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.
We will spend the morning sightseeing around Korea's capital city. Visit Gyeongbok palace and see its magnificent gates, graceful architecture and lovely gardens. The Gyeongbok Palace is a particularly charming tourist spot in Seoul that represents a colorful and turbulent side of the capital's 500-year history. A visit to the excellent facilities of the National Folklore Museum will help familiarize the visitors with the cultural wealth of this friendly and picturesque nation.
We drop by Insa-dong, which is a place known to be the center of traditional Korean art and antiques in Seoul. Clustered along the main street and alleys are numerous shops dealing in antiques, oriental art supplies, and modern Korean art of all types and styles.
We proceed to a walking tour of Cheonggyecheon, a couple of blocks away from the antique alley. This lively commercial district filled with huge markets, arcades and commercial facilities. The town also boasts a variety of cultural events and performances staged by amateurs and street artists and shopping as well.
We visit the Namdaemun Market, which originally opened in 1414 as a government market, and discover the unique cornucopia of clothing, jewelry, appliances, dishes, folk arts, food and oriental medicine. It is widely acknowledged as one of the country's best tourist attractions.
After a hearty breakfast, travel to Cheorwon, once a fierce battleground as it was one of the Iron Triangle of the Korean War along with Geumhwa and Pyeonggang. We will visit the White Horse Hill, where the fighting lasted for 10 days from October 6th to 15th in 1952, causing 17,000 casualties. We will also visit the Iron Triangle Angle Memorial Hall displaying artifacts from communist infiltrators.
Our tour covers The Second Tunnel dug by North Koreans, located 13Km north of Cheorwon. Discovered on March 19, 1975, military experts say that some 30,000 armed troops can infiltrate in an hour through this tunnel. The tunnel is dug through the solid granite base and extends 1.1Km southward across the Military Demarcation Line. The tunnel has even become a sort of tourist spot, it nevertheless stands a stark reminder of the lasting tension between the two Koreas. After the visit to the tunnel, proceed to Iron Triangle Lookout on the southern boundary of DMZ, and then visit Woljeongri railway station, where a rusted train is left unattended. Finally, visit the ruins of a Russian style office building used by North Koreans from 1948 to 1950.
Today, we will go for a picturesque countryside journey to Sokcho, once a sleepy fishing village that turned into the heart of Korea's most spectacular recreational areas. En route, stop at Chuncheon, a city of scenic lakes, making it one of the most beautiful cities in Korea. The Soyang multipurpose dam, Chuncheon's landmark as well as the country's largest dam.
Continue our journey along the beautiful Soyang River to Yanggu, situated in an unspoiled natural setting, featuring rich cultural and historic heritage. We will visit a prehistoric museum, displaying 650 articles of the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages, all of which are collected in Yanggu. Our journey through Jinburyeong pass to Hwajinpo, a charming coastal town located by the scenic beach and lake. Originally belonging to North Korea, Hwajinpo became part of South Korean territory after the war.
We will visit the Kim Ilsung villa, built at the foot of a small mountain by the beach where family memrabilia are displayed. We also make a short stop at Daejin fishing port, where we will have our own independent tour to explore this small exotic town, located by the demarcation line on the northeastern tip of South Korea.
Finally, to the Seoraksan National Park, covering dense forests, crystal clear streams that form into white waterfalls, saw tooth cliffs, mysterious temples and lonely hermitages.
After breakfast, we begin our hiking with a visit to Sinheungsa temple, which claims to be the country's oldest Zen temple built in the seventh century. To the left of the temple is Cheonbuldong valley, the most impressive valley in the park, leading to Biseondae where Janggunbong rises majestically above the valley.
High among the crags of Janggunbong is Geumgang cave, once a sacred sanctuary for meditation. Even though there are stairs with guardrail the climb up can still be steep and exhausting. To the right of the temple is Ulsan Bawi trail with a gentle slope. The last leg of the trekking is a steep ascend through well over eight hundred steps, but the scenery spreading below is marvelous.
Biryong waterfall trail is less exhausting, and scenery is gorgeous. For non-hikers there is a cable car that picks visitors up at the valley floor to the top of the mountain while enjoying the panoramic view of the entire valley.
