Seoul Searching & Jeju - 9 days
FROM USD $5,799
From vibrant Seoul and Gyeongju the ancient kingdom of Silla, to the bustling port city of Busan, the natural wonders of the volcanic island of Jeju and the fascinating DMZ! See the highlights of South Korea both ancient and modern.
Day 1: Seoul
Upon arrival in Seoul you will be met by our representative at Incheon International Airport and transferred to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight - Seoul
Day 2: Exploring Seoul
Today is spent visiting Seoul’s most famous landmarks on a guided tour of the city. Sights include Cheong Wa Dae (aka The Blue House), which is South Korea’s answer to The White House, where the executive office is housed as well as being the President of South Korea’s residence. Then visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the last Korean Dynasty, the Joseon Dynasty. Within the Palace grounds visit Jogyesa Temple dedicated to Buddhism and still influential today. You'll also gain an insight into Korean culture, tradition and history at the National Folk Museum which situated in the grounds of the palace.
After exploring the palace head to Insadong, with its wonderful markets and shops. The area has a traditional atmosphere and represents Korean culture both past and present with a mixture of modern and historical buildings and alleys. This afternoon take the chance to explore the many antique, craft and pottery shops as well as traditional restaurants and teahouses. If time permits you will also have the opportunity to visit an amethyst or ginseng specialist for some home remedies or finery.
Lastly take in the wonderful panoramic views of bustling Seoul from the Seoul Tower, which is located on top of Mount Namsan.
Overnight - Seoul (B)
Day 3: Gyeongju
Seoul - Gyeongju. Travelling South East from Seoul to Gyeongju located in the North Gyeongsang province. Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, which ruled most of the Korean Peninsula during the 7th till 9th Centuries, many remnants remain of this period leading to the city being known as “the museum without walls”. An afternoon tour of Gyeongju takes you to Tumuli Park where to visit some of the more than 20 large and small tombs from the Silla period including that of King Michu, the 13th King of the dynasty famed for fending off invaders. Legends even tell of soldiers with bamboo leaves stuffed in their ears arising from his tomb to fend off invaders after his death, explaining why his tomb is known as the “Bamboo Soldier Tomb”.
Also once part of the ancient Silla complex is Anapji Pond, a picturesque pond where the Silla royal family spent their leisure time. During renovations to the area in the 1970’s and 80’s many relics were unearthed and are today housed in the Gyeongju National Museum alongside the Emille Bell. Top off today's sightseeing with a visit to Cheomseongdae Observatory - oldest surviving observatory in East Asia and one of the world’s oldest scientific installations still in existence.
Overnight - Gyeongju (B)
Day 4: Busan
Gyeongju – Busan. This morning visit the UNESCO listed temple of Bulguska and Seokguram Grotto, one of Asia’s finest Buddhist shrines, dramatically located on the slopes of Toham Mountain, 750 metres above sea level and looking out over the Sea of Japan.
This afternoon travel onwards to Busan, South Korea’s principal port city and second largest city, situated on the south eastern tip of the Korean Peninsula. In the afternoon travel to Busan Tower located in Yongdusan Park and offering spectacular views of the old port city. Then to get a taste of how the locals live pay a visit to the Jagalchi Fish Market where fishermen sell their fresh catch and the locals haggle for a good deal. Then it’s time to practise some haggling at Kukje Market, the best place in Busan to find silk, clothing, linen, handbags and much more. With its small and overloaded stores, the goods fill the narrow alleyways spilling into the surrounding streets, making Kukje Market quite a spectacle. Overnight - Busan (B)
Busan – Jeju Island. Morning transfer to Gimhae Airport and onward flight to Jeju Island. About an hour from Busan by air, Jeju Island is a volcanic island brimming with natural beauty, unique cultural traditions and a perfect temperate climate. This afternoon take a tour of Jeju Island to Hallim Park with its exotic botanical gardens, lava caves, folk village and O’Sulloc Tea Museum where guests can learn more about the traditional Korean tea culture. Evening at leisure.
Overnight - Jeju Island (B)
Day 6: Mount Hallasan National Park
Today explore the scenic landscape of Jeju Island on a hiking tour of Mt.Hallasan National Park visiting the spectacular volcanic rock formations of Jusangjeolli Cliff, and the beautiful three tiered Cheonjeyeon Falls. Evening at leisure. Overnight - Jeju Island (B)
Day 7: Seongsan Sunrise Peak
Jeju Island – Seoul. For your final day on Jeju Island visit Manjanggul Cave, the UNESCO listed cave is the world’s longest lava cave stretching for approximately 8 kilometres; also see Seongsan Sunrise Peak, a magnificent volcano crater rising from the sea with cliffs to the southeast and north sides and the northwest side a verdant grassy hill. Then visit Seongeup Village, a mountain village still living a mountain existence with villagers residing in traditional thatched roof houses with stone and clay walls. Afternoon transfer to Jeju Airport and flight to Seoul, arriving in Gimpo Airport. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight - Seoul (B)
Day 8: The DMZ
Seoul – DMZ – Seoul. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is located around 45km north of Seoul and acts as a buffer zone and border between the two nations of North Korea and South Korea splitting the Korean Peninsula in half at the 38th parallel. It runs from east to west, stretches 250 kilometres, is 4 kilometres wide and is the most heavily militarized border in the world. Today join a coach tour to visit the DMZ and get a better understanding of the events that resulted in the division of Korea. Today's tour also includes a visit to Imjingak Park, built on the shore of the Imjin River to commemorate all those who lost their homes and were separated from their families when Korea was split in two and the 3rd North Korean Infiltration Tunnel. The tunnel was built with the intention of a surprise invasion by North Korea and discovered by South Korea in 1978 after a tip from a North Korean defector. The tunnel is approximately 1.5 kilometres in length and 150 metres below ground.
You will also have the chance to peek into the reclusive north by visiting Dora Observatory situated on Mount Dora on the South Korean side closest to the North. Here visitors use binoculars and can see as far as Kaesong, a light industrial city of North Korea. Later visit Dorasan Station, once used for freight trains to travel between the South and the North but eventually halted by the North. On the way back to Seoul if time permits there will stop for a spot of last minute shopping!
Overnight - Seoul (B)
Day 9: Seoul
After breakfast onward departure transfer to the airport. (B)