Seoul is the capital of South Korea with over 600 years of history. It is the heart of Korea’s culture and education as well as politics and economics. Seoul is unique in that historical sites such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and modern cultural facilities coexist in harmony. Seoul is a world-class city with numerous amenities and shopping districts. Despite its enormous size it is one of the safest cities in the world. Seoul is also known as the gourmet city with the one of the finest restaurants in the world. Also the surroundings of Seoul have a lot to offer and are within easy reach of the city.
Highlights Seoul city:
Gyeongbokkung Palace – Cheonggyecheon Stream – Jogyesa Tempel – War Memorial – Namdaemoon Market – Insadong - Changdeokkung Palace – War Memorial – History museum – Worldcup stadium – Noryangjin Fish market – Han River park – Tapgol Park (“Old Men’s Park”) – Yongsan Electronic Market – Sejong Cultural Center
Highlights Seoul surroundings:
Ganghwa Island – Suwon Fortress – Suwon Folk Village – Kimchi factory – Everland Amusement Park - Icheon: pottery & ceramics
JEJU ISLAND 제주도
Jeju Island is the premier tourist destination in Korea and enjoyed by young and active as well as elderly people. Scenic beaches, waterfalls, cliffs and caves lie in harmony, and the mild weather makes Jeju Island an even more ideal tourist destination. The subtropical island you can not only find South Korea’s highest point, the Halla Mountain, but also South Korea’s most southern point, Mara Island. Jeju Island not only offers top-quality accommodations, world class golf courses and tourist facilities, you can still find places where time has stand still and people still live the old way they did for centuries. Symbol for this life style are the famous diving women (“haenyo”) who are catching fish and other sea products by hand with the help of simple tools. Seeing them at work is amazing, since they easily dive 20 meters deep to catch their products, coming out the of sea you realize these ladies are old, some easily in their eighties!
Highlights Jeju Island:
Diving women (“haenyeo”) on Udo Island – Ilchulbong, the old volcanic crater – Halla Mountain, South Korea’s highest point – Mara Island, South Korea most southern point - numerous waterfalls – Yakcheonsa Tempel with view over the Ocean – Manjang Cave – Seogwipo Harbour
Busan is a second largest city in Korea. As a major port city, there is a myriad of sea routes offering gateways to Japan and to the rest of the world. Busan also boasts scenic visions of nature with the Geumjeong Fortress Wall that leads to one to the most impressive temples of Korea: Beomeosa Tempel. Its landscape includes a coastline with fine beaches, scenic islets and tall mountains. The Pusan International Film Festival has grown in one of the biggest film festivals in the world.
Jakalchi fishmarket – Haeundai Beach – Beomeosa Tempel – Geumjeong Fortress Wall – Heoshimjeong Spa – Busan Tower –
Highlights Busan surroundings
Geojae Island – Ulsan ship yard – Tongdosa Tempel – Tripitaka Koreana
As the capital of the Silla Kingdom for almost a thousand years, Gyeongju preserves vast amount of significant and fascinating historical heritages. A number of places have been designated as a World Heritage by UNESCO. Due to the bountiful historical, natural and cultural attractions, this region offers splendid possibilities and sightseeing spots for all travelers: from impressive temples and royal graves to less known but equally impressive rice fields surrounding the small town.
Rice paddies – Seoguram Grotto – National museum – Anapji Pond – Tumuli Park (Royal Graves) – Namsan Mountain – Cheomseongdae Observatory
Highlights Gyeongju surroundings
Yangdong Village – Pohang Steel factory – Ulsan shipyard - Gampo East Coast
Gwangju is the capital of South Jeolla Province, the area where traditional practices have been best preserved. The province has been overruled by other regions throughout the history. Despite the difficulties they had to suffer, the people of South Jeolla have developed a fierce pride and unique culture. The people of Gwangju have suffered a tragedy of epic proportions when on 18 May 1980 an uprising against the military regime in Gwangju resulted in a bloodbath. Since then, Gwangju has been regarded as the road and symbol to democracy in South Korea. The region is known for its abundant sea food, breathtaking landscapes, numerous islands and wonderful nature. The country site of Jindo captures rural life unaffected by the modernization of the country. In ancient times, the ceramic makers of Gangjin were regarded as highly prized war trophies, to be brought to Japan and China to teach the art of celadon in their respective countries.