Biseondae + Geumgang cave : Round trip of 3 hours and 30 minutes
Ulsan Bawi : Round trip of 3 hours and 30 minutes
Biryong waterfall : Round trip of 2 hours and 40 minutes
Travel along the coastal road to Gangneung and visit Chamsori museum which features phonographs invented by Thomas A. Edisonand several other antique items. At Donghae, we make a short stop at North Korean submarine, which was wrecked in the nearby coastal waters on the 18th of September, 1996. The salvaged submarine is on display together with a retired Korean Navy ship.
Journey to Taebaek, a remote town surrounded by the high rise rugged mountains, and visit coal museum. It is an excellent facility showing visitors the history of coal mining in Korea in its 8 exhibition rooms. A mine simulation modeled closely after real mine shows how the mining work was like, while being let through the realistic setting of mining work simulated with various types of mines and equipments.
Travel to Danyang, a city set in the beautiful surroundings. Visit Gosu cave, known as the most beautiful limestone cave in Korea, formed about 400 million years ago. Visitors are allowed to explore up to 1.7Km from the entrance of this virtual integrated exhibition hall of all imaginable cave resources.
Afterward, we will take a short drive to Dodam Sambong rocks and the Stone Gate, both of which are among the ten most beautiful spots in Danyang. Journey to Yeongju, and visit Buseoksa temple on the floating stone. Finally, on to Andong, and visit folk museum, displaying a variety of legacies relating mainly to four cardinal ceremonies, coming of an age, wedding, funeral, and ancestral memorial and ritual standards of Confucianism, and Confucian culture
aspects that feature
Visit Hahoe village the best preserved traditional village of the Joseon Dynasty, where residents still live in traditional thatched and tile-roofed houses and one of the few remaining examples of a classical Joseon Dynasty Confucian village layout. The village is also popular with its mask play so called Byeolsin-gut, the shaman ritual dated from Goryeo dynasty.
The Songni literally means an "escape from vulgar". The tour includes the visit of famous Beopjusa which was built in AD 553. The temple boasts of three national treasures and numerous cultural assets. Hiking is recommendable as many trails are available leading to numerous hermitages and eventually the peak of Songnisan. We will get a chance to see the Bell Striking Ceremony takes place in the temple at sunset.
Continue our journey to Gayasan national park for a visit to Haeinsa temple, representing the Buddha's Teaching. It was built in early 9th century to propagate the philosophy of Avatamsaka-sutra. The temple houses a complete collection of the Buddhist sturas, the 81,258 wood blocks of the Tripitaka Koreana believed to protect the country against invasion. Haeinsa is named to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
En route Gyeongju, visit Daegaya Tumuli Museum with its ancient relics excavated from the tombs and living burial replicas. Travel to Gyeongju, an ancient capital of Silla. Today, we are treated to one of the ten historical cities in the world. Temple sites with weathered stone pagodas, royal tombs, Buddhist bas-reliefs, and fortress ruins are scattered throughout the countryside surrounding this ancient city.
Our morning tour includes a visit to two temples listed on UNESCO's World Heritage: Seokguram grotto, the home of a serene stone Buddha of the eighth century and Bulguksa, built during the glorious period of the Silla kingdom.
Seokguram grotto in white granite is considered as the finest Buddhist shrines in Asia. A short ride from the Grotto is Bulguksa temple. It is one of the most frequented and best-known temples in the country. The architectural design of Bulguksa is one of constrained dignity and peace, and harmony and the temple still remains one of the most remarkable achievements of the ancient Far East.
Afternoon tour covers Gyeongju museum displaying the 23 ton Emille Bell cast in AD 771, thousands of priceless treasures, and Anapji Pond dug in AD 674. Anapji was built as a pleasure garden to commemorate the victory of Silla, and later used as the recreational area for the Silla's royal family. We will also visit Cheomseongdae, known as the world's oldest astronomical observatory, and Tumuli Park with its rare exhibits of ancient tumulus. Poseok bower, the summer palace where later kings of Silla spent most of their time with women and wine, is also included in our tour.
Finally, visit Bunwhangsa temple, inside which stands a 10 meters high three stories rectangular pagoda, main worship hall of Buddha of Medicine, and the legendary well that is said to have saved the kingdom. The nearby open field was once occupied by Silla's largest temple Hwangryongsa until it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1238.
Jouney to Busan, Korea's principal port city. It is also a center of industry and commerce, a thriving and growing metropolis formed along the southern coastal line of the Peninsula. On our way to Busan, stop at Gampo for a visit to the ancient twin pagodas of Gameunsa temple, and the underwater tomb of King Munmu.
