Join us on an unforgettable journey of food, culture, history, and nature in South Korea. We start our trip in vibrant Seoul, where we'll focus on history, architecture, religious influences, and cuisine. We'll end with an incredible stay at a well-known Buddhist temple. This tour showcases all that South Korea has to offer with a particular focus on the incredible range of Korean cuisine. Our adventure will start in the South Korean capital, Seoul, to see temples and palaces. We'll taste our way through Gwangjang Market, famous for its delectable street food. Light and crispy Korean fried chicken washed down with a local Korean craft beer sounds like a perfect end to a day of sightseeing. After days of exploring the big city, we’re off to the western edge of Korea to stay overnight at a Buddhist Temple. We’ll sleep like the monks and participate in evening ceremonies. The highlight will be our plant-based meals. You've come all this way. Why not join us for our three-day extension as we venture into the Boseong region to visit tea plantations, stunning gardens, bamboo forests, ancient temples, and small historic villages? This immersion in nature will return you home refreshed and reinvigorated.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip
Welcome to South Korea, where your adventure begins! Your guide will meet you at Seoul's Incheon International Airport and transfer you to the Bonum Hotel and Hanok Stay, our accommodation for the next few days. We've chosen this hotel because of its location. This is the Buckchon-Ro part of Seoul. It lies between the two palaces and is the oldest part of Seoul. We have reserved both traditional and Western rooms to suit your preferences.
The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy as you wish. Take a stroll through the area and drop in at the local stores and coffee shops.
In the evening, we'll come together for a mouth-watering welcome dinner of Korean barbecue. Prepare to indulge in some delicious food and immerse yourself in Korean culture!
We'll explore Seoul in a private vehicle straight after breakfast.
Our first stop is at Gyeongbokgung Palace, a stunning royal home, first built in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 19th century. This "Greatly Blessed by Heaven" palace is one of five palaces from the Choson (Joseon) Dynasty. We'll also visit the Folk Museum, which houses a collection that illustrates traditional Korean life.
Next, a visit to Jogyesa Temple, one of the most important temples in the city and the heart of the Jogyejong Buddhist Order, where Zen meditation is practiced. Lunch is at a local restaurant.
After lunch, we'll stroll through Bukchon Hanok Village, an area known as the "North Village." It's home to around 900 traditional Korean houses. You'll feel as if you've taken a step back in time. Our last stop of the day will be at Insadong Street, a vibrant and lively place where you'll discover antique shops and art galleries displaying precious traditional goods. We'll also get to meet with a shop owner or two.
We'll take to the streets of Seoul with a guide in the evening. We're off on a culinary exploration of the most popular Korean dishes. We'll taste a variety of specialties like rice crispy cakes with beans, nori rolls, Korean sausage, noodles, dumplings, fried chicken, and Korean-style tempura, washed down with a local beer.
Today, we have a fun-filled day dedicated to exploring Seoul and its pulsating food scene.
Our day begins with a Korean cooking class, where we will learn to make one of hundreds of different types of Kimchi. Like salsa, every family has its own recipe.
We'll stroll through the market to discover traditional Korean cuisine, ending with a delicious Bibimbap lunch, the national dish of Korea.
In the afternoon, we'll visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to admire the collections of important Korean art and sculpture in the garden. Then, we'll stroll down the Itaewon Antique Furniture Street before departing for an excursion to the Namsan Park (pictured). We'll climb the stairs to the top through a shady forest to admire the beautiful view of the city skyline, returning by cable car.
After a short rest, we'll venture out for dinner. Tonight’s destination will leave us salivating. Eatanic Garden is in an airy garden space that opens up onto a spectacular city view in the heart of Gangnam, one of Seoul’s most vibrant and upscale neighborhoods. This Michelin-star restaurant focuses on contemporary Korean cuisine and is one of the most sought-after places to dine in Seoul.
Korean cooking class
After breakfast, we'll head to Korea's National Museum to explore the country's history and art. We'll enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant before delving into a traditional art class in the afternoon. Choose from fan-making, macrame, mask-making, or Hanji paper crafts.
We'll enjoy the famous Nanta show in the early evening. Nanta is a comedic show about four chefs who must prepare a wedding banquet in just one hour. The entire performance has no spoken dialogue. You’ll be entertained by the traditional rhythms of samulnori, a traditional Korean percussion quartet, played with a unique set of instrumental tools.
For dinner, we're off on a street food tour at the Gwangjang Market, one of Seoul's oldest and largest street food markets. With over 5,000 shops, you'll find plenty of delicacies to sample.
Traditional art class
After a delicious breakfast, we'll start our day with a visit to the Bongeunsa Temple, a stunningly peaceful Buddhist temple nestled in the heart of the bustling metropolis. This temple was once the largest in Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty. Its beauty and tranquility are sure to leave you awestruck.
Switching 180 degrees, we'll explore the futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), located in the exciting Dongdaemun shopping area. This spectacular building is dedicated to showcasing the latest design and fashion trends and features a variety of exhibitions throughout the year.
For lunch, we'll indulge in some mouthwatering local cuisine at a nearby restaurant, and then we'll participate in a Makgeolli Class. Makgeolli is one of Korea's most beloved alcoholic beverages, and brewing your own batch of it will be a truly unique experience.
As the day draws to a close, we'll enjoy a sumptuous gourmet dinner at one of the city's finest restaurants. It's the perfect way to cap off an unforgettable day in Seoul!
