Where is Seoul?
Weather in Seoul
The climate of Seoul features a humid continental/subtropical climate with dry winter, called "Dwa"/"Cwa". Seoul is classed as having a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, but temperature differences between the hottest part of summer and the depths of winter are extreme. In summer the influence of the North Pacific high-pressure system brings hot, humid weather with temperatures soaring as high as 35° (95° F) on occasion. In winter the city is topographically influenced by expanding Siberian High-pressure zones and prevailing west winds, temperatures dropping as low as -20 °C (-4 °F). The bitterly cold days tend to come in three-day cycles regulated by rising and falling pressure systems, during winter snowfall can cause frosty weather in the city. The most pleasant seasons, for most people in the city are spring and autumn, when azure blue skies and comfortable temperatures are a sure bet. Most of Seoul's precipitation falls in the summer monsoon period between June and September, as a part of East Asian monsoon season.
A unique living relic of the Cold War era, Panmunjeom is a small village that happened to lie at the final battle front of the Korean War. The truce that ended hostilities was signed here in 1953, but as peace was never agreed to, the two sides are still officially at war over sixty years later and a million men stand guard around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). There are no troops in the DMZ itself (except in the JSA), although both sides of the 4-kilometer strip of land separating the Koreas are the most heavily armed in the world: Pillboxes, land mines, barbed wire, and tank stoppers line the entire border and stretch back halfway to Seoul in the South and Pyongyang in the North. This section is often referred to as the Militarized Zone. In South Korea there are also adjacent border areas called Civilian Control Zones where public access is restricted.
One kilometer east of the former village (now deserted) is the Joint Security Area (JSA), an almost circular patch of land with an 800-meter diameter. The area is jointly policed by the South and North, and the two sides occasionally meet for discussions (or gunshots). Most of the time the soldiers glare at each other across the border and have not been allowed to cross the demarcation line into each other's side since the Axe Murder Incident in 1976 (see below). Panmunjeom is on the Military Demarcation Line, which is the actual border between North and South Korea. The DMZ is a buffer along the north and south sides of the MDL (2 km into North Korea and 2 km into South Korea).
2. MyeongdongProbably the best-known area; it is definitely the most tourist-friendly fashion area. In the spring and summer, fashion models/sidewalk promoters can be seen strolling the streets of Myeongdong promoting various cosmetics, stores or other fashion-related products. Many regular people also tend to catwalk their newest outfit on these streets. Rows of stores are available to look for that perfect accessory, and most of Korea's major brands can be found here: mVIO, Caspi Conus, WhoAU California, AHM, So.Basic, Noxon, Basic House, UGIZ, 1492, nipper, hang ten, A6, Bean Pole, Jambangee, Giordano as well as a few international brands such as Lacoste, Land Rover, Adidas, Gap, Zara, Koolhaas, Uniqlo, Anna Sui, and Forever 21. Nearby are the Lotte and Shinsegae department stores.
3. NamdaemunThe Great South Gate is a symbol of Seoul and has been designated as National Treasure Number 1. Particularly beautiful when floodlit at night, and best combined with a visit to the adjacent Namdaemun Market. Unfortunately, an arson lit fire in February 2008 destroyed much of the structure, and rebuilding is not expected to finish until 2012. It is also the largest traditional street market in Korea. This market is located in the center of Seoul and is a famous shopping place for tourists. Clothing for children and accessories are the most-commonly sold goods in this market, but there's lots of food as well and many outdoor eating options, especially in the evening. There is also a huge digital camera market in this area.
4. DongdaemunDongdaemun is an enormous fashion shopping district comprised of not one, not two, not ten, but no less than twenty four large department store-like buildings such as Doota, Migliore, and APM, each with anywhere from two to seventeen stories of trendy shops and stalls grouped together so customers can shop efficiently and save time. This market is of equal historical significance to Namdaemun market, with the obvious difference being Dongdaemun's modernity. Historically, Dongdaemun was a nightmarket, open from 1 am to 1 pm the following day; now it opens midday, but still remains active well into the early morning, with many shops finally closing between 8 am and 10 am. Some stores don't close at all, running 24 hours. Come on Friday or Saturday night to see Dongdaemun at its most hectic, with huge crowds of thousands flooding the streets hunting for their next bargain. The energy is almost palpable.
