Day 1: Depart Auckland – Seoul
Departing Auckland with Korean Airlines we will fly direct from Auckland to Seoul. Arriving mid evening, we will transfer to our hotel. Enjoy a free evening to recuperate from the long flight.
Day 2: Seoul Sightseeing
After breakfast we will head out to explore Seoul. Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea, merges towering skyscrapers and high-tech subways with the timeless charm of Buddhist temples, majestic palaces, and bustling street markets.
We will visit Gyeongbokgug Palace which was the main royal palace during the Joseon dynasty. The Joeson was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea (1392-1897) Here we will learn about and (if you wish) try on some traditional Korean clothing. We will then explore Bukchon Hanok Village, with hundreds of traditional ‘hanok’ houses that date to the Joseon dynasty.
Later we learn the art of making Kimchi at the Seoul Kimchi Academy before heading to Gwangjang Market. Korea’s oldest and largest traditional market, it is the perfect place to sample a wide range of street foods. It is also a large wholesale market with vendors selling a wide range of traditional goods and more.
To finish a busy day, we will cruise the Han River to enjoy Seoul from a different perspective. This evening we will enjoy welcome dinner at a traditional Korean BBQ restaurant. (B/D)
Day 3: Seoul – Gongju – Daejeon
After breakfast we leave Soul and drive 125km to Gongju. Gongju is the present-day location of Ungjinm the capital of the Baekje Kingdom from 475 to 538 CE. We visit the Gongju National Museum which houses a permanent exhibition of artefacts excavated from the tomb of King Muryeong, the 25th king of the Baekje Kingdom.
From there we visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites from the period including the Gonsansesong Fortress which is over 2.6km long and is not only worth visiting for its historical and cultural significance but its location with its surrounding forest and views of the Geumgang River. Having seen the artifacts of King Muryeong’s Tomb we then visit the tomb site itself, a brick chamber decorated with lotus flowers which was only discovered in 1971.
We carry on to Daejeon and we have the option to revive our tired feet and legs at the Hot Spring Foot Spa. (B/L)
Day 4: Daejeon – Mt Maisan – Jeonju
After breakfast we will drive to Maisan Mountain which literally means ‘horse ears’ on account of its two peaks that rise to 667 and 673 metres. We will walk the trail (about 30 minutes) to Tapsa Temple which has over 80 stone pagodas built by Lee Gapyong, a retired scholar in the late 1800s. After our return walk to the coach, we drive to Omkodae, a historical site where Yi Seong-gye, who later became King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon dynasty, stopped to celebrate his victory on his way home from a war against the Japanese army. The site also offers a panoramic view of our next stop, Jeonju Hanok Village with its 735 traditional houses.
Arriving in Jeonju Hanok Village we will visit the Hanji Centre for a traditional Korean paper-making workshop (Hanji). Lastly, we visit Gyinggijeon Shrine erected in 1410 and home to the portrait of King Tai-Jo, the first King and founder of the Joseon dynasty. (B/L)
Day 5: Jeonju – Sunchang – Gangjin – Suncheon
We continue with the handmade theme today travelling to Sunchang to make and taste gochujang, the Korean red pepper paste made from chilli pepper powder. From there we head to Gangjin.
In Gangjin we will visit the Three-story Stone Pagoda at the Wollamsa Temple Site near the beautiful Baekundong Garden where nature and traditional Korean architecture exist in harmony. We will also experience the traditional tea culture of Korea after a visiting the tea museum before continuing our travels to Suncheon where we will overnight. (B/L)
Day 6: Suncheon – Tongyeong
This morning we visit the Suncheonman Bay Wetland Reserve, a natural habitat for birds of over 140 species. The reserve is accessed by a series of boardwalks set within a sea of reeds and waterways.
Afterwards, drive to Tonyeong which sometimes dubbed as Korea’s “Napoli” but also known for its 575 islands. We will visit the 400 year old Jungang Market and Dongpirang Mural Village as well as Nammangsan Sculpture Park. The Park was established to display the works of 15 famous sculptors from 10 countries who participated in the Tongyeong International Sculpture Symposium.
At the end of the day, we will take the cable car up Mount Mireuksan and 360-degree view of Hallyeohaesang National Park. (B/L)
Day 7: Tongyeong – Busan
Today we travel to Busan a bustling port city that you may recall as the venue for the Olympic sailing events in 1988 for a two night stay.
We visit Gamcheon, a residential village with its homes stepping up the hillside like a staircase. Adding to its interest are the many alley ways that have been vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the residents.
We then explore Huinnyeoul Culture Village. The Village was created in 2011, by remodelling empty and abandoned houses, it was reborn as a culture and art village that encourages the creative spirit of local artists and allows local residents to experience culture in their daily lives. Next stop is the Jagachi Fish Market before making our way to the Busan Observatory for panoramic views of the city. (B/L)
Day 8: Busan
Today we have a full day in Busan taking in more of the sights.
