UNESCO World Heritage 15 days
- Jongmyo Shrine
- Changdeokgung Palace
- Secret Garden
- Insa-dong Antique Shop Street
- Namdaemun Market
- Hwaseong Fortress
- Yeongneung Tomb
- Sosuseowon Confucian Academy
- Ginseng Market
- Hahoemaeul Village
- Hanji Paper Workshop
- Beopjusa Temple
- Gongju National Museum
- Songsanri Tombs
- Gungnamji Pond
- Jeongrimsa Pagoda
- Buyeo National Museum
- Busosan Fortress
- Gwanchoksa Temple
- Jeonju Hanok Village
- Gochang Domen
- Gwanghallu Pavilion
- Haeinsa Temple
- Goryeong Tumuli Museum
- Daegaya Museum
- Seokguram Grotto
- Bulguksa Temple
- Gyeongju National Museum
- Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory
- Tumuli Park
- Yangdongmaeul Village
- Poseokjeong Bower
- Namsan Cultural Hiking
- Tongdosa Temple
- Haeundae Beach
- UN Memorial Cemetery
- Yongdusan Park
- Jagalchi Fish Market
- Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum
- Samseonghyeol Shrine
- Hallim Park
- Sanbangsan Tholoid
- Cheonjeyeon Waterfall
- Jisatgae Columnar Joint
- Oedolgae Rock
- Cheonjiyeon Waterfall
- Sangumburi Crater
- Seongeup Folk Village
- Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone
- Haenyeo Museum
- Manjang Cave
Click on the days to access the programs quick
|Days||Visits and Activities||Distance|
|Day 1||Arrive Seoul||60km|
|Day 3||Seoul - Suwon - Yeoju - Punggi - Andong||290km|
|Day 4||Andong - Songnisan||140km|
|Day 5||Songnisan - Gongju - Buyeo||160km|
|Day 6||Buyeo - Nonsan - Iksan - Jeonju - Gochang - Gwangju||220km|
|Day 7||Gwangju - Namwon - Gayasan - Goryeong - Gyeongju||290km|
|Day 10||Gyeongju - Yangsan - Busan||120km|
|Day 11||Busan - Jeju||310km|
|Day 14||Jeju - Seoul||480km|
Day 1 Arrive Seoul (- - -)
Touching down at Incheon International Airport places you in the heart of Korea. After you clear Passport and Customs control, your tour guide will greet you at the main passenger terminal and transport you to your hotel.
Day 2 Seoul (B)
Your exploration this morning begins with a driving tour of Seoul, featuring sites such as Seoul Plaza, City Hall, Cheonggye Square and pedestrian-friendly Gwanghwamun Plaza that is hemmed in on both sides by rushing traffic and office buildings. The plaza is lined on each side with 365m long streamlets, two centimeters deep and one meter across, the stone bed of the plaza's east side waterway engraved with important events in chronological order from 1392 to 2008.
Standing high on a stone pillar is a statue of Yi Sunsin who had engaged in twenty-three naval battles and emerged victorious in all of them during the Hideyoshi invasion (1592-1598). King Sejong who propagated the Korean alphabet in the 15th century is also honored with prominent statue. On August 16, 2014, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in this plaza to beatify 124 Korean martyrs. Near the southwest corner of the plaza is Korea's Kilometer Zero, marking the distances to 64 cities around the world, including Seoul's antipode, Montevideo, Uruguay, 19,606km.
Visit Jongmyo shrine, the most important ancestral shrine in Korea, dedicated to the spirits of Korea's royal ancestors. It was built by the first king of the Joseon dynasty in 1396, and has been added to expand ever since. Today ancestral ritual service is performed here by the Yi families every first Sunday of May. The ritual is usually from 11:00 to 15:00 accompanied by the royal procession from Gyeongbokgung Palace to the shrine, just as it used to be in the past.
At the ceremony of Jongmyo, reverence is paid to the spirits of 83 kings and queen consorts of the Joseon dynasty, along with music and dance performance. Jongmyo Jerye, or Royal Ancestral Rite, was one of the most important court events during the Joseon period, and is still offered once a year on the first Sunday of May. The ritual is registered as a World Heritage by UNESCO.