In Busan, visit the UN cemetery, the only one of its kind in the world where 2,300 deceased soldiers from sixteen Korean War allies rest in honored serenity. We then visit the famous Jagalchi Fish Market, a great attraction located on a dockside away from the bustling downtown, which comes alive early every morning when fishermen bring in their catch. We will also visit the bustling International Market, and Yongdusan Park for a panoramic view of Busan.
Morning is spent for traveling to Geohe, the second largest island after Jejudo. Now, the island spans the mainland with its 740m long bridge. Located east of Tongyeong, the island became prominent with its ship building industry.
Visit POW camp, which once accommodated a total of 170,000 war prisoners, then on to Tongyeong, a gateway to the country's most beautiful archipelago national park. Tongyeong is a traditional seaport of great charm and historical interests, and is also famous for its mask dance and mother of pearl artwork. Many offshore islands near this port city boast their ties with Admiral Yi Sunsin (1545-1598), Korea's greatest naval hero. Visit Tongyeong museum,
displaying 1,000 artifacts that show the glimpse of the city's history and culture.
Proceed to Goseong. Tide permitting, we will have a chance to see fossil footprints of dinosaurs. Otherwise, we only visit the dinosaur theme park. Along with Colorado and the west coast of Argentina, Goseong is a treasure house of fossil footprints of dinosaurs.
The dinosaur theme park has displays of the world's three largest fossil footprints of dinosaurs, and various other dinosaur footprints from the Cretaceous Period. The park also possesses 96 items of whole or partial skeletons, models, and fossils of Archaeopteryx, Pterosaurs, Apatosaurus, Ankylosaurus, and Tyrannosaurs Rex.
A short drive westward from Goseong is Sacheon, where Changseon Island is lying in between the mainland and Namhae Island. Namhae has long been popular with travelers. Shaped like an hour-glass, Namhae Island has high and rugged mountains with picturesquely rural and pastoral scenery. The island is comprised of 68 large and small islets, and is the third largest island in Korea, featuring natural wonders, lovely beaches, ancient temples and historical sites. At the southern tip of the island is one of Korea's most attractive beaches, situated below the rugged spires of mountain. Today, we get to drive on one of the most beautiful coastal roads in Korea, including photo stops at some of the villages.
Visit the famous Songgwang temple, representing Buddha's followers, monks and laity. It has a formidable collection of steles and pagodas containing the ashes of some of many masters who had lived here. Also visit Nagan fortress, which was built as a mud rampart in the 14th century to defend the Japanese troops. Inside the fortress are 230 traditional thatched roof houses, all of which are still functioning.
We will then travel to Damyang, the home of bamboo where we will get to visit a very unique museum that displays various kinds of bamboo products and tools used in daily life. Metasequoia wood drive is also included in our tour.
Afterward, we visit Soswaewon garden. Built on a low hill in the 16th century for recreational purpose, the garden's court yard is empty, while back hill of Gwangpung pavilion is filled with flowers and trees. On to Hwasun for a visit to the unique temple of Unjusa and its pagodas. Legend has it that Silla monk built one thousand Buddha images and stone pagodas overnight. At present, remains 93 Buddha images that are sculptured in unorthodox, idiosyncratic, and abstract ways.
About three hours cruise to Jeju, the most famous of the 3,300 islands of Korea. Once a place of exile for those who fell out of favor with the Korean court, it has today become the most popular tourist destination. Towering over the island is Korea's highest peak, Mt. Halla, an extinct volcano topped by a huge crater.
Our half day city tour includes Jeju folklore and nature history museum, Samseonghyeol shrine, Dragon Head Rock, and Dongmun market. Jeju folklore and nature history museum provides visitors with an excellent opportunity to look into the island's unique culture and beautiful scenery.
Just across the street is Samseonghyeol shrine where the ancestors of the Jeju Islanders are said to have appeared. Today, their family descendants still pay homage to their ancestors here in April, October and December. With time to visit of a bustling Dongmun market, finally visit Yongduam, the basalt head of dragon with an open mouth rising 10 meters above the coastal waters.
A full day island tour begins with a visit of Hallim Park, a subtropical botanical garden holds many exotic flowers and plants, as well as colorful cacti and fruit trees. Encompassing land surrounded by tall palm trees, the park has its 16 different sections offering a variety of experiences. Two mysterious caves are located inside the park and here we can see one of the few lava tubes in the world having stalagmites and stalactites.
