What To Expect
Changdeok Palace and Secret Garden
Ganghwa, Gochang and Hwhasun Dolmens
Depository and Tripitaka Koreana
Gyeongju Historic Area
Hallasan Natural Reserve
Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone
Geomunoreum Lava Tube System
Royal Tombs of Joseon Dyansaty
Touching down at Incheon International Airport places you in the heart of Korea. After clearing immigration and customs, your gracious local tour guide will greet you at the main passenger terminal and escort you to your hotel.
Explore Korea's capital city that is full of 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.
Visit Jongmyo shrine, the most important ancestral shrine in Korea, dedicated to the spirits of Korea's royal ancestors. Explore World Heritage site of Changdeokgung Palace or Palace of Prospering Virtue. Built in 1405, the palace was the home of royal families of the Joseon Dynasty.
Behind Changdeokgung palace is located Secret Garden, a former royal sanctuary graced with a natural hillocks, woodland paths, several ponds, springs, streams, pleasure pavilions as well as 44 buildings in different size. Stroll down the cobblestone walkways and admire upscale art galleries and antique shops of 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. At the western entrance of the market in the middle of a traffic circle stands Namdaemun, officially known as the Sungnyemun Gate.
See Ganghwado, a fascinating island that is often called a microcosm of Korean history. Visit Ganghwa History Museum displaying historical records of the entire spectrum of Korean existence, from the mythical foundation of Korea to the opening port to the outside World marked by Ganghwado Treaty signed in February 1876.
Ganghwa Jiseokmyo Dolmen has been registered by UNESCO in December 2002 as a World Heritage for their archaeological value. Visit Korea's first Anglican Church, which is a notably unusual church with Western, Korean, Christian, Buddhist and Confucian influences, and Goryeo Palace site where several Goryeo kings resided
Stop at Ginseng market which has a good smell, better than it tastes. Tour the Jeondeungsa, an active Buddhist temple dating back to 381 providing a glimpse into Buddhist culture. It is also worth noting a dharma bell dating back to 1097. It is the only Chinese bell designated a Korean treasure. See one of Ganghwa fortresses, Chojijin that speaks to the battles against foreign powers.
Explore UNESCO World Heritage site of Hwaseong Fortress from the 18th century, and learn some of Korea's long history, see beautiful natural surroundings, and get a lot of exercise all at the same time. See Yeongneung, one of 119 royal tombs of Joseon dynasty.
Stop at Sosu Seowon and learn about the Confucian teachings. It is the first private institute established in Korea, and was a birthplace of Confucian education and a cradle of prominent scholars.
See 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. Visit Andong Folk Museum offering in-depth information of traditional life and illustrating traditional Confucian culture.
Begin with the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hahoemaeul. It is the best preserved traditional village portraying and spanning the life of the Joseon Dynasty. En route, stop off 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.
Journey onward to the Songnisan national park, weaving through the countryside with its rural vistas. See Beopjusa temple with its three national treasures and numerous cultural assets. The temple holds a dharma bell striking ceremony at sunset. The bell, which almost all Korean temples are equipped with, is one of the four Dharma instruments together with Dharma drum, wooden fish, and cloud-shaped gong.
The tour continues through a scenic countryside to Gayasan national park to see a magnificent Haeinsa temple from the 9th century, housing world's oldest and a complete collection of the Buddhist sutras. Haeinsa is one of the most important temples in Korea. They are Tongdosa, Heinsa, and Songgwansa, each of which represents Buddha, Dharma, and the community of followers or "sangha".
Visit the main hall courtyard in the middle of which stands stone carved lantern and weathered stone pagoda. Within the main worship hall (Hall of Great Peace and Light), you will see Vairocana Buddha who is flanked on the left by Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Perfect Wisdom, and on the right by Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Perfect Compassionate Action, along with other Bodhisattvas including Avalokitesvara, Virocana, Ksitigarbha and Dharmogata.
Next up is Goryeong Tumuli Museum. Located below the group of ancient tombs, it is a perfect replica of the Jisan-dong Tomb No. 44 itself, a large-scale living burial to be first discovered in Korea. Nearby Daegaya Museum exhibits a huge collection of artifacts excavated in Goryeong.
Explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Seokguram grotto and Bulguksa temple which were both built during the glorious period of the Silla kingdom. After taking a twisting ride up around eastern side of Tohamsan and about 10 minute walk through a lovely wood brings you to Seokguram grotto, the home of the serene stone Buddha of the eighth century.
A short ride from the grotto is Bulguksa temple. 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. Nearby Tumuli Park encompasses 23 huge tomb mounds where Silla rulers were buried. Excursion to the World Heritage site of Yangdongmaeul, a traditional clan village which embraces simple, unadorned natural beauty.
Explore Namsan. Many say that Silla's history starts and ends in Namsan since the Najeong and the Poseokjeong are in Mt. Namsan. Stop at Poseokjeong. It was a summer pavilion where the later kings of Silla often forgot their loyal duties and spent most of their time banqueting.