In the morning, we’ll depart to Gwangju on the west side of the Korean peninsula for a truly unforgettable experience - a two-day, one-night stay at the Baekyangsa Temple. We'll stop off for lunch at a local restaurant en route.
Founded in 632 C.E. during the reign of Baekjae King Mu by Ven. Yeohwan, Baekyangsa was initially named Baekamsa Temple. The name changed multiple times to Jeongtosa and back to Baekamsa until the 19th century when it was finally named Baekyangsa (White Sheep Temple). The temple earned its name because white sheep used to descend from the mountain to listen to the monks chanting before returning to their pastures. The temple is nestled in nature and offers breathtaking scenery year-round.
We'll enjoy a full board and overnight stay at the temple, immersing ourselves in the tranquility of this spiritual retreat. The reason we chose this particular temple is for the quality of their temple food. One of the nuns was featured on Chef's Table not long ago. We cannot promise that you'll meet her but we can promise some of the best vegetarian food you've ever had!
After a peaceful temple breakfast at the temple, bid farewell to Baekyangsa and return to Seoul in the afternoon if you’re not joining us for the extension.
If your flight schedule permits, spend time exploring the city or do some last-minute shopping. Then we'll organize your transfer to the airport for your departing flight.
It’s always a little sad when such a magnificent adventure has concluded, but your memories will last a lifetime.
Transfer to airport
Today we'll continue onwards for an exciting day of adventure after bidding farewell to the temple.
We will satisfy our appetite with a delightful lunch at a local restaurant before we immerse ourselves in the vibrant artistic and democratic spirit of the city of Gwangju.
Next, we'll explore the charming town of Damyang for a peaceful stroll through the beautiful Soswaewon Garden, surrounded by a serene bamboo forest.
The evening brings a delectable dinner showcasing the city's renowned cuisine. Retreat to the comfortable Ramada Plaza by Wyndham for a well-deserved rest. We typically do not stay in named chain hotels, but this one is considered the best in town.
We’ll start our day with a beautiful drive through the picturesque green tea and cedar fields to reach the Daehan Dawon's tea plantation in Boseong. Here we will learn about the art of tea production and indulge in a tea tasting.
Next, we’ll visit the historic Nagan's fortified village, known for its beautiful gardens, adobe houses, and stone roofs covered in reeds. Then, we’ll enjoy a delicious local lunch before exploring Jogyesan Provincial Park and its magnificent Temple Songgwangsa, a renowned center for Zen meditation from the 9th century.
We’ll end the day with dinner at a local restaurant and check-in to our hotel for a comfortable overnight stay in Suncheon at Hotel Raum.
We will depart after breakfast for an excursion to Hwaeomsa Temple, founded in 544 AD and located on Jiri Mount. This is a unique opportunity for us to participate in an authentic tea ceremony and experience a zen meditation led by a Buddhist monk.
We will be served a delicious vegetarian lunch at the temple. After lunch, it's time to say our final goodbyes and promise to keep in touch.
In the afternoon, we can choose to return to Seoul or continue on to another next destination. You will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight home.
Transfer to airport
The Bonham Hotel & Hanok Stay in the most ancient area of Seoul, Bukchong Hanok Village, is a traditional Korean Inn. You cannot compare a stay here to staying at a Four Seasons or a Marriott in modern Seoul. What a stay here will do for us is to transport us back to ancient Seoul to feel and experience what life used to be like. The architecture and rooms are historic. Some are antique-filled. For your convenience, we have one traditional room with futon beds and Western rooms on hold.
Staying at a Buddhist temple for a night means you end your stay on a sublime restful note, a welcome to weary travelers after bustling Seoul. The real highlight here, besides praying with the monks, will be the vegetarian food created by the well-known chef from Chef's Table, Jeong Kwan. The temple was opened in the 7th century.
Doni Belau is the creator and founder of Girls' Guide to the World. She is an inveterate traveler, having been to nearly 80 countries (and counting). She loves to help other women experience travel as she truly feels it helps us find a larger world of possibilities.
Experience a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern living
South Korea is a fascinating country that offers visitors a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern living. From bustling cities to serene temples, South Korea has something for everyone. Discover the natural beauty of the country's national parks, with their lush forests, stunning waterfalls, and breathtaking mountain views.
Experience the rich cultural heritage of South Korea through its many temples, festivals, and traditional arts. Whether you are a foodie looking to sample some of the country's world-renowned cuisine, a history buff eager to learn about the ancient kingdoms that once ruled this land, or simply seeking adventure and new experiences, South Korea has it all.
Everything specified in the itinerary
All meals (except where indicated), including beer & wine with dinner
All transportation during the trip (except where indicated)
Expert Guides and Trip Leaders
A small group experience
Temple stay in Gwagju
Single occupancy in a traditional Hanok Inn
One Michelin Star Meal
Numerous cooking classes and tastings
Round-trip airfare to Seoul airport
Additional wine, beer, and/or spirits beyond what’s offered at meals
All personal souvenirs
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
You'll want to fly in and out of Seoul's Incheon International Airport.
The trip officially starts in the evening of April 1st, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to Seoul, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will take care of booking your room for you and make sure that you are kept in the same room as you will be in when the trip starts.
About 6-8 weeks before the trip starts, we'll organize a Zoom video call to discuss all the details of the trip and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
The temperatures in South Korea in April can be cooler with a low of 46°F and high up to 64°F.