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  • Gyeongju

  • Hallyeo Maritime National Park

  • Interior details of Changdeokgung Palace

  • Throne hall courtyard inside Gyeongbokgung Palace

  • Bulguksa Temple

  • Changdeokgung secret garden

    Image by Jeanne Rouillard via Unsplash

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  • Explore the pagodas, palaces, temples and tumuli of South Korea

  • Discover maritime Hallyeo, a panoramic seascape strewn with hundreds of islands and rocky islets

  • Take in six UNESCO World Heritage sites: Changdeokgung, Gyeongju, Haeinsa, Jongmyo, Seokguram and Bulguksa

“Alex Koller made this tour a valuable and fascinating one by means of his research, scholarly knowledge and obvious pleasure in sharing it with us”

– ACE customer on a previous South Korea tour

Seoul, where our tour begins and ends, was the capital of the Joseon dynasty from 1392 until 1910. The ancient city’s royal palaces and sacred sites are better preserved than anything of their type in China, with 15th century Changdeokgung sheltering a particularly beautiful secret garden.
From Seoul, we will journey to Busan, Korea’s largest port, for an excursion north of the city to the temples of Tongdosa and Beomeosa. Hallyeo Maritime National Park, one of South Korea’s scenic wonders, will be the setting for a boat trip to the naval headquarters of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, famed for his victories over the Japanese in the 16th century. Further highlights of our tour taking in South Korea’s scenery will include visits to Jogyesan Provincial Park, Mount Jirisan National Park, folk villages and a tea plantation.
South Korea is also home to a wealth of historical and artistic treasures. The secluded Temple of Haeinsa on the slopes of Mount Kaya safeguards the Tripitaka Koreana, the world’s most complete corpus of Buddhist texts, engraved in the mid 13th century on 80,000 wooden blocks.
Gyeongju, once the capital of the Silla Empire, is heralded as one of Korea’s most traditional – and most striking – cities, akin to a bustle-free Kyoto. Dotted with dozens of royal tombs from the Silla era, Gyeongju parades a memorable array of historical attractions: not just the 8th century grotto of Seokguram with its monumental Buddha, but also Bulguksa Temple, where the remarkable twin pagodas were designed by the legendary 8th century master craftsman Asadal.
Before returning to Seoul at the end of the tour, we will enjoy visits in the Andong area – including Beongjeongsa Temple, South Korea’s oldest wooden structure, and Byeongsan Seowon and Dosan Seowon Confucian academies – and in Gongju, to the National Museum and Beopjusa Temple, the country’s largest timber pagoda.


This tour will be led by Alex Koller, PhD, an art historian who studied in Vienna, Salzburg and Cambridge. Alex has been leading tours since 1998 and is an accomplished linguist. His experience ranges from Eastern Europe, Russia and the Himalayas to Japan and Southeast Asia. His travels to the Far East have developed a keen interest in Buddhist art and architecture.



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