This will be followed by a visit to the Peace Museum, a group of tunnels which were once used as Japanese military commander post during the Second World War. Visit Sanbangsan rock cone, a unique tholoide on the island. The ascent is steep, but the scenery spreading below is spectacular.
With time to visit Jungmun resort and Cheonjeyeon waterfalls with its awesome bridge spanning over the scenic valley, a walking tour of Jisatgae is planned. It is a cliffy coast formed by hexagonal polygons piled on top of each other as a result of volcanic activities. At Seogwipo, visit Cheonjiyeon waterfall cascading down a cliff into a tropical pool inhabited by giant eels, and surrounded by lush vegetation.
The tour takes us to the Manjang Cave, the world's longest lava tunnel. It is a unique double-layered cave, which has a known length of 13.4Kms. Visit Women Diver Museum, set in a small fishing village, which introduces this tough and hard profession.
A short ride from the museum is Seongsan Ilchulbong or Sunrise Peak, the island's largest tuff cone which is surrounded on three sides by the ocean rising 182 meters straight from the water. Our adventure begins by climbing this steep cone up to the spectacular crater surrounded by 99 rock peaks. This tuff cone together with Manjang Cave is listed as UNESCO World Nature Heritages.
Seongeup folk village has been the government seat for nearly 500 years during the Goryeo dynasty. Here, we will see thatched roof rock homes surrounded by lava stone walls, and a traditional lifestyle of Jeju. A short ride from the village is a spectacular Sangumburi crater. It is one of the 368 craters in the island formed about 2.5 million years ago, inside which grow at least 420 species of sub-tropical, temperate and Alpine zone plants.
Earely monring boat to Mokpo, It is a city embracing thousands of islands. The port was first opened in October 1897. The city serves as the launching point for tours of the archipelagos off the shore. Visit Yudalsan. This 228 meters high mountain made of curious rocks is among the most visited attractions in the city. The view of sunrise and sunset as well form the top is rewarding. Visit national maritime museum displaying relics excavated from the sea with more than 3,000 pieces of Goryeo (918-1392) celadon and 22,000 pieces of artifacts of pottery and relics of the wrecked ship in the 12th century.
Travel to Gochang for a visit of Dolmen Park. There is a group of 440 dolmens, which are megtalithic funeral monuments. The park harbors diverse types of dolmens incluiding Go-game board type known as southern type, table type which is also known as northern type, and capstone type. For their high historical and cultural value, they have been named as UNESCO World Heritage together with Gangwha and Hwasun dolmens.
After a short stop at Naejangsa temple dominated by color leaves. Journey to Buyeo, the ancient capital of the Baekje Kingdom (BC18- AD660), and visit Nakhwaam bluff where 3,000 faithful court ladies of Baekje plunged into the river to avoid capture and dishonor when enemy breached the castle on the last day of the kingdom. Then visit Goransa, a small temple with just a main hall and a small belfry, said to be dedicated to the souls of 3,000 court ladies. Behind the temple on the cliffy hill grows crypsinus hastatus.
Buyeo museum displaying relics of this glorious kingdom and temple site of Jungrimsa are among the highlights of the tour. With time to visit Jeongrimsa pagoda, travel to Yuseong.
Continue our journey to Suwon for a visit of Hwaseong fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage. The fortress was built in 1794-1796 during the reign of the King Jeongjo, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty. Though it is relatively small in scale, the fortress is well acknowledged as the best structure of its kind ever built in Korea. Of the most frequently visited points include: Seobuk Gongsimdon watch tower, boasting exceptional architectural beauty; Hwahong gate with a half-gabled and half-hipped roof and seven sluices at its base; the beacon tower; and Seojangdae, the command post overlooking the whole fortress.
With time to reflect on our surprise in our experience of Korea, transfer to the airport for our onward flight.
National Folklore Museum
Antique Shop Street
The 2nd Tunnel
Iron Triangle Observatory
Labor Party Office Building
Kim Ilsung Villa
Daejin Fishing Port
Seoraksan National Park
North Korean Submarine
Andong Folklore Museum
Daegaya Tumuli Museum
Tomb of King Munmu
Jaglachi Fish Market
Tongyeong Folklore and History Museum
Jeju Folklore and Nature History Museum
Dragon Head Rock
Women Divers Museum
Seongeup Folk Village
English speaking tour guide
Entrance fees to the places of interests as per itinerary
Half twin use accommodation
Optional activity costs
Tips and gratuities
German, French, Spanish or Russian speaking guides are available at an additional cost
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6 days / 5 nights
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