Motherland 15 days

Tour Highlights

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • National Folk Museum of Korea
  • Bukchon Hanok Village
  • Insadong Antique Shopping Street
  • Gwangjang Market
  • N Seoul Tower
  • Soyang Dam
  • Unification Observatory
  • Kim Ilsung Villa
  • Geojin Fishing Village
  • Seoraksan National Park
  • North Korean Submarine
  • Jeongdongjin Station
  • Hwanseongul Cave
  • Sosuseowon Confucian Academy
  • Ginseng Market
  • Hahoemaeul Village
  • Hanji Paper Workshop
  • Beopjusa Temple
  • Haeinsa Temple
  • Goryeong Tumuli Museum
  • Daegaya Museum
  • Seokguram Grotto
  • Bulguksa Temple
  • Gyeongju National Museum
  • Donggung palace and Wolji pond
  • Banwolseong Fortress
  • Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory
  • Tumuli Park
  • Bunhwangsa Temple
  • Tongdosa Temple
  • UN Memorial Cemetery
  • Yongdusan Park
  • Jagalchi Fish Market
  • Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum
  • Samseonghyeol Shrine
  • Hallim Park
  • Sanbangsan Tholoid
  • Jisatgae Columnar Joint
  • Oedolgae Rock
  • Cheonjiyeon Waterfall
  • Sangumburi Crater
  • Seongeup Folk Village
  • Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone
  • Haenyeo Museum
  • Manjang Cave
  • Panmunjeom
  • Korea House

Click on the days to access the programs quick
Days Visits and Activities Distance
Day 1 Arrive Seoul 60km
Day 2 Seoul  
Day 3 Seoul - Gapyeong - Chuncheon - Hwajinpo - Geojin - Seoraksan 290km
Day 4 Seoraksan  
Day 5 Seoraksan - Gangneung - Jeongdongjin - Punggi - Andong 340km
Day 6 Andong - Songnisan 140km
Day 7 Songnisan - Gayasan - Goryeong - Gyeongju 290km
Day 8 Gyeongju 290km
Day 9 Gyeongju - Yangsan - Busan 120km
Day 10 Busan - Jeju 310km
Day 11 Jeju 130km
Day 12 Jeju 110km
Day 13 Jeju - Seoul 480km
Day 14 Seoul - Panmunjeom - Seoul 160km
Day 15 Departure 60km

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.

Step back in time to when life was gracefully slow and
discover Gyeongbokgung Palace, a particularly charming spot that represents a colorful and turbulent side of the capital's 500-year history. Depending on timing, you may witness the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony featuring parade, password verification, duty shift and patrolling the gate. Accompanied by a court band with its colorful costumes and royal flags, the ceremony is performed daily basis at 10:00 and 14:00 except Tuesdays, although it is cancelled in case of rain or extremely hot or cold weather.

Up from the gates is a spacious stone-paved courtyard that is fully enclosed by wooden cloisters, and at the center of which runs three footpaths through two rows of rank stones, indicating the positions of the officials with the highest rank being closer to the hall.

Standing majestically on top of a two-tiered stone platform that is lined with detailed balustrades is Geunjeongjeon Hall, where the king formally granted audiences to his officials, gave declarations of national importance, presided over large official functions, and greeted foreign envoys and ambassadors. Check out the royal throne and a large painting, depicting sun, moon, five peaks, streams and pine trees, which was the crucial signifier of the king. And up in the center of the ceiling, the bright golden dragons in bold relief indicate the presence of the king.

At the back of the throne hall is a group of court offices. Displayed in front of the King's official quarters is sundial, conceived in order to catch the shadow of the sun, which tells time and 24 periods of seasonal change from the winter solstice to the summer solstice.

Sitting on the island in the rectangular lake is Gyeonghoeru. Supported by 48 square and cylindrical massive stone pillars representing the idea of Yin and Yang, this magnificent pavilion was used for many purposes ranging from receptions to national examinations.

Gangnyeongjeon is the king's sleeping and living quarters while Gyotaejeon is the queen's domain containing a number of halls. The noted feature of these main buildings is an absence of a top roof ridge.

Amisan Garden, landscaped with four hexagonal chimneys in orange bricks, is seldom noticed by the hurried visitors. Jagyeongjeon is the queen dowager's residence. Although less colorful, it is worth noting the wall, adorned with floral designs and the chimneys with ten longevity symbols.

