South Korea Guide
South Korea Guide
• Population: Approx. 52 million
• Capital: Seoul
• Religion: Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism
Seoul – the capital and the largest city of South Korea
Busan – a large port city in South Korea, is known for its pristine beaches, majestic mountains and temples.
Jeju Island – it is primarily known for its dormant volcanoes, hearty seaside fare and an array of hiking trails. There’s an array of things you can choose to do here: hiking on Halla-san (South Korea’s highest peak), viewing sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, watching majestic waterfalls, horse-riding, or simply lying around on the sandy beaches.
Gyeongju – known as the “museum without walls”. Gyeongju boasts of a plethora of tombs, temples, rock carvings, pagodas, Buddhist statuary…
Andong – it’s known for its open-air heritage museums.
Kimchi: This signature Korean dish has been around for more than 2,000 years, dating back to the Shilla Dynasty. Kimchi consists of Korean cabbage, radish, pumpkin, onion, ginger, and scallion with chili powder, crushed garlic and salted seafood, which is then left to ferment.
Bibimbap: Another must-try during your visit to South Korea is bibimbap. The most common bibimbap consists of warm rice topped with mixed vegetables, beef or chicken, and raw egg, as well as soy sauce and a dollop of chilli pepper paste for seasoning. Ideal for seafood lovers, there’s a variation of this Korean mixed rice dish called hoedeopbap, which replaces meat with raw seafood such as salmon, tuna, or octopus.
Bulgogi: Bulgogi consists of thin slices of marinated beef sirloin that are cooked alongside sliced onions, green peppers, and garlic using a charcoal burner, resulting in a distinctive smoky flavour. Prior to grilling, the meat is marinated between 2 and 4 hours in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, garlic, onions, ginger, and sugar to enhance its flavour and tenderness.
Jajangmyeon: A Korean-Chinese fusion dish, jajangmyeon uses thick handmade wheat noodles topped with raw cucumber slices and a mixture of salty black soybean paste, diced pork and vegetables. Priced from 5,000 won onwards, this hearty noodle dish is great for when you need a quick meal that doesn’t break the wallet.
Korean fried chicken: Korean fried chicken takes on the quintessential American fast food with its own unique flair. Unlike its American counterparts, the chicken is coated with a sweet and spicy sauce (some restaurants add green pepper inside the batter for a spicier kick) before double frying it in vegetable oil.
As a result, the meat is very juicy on the inside, while the lightly battered skin is crunchy with very little grease. It is a popular late-night snack that’s typically served with beer.
The official language of the country is Korean. In tourist attractions or recreational places, English is spoken widely.
Weather & Climate
There are four seasons in South Korea and they are as follow:
Spring (March to May): Warm and sunny days with big daily temperature range. Recommended to have light jacket handy.
Summer (June to August): Temperatures range from the upper 20ºC to lower 30ºC (80~85ºF). Mid-June to early July falls into the rainy season, so be sure to pack an umbrella.
Autumn (September to November): Although a bit dry and breezy, it is one of the best times to visit in Korea. Due to major daily temperature variations, it is recommended to pack a light jacket.
Winter (December to February): With average temperatures dropping below 0ºC, winters are very cold, dry and snowy. Heavy coats and gloves are a must.
The Korean Won is the currency in South Korea. The currency notes come in the denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000 won bills and 10, 50, 100, 500 won coins. All leading credit cards are accepted at all merchant establishments but some small shops, restaurants and traditional markets only accept cash. To withdraw or exchange the currency, visitors can visit banks and ATMs available throughout Korea. Currency can also be exchanged at leading hotels or private tellers in major tourist areas.
1 USD = 1,100 KRW
1 EURO = 1,410 KRW
Transport in South Korea is reasonably priced, quick and efficient.
1. Air: There are dozens of local airports and reasonable fares to several destinations.
2. Bus: Cheaper and slower than trains but serving every corner of the country.
3. Car: Not recommended for first-time visitors. You must be over 21 and have an international driving permit.
4. Ferry: Connecting the mainland to hundreds of islands.
5. Train: Excellent but not comprehensive network with clean, comfortable and punctual trains. It’s worth looking into a KR Pass even for something as straightforward as a return Seoul–Busan train.