Weekend Getaways | From R3,475 pps*

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Whilst Korea is packed with wonderful people who would love to become friendly with tourists, note that there's something of a hierarchy system in the country, with foreigners at the bottom (even in the legal system)!

Cheap Flights to South Korea

If you're on an international flight from South Africa to South Korea, you'll almost certainly be flying into Seoul. Use the flight price comparison tool on the left to find the cheapest airfare.

Johannesburg to South Korea

There are no direct flights from Johannesburg to Seoul, but plenty of 1-stop options (Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, SAA & Turkish Airlines).

Jeju Island

The Seoul-Jeju flight route is the world's busiest, so you shouldn't struggle to find a flight! Here's a writeup sent us about her holiday on Jeju Island (off the coast of South Korea):

When you've been teaching English in a country with a high population density, mostly urban living and little to no beach culture, and you hear of an island being described as "The Hawaii of Korea" and "The Island of the Gods", you either book the first flight out, or wonder whether these less modest nicknames aren't just part of a successful tourism campaign that stuck.

The island is about 70 km wide and 40 km long. We took an early morning flight from Busan with Jeju Air to Jeju city, the capital city situated in the northern part of the island. We planned to stay in Seogwipo city, which is the main city in the south, for the most of the trip and then the last two days in Jeju city before returning. 

Our shuttle to Seogwipo took about an hour. Getting off at the bus stop, we were pleased to see that our accommodation, Jeju Hiking Inn, was just a 5 min walk away. We found the inn online and decided to first only book the first two nights, then decide whether to stay on or find a new place. After quickly checking in, we explored the area for a bit and learned that our inn is extremely central. Two of the most popular waterfalls are walking distance, a scooter rental place is nearby and the main swimming beach is easy reachable. 

Jeju Hiking Inn

The Inn was simple but neat and comfortable. Our room was on the sixth floor with a beautiful view over the harbour and a bridge that lights up at night. On the roof was a cosy kitchen that opened up to the terrace area with comfortable chairs. After a long day of fun and exploring, we loved coming back to the roof and having sundowners there. We also loved the owner, who gave us tons of advice and seemed to be particularly taken with us. He upgraded us to a better room and he even put a photo of us on his computer's desktop background.

harbour on Jeju Island

Jeju is very tourist-friendly, with frequent shuttles that take you to all the popular spots. However, you need to be geared up. Summer is already extremely hot on the mainland and on the island it's even hotter, with temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees with more than 80% humidity. As South Africans, we are used to dry heat, but add the humidity and it's a completely different ball game. To say we were permanently moisturised is an understatement. It didn't hold us back though, we put on our tackies every morning, armed with sunscreen and humongous sun hats, which we bought on our first day there. It saved some skin, faces and probably lives.

The surrounding areas with waterfalls were pretty, especially the one that drops into the ocean. It was a bit commercialised though. Since it was high season, people flocked to the scenic spots and we felt some of the natural beauty and tranquillity was slightly tainted. We took a few photos and then decided to hit the beach. 

The beach culture in Korea and Jeju perhaps need some explaining, as it comes off a little bizarre. Koreans have an odd aversion to the sun. The concept of getting a tan is comparable to one of the Seven Deadly Sins, as the essence of beauty here is having the perfect 'white' skin. Most cosmetic products contain some sort of 'whitening' agent to lighten and all the sun creams have a very high SPF.

So in order to get as little as possible sun, instead of dressing down, Koreans dress up for the beach. Swimsuits are covered up with skirts, shorts, T-shirts and even skin-tight sleeves to assure not a ray of light gets in. Even in the water people wear hats, sunglasses and little scarves. It was easy to spot the the occasional Chinese, Japanese or other foreign tourist with their scantily clad bodies.

We, however, boldly dashed around in the cool, clear water, feeling revitalised after spending so much time in the hot sun. We bought water-resistant phone pouches and took some photos of all the people floating around on the tubes and shrieking at the slightest hunch of a wave. There were life guards about 20 metres into the sea, making sure that nobody goes deeper than the safety rope, which we felt was ridiculously close to the shore. It was good fun though.

spicy noodles

The next day, we decided to satisfy our sense for adventure by renting scooters and taking a 60km day trip up the east coast up to Sunrise Peak, a popular scenic point. We didn't have licences or really know how to drive, but the lady was happy to make a sale and we went ahead and pretended to know what we're doing. The first few minutes was a little scary, driving around in crazy Korean traffic on the different side of the road, but we got the hang of it soon enough and before long we were happily cruising on the highway.

Sunrise Peak on Jeju Island

The scooter trip was definitely one of the highlights. Feeling the warm breeze through your hair, taking in the sights and smells of the countryside and stopping at whatever point you feel like exploring next, makes you feel free. Along the way we visited a botanical garden, some traditional houses and temples and lava caves. Our end destination, Sunrise Peak, didn't disappoint, with some breathtaking views over the ocean. On the way back we cooled down again by taking a swim at one of the more isolated beaches.

There are plenty of museums and other attractions you can visit if you're not a nature person, among others a Chocolate Museum, Teddy Bear, Vintage Car and  Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. It's mostly for family entertainment.

Believe it or not museum on Jeju Island

Love Land, an sex themed outdoor sculpture park, was quite original. After the Korean war, Jeju has become a popular honeymoon destination due to it's warm climate, and because many Koreans had arranged marriages, the island also became famous for being a centre for sex education. Needless to say, most tourists don't visit it so much for educational purposes as to poke fun at the erotic sculptures. No pun intended of course.

grandfather stones on Jeju Island

For us, the best part of the island was definitely the southern and south eastern part of the island with the natural attractions. Jeju city has more foreigners and night life, but you can find that in any Korean city on the mainland. We spent the last night in the city and watched the sunrise over the sea, before catching the flight back. I wouldn't go as far as saying that Jeju is like Hawaii or a place where gods live, but it was definitely worth a visit and we had a great time.

News

  • 1 September to 26 October 2013. Cathay Pacific increases its flight frequency from 28 to 34 flights a week between Hong Kong and Seoul.

  • 8 April 2013. Korean Air hints that they are thinking of starting Johannesburg to Seoul flights: “In the mid to long term we’ll be considering expanding our network in Africa, but at this time we have no concrete plan.” says Mr K Choi, Public Relations Manager for Korea Air in Africa.

Airlines flying from Johannesburg to Seoul

Airline
Airports
Stops

Cathay Pacific Airways

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop (24 hours)
Hong Kong (HKG)

Emirates

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop (20 hours)
Dubai (DXB)

Etihad

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop (33 hours)
Abu Dhabi (ADD)

Kenya Airways
(codeshare with Korea Air)

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop (22 hours)
Nairobi (NBO)

Qatar Airways

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop (36 hours)
Doha (DOH)

Singapore Airlines

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop (19 hours)
Singapore (SIN)

South African Airways
(codeshare)

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop(19 to 24 hours)
Hong Kong

Turkish Airlines

Johannesburg to Seoul

1-stop (40 hours)
Istanbul (IST)

Languages

Korean is the official language.

South African Embassy in South Korea

Public holidays in South Korea

  • 1 January

  • 1 March (independence day)

  • 5 May (children's day)

  • 6 June (memorial day)

  • 17 July (constitution day)

  • 15 August (liberation day)

  • 1 October (armed forces day)

  • 3 October (foundation of Gojoseon)

  • 9 October (Hangul Day(

  • 25 December

Floating dates:

  • Korean New Year

  • Buddha's birthday

  • Mid Autumn Festival

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