World ? Asia ? South Korea

South Korea: In One Week

Although a week may seem like a long time, you'll just barely get the flavor of the country in 7 days. Still, you'll be able to experience the hustle and bustle of the capital city, explore ancient temples and other historic sites, and enjoy some of South Korea's endlessly fascinating culture.

Day 1: Arrive in Seoul

Arrive at the Incheon Airport and check into your hotel. Have dinner and see a show at Korea House or dinner and a view at Top Cloud restaurant. If you get a chance, soak in a sauna or bath at your hotel or at one of Seoul's many bathhouses.

Day 2: Explore Seoul

Tour Changdeokgung Palace -- guided tours in English are held Tues-Sun at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. Then take a walk around the city's cultural street, Insadong, where you may want to stop for a cup of Korean tea or lunch of traditional temple cuisine (always vegetarian, often bland, and usually made with local ingredients) at Sanchon. Then, squeeze your way between crowded stalls at Namdaemun Market. Enjoy a quiet dinner or, if you want a livelier night out, take a dinner cruise on the Han River. If you can't sleep, head for late-night (or early morning) shopping action at Dongdaemun Market.

Day 3: Take a Tour of the DMZ

Allow a whole day to take an organized tour to Panmunjeon, also known as the Demilitarized Zone. If you're not too exhausted upon your return, head to the top of Namsan and the N'Seoul Tower to admire the view of the city lights.

Day 4: Suwon Fortress & Korean Folk Village

Take a subway to Suwon and get a ticket to the Korean Folk Village at the tourist information booth. Free shuttles run every hour on the half-hour. Explore the village and linger over a lunch of traditional food like janchi gooksu ("party" noodles, a simple somen noodle soup with broth and a bit of seasoning), nokdu buchingae (flatcakes made from ground mung beans), naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles in a chilled beef broth), and makgeolli (a milky, unrefined, traditional rice wine), served as you sit at outdoor tables. Take a free shuttle back and catch a bus to the Suwon Hwaseong. Stretch your legs and work off lunch with a nice walk around the fortress. Enjoy dinner of the famous Suwon galbi and then head back to Seoul for a good night's rest.

Day 5: Transit to Gyeongju

Allow half a day to travel to Gyeongju (going by either train or bus takes 4 1/2 hr.). Explore some of downtown's historic sites, such as Tumuli Park, where the Shilla kings are buried, and Cheomseongdae Observatory. If you get a chance, try one of the Gyeongju's sweet bread snacks such as hwangnambbang (bread filled with a sweet red-bean filling).

Day 6: Explore Gyeongju

If you've explored the downtown area the previous evening, pick up something for lunch and take the Gyeongju City Tour Bus to explore points farther out (which are difficult to see individually), including Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple. Take an evening train or bus to Busan.

Day 7: A Brief Visit of Busan

Finish your whirlwind trip with a morning walk on one of Busan's sandy beaches and an exploration of Jagalchi Market and a lunch of hwae (raw fish). Catch a high-speed KTX train back to Seoul for your flight back home.

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