Port of Seoul (Incheon)
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Tradition is important to Koreans and, even among hip young Seoulites, Confucian principles like respect for elders still hold sway. Visiting a Buddhist temple, sampling some fancy royal cuisine or tucking into a tabletop barbecue are simple ways you can get a taste of the local culture for yourself, even on a short visit. You might even choose to hang out with the friendly locals in the steam rooms and lounges of one of the popular bathhouses.
South Korea is a relatively new destination on the cruising scene. You'll dock at Incheon in its Northwest, which is about 90 minutes from the capital and handily also the location of the International Airport. This peninsula was the site of the pivotal U.N.-led Incheon landings in the Korean War. For those with an interest in modern history, there are other fascinating sites to visit, including the Demilitarized Zone just outside Seoul, which marks the divide between South Korea and its secretive northern neighbours.
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Where You're Docked
Incheon is set on a peninsula in South Korea's Northwest. It's a 90-minute drive from the capital, Seoul, over the grand Incheon Bridge.
Good to Know
Kimchi. This ubiquitous foodstuff makes an appearance at every meal and is considered so important that Korean astronauts were sent into space with a freeze-dried version. Chilli-spiced fermented vegetables (cabbage, most commonly) may sound unappetizing, but give it a go -- it's a refreshing side dish.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
South Korea's currency is the Won (KRW); visit oanda.com or xe.com for current rates. ATM's are widely available, but you will need to find one displaying symbols for global credit cards like Visa; subway stations are a good bet. More budget shops and restaurants may accept cash only.
Korean is the official language, but many young people learn English. Seoul locals are friendly and keen to help tourists, so if they can't direct you themselves they will often find you someone who can. It helps to have your destination written in Korean for taxi drivers.
Korean ginseng is renowned for its health-giving properties. It's available in many shops, including major department stores. Cheong-Kwan-Jang is a major brand. Also look out for beautiful mother-of-pearl inlaid jewelry boxes in major markets like Namdaemun. For a quirky souvenir, pick up some DMZ chocolate in the Demilitarized Zone.
Bokbunjaju, a raspberry flavored wine-like liqueur, is very palatable. Soju is Korean vodka. For more international tastes, there are 40 varieties of vodka and 200 wines on offer at the Woo Bar at the trendy W Seoul Walkerhill hotel.