At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, TV viewers all around the globe saw the ecstatic cries of South Korean football fans, perhaps the world’s first glimpse of this friendly nation. South Korean pop stars and soap operas have likewise won fans the world over. Now if you’ve ever wondered what their country is like, your curiosity will be well rewarded. Rich in centuries-old traditions and a fascinating culture, South Korea also has one of the world’s most mountainous regions, ancient fortresses, and grand temples and palaces, many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites. Its coastline is also graced with breathtaking beaches.
Busan, South Korea’s second largest city, is a major international cargo port that’s also famous for its seafood and beaches. Host to the annual Busan International Film Festival, Busan is South Korea’s version of L.A., it even has pristine beaches, craggy islets and tall mountains that make great backdrop for adventure.
- The breathtaking view of the city from Busan Tower (118 m above sea level), which stands at the summit of Mt. Yongdusan. From there, you can see as far as Japan on a clear day.
- Haeundae Beach - Walk along the boardwalk, take out a jet ski, go windsurfing or weave your way through sun worshippers in search of seashells. This popular sun spot is also a unique place to soak in therapeutic hot springs. Take a long, leisurely dip in the mineral baths and let their healing powers take over.
- Korea's largest fish market, Jagalchi Market, right next to Busan Harbor - for seafood so fresh it still wiggles! The energetic women who prepare and sell the fish are a sight to see as well - it’s all part of a long and unique Busan tradition.
- The deal of the century at Gukje Market. From stacks of clothing, silk, glasses, bags and shoes, you’ll find the treasure you're looking for at wholesale prices.
Korea's honeymoon destination for honeymooners, Jeju Island is a volcanic island with spectacular waterfalls, sandy beaches, lava formations, citrus groves and warm tropical water. So idyllic, its Korea’s own version of Hawaii.
- Cheonjaeyeon Waterfall, which, according to legend, is where seven nymphs descended from heaven at midnight to bathe in. Explore the heavenly waterfall cascading from a 22-meter cliff as well as the surrounding forest, and walk across the arched bridge that features carvings of the seven nymphs.
- Halla Mountain (Halla-san in Korean), a once-active volcano and South Korea’s highest mountain standing at 1,950 m with a crater lake at its summit. The mountain flourishes in all four seasons, with bright azalea blossoms in spring, thick green forest in summer, crimson leaves in fall and a blanket of snow in winter. Hiking here, you can encounter some 1,800 varieties of plants, including rare and endangered species, and get’s a bird's eye view of the clear-blue crater lake and the surrounding tropical island.
- Seafood freshly harvested from local waters by women divers, or haenyeo, while the men take care of the family at home.