Explore World Heritage site of Changdeokgung Palace or Palace of Prospering Virtue. Built in 1405, the palace was the home of royal families of the Joseon Dynasty. In 1592, the palace was totally burnt down by the Japanese invasion under Hideyoshi's leadership except the main gate Donhwamun, which naturally became the oldest surviving structure of the palace. The palace was rebuilt in 1610 with more color and with a slightly different style of architecture. From this date, 13 kings used it as their official residence until 1926, except for a limited period of time when the Gyeongbokgung Palace was restored and used by King Gojong.
Behind Changdeokgung palace is located Secret Garden, a former royal sanctuary graced with a natural hillocks, woodland paths, several ponds, springs, streams, pleasure pavilions as well as 44 buildings in different size. Buyongjeong is a graceful pavilion set by the large lotus pond, Buyongji, which is said to be fed by four springs but today these springs still not be found. Yeongyeongdang is the maximum size under the Joseon dynasty laws, which forbade anyone other than royalty to have a house of more than 100 Kan. Built in 1828, it is the only house in the palace in the style of a private residence. Throughout the year seasonal changes are mirrored in the placid ponds, while the fanciful pavilions continue to fascinate the young and the old.
Insa-dong is known as the center of traditional Korean art and antiques. Clustered along the main street and alleys are numerous shops dealing in antiques, oriental art supplies, and modern Korean art of all types and styles. Many scour the main street, but the back alleys do spring some unexpected surprises. Here, you may want to buy some souvenirs or simply wander and browse at leisure admiring upscale art galleries, antique shops and cultural ambience.
You will tour the centuries-old Namdaemun Market brimming with well over 11,000 shops selling anything you can imagine. The whole area is a labyrinth of street vendors and buildings. The market is seriously crowded, so be prepared to get bumped around. A fantastic place to haggle over the price to get the best deal on something you want or simply admire the vibrancy of this massive market.
At the western entrance of the market in the middle of a traffic circle stands Sungnyemun. It is a formidable and iconic construct that served as the southern gate of the wall that surrounded Seoul during the period of the Joseon Dynasty.
Day 3 Seoul - Suwon - Yeoju - Punggi - Andong (B) 290km
Visit UNESCO World Heritage site of Hwaseong Fortress from the 18th century. Though it is relatively small in scale, it is well acknowledged as the best structure of its kind ever built in Korea. A 5.74km-long fortress enclosing both flatland and hilly terrain is parapeted with crenels and merlons and highlighted by four main gates and well over 50 structures including temporary palace where the king sought refuge during war and found rest during times of peace. A walk through the whole fortress could take several hours but it is well worth making a short walking tour to enjoy the splendor of the fortress, including the Korea's largest Janganmun Gate.
Next up is UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yeongneung, a tomb of royal couple of King Sejong who is widely regarded as the most enlightened king in Korean history. He promulgated Korean Alphabet and also invented such scientific devices as a rain gauge, a celestial globe, sundial, armillary sphere, water clock, promoted the development of classical court music, and improved metal type printing techniques. Many replicas of inventions that were commissioned by the king are displayed near the entrance to burial mound. Near the tomb and all around it are life-sized statues of warriors and horses, put here to protect the King.
Visit Sosuseonwon, the first private Confucian academy established in 1543 in Korea. Today, you will witness a birthplace of Confucian education and a cradle of prominent scholars. The compound itself is composed of two sections; academic studies and research, and memorial service. There are several old buildings where scholars learned and studied loyalty, filial piety, manners and knowledge. The institute has a Shrine, which was built to enshrine An Hyang, An Bo, An Chuk and Je Se-bung, where a memorial service takes place twice a year on the first day of the third and ninth months by the lunar calendar.
While in Punggi, a small remote town famous for quality apples and ginseng, you will explore ginseng market with piles of fresh ginseng roots, including variety array of ginseng products. This mysterious root, which has a good smell better than it tastes, has historically been considered an empowering medicine and a cure-all. Street vendors sell flowers, fruits, food stuff and home grown grains and vegetables. With all these features combined creates a rural ambience of Korea's remote town. .
