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Combining war-time monuments, culinary delights and ancient imperial palaces, this 11-day tour of South Korea delves into its fascinating past and politically charged present. Travel from the modern charms of Seoul and coastal Busan to the historic treasures of Gyeongju and Andong, with exquisite meals and a visit to the North-South Demilitarized Zone completing your quintessential South Korean experience.
Depart London on your scheduled, overnight flight to Seoul.
On arrival in Seoul, you will be met by your representative and transferred to your hotel for the evening.
Following breakfast, embark on a tour of South Korea's Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the no man's land that forms the highly secure frontier between North and South Korea. Visit Dorasan train station, which connects north and south, and the Dorasan Observatory which overlooks the DMZ. Explore the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, a secret passageway built by North Koreans trying to tunnel into the south, and view the heavily guarded Bridge of Freedom which links the two nations. After lunch, return to Seoul for a city tour. Seoul has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last five decades, with the ravages of the Korean War making way to sleek skyscrapers and neon-lit districts. The city still retains several remnants of its imperial past and today's walking tour takes in these centuries-old structures, using Seoul's world-class underground system to move between sights. Starting at Changdeokgung Palace, built by the kings of Korea's Joseon Dynasty, explore the pavilions and rooms of this imperial residence before touring its Secret Garden, where the pond, greenery and pavilions combine to create a tranquil settingContinue onward to the Bukchon Hanok Village, teeming with charming, traditional 'hanoks' or wooden houses before returning to your hotel for an evening at leisure. Travel to the N. Seoul Tower which rises above the city skyline and provides panoramic views over the city, then return to your hotel after dinner.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be met by your representative to continue the tour of the city including the Changing of the Palace guard. Continue onward to Insadong Antique Street and browse through the wares on display in elegant, wooden shopfronts. Travel to the Kimchi Museum and learn more about how this local fermented cabbage dish grew to its current popularity then stop in at the Buddhist temple of Jogyesa and browse through the stalls of Gwangjang Food Market.
This morning, transfer by metro to the train station (luggage will be transported) and board your high-speed train to the coastal city of Busan. On arrival in Busan, set out on an afternoon coach tour of the city, stopping first to wander through Gamcheon Cultural Village with its pastel-coloured houses set in the slopes of a mountain. Next, pay your respects to the soldiers killed in the Korean War at the UN Memorial Cemetery then visit peaceful APEC Nurimaru Park and the soft sands of Haeundae Beach. Climb 108 steps to picturesque Haedong Yonggungsa temple and explore this sacred Buddhist site which boasts a stunning setting on Busan's coastal cliffs. Transfer to your hotel for check-in.
After breakfast, embark on a morning tour, moving between sights by metro. Wander through bustling Jagalchi Fish Market and haggle with the hawkers of Kukje Market, where you'll stop for a delicious lunch. Visit nearby BIFF Square, Korea's answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and continue on to the soaring Busan Tower. Next, transfer to Busan Train Station and embark on your rail journey to Gyeongju, taking in rural landscapes and urban skylines along the way. On arrival, enjoy dinner and a night-time tour of Anapji, the site of a spectacular palace and pond.
A full-day tour of Gyeongju takes in the major sites of Korea's ancient former capital, known as the 'Museum Without Walls. Journey from the immense Buddha statue which lies in Seokguram Grotto to UNESCO-listed Bulguksa Temple where you'll explore its Buddhist relics, pavilions and gardens. For lunch, visit a Korean cooking school where you will learn how to make Korea's delectable beef barbeque and dine on your culinary masterpiece. Continue onward to the age-old observatory of Cheomseongdae before taking in the greenery of Tumuli Park and browsing through ancient artefacts in the Gyeongju National Museum.
Transfer to the train station for your train to Andong, a city renowned for its open-air heritage museums. On arrival, journey to Hahoe Village where you'll discover hundreds of ceremonial masks on display in the Hahoe Mask Museum. Soak in sweeping views of the village from nearby Buyongdae Cliff then wander through the local market. Transfer to your hotel for check-in and dinner, followed by an evening at leisure.
Depart Andong this morning and travel by coach to Poonggi where you'll visit the city's sprawling ginseng plantation and the area's oldest ginseng market. Marvel at the amazing variety of ginseng products on display then journey onward to Daegang Makgeolli (Rice Wine) Brewery in Danyang. Here, you can learn about and taste this unique alcoholic drink and see samples of homebrewed Korean liquor that date back to the Japanese colonial era. Continue on to Seoul, where a night of entertainment awaits. Re-join your group for a farewell dinner and a trip to see 'Nanta', one of the most famous theatrical performances in the country.
