What To Expect
Discover Seoul as this tour takes you to the most charming tourist spots in the city - a mix of history, culture, art and shopping. Plus, visit the lovely Korean folk village, an open-air real life museum that recreates the Korean life of several centuries ago.
Touching down at the ultramodern Incheon International Airport places us at the heart of Korea which is known as the Land of Morning Calm. After clearing immigration and customs, you will be met by a gracious tour guide and escorted to the hotel.
Day 2 Seoul - Breakfast
You will explore Korea's capital city that is full of rich heritage, culture, history and tourist attractions. Your exploration will begin with a driving tour of the city featuring sites such as the Gwanghwamun Plaza and a statue of Yi Sunsin, who had engaged in twenty-three naval battles against Japan and emerged victorious in all of them during the Hideyoshi invasion (1592-1598). The statue of King Sejong who propagated the Korean alphabet in the 15th century is honored with prominent statue in this plaza.
Visit Gyeongbok palace or Palace of Shining Happiness and see its magnificent gates, graceful architectures and lovely gardens, all directly inherited from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Built in 1395, the palace is a particularly charming spot that represents a colorful and turbulent side of the capital's 500-year history.
Standing majestically in the whirl of city traffic is Gwanghwadmun, the main gate of the palace. Following two other gates up, you will get to the Geungeongjeon, a throne hall where the king granted audiences to his officials, presided over large official functions and met foreign envoys. The two-tier edifice stands on a high platform reached by stone steps. At the center of the stone-paved courtyard that is fully enclosed by wooden cloisters is lined with two rows of rank stones, indicating the positions of the officials with the highest rank being closer to the hall and where the court officials are to stand. At the back of this hall is a group of three offices; Manchunjeon, Sajeongjeon, and Cheonchujeon where the king used to meet with his top officials. Gyeonghoeru literally Pavilion of Joyous Meeting, supported by 48 stone pillars set in a lotus pond, was a favored place for the King to entertain visiting dignitaries.
Gangnyeongjeon, a king's main residing quarters with its fourteen chambers, rests on top of a tall stone foundation while Gyotaejeon, the queen's domain with ten chambers sits in the back of the king's quarters. The noted feature of these buildings is an absence of a top roof ridge. You cannot miss Amisan garden landscaped with four hexagonal chimneys in orange bricks and decorative roof tiles, and artistic patterns of brick on the walls of queen's quarters which are seldom noticed by the hurried visitors. Jagyeongjeon is the queen dowager's residence. Although less colorful, it is worth noting the wall of Jagyeongjeon, adorned with floral designs and the chimneys with ten longevity symbols.
Hyangwonjeong features a small pond with a man-made islet that supports a beautiful two-story pavilion and is one of the famous sites in the palace. Behind this serene garden is Geoncheonggung, where the king and queen could relax in peace and quiet. It was here that the first electric lights in the country were installed and a tragic chapter in Korea's history was recorded in 1895 when empress Myeongseong was assassinated by the Japanese.
Onto the National Folklore Museum showcasing cultural wealth of this friendly and picturesque nation - life and work, costumes and ornaments, handicrafts and technology, educations, living quarters, dietary life, oriental medicine, performing arts and games, beliefs and rituals, and socio cultural life of the Korean people from the prehistoric age to the Joseon Dynasty.
Visit Jogyesa, the head temple of Jogyejong the principal sect of Korean Buddhism. It emphasizes the Zen orthodox, meditation tradition and maintains the purity of monastic celibacy. The temple does not give off the solemn and traditional air of the other temples located deep in the mountains, but when you enter the temple the frenzy of the city start disappearing letting you explore the main worship hall, pagodas and bell tower. The Main Worship Hall holds triad Buddhas, Sakyamuni, Amitabha and Bhaisajyaraja. The figure in the center is Sakyamuni Buddha who has overcome greed, hatred and delusion. While here it is worth noting the 500 year old lacebark pine and 400 year old locust tree that still grace the property.
Next is Insa-dong, the center of traditional Korean art and antiques. Clustered along the main street and alleys are numerous shops dealing antiques, oriental art supplies, and modern Korean arts of all types and styles. A number of galleries also vie for attention with their exhibitions of works by modern artists. Here, you will look for some souvenirs or simply wander and browse at leisure.
Explore Gwangjang Market, one of few markets retaining traditional Korean atmosphere. From the entrance of the market, you can smell the mouth-watering flavors of fried snacks. Along the alley, the street stalls selling simple and cheap treats line up, clouds of smoke billow out from the boiling pans and diverse types of pancakes sizzle on hot iron grills. Drive past Cheonggyecheon, a 5.8 kilometer long creek that flows through downtown and under 22 little bridges. At the head of the stream stands a sculpture created by world-renowned artist Coosje Van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg. A block away is Dongdaemun which once served as the east gate of Seoul. Later enjoy a panoramic view of Seoul over at N Tower observatory.
