Over the years, more Vietnamese travellers have visited South Korea through different types of tourism. In addition to typical tours, visitors to South Korea tend to choose luxury vacations featuring more attractive and classy destinations. To keep up with this trend, Hello World journeys organized by Wanderlust Tips chose Korea as the first destination to introduce as a luxury travel trend to valued readers. Jointly organized by Korea Tourism Organization and Wanderlust Tips, Hello World journey took visitors to the three most luxurious cities, which are Seoul, Jeju, and Busan. Explore these great and impressive experiences with us on this journey.
SEOUL – THE CAPITAL OF SOUTH KOREA: TRADITIONAL YET MODERN
Seoul is the capital and also the vibrant, bustling city with the most luxurious features of South Korea. There are many ways to describe Seoul in particular and Korea in general because there are so many interesting aspects to talk about. One of those aspects is the tradition. The beauty of Koreans is that while the modern city develops prosperously, traditional and cultural values are kept almost intact. Not only that, the traditions are honored and widely promoted to visitors.
Arriving in Seoul, you will be fascinated when wearing the traditional hanbok and walking through the ancient streets, or go to the Gyeongbokgung Palace to experience the feeling of going back to the past and being immersed in an ancient space. Hanbok can easily be rented in many stores around the Palace; visitors are encouraged to wear hanbok because they are offered free of charge at the entrance to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. This seems to be a great way to promote Korean culture to visitors. And if you want to experience the authentic traditional culture, there is a rare ancient hotel in the heart of Seoul that you should not miss.
Nestled in an alley, RakKoJae looks like a treasure amidst the magnificent and modern capital of Seoul. This old hotel is 130 years old, operating from the late Joseon dynasty. Luxuriant trees, grass and flowers, and the ancient architecture will make you feel like going back into ancient time.
The hotel is built from 3 main materials: wood, stone, and paper. The paper material is used as wallpapers or affixed on door frames. This kind of handmade paper is used to prevent the wind in the cold winter but still ensure air circulation inside and outside of the house. A unique traditional floor heating system with the heat from the kitchen range is also something you should experience here. Often, only elderly people can stay in the room near the kitchen to keep warm. The price for a room at RakKoJae ranges from USD257 to USD515 per night.
However, if you want to stay in a more modern and classy ambient, Signiel Seoul is a perfect choice. Located from the 76th to 101st floors of the Lotte World Tower, all 235 rooms of this hotel have spectacular views of Seoul, whether from bedrooms or bathrooms. Officially opened in April 2017, Lotte World Tower has 123 floors with a height of 554.5 metres. It is currently the tallest tower in Korea and the fifth tallest in the world. Another interesting option is The Shilla in Seoul, where the couple Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo who are famous for the drama “Descendants of the Sun” held their wedding.
If you want to go to shopping malls in Seoul besides familiar addresses like Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, Namdeamun or souvenir and handicrafts shops such as Insadong, Samcheongdong, you should not miss some big shopping malls like COEX, D-Cube, Times Square or Doota.
In terms of food, Seoul is definitely a classy destination for you to enjoy Michelin star restaurants like Min’s Kitchen with traditional Korean dishes or Bamboo House with expensive dishes like hanwoo (or hanu). Or Samcheonggak restaurant bears both traditional and historical features.
Many Korean presidents have come here to eat. Built in 1972, this place used to be a venue for inter-Korean talks and was later opened for locals and foreign visitors to enjoy the cuisine.
JEJU – THE ISOLATED GETAWAY PARADISE
Many people think that Jeju is less interesting because it is a small island. However, Jeju is blessed by nature to be a getaway paradise for all visitors. The natural scenery here is formed by volcanic eruptions. Therefore, the craters, the cliffs in shapes of waves reaching the coast and lava tubes bring a pristine and amazing beauty for the jungle and nature in Jeju.
Jeju Island has two main parts: Jeju city in the North and Seogwipo City in the South. Seogwipo is home to many luxury resorts. For families or couples, Art Villas of Lotte Hotels & Resorts is a luxurious and exotic choice. The villas here were built by world-renowned architects Seung H-Sang, Dominique Perrault, Yi Jongho, Kengo Kuma, and DA Global Group. Art Villas is a perfect combination of the romantic and creative spirit of the architects and Jeju’s unique natural beauty. It would be great to start a morning by enjoying Art Villa’s excellent abalone porridge (jeonbokjuk) and exquisitely prepared Korean dishes. The villas are designed large, with plenty of rooms and amenities like in your own house from a living room, kitchen, dining area, and other amenities. Families staying here will feel cozy and close, like living in their home in a strange place.
Another suggestion is Podo Hotel. Although it is called “hotel”, Podo is like a resort with garden view rooms for guests to fully enjoy Jeju’s vast natural scenery. Spacious, high-class rooms, whether designed in Western or Korean styles, are well laid out with a green space of trees and lawns outside. Also, you can enjoy hot mineral springs that bring many health benefits in Podo.Speaking of health treatments, visiting Jeju, you should experience a special spa treatment at Wellness Center in The WE Hotel offers a range of treatments, from meditation, yoga to massages. Sometimes, the treatment is very simple yet really effective as “soul therapy”, where you sit still and listen to your breath, lie and close your eyes to find peace for your mind.
