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Seoul

Seoul (Courtesy of Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com)

A 5,000-year-old culture blended with startling modernity makes South Korea's capital, Seoul, a fascinating place to visit. You'll find old-fashioned tea shops and centuries-old temples with ornate roofs sitting between skyscrapers and smart malls selling the latest electronic gadgets, while the rocky peaks of Bukhansan National Park form a scenic backdrop.

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.

Not far from Seoul is the Demilitarized Zone, a fascinating spot that marks the divide between South Korea and its secretive northern neighbors.

--written by Debbie Ward

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