Lastly, visit the centuries-old Namdaemun market where well over 11,000 shops selling anything you can imagine. Widely acknowledged as one of the Seoul's best tourist attractions, the market is seriously crowded, so be prepared to get bumped around. One of the most colorful aspects of the market is an endless sprawl of street-vendor stalls that setup in the alleys and walkways between the buildings. As you stroll through the market, you can haggle over the price to get the best deal on something you want or simply admire the vibrancy of this massive market.
Day 3 Seoul - Suwon - Yongin - Seoul - Breakfast
Travel to Suwon to explore Hwaseong fortress from the 18th century. Although relatively small in scale, it is well acknowledged as the best structure of its kind ever built in Korea. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its unique value, a 5.74 kilometer long fortress is parapeted with crenels and merlons and highlighted by four main gates, lofty observation towers, command posts, floodgates, sentry posts, gate guard platforms, crossbow platforms, beacon tower, and secret gates leading down to the dark labyrinths. The two remaining observation tower named Gongsimdon, meaning "tower with empty interior," are among the most distinctive structures among all facilities of the fortress. A walk through the whole fortress could take several hours but it is well worth making an hour's walking tour to enjoy the splendor of the fortress.
Your walking adventure starts at the Paldalmun gate that sits in the middle of a busy main road. Following the stairs up you will encounter with a lookout tower sitting on the turret that extends a short distance perpendicularly from the wall. The rampart runs on a flat terrain and you will see the area outside to the north and east. After the sentry post sits beacon tower with its five chimneys for making different signals with fire and smoke: one for peace time; two when the enemy has been spotted; three when the enemy is approaching; four when the enemy has made its way into the city; and five when combat has started. As you move on you will see more sentry posts, turrets, Changyongmun gate, a crossbow platform, a gate guard platform, an observation tower, a secret gate, and an exquisite L-shaped pavilion with an ornate roof. The pavilion stands on a hill with beautiful willow trees overlooking a lotus pond with an artificial islet. Below the pavilion sits northern floodgate, a stone bridge with seven arched sluices topped by an elegant open pavilion and brick-built parapet. After a short walk from here you will finally reach Janganmun, the north gate of the fortress.
Next, visit Korean Folk Village, a functioning community displaying the diversity of Korean lifestyle and culture of several centuries ago. At village entrance stands an eye-catching Nuseokdan, a stone tower topped with a phallic symbol serving as fertility and protective totem, where people write a wish on the paper and tie to the ropes. On entering the village, you are greeted by goofy looking group of wooden Jangseung signifying village boundary and preventing bad luck. Today, you will see a wide assortment of residential structures from the straw-thatched cottages of commoners to the 99-room mansions of the noble class as well as governor's office. The village also shows workshops of 20 types where the real artisans and craftsmen dressed in traditional costumes ply their trades, demonstrating centuries-old craftsmanship in the art of pottery, pyrography, bamboo craft, Korean paper, brassware, and many more. While strolling past the houses and workshops one by one, you will get the feeling of walking through time in an ancient village.
In addition, you can enjoy farmer's music and dance, which has been the beloved form of entertainment of Korean people, bearing testimony to the gregarious character of Korean fun-making and festivity. Jultagi or acrobatics on a tightrope is something you cannot miss in this village. The rope walker executes a variety of acrobatic feats on the rope, along with jokes, mimicry, or songs, while a clown engages the tightrope walker in joking banter, and a team of musicians plays music to accompany the entertainment. You will also get to have a chance to experience some of long-observed seasonal customs, beliefs, folk games or plays that have been comprehensively reflected the daily life of the Korean people. A traditional wedding ceremony is also performed on a daily basis, although it may no longer be explicitly followed. A traditional marketplace offers the exotic flavors of Korean cuisine from different regions. Shops stock a variety of handicrafts and souvenirs, many of which were made on the premises. With all these features combined, the tour offers a fascinating insight into the unique Korean lifestyle of the days gone by.
Day 4 Departure - Breakfast
With time to reflect on your experience of Korea, transfer to the airport for our onward flight.
National Folklore Museum
Full coverage of accommodation (sharing basis, 4* hotel)
Meals as per itinerary
Full coverage of transfers and transportation as per itinerary
Optional activity costs
Tips and gratuities
German, French, Spanish or Russian speaking guides are available at an additional cost.
All our card payments are protected by thawte to give you peace of mind.