May 18 Memorial: in memorial to the vicitims of the Gwangju uprising against the military regime in 1980. The Memorial Hall symbolizes the long struggle for democracy that took root in Gwangju.
Highlights South Jeolla Province:
Gangjin celadon Museum - Moses Miracle Festival in Jindo - Hongdo Island - Wando Island - Mokpo city – Yeosu – Boseong – Jiri Mountains
The meaning of “Yeosu” means: beautiful waters. The city is located along the southern coast and from the train to Yeosu you will get a spectacular view over the bay and its surrounding mountains and islands. The city played a major role in the defense of Korea against the Japanese; the famous Admiral Yi Sun-shin had in Yeosu his headquarters. From here he led the float of battle hardened “turtle ships” to one of the heaviest defeats in Japanese military history.
Yeosu’s main source of income is fishery, and the harbors and fish markets are well worth a visit. The surrounding islands are spectacular beautiful, and its inhabitants, mostly farmers and fishers, live and work captured in old days, as if time has frozen in centuries. The city will host the World Expo in 2012.
Highlights of Yeosu and surroundings:
Fishmarket of Yeosu - the island of Dolsando, Headquaters of Admiral Yi (Jinnamgwan), Hyangilham Temple
Boseong is renowned for its tea fragrance, and the tea fields of Boseong capture everyone’s imagination. Famous for its production of tea, every May the county is covered by a sea of green. From tea paddies and Yulpo Beach, Boseong features harmony between mountains and sea. For centuries, every five days all farmers from the region come together in Boseong at the 5-day market, trading farm products such as life cattle, agricultural products, tools and machinery. At the Yulpo Beach people can enjoy the Green Tea Spa, emerging one’s body in the healthy fragrance of green tea baths and massages. Boseong also hosts an annual tea festival.
Tea plantations - Boseong 5-day market - Green Tea spa at Yulpo Beach - Miryak Pottery workplace.
SUNYOO ISLANDS 선유도
We not only recommend famous places, but we are always looking for those special places that are less known. One of those places is Sunyoo Islands, 43 km from the West Coast. The group of islands is mostly connected by small bridges, bus some are only accessible by a little ferry. Local residents call their island “Secret Polynesia”. The opportunities for accommodation are limited and mass tourism is, due to its tiny size, virtually impossible. Yet the island offers a magnificent nature, and renting a bike to explore the islands is very easy. The island’s specialty is ‘myulchi’, small dried fish that is very popular as a Korean side dish. The fish are cooked, salted and dried in open air. Seaweed is cultivated on big floating rafts. Big barrels of fish sauce remain outside for years until they are ripe for consumption.
Bike tour - hiking tour – beach – rocky coastline
Namwon is a small, pleasant city with fertile lands and wonderful mountains surrounding the city. Namwon’s main attraction is the Jirisan National Park, with spectacular peeks at almost 2000 meters high. From the impressive Hwaomsa Temple to the highest peak takes more than 5 hours, a good preparation and physical strength is required. The 40 km ridge of 12 peaks of 1000 meter or higher is one of Asia’s best hiking courses. Before the Korean War (1950-1953) wild tigers strolled this area, but they have long gone now. Still the area is famous for its richness of flora and fauna including rare birds, fish, insects and black bears. In spring the city of Namwon hosts the Chunghyang Festival, a colourful festival full of music, dance and food.
Jirisan National Park - Hwaomsa Temple - Chunghyang Festival - Gwanghulluwon Garden
ULLEUNG ISLAND 울릉도
About 100 km east of the Korean peninsula, the spectacular beautiful Ulleung Islands is all that remains of an extinct volcano. Rugged, forested mountains and dramatic cliffs rise steeply from the sea, and in autumn some of the island’s hillside is covered with chrysanthemums. Thanks to the clear waters and abundant sea life, snorkeling is spectacular beautiful and probably the best Korea has to offer for scuba divers. Most of the people live in villages along the costs, living from harvesting fish and domestic tourism. Everywhere you look you will find drying squid, seaweed and octopus.
Mountains, Nature, Snorkeling/scuba diving
Andong is the home of Confucianism in Korea. During the Joseon Dynasty, Andong attracted scores of Confucian scholars becoming a pioneering city in Confucian thought. This city also acted as a home to the noble class during the Joseon period. Due to its rich history, traditional practices are still vivid in Andong. In the paper factory high quality “rice-paper” is still produced in the old way. One can learn that the paper’s origin is not rice, but the skin of a tree. The whole process from raw material to drying the sheets of papers is done by hand, and every visitor can witness each stage of the process. Andong is also home to the most famous festival in Korea, the Andong Mask Dance Festival, which runs for 10 days and brings the city in a euphoric atmosphere of traditional dance, theater, music and lots of traditional rice wine and Andong mackerel, two of the most famous food items produced in Andong.
