South Korea

Explore a culture shaped by centuries of politics.

Be dazzled by living history. Travelers can enjoy the daily changing of the guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace, a tradition since the 14th century. For a slice of 20th-century history, the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) -- the neutral buffer between North and South Korea -- has transformed into a tourist destination.

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Enjoy ancient and modern architectural contrasts.

As part of \"Visit Korea Year,\" Seoul has been dubbed \"The World Design Capital 2010.\" It's easy to see why. A juxstaposition of ancient temples and modern architecture provide fascinating eye candy for visitors strolling this 600-year-old city. Among the city's highlights: Banpo Bridge's Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, the longest bridge fountain on earth.

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Dine on bibimbap, kimchi and samgyetang.

Savor traditional Korean cuisine in the land where it was born. Meals here are a balance of yin and yang -- tempering spicy with cool, and sweet with salty. Most will include rice and a Korean staple, kimchi. Learn what that is, along with other traditional dishes such as bibimbap, samgyetang and bulgogi.

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Live with and learn from Buddhist monks.

It's rare that Buddhist monks open temples up to overnight tourists. But in South Korea, this unique cultural experience is encouraged. Get a glimpse of Korean Buddhist life -- and perhaps find that inner peace -- with a temple stay. More than a dozen extend the invitation throughout the country.

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Find unique holiday shopping opportunities.

Brag to friends about holiday shopping (or post-holiday shopping) in South Korea. From the bustling Gukje Market in Busan to the high-end retailers of Myeongdong in Seoul, there are plenty of places to splurge on souvenirs such as hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and colorful Hallyu (Korean pop culture) items.

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