Hyangwonjeong features a small pond with a manmade islet that supports a beautiful two-story pavilion. Behind this serene garden is Geoncheonggung, where the king and queen could relax in peace and quiet. It was here that the first electric lights in the country were installed in 1887 after 8 years of Thomas Edison's invention and a tragic chapter in Korea's history was recorded when empress Myeongseong was assassinated by the sword-bearing Japanese assassins in the early morning of 8 October 1895, allegedly under orders from Miura Goro.

Your visit to the National Folk Museum of Korea will familiarize you with wealthy culture of this friendly and picturesque nation. It is an excellent facility to illustrate the history of traditional life of the Korean people from the prehistoric age to the Joseon dynasty. The permanent exhibition features life and work, costumes and ornaments, handicrafts and technology, educations, living quarters, dietary life, oriental medicine, performing arts and games, beliefs and rituals, and socio cultural life.

You will lexperience a unique view of Bukchon Hanok Village as you wander through the maze of alleys that wind and twist between houses, making you eager to see what you will find next. The quaint neighborhood hangs on tenaciously to its traditional past. The sight of a number of houses built next to each other, sharing a wall and touching each other's eaves is a fascinating glimpse into the friendly and open-hearted lifestyle of Koreans

Insadong, at one time the center of traditional Korean art and antiques, features a mixture of historical and modern atmosphere representing the cultural glimpse of the nation. Clustered along the main street and alleys are lined with street vendors, wooden tea houses, restaurants and numerous galleries and shops dealing in antiques, oriental art supplies, and modern Korean art of all types and styles. Soak in the paintings, upscale artworks, antiques and potteries while you can. Get lucky and you just might meet the artist themselves. It can be plenty of fun walking on the main street, but you venture into the hidden alleys that do spring some unexpected surprises. While here, you may want to buy some souvenirs or simply wander and browse at leisure admiring cultural ambience.

Enjoy a brief visit to Gwangjang market. It is one of few markets retaining traditional Korean atmosphere. Established in 1905, the market today has 5,000 independent shops. On the market's ground level, the floor space is dominated by scores of small snack stalls selling rustic delicacies and cheap treats. Clouds of smoke billow out from the boiling pans, diverse types of pancakes sizzle on hot iron grills and the smell from the eateries filling the air. The roadside vendors hawking everything from food, fruits, vegetables to seafood and an entire upper level dedicated to high quality silk, satin, and linen. Try out some sorts of Korean snacks and see a side of regular Seoul life.

Drive past Cheonggyecheon Stream. After the Korean War (1950-1953), more people migrated into Seoul to make their living and settled down along the stream in shabby makeshift houses. The accompanying trash and waste, and deteriorating conditions resulted in an eyesore for the city. The stream was covered with layers of concrete in the mid 1950s and roadway until the massive urban renewal project freed it in 2005. Today, a 5.8km creek tumbles gently through downtown Seoul, providing a much needed source of peace and relaxation for the citizens of this fast-paced city.

You will also view Dongdaemun which once served as the east gate of Seoul and a block away is DDP of a distinctively neofuturistic design. Characterized by the "powerful, curving forms of elongated structures", it ramains as a major urban development landmark of Seoul.

Before you end the day's sightseeing, you will enjoy a panoramic view of Seoul over at N Seoul Tower observatory. Perched on top of Namsan Mountain, the tower tops out at 479.7m above sea level. It was constructed in 1975 as Korea's first integrated communication tower, transmitting TV and FM radio signals to the city and has now become a symbolic landmark of the capital. It is the absolute best place to enjoy the most enthralling vistas of Seoul. Near the tower base, you cannot possibly miss time capsule. Buried in 1985 under 15m of the ground, it holds 466 relics representing contemporary Korean lifestyle and culture. The capsule is scheduled to open five hundred years later in 2485. You will also witness thousands of Love Padlocks hanging from all sides, overwhelming the wire fence, without their keys to symbolize that their love for each other is forever. And Love Trees made of hundreds of locks are quite a sight to behold.

Day 3 Seoul - Gapyeong - Chuncheon - Hwajinpo - Seoraksan (B) 290km
Depart Seoul early as there will be a lot of driving today. En route, stop at Chuncheon, a city of scenic lakes, making it one of the most beautiful cities in Korea. Orientation city tour covering Myeongdong. It is more popular with chicken rib, Dakgalbi, a city's specialty. The sizzling sound and spicy aroma stimulate your appetite and the busiest commercial center. You also tour the Soyang Dam multi-purpose dam en route.