Jeju brings you the chance to connect with nature, feel the fullest peace, the fresh and romantic air when strolling in the Bulgeun Oreum forest, walking along Yongmeori coast with many winding cliffs, swimming in Cheonjeyeon waterfall, or admiring the Seongsan Ilchulbong. Do not forget to visit the U’Sulloc Tea Farm to walk along tea beds and learn the way Korean people make and enjoy tea in the nearby museum, as well as buy some boxes of Jeju orange peel tea as a gift.Jeju cuisine will not disappoint you, either.
The feeling when sitting in the restaurant by the beach near Jeju airport, enjoying the fresh seafood with Korean chili sauce, watching the vast ocean while sometimes there is a plane landing will be one of your unforgettable memories. It will be special memories when you and your loved ones sit around a BBQ black big in a bustling local restaurant, flip over the wellknown black pork chops of Jeju Island, then roll it with lettuce, kimchi, onion and chew slowly to feel it melting in your mouth. If you need a more luxurious experience, you can enjoy the Marriott’s 5-star buffet lunch with seafood and wine inside Jeju Shinhwa World complex. After the meal, it is recommended to visit the dutyfree shopping area in this complex.
The fans of K-Pop should take a visit to the coffee shop “Untitled, 2017” which belongs to the singer G-Dragon, who is a member of Big Bang with unique architecture and interior that stimulates your creative imagination with 2 huge flowers hung on the ceiling that slowly move side to side.
BUSAN – THE CITY OF BEAUTY
Though Busan is not as big as Seoul and not as romantic as Jeju, it has its own features of a dynamic port city. Busan leaves a first impression on visitors with its beachfront skyscrapers, seaports, and luxury cruises.
You should travel by yacht to admire the sea and the beautiful city by Gwangandaegyo Bridge and Diamond Bridge. In the evening, this bridge looks brilliant in lights, immersing into the sparkling urban light. Busan sightseeing by cruises whether in the daytime or at night also brings different and wonderful experiences.
There are many beautiful and luxurious hotels in Busan, one of which is the Hilton Busan Hotel which opened in 2017. Leaving a lot of impression with its design as a scene in a science fiction movie or in a Korean music video, Hilton Busan amazes anyone who come here from the moments they step into the lobby until entering the room. The flagship design of Hilton Busan is the curves that represent waves. This design brings a sense of connection between the hotel and the front ocean.
The check-in lobby located on the 10th floor rather than the ground floor is another elegant feature of Hilton Busan. This offers visitors a great experience of being overwhelmed by the landscape here. Hilton Busan is also a great place to stay with a private library and a small beachfront church where couples can have formal and exclusive weddings. The breakfast restaurant is quite big and diverse with many famous dishes including beef noodle of Vietnam.
In Busan, in addition to street cuisine or night markets where vehicles are banned, there are many special places like Jeonpo Coffee Street where coffee shops are opened by individuals, without the presence of branded coffee or franchises. The cafés here are designed to be cute and creative. Another very popular street in Busan is Seomyeon, where many beauty hospitals and centres are located. In Busan, you should visit leading beauty centres and beauty salons of Korea. Cosmetic surgery industry in Busan is also well-known for the enthusiastic and attentive advice from the staff for everyone according to feng shui, and also applies the latest modern technology.
Do not forget that the city has the department store which is recognized by Guinness as the largest in the world. It’s Shinsegae. From Shinsegae, you can also walk to Spa Land, where you can experience a jimjilbang, Korean-style spa.
USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS TO SOUTH KOREA FROM WANDERLUST TIPS
>> Tourist visa to Korea is not too difficult to apply. Normally you will have to prove you have financial stability in Vietnam such as work, finance, house, etc. If you have travelled to OECD countries, you may be exempted from financial proof. For other exemptions and visa applications, please refer to the website of the Korean Embassy in Vietnam: http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/vn-vi/index.do
>> Visitors who fly directly to Jeju Island for the purpose of tourism will enjoy visa exemption for 30 days. Note that if you fly to Jeju from another Korean city, even if it is just a transit, you must apply for a visa. There are several airlines providing direct flights to Jeju Island such as Cathay Pacific (Transit in Hong Kong) or AirAsia (Transit in Kuala Lumpur).
South Korean currency is Won (KRW). KRW1 ~ VND21,32. USD1 ~ KRW1.067. You can exchange USD to KRW at the airport or in the city centre.
In the lobby of international airports, outside the luggage area, there are SIM phone booths or 4G wifi transmitter. You can buy a SIM card or register to rent a wifi transmitter for internet connection in Korea.
>> There are many airlines connecting cities in Vietnam such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Nha Trang with destinations in Korea such as Seoul, Busan with frequent flights. You can choose many airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Air Busan, T’Way, Jeju Air, Eaststarjet, and Jin Air.
>> Public transportation in South Korea is very convenient and modern. However, if you want to find a way to travel by yourself, Kakao Map application is a useful tool in Korea as Google Maps does not work much.