| The Korea (Republic) has considerable experience in hosting main international
sporting events, including:
1988 Olympic Games in Seoul
2002 Asian Games
2002 FIFA World Cup, which it co-hosted together with Japan – the 1st time this main sporting event has taken place
in an Asian country.
Sports facilities are normally of a high standard, especially
in Seoul and in the larger cities.
Visitors will find a wide range of watersport facilities along the
southern coast and around the islands. The best time for water sports is during June
and November, but paragliding, swimming and whitewater rafting are possible all year-round.
Scuba Diving and Deep sea fishing
A wide variety of scuba diving centres are available along the
coast, providing diving classes, equipment rental and air tanks. Cheju-do Island which is about 1 hour by plane from Seoul, is
the most renowned destination for scuba diving enthusiasts while the waters
surrounding the island are also considered extremely good for
deep-sea fishing, and many hotels and companies provide good
organised fishing trips.
water-skiing and boating
Common facilities for boating, water-skiing and windsurfing are
normally available in all coastal resorts. Following a huge clean-up
during the 1980s, Seoul’s Han-gang River
currently offers a number of facilities for water sports and is an ideal
place for those wishing to escape a busy city life.
More than 181 golf courses are available in Korea, the best ones situated close to Seoul, Kyongju and Chejudo. Many of them can
be easily reached within a 1 hour drive.
Facilities for accommodation and other sports (such as swimming
pools) are normally also integrated within the golf complex. Reservations can be made directly
to the golf course or through a travel agent and should be made at least 1 week in advance. Players should
note that personal golf clubs must be declared to customs officials
upon entering the country. Contact the Korea
National Tourism Organisation for more details of membership and
There are thirteen ski resorts available, all located within 4 or 5 hours drive from Seoul.
The main ones are the Yongpyong Ski Resort
(Dragon Valley International Ski Resort) at Tackwallyong
Area and Chonmasan Ski Resort near Seoul.
is the major martial art practised in Korea. The traditional Korean
sport, Ssirum (Korean wrestling), is quite like
Sumo wrestling and is a big spectator sport in Korea.
Kite-flying and archery are also
Koreans' favourite traditional games.
Korea’s rich cultural, historic and religious heritage is
celebrated throughout the year in various festivals, some in
honour of religious figures (such as Buddha’s birthday),
others focusing on nature (eg: the changing seasons).
For dates of festivals and special events, see the Public Holidays
and Social Profile sections. A complete and detailed list is available at the Korea
National Tourism Organisation. The KNTO also arranges a number
of theme tours, focusing on history, religion, shopping and crafts.
Historical and cultural tours
A number of historical and cultural tours are available, with particular focus on Korea’s
Buddhist heritage. Korea (Republic) contains over 10,000 temples
with 20,000 monks. Given the increasing worldwide interest in Buddhism,
Korean monks are presently opening their temples and monasteries to visitors.
Traditional dining rituals, tea parties and ceremonies are organised
to cater for spiritual tourism, while more dedicated seekers can
enroll in Buddhist retreats to practise silence, meditation and prayer
for periods lasting anything from 3 weeks to several years.
Material-minded travellers may go on any of Korea’s souvenir
tours, which depend on the country’s reputation as a shoppers’
paradise, with numerous shops offering special duty free prices
for foreign visitors. For more information on shopping, see the Social
Profile section. Antiques, fashion, medicine, herbs and
spices, electronics and wedding clothes
feature highly on Korea’s shopping itinerary and the organised
tours combine souvenir and bargain hunting with sightseeing.
The best shopping areas and market places are in the capital, Seoul,
including Namdaemun (Korea’s largest general
wholesale market), Tongdaemun (1 of the
oldest markets in Seoul, great for bargains), Myong-dong
(Korea’s fashion area), Yongsan Electronics Market (largest electronics and computer market in Korea), Insa-dong (antiques
and art), Changanp’yong (1 of the largest
antiques markets in the Far East), Noryargjin
(fish market), Koyndang
(Oriental medicine, spices and herbs market), Itaewon (modern shopping area particularly popular with foreigners), Hwangkhak-dong
(flea market, great for the 2nd-hand shopping), Ahyon-dong
(the ‘wedding street’, providing over 120 wedding boutiques)
and Shinch’on (a shopping street popular
with young people, ideal for accessories and fashion).
Pottery and ceramics centres
Organised tours to Korea’s pottery and ceramics centres are also available, including
the Kangjin Koryo Celadon kiln
site and the Yoju ceramic art village, giving visitors the opportunity to participate
in the ancient pottery-making techniques.
Focusing on festivals and seasonal changes, the most famous itineraries
for nature tours include the cherry blossom trails,
Korea’s flower villages, mountain
trips and bird-watching.