At the northern tip of the east coast sits Unification Observatory. With the entry permit and sign to place in the vehicle window ready, continue towards the north, driving past lots of tank traps comprising large lumps of concrete set on either side of the road, all a strange and eerie reminder of the tensions that exist between the two Koreas and the stark reality of the divided country. While there, you will get a glimpse of the much talked about border dividing the two Koreas and see the road and train track stretched side by side ahead across the North Korea.

Hwajinpo is a charming coastal town located by the scenic lagoon edged by sweetbriers and reeds. Stop at Kim Ilsung villa not to glorify him but to learn Korea's complicated history. It is where Kim Ilsung and his family spent their summer holidays until 1950. The villa displays photos and documents chronicling his life and modern Korean history. When the Korean War ended in 1953, the border between the Koreas was redrawn, and the Hwajinpo wound up in the South.

Next, enjoy a short tour of Geojin fishing port where the quaint charm of this coastal town captivates visitors. As you stroll down the quayside, check out the boats sailing in and off, drying fishes in the sun, fishermen tending their nets and, on the sleepy roadsides off the dock, elderly women selling fishes - a delightful treat to a rural lifestyle.

Seoraksan national park is a place that you can definitely find lots of outdoor activities to make it worth while for an extended stay. Rugged peaks, fantastic cliffs, numerous waterfalls, unique rock formations, and scenic valleys altogether make this park and surrounding area some of the most beautiful sceneries on the Korean peninsula, and give this area an unparalleled popularity around the year.

Day 4 Seoraksan (B)

The word of the day is hiking of varying lengths and difficulty. Only a small walk from the park entrance, you will marvel at a large bronze statues, Unification Buddha, symbolizing Korean people's hope for reunification of the country. A little further on is Sinheungsa temple where Cheonbuldong valley and Ulsanbawi trails begin.

Cheonbuldong valley Trail
It is the most impressive valley in the park, leading to Biseondae, Yangpok waterfalls and finally the peak of Seoraksan (1,708m). One hears many legends of the heavenly nymphs who come down to play at Biseondae while taking a bathe in the placid pools of the valleys that are hidden from the human eyes. Near Biseondae rises Janggunbong majestically and among the crags of it is Geumgang cave with a tiny temple inside. You will head up a very steep incline for 600m from the gentle slope of the trail, and you can scale only by carefully ascending the long, steep, metal stairs bolted onto the sheer cliff face. The hike, although hard, comes with a stunning view of numerous cliffy peaks and mountain valley. From Biseondae, another 3.5km to Yangpok Falls, so spacious yet everywhere you looked you are surrounded by giant mountain peaks.

Ulsanbawi Trail
About an hour and half into the walk from the park entrance is Gyejoam hermitage. Located at the base of Ulsanbawi, and the point at which the trail takes a sharp rise upwards. In front of the hermitage on a spacious stone slab is a huge spherical rock called Heundeulbawi. This rock is so perfectly balanced that it can be shaken with some effort, but nobody gets further than waggling it. Your adventure begins by climbing a massive steep staircase that winds its way up the side of the cliff that angle up Ulsanbawi, a 2.8km-long ridge of naked, gray stone peaks jutting 873m into the sky.

Biryong waterfall Trail
The trail is relatively easy for anyone to enjoy and you will view Biryeong waterfalls at the trail end. About 400m further above the falls, you will be amazed at Towangseong waterfalls cascading down a 320-meter cliff.

Cable Car
There is a cable car that picks you up at the valley floor to the Gwongeumseong. The peak is surrounded by cavernous drop-off cliffs, cloaked in more towering rocky summits. Definitely, you stand in awe on the top: sweeping panoramic views of the park around you, the Pacific Ocean, and the small beachside town of Sokcho. Be careful as always as there is not much room to move about and people constantly going up and down and moving around.

