Ultimate Korea: Seoul, Gyeongju, Busan & Jeju
- 11 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 8,520
DELUXE | PRIVATE-GUIDED: This private guided tour by private vehicle includes stays in the capital, Seoul, the cultural heart Andong, historic Gyeongju, the port of Busan and the scenic island of Jeju. This itinerary will give you an excellent insight into Korea.
Korea is often referred to as the "Land of the Morning Calm”. This journey is perfect for those who are looking to experience true Korean culture as Korea has 5,000 years of unique cultural history.
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a city of contrasts where the new and the old co-exist in perfect harmony. Ancient palaces combine with modern cultural facilities and popular shopping districts. Seoul offers shoppers a wide variety of merchandise at large department stores, duty-free shops and at open air markets and arcades.
During your stay, visit Gyeongbokgung Palace which was rebuilt in 1868. Situated nearby, the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, is dedicated to researching, preserving, and exhibiting the modern and contemporary history of the Republic of Korea. Also visit Insadong Arts and Crafts Street, famous for its antique stores and Gwangjang Market, offering a taste of traditional Korean cuisine.
Leave for Gyeongju by morning train. For 1000 years until the 10th century, Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla Dynasty. Now, almost 1000 years later, Gyeongju is an open-air museum with the remains of temples, tombs, shrines, palaces, gardens and castles. In the centre of town, Royal Tumuli Park is a huge walled area with 20 royal tombs. Nearby is Cheomseongdae, one of the oldest observatories in Eastern Asia. The finest example of Silla temple architecture is Bulguksa, a magnificent temple built on a series of stone terraces just outside Gyeongju. High above the temple, a seated Buddha gazes over Gyeongju from the Seokguram Grotto also visited.
There will be time to go to the Gyeongju National Museum with its collection of mainly Silla relics, Anapji Pond, an artificial lake surrounded by buildings which were part of the palace complex of ancient Silla, the Arts and Crafts Centre and the Silla Millenium Park, a theme park focusing on the Silla period.
Next stop is Busan, South Korea's largest port and second largest metropolis. En route there, stop at Korea’s largest temple, the impressive Tongdosa Temple. During your stay in Busan, visit Haeundae Beach, the Nurimaru APEC House, an imposing and beautiful meeting centre located on an island, the Busan Aquarium and the UN Memorial Cemetery located in a serene park which honours soldiers from 16 countries killed during the Korean War. Then one more stop at the unique Yongungsa Seaside Temple.
Fly from Busan to Jeju Island, a place of myths and legends. According to legend, three demi-gods emerged from Samsunghyeol which is said to have been on the northern slopes of Mount Halla and became the creators of the Jeju people who founded the Kingdom. One in five of the population earns their living from the sea, and in many families, the women have been divers for generations. At 1950 metres/6350 feet, Mount Halla is the highest peak in Korea visible all over the island. Jeju is a popular tourist destination and offers not only good weather and beaches but exceptional natural landscapes.
During your stay here, visit the Dragon Head Rock where you can see the Haeneo woman divers working to catch seafood, Samseonghyeol Shrine where according to legend, it was here that three demigods emerged from the ground to become the founding fathers of Jeju, the Halla Botanical Garden and the Jeju Folklore and Natural History.
The next day, it’s time to take in some of the stunning beauty of the island. Start with the Sangumburi Crater, an extinct volcano. The crater is 100 metres/325 feet deep. Over 400 species of plants and animals live inside the crater. Next is the Manjang Lava Cave, one of the longest lava tubes in the world. The cave is academically significant as rare species live in the cave and it is considered to be a world class tourist attraction.
After lunch, visit the Seongsan Sunrise Peak which rose from under the sea in a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago. With 99 sharp rocks surrounding the crater, it looks like a gigantic crown. The sunrise from the crater is magnificent. Then it’s on to the Folklore Village and finally head to the Jeju “Mysterious Road” which connects 2 highways and earned its name, as objects and liquid appear to roll and flow up the hill instead of down, actually an optical illusion.
