South Korea is a particularly mountainous country meaning that there are plenty of wonderfully remote beauty spots to discover. There are 20 national parks spread across the southern half of the peninsula, each designated to preserve the natural ecosystems of the country, many packed with craggy peaks, dense forests and native flora and fauna. A particularly good time to visit any of the parks is in the autumn, when the fall colours are an exquisite sight.
Mount Seorak National Park is a spectacularly scenic area of high, cloudy peaks, craggy bluffs and fragrant pine forest. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve as a habitat for many rare species of plants and animals, it is one of South Korea’s most dramatic natural treasures. Hiking is the biggest pastime here – head to the Cheonbuldong Valley to ramble amongst crystal clear streams and pools. The gateway to the park is the city of Sokcho – you can take easy day trips from here to hike or simply enjoy the park’s beauty, or spend longer getting deeper amongst the mountains and forests for a chance to seek out unusual flora and fauna.
Bisected by the Sobaek Mountains, Mount Gaya National Park is located deep inland, 60 kilometres from the city of Daegu. Whilst Mount Gaya is full of spectacular nature and home to many species of flora and fauna, this park is also known for its historical treasures. Haeinsa Temple is one of South Korea’s three Jewel Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a famous destination of pilgrimage. The temple houses the Triptaka Korea, a comprehensive set of Buddhist scriptures carved onto more than 80,000 printing blocks which has been here since 1398. Other popular sights in the park include Yongmun Falls and the Hongyadong Valley.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.