Andong is a stronghold of Confucianism that has deeply influenced the lives of Koreans in all aspects. Time works out, you will visit Andong Folk Museum offering in-depth information of traditional life and illustrating traditional Confucian culture. The museum exhibits a variety of legacies relating mainly to four cardinal ceremonies, coming of an age, wedding, funeral, ancestral memorial service, as well as dozens of pieces of pottery, utensils, clothing, farming tools and traditional folk games in small models.
Day 4 Andong - Songnisan (B) 140km
You will explore UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hahoemaeul from the 15th century. It is the best preserved traditional village portraying and spanning the life of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and some 480 Korean traditional houses, both large and small, are still fully functioning. As you take a walk in the narrow alleys, enjoy the rustic and old charm of this unique village. You cannot possibly miss a 600-years old zelkova tree, the home to the village spirit. At the tree's base is where residents still make their wishes. The village is also known for traditional festival, Hahoe Mask Dance which gave common people the opportunity to mock those in authority, and in particular the Byeolsingut, a shaman ritual exorcising evil spirits, dating back to the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392).
Stop off at a traditional paper-making workshop to get a glimpse into the world of hand-made paper manufacturing - a painstaking process which hasn't changed much from ancient times. Start with bark from the mulberry tree, then separate the bark from the fibers that would eventually be transformed into paper. After straining the pulp, adding some glue, drying the paper, and cutting or coloring according to need, they get a quality paper that is unique to Andong.
Your journey continues to Songnisan national park, weaving through the picturesque countryside. En route, make a short stop at a 600-year-old pine tree shaped like an open umbrella. In recent years several branches were damaged by wind and snow, though what remains is still beautiful. Upon entering Beopjusa dating back to 553, you will certainly stand in awe before the enormous golden Buddha gazing down at the temple and a five-story wooden pagoda, the only one left in Korea. Check out a giant iron pot whose diameter is 2.7 meters that may well had been used to feed 3,000 priests in the early 12th century. A stone carved lantern supported by twin lions standing face to face is a rare example of the magnificent Silla sculptures. A stone water cistern is considered unique for beauty and design. Two stone pillars once held the temple banner pole. An excellent carved relief called Maaebul and worship halls also can be seen.
You cannot miss Four Buddhist Instrument Ceremony. The sounds of each instrument, Brahma bell, Dharma drum, wooden fish and cloud-shaped gong, have a function in saving beings of other realms. Hearing them reverberating through the universe, you will reflect upon the profound symbolism of the instruments. It is a great vow to save or enlighten the creatures in the universe including those on land, in the sea, in the air and in hell.
Day 5 Songnisan - Gongju - Buyeo (B) 160km
Gongju is a charming city that once served as the Baekje's capital for 63 years from 475 to 538. Visit Gongju National Museum and get a glimpse of the fascinating archaeological articles from Baekje (BC18-AD660) era, and artifacts excavated from the royal tomb of King Muryeong (501-524), one of the last rulers to reign in the capital of Gongju. Near museum is UNESCO Heritage site of Songsanri Tombs, a group of royal tombs that just look like a cluster of grassy knolls. The tomb which belongs to King Muryeong (462-523) and his wife, the queen was found completely intact since it was sealed in the early 6th century. The actual tomb was permanently closed, but you will see an excellent, albeit miniature duplicate.
Today, you will explore archaeological sites and ancient historic areas, which were collectively named as a UNESCO World Heritage sites. Gungnamji is the Korea's oldest artificial pond dating back to 634. Ringed by weeping willow trees, it creates a colorful spectacle with its stock of water lotuses in summer. Jeongrimsa temple site with its five-storied stone pagoda recalling the glorious past is one of the city's most distinctive and outstanding landmarks.
At Buyeo National Museum, you will feel the spirit and the essence of the brilliant Baekje culture as you appreciate the beauty of the archaeological relics. A beautiful gilt bronze incense burner is impossible to miss. Crafted over 1,500 years ago, it shows a graceful dignity and the elaborate skills of Baekje craftsmen.
Stroll up paths to Busosan to explore Baekje fortification. At the top of the hill sits Yeongillu pavilion where the king once came to watch the sun rise over his kingdom. A little further down the trail, you will see a pavilion called Baekhwajeong perched at the top of the rock beside which locates Nakhwaam, literally meaning Falling Flower Rock, on a bluff overlooking the Geum River at the bend called Baekma. As enemies swarmed into the capital, the court ladies flung themselves into the water from this bluff rather than suffer the shame of submitting to atrocities of the conquering enemy armies.
