Seoul A / 5 hourss

Tour Highlights

Cheonggyecheon Bosingak Bell Tower Insa-dong Jogyesa Gwanghwamun Plaza Deoksugung Palace Namdaemun Market Myeongdong

Seoul (- - -)
You will explore Korea's capital city that is full of rich heritage, culture, history and tourist attractions. The tour begins at Cheonggyecheon Plaza, a 5.8km-long stream that flows through downtown Seoul. At the head of the stream stands a sculpture created by world-renowned artist Coosje Van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg. Alongside the stream is a lively commercial district filled with numerous arcades and commercial facilities including the country's largest Dongdaemun Market. Visitors stroll around the stream and lovebirds walk slowly arm-in-arm at night when the banks are lit up.

Bosingak bell tower sits at the busy intersection . A bell from 1468 was tolled here daily to announce the opening and closing of the city gates during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Today, the bell is tolled 33 times once a year at midnight on December 31. At this occasion, a large gathering of people celebrate and welcome the coming of New Year.

A block away from the alley is Jogyesa, the head temple of Jogyejong, the principal sect of Buddhism in Korea. It emphasizes the Zen orthodox, meditation tradition and maintains the purity of monastic celibacy. The temple does not give off the solemn and traditional air of the other temples located deep in the mountains, but when you enter this temple the frenzy of the city disappears letting you explore the main worship hall, pagodas and bell tower in tranquility. The Main Worship Hall, Daeungjeon, holds triad Buddhas, Sakyamuni, Amitabha and Bhaisajyaraja. The figure in the center is Sakyamuni Buddha who has overcome greed, hatred and delusion. You will also see seven story pagoda that holds Sarira which was taken to Korea by a Ceylon monk Dharmapala on August 20, 1913. While here it is worth noting the 500 year old lacebark pine and 400 year old locust tree that still grace the property.

You will head on to the Gwanghwamun Plaza with a statue of Yi Sunsin, who had engaged in twenty-three naval battles against Japan and emerged victorious in all of them during the Hideyoshi invasion (1592-1598). The statue of King Sejong who propagated the Korean alphabet in the 15th century is honored with prominent statue in this plaza. En route, you will check out Korea's Zero Kilometer.

Then, on to Deoksu palace or Palace of Virtue and Longevity which was constructed as a private residence of the royal family. With the destruction of Gyeongbok palace by Hideyoshi's invasion in the late 16th century, it was used as a palace. Attractions include audience hall rebuilt, art gallery, Chunmyeongjeon the King Gojong's residences, inner palace residences, a bell cast in 1306 to honor Queen of first king of Joseon dynasty and statue of King Sejong who invented Korean Alphabet Hangul in 1443.

After the visit, you head on to a magnificent South gate (under restoration), that served as the main gate during the Joseon dynasty. It is the largest and oldest one among those wooden structures, which remain in Seoul. Neighboring block is the centuries-old Namdaemun market where well over 11,000 shops selling anything you can imagine. Widely acknowledged as one of the Seoul's best tourist attractions, the market is seriously crowded, so be prepared to get bumped around. One of the most colorful aspects of the market is an endless sprawl of street-vendor stalls that setup in the alleys and walkways between the buildings. As you stroll through the market, you can haggle over the price to get the best deal on something you want or simply admire the vibrancy of this massive market.

Then, make your way to Myeongdong, a famous fashion and shopping district filled with boutiques, cafes and swanky shops that sell clothes and accessories, allowing you to explore it at your own. Here, you will enjoy Myeongdong's narrwow alleys packed with thousands of shops that line on the both side of the alleys. Of the most notable attraction here is the Gothic style Myeongdong cathedral. It was built in 1898 and serves as the administrative seat of the Catholic church in Korea. The Bank of Korea and Central Post Office are on your way to Myeongdong.

Gyeongju / 4 hours

Tour Highlights

Gyeongju National Museum Anapji Pond Banwolseong Fortress Seokbingo Cheomseongdae Tumuli Park Seongdong Market

Gyeongju (- - -)

Your tour guide meets you in your hotel lobby in Gyeongju and taks you on a walking tour of Gyeongju. The tour starts at Gyeongju national museum featuring many thousands of priceless archaeological and historical artifacts including splendid craftworks such as gold crowns, earrings, belts, ornaments, glassware, potteries, clay figures, Buddha statues, tiles and a lot more. The Anapaji hall displays roughly 700 of the 30,000 artifacts dredged up from the Anapji pond including a royal barge. A gigantic Emille Bell from the eighth century is on display and you must certainly stand in awe before the bell with such artistic beauty of design.

See Anapji, a pleasure garden built to commemorate the victory of Silla, and later used as the recreational area for the Silla's royal family, 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.

