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. Start your tour with 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 at the 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. Visit 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.
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 relaxes. 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.
Explore Bukchon Hanok village, a large concentration of traditional Korean houses, where the quaint neighborhood hangs on tenaciously to its traditional past. Next, see Gwangjang Market, one of few markets retaining traditional Korean atmosphere. Near the market is Cheonggyecheon stream and later enjoy a panoramic view of Seoul over at N Tower observatory.
Travel to Suwon for Kimchi making program. Kimchi is an absolute necessity in every Korean meal thus, a meal without Kimchi is not complete. 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.
Stop at Yeongneung, 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. Yeongneung is a tomb of royal couple of King Sejong, who promulgated Korean Alphabet in the 15th century. Next is the Silleuksa temple from the Silla dynasty.
We will stop at Yongdae to explore Baekdamsa temple from the 7th century. Once there in Ganseong, you'll find the scenic road along the edge of the coast to be one of - if not the best - courses to drive in the country. Travel to the most northern tip of the east coast to visit the Unification Observatory. Head on to Hwajinpo, a charming coastal town located near the military demarcation line and by the scenic lagoon edged by sweetbriers and reeds, to see Kim Ilsung villa. We will continue through Geojin where the quaint charm of this coastal town captivates every visitor. Then travel to Seoraksan national park. The rugged peaks, fantastic cliffs, numerous waterfalls, unique rock formations, and scenic valleys altogether make this park and surrounding area some of the best scenery on the Korean peninsula.
The word of the day is hiking of varying lengths and difficulty. Entering park and past one-pillared gate, you will see a huge Unification Buddha that was built to symbolize the Korean people's hope for reunification of the country. Following the left fork leads you to Cheonbuldong valley, the most impressive valley in the park, leading to Biseondae, Yangpok waterfalls and finally the peak of Seoraksan. Near Biseondae rises Janggunbong majestically and among the crags of it is Geumgang Cave with a tiny temple inside. The right fork is Ulsan Bawi trail. At the foot of the Ulsan Bawi sits Gyejoam hermitage from the 7th century in front of which on a spacious stone slab is a huge spherical rock called Heundeul Bawi.
Biryong waterfall trail is relatively easy for anyone to enjoy and you will see a very pretty waterfall at the end that is fairly unusual, long and thin. For non hikers, there is a cable car that picks you up at the valley floor to the Gwongeumseong while enjoying the panoramic view of the entire valley.
Recommended trails from Sogongwon or park entrance (230m):
Biryong waterfall (310m) (4.8km): 2 hours
Biseondae (334m) (6km): 2 hours
Biseondae + Geumgang cave (495m) (7.2km): 3 hours and 30 minutes
Biseondae + Yangpok (715m) (13.2km): 6 hours and 30 minutes
Heundeulbawi (797m) (6.6km): 3 hours
Heundeulbawi + Ulsanbawi (base elevation 810m) (7.6km): 4 hours 30 minutes
Stop at Pyeongchang for a visit of the 7th century Woljeongsa temple. Enjoy a scenic drive along the Jingogae road creating wonderful colors as the season changes - Pink azaleas decorating the valleys, the thick forest and crystal clear stream water cooling off the summer heat, the fantastic autumn foliage putting on a brilliant show of color and the snow creating a sublime scenery.
Drive past North Korean submarine. This submarine was wrecked in the nearby coastal waters on the 18th of September, 1996. Enjoy a stop at Jeongdongjin, a tiny fishing village located by the ocean directly east of Seoul and where you find a quaint railway station of being the closest to the ocean anywhere in the world, a huge hour-glass that measures a full year and a very surreal cruise liner hotel on top of a cliff.
Explore Hwanseongul Cave. The legend has it that long time ago, a monk came to this cave to meditate but no one ever saw him came out. Cave tour is absolutely at your choice. You could opt out by staying outside, or shopping in the store for souvenirs.