Day 6 Buyeo - Nonsan - Iksan - Jeonju - Gochang - Gwangju (B) 220km
Gwanchoksa boasts the Korea's largest free-standing stone Buddha image from the 10th century. It is an extraordinary statue with a head disproportionately large in relation to the body, and wearing a lofty mortar board hat on top of its headpiece with wind chimes hanging from its four corners. The image features seem jolly and complacent, though perhaps not so intended.
While in Iksan, you will tour UNESCO Heritage sites of Mireuksa temple site with its 7th century stone pagoda and Wanggungri palace site that recalls the glory of the ancient kingdom. The temple has been a symbol of spiritual guidance and support for Baekje, and in Wanggungri you will witness the five-story stone pagoda standing alone on a vast archaeological site.
Jeonju is a time-honored tradition as well as significant cultural and artistic heritage. You will explore Jeonju Hankok village, a Korean House complex retaining much of their perfection intact. Near the entrance of the complex stands Gyeonggijeon that holds the portrait of founder king of Joseon dynasty, featuring him seated in a magnificent red chair with three gold-foiled dragons on his royal blue robes. And on its front is a beautiful Jeondong Catholic church of Byzantine and Romanesque architectural design. Completed in 1914, it is one of the oldest and largest Western-style buildings in the region. It was designed by master church builder Victor Lousi Poisnel, the Norman priest whose work in Korea includes Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul. Just west of the church is the stately Pungnammun gate, where three Catholics paid for their religion with martyrdom on December 8, 1791, marking the first time in Korea.
Next up is Gochang Dolmen Museum providing comprehensive information about Dolmen with its theme park featuring a life-size village replica. It is an excellent facility that gives visitors an idea of Bronze Age culture, including quarry, transportation, construction, burial and tomb formats, rituals, relics excavated in Gochang, and life of the pre-historic people. Near the museum is UNESCO World Heritage site of Dolmen Park, the largest concentration of dolmens perhaps anywhere in the world. A total of 447 dolmens of various types are scattered at the foot of a series of hills. Generally, the capstones of the dolmens are around 1 to 5.8 m in length and may weigh up to 225 tons.
Later, you will explore Gochang Fortress which has a total perimeter of 1.7km, and is a good example of Korea's fortress. Local belief being that the one trip around the fortress will cure leg disease, two trips will prevent disease and give you a long life, and three trips will bring you to the paradise.
Day 7 Gwangju - Namwon - Gayasan - Goryeong - Gyeongju (B) 290km
Namwon is a time honored charming city dotted with many historical spots and visitors attractions. The city is better known as the home of Chunhyang, the legendary faithful maiden whose story has been often compared to the Romeo and Juliet. There is a park in the center of the town in which stands the Gwanghallu pavilion where the lovers are said to have first met, and there is a bridge built on a pond that is supposed to ensure connubial bliss to any couple that steps on it.
Journey continues to the 9th century Haeinsa. Renounce each of 108 worldly desires of the mind as you climb 108 stairs. Within the Hall of Great Peace and Light, you will see Vairocana Buddha attended by Bodhisattvas and highly detailed and rather unusual wall paintings of the Buddha's life. And on the outside walls are a fair number of paintings portraying Buddhist stories. At the back of this hall is a group of four depositories or Janggyeong Panjeon from the 15th century. Housed within the depositories are 81,258 wood-blocks of Tripitaka Koreana, the world's oldest and a complete collection of the Buddhist sutras as well as an offering to the Buddha for national protection from the looming Mongol forces. The printing blocks are some 70cm wide, 24cm long and 2.8cm thick on the average. Each block has 23 lines of text, each with 14 characters, on each side. Each block thus has a total of 644 characters on both sides. Some 30 men carved the total of 52,382,960 characters in the clean and simple style. The characters are perfectly carved as if from the same hand. They were completed in 1251 after 16 years of work on Ganghwado and were transported here for safekeeping. The Mongol forces eventually took over the Goryeo Dynasty but the wooden blocks remain preserved today having survived other invasions, wars and fire. Even more amazing aspect is that neither birds built nests nor spiders make webs on these buildings. Check out two long depositories are designed to have natural ventilation by facing different size windows in the front and rear of the building. Tripitaka Koreana and Janggyeong Panjeon have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage for their artistic as well as religious value. In order to control the temperature and humidity within the depositories and protect the Janggyeon Panjeon and woodblocks from fire, full-time security guards and a 24-hour surveillance system are in place.
