DAY 1, 16 OCT 2021. ARRIVAL IN SEOUL
Arrive at Incheon airport, Korea's largest international airport, and meet the local guide to embark on this exciting Korean private tour. From the airport take a one-hour drive to Seoul, the national capital and the South-Korean economy's beating heart. South Korea is part of the distinguished and lucrative Asian Tigers Club, a term referring to Asia's four highly developed and free economies. The vibrant city is also the heart of modern Korean culture, which consists of western concepts with a unique twist to it, somewhat of a bridge between East and West. If time allows, depending on the time of landing in Korea, visit one of the bustling night markets where the locals hang out, indulging in the much-loved practice of consumerism.
DAY 2, 17 OCT 2021. ALONG THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE AND ON TO SOKCHO
Leave Seoul and drive north to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), marking the border between South and North Korea. Stretched along 38° parallel, this division in the middle of the peninsula is considered one of the world's most fortified border lines. The boundary line is a formidable symbol of the growing gap between the two nations, but also a sign of hope and reconciliation. It is the place where talks are being held from time to time in an attempt to bridge the gaps, with the ultimate goal of unifying the peninsula into one thriving nation, assuming the two rival parties could reach agreements. Travel along the borderline and visit some of its iconic sites, showing not only the ongoing confrontation between South and North Korea but also the last place where the cold war is still very much alive. Late in the evening, drive to the city of Sokcho on the northmost shoreline of South Korea.
DAY 3, 18 OCT 2021. HIKING THROUGH SEORAKSAN NATURE RESERVE
This whole day is dedicated to exploring Seoraksan Nature Reserve. This is Korea's most famous nature reserve, partially due to its proximity to Seoul but much due to its sheer beauty. The reserve's towering ridges are covered with thick forests, which stand in beautiful autumn colors during this time of the year. Begin the visit with a cable car ride to Gwongeumseong Fortress, which no longer exists. Enjoy a bird's eye view over the preserve from where this fortress once stood. Take the ride back down, and choose one of the many trails crisscrossing the preserve. All these trails offer fantastic walks for everyone, from a light stroll to Byirong Waterfall, all the way to the rather demanding climb to Ulsanbawi Rock rising high above the park for a marvelous vista all the way to the ocean. Late in the afternoon, return to Sokcho to visit the beautiful pavilion perched above the sea and on to the lively fish market where locals enjoy a meal of fresh seafood in traditional local restaurants. In the evening, revert to the hotel for a second night in Sokcho.
DAY 4, 19 OCT 2021. FROM SOKCHO TO ANDONG
Drive down the shoreline and head towards Hwanseon Cave, one of Asia's biggest limestone caves. To date, only 6.2 km of passages have been discovered, but it is believed that the cave's total length goes well beyond 8 km. Due to the constant flow of water through crevasses at the top of the cave, stalactites and stalagmites were never formed here. However, the high water volume formed an underground river, large water ponds, and even waterfalls that flow through the cave. After visiting the cave continue the road trip through the country's backroads to Dosan Seowon Confucian School. The founder of the school is one of Korea's best-renowned educators. He is known for his unique interpretation of Confucianism- the country's main religious philosophy at the time, his technological inventions, his advanced approach towards astronomy, and he is probably one of the greatest Korean philosophers ever. In recent times Yi Hwang's name is commemorated as the figure printed on the 1000 Won bill. Walk through the small and beautiful school, nestled within a beautiful forest and along the river's bank. After touring the school, continue Hahoe Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an excellent example of ancient Korean architecture. Walk along narrow lanes and past small vegetable plots and orchards to enjoy the sight of these old houses before taking to Andong. After setting in the hotel, and if time permits, spend some time walking through Andong's vibrant night market, a great place to enjoy some local food.
DAY 5, 20 OCT 2021. HAEINSA AND JIRISAN NATURE RESERVE
From Andong drive to Haein Temple, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple serves as the center for the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It is considered one of the Three Gem-Temples of Korea. While one of the three represents Lord Buddha, and the other represents the Sangha (the community of followers of the Buddha), Haein Temple represents the Dharma, the Buddha's teachings. For this reason, the temple treasures the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of tens of thousands of wooden printing blocks containing Buddhist scriptures, made in the 13th century. After touring this magnificent temple, drive to a village at Jiri Mountain's foot, a rural area dominated by small tranquil villages. Arrive at the simple homestay for the night, and get an early evening rest, gathering stamina for tomorrow's hike.
