South Korea Holidays

South Korea remains an enticingly underexplored slice of Asia. For many, it is still epitomized by the high stakes border skirmishes with its northern neighbour, the high kicking drama of taekwondo and the viral high jinks of ‘Gangnam style’.

Yet, within this compact country lie many delights waiting to be discovered by those with a sense of adventure. Whether it’s historic temples, mist-clad mountains, remote archipelagos, tranquil rice paddies or neon-lit cities that you seek, we can tailor a trip that will leave you wondering why South Korea was not higher on your travel radar.

History lovers are in for a real treat. South Korea’s powerhouse economy is edging its way towards the world’s top ten, but this remains a country where the pursuit of the modern goes hand-in-hand with a reverence for the ancient. The neon lights of Seoul sit alongside equally dazzling, meticulously restored palaces; and the ancient city walls, fortresses and burial mounds of Suwon and Gyeongju bring the country’s dynastic past vividly to life.

Those wishing to explore traditional life, rather than modern marvels, are well served. Not far from high-tech cities can be found unchanging fishing villages, wooden hanok houses, serene rice paddies and islands where traditional life continues untouched by the ‘economic miracle’ of the 1970s.

Hit the cities, and everything picks up a gear. The non-stop, neon-lit spectacle of South Korea’s thrilling urban centres offer plenty of opportunities to shop round-the-clock, knock back toasts with locals over a bottle of soju, and partake in late-night snacking at the city’s street food markets.

It’s not all go, go, go, though. Over in the National Parks of Songnisan and Seoraksan there are cherry-blossom clad, misty mountains to wander through and there are plenty of beach paradise islands to take your pick from in the archipelagos that lie like confetti around the south coast - Jeju Island to name but one.

South Korea is one of Asia’s best kept secrets, but we don’t think it will remain so for long.

Things to love in South Korea

What to do in South Korea: Discover more with our hand-picked experiences & highlights
Stay overnight in a Korean Buddhist temple

Stay overnight in a Buddhist temple

The cloistered life of a Buddhist monk is one that few outsiders ever experience. The heightened awareness, serenity and composure that the monks achieve by following their chosen path is evident, but much about their daily routine remains a mystery. Staying overnight in a Buddhist temple gives an immersive taste of monastic life.

Korean bathhouse

Take a soak

These bathhouse spas are complex venues, with restaurants and swimming pools, video gaming rooms and (sound-proofed!) karaoke rooms, as well as the gender segregated baths and kiln saunas. In this sense they’re a melting pot of South Korean culture, as well as a great place for some r&r...

Visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone

Visit the DMZ

In the borderlands between North and South Korea lies an eerie expanse of controversial territory: the Demilitarized Zone. The air is thick with the weight of its history, and the memory of those who have lost their lives in conflict. Visiting this strange landscape allows you an insight into the continuing tensions in the region.
 
 

Discover your South Korea

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Inspirational journeys

Perfect straight ‘off the peg’ or as a source of inspiration allowing us to start with blank canvas. You decide.

The Selective difference

With us, you are taken care of from enquiry until your reluctant homecoming. Your holiday is designed by a specialist who knows your destination first-hand. Throughout your travels, you'll have expert personal guides where requested & our full logistical support. And, it goes without saying, we'll be waiting to hear all about it once you're home.

LOCAL EXPERTISE

Our Brighton-based Destination Specialists spend each day working closely with colleagues and partners across Asia. This ensures we stay several steps ahead when designing inspiring holidays, staying up to date and overcoming obstacles, which means your holiday will be crafted using both local and international expertise.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL

The welfare of our destinations and their communities is incredibly important to us. We are focused on ensuring that your money makes a positive impact, as often as possible, by supporting communities and wildlife conservation through dedicated initiatives and by very carefully choosing our partners in Asia.

   EXCEPTIONAL STANDARDS

We may be partial to the occasional bad pun, but we don’t joke around when it comes to designing first class travel experiences. Over 90% of our clients rate us 5/5 after their holiday, and we're not ashamed to crack a proud grin on behalf of our award-winning teams in the UK and Asia.

WORRY-FREE

We know your time is precious, before and during your trip. We want you to have a smooth and relaxing experience so that your main concern on holiday will be whether to order noodles or rice. There will be no hidden extras, and your holiday will be orchestrated seamlessly by your Destination Specialist plus our local guides and behind-the-scenes crews in your destination.

What makes South Korea tick?

  An infamous feud

The Korean peninsula is split from coast to coast by the 4 km Demilitarized Zone that separates North from South.

 Population

49 million live in an area much less than than half the UK. 20 million of them live in Seoul, the capital.

 Seaweed

Koreans often eat seaweed on their birthdays. Korean mothers eat highly nutritious seaweed soup prior to giving birth, so it represents the mother’s care.

 Uniformity

South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogenous societies on earth.

 Money, honey

Until the 1970s, North & South Korea were equally poor, but the ‘Economic Miracle’ propelled the South into one of the world’s top economies.

 K-pop

Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ went viral in 2012, and remains one of the most popular YouTube videos in history, & there's plenty more where that came from...

 A unique alphabet

King Sejong created hangeul, the distinctive Korean alphabet, in the 1440s.

 Craft rice beer

Makgeolli, a dynastic-era rice beer, has become trendy once more after years of neglect. Visit a mak-bar for some unorthodox mixes.

 Bibimbap

Makgeolli, a dynastic-era rice beer, has become trendy once more after years of neglect. Visit a mak-bar for some unorthodox mixes.

 Ambition

Seoul never does things by half. King Taejo built the luxurious capital in only two years, starting the first palace in 1394 and finishing the city walls by 1396.

 Kinship

Nearly half of all Koreans have the same surname - Lee (aka Yi or Rhee) - and they’re not allowed to marry each other.

 250 types of kimchi!

The Korean psyche is deeply entwined with kimchi, a spicy mix of fermented vegetables that’s served in many guises as a side dish with every meal.

 Bare feet at home

When entering a Korean home, it’s customary to remove your shoes - for your health, as well as good etiquette.

 Warm feet at home

Korean homes have boasted underfloor heating since about 1000 BCE, and are probably the most efficient in the world.

 Natural frontiers

Mountains cover 70% of the country, which is bordered by coastline and ocean on three sides.

 Blind dates

They're a way of life, and there are over 2,500 matchmaking companies in the country!

 The four seasons

South Korea's four seasons bring blossom in spring, fiery autumn colours, hot humid summers & skiing in the snowy winters.

 Tradition

Throughout South Korea's cities, dozens of UNESCO sites protect almost 5,000 years of history.

 
 

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