Phuong Nguyen

Enjoy a memorable summer vacation in beautiful South Korea

  As well as boasting one of the largest economies in Asia, South Korea is one of the region’s favorite tourism destinations thanks to its moderate climate and delightful natural landscape. Korea has four seasons. Visitors come to see the cherry blossoms in the springtime; admire the lush greenery of summer; see the leaves turn red and gold in the autumn; and enjoy winter sports in the snow. Fans of popular Korean TV dramas will love visiting in the summer, when Korea is especially vibrant.

Busan by night

Busan, the southern gem

I left Korea’s capital on the KTX train for Busan. Heading southward, the train soon left the city behind and entered the lush green countryside. Busan is the largest harbor city in Korea. Busan also boasts a rich history, culture and many interesting sites to explore. Pagodas dating back to the 14th century lie on steep cliffs along the coast. There are also colorful fishing villages, and the largest fish market in Korea – Jagalchi Market, a must-visit in Busan.

When darkness fell I joined the throngs of visitors strolling in the Seomyeon Quarter, one of the most famous night streets in Busan. This quarter features rows of fashion boutiques selling everything from popular brands to luxury products, other shops, ornately decorated cafés, and diverse restaurants.

I also enjoyed strolling along Gwangalli Beach as fresh summer breezes blew in from the sea. From Gwangalli, you can see Gwangan, the longest sea bridge in Korea, which is decorated with 100,000 dazzling LED lights. The patterns change depending on the day and season.

Many local fruits ripen in the summer including figs and golden pears

Summer fun on Jeju

From Seoul or Busan, the easiest way to reach the popular tourism island of Jeju is to take a short flight. Jeju Island offers special tourism promotion policies. For instance, at certain times, Vietnamese nationals can visit Jeju without a visa, if they fly there directly.

Jeju was formed by volcanic eruptions around two million years ago. The island features countless rocks that have weathered to form strange shapes, as well as rock sculptures that are manmade. The Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes were registered as UNESCO World Natural Heritages in 2007 thanks to their outstanding geological characteristics.

Jeju is a volcanic island with beaches and bizzare looking clif fs

Jeju has outstanding coastal scenery with volcanic cliffs weathered for millennia. Along the southern coast, tranquil beaches rim clear blue bays that shine beneath the summer sun. Sometimes, it is quite cool. One of the natural wonders of Jeju is the dormant volcano of Mount Hallasan and its namesake national park. Mount Hallasan stands 1,950 m high.

Jeju also boasts many amusing museums that shed light on the region’s diverse and colorful culture. Families with kids will love the Teddy Bear Museum, which details the history of these beloved toys. Jeju also boasts some bizarre and fun parks, the most popular of which is  Loveland, where many artistic “adult” statues make visitors laugh and blush.

The rock statue Harubang, symbol of Jeju

It’s impossible to visit Korea without mentioning the country’s ancient and unique cuisine. Jeju is no exception. Delicious local specialties include heuk-dwaeji black pork, pork bone hotpot, pheasant meat and abalone porridge. These fascinating culinary experiences add to any vacation.

Many local fruits ripen in the summer including figs and golden pears

Leaving Jeju Island, I took a short flight to Seoul, then boarded a longer flight back home to Vietnam. This was an exciting summer trip, providing many unforgettable memories.