- 11 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 8,520
Itinerary View Trip Map
On arrival at Incheon International Airport, you will be met by an assistant in the arrival lobby after you exit the security zone. Then you will be escorted to your private vehicle to transfer to your hotel. The assistant will say goodbye once you board the vehicle. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a harmonious blend of ancient tradition and cutting-edge innovation. As a sprawling metropolis, it boasts historic palaces, bustling markets, futuristic architecture and a vibrant arts scene, making it a cultural, technological and historical hub in East Asia.
Accommodation: Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotel
Meet your private guide and vehicle and begin your full day tour of Seoul. Travel to Gwanghwamun plaza where you’ll find the statue of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-Sin. Continue to Gwanghwamun gate, the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, through which the kings come. You’ll have a chance to witness the guard changing ceremony there. This tradition has been performed for centuries in Korea and is a symbol of the nation's rich culture and history.
Continue your morning tour with a visit to the National Museum of Contemporary Korean History for insights into how Korea propelled itself from being an agricultural society to the modern economic powerhouse that it is today.
After lunch, proceed to Insadong Arts and Crafts Street, a highly renowned district in Seoul that serves as a vibrant hub for Korean traditional culture and craftsmanship. End your day at Gwangjang traditional market, one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Korea. The most popular section of the market is the food street that caters to a wide range of menus like Gimbap, Mung Bean Pancake, Tteok-bokki and Eomuk. Walk around the market and sample some traditional Korean dishes.
|Breakfast and Lunch
Today, continue your Seoul exploration with a visit to Namsan Tower. Located on the top of Namsan Park, the tower reaches 480 meters above sea level and offers brilliant panoramic views across the city. Next, stop by Changdeokgung Palace, another palace from the Joseon dynasty. In addition to being one of the best preserved palaces, this UNESCO site is known for its Secret Garden where man-made structures were built in harmony with the natural surroundings. Then visit Dongmyo Flea Market, a bustling marketplace where Koreans come to buy and sell vintage goods, dating back to the Korean War Era. You can also visit the DDP Design Plaza, featuring interesting art exhibitions and novel architecture.
Later this afternoon, transfer to a traditional Korean home for a tea ceremony. Meet with a tea master who will introduce you to the ceremonial rituals surrounding tea. This private experience provides an insightful look into Korean culture and heritage.
In the evening, transfer to the Han River, a popular recreational spot. End your Seoul journey with a sunset cruise on Korea's longest river. Enjoy beautiful views, seeing Seoul from a different perspective as you float past key landmarks as the sun sets along the river.
Seoul to Andong
This morning, transfer to the train station to take the high speed KTX train to Andong. The journey takes approximately 2 hours (no guide on the train). Andong is considered the spiritual and cultural heart of South Korea, known for its preservation of traditional Korean culture, customs, and architecture.
Upon arrival, your guide will meet you at the train station and transfer you to the first stop on your Andong tour: Bongjeongsa Temple. The temple is an architectural gem, one of the oldest wooden buildings in South Korea and the country’s largest temple. Gain insight into Korea’s Buddhist culture as you explore the temple and the surrounding peaceful grounds, admiring its collection of Buddhist relics and observing local worshippers.
Continue to the Dosan Seowon Confucian Academy. Established in 1574, this UNESCO-heritage academy has played a pivotal role in education and Confucian scholarship for more than four centuries. Next, visit the iconic Woryeonggyo Bridge, the longest wooden bridge in Korea. Take a walk along the pedestrian span, enjoying the views of Nakdonggang River and the surrounding hills.
After dinner, transfer to Hahoe Hanok Village for a memorable overnight stay in a traditional Korean house.
Accommodation: Rakkojae Andong Hahoe
|Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Andong to Gyeongju
This morning, your exploration of Andong continues with tours of Hahoe Village and its surroundings.
