What To Expect
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, we will be met by gracious tour guide and escorted to the hotel.
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
Enjoy a city tour with such highlight as Gyeongbokgung Palace or Palace of Shining Happiness and see its magnificent gates, graceful architectures and lovely gardens, all directly inherited from the Joseon Dynasty.
Standing majestically in the whirl of city traffic is Gwanghwamun, 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 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.
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 manmade 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.
Learn about the cultural wealth of this friendly and picturesque nation at National Folklore Museum showcasing life and work, costumes and ornaments, handicrafts and more.
Squeeze in a stop at 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.
Stroll down the cobblestone walkways and admire upscale art galleries and antique shops in Insa-dong, which is a unique area of Seoul that truly represents the traditional Korean art and antiques.
Drive past Cheonggyecheon stream that tumbles gently through downtown Seoul. Explore centuries-old Namdaemun Market where well over 11,000 shops selling anything you can imagine. Then see the western entrance of the market in the middle of a traffic, circle stands Namdaemun, officially known as the Sungnyemun Gate.
Enjoy a treat to Samgyetang - a chicken stew in ginseng.
Stop at Yeongneung. It is one of 119 royal tombs of Joseon dynasty. The tombs have different names of 42 Neung, 13 Won and 64 Myo, which were given based on the status of their owner. Next up is Silleuksa temple from the Silla dynasty.
Then journey onward to the Songnisan national park, weaving through the countryside with its rural vistas. See Beopjusa temple dating back to AD 553. The temple boasts of three national treasures and numerous cultural assets.
Sanchejeongsik, mountain vegetable, is served for dinner. There are various kinds of mountain greens and numerous field greens, which give a sense of the fresh soil and they are sometimes served raw, sometimes fried lightly in oil or slightly boiled in water. A bowl of rice, soup and fish or meat often accompanies the meal.
Head to Andong, a stronghold of Confucianism that has deeply influenced the lives of Koreans in all aspects, and visit Hahoemaeul from the 15th century and was a home of noblemen.
Stop at a traditional paper-making workshop to get a glimpse into the world of hand-made paper manufacturing - a painstaking process which hasn't changed much from ancient times.
Tour includes Andong Folk Museum offering in-depth information of traditional life and illustrating traditional Confucian culture.
We will try Jjimdak, one of Andong's specialties. Jjimdak is a dish of chicken chunks simmered with seasonings along with diced carrots, potatoes, and other vegetables such as onions, leek, and clear noodles, braised in a spicy sauce of garlic, sweet syrup and soy sauce.
Visit Ichon-dong Stone Buddha or Jebiwon Buddha. The awe-inspiring Buddha statue stands guard over the northern entrance way to Andong for nearly 1000 years, in the southeastern foothills of Cheondeung-san.
Next, Dosan Seowon, a Confucian-shrine academy. Then journey continues to Yeongdoek. There, you can check out everything from how the crabs are brought into the port to the sight of thousands of them laid out on the ground with their legs sprawled out and more.
Dinner is highlighted with Galbigui, one of the most popular and famous Korean food. The short ribs marinated in a mixture of green onions, garlic, sugar, sesame oil are grilled over charcoal or gas at our table.
Explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Seokguram grotto and Bulguksa temple which were both built during the glorious period of the Silla kingdom.
A short ride from the grotto is Bulguksa temple. Following the one-pillared gate and the four guardian's gate, you will reach two double level arched stone staircases - the symbolic bridges, leaving the world of sufferings behind and to enter Buddha's land.
Next, you will marvel at the priceless archaeological and historical artifacts including splendid gold crowns, earrings, belts, ornaments, glassware, potteries, and clay figures as well as a royal barge in Gyeongju National Museum.
Head to the world's oldest existing astronomical observatory, Cheomseongdae.
You will also see Tomb of Kim Yusin, who served as general under King Muyeol. Dressed in civilian garb, the stone carved zodiac images surrounding the mound are the most well preserved of all the remains.
Time permitting, visit Bunhwangsa temple with 10m-high three-storied rectangular pagoda, the main worship hall with Buddha of Medicine, and legendary well that is said to have saved the kingdom.
Dinner will be served with Hanjeongsik. it is a Table D'hote menu. Customary dishes are arranged on a low table. The dish includes a variety of fresh and dried fish, meat, fruits and vegetables.