Enjoy a day at leisure to explore this bustling metropolis at your own pace. Alternatively, a number of optional excursions are available (at a fee). Make stir-fried glass noodles and seafood pancakes at a cooking class, join a workshop and learn how to make kimchi (Korea's traditional fermented cabbage dish) or enjoy a show at the Jeongdong Theatre.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK or continue on to your chosen extension.
A visa is not required for your travel to South Korea. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. We strongly advise you check your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding visas and passport validity.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of €300pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Flights are with Asiana from London Heathrow. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage. There is also an allowance of one cabin bag not exceeding 25cm x 45cm x 56cm in size and one personal bag not exceeding 45 cm x 36 cm x 20 cm that you can take on the aircraft as hand luggage. Weight restrictions will be finalized on your final documents. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay an additional fee for this at check-in. Heathrow Airport advises that you should arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to your flight time for international departures.
IMPORTANT: Please note that final flight details will be confirmed on your final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure. A printed E-ticket is no longer required at check-in, all you need to do is present your passport to the staff at the desk and your boarding pass will be given to you.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, www.travelhealthpro.org.uk, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing of steep stairs and getting on and off coaches, trains and metro trams. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10, and the maximum will be 40. If in the unlikely event there are less than 10 people booked on your tour date, we will endeavour to reduce any disruption to your holiday and try to operate your tour with lower passenger numbers. If we are not able to operate your departure date then you may be asked to change to a different date and a full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is a fully escorted tour meaning that you will be met by a local guide in each of the cities that you visit, ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.
The currency in South Korea is the South Korean won, known as KRW. We recommend that you exchange your currency before you leave the UK.
You will need to take money with you to cover any personal purchases such as souvenirs, laundry, any meals not included in the itinerary as well as drinks and any additional snacks. We recommend you bring along a minimum of GBP £350 per person to change to local currency. It is a good idea to try and maintain a supply of small notes and change in the local currency for tipping or small purchases.
|Depart UK||Arrive UK||Price|
|24 May 2023||03 Jun 2023||€3751.00|
|07 Jun 2023||17 Jun 2023||€3751.00|
|27 Sep 2023||07 Oct 2023||€3919.00|
|11 Oct 2023||21 Oct 2023||€3583.00|
|25 Oct 2023||04 Nov 2023||€3695.00|
|01 Nov 2023||11 Nov 2023||€3359.00|
|29 Nov 2023||09 Dec 2023||€3471.00|
|14 Feb 2024||24 Feb 2024||€3695.00|
|13 Mar 2024||23 Mar 2024||€3807.00|
|10 Apr 2024||20 Apr 2024||€4367.00|
|22 May 2024||01 Jun 2024||€4479.00|
|05 Jun 2024||15 Jun 2024||€3807.00|
|25 Sep 2024||05 Oct 2024||€3919.00|
|09 Oct 2024||19 Oct 2024||€4255.00|
|23 Oct 2024||02 Nov 2024||€4255.00|
|30 Oct 2024||09 Nov 2024||€4255.00|
|27 Nov 2024||07 Dec 2024||€3583.00|
Due to customer feedback we are changing from the Andong Richell to the 3* Andong Grand.
South Korean Won
-1 °C / 26 °C
Weather can vary quite considerably throughout the year, so please familiarise yourself with the climate charts below.
The guide Stefano had a difficult time due to the Coronavirus outbreak, he managed all issues well.
It was a very hectic schedule but we wouldn't have seen so much otherwise. The variety was great and the experience even better. Thank you
The guide was hard to understand as her English was very poor.
Meals provided were almost identical for every meal no varieties at all and not too appetizing. Breakfast at all the hotels were excellent.
Good centrally located hotel. No complaints about any of the hotels.
All hotels were very good apart from at Andong. This was rather basic to say the least but for 1night we could make do.
Most of the hotels were good and staff very pleasant. Our tour manager went above and beyond to make sure everyone was well informed, Very helpful. A full on tour which was i was looking for, an exciting country to visit.
The guide in South Korea (stephan) went above and beyond what was expected from him, couldn't be more helpful.
3 Excellent hotels and 1 poor.
Lovely hotels, professional and helpful staff. Food and room was excellent.
All were really good, clean and with excellent staff. One a bit less so and I would have put excellent apart from that one. I loved every minute of this trip. I would like to take my family next time and will definitely use Mercury again.
The BW Seoul Garden was easily the best, a real pleasure
Very rushed itinerary it would have been better to spread it out, maybe an extra day instead of a free day rushed at the end of the tour.
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