Imagine a country with 5,000 years of history. With legends of spiritual beings coming down from the sky to what's now Korea, a bear turning into a beautiful woman after 21 days of meditation in nature and later birthing the founder of ancient Korea, and so many other magical stories of the land, spirit, and people.
Korea is a country that combines so much natural beauty, spirituality & magic, and hustle and bustle of high-tech, metropolitan life. While it is a popular traveling destination, there are so many hidden experiences, stories, and magic that you won't experience through the conventional tourist route.
This intimate group travel is an opportunity to experience Korea through me, how I like to experience and visit Korea - little bit of touristy stuff, little bit of local stuff, a lot of authentic Korean food and culture, and the exposure to the spiritual/magical powers of the land.
TEN (10) days of fully immersive Korean adventures, experiences, learnings, and connection.
Saturday October 10th to Monday October 19th, 2020
Welcome to Korea. You will be arriving at Seoul/Incheon ICN Airport. All arrivals should be in the afternoon or early evening, and the airport transfer will be provided.
Once we arrive at our lodging, we will chill, get to know one another, catch up, and enjoy a group dinner at a nearby restaurant specializing in traditional Korean cuisine.
After getting up and having a light breakfast at the house or a nearby cafe, we will explore the palaces and surrounding historic areas in the center of Seoul.
Instead of long, boring narrated tours, we will simply walk, pause, and explore these beautiful sites at our own leisure. Even then, this will be a lot of walking - wear comfortable shoes! Actually, wear comfortable shoes everyday in Korea.
We will have lunch at a nearby local restuarant, then return to our house for a break, since the jetlag will definitely start kicking in.
At evening time, we will vist the Seoul tower for the beautiful city view and dinner.
Shopping in Seoul can be fun. For fashion, unless you are petite, clothes shopping choices may be very limited, but there are other cool things we can shop - cultural souvenirs, traditional gifts, Korea beauty products, paper goods, gourmet snacks, etc.
After breakfast at the house, we will spend the earlier part of the day at Insadong, a popular destination for tourists with many traditional themed shops and cafes.
We will grab lunch (at Insadong, or we will go to a nearby traditional market for some streetfood), then return to the house for free time or break. You may choose to explore Seoul on your own instead of resting - our property will be in the center of Seoul with easy access to many areas you can explore on foot or via subway.
In the evening, we will have a local dinner. We could try one of local favorites - Chimaek (chicken & beer) or Pocha (tent cart bar).
DMZ tour - this is one of the most unique tours in Korea, available only to USA passport holders. This will be a full day event - we will meet the bus tour operator at a pickup location, then we will be on a full day tour. Pack some snacks and be prepared for an interesting all day experience.
If you are not interested in this tour, you may choose to take this day as your own free day to explore Seoul. There are lots of cool Air B&B experiences you can try on your own. Seoul is super safe, clean, and convenient to explore on your own - but it's always helpful to have an English speaking guide, and Air B&B Experiences is a great resource.
It's time to visit Gyeongju, one of my favorite cities in Korea. In the morning we will pack up our bags and check out, taking the highspeed train to Gyeongju. The train ride should take about 90 minutes.
Gyeongju used to be the capital of Silla Dynasty (57 BC - 935 AD), and has its own unique history, legend, and energy. I would love to introduce you to the magic of this city and its ancient history, which is older and different from what's now conventionally considered as" traditional Korean," of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910AD)
The city prevents high-rise buildings to preserve all the ancient historical sites, so it has a feel of a city still back in time. It is a very popular field trip destination, so it may be crowded, but I can guarantee a beautiful, unexpected sights.
After checking in at the hotel, we will explore this quaint, historic, magical city on foot, visiting the tombs of kings and queens from so many years ago, and beautiful traditional villages and courtyards.
We will have a traditional Korean dinner & call it a night.
There is a tomb of one of the most prominent/powerful emperors of Silla dynasty in the East Sea. They say the king ordered to be buried in the ocean, and he promised he will reincarnate as a dragon and will keep watch over the nation from invaders via sea.
With such powerful history and legend, this has become a very popular prayer mecca for Korean shamans. We will get there very early in the morning to see the sunrise over East Sea and witness the prayer and ritual site of Korean shamans.
In the late morning hours, we will stop at Bulguksa temple, one of the top three nationally recognized Buddhist temples.
After a lunch at the nearby place specializing in country-style Korean cuisine, we will make a transfer via train to the next city, Busan.
This is a long day of exploring and traveling - we will check in, eat, and rest in Busan.
We will explore Busan, the second largest city in South Korea. It has beautiful beaches, sightseeing areas, modern cultural/hip areas for shopping and people-watching, and great seafood and nightlife.
After breakfast, we will pack up and return to Seoul via highspeed train. Our train ride should take less than 3 hours.
We will be checking into a different hotel in Seoul. Rest of the day is free time to rest, catch up, or explore.
This is a totally free day in Seoul. This is a day you can customize your own Korea experience.
You can visit Gangnam area (remember the song, Oppa Gangnam Style?), visit Itaewon, the expat mecca and shopping/party central where many people speak English and it's very "Americanized." You may also find clothes in bigger sizing that can fit us and our friends back home in Itaewon.
You can go hiking, book food tour via Air B&B Experiences, or make an appointment with a Korean Shaman for a reading (I will translate for you). In nearby areas from Seoul, there are cities/places you can make a daytrip, including Korean folk village (think colonial Williamsburg) that can be touristy but also kind of fun.
Travel Day. All airport transport from hotel to ICN airport will be provided.
We will be visiting three different cities, making several transfers by public transportation: Seoul to Gyeongju, Gyeongju to Busan, Busan to Seoul. This will require you to carry your luggage through some crowded areas and streets. Packing light and being physicially able to transport your own luggage is important.
Korea is a tiny country with a lot of people. It may feel as if there is always too many people and not enough space. In Asia, there is no such thing as "personal space" and if you are one of those who are seeking peace and quiet when traveling, this may not be the right destination for you. If you are open to experience the lively hustle and bustle of Korea however, you are in for a treat.
Korea is a mountainous country, and there are a lot of hills, steps, and walking in Korea. Most noteworthy sites are in the mountains and require some moderate uphill walking. While public transportation and taxis are awesome there, you will experience a lot more walking than at home. If walking in New York City is a difficulty level 4 (since it's mostly flat), walking in Korea would be a difficulty level of 8 with all the hills and inclines.
People with adventurous taste buds and non-limiting diets will enjoy this trip the most. More omnivorous you are, more you will find to enjoy. If you are a pescarian, vegetarian/vegan, there are many delicious options for you, but most will be Korean cuisine, not Western. Substitution or customizations are not as readily available at the restuarants. With that said, there are plenty of non-Korean, Western food options available in Seoul and Busan, and you may choose to partake in these meals on your own, but most of our included group meals will be authentic Korean.
If you are interested in extending your stay in Korea or visit other countries nearby like Japan or China, let me know in advance and I will be happy to provide some insight to make it as smooth as possible.
Does NOT Include:
PRICE: Shared Room & Bath $2,950
Deposit of $950 to Reserve Your Space. The first payment (50% of balance) to be paid by April 30, 2020 The second payment (remaining 50%) to be paid by July 31, 2020 (Monthly Automatic Payment Plan is Available - Ask Seo about setting it up!)
Refunds (75% of paid amount) can be made by May 31, 2020. No refund can be made after May 31, 2020.
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© 2019 Seo Kelleher