Drive Korea (A) 18 days
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
- National Folk Museum of Korea
- Insa-dong Antique Shop Street
- Namdaemun Market
- Seoraksan National Park
- Unification Observatory
- Kim Ilsung Villa
- Geojin Fishing Village
- Naksansa Temple
- Gangneung Museum
- Gyeongpodae Beach
- Chamsori Museum
- North Korean Submarine
- Jeongdongjin Station
- Hwanseongul Cave
- Coal Museum
- Buseoksa Temple
- Sosuseowon Confucian Academy
- Ginseng Market
- Jebiwon Buddha
- Andong Folk Museum
- Hahoemaeul Village
- Beopjusa Temple
- Gongju National Museum
- Songsanri Tombs
- Gungnamji Pond
- Jeongrimsa Pagoda
- Buyeo National Museum
- Busosan Fortress
- Nakhwaam Bluff
- Gwanchoksa Temple
- Salted Seafood Market
- Jeonju Hanok Village
- Geumsansa Temple
- Naejangsa Temple
- Soswaewon Garden
- Unjusa Temple
- Tea Plantation
- Songgwangsa Temple
- Hwaeomsa Temple
- Gwanghallu Pavilion
- Haeinsa Temple
- Goryeong Tumuli Museum
- Daegaya Museum
- Seokguram Grotto
- Bulguksa Temple
- Gyeongju National Museum
- Donggung palace and Wolji pond
- Banwolseong Fortress
- Seokbingo Freezer
- Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory
- Tumuli Park
- Yangdongmaeul Village
- Homigot Promontory
- Lighthouse Museum
- Gameunsa Pagodas
- Tomb of King Munmu
- Tongdosa Temple
- 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
- Stone Park
- Sangumburi Crater
- Seongeup Folk Village
- Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone
- Haenyeo Museum
- Manjang Cave
Driving in Korea (Right hand traffic)
The tour provides recommendable routes for self-driver travelers. Since you have greater mobility, a number of visits and sites available en route are built in the itinerary. Therefore, some days are pretty packed whereas some are less hurried. The choice of visits and the road is absolutely at your preference. It is indeed an exciting yet could be frustrating experience driving yourself. All roads are paved and well maintained. They are marked in both Korean and English, so it is not so difficult as it could be to find your destination. One key to successful driving in Korea is to have a map and navigation.
Please keep the followings in mind while driving in Korea
- You must be over 21 years of age
- Always carry your international driver license
- Children often raise their hands in the air as they cross the street. They would cause automobile to stop
- Whenever space is provided, they often cut in which is most frustrating
- Do not drive on the lane permanently marked in blue paint. It is reserved for public buses
- Some drivers seldom yield the right-of-way, much less of giving way to traffic already in a circle, and are in their inimitable aggressive style and have little or no respect for lane markings
The given distances and time of travel are estimated figures for your guideline purpose
Click on the days to access the programs quick
|Days||Visits and Activities||Distance|
|Day 1||Arrive Seoul||60km|
|Day 3||Seoul - Suwon - Yeoju - Ganseong - Seoraksan||280km|
|Day 4||Seoraksan - Goseong - Hwajinpo - Geojin - Seoraksan||140km|
|Day 5||Seoraksan - Naksan - Odaesan - Gangneung - Jeongdongjin - Samcheok||240km|
|Day 6||Samcheok - Taebaek - Buseok - Punggi - Andong||240km|
|Day 7||Andong - Songnisan||140km|
|Day 8||Songnisan - Gongju - Buyeo - Nonsan - Iksan - Jeonju||220km|
|Day 9||Jeonju - Gimje - Jeongeup - Damyang - Gwangju||130km|
|Day 10||Gwangju - Hwasun - Boseong - Nagan - Songgwang - Gurye||210km|
|Day 11||Gurye - Namwon - Gayasan - Goryeong - Gyeongju||300km|
|Day 13||Gyeongju - Yangdong - Homigot - Gampo - Yangsan - Busan||230km|
|Day 14||Busan - Jeju||310km|
|Day 17||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.
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.