5. War Memorial of KoreaWar Memorial of Korea is located in Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It opened in 1994 on the former site of the army headquarters to exhibit and memorialize the military history of Korea. The memorial building has six indoor exhibition rooms and an outdoor exhibition center displaying over 13,000 war memorabilia and military equipment. 13,000 items are displayed in its six halls under different themes: Memorial Hall, War History, Korean War, Expeditionary Forces Room, ROK Armed Forces Room, and Large Equipment Room, plus the outside exhibition area. Displayed are various weapons and equipment from prehistoric times to the modern period as well as paintings of battlefields and sculptures of notable warriors and An Jung-geun, who assassinated a former Resident-General in Manchuria in 1909. About 100 large weapons are displayed in the outside exhibition area on the lawns around the building.
6. Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village is a Korean traditional village with a long history located between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine. The traditional village is composed of lots of alleys, hanok and is preserved to show a 600-year-old urban environment. Now it is used as a traditional culture center and hanok restaurant, allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere of the Joseon Dynasty. Today, some 900 of their traditional Korean 'hanok' houses remain, making this area one of Seoul's most picturesque centres for arts, culture, food and fashion.
7. Gyeongbok-gungThis is Seoul's grandest Joseon Dynasty-era palace and the seat of power for centuries before it was razed in 1592 by a Japanese invasion (and again by the Japanese in 1910). This was the first palace used by the Joseon Dynasty. Large parts have now been restored and the vast grounds also house the Joseon Palace Museum and the Korean Folk Museum.
Gyeongbokgung continued to serve as the main palace of the Joseon dynasty until the premises were destroyed by fire during the Imjin War and abandoned for two centuries. However in the 19th century, all of the palace's 7,700 rooms were later restored under the leadership of Prince Regent Heungseon during the reign of King Gojong. Some 500 buildings were restored on a site of over 40 hectares. The architectural principles of ancient Korea were incorporated into the tradition and appearance of the Joseon royal court.
8. Changdeok-gungThis palace is second only to Gyeongbok-gung (the original Gyeongbok-gung was built before Changdeok-gung but wasn't used for as long a time) in historical importance, this was first built in 1405 and was the seat of power between 1618 and 1896. The buildings have all been recently restored and freshly repainted, creating a dazzling but still elegant effect that got the palace listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Buildings of particular note include the blue-roofed Seonjeongjeon, which was the King's office, and the Daejojeon ("Great Making Hall"), his bedchamber, but perhaps most famous of all is the Huwon ("Secret Garden") in the back.
9. Han RiverThe Han River is a major river in South Korea and the fourth longest river on the Korean peninsula after the Amnok (Yalu), Tuman (Tumen), and Nakdong rivers. The river begins as two smaller rivers in the eastern mountains of the Korean peninsula, which then converge near Seoul, the capital of the country.
The Hangang (River) Cruise is one of the best ways to enjoy the Han River. The romance of the Han River makes river cruises very popular with lovers all throughout the year.
Taking a cruise is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and get away from it all. Enjoy spectacular nighttime views of the Han River on themed cruises with live magic and delicious food, guaranteed to create unforgettable memories for families, lovers and friends alike. There are also seasonal events including a flower cruise in spring and a migratory bird cruise in autumn.
10. Insa-dongInsa-dong, located in the heart of the city, is an important place where old but precious and traditional goods are on display. There is one main road in Insa-dong with alleys on each side. Within these alleys are galleries, traditional restaurants, traditional teahouses, and cafes.
Insa-dong Street stretches over 700 meters between the Anguk-dong Rotary and Tapgol Park (Jongno 2-ga). During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the street was dominated by Dohwawon, a place of study for painters. The area is still a center for the arts, and painters, craftsmen, and art lovers continue to set up shop along the narrow alleys, making it a unique place full of folk crafts, pottery, and paintings. The street offers rich opportunities for visitors to experience Korean traditional culture and arts. Various art events and festivals are regularly held along the street.
What to eat in Seoul
Myeongdong gyoja is a noodle restaurant located near Myeongdong Cathedral that has been in business for about 40 years. The restaurant is known for their knife-cut, handmade kal-guksu (noodle soup) which is its main menu item. These lovingly prepared noodles are served in a deep and flavorful broth with meat and vegetables, making for a delicious meal. Also popular are the mandu (dumplings), bibim-guksu (spicy noodles), and kong-guksu (noodles in cold soybean soup).
Poulet Chicken is a unique chicken restaurant with its special menu "Carbonara Chicken". The tender chickens mixed with the creamy carbonara sauce taste perfect together. It would be a great dish for the carbonara pasta lovers!
Poulet Chicken also serves other unique chicken menus including Sweet Chili Poulet, Hot Spicy Poulet and Orange du Poulet. For those who want the regular fried chicken, Original Poulet is also on the menu.
