A surprising nation in many senses, South Korea is a joy to explore for travellers with a keen interest in both ancient and modern history, culture and cuisine. With ten World Heritage Sites and a climate that creates beautiful colours in the spring and autumn, the country has many similarities with its neighbour, Japan. This is a great value option for those who want to experience something a little different.

• Seoul: 3 nights
• Gyeongju: 1 night
• Busan: 1 night
• Seoul: 2 nights


Day 1: UK to Seoul Depart the UK on your overnight flight to Seoul.

Day 2: Seoul On arrival, transfer to your hotel where you have guaranteed early check-in. The rest of the day is free to relax following your journey. You’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers this evening for dinner at a local restaurant. During the return to your hotel you’ll drive up to Naksan Park and witness far-reaching views out over the city at night. Stay: Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun (or similar). D.

Day 3: Seoul Today begins with a photo stop at the Blue House, the official residence of the President of the Republic of Korea. Next is a walking tour of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, a reconstruction of the main 14th-Century royal palace of the Kingdom of Joseon. While here, you’ll have the opportunity to see a re-enactment of the changing of the guard ceremony and visit the National Folk Museum. Continue onwards to the neighbourhood of Insa-dong where the group will take part in a cooking class. You’ll be taught how to cook the national cuisine of kimchi – a stewed vegetable side dish – or the grilled marinated beef dish bulgogi. You’ll then get to sample your creations at lunch! Take a stroll down Insa-dong Antique Shop Alley and visit one of the tea houses for a traditional tea tasting. Continue on to the Bukchon Hanok Village, once home to the nobility and government officials during the Joseon Dynasty. Today, it’s very much the trendy part of town. From here you’ll head to another of Seoul’s alleys before visiting the Buddhist temple of Jogyesa and the modern Gwanghwamun Plaza. The last couple of stops of the day include the pretty Cheonggyecheon stream and the observatory floor of the N. Seoul Tower Stay: Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun (or similar). B, L.

Day 4: Seoul Today’s adventure is a real highlight of the tour. From Seoul, the group will transfer to Paju, a city in the far north of South Korea. It is from here that you will embark on your tour of the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). This two-and-a-half-mile wide and 155-mile-long buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea was established following the 1953 ceasefire in the Korean War and a visit here is a truly surreal, yet captivating experience. The first stop is Imjingak village where you’ll visit a park that’s home to several Korean War memorials. The village is adjacent to The Bridge of Freedom which spans the Imjin River and was the route home for many released prisoners following the end of the war. You’ll be able to view the bridge from an observation platform. Within the zone, visit the Tongilchon Unification Village, a small agricultural community, and the ultra-modern Dorasan train station that’s served by trains from Seoul that can proceed no further north. The bus then heads up to the peak of Mount Dora. From here you’ll be overlooking North Korea and the fascinating ‘settlement’ of Kijong-dong, referred to as ‘propoganda village’. You’ll also have the opportunity to travel down into the Third Infiltration Tunnel, one of the four known tunnels which passes under the border that was dug by the North Koreans. Depending on the schedule and availability, you may join a United Nations tour into the Joint Security Area (JSA) and to Panmunjom. This is a part of the border, or military demarcation line, where negotiations between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) occasionally take place. A visit here provides an incredible opportunity to actually step foot over the border into North Korea. In event of no Panmunjeom tour being available, the group will return to Seoul and visit the War Memorial of Korea and the neighbourhood of Itaewon. Stay: Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun (or similar). B, L.

Day 5: Seoul to Gyeongju Transfer to the train station and board the highspeed KTX train. Your destination is the beautiful and historic city of Gyeongju. On arrival head to the traditional Korean restaurant of Yoseokgung where lunch will be served. Then set out on a tour of the city which has been described as a ‘museum without walls’. There’ll be visits to the Tumuli Park, home to a dozen or so burial mounds surrounded by tranquil parklands, and the Gyeongju National Museum where you can learn more about the Silla period. The day ends with an evening visit to the pretty Anapji pond. Approx. journey time: 2 hours. Stay: Gyeongju Suite Hotel (or similar). B, L.

Day 6: Gyeongju to Busan The day begins with a half-mile walk up to the Bulguksa Temple which sits to the south of the city. Nearby, on the peak of Mount Toham, is the 8th-Century stone Seokguram Grotto that was built to protect statues of Buddha and his disciples. Following your visit here, continue on to the port city of Busan. Visit the modern Nurimaru APEC House and the UN Memorial Cemetery, a sobering spot that is dedicated to soldiers of the United Nations that lost their life during the Korean War. Later you’ll head down to the coast to take a walk over the water on the Songdo Skywalk. Stay: Commodore Hotel (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 7: Busan to Seoul This morning’s visit to the Jagalchi Fishery Market and the Gukje Market is a highlight for foodies. You’ll have the chance to sample some typical dishes such as eomuk (fishcakes) and hotteok (sweet pancakes). Following the market visits transfer to the station for your journey back to Seoul. This evening enjoy a showing of Nanta – a unique show that debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Stay: Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun (or similar). B, L.

Day 8: Seoul Your final full day in South Korea takes you to Suwon and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Built in the 18th Century, the fortress’ wall stretches for approximately three miles and there are four gates and various artillery towers and bastions along its length. You can try your hand at Korean archery before continuing on to a local restaurant for some traditional Chimaek – basically fried chicken and beer! The last stop of the day is the Korea Folk Village, a living museum in Yongin. Stay: Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun (or similar). B, L.

Day 9: Seoul Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.

Stay longer

Highlights of Japan 10 nights

Combine this tour with our 10-night Highlights of Japan small group escorted tour. Take in Japan’s must-see sights and some of its lesser-visited destinations, the perfect complement to South Korea.

Stay longer

Highlights of Japan 10 nights

Combine this tour with our 10-night Highlights of Japan small group escorted tour. Take in Japan’s must-see sights and some of its lesser-visited destinations, the perfect complement to South Korea.


Is this for you?

For those who wish to visit a lesser-visited part of Asia with an intriguing recent history, long-held traditions and a modern outlook on life.

Good to know

• All departures are guaranteed
• For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey)
• Average group size of 10 guests
• A maximum of 16 guests.

What to expect

• If you have a special diet, including vegetarianism, you should notify us prior to travel

• The Panmunjeom tour at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on Day 4 is subject to cancellation at short notice. In these cases a visit to Seoul’s war memorial museum and Itaewon Alley will be included instead.

Accommodation on tour

We have selected quality city hotels that are perfectly located for local exploration as well as offering a comfortable base for post-excursion relaxation. In Seoul you'll stay at the sleek Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun which opened in mid 2016 and is located in Myeong-dong, the city's main shopping district, just a few minutes from two metro stations. In Gyeongju your hotel is located close to the pretty Bomun Lake on the outskirts of the city.

Single travellers

Single room supplement from £645


Tour dates

2018 Mar 25; Apr 29; Sep 23; Oct 21

Included in price

• Quality accommodation
• Insightful local tour leaders
• Hand-picked itineraries
• Flexible arrival times
• Small groups and a relaxed approach
• Porterage and guide tips
• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), or the freedom to
explore local restaurants independently
• All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £1835 per person

Why Kuoni?

This is a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight into an intriguing country that is somewhat off the beaten track. In just a week you will see South Korea’s main highlights – from its bustling capital to the ever-present reminders of the country’s recent history – and take part in unique experiences which you are unlikely to encounter any where else in the world.

Why Kuoni?