waterfall is one of three that can be found on the island. The Manjanggul Cave spans 5 kms and is home to one of the top 10 lava tubes in the world. Look out for the “Stone Turtle” said to resemble the shape of Jeju Island itself. Jungmun Lava Columns are hexagonal and pentagonal stone pillars of Jusangjeolli Cliff are a geological phenomenon you have to see to believe. Resembling the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, these impressive columns were formed thousands of years ago when lava from Hallasan contracted and cooled when mixed with the water in the Jungmun Sea.

A great day trip from Jeju is the island of Udo, home to some of the freshest seafood. Circumnavigating this little island only takes about two hours. If you are into photography there are plenty of photo opportunities including Hagosudong Beach, Sanho Beach and the Someori Oreum Peak.

The Seoraksan National Park is famous for its wonderful views, unspoiled mountain streams and its vibrant flora and fauna. Hiking is extremely popular and Seoraksan boasts some of the prettiest trails in the country. At 1,708 metres, Seoraksan Mountain (Snowy Peaks Mountain) is at its highest point at Daecheongbong Peak. The surrounding scenery includes waterfalls and cliffs. The park has an area of 163.6 square kilometres and covers four cities and counties and is classified under a UNESCO Biosphere Protection Site since 1982. Seoraksan also has a few cultural and historical sites including the Buddhist Temples of Baekdamsa (Hundred Pool Temple) and Sinheungsa, believed to be the oldest Seon Temple in the world. At 600 metres up the steep slopes of Seoraksan Mountain you will arrive at the Geumganggul Cave, a small cave once used as a site of worship. The cave opening looks out over spectacular views and is well worth the hike up to reach it. For those who cannot hike up, there is the option of the Seoraksan Cable Car to the Gwongeumseong Fortress, which will afford you with some breathtaking views. There are also a number of smaller mountains in the area including Ulsanbawi Rock, a famous rock formation made of six granite peaks.

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