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Discover South Korea
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At a glance
Explore the "Land of the Morning Calm"
Trip Highlights
Start Destination
End Destination
What's included
  • All breakfasts
  • 1 lunch
  • 2 dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners are included. Korean food is generally healthy and based upon rice, vegetables and meats. During the trip you will experience a wide variety of tasty meals including staple foods rice, porrige, soups, stews, barbequed or broiled meat and fish along with a large selection of banchan (side dishes) and kimchi (fermeted cabbage) which is served at almost every meal.

Day 1
Depart London.
Depart London.
Day 2
Arrive Seoul; transfer to hotel.
Arrive Incheon International Airport; transfer to Seoul. This evening we will visit Gwangjang market, one of the oldest food markets in Seoul, where locals meet after work to enjoy traditional foods and liquor. The market also sells vintage clothing and textiles during the day, but comes alive in the evenings when unique foods such as 'bindaetteok', a popular pancake with 'makkolli', the tradional Korean rice wine, are served.
Day 3
Seoul walking tour including Insadong, Jogyesa Temple and Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Today we will enjoy a walking tour of Seoul. We head towards the Cheonggyecheon, an age old canal in downtown Seoul that was filled with concrete in the 1960's but reopened in 2005 in its original state. Continue to Tapgol Park, the central point of the Korean independence movement in 1919. From there we continue on to Insadong, the artisan neighbourhood where traditional teahouses and souvenir shops are lined up in a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. Next is a visit to Jogyesa Temple, one of the most beautiful temple complexes in the heart of Seoul. At Gwanghwamoon you can admire the impressive statues of Admiral Yi and King Sejong; men who played vital roles in Korean history. Our final stop for the day is at Gyeongbokgung Palace. Built by the Joseon Dynasty in 1394, this immense complex was the centre of power up to Japanese occupation at the start of the last century. At the Palace we may see the changing of guards. From the Palace back gate we see the "Cheongwadae", the presidential palace, and the Cheongwadae Museum.
Day 4
Visit the DMZ and Panmunjom to learn how Korea was divided.
Today we will have an excursion to Panmunjeom, the only place on the peninsula where North and South Koreans can meet face to face. It was here that the peace treaty was signed in 1953 and where both parties agreed on a Joint Security Area (JSA) in the middle of the border between the two countries, also known as DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). After a short briefing by US army personnel you will enter the JSA; here you will visit Freedom House, the blue barracks sharing a conference room for talks between both North and South Korea, the visitor's observation post and the bridge of no return. En route you will enjoy a traditional lunch of bulgogi. Please note that due to government rules, the Panmunjeom tour may not always be available and in such cases this trip will be substituted with visits to other key areas in the North/South Korean history, such as the Third Tunnel- see trip notes for further details.
Day 5
Transfer to Gangneung; afternoon Korean cooking class.
Today will begin with a private transfer to Gangneung (approx. 3hrs). In the heart of Gangwon Province we will visit one of Korea’s most picturesque culinary bases, where all the food is produced and processed naturally and according to centuries-old recipes; fermented food such as kimchi, red pepper paste, doenjang (bean paste) and fish sauce is stored and aged in clay vessels, sometimes for over 5 years! Herbs are grown and harvested from gardens, and wild herbs collected from the mountains surrounding the area. Here we take a cooking class where we will make bibimbab, a traditional dish of rice with vegetables, herbs, meat and several side dishes. You will then dine on your own freshly-cooked, healthy food.
Day 6
Enjoy a day hiking in Seoraksan N.P.
Situated on the beautiful east coast, the Seorak Mountains are the most famous in Korea. At the foot on the mountains we will find an enormous Buddha statue and from this point may will follow a variety of different trails between 2 and 10 km. A more leisurely option is to take a cable car to one of the mountaintops to enjoy the fantastic views.
Day 7
Transfer to Andong; visit the Andong Hahoe Folk Museum.
Start the day with a private transfer from Gangneung to Andong (approx. 4hrs). Here we will visit the Andong Hahoe Village where ancient traditions, influenced by the teachings of Confucius, are still practised. The inhabitants live in the same way their ancestors did; in simple houses for the common farmers and in richly decorated houses for the "Yangban" aristocrats.
Day 8
Train to Gyeongju; free afternoon to relax or explore the town.