Visit Goryeong Tumuli Museum featuring a perfect replica of the Jisan-dong Tomb No. 44 itself and learn about the ancient sacrificial burial custom a funerary practice. About 40 persons were presumably entombed together. Such examples of massive human sacrifice have not been found in other ancient tombs of the era of the Three Kingdoms. Visit also includes Daegaya Museum exhibiting a huge collection of artifacts excavated in Goryeong.
Gyeongju is an ancient capital of Silla (BC57-AD935), often dubbed as Museum without Walls. Today, you are treated to one of the ten most historically significant sites in the world with ancient temples, weathered stone pagodas, royal tombs, Buddhist bas-reliefs, and fortress ruins.
Day 8 Gyeongju (B)
With a full day to further explore the delights of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Seokguram grotto. It is the home of the serene stone Buddha of the eighth century. Inside, a white statue of a seated Buddha in a sublime state of enlightenment, is surrounded by 37 relief figures of Bodhisattvas, disciples, devas, and guardian kings. The grotto represents the magnificent harmony of religion, science and the arts of Buddhism, symbolizing the pure land in which Buddha resides.
A short ride leads you to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bulguksa temple, where you will witness the impressive gates, symbolic bridges leading up to the world of Buddha, graceful architectures, Three-storied Seokgatap and highly ornate Dabotap blending well into the architectural harmony. At Gwaneumjeon hall, check out the image of the Avalokitesvara who is referred to as the Bodhisattva of Compassion and has a thousand hands, and eyes in each so as to reach out to those in need of help. You will see a gilded statue of Vairocana with the gesture of the first wisdom, Sakyamuni Buddha along with sixteen figures of Buddha's disciples sitting in deep meditation, and a gilt-bronze Amitabha Buddha who is the ruler of the Western Paradise Sukhavati. The architectural design of Bulguksa is one of constrained dignity, peace, and harmony and the temple still remains one of the most remarkable achievements of the ancient Far East.
Visit Gyeongju National Museum for a great insight into Silla culture and history. The first thing that you will notice is The Bell of King Seongdeok, the largest extant bell in Korea. You must certainly stand in awe before the bell from the 8th century with such artistic beauty of design. The bell is distinguished not only for its outstanding beauty but also for its long reverberating sound, the incredibly precise casting technique, in addition to the sad legend surrounding it. On entering the museum, you will marvel at the priceless archaeological and historical artifacts including splendid gold crowns, earrings, belts, ornaments, glassware, potteries, and clay figures as well as a royal barge.
Afterwards, explore Donggung palace and Wolji pond, a pleasure garden built to commemorate the victory of Silla, and later used as the recreational area for the Silla's royal family, then followed by a relaxed walking tour covering the ruins of Banwolseong or half-moon fortress where Silla palace and eight fortress gates stood. There is a Seokbinggo, a freezer made of stones. Half of the structure is underground while the other half is above ground with three air vents on top. You can feel the cold oozing out of this simple structure. Near fortress is Gyerim, literally meaning Rooster Forest. It is a sacred woodland area where progenitor of the Gyeongju Kim family, Kim Alji, was supposed to have been born.
Then, check out the world's oldest existing astronomical observatory, Cheomseongdae. Each stone used in the observatory bears symbolic meaning; the same number of the days of the year by lunar calendar, the number of the major stars, the months of the year and the numbers of the seasonal divisions. Nearby Tumuli Park encompasses 23 huge tomb mounds where Silla rulers were buried. One of the tombs, Cheonmachong, is opened to the public and you can go inside and see how the tombs were made and replicas of the treasures excavated in 1973.
You will also explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Yangdongmaeul, a delightful journey to the traditional clan village which embraces simple, unadorned natural beauty. There are some steep hills to climb but also easier streets. Over 150 homes as well as two shrines are in perfect harmony with the natural topography, presenting different angles where walls ascend a hill interspersed with tiled roof houses or thatched roof buildings.