Banana Tree is a small cafe in Sinsa. It's famous for its flower paap, cake served in flower pot and spoon that looks like a mini shovel. It also has candy floss latte, latte that served with candy floss at the top of the glass.
Banana Tree has 2 other branches, in Hannam-dong (Itaewon), and Lotte Department Store Star City.
Bibimbap is a signature Korean dish. The word literally means "mixed rice". Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or doenjang, a fermented soybean paste. A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating. In 2011, it was listed at number 40 on the World's 50 most delicious foods readers' poll compiled by CNN Travel.
Bulgogi is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef. Before cooking, the meat is marinated to enhance its flavour and tenderness with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper, and other ingredients such as scallions, ginger, onions or mushrooms, especially white button mushrooms or matsutake. Pureed pears and onions are often used as tenderizers. Sometimes, cellophane noodles are added to the dish, which varies by the region and specific recipe.
Where is Busan?
Located at the southern tip of the Korean peninsula and with over 3.6 million people, Busan is South Korea's second largest city and is known for its beaches, local seafood and events such as the city's renowned international film festival. It appeals to those seeking a more laid back atmosphere than Seoul as well as possessing an international flair, with sailors from around the world trooping through and a growing number of tourists.
Weather in Busan
Busan has a sub-tropical climate with a hot humid summer and autumn along with a mild winter. Busan typically doesn't experience snow.
1. Yonggungsa Temple
This Buddhist temple complex is situated on top of a large rock along the ocean. Since most Korean temples are in the mountains this is an unusual location with sweeping ocean views. You need to walk through a long market from the car park to the complex itself.
2. Haeundae Beach
One of the most popular summer destinations in South Korea. Haeundae beach attracts tourists from all around the country and gets really overcrowded in late July and early August. Deck chairs and parasols are available to rent. There are numerous hotels including International chains nearby with the Busan Aquarium is on the beach front. On a clear day, Tsushima Island (Japan) can be seen. In winter the beach is much quieter, although various events such as the Pusan Film Festival and the new year Polar Bear Swim are held here. Away from the beach in Haeundae town there are some excellent restaurants and a wide variety of shops, although many are hidden away. Explore the streets behind the beach front boulevard. The Haeundae Tourist Information Center is directly on the beach. Surfing and jetskiing is available, although most people seem happy to float in yellow inflatable rings (These can be rented).
Where is Jeju Island?
Jeju Island, also known as the "Island of the Gods," is a popular vacation spot for Koreans and foreigners. It remains the top honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds. Despite attempts to market the island as "the Hawaii of Korea," climatologically and geographically it bears little in similarity to the Hawaiian Islands in the U.S.
Weather in Jeju Island
Jeju has a warm humid temperate climate with hot summers and no dry season. The area within 40 km of this station is covered by oceans and seas (63%), croplands (21%), forests (10%), and shrublands (5%).
1. Hallasan National Park
Hallasan National Park is located in the province of Jeju-do, South Korea. It was designated as the 9th national park in 1970. It features the highest mountain in South Korea, the shield volcano Hallasan on Jeju Island. It was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002, and a World Heritage Site in 2007.
Hallasan National Park is managed by Jeju Special Self-Governing Province. It is the only out of 20 national parks that is not managed by the Korea National Park Service.
2. Manjanggul Lava-tube
Manjanggul Cave is one of the finest lava tunnels in the world, and is a designated natural monument. A lava tunnel is formed when the lava that was deep in the ground spouts from the peak and flows to the surface. Manjanggul Cave has a variety of interesting structures inside including 70cm lava stalagmites and the lava tube tunnels.
Only 1km of the 13,422m Manjanggul Cave is open to the tourists. There are rare animals such as bats living in the tunnel, which makes this tunnel valuable for researchers as well. The stone pillars and stalactites are widely spread and the tunnels shows off the cave’s topographical features. The Stone Turtle is especially eye-catching because it is shaped like Jeju-do Island.
3. Hyeop-jae Beach
Probably the most attractive beach on the north coast of Jeju, two kilometers west of Hallim, and on the other side of the street from Hallim Park. Clear turquoise water, beautiful white sand, with dark grey volcanic rock, with a couple of pool-like areas good for children. Like other beaches on the north coast, the beach is partly next to a row of not-too-attractive concrete buildings, but part of the beach is next to a nice forested area with a very pleasant atmosphere. Reachable by bus from Jeju City in 50 to 60 minutes, and best combined with a visit to Hallim Park.