East Asia

South Korea

Land of the Morning Calm

Experiences exciting trip.

Korea has four distinct seasons, with each offering unique and beautiful landscapes. In the spring, forsythia, cherry blossom, azalea and many other flowers are in full bloom; in the summer, people travel in numbers to the coasts to enjoy their vacation on the beach; in the fall, the mountains put on a fascinating coat of crimson leaves; and in the winter, the land is covered with snow.

Korea might be known as the Land of the Morning Calm, but dive into its capital Seoul, the powerhouse of Asia’s third-largest economy, and serenity is the last thing you’ll feel. This round-the-clock city is constantly on the move, with its work-hard, play-hard population the epitome of the nation’s indefatigable, can-do spirit. You can hardly turn a corner without stumbling across a tourist information booth, a subway station or a taxi in this multifaceted metropolis where meticulously reconstructed palaces rub shoulders with teeming night markets and the latest technological marvel.

Ancient To Modern

For all of its headlong rush into the 21st century on a hallyu (Korean popular culture) wave, what charms me most about the ROK is its proud promotion of age-old traditions and culture. I fondly recall meditating at a Buddhist temple retreat where the honk of traffic was replaced by the rhythmic predawn chants of shaven-headed monks; hiking along Seoul's 600-year-old city walls; and walking parts of the Jeju Olle Trail, connecting with history and island traditions on the way. My taste buds also tingle with the memory of one of Asia’s least known, but most delicious, cuisines.