Among the recommendable trails from Sogongwon or park entrance (230m above sea level) are as follow and the given times are based on round trip starting and ending at Sogongwon in a relaxed pace.
1. Biryong Falls (310m) + Towangseong Falls observatory (5.6km): 3 hours 30 minutes - Moderate and Strenuous
2. Biseondae (334m) (6km): 2 hours 30 minutes - Moderate
3. Biseondae + Geumgang cave (495m) (7.2km): 4 hours - Moderate and Strenuous
4. Biseondae + Yangpok (715m) (13.2km): 7 hours - Moderate
5. Heundeulbawi (510m) (6.6km): 3 hours - Moderate
6. Heundeulbawi + Ulsanbawi (873m) (7.6km): 5 hours 30 minutes - Moderate and Strenuous

7. Gwongeumseong (800m) Cable car (3.4km): 1 hour (roughly four minutes each up and down) - Moderate

Sokcho has so much more to offer than just mountains. Daepohang becomes a great attraction when this small alley lit up. You will see a wide variety of fresh seafood harvested from the nearby sea and a number of small restaurants serving sliced raw fish. You will find something to enjoy, from simply feeling the ambiance of this small fishing port to taking picture. And in downtown, there is a colorful market selling fishes, fruits, vegetables, grains and daily necessities, and a little further down is a North Korean refugee village that can be accessible by a hand-pulled boat.

Day 5 Seoraksan - Gangneung - Jeongdongjin - Punggi - Andong (B) 340km
Depart Seoraksan early this morning to arrive in Andong, a stronghold of Confucianism that has deeply influenced the lives of Koreans in all aspects. Drive past the salvaged North Korean submarine that is on display together with retired Korean navy ship. The three armed guerillas infiltrated into the land on September 15, 1996, to spy on the naval installations in the area while the others were on standby in the submarine. However, it ran aground on September 18. The crew eventually abandoned any attempt to find their way back to the North and split up in several groups. But, one was soon spotted by a civilian who became suspicious and alarmed the authorities. Counterespionage operation was in progress for 49 days and of the 26 North Korean infiltrators, 1 was captured alive, 13 spies were shot, 11 were murdered by their colleagues and 1 reportedly escaped back to North Korea..

After a short break at Jeongdongjin, a tiny village located by the ocean with a quaint railway station of being the closest to the ocean anywhere in the world, explore Hwanseongul Cave. About 30 minute grueling uphill hike from the ticket office or a 6 minute on a mono rail gets you to a cave entrance of overwhelming size in the middle of the mountain. The cave itself is super massive and it would take well over one hour to explore. Be prepared for wet walkways, maneuvered up a narrow corridor with a rapidly flowing creek below it and hung off the side of the cave's walls above the creek. Many waterfalls are actively eroding the floor. Only 1.6km open to the public; yet that section alone will provide unforgettable memories. Cave tour is absolutely at your choice. You could opt out by staying outside, or simply relax.

Sosuseowon from the 16th century is the first private institute established in Korea. It was 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. Although the educational function of the facility has long since ceased, the commemorative ceremonies have been and are still held twice a year.

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.

Day 6 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).

En route, stop off at a traditional paper-making workshop for an insight 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 7 Songnisan - Gayasan - Goryeong - Gyeongju (B) 290km
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 also includes 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.

Late afternoon on to Gyeongju, 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.

The tour also covers Bunhwangsa temple with 10m-high three-storied rectangular pagoda, the main worship hall with Buddha of Medicine, and legendary well that is said to have saved the kingdom. The nearby open field was once occupied by Silla's largest temple Hwangyongsa. The 67m tall nine-storied pagoda made entirely of wood stood here until it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1238.

Day 9 Gyeongju - Yangsan - Busan (B) 120km
On the way to Busan, 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.

Squeeze in a stop at Haeundae, a world-class beach resort blessed by beautiful water and screened by skyscrapers along the beautifully curved coastline. Afterward, cross the Suyeong Bay over Gwangan Bridge, installed with over 10,000 colorful LED lights which sparkle brightly under the night skies.

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. In the cemetery, lie the remains of Korean War heroes from Australia(281), Canada(378), France(44), the Netherlands(117), New Zealand(34), Norway(1), South Africa(11), Turkey(462), the United Kingdom(885), the United States(36) and Republic of Korea(36) as well as of unknown allied soldiers(4) and 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, Busan’s modern movie district having hand prints of the famous movie stars and directors on the sidewalk, movie theaters, trendy shops and street food stalls. The area with originally little more than a pair of cinemas that were built over half a century ago had turned into the newly transformed district, and 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 10 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.

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.

You will then explore colorful Dongmunsijang, one of the most happening places of the city. It is a mix of a covered and an open-air bazaar, that offers an unsurpassed chance to really mingle with the local scene and to get a glimpse into the Jejudoian life.

