Why travel to Korea? First ask, why do we travel at all? Certainly, we are looking for something different from home. We want to escape from the everyday humdrum. We seek fascinating, diverse experiences varying from colorful cultural attractions to delectable dining. Korea has all of this and so much more – So let us introduce you to Korea and give you just a few good reasons to travel to Korea.
South Korea locates in the area of high latitudes; therefore, the climate has four distinct seasons. It can be around 85F in summer, but 16F in winter. There is no bad timing for visiting; however, always check if the places you want to go or the things you want to do are available when you visit in that specific season.
After all the sightseeing, one will surely have worked up an appetite and you will be ready for a true taste of Korea. Korean cooking has a wide variety of dishes to delight all tastes. The ingredients and combinations of flavors are unique and not to be found elsewhere. These days Korean cuisine is characterized by a wide variety of meat and fish dishes along with wild greens and vegetables. Korean BBQ with the cook-it- yourself, in-table grill is an adventure in itself. Meals are accompanied by various fermented and preserved food, such as kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage), jeotgal (matured seafood with salt) and doenjang (fermented soy bean paste) that are notable for their specific flavor and high nutritional value. Try some of their many soups and stews that vary in thickness, taste, spice and
ingredients. If you enjoy spirits, consider ordering the traditional drink of Soju or a local brew of beer. If you enjoyed too much of their drinks, enjoy their hae-jang gook, which literally means hangover soup.
- Kimchi- Kimchi is Korea’s most popular dish. With many variations, the dish can be included in almost every meal. Kimchi is fermented vegetables. Although there are countless variations, the most common form is made with napa cabbage preserved with various ingredients. The spicy-sour dish is usually served on the side. The fermented dish is known for its high nutritional value.
- Bibimbap- Another popular Korean dish is Bibimbap, a bowl of rice and mixed ingredients. Ingredients include seasoned vegetables, mushrooms, meat, sesame oil and gochujang (chili pepper paste). Variations of bimbimbap can be found throughout the country.
- Samgyeopsal- Samgyeopsal is pork strips. It is one of Korea’s favorite dishes. The pork is not marinated but can be seasoned and eaten with many other ingridients. It can be dipped in sauces or paste and wrapped in lettuce, garlic, green onions and kimchi. The sizzling sound and barbeque smell of grilling pork is sure to make your mouth water.
- Bulgogi- One of Korea’s most popular dish is its marinated beef. If you love galbi, you might love bulgogi too. Bulgogi is more sliced than galbi. The marinated beef is sweet and savory. It also comes with grilled onions to add flavor and texture to the dish.
- Jjigae- Korean stew is very popular for its variance in taste, spice and ingridients. The three most popular are kimchi, doenjang and soondubu. Kimchi uses kimchi, Doenjang uses fermented bean paste and soondubu uses tofu as a main ingredient.
- Ddeok-bokkie- Ddeok-bokkie is basically Korean spicy rice cakes. It is one of the most beloved snacks in Korea. It is made of rice cakes, fish cakes, vegetables, red chili pepper paste and various spices. Many Koreans eat the dish with noodles, Kimbab (Korea rolls) or soondae (Korean sausages).
Two of Seoul’s original gates are still standing in pristine condition while parts of the existing wall are still visible in the nearby mountains. In the shadows of both the Great South Gate and the Great East Gate are large, open-air traditional markets where one could easily spend an entire day exploring and still not see it all. Other shopping options can be found in the antique district of Insadong, an intriguing mix of traditional and trendy wares of arts and crafts. Venture to the Apkujeong area to find streets filled with the glitz and glamour of both Korean and International designers. With a culture dating back over 5,000 years, Korea has more than it’s fair share of museums. Her pride and joy is the newly built National Museum of Korea. Filled with over 11,000 works and billed as the sixth largest in
the world, it is a definite must. Or consider a jaunt to the southern city of GyeongJu. Known as a “Museum without Walls”, the city was the capital of the mighty Silla Dynasty for over 1,000 years. Here you will find a wealth of historical buildings and traditional treasures at every turn. The area is home of two of Korea’s most magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the legendary Buddhist temple of Bulkuksa and the massive granite sitting Buddha of Seokguram Grotto.
Korea sizzles by night as well. Seoul is renowned for its night life. From a vast array of delicious late night foods to unending parties, Korea has everything to create an unforgettable night. Dance the night away at Seoul’s renowned clubs or listen to talented musicians in the clubs or streets of Hongdae and Busan. Overlook the sparkling city lights from the Seoul N Tower perched high atop NamSan Mountain or sit back and observe from the boat deck of a HanKang River cruise. Stroll the promenade along the recently restored Cheonggyecheon stream that meanders through city central. Still full of energy? Visit a karaoke, or No Reh Bang, with your friends then sing and dance to some of your favorite tunes. Take in a traditional performance at Korea House or enjoy any of a number of nonverbal shows playing throughout town. There is never a dull moment in this world-class city.
The South Korean unit of currency is the won (W), which comes in W10, W50, W100 and W500 coins. Notes come in denominations of W1000, W5000, W10,000 and the recently released W50,000 note. More and more motels, hotels, shops and restaurants in cities and tourist areas accept foreign credit cards, but there are still plenty of yeogwan, restaurants and small businesses that don’t. Be prepared to carry around plenty of cash, especially if you are touring around outside the main cities. As to checks, they are accepted, but may be difficult to change in smaller towns. Korean ATMs are a little strange. If you have a foreign credit card, you need to find an ATM with a ‘Global’ sign or the logo of your credit card company.
Customs & Languages
The Korean language is mainly spoken in South Korea. Developed from their traditional culture of Korea and ancient Chinese culture, they are now one of the most prominent culture across the world! A part of their identity is their food culture — focusing on grains and fresh vegetables. A part of their Confucian culture influences them, having them to emphasize on respect for the ancestors and seniority. Some of their popular culture include gaming, pop music, and technology. Some things that you shouldn’t do include putting your chopsticks into your rice, facing straight up. This indicts or portray incense that is used for ancestor worship, which is believed to be food for the spirits. Korea is a place where you are not expected to tip as there is usually a 10% service charge added to your bill already.
Here are some helpful words/phrases:
- Thank you — Gomabseubnida
- Please — Budi
- Hello –Yeoboseyo
- Excuse me — Sillyehabnida
- How much? — Eolmana?
- Where is the restroom? — Hwajangsil- eodiyeyo?
Go to Korea!
So, why travel to Korea? Go for sights – go for shopping, go for culture, go for the history – go for the food – go for
the fun –Just go! For a trip to Korea will be a truly charming holiday!