Visit Buseoksa, the temple of the floating stone. Tour the Sosu Seowon. It is the first private institute established in Korea, and was a birthplace of Confucian education and a cradle of prominent scholars. While in Punggi, see a ginseng market. There are small stalls in the building type market, all of which has piles of fresh ginseng roots, ginseng preserved in wine in fancy bottles, dried ginseng, tea, extract, candy, and honey ginseng slices.
Time permitting, see 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 the UNESCO World Heritage site, Hahoemaeul from the 15th century and was a home of noblemen. Nestled in a bend of the Naktong River, it is the best preserved traditional village portraying and spanning the life of the Joseon Dynasty. En route, 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.
Journey onward to the Songnisan national park, weaving through the countryside with its rural vistas. The Songni literally means an "escape from vulgar". Visit Beopjusa temple dating back to AD 553. The temple boasts of three national treasures and numerous cultural assets.
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. 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. Later this afternoon we will journey to Gyeongju, an ancient capital of Silla, often dubbed as Museum without Walls. Know one of the ten most historically significant sites in the world with ancient temples, weathered stone pagodas, royal tombs, Buddhist bas-reliefs, and fortress ruins.
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. 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. We will make a stop at Gwaereung, the tomb of the King
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. Enjoy a tour of Anapji, a pleasure garden built to commemorate the victory of Silla, and later used as the recreational area for the Silla's royal family, followed by a relaxed walking tour covering the ruins of Banwolseong or half moon fortress where Silla palace and eight fortress gates stood. Head on to the world's oldest existing astronomical observatory, Cheomseongdae. Stop at Poseokjeong, a former summer pavilion of the later kings of Silla. Next is Bunhwangsa temple, a 10m-high three-storied rectangular pagoda and the main worship hall with Buddha of Medicine, and legendary well that is said to have saved the kingdom.
En route, visit the 7th century Girimsa temple which was once the largest temple in the area. Then 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 is the Tongdosa temple, literally meaning 'pass through to enlightenment'. The approach to the temple is completely entrancing as you will pass by a magnificent set of pine trees seemingly dancing in the wind. Enjoy a remple stay program at Beomeosa. The temple is laid out in an unusual manner. The upper level is the Main Hall with a Buddha of Sakamuni attended by Bodhisattvas.
Early-morning Buddhist Dharma Ceremony. Every monk and people in the temple will gather at the Main Buddha Hall and perform the ceremony. Enjoy a short stop 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 the fascinating Jagalchi fish market located on the downtown docks. This bustling market offers a wide variety of fish. 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 and more.
Yongdusan park, located at the head of a steep slope that looks over the city and harbor in a breathtaking view, is also included. After city orientation tour, an hour flight to Jeju, the most famous of the 3,300 islands of Korea. Jejudo, once a place of exile for those who fell out of favor with the Korean Court, has today become the most popular tourist destination.
Start your morning with a stop at Hyeopjae beach and see 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 sceneries. 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. A short ride from Sanbangsan is Jisatgae, the spectacular 1km stretch of coastline with hexagonal rock columns, bizarre formations resulted from rapid cooling and contraction of lava.
Hiking to Oedolgae, a needle rock standing alone off the cliffy coast holding a sad legend of old fisherman.The trail features scenic cliffy coasts, offshore islands, ocean vistas and abundant wild flowers. Tour Cheonjiyeon waterfall cascading down a cliff 22m high and 12m wide into a pool inhabited by giant eels and surrounded by lush vegetation.
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. 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.
Visit Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum. At the entrance, you cannot possibly miss the fancy looking volcano bombs. The museum is an excellent facility featuring a significant collection of crafts, tools and equipment as well as geological features, marine organism, plants, animals and minerals native to Jeju Island - the perfect way to learn about the history and culture of Jeju. A short walk from the museum is Samseonghyeol literally three clan hole, a very symbolic spot to the islanders.
