Essential South Korea
While not East Asia’s cheapest destination, South Korea isn’t the most expensive, either, and a visit to this dynamic and fascinating country doesn’t have to break the bank.
Designed for budget travelers, this trip focuses on the big cities of Seoul and Busan, with also a day spent exploring the historical richness of Gyeongju, the UNESCO World Heritage town that has been called Korea’s “museum without walls.” Over eight days you’ll experience a big blast of culture while supported by our customized travel resources and destination guides. To top it off, you’ll also get to feast on some of the tastiest cuisine the country has to offer.
Transport in detail
With only 3 destinations travel time is limited meaning more time exploring each destination. All three destinations are connected by Korea's excellent network of high-speed KTX trains and journey times range from thirty-five minutes to three hours.
Explore a winning mix of traditional and modern culture - from the buzzing Hongdae university district In Seoul, to the ancient monuments In Gyeongju.
A deep dive into what makes Korea great, such the food on our ultimate Korean BBQ night out, where you'll get an introduction to local restaurant etiquette - a sometimes tricky step for a first timer.
Things to consider
Costs are kept low with few inclusions, so for most of the trip you will be exploring independently with the help of our detailed destinations guides, T-money transport card and Wi-Fi device.
This trip utilises Korea’s excellent public transport network, so we advise keeping light on luggage.
Colossal and cutting-edge, Seoul is truly a city that never sleeps, with a sizzling nightlife that keeps pumping on well into the dawn. The town is home to a youth culture that drives global trends, and the sheer number of restaurants will make your head swim. During your first three days you’ll be able to nibble on fresh cuts of barbecued pork washed down green bottles of soju in the city’s Mapo district or lose yourself in the lights and bopping bars of Hongdae. And if you need to clear your head, Bukhansan National Park sits at the city’s doorstep, where a spiderweb of hiking paths will take you up out of the chaos, into a quieter world of pines, stone, and mountain breeze.
Head out for a night on the town in Mapo area, famous for Its Korean BBQ for some charcoal grilled pork, kimchi and a drink or two to live It up like the locals.
Explore Hongdae -a buzzing university district with great nightlife, the latest In Korean fashion, and heaps of hipster bars and restaurants (optional).
Pay a visit to Gyeongbokgung----Seoul’s most famous palace---and check out the fusion food in alleys of Seochon Village next door (optional).
Leave the city behind and hike Bukhansan mountain, which sits inside a national park (optional).
The ancient town of Gyeongju is home to much South Korea’s most prized cultural heritage, and a day spent strolling along its bucolic paths is a treasure of its own. After your whirlwind visit to Seoul, you'll fine that Gyeongju is the ideal spot to slow down. Immerse yourself in the placid grounds of Bulguksa Temple---one of the country’s most important Buddhist centers---or expand your knowledge at the Gyeongju National Museum, which houses artifacts dating back thousands of years. At night you’ll saunter among the town’s ancient sites, all of which are lit up in soft bright light, accenuating their beauty while also reminding us of the resilience of this age-old culture.
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bulguksa Temple and then hike up the mountain to the Seokguram Grotto (optional) .
Visit Gyeongju National Museum, arguably the most famous of its kind in Korea (optional).
Stroll through the evening illuminations of the Gyeongju historic hotspots (optional).
The finer detail
Breakfast every day
2 evening experiences: Seoul Evening Food Tour, Sunset Cruise on the Han River
All internal transport & accommodation
A Private airport transfers and AREX Express train and KTX train tickets
Pre-loaded T-money transport card
Car transfer from Incheon airport to Seoul (50 minutes)
High-speed train transfer from Seoul to Gyeongju (2 hours 15 minutes)
High-speed train transfer from Gyeongju to Busan (35 minutes)
High-speed train transfer from Busan to Seoul (3 hours)
AREX Express Train transfer from Seoul station to Incheon airport (50 minutes)
What’s not included
Meals not mentioned
Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
Tips for guides & porters