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 - Ganseong - Seoraksan (B) 280km
Pick up your car by signing a rental car agreement. Start your day by driving to Suwon. There is a Hwaseong Fortress from the 18th century. Although relatively small in scale, 5.74km in length and the fortress wall averages 9m high, its bulwark of stone and brick is considered the masterpiece of Korean fortress construction. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its unique value, the fortress is parapeted with crenels and merlons and highlighted by four main gates, lofty observation towers, command posts, floodgates, sentry posts, gate guard platforms, crossbow platforms, beacon tower, and secret gates leading down to the dark labyrinths. The two remaining observation tower named Gongsimdon, meaning "tower with empty interior", are among the most distinctive structures among all facilities of the fortress. 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.
While in Yeoju, explore Yeongneung. It is 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. UNESCO bestowed the honor to the 40 Joseon Dynasty Royal Tombs including Yeongneung as World Heritage sites.
Most Korean temples were built high in the mountains to avoid worldly noise and trouble. But, Silleuksa from the Silla dynasty (BC 57-AD 935) is a rare temple that is perched on a riverbank amid an attractive waterfront whose cove forms a snug and cosy enclosure for this ancient sanctuary. Many pray at a beautiful seven-tier marble pagoda, that is masterfully adorned with dragon and lotus carvings. Incense burning in the temple and sights and smells mixed offer visitors a really magical experience. A 500-year-old aromatic juniper tree and a 600-year-old ginkgo tree grow on the temple grounds, and on a small hill stands a seven-story brick pagoda, the only existing Goryeo brick pagoda (918-1392).
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 - Goseong - Hwajinpo - Geojin - Seoraksan (B) 140km
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.
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.
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
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.
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 - Naksan - Odaesan - Gangneung - Jeongdongjin - Samcheok (B) 240km
En route, visit Naksansatemple. Entering the temple, you will first notice an arched stone gate topped by an elegant wooden pavilion. In April 2005, the temple with all the surroundings was burned to the ground. Today, 12 temple buildings and facilities were restored. A main hall is a splendid tribute to Avalokitesvara. Exquisitely decorated, the hall is full of statues of the Bodhisattva in various poses, and you will see many forms that Avalokitesvara takes. You will also see a 6.2 meter-tall seven-story stone pagoda from the 15th century.
Built on the edge of the cliff, Hongryeonam is among the popular spots in the temple. There is a cap on the floor-open it for an unimaginable sight. You can see the surging waves constantly and mercilessly crushing against the cliff. The sound of waves crashing goes up into the temple and the fresh sea air also fills the temple. Near hermitage is Uisangdae pavilion perched on top of a cliff by the sea, where Uisang used to sit and meditate. Near the temple is Naksan beach which is more personal and less pretentious.
Drive through Jingogae road to enjoy the wonderful colors as the season changes - Pink azaleas decorating the valleys, the thick forest and crystal clear stream water cooling off the summer heat, the fantastic autumn foliage putting on a brilliant show of color and the snow creating a sublime scenery. Visit 7th century Woljeongsa temple. You will pass under the Boje-ru, which is adorned with various guardians to gain access to the temple courtyard. Straight ahead, you will immediately notice the nine-story, octagonal shaped, stone pagoda from the Goryeo Dynasty. The uniquely shaped pagoda is not only the main highlight to the temple, but it’s also National Treasure. Wind chimes hang on each corner of the pagoda, while a seated stone Bodhisattva is situated out in front making an offering. Another amazing part of the temple is the 800-meter path arched by tall fir trees. The trickles of stream and fresh yet musky fir trees small add the pleasure of your visit.
Then, onto Gangneung, a charming coastal city and the home of the famous Confucian scholar Yi Yulgok (1536-1584), who emphasized the primacy of 'Ki' (vital force), claiming it was the controlling agent and prime mover of 'I' (reason). He said 'I' was generated by'Ki' and so 'Ki' was responsible for the generation, maintenance, and purification of the values of the mind. He lived with his mother, Sin Saimdang. Sin Saimdang was not only an ideal daughter, wife, and mother, but also a talented painter, calligrapher, and poet and as such, she is the most widely acclaimed woman of the Joseon Dynasty. Today, his home, Ojukheon, is the most popular landmark of Gangneung. The Gangneung Museum in the same precinct of Ojukheon is an excellent facility displaying 3,000 objects of prehistoric age and folk arts and Dano festival in diorama. Gyeongpodase is a charming beach loved by many. There is a Chamsori museum featuring 170 phonographs, some of which are invented by Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) himself and several other antique items.