Drive past Gwandeokjeong, the oldest building in Jeju which was previously the site of government offices in the period of the Joseon dynasty. See a group of buildings in the neighborhood - a restored Mokgwana, which has been the hub of local administration since Tamna period. 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. If the day falls on a 5-day market, currently on the dates of a "2" or a "7" and ending with a "2" or a "7", you will 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.
Your going to journey with other tourists as private tours of the tunnel and the DMZ area are not allowed. After we will board a bus at Lotte hotel Seoul to continue with other tourists on to Panmunjeom, once a small farming village, where the Armistice was signed that ended Korean War.
You can go inside the Military Armistice Commission Conference Room where a line marking the border runs across the floor and right down the middle of the conference table and may walk around the room and can hop from South to North if you wish.
Dress code: Visitors should wear appropriate civilian attire. The following must not be worn: Sleeveless tops or shirts, T-shirts, tank tops, or similar attire. Jeans including designer Jeans and all color of denim jeans. Shorts of any style, including hiking, Bermuda knee, cutoffs or short-shorts. Miniskirts, halter tops, backless dresses, or other similar items or attire. Items of outer clothing of sheer variety. Form fitting clothing including tight knit tops, tight kit pants, stretch pants or warm ups of any kind. Sandals, shower shoes, thongs or flip-flops, tennis shoes. Items of military clothing not worn as an integral part of a prescribed service uniform. Hair must not be shaggy nor unkempt.
Drinking of alcohol is prohibited. No waving, shouting, talking, pointing, and other gestures and facial expressions like smiling or sticking your tongue out to the North Korean army. Do not touch anything in the Armistice Commission Building, which belongs to the North (Microphone, flag, chair or table).
In the event of Panmunjeom tour being unavailable for any reason, the tour will be substituted with a following program.
Seoul - DMZ - Seoul
Your touring will be private today until you reach Imjingak. Travel through Jayuro or Freedom Road to Imjingak, the northernmost point bordering North Korea. There is a locomotive engine that symbolizes the tragedy of the divided Korea. Board a bus to continue with other tourists on to the Demilitarized Zone, known as DMZ that separates South and North. After a quick video presentation at the DMZ Exhibition Hall, explore The 3rd Tunnel, which is one of four known tunnels passing under the DMZ, dug secretly by the North.
Continue on to the Dora Observatory where you can see across the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea and Gijeongdong. Have time to see Dorasan Station, the last railway station in South Korea before the North Korean border. 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.
With time to reflect on our surprise in our experience of Korea, transfer to the airport for our onward flight.
National Folklore Museum
Bukchon Hanok Village
Kimchi Making Experience
Kim Ilsung Villa
Geojn Fishing Village
Seoraksan National Park
North Korean Submarine
Hanji Paper Workshop
Goryeong Tumuli Museum
Gyeongju National Museum
Tomb of King Munmu
Beomeosa Temple Stay
UN Memorial Cemetery
Jagalchi Fish Market
Seongeup Folk Village
Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum
Full coverage of accommodation based on 2 people sharing standard twin rooms in 4 star combination hotel
1 night accommodation based on small group sharing Korean style room in the temple
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
Rates available on request. Please contact us for a quotation.
In the event Panmunjom tour is not available in any reason, the tour will be substituted with the DMZ program:
Anyone who suffers from a weak heart, claustrophobia, or asthmatic symptoms is not allowed to enter into the 3rd tunnel.
Passport required on tour
Picture taking is prohibited upon boarding the bus to the 3rd infiltration tunnel
The DMZ tour does not operate on Mondays and public holidays.
For Day 16 Seoul - Panmunjeom - Seoul:
No tours on Sunday, Monday and public holidays
Seats are strictly first come first serve basis
The tour operates in English
Full Names, Passport number, Date of Birth and Nationality must be received at the time of booking
You must have your passport with you on the tour.
The tour is not permitted to children of the age 11 or below.
Visitors are not allowed on an individual basis
All our card payments are protected by thawte to give you peace of mind.
7 days / 6 nights
6 days / 5 nights
19 days / 18 nights
18 days / 17 nights
6 days / 5 nights