Gyeongbokgung Palace
Departing by Air
Duration 13 Days
Available September & October 2020

Welcome to the Land Of The Morning Calm. On this tour of South Korea, explore historic landmarks, lush green landscapes and learn about ancient traditions from the welcoming locals. In contrast, discover the bustling modern cities of Seoul and Busan, as well as embracing the culinary delicacies of the region. Korea has a middle latitude temperate climate with four distinct seasons; we visit during spring, early summer and autumn.

Price Includes

  • Return flights and transfers
  • Stay in hand-picked three and four-star accommodation, with daily breakfast and five meals
  • Discover and explore Seoul, a modern power house with a mixture of ancient palaces and contemporary culture
  • Visit five fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Witness the famous Gyeongbok Palace’s Changing of the Guard ceremony
  • Visit the unique Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) including the Goseong Unification Observatory and DMZ Museum, the stark reality and immense tragedy of a divided Korea
  • Explore the vast limestone cave of Hwanseongul
  • Discover the traditional Korean ‘living village’ of Hahoe and learn about the ancient craft of mulberry papermaking
  • Be inspired by the scenic Seoraksan National Park and the coastal city of Sokcho
  • Create your own Korean supper with a culinary cooking class experience
  • Visit the ancient capital of Gyeongju, a UNESCO World Heritage city, known for its extensive historical and archaeological sites
  • See the modern city of Busan, famed in Asia for its annual international film festival
  • See one of the world’s largest car plants
  • Travel at 190mph on the KTX high-speed train
  • Enjoy a traditional Korean dinner in Andong
  • Visit Korea’s most famous historic place of education and commemoration, the neo-Confucian Academy of Dosan Seowan, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • The services of our experienced and insightful tour manager throughout

Subject to availability. Single supplements apply.

For more information or to book, please call 01283 742300 or click here.

South Korea Itinerary

Day 1 – Departure

You should arrive at the airport to take your overnight direct flight to Seoul.

Day 2 – Arrival in Seoul

This afternoon we arrive in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, where we will stay four nights at the four-star Koreana Hotel, with breakfast.

Day 3 – Seoul Sightseeing

After breakfast, we take our time to see the sights of Seoul. Highlights include the lively Insa-dong, a pedestrianised area known for its antique shops, art galleries and bustling café life. We’ll get a real taste of daily life in Seoul at the famed Namdaemun market, the largest in the country, full of shops and street vendors selling just about every product imaginable! The architectural symbol of Korea is perhaps the Gyeongbok Palace, originally built in 1394, this vast complex, often compared with the Forbidden City in Beijing, was the main residence of the Korean royal family. We’ll watch the impressive changing of the Royal Guard ceremony.

Day 4 – Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

This morning we travel north of Seoul, to visit the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ, which since 1953 has separated South from North Korea. This includes the Joint Security Area, where North and South Korean forces stand face-to-face and where President Trump recently met Kim Jong Un. As this is a highly politically sensitive area, in case we are unable to visit as planned, we will see other sections of the DMZ, which stretches right across the Korean Peninsula, a distance of 250 kilometres. Lunch is included on this fascinating guided tour. Alternative areas to the JSA include the third tunnel tour, freedom bridge in Imjingak, the Dora Observatory, Dorsan Station as well as the Third Tunnel. For this day, you are required to bring your passport and adhere to the dress code of covered shoulder and knees.

Day 5 – Free day in Seoul

Today is free for you to explore Seoul at your pace. Visit one of Seoul’s many museums, such as the War Memorial of Korea or the free-to-enter National Museum of Korea established in 1945. Take in the stunning city views from the Namsan Seoul Tower Observatory at a height of 236 metres. Another fascinating experience is to wander along the Cheongycheon stream which meanders 10 kms through the city centre and is easily walkable from our hotel. The stream has been part of a huge and successful urban renewal project, providing locals with a pleasant place to walk, rest and enjoy the calming sounds of running water. It’s a great place to watch Koreans relaxing and the ideal spot to meet some of them, who are always keen to practise their English language skills! Perhaps head to one of the vast underground shopping centres full of the latest fashions and gadgets, or take the subway to the famous Gangnam Station and take a photo in front of the ‘Gangman Style’ sculpture in front of the COEX Mall.

Alternatively, you may join one of our two optional pre-bookable guided trips to experience temple life or visit the World Heritage site of the Suwon Hwasong fortress.

