Complete South Korea

Duration 11 days
Price guide
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Explore South Korea's highlights in 11 days, starting in bustling Seoul with its blend of ancient palaces and modern skyscrapers. Discover historic neighbourhoods like Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong before heading south to Gyeongju, a treasure trove of ancient temples and royal tombs. Then, experience the vibrant port city of Busan, with its beaches, markets and scenic views. Finally, unwind on tranquil Jeju Island, known for its volcanic landscapes, beaches and Hallasan Mountain.

Trip highlights

  • Visit the grand royal palaces of Seoul
  • Delight in Korean street food at a local market
  • Travel to the ancient kingdom of Silla in Gyeongju
  • Explore hidden waterfalls in Jeju Island

Bespoke trips with Jacada

We design one-of-a-kind journeys incorporating luxury in all its forms. Our bespoke trips include:

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Privately guided tours
  • Private transfers
  • Meticulously selected experiences
  • Expertise and support from your Jacada Concierge
  • Days 1-5 Seoul
  • Days 5-6 Gyeongju
  • Days 6-8 Busan
  • Days 8-11 Jeju Island
Complete South Korea
Price guide
  • Days 1-5 Seoul
  • Days 5-6 Gyeongju
  • Days 6-8 Busan
  • Days 8-11 Jeju Island

Itinerary in detail

Every Jacada trip is tailored to your personal preferences and interests. Below you’ll find a sample itinerary to inspire your own custom-designed journey.

Days 1-5

An introduction to Seoul

Seoul, South Korea’s sprawling capital, is a bustling metropolis that encapsulates the essence of East Asia, blending cutting-edge technology with deep-rooted traditions. With over half of the nation’s population residing in its metropolitan area, Seoul stands as a vibrant hub of culture and commerce. Bisected by the Han River into historic ‘Gangbuk’ in the north and modern ‘Gangnam’ in the south, Seoul comprises 25 districts, or gu, each akin to a small city in terms of size and population.

Exploring Seoul unveils a treasure trove of attractions, including five grand palaces, numerous temples and captivating museums. Food enthusiasts will relish in the abundance of street food, bustling markets and top-notch restaurants, while the city’s nightlife districts pulse with energy, making Seoul one of the liveliest urban scenes worldwide. Beyond the city limits, surrounding mountains offer breathtaking views and rewarding hiking trails.

During your four nights in Seoul, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit Changdeokgung Palace and its secret garden, as well as Bukchon Hanok Village, offering insight into Korean life six centuries ago. Additionally, you’ll embark on a poignant journey to the War Memorial of Korea, honouring the nation’s history and a visit to the DMZ, a unique glimpse into the geopolitical tension between North and South Korea.

Make it mine

For food

For art

Gwangjang Market tour

Gwangjang Market, one of Seoul’s oldest and most iconic markets, has a rich history dating back over a century.

Established in 1905 during the Japanese occupation of Korea, the market initially served as a hub for silk trading, catering to the needs of the local populace.

Today, Gwangjang Market stands as a thriving epicenter of South Korean culture, renowned for its traditional textiles, handicrafts and, above all, its delectable street food.

Insa-dong Art Street tour

Explore this charming thoroughfare, lined with galleries, boutiques and artisan shops, offering a glimpse into South Korea’s rich heritage through traditional paintings, calligraphy and handcrafted treasures.

Step back in time at the Korean Folk Village

Experience a journey through time at the Korean Folk Village, a dynamic living museum that meticulously recreates historic and traditional houses, providing a fascinating insight into South Korea’s rich cultural heritage across different social classes and eras. Witness captivating performances including nongak farmer’s music, martial arts demonstrations, horseback displays, traditional dances and authentic wedding ceremonies, offering a vibrant immersion into the diverse tapestry of Korean traditions and customs.

Architectural marvels

Sky Observatory

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Lotte World Tower Seoul

Visit the Lotte World Tower, South Korea’s tallest skyscraper and currently the world’s sixth tallest building. Ascend to the Seoul Sky observatory spanning floors 117 to 123, where the Sky Deck, perched at 478 meters, boasts the Guinness World Record as the highest glass-floored observatory globally.

Through towering two-story glass windows, marvel at uninterrupted panoramic views of the city, revealing its breathtaking beauty both day and night.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Situated at the heart of the Dongdaemun district, the DDP has swiftly emerged as Seoul’s  iconic landmark, rivalling the likes of the N Seoul Tower.

Its striking neofuturistic design encompasses expansive exhibition halls, art spaces, and an array of shops.

Additionally, nestled within its sweeping contours lies the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, showcasing historical remnants unearthed during the plaza’s construction, adding a layer of intrigue to its contemporary allure.

