Adorned with marvelous mountains, cool crystal lakes, divine beaches, amazing food, fascinating culture and so much more, it's no wonder that Korea is one of the most popular countries to visit in the world. To find out why thousands of tourists flock to Korea every year, we travel to three very different but distinctively Korean destinations: breathtaking Seorak, well-known capital city Seoul, scenic Chungju and historical Gyeongju.
Soerak: A diversity of natural wonders
From Mount Seorak National Park you can scale up mountain peaks from many picturesque routes to catch a breathtaking sunrise and see many natural wonders such as the Ulsanbawi Peak, Biryong Waterfall, and Geuganggul Cave.
There is also a cable car that runs from Gwongeum Fortress and climbs to the summit in 10 minutes. Other nearby attractions includes the famous 18moa Seorak Beach, Singheusa Temple built in AD 652, Injae Naerincheon Ginseng Fields, Cheoksan Hot Springs and Yeongnang Lake.
If you visit Seorak in winter, you can see enchanting prismatic ice sculptures at the Snow Festival held at Mount Seorak National Park. Don't leave this delightful province without trying some of its signature dishes.
Seorak is also known for its raw fish dish - hwaleo hoe, so make sure you try it! Sundubu (soft tofu) made from pure Mount Seorak water and seawater is chemical-free and very tasty.
And only in Seorak can you find a unique dish of Sundae that's made with squid instead of pork intestines.
The Seoul of Korean Delights
Boasting fancy modern architecture, stately tradition and an urban culture that ranges from funky individualism to classic modernity, Seoul is surely a distinct infusion of many cultural flavours found all over the entire city.
If you're anxious to indulge in some retail therapy, Seoul has a number of vast (and I mean huge!) shopping districts you can definitely call shopping paradise.
You can find anything you want from the famous chic shopping district of Myeongdong to the night markets of Namdaemun, the TechnoMarts in Gangbyeon station to the upscale boutiques of Apjujeong.
Head to Insa-Dong (the perfect place for souvenir shopping!) for a truly Korean evening as Korean dishes there are prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients with much emphasis placed on preserving the ingredients' natural flavours, scents and textures.
Chungju: A mirage of earth and sky
A mirage of earth and sky Moving away from the fast city beat, we head to Chungju for a fabulous boat ride in the biggest lake in Korea - Chungjuho.
Now for the boat ride. The ferries operate in five areas of the lake and reach its final destination at Sindanyang Dock, with the most popular route departing from the Chungju dam and travel across the Eight Sceneries of Danyang. The ride also passes the Cheongpung Ferry Dock where you can see Asia's second highest water fountain.
Other must-do sights here include the Worak National Park and Suanbo Town where you can go hot spring dipping. After your boat ride, you can choose wander around Worak National Park and enjoy a majestic view of colossal rocks and stone peaks littered with Buddhist Shrines and historical sties.
There are many hiking trails available and in the summer, you can also enjoy a cruise tour. Or you can head to Suanbo Town for some hot spring action! This popular destination has even caught the fancy of Korean emperors and presidents for almost a thousand years.
Gyeongju: Land of a Thousand Tales
Home to one a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla Kingdom for over 1,000 years. There are thousands of well-maintained ancient architecture and relics, making this site a true 'museum without walls'.
There are many places worth seeing, but it can get expensive as some of the more popular sites have steep admission prices. However many of the sites are within walking distance from each other, making your sightseeing around the city very convenient.
Make it part of your agenda to visit the Gyeongju National Park, Bulkuksa (Buddhist temple), Gyeongju Museum and Sokkulam Cave (grotto). Dedicated to preserve the cultural relics of the Silla Dynasty is Gyeongju National Park, with the Namsan district sporting Buddhist statues, stone Pagodas and nearly 100 temples.
Located in the Daebon district is the tomb of King Munmu along with a three-storey stone Pagoda built to honour the great king.
The Tohamsan district features the Bulkuksa temple built by King Beopheung of the Silla Dynasty in AD 528. It remained intact for more than 1,000 years before the Japanese destroyed it in 1593.
If you've had your fill of historical grandeur, head to the Folk's Handcraft Village located in Ha-dong, between Bomun Lake Resort and Bulkuksa temple.
Here you can find various shops selling traditional handicrafts made from techniques handed down from the Silla Dynasty. From pottery to wood carving, you can observe many craftsmen create their works.
Gyeongju is also famous for her Hwangnam ppang (bread), which is a small ball of sweet red bean paste wrapped with a thin pastry shell, and Gyeongju ppang, which has the sweet red bean paste wrapped with barley bread pancakes instead. Make sure you try them!