Highlights Andong and surroundings:
Andong paper factory, Andong Mask Dance, Hahoe Village
Gongju is the former capital of the Baekje-dynastie that reigned major parts of Korea until the 7th century. The Baekje Dynasty disappeared when the armies of another power house, the Shilla Dynasty, took control for the coming centuries. Gongju was only capital of the Baekje Dynasty for 63 years, but it has left the city with a formidable defense wall at the Gongsanseong Fortress and has led to the spectacular discovery of several royal graves in 1927 and 1933. However, the graves were soon looted. Luckily Gongju kept the best for the last, and in 1971 they discovered the complete grave of King Muryung and his wife who died 1500 years ago. This time the Korean government managed to safe the priceless artifacts found in the grave, and it has given a unique insight in the life and culture of the Baekjae people. Gongju today is a small, pleasant little town in the centre of Korea which each spring comes to full blossom during the Baekje Cultural Festival.
Highlights of Gongju and surroundings:
Royal Grave of King Muryung, National Museum, Gongsanseong Fortress, Seonggok Temple, Magogsa Temple
Gangleung offers one of the best beaches in Korea: Gyeongpodae. It’s very popular and crowed in the summer period, not always attractive for non-Korean visitors. In 1996 a North Korean spy submarine ran accidentally on the shores of Gangleung, resulting in a manhunt that captures one North Korean spy alive while the others committed suicide. The submarine is open for visitors and displays the tiny space the North Korean crew had to live in. Gangleung is not far from the beautiful mountains of Odaesan. Every June the Sjamanist Danojae Festival is held, displaying the ancient belief in Mountain spirits.
Gyongpodae beach, Danojae Festival, Odaesan, North Korean spy submarine
DIAMOND MOUNTAINS 금강산
When the Diamond Mountains in North Korea were opened in 1998 for South Korean tourists it marked a turning point in the history of both Korea’s. Since the end of the Korean War in 1953 access to the North was virtually impossible. After crossing the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) one will enter a different world of collective farms and socialist propaganda. The Diamond Mountains are the most stunning and impressive mountains of the Korean peninsula. The hotels are jointly managed by South- and North Korean workers. One can choose North Korean style food, see a North Korean music performance and enjoy the impressive Pyongyang circus during your stay in the Diamond Mountain resort. The Diamond Mountains can directly be combined with a South Korea tour.
Crossing the heavily fortified border between South- and North Korea – Diamond Mountains – Samilpo Lake – Pyongyang Circus – North Korean band.
The North Korean city of Kaesong has 500 years of history and was the capital of the ancient Koryo Dynasty (918-1392). The city is only 70 kilometers and only one-and-half hour drive from Seoul. Due to its location both North- and South Korea have agreed to open a jointly managed industrial complex, where South Korean companies can establish their factory in the Kaesong area and profit from cheap labor costs from North Korean workers. As of 2008 the heavily guarded border of Panmunjom has also been opened for South Korean tourists to visit the area Kaesong. This marked a historical event between the 2 nations, since it allowed South Koreans to visit an urban area in North Korea. This policy of joint economical development (Kaesong, the Diamond Mountains and the Industrial Complex) is aimed to bridge the gap between both countries. Kaesong can directly be combined with a South Korea tour.
Crossing the heavily fortified border between South- and North Korea – city tour Kaesong – Barkyeong Waterfalls
Pyongyang is the capital of the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, also known as North Korea. The capital is a showcase city, the political, cultural and educational centre of the country. The city is designed to show and impress visitors. The tiled apartment blocks, concrete high-rises’, tree-lined boulevards and powerful monuments are striking in its size and shapes. Every corner of every block has been approved according to one overall, unitary plan, and there is an extraordinary homogeneity in the building’s design. Pyongyang is the very manifestation of the state North Korea. It is an extraordinary city without parallel in Korea, or in the rest of the world. Pyongyang cannot directly be combined with South Korea.
May Day Stadium – Korean Art Gallery – Kim Il Sung Square – Arch of Triumph – Chollima Statue – Moranbong Park – Mangyongdae Children’s Palace – Pyongyang metro