Front view of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan on a sunny day

Best of South Korea

Trip code
BSK001

South Korea might not look so big on a map, but over the course of almost two weeks, this trip will show you that its size doesn’t matter at all – there’s simply so much to see here, and you’ll be hitting all the top spots.

The trip combines Seoul and Busan, two of Asia’s most exciting cities. In between, you’ll be hiking through the peaks of Korea’s prettiest national park, staying the dynastic way at a wooden hanok guesthouse, seeing the “open-air museum” of the ancient Kingdom of Silla, and much more – all the while getting a handle on Korea’s utterly unique culture.

Pricing

Price based on 3* accommodation
From
$6,000
pp
Price based on 4* accommodation
From
$6,300
pp

Key facts

12 nights/13 days
Deepen your understanding of Korean history with tours of the Demilitarized Zone and Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Silla
Learn about Korea’s feudal era staying at a hanok guesthouse in Hahoe Village
Hike the mountains of Seoraksan National Park and take in ocean views from Naksansa Temple
Enjoy a kimchi-making class, an evening food tour of Seoul and a rice wine-making experience at Boksoondoga Makgeolli Brewery
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DAY 10-11 BUSAN DAY 1-3, 12-13 SEOUL DAY 3 DMZ DAY 4-5 SEORAKSAN NP DAY 6 (stop off) NAKSANSA TEMPLE DAY 6-7 ANDONG DAY 8-9 GYEONGJU DAY 10 (stop off) ULSAN
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DAY 10-11 BUSAN DAY 1-3, 12-13 SEOUL DAY 3 DMZ DAY 4-5 SEORAKSAN NP DAY 6 (stop off) NAKSANSA TEMPLE DAY 6-7 ANDONG DAY 8-9 GYEONGJU DAY 10 (stop off) ULSAN

Transport is a mix of high-speed train and private car. One of the connections is by KTX train (2.5 hours), and the other connections are by drives of between 1.5-3.5 hours with a few stop-offs also included.

What's great

Gain an insight into local culture with a blend of classic destinations and off-the-beaten-track locations

See South Korea in all its geographical diversity as you travel from the dramatic mountains of Seoraksan National Park to the coastal temple of Naksansa and the rice paddy-filled countryside

With 13 days, 5 destinations and 2 stop-offs, there's a jam-packed schedule – meaning you get an in-depth and well-rounded experience of the country

Get hands-on with cultural experiences ranging from traditional hanji paper-making to learning how to brew makgeolli rice wine

There's something for everyone, with countryside hikes, food tours, temple visits, a rural hanok stay and the chance to try your hand at traditional crafts

Things to consider

Although only your final night is a one-night stay, it’s a very busy trip with lots included – but this itinerary can always be trimmed down for those who want to go slower, with fewer destinations or excursions

It's a fairly active itinerary, with lots of walking involved – so if you prefer to explore at a more leisurely pace, let us know and we’ll adapt it

The experience

Day 1-3

Seoul

Massive and manic, but with a charmingly traditional side, Seoul is one of our favourite cities – and over the course of a few days here, we’re sure you’ll feel the same. On the very first night you’ll sample its culinary delights at a street-food market and traditional barbecue restaurant, while palaces, temples and folk tradition – plus views from a tower jutting from the top of Seoul’s central mountain – are also on the menu, filling up a jam-packed first full day. The next morning, you’ll head to the “scariest place on Earth” – the DMZ separating the two Koreas, where you might even get the chance to step across the border into North Korea.

Customers selecting spices at a food market in Seoul

Highlights

Taste your way through the street markets of downtown Seoul

Explore the traditional alleyways of Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong’s alleyways with your guide

Take in the changing of the guard ceremony at the must-see Gyeongbokgung palace

Learn about the troubled history between the two Koreas at the border between North and South Korea on the DMZ tour

View down a street in Bukchon Hanok Village with Seoul skyline in the background

Day 4-5

Seoraksan National Park

Three quarters of South Korea is mountainous, and the country has no fewer than 22 national parks. Most would say that Seoraksan is the most spectacular of the lot, its jumble of granite peaks jutting dramatically from undulating, unspoiled forest. You’ll have a full day to enjoy the park’s various trails, with good options available from easy to difficult – for example, it’s a refreshing, flattish walk to stunning Sinheungsa temple, while getting all the way to lofty Gwongeumsong Fortress will put some definition on your calves (or you can just take the cable car). Mountain air, birdsong, and potentially caves and waterfalls too, this is one day you won’t forget in a hurry.

Fast flowing stream and lush green trees in Seoraksan National Park

Highlights

Hike various trails through the mountains and enjoy the view from the summit

Take in the natural beauty of Biryong & Towangseong waterfalls

Ride the Seoraksan cable car to explore the centuries-old Gwongeumseong Fortress

Footbridge over gorge next to Biryong Falls Waterfall in Seoraksan National Park

The finer detail

Breakfast every day

  • One dinner: One at the hanok accommodation in Andong
  • Four full-day experiences: Full-day guided tour of Seoul, full-day DMZ tour, full-day tour of Busan, full-day tour of Andong
  • Five half-day experiences: Naksansa temple stop-off, Gyeongju half-day tour, makgeolli rice-wine making stop-off, Busan half-day tour, kimchi-making class
  • One evening experience: Evening food tour in Seoul
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All internal transport & accommodation
  • Wi-Fi device
  • Pre-loaded T-money transport card

Day 1:

Car transfer from Incheon airport to Seoul (50 minutes)

Day 4:

Car transfer from Seoul to Seoraksan National Park (3 hours)

Day 6:

Car transfer from Seoraksan National Park to Naksansa Temple (20 minutes)

Car transfer from Naksansa Temple to Andong (3.5 hours)

Day 8:

Car transfer from Andong to Gyeongju (2 hours)

Day 10:

Car transfer from Gyeongju to Busan (1 hours 30 minutes plus stop-off)

Day 12:

High speed train transfer from Busan to Seoul (2 hours 30 minutes) 

Day 13: 

Car transfer from hotel to Incheon airport (50 minutes) 

  • International flights
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tips for guides & porters