Day 6 – Goseong (DMZ Museum)

We leave the bright lights of Seoul and journey north east through the dramatic and rugged scenery of the mountainous province of Gangwon-Do. We arrive at the most northerly observatory in South Korea, the Goseong Unification Observatory, with a picnic lunch included. Providing we have good weather, we’ll enjoy the striking views of the granite Geumgangsan (Diamond) Mountain, surrounded by incredible rock formations, waterfalls and deep gorges. Next, we head to the Goseong DMZ Museum, within the civilian control line. We also explore the busy fishing port of Geojin.

This evening, we check into the three-star Kensington Star Hotel on the edge of Seoraksan National Park, for two nights with breakfast.

Day 7 – Seoraksan National Park

This morning you can choose to take a gentle hike through the forest or pick up the (seasonal) cable car for breath-taking views of Seoraksan Mountain. This afternoon, we visit the surrounding areas of Sokcho City. Alternatively, take the afternoon to further explore the delightful hiking trails of Seoraksan.

Day 8 – Seoraksan to Andong

Today we drive south and visit the vast 3.8-mile-long limestone Hwanseongul Cave, one of the largest in Asia and formed over 500 million years ago. Accessed by a 7-minute monorail ride we take the 1.6km trail through the cave, which even has a swing bridge! After a picnic lunch en route, we step back in time on a visit to Dosan Seowon. Established in 1574, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a Neo-Confucian shrineacademy, immersed in a tranquil forest setting. Later, sitting on the warm floor in a local restaurant we’ll experience a traditional Korean dinner, a speciality of the Andong area, before heading to the three-star Andong Grand Hotel where we stay for one night with breakfast.

Day 9 – Haheo Folk Village

This morning we explore another incredible UNESCO World Heritage site, the village of Hahoe. Surrounded by verdant hills and rice paddies, and built on the bend of a river, this extraordinary village harks back to Korea’s pre-industrial age. Considered the best-preserved 15th-century clan village in the country, this is a living-Museum, with around 480 still-inhabited traditional thatched-roof houses, aristocratic mansions, Confucian academies and other traditional structures, portraying life during the Joseon Dynasty. We experience the tradition of a mulberry paper-making workshop, subject to the season, before continuing our journey to the historic coastal city of Gyeongju. Here we stay two nights at the three-star Gyeongju Commodore Hotel, with breakfast.

Day 10 – Gyeongju

Today we explore the world heritage district of Gyeongju, Korea’s ‘museum without walls’, gaining insight into its 9th century history, when the region was part of the ancient Silla kingdom. We also stop at Cheomseongdae, believed to be one of the oldest astronomical observatories in Asia, as well as Tumuli Park, Donggng Palace and Wolji pond. This evening we discover the secrets of Korean cuisine with an authentic cookery class. Here we prepare our own dinner of bulgogi (barbecue beef served with rice), soup, kimchi (a famous Korean cabbage dish), japchae (Korean noodles), jeon (pancakes), with a fruit dessert and traditional Korean tea.

Day 11 – Gyeongju to Busan

We rise early and head to the slopes of Mount Toham where we visit the temple of Seokguram Grotto. We continue to the nearby Temple of Bulguksa, built in the 8th century, with remarkable craftsmanship and beautifully showcasing the rich Buddhist culture of the Silla period. Our journey continues to Busan for a city orientation tour, including a view of one of the world’s largest department stores, as well as the venue of the famed Asian International film festival of Busan. En route we make a stop in Ulsan to see one of the world’s largest motor plants. Covering an area equivalent to 700 football pitches, this Hyundai plant builds more cars per year than any other car factory in the world. Tonight, we will stay the night at the three-star Busan Commodore Hotel, with breakfast.

Day 12 – High speed train to Seoul

This morning we visit the UN Memorial Cemetery. Created in 1951, this is the only cemetery in the world dedicated to the United Nation troops of the 21 member nations that participated in the Korean War. We will arrive in time to see the daily UN flag ceremony. We take a short drive to Yongdusan Park and take in the panoramic city and ocean views from the observatory at the top of Busan Tower, before hopping on the KTX high-speed train to Seoul in the afternoon, where we once again stay at the four-star Koreana Hotel, with breakfast.

Day 13 – Return Flight

Transfer to the airport for your direct flight to London Heathrow, arriving early evening the same day.

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