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 11 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 stands alone off the cliffy coast holding a sad legend of old fisherman. Rising over 20 meters, it creates an 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 a 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 12 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 13 Jeju - Seoul (B) 480km
With time to visit, return on a flight to Seoul.

Day 14 Seoul - Panmunjeom - Seoul (B D) 160km
We book this tour through subcontracted out to other tour companies. Therefore the tour quality, conditions and prices may vary company to company.
Please note that the DMZ is a politically sensitive area, and is therefore not always open to tourists.
In the event that the area cannot be visited, alternate sightseeing will be arranged.

Panmunjeom tour
Rules and regulations
No tours on Sunday, Monday and public holidays
* Reservation closed 72 working hours before the commencement of the tour
* The tour is available through the authorized agents only
* Seats are strictly first come first serve basis since the tour is fairly limited in size
* The tour operates in English
* Full Names, Passport number, Date of Birth and Nationality must be received at the time of booking
* You must have your passport with you on the tour.
* The tour is not permitted to children of the age 11 or below.
* Visitors are not allowed on an individual basis
* The tour could be cancelled without prior notice by unexpected condition of Panmunjom
* Please confirm departure time as it may vary
* Not allowed to join the tour drunk
* Not allowed to stand or take pictures from the Unification Bridge to the Joint Security Area, and vice versa
* Your mobile phone should be turned off in JSA
* No waving, No shouting, No talking, No gestures, No pointing, and No facial expressions, like smiling or    sticking your tongue out to the North Korean army
* Do not touch anything in the Armistice Commission Building, which belongs to the North (Microphone, flag,
   chair or table)

Dress code
All visitors to the UNCMACHA (United Nation Command Military Armistice Commission Headquarters Area)
must display a neat and presentable appearance. To meet this requirement the following standards apply.

The following will not be worn and hair must not be shaggy nor unkempt.
The following will not be worn and hair must not be shaggy nor unkempt.
* Any clothing with insulting, profane, provocative or demeaning representations
* Flip-flop sandals, Shower shoes or opened-toe shoes
* Frayed cutoff shorts, gym shorts or shorts that expose the buttocks
* Ripped jeans or trousers which expose undergarments or private parts of the anatomy
* Shorts or skirts which are shorter than knee length
* Any items of outer clothing of a sheer variety or stretch material such as warm-ups pants and leggings
* A T-shirt lettered with profanity, Sports uniforms, logos or athletic clothing of any kind
* Shirts/tops without sleeves or that expose the midriff and tank tops
* Clothing with military-style camouflage, to include hunting apparel
* Oversized clothing or excessively baggy/long pants
* Leather “Biker” vests and leather riding chaps
* Umbrellas (except for during periods of precipitation)
* Tripods (except for authorized media)

Civilian personnel must be appropriately dressed in casual, semi-formal or formal attire. This includes a dress suit, khakis or jean trousers with a Polo-style or formal collared shirts. Shoes must be closed-toe and can be either low quarters or boots. Backpacks, purses and camera bags are permitted, but must remain in the vehicle transporting the individual into the UNC MACHA (United Nation Command Military Armistice Commission Headquarters Area). Jackets and outerwear must be worn not carried.

This document is not meant to cover every possible clothing/appearance situation. In all cases not otherwise specially covered by this policy. The UNCSB-JSA security escort will make decision on acceptability of appearance.

Your tour today will begin by boarding the tour bus at President hotel that will take you on a day long excursion with other tourists to Panmunjeom, known as JSA (Joint Security Area) in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ). Despite its name, the two sides are separated by a 4km wide buffer of land that stretches the breadth of the Korean peninsula, and is the most heavily armed region in the world: Pillboxes, land mines, barbed wire, and tank stoppers line the entire border, and patrolled by thousands of troops on both sides. Symbolizing war and peace, division and unification, the DMZ is a place where time has stood still.

Before being allowed to enter the DMZ, you will have to obtain passport and security clearance at the Unification Bridge, the first control line with sentries. From this point on, photography opportunities are limited. As you reach Camp Bonifas checkpoint, a soldier comes aboard, and you are under constant guard by soldiers. Before commencing JSA tour, you are given a briefing in JSA Visitor Center during which you must sign a document.


