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, 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. Upon exiting the Sinmumun gate, you will take a few minutes to take some pictures in front of the Blue House, the executive office and official residence of the president of Korea.
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.
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.
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 - Ganghwado - Seoul - Breakfast
A day excursion to Ganghwado, a fascinating island that is often called a microcosm of Korean history. But, due to its strategic location, Ganghwado has historically been one of the first targets of many foreign attacks particularly in the late 19th century when Korea unsuccessfully sought to maintain its status as a "Hermit Kingdom."
You will begin with 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. Near museum is 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 (1232-1270) during their tenacious 39-year resistance against Mongol invaders.
You will see Ganghwa Dolmen, one of the most famous dolmens in Korea. A 50-ton capstone, 7.1 meters long, 5.5 meters wide and 1 meter thick, rests on two sturdy supporting prop stones. This prehistoric dolmen including many others in Gochang and Hwasun has been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage for their archaeological value.
Next, stop off at Ginseng market selling variety of ginseng products from raw roots to extracts. This mysterious root has historically been considered an empowering medicine and an aphrodisiac in Korea. Apart from the ginseng, you will see a typical example of local market where many elderly women selling fishes, home-grown vegetables and grains on the roadsides nearby.
Jeondeungsa dating back to the 3rd century is an active Buddhist temple providing a glimpse into the Buddhist culture. The temple came into prominence during the late Goryeo period (918-1392) when King Gojong commissioned the famous Tripitaka Koreana wood blocks to be carved there which are now preserved in Haeinsa temple. Within the main worship, you will see Sakyamuni 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. As you approach the hall, look carefully way up in the eaves at the corners of the roof, and there you can just see tiny human figures, one at each corner. One version says that the forsaken carpenter carved his two-timing girl up in the rafters, eternally bearing the burden of her deceitfulness. It is also worth noting a dharma bell dating back to 1097. It is the only Chinese bell designated a Korean treasure.
Lastly, explore one of the fortresses, Chojijin, that speaks to the battles against the French Navy led by Admiral Pierre-Gustave Roze in October 1866, the American Asia fleet under the commander Roger in 1871, and the collision with the Japanese ship Unyomaru in 1875.
Day 4 Departure - Breakfast
With time to reflect on your experience of Korea, transfer to the airport for our onward flight.
National Folklore Museum
Antique Shop Street
Ganghwa History Museum
Goryo Palace Site
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.
11 days / 10 nights
10 days / 9 nights
4 hours and 30 minutes