Where to go in 2013: South Korea

 

Lonely Planet

Why go in 2013? To enjoy the Great Outdoors

Do you think South Korea is just another high-density Asian country filled with towers, temples and traffic? Think again. Without fanfare, South Korea has developed into an outdoor recreation destination. Though not quite undiscovered, few outside the republic know about it. That anonymity will likely fade in 2013 as South Korea bursts on to the world stage with three international sporting events: the Special Olympics Winter Games, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games and the World Rowing Championship.

So, why visit in 2013? Because golfing, hiking and fishing, the country's three hottest outdoor pastimes, have been untapped gems – until now. With more than 100 golf courses, some designed by such noteworthy course builders as Jack Nicklaus, finding a place to test your mettle won't be a challenge.

Of course, you'll want to experience Seoul, a high-energy mega-city where skyscrapers chisel the skyline, Buddhist compounds offer a place for reflection and traffic is a codeword for organised chaos. But, when the din of urban commotion starts to overwhelm, follow the Korean lead: grab your gear and escape. Pristine hiking trails on South Korean islands provide four seasons of solitude and breathtaking scenery with just enough commercial development to make your stay comfortable. How's the fly fishing? Cast for cherry trout, lenok and river tarpon in splendid isolation amid an immaculate natural environment that moves even the crustiest of souls to ponder the magnificence of the universe.

Life-changing experience

You'll earn top bragging rights after cruising the world's most dangerous bike path, alongside the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. On the world's most fortified border, the scenery shifts between picturesque and surreal as you pedal past biodiversity, barbed wire and landmines. The 18km path starts in Paju and is open two Sundays per month. If biking seems too much like hard work, walking tours can take you for a guided excursion of a section of the DMZ's razor-wire fencing.

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