Days 5-6

One night in Gyeongju

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Gyeongju, once the capital of the illustrious Silla kingdom that reigned over much of the Korean Peninsula from 57 BC to 935 AD. At its zenith, Gyeongju stood as one of the largest cities on the planet, boasting an unparalleled cultural legacy. Dubbed as ‘the museum without walls’, the city is adorned with a myriad of historic temples, tombs, pagodas and statues. Among the remarkable remnants are the 8th-century Bulguksa Temple and the nearby Seokguram Grotto, home to some of the finest Buddhist sculptures globally. Explore the earthen mound tombs nestled in Tumuli Park, along with a multitude of meticulously preserved fortresses and palaces, all encapsulating the grandeur of Silla’s glorious past.

Top highlights




A tour of Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto

Explore Bulguksa, an 8th-century Buddhist temple complex on Mount Toham, a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing South Korea’s cherished national treasures.

The grounds, symbolising Buddha’s realm, feature three main areas – Birojeon, Daeungjeon and Geungnakjeon –surrounded by exquisite stone terraces, bridges and pagodas showcasing ancient masonry skills.

Nearby, Seokguram Grotto boasts a monumental Buddha statue and intricate depictions of gods, Bodhisattvas, and disciples, representing a pinnacle of Buddhist artistry in the Far East.

Visiting Daereungwon Tomb Complex and Cheomseongdae Observatory

Explore Gyeongju’s rich history with a tour of the Daereungwon Tomb Complex, showcasing ancient burial mounds like the famous Cheonmachong. Unearthed in 1973, it contained over 11,500 artifacts, including a lacquered wooden coffin adorned with burial goods.

Nearby, discover Asia’s oldest surviving astronomical observatory, Cheomseongdae, dating back to the 7th century and used for weather forecasting through star observation.

Exploring Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond

Enjoy a private guided tour of Gyeongju Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, once the secondary palace for the crown prince and a prestigious banquet venue for important national events and dignitaries.

Despite its abandonment after the fall of the Silla dynasty, this historical site regained its prominence when a pottery fragment bearing the inscription “Wolji,” meaning “a pond that reflects the moon,” was unearthed in the 1980s.

This discovery led to the site’s renaming as Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, restoring its rightful place as a cherished cultural treasure.

Days 6-8

Two nights exploring Busan

With two nights to explore, immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Busan, South Korea’s second-most populous city and the bustling economic and cultural hub of southeastern Korea. Marvel at the juxtaposition of gleaming high-rises nestled between lush green mountains and serene beaches, with elegant bridges spanning across the sea. Experience the city’s dynamic restaurant and nightlife scene, bustling fish markets, and picturesque hiking trails, offering a fascinating glimpse into the diverse facets of modern Korean life.

During your time in Busan, you will have the opportunity to to visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a stunning seaside temple steeped in history. You will also enjoy a tour of  of Nurimaru APEC House, a symbolic venue of the 2005 APEC Summit offering breathtaking views of the coastline and serving as a testament to Busan’s significance on the global stage.

Local life

Traditional market

Culture village

Fish market

Gukje Market tour

Established in the aftermath of the Korean War in the 1950s, Gukje Market emerged as a place of resilience and revival, initially serving as a trading center for refugees and merchants amidst the post-war chaos, eventually evolving into a vibrant hub of commerce and culture in Busan.

On this private guided tour, you will navigate through a maze of colourful stalls offering everything from handmade crafts to tantalising street food delights, engaging with local artisans along the way.

Here, you will get to experience the energetic atmosphere as you immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and aromas of this bustling marketplace, discovering hidden treasures and quaint tea houses tucked away in its labyrinthine alleys.

Gamcheon Culture Village

With its brightly colored houses and artistic flourishes, Gamcheon offers a delightful immersion into local life.

Explore its winding alleys adorned with vibrant murals and sculptures, each telling a story of the village’s rich cultural heritage.

Wander through this vibrant maze to discover small museums, art shops, cozy tea rooms and engaging workshops, all showcasing the creativity and ingenuity of the local residents.

Jagalchi Fish Market tour

Visit Jagalchi Market, situated by the sea across from Yeongdo-gu Island and renowned throughout the country for its wide selection of live, freshly caught, and dried fish.

Here, you’ll encounter the iconic Jagalchi Ajumma vendors – women who dominate the market with their expertise and lively personalities. “Ajumma” signifies middle-aged or married women in Korean, adding a cultural flair to your immersive market experience.

A visit to the UN Memorial Cemetery

Step into history and honor the brave soldiers who fought in the Korean War at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea. This serene park, spanning 135,000 square meters, pays tribute to UN soldiers from 16 countries and UN aids from five countries who made the ultimate sacrifice during the conflict from 1950 to 1953.

Explore notable sites and memorials including the Memorial Service Hall, Memorabilia Hall, Turkish Monuments, Greek Monument, Australian Monument, British Commonwealth Monument, and tranquil ponds.

