For most tourists, holidays in South Korea seem to be something exotic – they put it something like that, with no particularities. There are few people who can name the attractive things in this country, besides quite a unique cuisine and well-developed automobile industry. But it will be like that up to the first visit! Combination of the splendid nature, amusing archaisms and ancient places of interest with unbelievable technogeneous wonders turns the Land of the Morning Calm into ongoing tourist amusement, which wins the hearts of the visitors forever.
The Republic of Korea is situated on the same-name peninsular and shares it with its only overland neighbor – DPRK – alongside 38 parallel. Its territory on three sides borders on the seas. There are about three thousand islands in the coastal area, mostly tiny and inhabitant. Just half a century ago the country was entirely poverty-stricken, and today it’s one of the richest and the most developed countries. What they have now is the real economic wonder, which is worth seeing with your own eyes.
A trip to South Korea – «technical» aspects
The easiest way to get to the South Korea is by air – it’s both convenient and fast. The guests are welcomed in one of the most amazing airports in the world, located sixty kilometers away from Seoul – in Incheon, which has been turned into the real city with its own shopping centers and amusements. It accepts hundreds of direct flights from lots of countries every day. Moreover, there are a couple of other international air conjunctions, as well as a dozen of local ones, operating at domestic air lines.
For this trip you can prefer your national air carrier or decide for Korean Air, as well as make use of the services of Chinese, French and other well-known international carriers. You can save on the tickets by travelling “dak” (for example, changing planes in China or Arab Emirates), but in this case, your trip may take much longer. On arriving in Incheon, you can take special buses or railway express trains to get to everywhere in the country.
With some countries Korea has a visa free regime for those tourists who are going to stay in South Korea for less than two months. The customs regulations are quite simple: upon arrival, valuable items (such as jewelries and furs), cold steel and fire arms, as well as sums exceeding ten thousand dollars in cash should be declared. When leaving the country, you may face problems only with antique items – these will require a special permission.
South Korea is the country of relatively small area, which can be crossed within several hours. Ferries and motor boats cruse around between coastal localities, but the most demanded means of transport is railway. One can choose from several options, varying in convenience and price. The cheapest and the most slowly are Tongil trains. Comfort lovers prefer travelling in Haerang – a hotel train with cozy rooms instead of the standard compartments.
Exclusively for foreigners special travel cards KR Pass have been introduced, which one can get from the fare boxes at large railway stations. These tickets enable to make unlimited number of trips at any kinds of trains in any direction within the indicated time period.
The second worthy option – are bus routes. The vehicles used for long-distance trips are equipped with air conditioners and are in the perfect condition, with prices being quite affordable. A ticket for the deluxe-class bus will turn out to be a little bit more expensive, but in this case, passengers will get an opportunity to watch movies and television programs on the personal screens on the way.
All the city transport functions consistently and without delays, however, sometimes it’s not easy to understand the traffic scheme. The main disadvantage is that all oral announcements, signs and plates in buses are solely in Korean. When staying in Seoul, Taegu or Pusan, it’s advisable to use subway; any signs there are usually repeated in English. It’s very comfortable to travel in a taxi; the more so, since the cars of large companies are equipped with automatic interpreters to make a trip more convenient for foreigners.
Is it a good idea to rent a car, when on holiday in South Korea? On the one hand, cars are in the perfect condition, the renting cost is reasonable and there are minimum limitations for this operation. The renting companies take into consideration only age (you should be older than 21) and driving experience (starting from 12 months); only international passport and diving license are required. However, you should be ready for ongoing traffic jams, parking problems, traffic restrictions on some routes, as well as inconvenient and unreadable signs.
Renting a bicycle is another case. Hourly or daily rent is offered in large parks, through which you won’t be able to travel even for the whole day. In Seoul this service is especially popular. Pay special attention to traffic rules, when taking a walk along the city streets. The rate of road traffic accidents in the country is quite high, including the ones where pedestrians are involved.