Visit Cheomseongdae, known as the world's oldest existing astronomical observatory. 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.

After strolling through the busiest district of the city, you will explore Seongdong market close to the Gyeongju train station, where you will see a classic example of the Korean market with lots of fresh vegetables, seafood, food stands and some textiles. The market spills out on to the street and local vendors, many elderly women sell home-grown vegetables and grains.

Busan / 4 hours

Tour Highlights

Jagalchi FIsh Market BIFF Square Gukjesijang Busan Modern History Museum Yongdusan Park

Busan (- - -)

Your tour guide meets you in your hotel lobby and taks you on a walking tour. Explore the fascinating and bustling Jagalchi fish market located on the downtown docks. The market offers a wide variety of fish including sea bream, sea bass, snapper, saury, pollack, halibut, corvina, cutlass fish, mackerel, octopus, sea squirt, cuttlefish, frogfish, flounder, abalone, crab, shells, to name just a few, and a flexible pricing system, which makes it a big draw among locals and visitors alike. There are also many restaurants selling sliced raw fish at reasonable prices. Trying them here in the market is really a visual and culinary treat.

On the neighboring block is BIFF square, packed with trendy shops movie theaters and even a walk of fame where famous stars and directors have pressed their handprints into the sidewalk. A little further on is Gukjesijang, the largest traditional market in Busan, where a variety of items, including folk art, bags, clothes, food, kitchen utensils, and more are available at very reasonable prices. Discover all that local merchants have to offer, while enjoying the ambience of this massive market.

Visit Busan Modern History Museum. The building which houses the Busan Modern History Museum, built in 1929, was once used by the Japanese Oriental Development Company to implement Japanese economic policies that dominated Korea. After Korea's liberation it was used as U.S. Army barracks and later, the US Information Service. The museum portrays the history of Busan from the late 19th century to modern-day including the opening of the port in 1876, Japans' exploitation of Busan under Colonial Rule, Busan's transformation into a modern city, and the relationship between Korea and the U.S. The museum also contains photographs of Korean life of the past century.

Later stop at Yongdusan park located at the head of a steep slope that looks over the city and harbor in a breathtaking view. The most conspicuous is the 120m high Busan tower topped by an observatory dominating the most of the area of the city, and the harbor views spreading below are spectacular. And smack dab in the middle of the park stands the statue of Yi Sunsin, the Korea's greatest naval hero who is credited with the perfection of the first iron-clad warship in history. In the park's octagonal pavilion, you cannot help but appreciate the collection of countless musical instruments from basically every part of the world: The instruments included the accordion, organ, guitar, viola, flute, violin, clarinet, drums, ivory horn, balafon, marimbas, and several others.

Jeju / 5 hours

Tour Highlights

Gwandeokjeong Mokgwana Dongmun Market Jeju Folklore and Natural Hisotry Museum Samseongheyol

Jeju (- - -)

Your tour guide meets you in your hotel lobby and taks you on a city walking tour. City tour highlights are in Old Jeju, while more hotels are centered in New Jeju. Jeju walking tour begins with a visit to the 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. 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 since Tamna period. A short walk takes you to a bustling market grown up in the old city center, you will explore Dongmunsijang, a traditional market grown up in the old city center. It is a mix of a covered and an open-air bazaar that is full of cloths, souvenirs, food, distinct smells, and people. In addition, you will find mounds of colorful peppers and spices, enormous heads of grinning whole pigs' heads and an endless variety of fishes, and elderly women with machetes hacking at fresh fish and packaging it for customers.

Enjoy a stop at Dongmunsijang, grown up in the old city center. It is a mix of a covered and an open-air bazaar that is full of cloths, souvenirs, food, distinct smells, and people. In addition, you will find mounds of colorful peppers and spices, enormous heads of grinning whole pigs' heads and an endless variety of fishes, and elderly women with machetes hacking at fresh fish and packaging it for customers.

Then, continue walk to Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum, an excellent facility featuring a significant collection of crafts, tools and equipment as well as geological features, marine organism, plants, animals and minerals native to Jeju Island - the perfect way to learn about the history and culture of Jeju. At the entrance, you cannot possibly miss the fancy looking volcano bombs. In the folklore exhibition hall, you can experience the traces of Jeju's ancestors with traditional thatched houses, boats, agricultural tools, and a variety of other implements used by women divers who live a hard life diving for seafood. Outdoor exhibition is highlighted by millstones, grave guards, tombstones and various stone tools used for daily living. With all these features combined, the tour gives you a glimpse into tenacious and independent lifestyle of Jeju islanders.

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. There is an exhibition hall where you can trace the birth of Jeju. In 1526, an altar was built and wall was erected around the holes, and the descendants began offering spring and autumn memorial services. Since that time, they continue to uphold the traditions and still perform ancestral rites 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.

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