Day 9 Gyeongju (B)
Today, you will explore Namsan where Silla's history started and ended. The founder of Silla was born in Najeong, and the last ruler King Gyeongae of Silla killed himself at Poseokjeong in 927 when Gyeonhwon, the king of the Later Baekje attacked Gyeongju.
Poseokjeong was a summer pavilion where the later kings of Silla often forgot their loyal duties and spent most of their time banqueting. All that can be seen now is the abalone-shaped stone channel through which at one time a cool stream of water was directed into the palace. The elm, in large trunk and gnarled with age that may have witnessed the final day of Silla.
Your hiking starts at Baeri Buddha Statues. Namsan, a 468-meter peak in the heart of Gyeongju, is a home to many historic and cultural remains from the Silla kingdom and is often referred to as sacred mountain with Buddhist shrines and statues. There are 4 ancient fortress ruins, 147 temple sites, 118 Buddha images carved into the rocks, 96 pagodas, 22 stone lanterns, 19 pedestals, 13 royal tombs, and 672 cultural assets are scattered around in some 40 valleys. You will marvel at ancient reliefs, carvings of Buddha and Bodhisattvas, and Buddhist pagoda. Although much of damage was done by Neo Confucian radicals, who hacked arms and heads off of statuary, Namsan still remains as one of the must-see attractions in Korea.
The first leg of your trekking up to the Sangseonam hermitage can be challenging, but soon compensated by a huge Buddha facing the western slope of the mountain. The figure is carved out of the rock and seemed to be sitting praying at the setting sun. Thereafter easy trail continues until you will come across two magnificent statuary; three-storied pagoda and Buddha statue sitting on the three-tiered stone ring pedestal. You will then venture two short steep rock walls down where you will get a help of ropes provided on their surfaces.
Several other trekking routes are available though, you will explore with a following trail. Baeri Buddha statues → Samneung tombs → Samneunggol Buddha → Rock Relief Bodhisattva → bas-relief six Buddha → Rock Relief Buddha → Seated Buddha → bas-relief Buddha → Sangseonam bas-relief Bodhisattva → Sangseonam bas-relief Buddha → Geumsongjeong site and Baduk Rock → Sangsa Rock → Guomosan peak → Yongjanggol three-storied Pagoda → rock relief Buddha → Samryun Pedestal Buddha → Yongjangsa temple site → Jeolgol Buddha
Day 10 Gyeongju - Yangsan - Busan (B) 120km
En route, visit the 7th century Tongdosa, representing the Temple of the Buddha. The approach to the temple is completely entrancing. Magnificently set by a lane of pine trees dancing in the wind and beside which a mountain stream sings a babbling song, a distinctive and exalting place. The main worship hall is unique in that it does not contain a statue of the Buddha, but rather a window looking out onto the Diamond Precepts Altar with a bell-shaped stupa that contains the cremated remains of the Buddha himself. You will find the temple more like a museum as it houses many local treasures and cultural properties.
Then travel on to Busan, Korea's second largest city surrounded by the ocean on one side, and mountains on the other. Its deep harbor and gentle tides have allowed it to grow into the largest port in Korea and the fifth largest in the world. It is also a center of industry and commerce, a thriving metropolis formed unusually long in shape along its coastal line.
While in Busan, squeeze in a stop at Haeundae, a world-class beach resort blessed by beautiful water and screened by skyscrapers along the beautifully curved coastline. You will then drive through the Gwangan bridge, the second-longest suspension bridge in the country after the Incheon Bridge. Built over the Suyeong Bay of Busan spanning 7,420 meters, the view from the bridge is superb and the bridge itself is among the Busan's attractions. Adorned with over 10,000 colorful LED lights, you can imagine the light show when the bridge lit up in the evening.
Next, visit UN memorial cemetery where 2,300 deceased soldiers from sixteen Korean War allies rest in honored serenity. Learn about the Korean War and pay tribute to those who dedicated their lives to the World Peace. During the period of 1951-1954, remains of approximately 11,000 fallen of the UN Forces were buried here. Thereafter, most were repatriated to their home countries. It is the permanent home of war heroes of the following nations. Australia (281), Canada (378), France (44), Netherlands (117), New Zealand (34), Norway (1), South Africa (11), Republic of Korea (36), Turkey (462), United Kingdom (885), USA (36), Unknown soldiers (4), Non-belligerents (11).