First, we visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a 14th-century Buddhist temple. It is unusual as it is sited right on the coast whereas most temples in Korea are found in the mountains. Afterwards we head to Haeundae Beach which its backdrop of skyscrapers before carrying on to Dongbaekseom Island.
Years of sedimentation have connected Dongbarkseom to the mainland and has a walkway around it. The island has its own “Little Mermaid” statue which is based on the legend of Princess Hwagok. The island also boasts fantastic views of the Busan shoreline towards Mipo, Dalmaji Hill, Gwangangdaegyo Bridge, and Oryukdo Island.
Our last visit before returning to the hotel is to Taejongdae Park with its magnificent sea cliffs, caves and unusually shaped rocks. Here we can explore on foot or take the Danubi train which provides access to the Observatory. (B/L)
Day 9: Busan – Gyeongju
After breakfast we farewell Busan and travel to Gyeongju where we will step back in time to the Silla Kingdom 57 BC- 676 AD, one of the three ancient kingdoms of Korea. Visit the Daereungwon Tomb Complex which consists of a wooden coffin placed inside an underground chamber mounded with boulders and dirt and was as a typical upper-class tomb of the Silla period.
We will then walk down Hwangridangil Street where tradition meets current aesthetic trends before visiting the Cheomseongdae Observatory and Gyeongju Donggung Palace which was the secondary palace used by the crown prince of the Silla Kingdom. Lastly, we will visit Gyeongju Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is representative of the Buddhist culture of this period of Korean history. (B/L)
Day 10: Gyeongju – Haeinsa Temple – Daegu – Gyeongju
This morning we’ll drive to Mt. Gaya National Park to visit Haeinsa Temple, home to the Tripitaka Koreana, a set of 80,000 wooden printing blocks engraved with one of the most comprehensive compilations of the Buddhist scriptures in all of Asia.
After the tour, we will visit the Daegu Traditional Market “Daegu Seomun Market” and you can sample the market’s street food before we return to Gyeongju for the night. (B)
Day 11: Gyeongju – Angdong – Danyang
Breakfast that the hotel before driving to Andong. Here we will visit the Traditional Food Museum, and the Andong Hahoe Village [UNESCO World Heritage Site]. The village is surrounded by the Nakdonggang River and is home to descendants of the Ryu clan of Pungsan, who still make up 70 percent of the village population.
The village is also known as birthplace of brothers Ryu Unryong and Ryu Seongryong. One was a great Confucian scholar of the Joseon Dynasty, the other was Prime Minister during the period of the Japanese Invasion (1592 to 1598).
After our visit we will make our own wooden Korean totems before heading to the Byeongsanseowon Confucian Academy [UNESCO World Heritage Site].
Later we will drive to Danyang. There are not a lot of food options here so we will head to the Danyang Traditional Market to buy ourselves dinner. A popular option is the local garlic chicken and garlic bread. We will then check in to our hotel for the night. (B/L)
Day 12: Danyang – Mt Seorak – Sokcho
Today we will get to stretch our legs on the Danyanggang Jando Trail, a 1.2-kilometer-long trekking path along Namhangang River. There are also various attractions nearby, including Mancheonha Skywalk, offering a tour experience that covers geology and history of the area.
We then stop at Seorak Mountain and Gwongeumseong Fortress. Ironically there is no fortress, it is a natural rocky outcrop on the Dolsan Mountain that believed to be the site of a long-gone castle from the Goryeo Period (918-1392 AD). Now but the cable car ride to the top offers breathtaking views on a clear day.
Our last sightseeing stop is the Sinheungsa Temple. Surrounded by Seoraksan National Park, the temple is a place of beauty and peace. (B/L)
Day 13: Sokcho – Seoul
After breakfast we drive the short distance to Goseong. Here we visit Goseong Unification Observation Tower and Goseong DMZ Museum. From here you can see the Haegeumgang River and the islands nearby as well as get a glimpse of the various peaks of Geumgangsan Mountain (North Korea). (B/L)
Today is a busy day, so on returning to our hotel in Seoul you will be free to relax.
Day 14: Seoul – Depart
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and later transfer back to the airport to check in for our flight. (B)
Day 15: Arrive Auckland
Arrive in Auckland at approximately 8am.
Authentic South Korea Highlights
Estimated Tour Price:
NZD 7,890 per person twin share
NZD 9,345 per single
TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
- Project Expeditions Tour Escort from New Zealand
- Return economy-class international flights from Auckland
- Accommodation in the hotels (or similar) as per the itinerary
- Meals as per the itinerary
- All entrance fees for sightseeing as per the itinerary
- Hands-on/interactive workshops as per the itinerary
- Local English-Speaking guide
- Transportation by coach
TOUR PRICE EXCLUDES:
- Meals not specified as included
- All drinks and beverages during meals
- Personal expenses
- Upgrades on international flights
- Domestic flights to Auckland
The above itinerary is subject to change due to airline reschedules, adverse weather and road conditions, unexpected political situations, or the decision by the host ground operator based on what is best for the group at time of arrival. Every effort will be made to deliver the itinerary and tour price exactly as stated