South Korea may be one of the most Western-oriented countries in Asia, but beneath the surface modernity its population retains a strong adherence to traditional culture and values.
In Seoul, the main cultural attractions are the Hanok houses and cobbled lanes of the Bukchon district, home to one of our favourite hotels. Stepping inside the property is like entering a medieval time warp. Calligraphy decorates the walls. You sleep on old-style mattresses with proper wood-heated ondal floors, bathe in square wooden tubs and eat seated at low, polished tables, served by genial retainers in blue cotton tunics.
The district of Insadong is another hub for traditional Korean arts, crafts and antiques. Makers of fine Goryeo-style celadon, hanji paper lanterns, calligraphy and embroidery have their workshops in its backstreets. The Aak music that would once have formed the backdrop to life in the 17th century Joseon court can also still be heard in Seoul at a shrine which your TransIndus guide will be happy to lead you to.
Out in the provinces, the hanok mansions Andong are a fascinating part of the country’s Confucian legacy. We recommend clients stay for a night in one of the local, family-run guest houses to experience a recital of byeolsingut tallori, the local dance drama form.