You will tour Yongdusan Park where people of all ages gather for recreational activities. Sitting on top of the hillock of a steep slope is Busan tower topped by an observatory, overlooking the hilly terrain of this mountainous coastal city and the harbor in a breathtaking view. At the smack dab in the middle of the park stands the statue of Yi Sunsin, who is credited with the perfection of the first iron-clad warship in history. You will also see a flower clock and a Busan citizen's bell that they ring on New Years' Day, March 1 and August 15.
Just off the park is Gwangbokro Street, full of shops selling everything from bargains to luxury items. Adjacent is a maze of small streets alive with color, sidewalks sprinkled with unique shops and local eateries. Enjoy the vibrant ambience as you leisurely make your way to the BIFF square, another area packed with trendy shops, movie theaters and food stalls. The square is Busan’s modern movie district which was originally little more than a pair of cinemas that were built over half a century ago. However, major renovations took place ahead of the first Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), and the newly transformed district was named BIFF Square on August 14, 1996.
Across the street from the square is a fascinating Jagalchi fish market, a great attraction located dockside. Here you will find a diverse array of seafood on display as you walk along the narrow alleys of street vendors. A nearby indoor market features live fish in the tanks and the upstairs are dried fish along with many restaurants selling raw fish at reasonable prices. The market is really a visual and culinary treat.
Day 11 Busan - Jeju (B) 310km
An hour flight places you in the most famous of the 3,300 islands of Korea. Towering over the island is Korea's highest peak, Mt. Halla, an extinct volcano topped by a huge crater. Jejudo was once a place of exile for those who fell out of favor with the Korean court, but it has today become the most popular tourist destination.
Yongduam, known as Dragon Head Rock, is one of the most unusual rock formations of the island. Its head with open mouth rising about 10m above the sea and silhouetted perfectly against the ocean horizon. The sight of the waves ricocheting back and forth across the rock base and the dragon’s head clearly outlined by the setting sun has become the subject of many travelers’ photos.
Today, enjoy a city tour of Jeju with a tour of Yongduam, known as Dragon Head Rock. Perched along the ocean side, it is one of the most unusual rock formations of the island. The submerged body of this oddly shaped rock is the result of the solidification of flowing lava during a volcanic eruption and is about 30m long and its head with open mouth rising about 10m above the sea, showing a roaring dragon which is about to ascend from the sea.
Drive past Gwandeokjeong, the oldest building in Jeju which was previously the site of government offices in the period of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). On its front stand two Dolharubang figures serving as fertility and protective totems only found on Jeju. Both statues have protruding eyes, bulbous nose, tightly closed lips and a phallic symbol head under the brimmed hat. Both arms are bent at the elbow, hands resting above and below a rotund stomach. Many couples and visitors as well come here, each standing to either side, to have their pictures taken with their hands on its nose. A group of buildings in the neighborhood is a restored Mokgwana, which has been the hub of local administration.
Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum is an excellent facility providing a fascinating insight into the tenacious and independent lifestyle of Jeju islanders, the natural history of geological features and marine organisms, including plants, animals and minerals native to Jeju Island. Outdoor exhibition is highlighted by millstones, grave guards, tombstones and various stone tools used for daily living.
A short walk from the museum is Samseonghyeol literally three clan hole, a very symbolic spot to the islanders. According to legend, it was here that three demigods emerged from the holes in the ground to become the founding fathers of Tamna and its people. The descendants continue to uphold the traditions and still perform ritual ceremony twice a year on the 10th of April and October. Even more amazing aspect is that moisture from rain and snow do not penetrate the holes and the surrounding old trees face them at an angle as if they are worshiping three founders.
Day 12 Jeju (B) 130km
Spend a full day exploring western half of the island, including many of the top attractions of Jeju. Hallim Park is a subtropical botanical garden that is strongly scented with exotic sentiment. Every turn brings new surprises. You cannot miss out two unusual caves, one has both stalactites and stalagmites in it while the other is the only spot in the world that is actually a cave within a cave.