The village is renowned for its impeccably preserved architecture from the Joseon Dynasty, which includes charming thatched-roof houses and elegant tile-roofed mansions. Begin with a leisurely 30-minute walk to the breathtaking Buyongdae Cliff, where you'll be rewarded with mesmerizing vistas of Hahoe Village, the Nakdonggang River, and the surrounding mountain landscapes.
Continue to the Hahoe World Mask Museum, home to an extensive collection of over 800 masks from more than 50 countries. The thoughtfully curated exhibits and interactive workshops are designed to showcase the artistry and cultural significance embodied by these masks.
This afternoon attend an enthralling Hahoe Mask Dance show, a traditional Korean performance brought to life by a troupe of performers donning vibrant and ornate masks. This dance form enjoys widespread popularity and serves as an invaluable educational conduit, imparting insights into Korean culture and history.
Then say goodbye to this beautiful village and start a 2 hour journey to Gyeongju by private vehicle.
Accommodation: Lahan Select
The day begins with a visit to the Bulguksa Temple complex, one of the most famous and important Buddhist temples in Korea. The temple was first built during the Silla Dynasty and destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasions of Korea in the 16th century. It was rebuilt in the 17th century and however many original buildings and treasures were lost.
Next stop is Seokguram Grotto located approx.3 km away and still a part of the Bulguksa temple complex. The grotto consists of a stone Buddha statue in a central chamber surrounded by a corridor.
In the afternoon, visit the Gyeongju National Museum. With vast collections of artifacts, relics, and royal treasures, the museum features a comprehensive insight into the art, culture, and history of the Silla dynasty.
Then visit Daereungwon tomb complex (Tumuli Park) to take a stroll and pay respects to the Silla rulers. Take a closer look at the Cheonmachong Tomb consists of a wooden coffin placed inside an underground chamber mounded with boulders and earth, characterized as a typical upper class tomb of the Silla period.
Embark on the evening walk to the Woljeong Bridge, and the historical “gateway” connecting the royal palaces of Silla to the south, on the Namcheon stream. End the walk at the Wolji pond, an artificial pond located in Gyeongju National Park and was part of the palace complex of the ancient Silla.
|Breakfast and Lunch
Gyeongju to Busan
The day begins with an approximately 1.5-hour drive from Gyeongju to Busan. On the way, you’ll visit Tongdosa Temple, one of the five "Palace of the Jewel of Nirvana" temples in Korea, which enshrine the relics of the Buddha.
Upon arrival in Busan, take a closer look at sights related to the Korean War with visits to the Provisional Capital Government Office, Memorial Hall and the United Nations Memorial Cemetery.
Continue your Busan’s journey with Dongbaekseom Island (island of Camellias) which is located at the right end of famous Haeundae Beach. Take a scenic coastal trail on a raised wooden deck along the coastline around the island’s nature forest.
Next, head towards Dalmaji Hill, a famous spot to catch the sunset and enjoy the panoramic views of Haeundae Beach. The walk takes about 30 minutes. You can see its artistic atmosphere and many galleries and boutiques along the way. Once you reach the top of Dalmaji Hill, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the ocean and the city. This is a perfect spot to take in the sunset.
Accommodation: Lotte Hotel Busan
Start today with the colorful Gamcheon Cultural Village, known for the houses built in a tightly-knit fashion on the hillside, giving it the unique appearance. Originally, the area was with substandard living conditions, and settled by refugees fleeing from the Korean War.
Then join a shared cooking class where you will learn more about local specialties. The course includes an opportunity to taste local rice wine. Have your own creations for lunch and collect the recipes to take home.
Continue the tour to Jagalchi Market, South Korea’s largest seafood market. Observe the array of products on sale and experience the hive of activity where storekeepers are keen to sell the day’s catch.