Your trekking starts at Baeri Buddha Statues. Namsan, a 468-meter peak in the heart of Gyeongju, is a home to many historic and cultural remains from the Silla kingdom and is often referred to as sacred mountain with Buddhist shrines and statues. The first leg of your trekking up to the Sangseonam hermitage can be challenging, but soon compensated by a huge Buddha facing the western slope of the mountain.
Several other trekking routes are available though, you will explore with a following trail. Baeri Buddha statues - Samneung tombs - Samneunggol Buddha - Rock Relief Bodhisattva - bas-relief six Buddhas - Rock Relief Buddha - Seated Buddha - bas-relief Buddha - Sangseonam bas-relief Bodhisattva - Sangseonam bas-relief Buddha - Geumsongjeong site and Baduk Rock - Sangsa Rock - Guomosan peak - Yongjanggol three-storied Pagoda - rock relief Buddha - Samryun Pedestal Buddha - Yongjangsa temple site - Jeolgol Buddha
Head on to Gampo to see twin pagodas on ancient temple site of Gameunsa dedicated to the Dragon Spirit of King Munmu. About 200 meter off the coast is an unusual underwater tomb of King Munmu. Next up is Tongdosa temple, literally meaning 'pass through to enlightenment'.
Travel on to Busan, Korea's second largest city surrounded by the ocean on one side, and mountains on the other. Its deep harbor and gentle tides have allowed it to grow into the largest port in Korea and the fifth largest in the world.
Enjoy a short break at Haeundae, a world-class beach resort blessed by beautiful water. Your Busan city tour will begin with a visit to the UN memorial cemetery where 2,300 deceased soldiers from sixteen Korean War allies rest in honored serenity.
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 and more. 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 at good prices.
Explore a fascinating Jeju Oilsijang, a traditional market offering home grown vegetables and fruits, plants, pets, fishes, beans, grains, clothes, jars, foods, mats, live animals to folk art crafts. Stop at Yongduam known as Dragon Head Rock. Perched along the ocean side, it is one of the most unusual rock formations of the island.
Drive past Gwandeokjeong, the oldest building in Jeju which was previously the site of government offices in the period of the Joseon dynasty. A group of buildings in the neighborhood is a restored Mokgwana, which has been the hub of local administration since Tamna period.
Visit Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum then a short walk from the museum is Samseonghyeol literally three clan hole, a very symbolic spot to the islanders.
Start your morning with a stop at Hyeopjae beach and view the jade-green color sea creating a location of picture-postcard beauty especially with the striking view of Biyangdo off the coast. Across the street from the beach, tour the Hallim Park to explore subtropical botanical garden offering a variety of experiences.
Next is Sanbangsan, a magnificent trachyte cone abruptly rising 395 meters by the sea that lacks crater on its summit. Tide permitting, explore Yongmeori Coast, a tuff ring outcropping into the sea showing the sedimentary structure of volcanic ash that was formed from hydrovolcanic eruptions.
The Dutch ship was wrecked nearby coastal waters on August 16, 1653 and of the 64 crewmembers only 36 survived. A duplicate of Dutch East India Company VOC-ship, The Sperwer with its rare exhibits, is on display on the dry land and the Hendrick Hamel Monument was erected where he came ashore.
Then, onto Jungmun Tourist Resort to see Cheonjeyeon cascade falling in three different stages. A short ride from the fall is Jisatgae, the spectacular 1km stretch of coastline with hexagonal rock columns, bizarre formations resulted from rapid cooling and contraction of lava.
On your return, experience the road what the locals call "Dokkebidoro" or a more terrifying name "goblin's roads".
Experience a true natural wonder this morning as you visit the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site of Manjang Cave, the world's longest lava tube which has a known length of 13.4km. En route, you learn about women diver's harsh work and life at Haenyeo Museum.
Leaving the museum, you head to Seongsan Ilchulbong, another UNESCO site, known as Sunrise Peak. After the tour, see Seongeup folk village which was once a hub of local administration in the period of Goryeo dynasty. Then, head on to a spectacular Sangumburi to see the only Maar in Korea that is on flat ground, in which grows at least 420 species of sub-tropical, temperate and alpine zone plants.
Stop at Oedolgae, a needle rock standing alone off the cliffy coast holding a sad legend of old fisherman. Tour Cheonjiyeon waterfall cascading down a cliff 22m high and 12m wide into a pool inhabited by giant eels and surrounded by lush vegetation.
Jeongbang Waterfall, which claims to fall directly into the ocean, is also included.
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. By boarding, you are already high above Incheon heading for home.
Ganghwa History Museum
Goryeo Palace Site
Andong Folk Museum
Goryeong Tumuli Museum
Gyeongju National Museum
Namsan Exploration Hiking
Tomb of King Munmu
UN Memorial Cemetery
Jagalchi Fish Market
Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum
Seongeup Folk Village
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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