(UNC REG 551-5)


1. The visits to the Joint Security Area at Panmunjeom will entail entry in to a hostile area and the possibility of
    injury or death as a direct result of enemy action. The Joint Security Area is neutral but divided and is guarded     by United Nations Command military personnel on the one side (South), and Korean People's Army personnel     on the other (North). Guests of the United Nations Command are not permitted to cross the Military     Demarcation Line into the portion of the Joint Security Area under control of the Korean People's Army.     Although being on the alert for unexpected conditions, the United Nations Command, the United States of     America, and the Republic of Korea cannot guarantee the safety of visitors and may not be held accountable     in the event of a hostile enemy act.

2. Visitors must comply with the following instructions:
    a. UNC military personnel will wear appropriate military uniform prescribed by their service for off-duty wear.         Other visitors will be dressed in appropriate civilian attire so as to maintain the dignity of the United         Nations Command.
    b. Prior to enter the Joint Security Area, each visitor (including military personnel) will receive a laminated         guest badge which identifies him/her as an authorized guest of the United Nations Command. Guest badges         must be worn on the upper left side of the outermost garment. Guest badges must be returned in prior to         departure from Camp Bonifas.
    c. Fraternization, including speaking, making gestures or associating with personnel from the Korean People's         Army/Chinese People's Volunteers (KPA/CPV) side, is strictly prohibited. Personnel from the KPA/CPV side         are identified as follows:
        (1) Military Personnel - Brown or Olive drab North Korean uniforms with red arm bands for guards with               weapons and yellow arm bands for Military Armistice Commission personnel.
        (2) Press Personnel - Green arm bands.
        (3) Visitors - Green pieces of cloth at upper pocket.
    d. Visitors will not point, make gestures, or expressions like scoffing, abnormal action which could be used by         the North Korean side as propaganda materials against the United Nations Command.
    e. Visitors will remain in a group from the beginning to the end of the tour and will follow all instructions         from their tour guide.
    f. Firearms, knives, or weapons of any type will not be taken into the JSA. In any case, there is no drinking         alcohol and those who rare consumed alcohol in the last 12 hours will not accepted.
    g. The area and buildings (tan colored) under the military control of the communist side will not be entered for         any reason. Permission of the tour guide must be obtained prior to entry into UNC buildings (blue         colored) in the JSA.
    h. At no time will visitors stand in the way of or interfere with military formations. Facilities and equipment         inside the conference room will not be handled. Photography is permitted in the JSA but is prohibited en         route between Checkpoint A (the entrance to Camp Bonifas), and Checkpoint C (The entrance to the JSA).
     i. If any incidents should occur, remain calm, and follow instructions issued by security personnel.

3. Any questions concerning the above information should be brought to the attention of the tour guide.


I have read, understood, and will comply with these instructions. If I am accompanied by minor dependants, minors for who I am responsible for the purposes of this tour, my signature constitutes acceptance of the terms of these instructions on their behalf and confirm not to demand compensation for the damage of body and property of mine and minor accompanied as well.


Panmunjeom was once a small farming village, where the Armistice was signed that ended Korean War (1950-1953), and today, South and North forces come face-to-face. The JSA, an outside administrative control of South and North Korea, is an 800 meter wide enclave, an almost circular patch of land. Although an Armistice came into effect in July 1953, the two Koreas are still technically in an active state of war. Tensions between the two countries remain high, and the border is patrolled by thousands of troops on both sides.The UN and North Korea sides each operate 6 guard posts. The JSA has been the site of numerous major events since its establishment in 1953, the first of which was the repatriation of POWs. The UNC returned 75,823 POWs, and the Communists repatriated 12,773 UNC POWs.

It was also the locale of the return from North Korea into the free world by 82 crew members of the U.S Navy ship Pueblo on December 23, 1968, exactly 11 months after their capture. That day, they walked one by one across the "Bridge of No Return" at Panmunjon to freedom in South Korea. The USS PUEBLO, which was captured by the North Koreans on January 23, 1968, was the first U.S. Navy ship to be hi-jacked on the high seas by a foreign military force in over 150 years.

