Go List 201221 Places to Go in 2012

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Emerging Hotspot

South Korea

Discover Seoul's inspired urban style, innovative arts scene, and mouthwatering culinary adventures

Word of Mouth"In South Korea, [flat, metal chopsticks are] usually kept in a box on the table, together with long-handled metal spoons, but don’t imagine the spoon is just for soup," writes Fodorite thursdaysd of dining out. "An insistent waitress later gave me a lesson in how to use the spoon: you pick up some rice with it, you add pickled vegetables with the chopsticks, and then you dip it in the soup. I felt like I needed an extra hand."

Why Go NowThe once war-torn capital region has emerged from North Korea’s shadow to become a global business frontrunner, revealing its zest for change and remarkable grip on techie innovation. Progressive Seoul is loaded with modern yet unexpected frills, from buzzing nightclubs and wine bars to jjimjilbangs (inexpensive thermal baths and spas) and delicious street-side barbecue spots. To get at the heart of Seoul's burgeoning arts scene, be sure to visit the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), Seoul Arts Center, and 313 Art Project.

Insider TipThough it’s off-season, die-hard shoppers should plan a trip to coincide with the Korea Grand Sale (January 9–February 29), a nationwide shopping extravaganza modeled after Paris’s legendary January Sale.

Where to StayThe new 170-room JW Marriott in bustling Gangnam comes with Seoul’s largest guest rooms and a three-floor thermal spa and fitness club. Opening in 2012, the Conrad Seoul will be located in the Seoul International Finance Center, a multi-use complex with office space and a luxury retail mall. The hotel will feature 460 rooms, sweeping views of the Han River and city, a swimming pool, and three designer restaurants.

When to GoTravel May and June, or September through December, for mild weather, fewer crowds, and cherry blossoms (in spring).

Plan Your TripGo to Visit Korea for more information.

Photo: Gina Smith / Shutterstock.com

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