South Korea has many unique aspects and funky qualities that make it a popular place to both visit and

live. The soaring capital of Seoul is one of the most developed, modern cities in the world, home to the

famous Psy creating an international Korean craze following Gangnam style. The style is eclectic

and trendy. The contrast between tradition and contemporary roots through the city means it’s one for all

travel types. It is world renowned for it’s beauty and healthcare, but that isn’t just skin deep. Health and

wellness is taken very seriously in South Korea, whether it be workshops to rejuvenate the body or the

mind, people are always trying to stay healthy and happy both inside and out. 

 

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People come to visit the club scene, the high-tech industry and the pop culture that oozes through every

city in the country. That is not what this post is about however. People also come to the most plugged in

country in the world to DE plug. In a country with the fastest internet in the world, the best public

transport system and incomparable efficiency it may surprise you that the slower paced, soothing side of

South Korea is also highly sought after.

 

Because of its tradition, its culture and even its beautiful terrain and mountainous landscapes, health and

wellness is a huge part of Korean society and should be regarded as much of a representation as kimchi

and kpop.

 

If you’re new to this side of South Korea, or you’re thinking of coming here and would like to dip your

toes into a pool of relaxation, here are a few ways to unplug your mind, loosen your body and disconnect

from the most connected country in Asia.

 

A Temple Stay

 

Many people visit temple sites scattered around the country as it’s an integral part of learning about

Korean culture and enjoying the beauty it entails. You can go one step further and fully immerse yourself

in it. Doing a temple stay is utter rejuvenation in mind and body, as you commit to a strict Buddhist

lifestyle for a night or two.

The details vary from temple to temple, but most will include early morning meditation, service, chanting,

physical training and a strict vegan diet. There are no distractions, nothing but silence and serene

countryside to fill your thoughts with.

 

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It may open your eyes to a completely fresh perspective on things, on new values and how to treat our

bodies and minds as a temple itself. It is an experience that will benefit everyone differently; depending

on your willingness to commit, and what you take from it.

Read all about my first temple stay in an ancient Buddhist martial arts temple.

 

 Visit a Jimjilbang, Spa Land in particular (Busan)

 

This should be on everyone’s bucket list no matter what you’re intentions while staying here are. A

jimjilbang (heated – room) is so famous in Korea that you need to go to get in on the conversation.

Basically a spa with different hot baths and heated rooms to relax in, they are taken very seriously around

the country and people enjoy a soak anytime of the day. If you want the best of the best, you should go to

Spa Land. Located in Shinsegae, noted to be the biggest shopping center in Asia.

 

A photo by Nico Beard. unsplash.com/photos/UsnAu8Zgk6o

 

With indoor and outdoor bathing pools, saunas and numerous heated rooms you won’t know where to go

with all your options. There are plenty massage and therapy options on the second floor of the spa, along

with my favourite invention to date – their message chairs. A 20 minute deep full body message that is

absolute heaven after a soak in a Jacuzzi.

 

Meditation Centers

 

Buddhism is the most practiced religion in Korea, and meditation is one of it’s key aspects. Many temples

and temple stays offer meditation as an aspect of the experience. However you can go one step further and

stay at a meditation center, to submerge yourself in your practice. There are meditation courses that you

can take over the space of a day, or even ten. Dhamma Korea Vipassana Meditation Center near Jeonju

offers a ten day silent meditation course that is run by volunteers and is hugely popular for those that are

interested in this kind of thing. Silence for ten days without any distractions; an intriguing challenge or an

impossible one? Why don’t you find out 🙂 

 

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Hiking

 

As I’ve said in most of my posts on South Korea, hiking is the number one activity for all types, all over the

country. As the land is 70 percent mountainous you can imagine the ample opportunity for scenic hikes

and climbs. There are so many national parks full of challenging peaks, ridges and trails to get your blood

pumping while enjoying the stunning landscapes before you. Sunrise hikes up Seoraksan to find the

floating clouds that meet your gaze is a captivating moment that is worth the effort. Jirisan has the most

gorgeous waterfalls scattered through the woodland and intriguing rock formations to go with it.

 

 

The third most popular hike and the largest mountain is in fact a volcano on Jeju Island. Hallasan

mountain is unique in it’s stature and stands alone among Korean climbs. Not only because it is off the

mainland, but because most of the mountains around Korea are Jurassic themed fluffy green hills and

forested trails. Mt. Hallasan, being a volcano has it’s own thing going on. A UNESCO World Heritage Site,

standing at 1,950 meters it should be visited for a bit of rejuvenation.

 

Another thing to note when hiking in Korea, is that many of these mountains were sacred during the Silla

Dynasty and through tradition many people were buried among them. Many Buddhist shrines statues,

tombs and temples are perched around these mountains that are now home to royals and noblemen from

throughout time.

 

Read about my favourite cultural hike, “Namsan, the Museum without Walls” here.

 

Natural medicine

 

Ginseng is the representative medicinal crop in Korea. Korean ginseng (Panax Ginseng) is highly sought

after worldwide. Although it is grown in various countries, because of the distinct four seasons and

amount of annual rainfall in Korea the terrain is perfect for growing Ginseng to it’s highest standard.

 

 

Did you know that heaven grade ginseng (the best quality) is only produced and sold in South Korea? It takes 6 years to cultivate to a mature standard, and another 10 years for the soil to regrow enough nutrients to cultivate the root again, which is why it isn’t exported. The “miraculous medicine” has many health benefits and is available in any form from face cream to chocolates or even powder! I’d recommend exploring your options and trying some out while in Korea, but more importantly take a picture of how wonderfully weird it looks! #ginseng #convention #seoul #southkorea #healthy #explore #wanderlust #adventure #touristfortheday #asia #travel #culture #FTB #discover #girlvsglobe #visualsoflife #ABMtravelbug #lovetravel #visualgang #globe_travel #vscogood #openmyworld #wandertheworld #travelgram

A photo posted by Elaina O’ Brien (@nomadventura) on

 

This “miraculous medicine” is known for it’s many health benefits, and you should definitely explore the

market while discovering Korea. Enjoy some tea, sample some lotions or taste food full of ginseng extract.

You can even go to a Ginseng convention or event that will educate you in the benefits of various ginseng,

and what is best for you.

 

Try Taekwondo

 

Taekwondo is the most recognized Korean martial arts form in the world. It is globally practiced because

of its emphasis on mortality, humility, peace and respect for ones opponent. There is also as much focus

on mental strength as there is on physical with this practice. This traditional martial art form trains you in

both offensive and defensive tactics without using weapons. You can give it a go at one of the many

Taekwondo programs around the country, try it out at a traditional hanok, or even choose a temple stay

that includes taekwondo training.

 

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This is just the tip of the ice berg. There is so much more to explore if health and wellness is what you are

after in South Korea. In a country that strives for perfection in everything it does, the wellbeing of it’s

citizens and visitors alike is not taken for granted. Take advantage and enjoy. 

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