Constructed in 1964 and 1968 respectively, the Memorial Service Hall and Memorabilia Hall stand as solemn reminders of the war’s impact. The Main Gate, dedicated by the citizens of Busan in 1966, welcomes visitors to this hallowed ground.

Experience poignant annual events such as the Tributary Ceremony of the Veterans of the Korean War in April, American Memorial Day in May, Korean Memorial Day in June, and UN Ceremony Day in October, commemorating the sacrifices made for peace and freedom.

Days 8-11

Three nights on Jeju Island

Jeju, the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, is characterised by the imposing presence of Hallasan, the volcano that gave rise to its formation and stands as the highest peak in South Korea.

As you traverse its landscape, you’ll descend through lush forests, pass by villages crafted from dark volcanic stone and encounter the iconic dol hareubang grandfather statues hewn from basalt. Along its coastline, Jeju unveils a stunning vista of sheer cliffs, cascading waterfalls and pristine beaches, adorned with vibrant wildflowers, casting a spell of natural beauty. Nestled amidst this picturesque scenery are remarkable temples and lava tubes waiting to be explored.

Adding to its allure, Jeju magnetises visitors from far and wide, with its status as the preferred honeymoon destination for newlyweds in Korea and the distinction of hosting the world’s busiest air route between Seoul and the island. Moreover, the island’s culinary offerings are a highlight, boasting an array of fresh seafood delicacies. Notably, Jeju’s seafood is renowned, much of it harvested by the skilled haenyeo women, who free-dive for clams, abalone, octopus, squid and seaweed without the aid of breathing apparatus.

While on the island, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Yumin Art Nouveau Collection, as well as the Bonte Museum – both offering a glimpse of local talent and traditional art in Korea.

Natural wonders

Sunrise hike

Coastal hike

Chasing waterfalls

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak at sunrise

This guided tour invites you to delve into the natural splendor and rich history of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak.

As you ascend the rugged slopes of Seongsan Ilchulbong, your expert guide will regale you with tales of its geological formation, which dates back thousands of years to a volcanic eruption that shaped the island’s dramatic landscape.

Marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding seascape as you reach the summit, where you’ll be greeted by the sight of the sun rising majestically over the horizon, casting a warm glow upon the tranquil waters below.

A guided hiking tour to Seopjikoji

Begin your adventure by exploring the vast expanse of rolling hills adorned with lush greenery, where the breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline stretch as far as the eye can see.

Your knowledgeable guide will lead you through the winding paths, sharing fascinating insights into the history and significance of Seopjikoji, known for its dramatic cliffs, rugged terrain and panoramic vistas.

Marvel at the unique rock formations and coastal landscapes that have inspired artists and poets for centuries.

From here, you will also see the historic Seopjikoji lighthouse, where you can learn about the area’s maritime heritage and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding seascape.

A tour of Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, located on the stunning island of Jeju in South Korea, boasts not only natural beauty but also a rich historical and cultural significance.

Its name, which translates to “Pond of the Emperor of Heaven,” reflects the waterfall’s esteemed status in local folklore and mythology.

Legend has it that the gods sent their celestial beings to this waterfall to bathe, thus blessing the water with divine purity and healing properties.

Throughout history, Cheonjiyeon Waterfall has been revered by locals and visitors alike for its tranquil ambiance and believed rejuvenating powers.

Today, it stands as a cherished symbol of Jeju’s natural heritage.

A glimpse of local culture at Seongeup Folk Village

Seongeup Folk Village embodies the distinctive culture and traits of Jeju Island, featuring iconic elements like the black lava rock walls, strategically designed alleys that are both straight and curvy to shield against the wind, and the ubiquitous stone grandfather statues known as Harubang.

While it shares similarities with traditional folk villages, what sets it apart is the fact that it remains a thriving community where people continue to reside to this day.

Learn about Korea's tea culture at the O'Sulloc Tea Museum

Step inside to discover a world of fragrant aromas and delicate flavors as you learn about the history of tea in Korea, from its origins to its evolution into an integral aspect of Korean daily life and social customs.

Immerse yourself in the art of tea-making as you observe traditional tea ceremonies and gain insight into the various types of tea produced in Korea, including the renowned Jeju green tea. Explore interactive exhibits, stroll through tea gardens and even sample a variety of exquisite teas at the museum’s tea shop

“South Korea Trip: Carefully Planned. Beautifully Executed‌”

We, as a family, have been privileged to go on a number of luxury holidays to some interesting places - from Peru to Pakistan and Mongolia to Mozambique - and this trip was right up there. Thank you for making it so special. To speak candidly it was a risk to move away from the more established tour operators that…

Published 27th October 2022 on Trustpilot
Toby Hodgson

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