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.
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).
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 (1392-1910).
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.
See the 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 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 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.
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 Gwangjang Market, one of few markets retaining traditional Korean atmosphere. From the entrance of the market, you can smell the mouth-watering flavors of fried snacks. Near the market is Cheonggyecheon stream that tumbles gently through downtown Seoul.
A block away from the market is Dongdaemun which once served as the east gate of Seoul. Originally built in 1398 and called Heunginjimun literally Gate of Uplifting Mercy, it sits in a low and flat region of Seoul in that the gate was an easy target for invaders.
Enjoy a panoramic view of Seoul over at N Tower observatory
After 30 minutes of drive from Wonju is Guryongsa temple, where we begin our 6 hour-long or 10.9km of both easy and challenging trekking over Birobong Peak and back to Guryongsa temple.
First easy stretch along the valley leads us to the Seryom waterfalls, where trail head divides and ascend to the summit begin. On our way, we will get to see impressive rock formations and pools. From Seryom waterfalls, the trail gets gradually steep, and we will spend about two hours climbing up the rocky ridge trails to the top. After challenging a very steep path just before Birobong, the highest point of Mt. Chiak, we finally reach the summit, where we will enjoy the spectacular view of the neighboring mountains and valleys.
We then descend the path over the ridge for about 1 hour and 30 minutes to Seryom waterfalls. After another hour of comfortable walk through the forests and gentle valleys, we arrive at Guryongsa temple.
We go on an hour and 30 minutes pleasant ride to Danyang, a city known for its beautiful scenery. 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. The cave boasts of its natural wonders and spectacular rock formations such as the Lion Head, Seal, Walls of heaven, Golden waterfalls, and 15m-high Golden pillars.
After the visit to the cave, we take a short drive to Dodam Sambong rocks and Stone Gate, both of which are among the most scenic spots in Danyang. At the nearby Janghoe wharf, we take a scenic cruise for 40 minutes to Cheongpung, during which we get to see some of the most magnificent rocky mountains and peaks.
About a 40 minute-ride from Cheongpyeong is Songgyeri, where we begin a challenging six-hour long trekking and climbing. Trekking condition is often difficult and dangerous. We will come across many steel steps, ladders and stone steps on the way. About 1 hour and 30 minutes ascent through a steep path leads us to the Songgye Samgori, where the trail head divides. Here we take a steep left path up to Silleuksa Samgeori, about 700 meters away.
After having refreshment here, we continue our steep ascent up to Bodeokam hermitage for 10 minutes. But, an abruptly rising 100 meter-tall rock wall deters our way. About 40 minutes of climbing leads to the top of Woraksan after 2 hours and 30 minutes. We stand on the edge of a hair-raising cliff to admire the spectacular scenery of Chungju Lake spreading below.
Three hours descent along 6km-long Deokjusa route to the parking. On our way down, we take the same trail down to Songgye Samgeori, from where we take a new trail to 960 meter point, heliport until we see Maaebul, a stone-cut Buddha. We then reach Deokjusa temple and finally arrive at Deokju parking lot where our trekking ends.
A short ride leads us to Suanbo, a famous hot spa resort where, to add to the pleasure of the trip, we will soak and ease the day's fatigues away.
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. We will have a chance to see the Bell Striking Ceremony that takes place in the temple at sunset.
Then the trail turns in dramatically flat, and you will reach the temple in about 45 minutes through the wood. See Beopjusa which was founded in AD 553, the temple boasts of three national treasures and numerous cultural assets. Palsangjeon that houses eight paintings of different stages of the Buddha's life is the five story wooden pagoda constructed in early 17th century, and is a very rare and unique Buddhist architectural structure.
Travel to Andong, a stronghold of Confucianism that has deeply influenced the lives of Koreans in all aspects, and explore Hahoemaeul from the 15th century and was a home of noblemen.
Another striking topographical feature of the village is Buyongdae cliff that rise 64-meters. It is where at one time the ruling class would conduct a poetry meeting as a traditional fireworks display would pop and crack above the river. The village has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage for their cultural value. Queen Elizabeth II came to visit this village on April 21, 1999.
Stop at a traditional paper-making workshop get a glimpse into the world of hand-made paper manufacturing - a painstaking process which hasn't changed much from ancient times.
Later, 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.
Journey northward through cliffy passes over the chains of rugged mountains and scenic coastal roads to Samcheok. En route, stop off at Punggi to explore ginseng market.
We will stop at Sosu Seowon. It is the first private institute established in Korea, and was a birthplace of Confucian education and a cradle of prominent scholars.
Visit Buseoksa, the temple of the floating stone. It is a bit out of the way, but worth the trip. It was established in 676 by the monk Uisang after he had returned from China, bringing with him the teachings of Hwaeom Buddhism.
Later 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. People thought that he became a hermit, thus it was named Hwanseongul.
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.
A short ride from the village is North Korean submarine that was wrecked in the nearby coastal waters on the 18th of September, 1996. The three armed guerillas infiltrated into the land while the others were on standby in the submarine.
Next, on to Pyeongchang for a visit of the 7th century Woljeongsa temple. Then, drive past Gisamun beach, in middle of which runs the 38th parallel north latitude that divided the country in 1945.
Our journey continues to the 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, and give this area an unparalleled popularity around the year.
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.
Signs are well established and there is a constant flow of people coming and going from the hiking trails. 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. And 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.
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
Travel to the most northern tip of the east coast to see Unification Observatory. Then head on to Hwajinpo, a charming coastal town located near the military demarcation line and by the scenic lagoon edged by sweetbriers and reeds, and see Kim Ilsung villa.
Your tour continues through Geojin where the quaint charm of this coastal town captivates every visitor. As you stroll down the fishing port, you will take in the view of boats sailing in and off, drying fishes in the sun, fishermen tending their nets and, on the sleepy roadsides off the dock, elderly women selling fishes - a delightful treat to a rural lifestyle.
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
North Korean Submarine
Seoraksan National Park
Kim Ilsung Villa
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
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.
4 hours and 30 minutes
2 hours and 30 minutes