Not when we think of tourist destinations Spain or Greece or even Thailand comes to mind but consider for a moment Korea. Discovering Korea as a tourist is a thrilling experience. Southern Korea offers many delights from magnificent scenery to a cultural delight. Even Northern Korean is opening up for tourists, and that is certainly a new adventure.
When & Where To Go
Korea has four distinct seasons and one of the best times for discovering Korea as a tourist is in Spring. At this time you will see a land covered in cherry blossom, with a temperate climate allowing you to enjoy the many festivals that occur this time of year. Summer is hot and muggy. Plus, from early July to late August the monsoon weather can be off-putting. Autumn is another excellent time to visit, the weather is once again temperate, although can be cooler in October. Festivals are once again fun to visit, and the autumnal colours are lovely. Winter is cold and wet, the further north you go the colder is it, no winter sports facilities and not reliable public transport.
Most tourist never actually get further than Seoul, as most of the country is accessible in one day from Seoul any number of day trips can be planned and should include DMS, the demilitarised zone between North and South. The city itself holds many cultural delights including 14th-century palaces and fantastic imperial gardens and the quintessential tea gardens. Further afield areas are opening up, the Gangwon province is unspoilt with a great contrast between mountains like Seoraksan or the beaches of Samcheok.
Visiting North Korea
This is not the impossibility it once was although tourists to North Korea are still low. The ‘Hermit Kingdom ‘ as it is known requires an open mind and ground rules. You cannot go as a wandering tourist it has to be on an organised tour with a set itinerary accompanied by a number of guides. Their leaders are their Gods, visiting their mausoleum is a religious and devout mission. A visit to Kumsusan Memorial Palace of the Sun is included in the tours, and you would be expected to bow in respect.
Hotel facilities are top class and the food excellent, but if you plan on taking snapshots beware not to cut any statues of the beloved leaders in half, this is a no-no. The tours do briefly, take you out of Pyongyang but most of the tours are situated within the city. Moranbong Park, being one of the many parks to visit, full of pagodas and tea rooms where you can mingle freely with the North Koreans, who in the main are friendly and affable. Not the usual type of tourist destination and not sure it will catch on but an undoubtedly different venue.
Should You Visit Korea?
A visit to South Korea will introduce you to the delights of this Asian country from the misty mountains to unspoilt beaches. While discovering Korea as a tourist, you will experience this largely unknown culture and taste their excellent fiery food. The people are friendly, engaging and always willing to chat. If you want to see more of the country, head to the Chungcheong province to visit the temples and see the gigantic golden Buddha. Or join in the popular mud festival at Daecheon beach. South Korean has a lot to offer and is a destination to keep in mind when planning your next holiday.