Note: Korean homestay involves sleeping on traditional mattresses on the floor! If you prefer to avoid such an experience, please do let us know. We shall arrange for hotel accommodation rather than a homestay.
DAY 6, 21 OCT 2021. HIKE JIRISAN NATURE RESERVE
Wake up very early in the morning, before dawn, to drive to the jump-off spot for today’s hike, the most challenging hike of this Korean private tour. Once at the mountain-top, embark on a walk to a viewpoint for the sunrise over the sea of clouds- a sight much adored by the Korean people. From here, continue hiking through the thick forests, featuring stunning autumn colors. The last part of the hike takes along a gushing stream and on to a beautiful mountain village. Once in the village, hop onto the vehicle and drive back to the homestay for a second night in a very simple homestay.
DAY 7, 22 OCT 2021. BOSEONG TEA PLANTATION AND SUNCHEON BAY
Leave the foot of Jirisan and drive to Boseong Tea Plantation. Like in all neighboring countries, tea holds a far greater significance than just a drink here in Korea. Tea is well embedded in the local culture, tradition, and religion and bears a symbolic attribute, often reflected through elaborate tea ceremonies. Walk through the beautiful terraces and learn about the process of growing, picking and drying these precious leaves and the importance of tea to the Korean people. Leave the plantation and head to Suncheon Bay Ecological Park. The park features a magnificent reed bed that stands in full bloom during the autumn season. The Koreans dub this phenomenon- "Silver Grass". The mudflats along the bay's unique 'S' shaped outflow to the sea provide excellent nesting grounds to various waterfowl; some are extremely rare. Take a walk through the reed bed, and then board a boat for a cruise along the waterway, hopefully in time for a fantastic sunset over the bay. At dusk, take a walk through the beautifully designed Suncheon National Garden before setting in the hotel for the night.
DAY 8, 23 OCT 2021. TO BUSAN
From Suncheon, drive to Busan, Korea's second-largest city and the country's most important port. Visit Jalagchi Fish Market, a vast market covering a large stretch of the city's shoreline, divided among three main venues- street booths offering as-fresh-as-it-gets seafood, a three-story building which literally crawls with fresh produce, and a big shed right at the harbor, where vendors sell fish as they come off the fishing boats. Continue to Gamcheon, once a rundown neighborhood at the city's outskirts. Today, it is a welcoming, vibrant artsy community, that commonly decided to break out of the grey urban landscape and remodel the neighborhood and narrow winding streets. Then stroll through Busan International Film Festival Square. Here locals take to the streets to enjoy local food and live performances while shopping through the trendy lanes.
DAY 9, 24 OCT 2021. HIKE GEUMJEONG MOUNTAIN
Today is another day dedicated to indulging in the foliage madness. Drive to Busan's northern outskirts, to Geumjeong Mountain. Ascend the mountain with a cable car for a view over the city, its harbor, and its surroundings. Then hike down all the way to the Beomeo Temple. Just like Haein Temple, previously visited, Beomeo functions as a regional headquarters to the Jogye order. The temple's history goes back to the 9th century AD when it was first built and served as one of the Haweom Buddhist order's leading establishments. Despite its long history, the current structure is "only" 400 years old. The original 9th-century building was burnt during the Japanese invasion at the end of the 16th century. Tour the vast compound before driving back to the hotel in the heart of Busan.
