South Korea

South Korea is a testament to human will.  It is one of only a handful of cultures that can claim 5000 years of continuous civilization.  Of those 5000 years, the last century was one of the most difficult; few populations have ever been put through so much, yet it stands today as one of the world’s richest countries.  Walking through its streets today it is hard to believe that just 60 years ago it was a smoldering war zone, having been leveled twice: WWII and the Korean War.  From a tourist’s point of view the country has few draws as it seems like any modern country, until you look around and consider everything you see around you represents a miracle for even existing.  South Korea jumped as many hurdles as any modern country ever has, making it a worthy stopover en-route to other Asian destinations.

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DON’T MISS: Busan.  Insert any positive superlatives about a gorgeous, modern, beachfront city here.
MUST SEE: SpaLand (Busan), Beomeosa Temple (Busan), DMZ, War Memorial of Korea, Seoul
MUST TASTE: A traditional Korean dinner, Hanjeongsik, composed of an array of small dishes (banchan, directly translates to “side dishes”).

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TRIP PLANNING: A whirlwind weekend is enough to see either Seoul or Busan.  Add more time to visit Gyeongju or Jeju Island
GETTING AROUND: Public transport is fantastic inside Busan and Seoul, with affordable taxis everywhere else.  To get between Busan and Seoul, take a bullet train and travel at 320km/hr (~200Mph).

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OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $54.60
COST OF A BEER: $2-3 at a chicken and beer restaurant, make sure to try the fried chicken, South Korean fried chicken is delicious.
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Cabs are cheap, but don’t try to cross the city in one as Seoul and Busan are huge and the fare will sky rocket quickly.  Use public transport to get as close to your destination as possible and then a cab if needed.  In both Busan and Seoul you can get a transport card that makes subway and bus riding hassle free.  Tourist information centers can help you purchase these cards.

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YOU NEED TO KNOW: Many/most of the young people know basic English.  They may not be confident speaking, but if you need directions most can help you.
IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would have spent less time in Seoul as it can be done in just a weekend.
HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: Top things to do in Busan, Top 10 things to do in Seoul, Wikitravel.  Please send us any sites you found useful and we’ll add them!

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WE WERE THERE FOR: 2 weeks
OUR HIGHLIGHT: Couchsurfing with an American in Busan.  It was nice to have someone that understood everything we said after months of broken English conversations.
WHERE WE WENT: Seoul, Gyeongju, Busan
WE REGRET MISSING: Jeju-do (Jeju Island).  We’ve heard many great things.

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South Korea Highlights

Short on time? The highlight reel of our 3 week trip to South Korea including beaches, oceanside temples, fish markets, skyscrapers, fried chicken and more. Tour South Korea in under 15 photos!

14 Photos

Busan

Busan is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world. The city is located on the southeasternmost tip of the Korean peninsula and is a source of pride for Koreans. As it should be, the wonderful beaches of Haeundae to the world's largest department store in downtown this city should be a must-visit in Korea.

28 Photos

Gyeongju

Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) which ruled most of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries. A vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain in the city. Gyeongju is often referred to as "the museum without walls".

26 Photos

Seoul

Seoul is the capital and largest city of South Korea. A mega city with a population of over 10 million, it is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world. Historic buildings are tucked in amongst the skyscrapers and apartment buildings are everywhere. From the indoor markets to the arts district Seoul has many different sides. While it may not be built for tourists you get a glimpse into the hustle and bustle of living in South Korea.

29 Photos

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