Experiencing South Korea
by Delia Toh
South Korean ginseng: South Korea is famous for its harvesting of thousand-year ginseng. Known as 高丽 人参among locals, it is widely used for pharmaceutical purposes and consumed as a local delicacy. Around South Korea, you'll be able to find ginseng stores that not only allow you to see the old ginseng stems available, and you can also expect to find a wide range of other merchandise like ginseng candy. Don't forget to try the Ginseng Chicken soup, a favourite ginseng delicacy in Korea.
Spas: A variety of spa valleys are available in South Korean hotels. Due to the cold weather, saunas and spas are the most popular destinations for Koreans to unwind after a tiring day. If you're in Daegu, don't forget to visit the Doctor Fish Spa, a hot spring filled with tiny fishes in the water. It is sure to give you a refreshing and therapeutic experience.
Korean cuisine: Korean cuisine has a history dating back to the prehistoric times. BBQ beef, pork and chicken, also known as gogi gui, is very popular in Korean meals. Korean BBQ pork is different from the bak kwa we have in Singapore- it is marinated with either spicy bulgogi or sesame oil. A typical Korean meal usually includes this dish, accompanied with rice, kimchi and anchovies. Other Korean dishes include Korean noodles or myeon and soup dishes like the Gomguk and Naengguk. Expect some alcoholic drinks along with your Korean meals as this is a tradition among locals.
Lotte World Amusement Park: The world's largest indoor theme park, located in Seoul, is a great place for travellers with children on their trip. Coupled with an outdoor extension named the “Magic Island”, Lotte World receives over 8 million visitors a year. Some of the hottest ride attractions in Lotte World include the Pharaoh's Fury, the Folk Museum on The Magic Island and the exhilarating super speed Atlantic Adventure. A definite must-see for all visitors to Korea!
Shopping in South Korea: There are many major shopping districts in South Korea, the most famous and frequented by travellers is probably the Apujeong area in Seoul, which is ideal for luxury shopping due to the posh interiors and the wide variety of boutiques and other retail outlets. For exotic artifacts from the olden days of Korea, be sure to drop by the Jang Anpeong Antique Market. It is also perfect for purchasing valuable gifts that can serve as souvenirs or simply for decoration around the house. For traditional markets with economically-priced purchases, visit the Dongdaemun Market. Here, you can expect to see and purchase almost anything to your heart's fancy.
Staying in South Korea: For luxury accommodation, the most famous hotels would be the renowned Lotte World Hotel (said to have even accommodated Brooke Shields during her trip to South Korea) and the six-star Seoul Park Hyatt. If you're looking a for a more homely and affordable stay in a cosy hotel, there are also many budget hotels available, especially if you're staying around the peaceful countryside.
Hi Seoul Festival: If you visit South Korea in May, be treated to a very bustling and fun 10 days of cultural displays and performances in Seoul. The festival seeks to provide excitement to spice up daily lives of Seoul residents.