Welcome to the Land of the Morning Calm – where even the nickname resonates serenity. Dubbed by an emperor of the Ming dynasty of China, the attractive southern half of the Korean peninsula is a country deeply rooted in ancient Buddhism. South Korea is a land of craggy mountains, national parks carpeted in thick forest and an unspoiled countryside sprinkled with rustic wooden ‘hanock’ houses.
South Korea is a paradoxical country. Visitors often begin by soaking up the lively atmosphere in pulsating Seoul, where neon signs compete with exquisite temples and palaces and the best views are afforded from the iconic Seoul Tower. This couldn’t contrast more with what awaits travellers in the countryside; beautiful and mountainous, the regions beyond the city are filled with thousands of ornate temples, home to the country’s Buddhist monks.
There’s plenty to enchant culture seekers. Temple-hop in the former Silla Kingdom capital of Gyeongju, admire the 80,000 beautifully-preserved wooden printing blocks at Gayasan National Park’s Haeinsa Temple, discover the port towns brimming with seafood markets dotted along the dramatic coastline or opt to visit Jeju Island, the volcanic province situated off the southern coast, voted one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.