Travel to Busan, Korea's second largest city surrounded by the ocean on one side, and mountains on the other.
Stop at Tongdosa temple, literally meaning 'pass through to enlightenment'. The approach to the temple is completely entrancing.
Explore fascinating Jagalchi fish market. Located on the downtown docks, this bustling market offers a wide variety of fish including sea bream, sea bass, snapper, saury, pollack, halibut, corvina, cutlass fish, mackerel, octopus, sea squirt, cuttlefish, frogfish, flounder, abalone, crab, shells, to name just a few.
Neighboring block is BIFF square, packed with trendy shops movie theaters and even a walk of fame where famous stars and directors have pressed their handprints into the sidewalk. A little further on is Gukjesijang where thousands of shops spill out into the busiest districts of Busan and a variety of items including folk art, bags, clothes, food, kitchen utensils, and more are available.
Yongdusan park, located at the head of a steep slope that looks over the city and harbor in a breathtaking view, is also included. An engaging assortment of bountiful seafood buffet is planned for your dinner.
Enjoy journey to Geoje through a 8.2km long Geoga bridge, a combination of a 3.7km undersea tunnel, which is the world's deepest immersed roadway tube tunnel constructed.
See Geoje, a shipbuilding Mecca featuring several natural harbors. Geoje was the final port of call of the SS Meredith Victory at Christmas 1950.
Visit POW Camp - founded in early 1951 by U.N. troops and once held around 170,000 prisoners in 28 facilities until an armistice which concluded in 1953.
Drive past Tongyeong, a traditional seaport of great charm and historical interests. Stop at Jinju. It is a charming city set by the picturesque Namgag river and a home of 350,000 people. Explore Jinju fortress, which is built on the cliffs along the Namgang river.
Jinju fortress contains gates, pavilions, shrines, watch towers and the Jinju National Museum displaying historic artifacts and documents that speak to the Hideyoshi's invasion.
Jangeogui is a great seafood dish using fresh water eel as the main ingredient and tops their list of grilled delicacies in Korea. Some may choose to do both, first broiling the eel then grilling it to achieve the ultimate perfection in texture and color. Bones are removed from the eel then marinated with a sweet and tangy sauce which includes rice wine, red chili pepper flakes, sesame oil, soy sauce garlic, sugar and ginger. Additional sauce may be consistently brushed onto the fish to add extra flavors and aroma.
Visit Yeosu, its natural surroundings offer some spectacular sights along the jagged coastline. Dolsan Park in the city will offer views to remember. Yeosu is definitely a hidden gem when it comes to scenery. We might make a stop at Hamel Park.
Then, on to Nagan fortress village, surrounded by 1,410-meter long fortress which was built into a mud rampart in the 14th century to repel Japanese pirate raids.
Next, Songgwangsa, representing Buddha's followers, monks and laity. It is quite a trek to reach, but you will be rewarded with both a fabulous view of the surrounding foliage and some brilliant red and gold murals representing a range of religious figures.
Enjoy a special treat to Samgyeopsal. Samgyeopsal refers to thick slices of pork belly fat, which is similar to uncured bacon without the saltiness or smokiness, grilled up at your table and paired with various kimchi dishes and lettuce. Prior to consumption, the large slices of meat are cut into smaller pieces with scissors. A dipping sauce consisting of sesame oil, ground black pepper and salt often accompany Samgyeopsal. A common way to consume the meat is to place a slice inside a lettuce, perilla or other green leaf with Ssamjang, a paste made out of chili paste and soybean paste. It is also common to serve Samgyeopsal with large green chilies and slices of garlic, as well as a spring onion salad. The meal will typically be accompanied with Soju, a Korean alcoholic beverage.
Visit the 6th century Hwaeomsa. The temple is dedicated to the Virocana Buddha, the cosmic head of the Hwaeom trinity.
See the Gwanghallu pavilion where the lovers are said to have first met and there is a bridge built on a pond that is supposed to ensure connubial bliss to any couple that steps on it.
Next is the Geumsansa temple. It was the main temple for practicing the Maitreya faith during the Silla period.
Explore Jeonju Hankok village, a Korean House complex retaining much of their perfection intact. Near the entrance of the complex stands Gyeonggijeon that holds the portrait of founder king of Joseon dynasty, featuring him seated in a magnificent red chair with three gold-foiled dragons on his royal blue robes.