Then, it’s time to sit back and relax on a cable car for a 1.62km journey (15-20 mins) across the ocean at a height of 86m. With the cable car traveling in the middle of the sea, enjoy panoramic views of Songdo Beach, Yeongdodaegyo Bridge, Namhangdaegyo Bridge, Songdo Coastal Dullegil Road and rock cliffs. Hop out of the cable car, follow the signs and head to Songdo Yonggung Suspension Bridge which connects Amnam Park to the small uninhabited island of Dongseom Island. Take in the 360 degree views of the ocean, cliffs and surrounding islands.
|Breakfast and Lunch
Busan to Jeju Island
Bid farewell to Busan and transfer to the airport for a short flight to Jeju Island, a volcanic island renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes.
Upon arrival, meet with your guide and driver and transfer to a restaurant for lunch. Then begin your exploration of Jeju with a visit to the Jeju Haenyeo Museum. Haenyeo are local women divers who use traditional methods and equipment to collect seafood and marine resources from the waters surrounding the island. After exploring the museum’s insightful displays you will have the opportunity to attend a Haenyo demonstration performance, witnessing these legendary divers in action.
Continue to Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Peak, for a hike up this unusual geological wonder. The leisurely hike takes around 30 minutes and rewards you with awe-inspiring vistas of the surrounding coastline and the mesmerizing volcanic terrain. After enjoying the views, return on foot to the base of the peak.
This evening enjoy a Haenyeo dinner, sampling the flavors of the sea and the culture of these remarkable women.
|Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Start with a visit to Geomum Oreum for a hike through the largest lava tube system on the island. Prior to the hike, get an overview of the terrain and its geological history with a short visit to the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center, conveniently located across from the Geomum Oreum information desk.
There are three distinct trails to choose from based on your energy and interest level. The Summit Course (1.8 km/1 hour), the Crater Course (5.5 km, 2.5 hrs) or the Full Course (10 km/3.5 hrs). No matter the route you take, the trek will give you a closer look at Jeju’s fascinating lava tubes and volcanic cones, called oreums. After the trek, continue your geological exploration with a visit to Manjaggul Cave (UNESCO World Natural Heritage). Take a walk inside this massive lava tube, admiring the stalactites, stalactites and stone pillars found in the natural cave.
The next stop is O’sulloc Tea Museum which is home to a vast organic tea farm, as well as a museum that showcases the history and culture of Korean Tea. Continue to Jusangjeolli Cliffs, known for their unique hexagonal basalt columns formed through volcanic activities. Through designated paths and platforms, you can enjoy the scenery and take photographs of this geological marvel. Your final stop of the day is a three tier Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls. As the water plunges down the three tiers, it creates a mesmerizing spectacle of cascading falls and tranquil pools. Then transfer back to the hotel.
|Breakfast and Lunch
Jeju Island Departure
Enjoy time at leisure until your hotel check out and transfer to the airport on Jeju Island for your departure flight. Your driver (no guide) will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport. You may have to fly to Seoul to connect with your onward flight.
- Meet and Greet and private arrival airport transfer in Seoul
- 3 nights deluxe accommodations in Seoul
- 1 night in traditional Hanok accommodation in Andong
- 2 night deluxe accommodations in Gyeongju
- 2 nights deluxe accommodations in Busan
- 2 nights deluxe accommodations on Jeju Island
- Private-guided tours by private vehicle in Seoul, Andong, Gyeongju, Busan and Jeju Island as per itinerary
- Private overland vehicle travel from Andong to Gyeongju to Busan as per itinerary
- Shared join-in group cooking lesson in Busan
- KTX Express Train Ticket (2nd class) from Seoul to Andong
- All applicable entrance fees as per itinerary
- Breakfast daily (excluding day 1), 6 Lunches, 2 Dinners
- Travel insurance
- Visas if applicable
- Items of a personal nature
- Meals not specifically noted in the itinerary
- Beverages unless specified
- International and domestic airfare airfare taxes
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
Prices are "from", per person, based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates will apply, Limited seats/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request -- please inquire.
21 Aug 2024