Our Discover South Korea holiday takes you on a journey of exploration through this extraordinary country including all sightseeing with a private guide. Start in Seoul, the bustling capital where the modern meets ancient Seoul in a harmonious clash of colour. Take a train ride south to Jeonju. Here, experience an overnight in a traditional 14th-century Korean guesthouse. Spend time in Busan which makes the National Geographic's list of 25 breathtaking places and experiences for 2023! High on their list is sipping craft beer at one of the many local breweries. Finally visit Gyeongju the 'open air museum' which boasts literally hundreds of tombs, temples, shrines and Buddhist statuary.
Fly overnight from the UK to Seoul.
Arrive in Seoul where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Ibis Ambassador Seoul Insadong or similar. Take the rest of the evening to explore or recuperate after your flight.
Today, embark on a journey to explore Seoul using public transportation with the help of a local guide. Discover the cultural and historical wonders of Gyeongbokgung Palace (closed on Tuesdays) where the Royal Guards-Changing Ceremony takes place, and admire the epic statues of King Sejong and Naval Warrior Yi Sun-sin at Gwanghwamun Square. Explore the history, agriculture, and folk art of South Korea at the National Folk Museum, and indulge in the delicious street food of South Korea with recommendations from your local guide while wandering around Gwangjang Market. This market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in South Korea (B)
Begin your morning by meeting your local guide for transfer to Yongsan Train Station and board the KTX train to Jeonju. Experience the thrill of South Korea's bullet trains called KTX (Korea Train Express) traveling at speeds of up to 330km per hour. Take a local taxi (payable locally) to Jeonju Hanok Village, and embark on a walking tour with your local guide.
Discover the cultural and historical wonders of Jeongdong Cathedral, Gyeonggijeon Hall & Royal Portrait Museum, and wander around the traditional lanes of Hanok Village, where you can also wear Hanbok (traditional Korean costume). As the birthplace of Bibimbap, make sure to taste this delicious 'meal in a bowl.' Don't miss the Bibimbap festival held in October.
Experience a night's stay in traditional centuries-old Korean homes called Hanoks. These homes feature a comfortable futon-style bed and a Korean-style ondol floor heating system. The rooms are en suite, and a simple breakfast is included in your stay. (B)
After breakfast, take a taxi (which can be paid locally and takes around 10 minutes) to Jeonju Train Station, where you will catch a train to Busan (this journey takes approximately 3 hours). Upon arrival in Busan, meet with your local guide, who will take you on an afternoon tour of the city. Your itinerary will include visiting the colourful neighbourhoods known as Gamcheon Culture Village, where you will learn about its history of housing refugees fleeing the Korean War and how this former slum has been transformed into a vibrant area filled with street art, boutiques, and cafes. Additionally, enjoy a ride on the Songdo cable car and take in its incredible views. Visit Taejongdae Park, which is situated on an island in the bay of Busan and offers some pretty impressive coastal scenery. The last stop of the day is Jagalchi Fish Market and Gukje market, where you can sample some tasty Eomuk (fish cakes) and Hotteok (a sweet pancake). Check in to the Asti Hotel Busan Station for 2 nights. (B)
Today, embark on a full day tour of Busan with your local guide. Begin your morning by heading out to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. First constructed in 1376, it is among the few temples built on the coast, as most temples are located in the mountains. Here, admire the coastal vistas, colourful altars and a particularly large fat gold Buddha. Afterward, board the retro-style Haeundae Beach Train to take in panoramic views of East Busan's sea. Since all seats on the train are faced towards the sea, everyone gets a window seat! On Dongbaekseom Island, take a walk from Haeundae Beach to the eye-catching glass Nurimaru APEC House. (B)
Transfer to Gyeongju by car. Above Bulguksa, located in the mist-filled mountains, is the world-famous Buddhist grotto listed by UNESCO with its monumental statue of Buddha gazing at the sea. Explore the magnificent Temple of Bulguksa, also known as the Buddha Nation Temple, built in 774 on a series of stone terraces, which is the crowning glory of Silla temple architecture. Take a short bike tour around some of Gyeongju's sights and Bomum Lake and learn about Gyeongju's past as the capital of the ancient Korean kingdom, Silla. Overnight in Gyeongju GG Tourist Hotel or similar. (B)
This morning, travel by a locally payable taxi for around 20 minutes (payable locally) to reach the SinGyeongju KTX Train Station and catch the bullet train back to Seoul. Upon arrival, meet with your local guide and continue your exploration of Seoul by visiting one of its more upscale and perhaps trendiest areas - Gangnam. Take a leisurely stroll down K-Star Road and marvel at the famous character dolls that represent all the renowned Kpop idols. Make a stop at the Byeolmadang Library, where you can find a colossal 13-metre bookshelf holding over 70,000 books. If the weather is favourable, enjoy a tasty picnic of Korean fried chicken at Han River Park.. Check in to your hotel for overnight stay. (B,L)
This morning transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)
This is an example itinerary staying at our preferred three star hotels, accompanied by a guide price. If you would like alternative options staying at four or five star hotels, or if you have a higher or lower budget than the guide price, please ring one of our travel specialists on 0207 666 1244 and we can tailor this trip to suit your precise requirements.