Beautiful cherry blossom trees with Seoul Tower in the background against vibrant blue sky

Essential South Korea

Trip code
ESK001

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.

Pricing

Price based on 3* accommodation
From
£1,143
pp
Let us help plan your trip and make it perfect for you

Key facts

7 nights/8 days  
Soak up Seoul’s culture by hitting the hotspots and peer into the distant past at Gyeongju, the capital of Korea’s Silla Kingdom.
Unwind during a sunset cruise on the Han River, and kick back on the wide sands of Busan’s iconic Haeundae Beach.
Get down with some serious grilled meat via a Korean barbecue tour.
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DAY 5-6 BUSAN DAY 1-3, 7-8 SEOUL DAY 4 GYEONGJU
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DAY 5-6 BUSAN DAY 1-3, 7-8 SEOUL DAY 4 GYEONGJU

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.

What's great

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.

The experience

Day 1-3

Seoul

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.

Warm lights shine from urban Seoul at dusk in South Korea

Highlights

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).

Beautiful sunset over mountains in Bukhansan National Park near Seoul, South Korea

Day 4

Gyeongju

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.

Colorful temple entrance with festive paper lanterns hanging from wires in Gyeongju, South Korea

Highlights

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).

Entrance to Bulguksa temple in Gyeongju, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Korea

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

  • Wi-Fi device

  • Pre-loaded T-money transport card

Day 1: 

Car transfer from Incheon airport to Seoul (50 minutes) 

Day 4: 

High-speed train transfer from Seoul to Gyeongju (2 hours 15 minutes) 

Day 5: 

High-speed train transfer from Gyeongju to Busan (35 minutes) 

Day 7: 

High-speed train transfer from Busan to Seoul (3 hours) 

Day 8: 

AREX Express Train transfer from Seoul station to Incheon airport (50 minutes) 

  • International flights

  • Meals not mentioned

  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences

  • Tips for guides & porters