Later, head on to 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.
Jeongdongjin is a tiny village located by the ocean directly east of Seoul and you will find a quaint railway station of being the closest to the ocean anywhere in the world, a huge hour-glass that measures a full year and a very surreal cruise liner hotel on top of a cliff.
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.
Day 6 Samcheok - Taebaek - Buseok - Punggi - Andong (B) 240km
Travel to Andong, a stronghold of Confucianism that has deeply influenced the lives of Koreans in all aspects. Taebaek is a highland town once boomed with coal mining until the early 1980s. There is a coal museum showcasing Korea's coal mining with well over 8,000 items including rocks such as silver, ore, fossils, and mining equipments and documents. You will also explore a mine simulation modeled closely after real mine showing how the mining work was like. Taebaek boasts of two river sources. Hwangji pond from which 5,000 tons of water flows daily is the source of the Nakdong River and Geomryongso is that of Han River.
En route, visit 7th century Buseoksa representing the Flower Garland school of Buddhism, that developed as part of the Mahayana branch. The teachings of the Hwaeom sect are based on the Avatamsaka Sutra, that includes Ten Grades of Faith, Ten Stages of Wisdom, Ten Activities, Ten Transference of Merits, Ten Stages of Bodhisattvas, teachings about enlightment, about developing as a Boddhisattva, and about how to enter Buddha's world. Muryangsujeon is the second-oldest wooden structure in Korea and enshrined here is Amitabha Buddha with the earth-touching and evil-expelling hand posture. A stone lantern stands in the front and to the west of the hall at the bottom of a steep bluff, there is a legendary floating stone. To the east is a three-story pagoda behind which is a pavilion dedicated to the Chinese girl who, in the form of a dragon, helped Master Uisang. It is a bit out of the way, but worth the trip.
Visit Sosuseowon from the 16th century, 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.
You may have a chance to visit Jebiwon Buddha or Ichon-dong Stone Buddha. The awe-inspiring Buddha statue stands guard over the northern entrance way to Andong for nearly 1000 years. It's a relief-carving of the body on a sheer boulder-side, under a 3D-carved head made from a natural stone found on top of that cliff.
Day 7 Andong - Songnisan (B) 140km
The day's drive is relatively short, but a bit heavy indeed. A common way to get to Songnisan national park from Hahoe is to take a route of Pungsan - Yecheon - Mungyeong - Sangju - Songnisan. First you take No. 34 to Mungyeong. Then, switch No. 45 expressway at Jeomchon Hamchang interchange and head on to Sangju or Masan direction till you get to Nakdong interchange. Here you take No. 30 experssway to Cheongwon direction. Your exit is Songnisan. If not interested in local road that gives you more locality, simply take an expressway in Sangju. The day's tour include Andong Folk Museum offering in-depth information of traditional life and illustrates 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.
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).
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 8 Songnisan - Gongju - Buyeo - Nonsan - Iksan - Jeonju (B) 220km
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.
While in Buyeo, 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.
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.
Visiting Ganggyeong is like stepping back into the past. As a historical experience, it's even more profound than other towns in the region. Ganggyeong's fame is a traditional salted seafood market. The market stocks both fresh seafood and salted seafood, which has been fermented at low temperatures. Today, the market accounts for half of the nation's total sales of salted seafood. As you stroll through the old downtown area, you will see a number of shops selling salted seafood and some of the old buildings; electric company office, banks, custom tailor shop, clinics, school, and labor union office recalling the glory days.
While in Iksan, visit 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.
Day 9 Jeonju - Gimje - Jeongeup - Damyang - Gwangju (B) 130km
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.
Then on to Gimje for a visit of Geumsansa temple. It was the main temple for practicing the Maitreya faith during the Silla period. The Maitreya Buddha Hall is a three story wooden structure, a unique among Korean Buddhist halls. The first floor is Great Compassion Hall, the second of Dragon Flower Meeting and the third of Maitreya Hall. Enshrined in the hall is a huge Maitreya Buddha who is attended by Dharma Flower Grove Bodhisattva on his left and Great Wonderful Aspect Bodhisattva on his right.