DAY 10, 25 OCT 2021. DRIVE TO GYEONGJU
Leave Busan and head to Gyeongju. Gyeongju served as the capital city for the Silla Kingdom, which ruled over a period of 960 years- one of the longest-ruling dynasties in human history! Accordingly, this ancient capital, which at its height ruled over two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula, is scattered with historical relics, often referred to as a "museum without walls". Before arriving in Gyeongju, visit Seokuram Grotto. This hermitage, perched 750 meters above sea level, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Evidence suggests works in the grotto begun in 742 and completed in 774, resulting in some of the most important and best-preserved Buddhist sculptures in the world. From here, take a leisurely walk along the winding trail gently descending through the forest to Bulguksa Temple. This 8th-century temple serves as the main temple of the Jogye Order and is home to several national cultural treasures. Amidst these are significant stone pagodas, the Blue and White Cloud Bridges, and gilded Buddha figures. Wrap up this busy day with a visit to Anap Pond, formerly the centerpiece of a royal recreational garden, lavishly lit as a reminder of the city's past glory.
DAY 11, 26 OCT 2021. REVERT TO SEOUL
Leave Gyeongju and drive through Korea's amazing network of highways all the way up north, back to Seoul. Upon arrival back in the Korean capital city, take a walking tour through Bukcheon. Once a residential neighborhood of officials and clerks serving the royal court, today it is a hip place of trendy restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops. It showcases the fusion of new, rebellious culture with old traditional architecture along these beautiful lanes. Proceed to Dongdaemun Design Plaza, an architectural wonder at the city center, designed by the late Zaha Hadid. After a walking tour around this massive complex, take to Dongdaemun Night market for an evening stroll.
DAY 12, 27 OCT 2021. EXPLORING OLD SEOUL
Begin the last day of this Korean private tour with a walk around Seoul's historical and cultural center. Begin at the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which unsurprisingly resembles the structure and characteristics of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The palace, first constructed in 1935, is the largest of the Joseon Dynasty's five palaces. Like other significant buildings in Korea, it was burnt to the ground during the Japanese invasion at the end of the 16th century. It was then fully restored, only to be destroyed once again at the Japanese takeover of the early 20th century. Much of a symbol for Korean sovereignty, the palace is undergoing massive reconstruction to be brought back to its days of glory when it served as the residence of Korean royalty. Pay a visit to the National Folk Museum, located at the palace compound, featuring Korean art, history, and contemporary exhibitions. Proceed to the War Memorial. Though the site is dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives during the last Korean War, it provides a broader insight into Korean history in general, and especially its military record. Korea has seen for centuries constant wars amidst ancient kingdoms that ruled the peninsula, but also ongoing wars with neighboring countries. The museum provides an in-depth understanding of the region's geopolitics, which are still very much relevant. Late in the afternoon, take a short ride to N Seoul Tower, probably the city's most prominent landmark. From the top of this communication tower, rising 263 meters above a hill overlooking the town, get a view over this vast city, which nearly half of South Korea's citizens call home. After the unavoidable stop at one of the city's lively night markets, revert to the hotel for the last night of this Korean private tour.
DAY 13, 28 OCT 2021. DEPARTURE FROM SEOUL
After breakfast at the hotel, drive back to Incheon Airport to end this Korea private tour, say farewell to the local guide, and board the international flight out of Korea.
Dates & Pricing
Trip rates valid for two confirmed travelers and above. If you are booking this trip for a party of four travelers or more, please contact us for our special rates.
Prices are based on twin share occupancy.
Discounted rates for groups of 4 travelers and above:
4 travelers- US$3450/ person
6 travelers- US$3356/ person
8 travelers- US$2772/ person
- Applicable only for travel groups of 4 people or more booking their trip together.
16th October, 2021–28th October, 2021
- $5,499 Per Person (From 2 people)
- $1,190 Single Room Supplement
- Accommodation at selected hotels/homestay
- Transfer by private A/C vehicle
- Meals as indicated in the program (B&B basis)
- English speaking guide
- Entry fees for all sightseeing as mentioned on the program
- International airfare to/from Seoul
- Travel insurance
- Korean tourist visa
- Excess luggage
- Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
- Anything not clearly mentioned in the program
- Seoul- PJ Hotel 4-star
- Sokcho- Ramada Sokcho 4-star
- Andong- Andong Richell 4-star
- Jirisan- Homestay
- Suncheon- Ecograde 4-star
- Busan- Crowne Harbor 4-star
- Gyeongju- The Suites Hotel 4-star
Note: the listed hotels are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.
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