The country of South Korea is one that is often overshadowed by its giant neighbor China and the economic powerhouse of Japan, but when it comes to tourism it is a great country to visit. The economic boom in South Korea over the last two decades really has been remarkable, and has seen many cities that would previously be considered to be large towns to really flourish into regional hubs. Because of this growth of cityscapes around old towns, this also means that there are many cities that will see skyscrapers of glass and steel within a stone’s throw from historic classical South Korean architecture.
If there is one city that dominates the country more than any other, Seoul is over five times larger than the second largest city, and is one of the largest cities in the world. The financial center of the city is truly a sight to behold, with hundreds of skyscrapers making the best use of the space available in this packed city. As well as being a financial hub, Seoul is also one of the most technologically developed cities in the world, with more fiber-optic broadband connections and 4G mobile internet coverage than any other city in the world.
Despite being the most important economic center in the country, Seoul also has a number of historic sites that are often small pockets of calm in this busy town. The five palaces of the Joseon Dynasty are truly spectacular, and make for an excellent day trip visiting each one. A short distance from the city there is also a prehistoric site where ancient dwellings were found after a flood washed away the surrounding soil to expose the area.
Busan is the second city of South Korea, and lying on the banks of the Nakdong River has long been an important trading town in the country. As the second city Busan has developed a significant financial district, but is also host to cultural events such as the Busan International Film Festival, which is one of the largest in Asia. Haeundae Beach is one of the nicest places to relax during a sunny day, while the city also has a number of attractive temples such as the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple and the Beomeosa Temple.
For those with a keen interest in history, the city of Gyeongju has to be on the itinerary of any visit to South Korea, and will be fascinating even for those without a pressing interest in the subject. The city was one of the ancient capitals of the kingdom of Silla which dominated the Korean peninsula for centuries. Many of the sites in the city have been recognized as important cultural sites, and the Bulguska temple complex is a beautiful and fascinating Buddhist temple including some remarkable examples of art and sculpture.
Daegu is one of the most important cities in South Korea, and lying close to the center of the country is at the heart of much that happens in South Korea. Visitors to the city will certainly want to explore Apsan, which is a wilderness park just a few miles to the south of the city center that has some wonderful trails to explore, and can also boast a number of beautiful Buddhist temples.
One of the most remarkable settlements in the whole of South Korea is the walled city of Suwon, with fortifications of three and a half miles surrounding the city. These walls were raised in the eighteenth century to protect the tomb of Prince Sado by his son King Jeongjo. With four gates allowing access in and out of the city, exploring Suwon is a real joy, and all parts of the city are easily reached on foot. For those looking to explore the culture of the city, Suwon is famous for galbi, which is a type of beef rib that is usually barbecued.