The Visit Korea Year Campaign, running through 2012, welcomes the world with a full calendar of events, fascinating cultural events, its rich culinary traditions, world-class shopping, soothing spas, tranquil temple stays and the warmth of its people.
A Grand Sale
One of the highlights of the program is The Korea Grand Sale, a nationwide shopping extravaganza designed to help you enjoy your Korea shopping experience to the fullest. International visitors are eligible for special product discounts, free admission to leading attractions – even free gifts. About 13,000 companies and organizations are participating, including many of your favourite brands.
In the shops, you enjoy discounts and free gifts at designated supermarkets, department stores, duty-free shops, cosmetics stores, beauty salons and shopping malls, while restaurants, fast food joints, coffee shops and bakeries are offering significant discounts. You can also take in a movie, performance, or sightseeing tour without breaking your travel budget.
The Korea Grand Sale 2011 was held for 50 days between January 10 and February 28, 2011 with participation from companies and organizations in Seoul, Busan, Jeju and local areas. The Korea Grand Sale 2012 is already in the works, with details to be announced this summer.
One of the signature Visit Korea Year events is the Hallyu Dream Festival, a celebration of music, fashion and cinema in Gyeongju October 1 to 3. There are meet-and-greet opportunities with Korea’s biggest stars, contests and concerts all surrounded by the historic sites of this one-time capital of the Silla Dynasty.
Down in Busan, Korea’s first two-level bridge, Gwangandaegyo, is the backdrop for the Busan International Fireworks Festival October 21 to 29.
Foodies get their fill at the Korea Food Festival October 20 to 24 in Jeonju Hanok Village and Jeonju City. Highlights include Jeonju bibimbap, marinated galbi ribs, and the incredibly healthy food from Buddhist temples. The four-day festival features an enormous bibimbap making event, hansik food tour, an exhibition on medicinal food and cooking demonstrations.
Speed nuts can get their thrills on the track at the Formula 1 World Championship Korean Grand Prix October 14 to 16 in Jeollanam-do Province.
The Jeju Olle Walking Festival, November 9 to 12, is a great way to see this beautiful island and enjoy a village experience that includes harvesting sweet potatoes, learning about the Haenyeo women divers, making tangerine chocolate and sampling traditional liquor. Jeju Island was named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002, UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2010.
Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea is the grand finale of Visit Korea Year. A three-month celebration of The Living Ocean and Coast, that focuses on balancing the preservation of ocean and coastal areas with economic development, it runs May 12 through August 12, 2012 in the southern port city of Yeosu.
Korea is an increasingly popular stopping off point for trips throughout Asia. The Seoul Stopover Program prides free vouchers for transportation between airport and hotel, a bus tour of the city, admission to some attractions and casino chips. There are also a variety of excursions from the airport to help pass those layover hours, ranging from a couple of hours to a full day.
Three To See
There is so much to see in Korea it is tough to know where to start, or finish for that matter. Here are three places you really can’t miss.
Seoul is an intoxicating mix of grand ancient palaces and temples and soaring office towers and high-speed trains. More than 600 years old, it is the heart of the country’s culture, education, politics and economy. Historic sites include 7,700-room Gyeongbokgung Palace; Deoksugung Palace on Seoul’s busiest intersection; and Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back to the present, Lotte World is a year-round theme park boasting thrill rides, an ice rink, folk museum, a lake, international restaurants, laser shows, movies – even parades.
Shoppers consider Seoul one of the best destinations in the world. For traditional goods head to Insa-dong. More than 100 galleries showcase folk art, crafts and traditional and modern schools of painting and sculpture. Myeong-dong is one of the city’s main shopping districts, with several major department stores and shops selling designer good. Looking for one-stop shopping? Head to one of Seoul’s mega shopping malls like Times Square, I’Parkmall and Central City. All are linked to transportation hubs with connections to subway, train and express bus services.
Jeju Self-Governing Province is the premier tourist destination drawing Koreans and international visitors with beautiful beaches, waterfalls, cliffs, miles of walking trails and a mild climate. Highlights include Udo Maritime Park; Hallasan National Park; Cheonjeyeon Waterfall; Sanbanggulsa Grotto; Seongsan Sunrise Peak and Jusangjeolli Cliff on the Jungmun Daepo Coast.
Busan is the second largest city in Korea and home to beaches, spas and, befitting a major sea port, incredible seafood. Highlights include Nakdonggang Estuary; Beomeosa Temple, Taejongdae Resort; Songjeong Beach; Haeundae Beach; and Gwangalli Beach.
For more information on travel to Korea, visit English.visitkorea.or.kr
Korea’s Top 5
Places to see and stay and things to do that is. Check it out:
1. Temple Stay: Learn about Korean Buddhism during a temple stay. Witness, and participate in a ceremonial service involving chanting, Zen meditation, a tea ceremony) and a communal Buddhist meal service. You might find your 'true self' in this soothing experience.
2. Hanok Stay: Considered living museums, hanoks are traditional Korean houses that welcome overnight guests. Found in hanok villages (the most famous are in Andong and Jeonju) they combine modern amenities with traditional lifestyles for a wonderful look at everyday life of old.
3. Shopping: From traditional markets in cities throughout the country, to Seoul’s mega malls there is always something to buy. Korean goods include Hanbok, traditional Korean clothing; lacquerware, woodcrafts and paper crafts; and celadon pottery.
4. Palaces: Travel through 500 years of Korean history at the Joseon royal palaces. The four main palaces, Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksugung and Changgyeongung, along with Jongmyo Shrine are where much of the country’s affairs were conducted.
5. Jeju: Walk the Olle paths and visit traditional villages to learn about the island’s unique culture. One of the top vacation spots for Koreans, Jeju Island was named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002, UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2010.