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Korea is often referred to as the “Land of the Morning Calm”. This small group journey is perfect for those who are looking to experience true Korean culture as Korea has 5,000 years of unique cultural history.
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a city of contrasts where the new and the old co-exist in perfect harmony. Ancient palaces combine with modern cultural facilities and popular shopping districts. Seoul offers shoppers a wide variety of merchandise at large department stores, duty-free shops and at open air markets and arcades. During your stay, visit the Changdeokgung Palace, preserved from the days of royalty. Adjoining it is the picturesque Secret Garden, landscaped with ponds, woods and a pavilion.
Also visit the Jogyesa Temple, the principal Zen Buddhist Temple in South Korea and the Blue House, the official residence of the head of state for South Korea, a large complex of buildings in traditional Korean architectural style. Then it is time for shopping at the open-air South Gate Market and the shopping street, Insa-dong, famous for its antique stores.
The next day, visit the Korean Folk Village where life from the past is recreated daily through activities and displays. Afterwards, head to Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which is located 44 kilometres/27 miles northwest of Seoul. From the Dora Observation Platform you will have a view of North Korean territory including the Propaganda Village, the People’s School and Gaeseong City, the old capital city of the Goryeo Kingdom. Later, return to Seoul and continue to Gyeongju.
For a thousand years until the 10th century, Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla Dynasty. Now, almost another thousand years later, Gyeongju is an open-air museum with the remains of temples, tombs, shrines, palaces, gardens and castles. In the centre of town, Royal Tumuli Park is a huge walled area with 20 royal tombs. Nearby is Cheomseongdae, one of the oldest observatories in Eastern Asia.
The finest example of Silla temple architecture is Bulguksa, a magnificent temple built on a series of stone terraces just outside Gyeongju. High above the temple, a seated Buddha gazes over Gyeongju from the Seokguram Grotto also visited. There will be time to go to the Gyeongju National Museum with its collection of mainly Silla relics.
Busan is South Korea’s largest port and second largest metropolis. During your stay here, take in the view from the Busan Tower, go to the Jagalchi Fish Market and to the Municipal Museum. Also visit Nampodong shopping street, one of the favourite haunts of the locals. Finally head to Haeundae Beach.
Return to Seoul for an overnight stay.