Drop by Naejangsa temple. Nestled on the foot of Naejangsan mountain rising over a vast area offering spectacular scenery around year. A drive through a tunnel of wood is a great treat. The mountain is blessed with fancy rock formations, imposing waterfalls, deep valleys and gorgeous maple trees.
You cannot go anywhere without realizing the significance of bamboo in Damyang, which has always been one of the most admired plants in Korea - its tall, hight stems often likened to the unyielding spirit of a true gentlemen. Juknokwon, located near the city centre, is a theme park landscaped with bamboo. Be amazed at peaceful paths lined with dense bamboo groves and the shady walkways that are incredibly refreshing.
The bamboo museum is a very interesting source of information on bamboo. There are ancient and modern objects built from bamboo on display, as well as detailed exhibits explaining the life cycle and cultivation of the hardy plant. There are workshops of bamboo artists outside the museum where they display their crafts. These range from small utensils and fans all the way up to tables and furniture.
Damyang was once the home of Salim, the elite of the society and politics. They chose this area as a retreat for their tranquil lives, when they found no place to realize their aspiration under the absurdity and contradiction of the political realities. They made a companion with nature and wrote verse and prose, while disciplining themselves and teaching their disciples. One such example is Soswaewon, a Korean traditional garden from the 16th century. Its name implies a clean and transparent garden where the righteous enjoy the life of being content and taking pleasure of simple and honest life. Small valleys and natural stream have in them an ideal harmony between nature and man.
Day 10 Gwangju - Hwasun - Boseong - Nagan - Songgwang - Gurye (B) 210km
Then on to Hwasun and explore the 9th century Unjusa temple. Unjusa has a large number of rather crude stone Buddhas from about 1,200 years ago. There once stood one thousand Buddha images and stone pagodas which are said to have built overnight by Silla monk. At present, remain 93 Buddha images ranging from few centimeters to 10 meters high and 21 pagodas of unique shapes. The statues are sculptured in unorthodox, idiosyncratic, and abstract ways. You will see a stone Buddha carved out of a large boulder in the ground, claiming the largest Lying Stone Statues of Buddha in Korea.
The local road No. 29 leads you to Boseong known as the home of tea, hemp clothes and Sori or a Korean traditional genre of singing. A number of tea plantations where the carefully trimmed tea trees stretch endlessly over steep mountain slopes - a lush green carpet that is a sight to behold. A short walk along the path lined with cedar trees that had been planted to block the wind leads you to the tea plantation delightfully accommodating visitors. The tea bushes rising in regular curves are great. Here, you will freely roam the hills, walk between the rows of bushes and take pictures of each other at every bend.
Explore Nagan Fortress Village which has survived time and modernization. Entering the village, you could feel as if you have gone back to the centuries past. Surrounded by 1,410-meter long fortress which was built into a mud rampart in the 14th century to repel Japanese pirate raids, the village features nearly 90 traditional thatched roof houses presenting a peculiar townscape in harmony with the rectangular stone rampart. One unusual aspect of the town is that it was inhabited by a number of different clans rather than having one dominant one. Part of the fortress wall arches over the hill and you will today take in a great view of the entire village as well as the traditional housings, cultural landscape, time old customs and rituals representing the agricultural society of Korea while strolling around the small alleyways within the village.
Following a local road No. 58 and 18, visit famous Songgwangsa, representing Buddha's followers, monks and laity. Sanggwansa is another temple, famous for being one of the three most important temples in Korea. In the Main Hall, the three main statues are the past Buddha, Dipankara, the present day Buddha Sakyamuni, and the future Buddha, Maitreya. Two bridges span a picturesque stream that flows in front of the temple entrance, the architecturally unusual. It is quite a trek to reach, but you will be rewarded with both a fabulous view of the surrounding foliage and some brilliant red and gold murals representing a range of religious figures.
