Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, daily breakfasts and full-board at Hoshinoya Taketomi Island . Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
With ancient world heritage sites, incredible national parks, and a rich dynastic history, South Korea is a captivating country with much to offer. Explore a thriving street food scene in Seoul, hike past centuries-old relics in Gyeongju, and relax at a local hot spring spa in Busan. Throughout your journey in Korea, stay in some of the country’s most luxurious hotels, and even experience a unique traditional homestay in the countryside. After your Korean adventure, travel to the archipelago of Okinawa, a former independent kingdom located in the East China Sea. Once known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, the Okinawa islands even had their own dialect. Absorb the Ryukyu spirit as you immerse yourself in the exotic culture of Okinawa. Escape to Taketomi, a stunning, laid-back island with a well-preserved heritage, and relax in your hotel’s private villa. Together, explore vibrant coral reefs, hike through verdant jungle terrain, and unwind on romantic white-sand beaches.
Upon arrival in Seoul, you will be met and whisked away to the Conrad or Four Seasons, both five-star hotels with impressive views of the city. Tonight, enjoy a NANTA show, or a K-Live performance if you wish. NANTA is a South Korean non-verbal comedy show, while K-Live is an impressive holographic performance, featuring iconic K-pop stars and catchy tunes.
Today, discover some of Seoul’s most intriguing destinations. Visit Gyeongbokgung, a 14th century palace from the Joseon Dynasty. Stroll through the palace gardens and marvel at the structure’s colorful hand-painted ceilings. Visit N Seoul Tower, an iconic South Korean landmark with excellent views of the city, and do as the Koreans do: Snap a colorful lock onto the tower’s railing to symbolize your eternal love for each other. Continue on to Namdaemun Market, Seoul’s largest and oldest market. We recommend sampling traditional Korean snacks, such as sweet pancakes and Korean fried chicken, during a market snack tour. Step back in time and explore Bukchon Hanok Village, home to over 800 traditional Korean houses, or hanoks, that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Wander down windy lanes past the still-inhabited, charming abodes, where everyday life continues for Seoulites. While in the village, learn the process of making kimchi, a traditional, vitamin-packed Korean staple made from fermenting healthy vegetables like napa cabbage, radish, scallion and cucumber. To complete your experience, choose to wear traditional Korean clothing known as hanbok.
After breakfast, depart for Yeongju, a small city between Seoul and Andong. Browse Yeongju’s Ponggi Ginseng market, before arriving in Andong, a quaint city located in the Korean countryside. While here, we recommend sampling Andong steamed chicken, a delicious local specialty. Visit Pungsan Hanji traditional paper factory and Hahoe Folk Village, a 600-year-old historic clan village from the Joseon Dynasty. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the village strives to preserve and re-enact its remarkable folk traditions, including an entertaining mask dance and drama performance. This evening, spend the night at Bukchondaek House, a 300-year-old traditional house that is part of Hahoe Village’s homestay.
This morning, depart for Gyeongju, an ancient city brimming with historical sites and treasures. As the former capital of the nearly1000-year-longSilla dynasty, Gyeongju is commonly referred to as an “open-air museum” by locals. Along the way, stop at Yeongdeok, a fishing village, and taste fresh local snow crab, a delicious Korean delicacy once served to royalty. Upon arrival in historic Gyeongju, visit Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most beautiful temples in the country with its expert stonework and serene gardens. Wander through Seokguram Grotto, which features Buddhist figure carvings, and end the day at Haeinsa Temple, another world heritage site with an impressive collection of Buddhist scripture tablets. In Gyeongju, we recommend staying at the Hilton or the Hyundai.
Stroll through Anapji Pond this morning, a 7th century pleasure garden and lotus pond, before hiking the gorgeous Namsan Mountain trails in Gyeongju National Park. Namsan’s wilderness is home to many Silla-era holy sites and artifacts, including temples, statues, pagodas, fortresses, and rock carvings. After your hike, depart Gyeongju for Busan, a port city celebrated for its beaches, hot springs, and enticing street food. Upon arrival, check into the Park Hyatt hotel and relax. This afternoon, we recommend soaking at a local hot spring spa. In between sauna sessions, immerse yourself in Korean culture and sample classic spa treats like sikhye, a refreshing sweet rice drink, and baked eggs, a traditional snack. After your soak, stroll Haeundae Beach. This evening, if you wish, set out on a street food tour of Busan’s delicacies and sample local treats like ssiat hotteok, a fried pastry stuffed with nuts and honey.
Discover bustling Busan today. Visit Yonggungsa Buddhist Temple, a 14th century temple and popular pilgrimage site situated on a cliff overlooking the East Sea.Peruse the fascinating marine creatures on display at Jagalchi, South Korea’s largest fish market and an iconic Busan experience. Explore Gamcheon Culture Village, a vibrant neighborhood defined by its brightly colored houses, narrow alleyways, and creative street art. Sample beers in downtown Nampodong, where there is a growing craft beer scene, and walk through Gukje Market, Busan’s largest traditional market. Round out the day with an excursion to Taejongdae, a scenic coastline park overlooking the sea. At the park, visit the clam tents that line the shore and taste just-caught shellfish.
This morning, you will be transferred to the airport. Depart Busan for lively Naha, the capital of Okinawa. Upon arrival in Naha, tour the restored royal rooms and gardens of Shuri Castle, a magnificent 14th century palace historically known as the throne of the Ryukyu kingdom. Make astop at Makishi Public Market, where fresh local seafood is the main draw and, if you wish, have your favorites authentically prepared for you on the spot. Meander down Naha’s popular arcade streets, bursting with shops and stalls, and peruse traditional Okinawan pottery in the Tsuboya neighborhood. After touring, check into the Ritz Carlton and relax.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport. Depart Naha for Ishigaki Island. Upon arrival, take a short ferry ride to Taketomi Island. Check into Hoshinoya Taketomi, a secluded resort with luxurious private villas, and unwind on Taketomi’s gorgeous white-sand beaches. The sub-tropical island’s clear blue waters are home to a vibrant array of colorful fish, as well as sea turtles, and manta rays. This afternoon, if you wish, take a leisurely cycle around the tiny, flat island. As you explore, take note of Taketomi’s holy areas, often marked by low stone walls. Stop by the traditional village of Taketomi, and cruise along narrow lanes that wind past the carefully-preserved Ryukyu houses and gardens. If you would like, learn about about the local weaving culture at the on-island weaving center.
This morning, take an idyllic water buffalo wagon tour through the village. After your tour, embark on a day trip to Ishigaki Island if you wish. Renowned for its brilliant clear water and coral reefs, Ishigaki offers plenty of wonderful diving, snorkeling, and swimming spots. Explore the island’s restaurant and café scene before returning to the peaceful haven of Taketomi Island.
Enjoy another day at leisure. We recommend taking a day trip to the surrounding islands, including Iriomote Island and Hateruma Island. A national park, Iriomote is home to the Iriomote wildcat, a species found only on this particular island. Hike through lush jungle landscape, past pristine waterfalls, rocky streams, and freshwater pools. Hateruma is well-known for its gorgeous beaches, including peaceful Nishihama beach, which offers incredible offshore snorkeling.