On August 18, 1976, the cold calculating aggression of the North Korean communists reached shocking proportions when two American military officers were hacked to death in cold blood with axes in a surprise attack here when United Nations Command work party was pruning a large poplar tree obscuring visibility between two UNC checkpoints. During the fight, Joint Security Force (JSF) company commander Capt. Bonifas of the US Army and Lt. Barrett were killed by a North Korean guard.
Prior to the axe murder incident, the entire area was neutral, where members of either side possessed the freedom of movement within the JSA. The U.S. commanding post in Korea placed its troops on combat-ready status DEFCON 3. In the meantime, the U.S. began to relocate a fighter-bomber squadron and a marine unit from Okinawa to Korea, while ordering 2 carriers, Ranger and Midway, to move into Korean waters. At 7 A.M. on August 21, the UN commanding post, after placing its troops on a status of imminent war conditions DEFCON 2, finished the tree-trimming work. On August 21, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, as the supreme commander of the North Korean People's Army, sent a written apology to the head of the UN command. The talks between the UN command and North Korea began from September 1 and agreed to draw a line dividing the JSA into the south and north, and to take independent responsibility for maintaining their respective area.

On November 23, 1984, a Soviet journalist named Vasily Matusak was on a tour from the other side and he defected to the South. Thirty Korean People's Army troops chased him across the Military Demarcation Line and there was a 40-minute firefight that ended with one Southern and three Northern soldiers were killed.

As you approach JSA, you will notice Peace House providing facilities for non-military and civilian meetings between South and North Korea, and Freedom House for South-North contacts, meetings and Liaison Office. Before entering the Military Armistice Commission Conference room, you will see the security forces from the both sides staring each other down across the border. The South Korean troops wear helmets, black shades, gray shirts and green army pants. Each stands in Taekwondo stance with clenched fists, and they are taut like high-tension wire. You will look on in fear and awe of the closest North Korean border. While inside the Military Armistice Commission Conference Room where a line marking the border runs across the floor and right down the middle of the conference table, experience infamous border that divides two Koreas. The neat lines of microphones and, outside, the low concrete bar mark the exact position of the line of demarcation. Across the border, Panmungak of North Korea stands about 80m north of South Korean Freedom House. The building serves as offices for North Korean guards and is also used to hold propaganda activities.

Next, drive past OP 3 (Observation Post), sometimes called "The Loneliest Outpost in the World". It was once the highlight point where the visitors to have an up-close look at North Korea including the site of the July 27, 1953 armistice, and 72 Hour Bridge. After the enforcement of the MDL however, the North Koreans no longer had a road leading into the JSA and within 72 hours built what has now become known as the "72-Hour Bridge" or "Bridge of 72 Hours.

There are two heavily guarded villages in the DMZ, Daeseongdong farming community in the south and Gijeongdong propaganda village in the north, which face each other across the minefields. Each village hangs their government's flag upon some of the tallest flagpoles in the world - what some have come to call the "flagpole war." In 1981, the South Korean government built a 99.8m-tall flagpole with a 130kg (18m x 12m) South Korean Flag. The North responded by building a 160m-tall flagpole with a 270kg (30m x 14m) flag. It was superseded as the world's tallest, following the construction of the flagpole in Baku's National Flag Square at 162m. Both flagpoles were topped in 2011 by the Dusanbe Flagpole in Tajikistan at 165m.

En route, you may also check out short white posts and a rusty old sign marking the border at the fringe of a forest near OP 3. Total 1,292 signboards of the Military Demarcation Line were established and 696 of which are controlled by the U.N. Forces while 596 are under the control of North Korea and China. A little further down the hill is the site of the Axe Murder Incident where you will see a memorial monument set up on the round platform marking the murder site. Next to the site is The Bridge of No Return, in the middle of which runs through the Military Demarcation Line. Korean War Prisoners crossed this bridge at their choice of destination. If they choose to cross, they would never be allowed to return, hence the name.
Despite the turbulent past, both sides continue to meet at the Conference Room. In gazing the Bridge of No Return and Axe murder site, you will be profoundly impressed at the stark reality and immense tragedy of divided Korea.

Evening is highlighted with Korea House. It is a comprehensive cultural complex representing the traditional Korean culture, promoting insight into the beauty of Korean tradition and customs. You are ushered in to the Korean feast, with variety of traditional Korean dishes, then the dance and musical performance follows! The colors, movement, and lyrical melodies are truly a delight, and you are in awe of the rhythmic dancers and their visual masterpiece with their fans. Such perfection and grace is rarely seen. Other performances may include Pansori, a traditional Korean opera, a traditional shamanism dance, farmer's music and dance, or other traditional music.

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.