Then, on to Gurye to visit the 6th century Hwaeomsa. The temple is dedicated to the vairocana Buddha, the cosmic head of the Hwaeom trinity. First, One-Pillar Gate standing at the lower part greets you and leads you up to the second and the third gate - from the secular world into the spiritual world. On the second level, there is the Bojeru, the Save All Beings Hall, beside which stands bell and drum tower and two magnificent 5-story stone pagodas from Silla period. Gakhwangjeon has a double storied roof, and houses seven figures on its altar. Sakyamuni Buddha sits in the middle attended by Amitabha and Prabhytaratna, as well as Avalokitesvara, Samantabhadra, Manjusri, and Ksitigarbha.
A magnificent stone lantern and an impressive stone pagoda supported by four fierce looking lions adorn this hall. On the hill behind Gakhwangjeon stands the most uniquely designed three-story stone pagoda supported by four lions each of which represents the four primary human emotions: love, sorrow, anger, and joy. Here, you will enjoy the intricacies of this masterpiece as there are numerous other designs etched onto the pagoda.
Day 11 Gurye - Namwon - Gayasan - Goryeong - Gyeongju (B) 300km
Namwon is a charming city with many historical sites and tourist attractions. It is also famous as the home of Chunhyang, the faithful maiden whose story has been often compared to the Romeo and Juliet. At the center of the town is a park, in which stands Gwanghallu pavilion where Chunhyang and her lover 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 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, drive 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 12 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 may want to visit 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 13 Gyeongju - Yangdong - Homigot - Gampo - Yangsan - Busan (B) 230km
You will 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.
Then, enjoy drive to Homigot, a cape jutting out into the Sea and one of the easternmost points on the Korean peninsula. What makes this place more unique and famous is a massive bronze sculpture of a hand stretching up from the water in a small cove. One stands in the middle of the plaza and the other one is partway into the sea. The palms of the hands face each other, symbolizing harmony and coexistence. Homigot serves every year as a gathering place for thousands to greet Korea's first sunrise of the New Year. Near the sculptures sits Light House Museum, featuring 3,500 items used in the early days of Korea's lighthouse history along with numerous tourist shops, seafood restaurants, peddler tents and the likes.
Stop at Gampo to see Gameunsa Twin Pagodas. These immense pagodas have a three-story body on a two-tier foundation. Stair step effects are seen under the eaves of the roof while the roof line has a gentle slope and is comparatively broad-brimmed. You will marvel at these true masterpieces of Korean architecture.
A short ride from the ancient temple site of Gameunsa dedicated to the Dragon Spirit of King Munmu (626-681) is an unusual Underwater Tomb of King Munmu, about 200m off the coast. The king wished his body to be cremated and buried at sea so he could protect his kingdom even after his death as a spirit of the sea. In the center of the calm sea a large rock marks the site. About 20m long rocky islet has a small pond at the center and at the bottom is a granite stone of 3.6m long, 2.9m wide and 0.9m high. At low tide, the top of this oval rock is almost visible above the sea surface.
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.
With time to visit, head 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.
Enjoy a short break 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 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 14 Busan - Jeju (B) 310km
At own transfer to Gimhae domestic airport. 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. You'll have plenty of opportunity to explore the city at your own pace. In your free time, we highly recommend Dongmun Market, which offers a traditional atmosphere in addition to the attractionsl specified below.
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.
Gwandeokjeong is 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 15 Jeju (B) 130km
Pick up your rent car by signing car rental agreement. 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 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 16 Jeju (B) 110km
With another day of further exploration of the fascinating culture and natural wonders of Jeju. Drive to Stone Park for an exploration of ecological park preserving the island's cultural spirit and displaying some of Jeju's stone culture related to Jeju's formation and the life of its people. The park entrance is highlighted by the omnipresent Seolmundae Halmang, Jeju's legendary grandmother who is credited with creating Jeju Island. The paths lead you to many stone representations of the myth, the Sky Pond and the exhibition astounds with its wealth of geological formations. Stone figures peak out from lush vegetation all along the path, delighting the eye at every turn, and giving the trail a primitive feeling.
Sangumburi is 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 17 Jeju - Seoul (B) 480km
Morning flight to Seoul, and at own transfer to your hotel. The balance of the day at own pursuit. You can explore the city yourself or look for souvenirs.
Day 18 Departure (B) 60km
After this wonderful trip exploring Korea and with time to reflect on your surprise in your experience, you will return at your own transportation to the airport in time for your flight. By boarding, you are already high above Incheon heading for home.