Sanbangsan is up next and you will see a magnificent trachyte cone abruptly rising 395 meters by the sea that lacks crater on its summit. Access to the grotto is steep stairs up for 10 minutes. There is a tiny cubbyhole of the 10 meter cave with a small pool and a stone Buddha surrounded by burning candles. The grotto's aura is enchanting with the welcoming scent of incense hanging heavily and the sound of water steadily dripping into the pool. The views from the grotto over the coastal fields, offshore islands, and the ocean are absolutely stunning.
Tide and weather permitting, explore Yongmeori Coast, a tuff ring outcropping into the sea showing the sedimentary structure of volcanic ash. The way to the coast is down a steep path with huge rocks. The rippled cliffs, appeared to undulate towards and away from you, and the fancy rock formations are well worth your time to visit. The Dutch trade ship The Sperwer was wrecked nearby coastal waters on August 16, 1653 and of the 64 crewmembers only 36 survived. A duplicate of the ship with its rare exhibits is on display on the dry land, that provides insight into an exciting moment in history.
Jisatgae columnar joint forms an extraordinary and striking cliff face. A spectacular 1km stretch of coastline with hexagonal rock columns, bizarre formations resulted from rapid cooling and contraction of lava, is definitely one of the more mysterious and beautiful spots on the island. The surging ocean smashing against the rocks are remarkably refreshing.
Oedolgae needle rock holding a sad legend of old fisherman stands alone off the cliffy coast. Rising over 20 meters, it creates awesome coastal views with its perfect backdrop of ocean and outlying islands. A great place to soak in the area's barely-touched nature amid fresh ocean breeze.
Tour also includes Cheonjiyeon waterfall cascading down a cliff 22m high and 12m wide into a pool inhabited by giant eels and surrounded by lush vegetation. The tour involves a short walk through subtropical woods, the home to more than 400 individual species of plants and animals. In fact, the diversified biosphere is one of the most unique on the island, making your walk so relaxing and enjoyable - a peaceful way to spend some time with nature.
Day 13 Jeju (B) 110km
With another day of further exploration of the fascinating culture and natural wonders of Jeju. The day begins with a tour of Sangumburi, the only Maar in Korea. The access to the main viewing area is very easy. This spectacular crater is well over 2km in circumference, about 650m in diameter and 100m deep in that it could be easily mistaken for a circular stadium. The views in every direction with sprawling eulalia fields, stunning panoramas of the ocean, and volcanic cones dotting the island's landscape are absolutely breathtaking.
Experience the heritage of the Jeju people and soak up the local culture in Seongeup folk village where nearly 400 traditional thatched houses are still fully functioning. Scattered among the village are many houses that you can enter yourself and look around. Jeongnang gates are some of good examples that represent a beautiful tradition and culture of this friendly people with No Thief, No Beggar, and No Gate. While not overly exciting, the tour gives you a chance to get a glimpse into some of Jeju's unique culture.
You are treated to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site of Seongsan Ilchulbong. Known as Sunrise Peak, it is the island's largest tuff cone which is surrounded on three sides by the ocean rising 182 meters strait from the water. You may wish to climb this steep cone up to the spectacular crater. A great for photos every step of the way!
Next up is Haenyeo Museum showcases the women diver's harsh work and life as well as their strong tenacity. The display includes the tools, diving outfits, as well as diving techniques and a full-size replica of a traditional women diver house including a primitive log raft that once used for fishing.
You will tour another UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, Manjang Cave. It is the world's longest lava tube which has a known length of 13.4km. On entering the cave, you are likely to be greeted by a cold breeze oozing out of the lava tubes, and the cave's ceiling tends to drip at times. Although the floor is full of puddles and the lighting inside is dim, you can easily cover up to 1km by walk, exploring the weirdly shaped stalactites, stalagmites, flow ledges and finally lava stone pillar. One of the major attractions inside the cave is the Stone Turtle, which many believe is shaped like Jejudo.
Day 14 Jeju - Seoul (B) 480km
With leisurely time to pack, return on a flight to Seoul. You'll have plenty of opportunity to explore the city at your own pace. In your free time, we highly recommend Myeongdong fashion and shopping district.
Day 15 Departure (B) 60km
After this wonderful trip exploring Korea and with time to reflect on your surprise in your experience, you will return to the airport in time for your flight. By boarding, you are already high above Incheon heading for home.