Try the famous Bibimbap. A bowl of hot rice normally served in the stoneware with a variety of vegetables, cooked and raw, arranged on top. Cooked Spinach, bellflower roots, bean sprouts and bracken are the main topping stuffs including ground beef and fried egg. In addition, dried laver, cucumber, sesame oil and hot pepper paste are served. Then, we stir the whole dish together. A bowl of bean sprout soup and Kimchi are served along with.
Jinan is better known as Tapsa. You will explore an unusual temple surrounded by over mysterious 80 conical stone pagodas. Next, Geumsan and see a traditional ginseng market with its 180 shops permanently established all year round.
Stop off at Gwanchoksa to see the Korea's largest free-standing stone Buddha image from the 10th century.
Gopchang jeongol is planned for dinner. It is a spicy Korean stew or casserole made by boiling beef tripe, vegetables, and seasonings in beef broth. In a pan, the vegetables are placed on the bottom, and the marinated beef tripe and brisket are placed over them in a circular fashion. The shredded mushrooms and sliced vegetables are arranged between the tripe and meat. The prepared broths are mixed together, seasoned with salt, and poured little by little into the pan.
Tour begins with a visit to the Baekje Culture Complex. Then explore the Korea's oldest artificial pond Gungnamji dating back to 634. Built as a pleasure garden for the Baekje royal family, this circular pond ringed by bare-branched weeping willow trees create a colorful spectacle with its stock of water lotuses in summer.
Visit Buyeo National Museum exhibiting a precious collection of cultural artefacts from the Baekje Kingdom, and you will marvel at the beautiful gilt bronze incense burner
Stroll up to Busosan to explore Baekje fortification. It was built in memory of the women of Baekje who jumped off the cliff on the last day of kingdom beside which locates Nakhwaam, literally meaning Falling Flower Rock, on a bluff overlooking the Geum River at the bend called Baekma.
See the Songsanri Tombs, a group of Baekje-period royal tombs that just look like a cluster of grassy knolls. Then visit Oeammaeul, It is one of the traditional clan villages exuding old and rustic charm.
Bossam dish for dinner. It is a Korean wrapping food, hence the reference to Ssam which literally means wrapping. The idea being that the pork belly is cooked and sliced, then wrapped in either lettuce or Kimchi. Place the pork on a large platter surrounded with the pickled chiles. Arrange the Korean rice, sauce, salted shrimp, kimchee, and lettuce in separate bowls. You will then assemble their Ssam by wrapping each component in a lettuce leaf.
Visit Hyeonchungsa shrine, located approximately 7kms north of Asan, has kept the spirit of Korea's most famous naval hero, Admiral Yi Sun-sin.
Next stop is Haemi. Learn about the holy place for the Catholics. Haemi has been the military base since the construction of fortress in 1491.
Then we will journey on to Suwon and explore UNESCO World Heritage site of Hwaseong Fortress from the 18th century, and learn some of Korea's long history and see beautiful natural surroundings.
Walk through the whole fortress, parapeted with crenels and merlons and highlighted by four main gates, could take several hours but it is well worth making a short walking tour to enjoy the splendor of the fortress.
Evening is highlighted with Korea House. It is a comprehensive cultural complex representing the traditional Korean culture, promoting insight into the beauty of Korean tradition and customs.
You are ushered in to the Korean feast, with variety of traditional Korean dishes, then the dance and musical performance follows! The colors, movement, and lyrical melodies are truly a delight, and you are in awe of the rhythmic dancers and their visual masterpiece with their fans. Performances may include Pansori, a traditional Korean opera, a traditional shamanism dance, farmer's music and dance, or other traditional music.
After this wonderful trip exploring Korea and with time to reflect on your surprise in your experience, you will return to the airport in time for your flight.
National Folklore Museum
Hanji Paper Workshop
Gyeongju National Museum
Tomb of Kim Yusin
Tomb of King Muyeol
Jagalchi Fish Market
Yeosu Fish Market
Jeonju Hanok Village
Geumsan Herb Market
Baeje Culture Complex
Buyeo National Museum
Gongju National Museum
Full coverage of accommodation based on 2 people sharing standard twin rooms in 4 star combination hotel
Meals as per itinerary
Full coverage of transfers and transportation as per itinerary
English speaking guide
Optional activity costs
Tips and gratuities
German, French, Spanish or Russian speaking guides are available at an additional cost
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