Transfer from Andong to Gyeongju by train (approx. 5hrs). You will have the afternoon at leisure to explore the beautiful town or to relax.
Day 9
Full day sightseeing including Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple.
Seokguram Grotto, which we will visit this morning, was discovered by a postman sheltering from the rain. Inside the man-made cave he found an astonishing beautiful statue of Buddha, constructed during the Shilla Dynasty. The grotto is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. From here we will visit Bulguksa Temple, constructed in the same period. We will follow on to the Ceramic Village and visit a workshop where they make ceramics the same way as almost 2,000 years ago. This afternoon we visit Tumuli Park with its royal tombs dating back to the Shilla Dynasty. The numerous artefacts found in these tombs show the remarkable technological and cultural advancement of that period (600-900 AD). Cheomseongdae, which we will visit, is a great representation of this as the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia. Our day ends with a stop at Anapji Pond, an artificial pond constructed in the royal palace grounds, before exploring Gyeongju food market.
Day 10
Take part in a Buddhist ceremony at Haeinsa Temple.
This morning we transfer from Gyeongju to Haeinsa Temple (approx. 3hrs). Haeinsa Temple is one of the oldest structures in Korea and here we will experience a strict Buddhist lifestyle and meet the monks who dedicate their lives to prayer and meditation. On entering the temple you exchange your own clothes for simple monks’ clothing and after the initial introductions and opening ceremony you have the opportunity to walk around the beautiful temple complex. After the vegetarian Buddhist dinner we will partake in a tea ceremony. Lights out at 9pm this evening, ready for our early morning wake-up.
Day 11
Early morning ceremony and meditation; transfer to Busan and afternoon city tour.
Start your day early; wake up at 3.30am to participate at the first ceremony and meditation. After breakfast at 6:00, depart the temple and transfer to Busan (approx. 2hrs). From the impressive Gwangalli Bridge we can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Busan shoreline. We will learn the tragic history of the Korean War (1950-1953) at the UN War Cemetry and the Busan Museum. Continue the tour and visit the Nurimaru APEC House, a wonderful location with gorgeous views over the ocean. We will also discover Haeundai Food market and Haeundai Beach before heading back to Jagalchi Fishmarket. This is one of the largest markets of its kind, selling a dazzling array of fish, often alive. Here you can taste the famous Korean sashimi bfore heading into the adjacent Kukjae Market, where you can shop for souvenirs, glasses and clothing. We will finish with a visit to the Busan Tower for stunning night vistas.
Day 12
Fly to Jeju island; afternoon south and central island tour.
This morning take a short flight (approx. 1hr) from Busan to Jeju Island and take a tour starting at the Spirited Garden; an area that started as a wasteland and has become one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, with roughly 100 rare species of trees and a spectacular display of bonzai trees, some of them almost 300 years old! We will also explore the impressive Jusangjeolli lava coast, where we can see remains of ancient volcanic activities. We cross the Bridge of Seven Nymphs and descend to the Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls, a masterpiece of nature. Via the Yakcheonsa Temple we continue to the Oedolgae, a huge, lone rock rising out of the ocean, before our last stop in Seogwipo City.
Day 13
Free day to explore Jeju Island.
Today you may choose to relax on one of Jeju's beaches, enjoy some self-guided exploration or take another island tour (bookable locally). Places of interest on Jeju island include Manjanggul Cave, the only horizontal lava tube in the world, the Haenyeo Museum and Ilchulbong Crater, an inactive volcanic crater that provides an amazing view of Jeju Island and Seopjikoji Rock on Phoenix Island, one of Korea’s most scenic places! You might also like to visit the small neighbouring island of Udo, famous not only for the black lava cliffs at Tolkani and the beautiful white coral sand of Hongjodangoe Haebin Beach, but also the fisherwomen of the island who are now an average age of 75 but continue to dive into the sea, catching sea urchins, shellfish, octopus and gathering seaweed.
Day 14
Fly to Seoul; free afternoon.
This morning we take a domestic flight back to Seoul (approx. 1hr) and transfer to our hotel. This afternoon is free for some last-minute shopping or to perhaps visit the vibrant Hongdae university district. You may also like to spend your final evening in Seoul exploring lively Itaewon neighbourhood's nightlife!
Day 15
Departure day.
Transfer to airport; fly to London.
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