Asia’s third-largest economy, South Korea is a high-tech, trend-setting nation with a reverent, old soul. With tranquil national parks boasting picturesque landscapes, a rich cultural history, delicious local cuisine, a bounty of the latest technological advances, fashions and more, a visit to ‘the Land of Morning Calm’ should be on every traveller’s list.
South Korea is a dream destination for many travellers. The capital, Seoul, is a fast-paced cosmopolitan centre with an appetite for fashion, pop culture, and the latest in high-tech gadgets. Yet just an hour away from the cityscape, travellers can find themselves enjoying the peace and tranquillity of various national parks, encompassing gorgeous hiking trails and dense mountain landscapes.
With ancient cultural traditions also retaining a strong presence throughout the country, travellers seeking a cultural experience are sure to be satisfied. Friendly people, a unique and delicious food culture, and delightful contrasts between the modern and the traditional ensure that the indomitable spirit of South Korea will enchant and inspire travellers from all walks.
Fly to Seoul via a connecting city. Note: some flights may depart the next day
On arrival in Seoul, you will be warmly greeted at the airport by your tour guide and transferred to your hotel. South Korea’s capital city is home to a population of 10.5 million people. A dynamic city blending ancient traditions with modern hi-tech advances, it offers the visitor plenty of sightseeing opportunities and activities. The Lotte Tower super-high skyscraper (pictured right) is a dramatic recent addition to the skyline.
The home of Confucianism in Korea, scholars flocked to Andong during the Jeoson Dynasty. Andong was also home to a significant number of the noble class during this time. Many of their residences have been preserved, and the city is a great place to experience the core of Korea’s traditional lifestyle, including traditional houses of the Joseon Dynasty period (1392-1897). Andong is also known as the source of some of Korea’s most renowned liquors – Andong Soju. In Daegu, take a stroll in Dongseongno Shopping District, a major fashion retail district. The streets are packed with hundreds of stores full of personality that reflect the city’s fast-paced fashion trends. Enjoy magnificent views by taking a cable car to Palgongsan Natural Park.
Today we explore the many archaeological sites and temples, royal tombs, and monuments of Gyeongju, the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom (57 BC – 935 AD). Visit Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory, Royal Tumuli Park, Gyeongju National Museum, Bulguksa Temple, and Seokguram Grotto Temple. The Silla Dynasty reigned during what many would consider the most important period in Korean history, with Gyeongju as its capital. The city itself is now thought of as an open air museum, housing an endless array of tombs, temples, pagodas, and ruins dating back as early as 57BC. With a layout and architecture modelled on China’s Tang Dynasty capital Chang’an (now Xi’an), Gyeongju’s dramatic burial mounds also reveal Korean cultural links with the ancient ‘horse people’ of central Asia and Siberia.
In Busan, we visit Haedong Yonggungsa (East Sea Dragon Palace Temple), situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of the city and overlooking the ocean. Afterwards, you will have an opportunity to view the waves while looking down through the transparent floor of the 15 metre high Oryukdo Skywalk, which is set over a 35 meter-high coastal cliff. Travel to Gamcheon Culture Village situated on the foothills of a coastal mountain and nicknamed ‘Machu Picchu of Busan’. You will be thrilled by the many alleys cutting through this village, vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the local residents. Stop at one of Korea’s largest markets, Nampo Dong Gukje Market for a wide variety of goods at affordable prices. Then visit Nurimaru APEC House, a memorial hall and prestigious international conference hall located near Haeundae Beach, offering visitors spectacular views of the nearby natural landscape.
Depart Busan after breakfast. On arrival, visit Changdeokgung Palace, one of the ‘Five Grand Palaces’ built by the Kings of the Jeoson Dynasty, and Insadong, a street full of traditional Korean antique and art shops, restaurants and tea houses. Continue to Cheonggyecheon Stream and admire this urban oasis before visiting Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s main commercial districts.
Visit North Korea’s 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, located within the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), a 44 km drive northwest of Seoul. In the event of an invasion from the North, an entire infantry division could have move through the tunnel in an hour. View North Korean territory, including the Propaganda Village, People’s School, and Gaeseong City – the old capital city of the Goryeo Kingdom – from the Dora Observation Platform. Also visit Freedom Park, dedicated to the 5 million people who left their families and homes in North Korea. North Hall contains displays of North Korean lifestyle. Later, try on a hanbok, the traditional attire of the Korean people at Namsan Hanbok Culture Experience Centre before experiencing the city’s best night view at Namsan Tower.
After breakfast, transfer to Incheon International Airport for your overnight flight back to Australia.
Arrive home this morning.