TA4 TAIWAN & SOUTH KOREA TOUR

SEARCH TOUR
TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Vibrant Taipei; Taroko Gorge - scenic highlight of Taiwan; Historical Tainan; Seoul: city tour & the DMZ; Mt Seorak: craggy peaks, waterfalls, forests, hiking trails, mysterious temples; Haeinsa Temple: Buddhist treasure; Gyeongju: royal tombs, temples, palace sites, fortress ruins; Busan: city tour

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Wed 07 Oct 2015Thu 22 Oct 2015 $5360
Tue 22 Mar 2016Wed 06 Apr 2016 $5360
Wed 05 Oct 2016Thu 20 Oct 2016 $5360

Optional Single Supplement: $1082 (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


Introducing an enticing combination with our long-time South Korea itinerary and a new comprehensive exploration of La Isla Formosa -- Taiwan. The variety of landscapes and complexity of its ancient culture belies this island nation's diminutive size. From modern and glitzy Taipei to the scenic splendor of Taroko Gorge, our program highlights Taiwan's distinct culture as well as its stunning natural attributes. South Korea also stands out as a unique and fascinating destination in its own right, with a bright future and thriving cultural scene.

Regions visited: Central Asia And Far East
Countries visited: Taiwan and South Korea


Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Taipei
Arrival in Taipei -- welcome to Taiwan!

Lying off the south-eastern coast of mainland Asia, and across the Taiwan Strait from China, Taiwan is an island truly on the edge of the Pacific. One of the most densely-populated places on earth, this is also a natural wonderland with steep mountains, magnificent forests and an array of scenic attractions. Being situated on the western edge of the Pacific "ring of fire", continuous tectonic movements have created majestic peaks, rolling hills and plains, spectacular coastlines, and other natural wonders. 8 national parks and 13 national scenic areas preserve Taiwan's best natural ecological environment and cultural sites.

Overnight in Taipei.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Taipei: City Tour
We will spend today exploring vibrant Taipei, modern and old, where Taoist temples sit alongside shopping malls. Many have rated Taipei as one of the region's most dynamic, comfortable and liveable cities. Situated at the northern tip of the island, the capital is located on the Tamsui River, about 25 km southwest of the Pacific Ocean. This is the political, economic, and cultural center of Taiwan. Originally founded in the early 18th century, Taiwan quickly became an important center for overseas trade in the 19th century. Today this truly is one of Asia's most dynamic and fascinating cities. Taipei is the thriving heart of Taiwan and the bustling centre of commerce, government and culture.

Our sightseeing will first take us to the world-famous National Palace Museum, the world's largest collection of Chinese artifacts. Here we will see porcelain, paintings, jade, bronze, tapestries and other art objects that once belonged to the emperors of China. This truly is a breathtaking selection of Chinese Imperial Art. In 1949, the collection was brought to Taiwan by Chiang Kai Shek's armies. Nearby is the wonderful Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines. This museum houses exhibits relating to the cultures and histories of the Taiwanese aborigines. These Austronesian peoples are related through blood or linguistic ties to people across precolonial Oceania, as far away as Madagascar. The tribes developed pottery, basketry, woodcarvings, musical instruments and colourful costumes. We will view some fine examples of Taiwanese aboriginal handicrafts and learn about the history of these people.

After a break for lunch we will continue with our tour of the city. A must is a visit to the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, located in the heart of the city. This Memorial Hall (C.K.S. Memorial Hall) was constructed in memory of the former president of R.O.C. During our touring of the city we will pass by the Presidential Buildings Presidential Square. Originally built by the Japanese, it originally served as the governor's mansion.

A must during the tour will of course be a visit to Taipei 101, with its outstanding views over the city. Taipei 101 is a 101-floor landmark skyscraper that claimed the title of world's tallest building when it opened in 2004 (now the world's second tallest building, second to the Burj Kalifa in Dubai).

Overnight in Taipei.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Taipei - Taroko Gorge
This morning we will depart Taipei and travel to the famous Taroko Gorge. Our route will take us to the hilly suburbs of Taipei, and through the Hsuehshan Tunnel ("Snow Mountain" tunnel), the longest tunnel in Taiwan. From the coastal city of Yilan we will continue along the coast via the Suao Highway.

The eastern coast of Taiwan is the least populated region and yet covers more than a fifth of the landscape. In every sense, nature is less tamed on this side of the island. Our drive will take us past the Qingshui Cliffs, located on a section of the highway that provides some of the most spectacular sights on Taiwan's Pacific coast. The cliffs here are more than 1,000 meters high and they drop almost vertically into the sea. The highway snakes along its curving face, with the sheer cliffs rising on one side and a sheer drop to the ocean on the other.

The Taroko Gorge is the undisputed scenic highlight of Taiwan, the jewel of the beautiful national park of the same name. The gorge itself is a marble canyon featuring a rushing white water river, towering cliffs, hiking trails and even the odd hot spring. The most phenomenal aspect of the park is the amazing relief and change in terrain. In a single afternoon we will travel from the rugged coastal cliffs through a maze of subtropical forest. The road is carved into the sheer walls of rock, winding its way past forested peaks and cliffs towering thousands of feet above it, while hundreds of feet below a river roars past gigantic marble boulders.

Many consider this area to be the most attractive region of Taiwan. This steep ravine, with its high marble cliffs, is permeated with a network of tunnels. Shrines, waterfalls and grottoes are found throughout the area. We will spend the afternoon touring the gorge, with plenty of scenic viewpoints and trails to explore.

Overnight at Taroko Gorge.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Taroko Gorge - Sun Moon Lake
This morning we will drive out of the Taroko Gorge region and travel southwest to Sun Moon Lake, one of Taiwan's most famous and most beautiful vacation spots, situated in the foothills of the Central Mountain Range. Our route will take us from the canyons of gorge through a high elevation sub alpine coniferous forest. We travel via Puli, a town in the heart of Taiwan and surrounded by mountains.

We will have a guided tour of the spectacular Chung Tai Chan Monastery located on the outskirts of Puli. This is massive temple is more than just another modern temple - it is an international centre of Buddhist academic research, culture and the arts.

We continue to the Sun Moon Lake, and will tour the region upon our arrival. In this idyllic environment we will see the deep blue waters of the lake and the mountainous surroundings. We will visit some of the local temples in the surrounding area. This area of Taiwan has a pleasant climate year round, and the surrounding region is dotted with temples and pagodas, which afford plenty of exploration. This region has also been a center of aboriginal life for thousands of years, with aboriginal people involved in its tourist industry since the 1930s.

Overnight at Sun Moon Lake.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Sun Moon Lake - Tainan via Alishan
After breakfast we will enjoy a cruise across the lake before we set out for the city of Tainan on the west coast. Our journey today will take us south via the scenic central region of Taiwan.

Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan, and was its capital for over 200 years. This city has managed to maintain much of its historical character, and its many historical sites make for some great exploration. Most of the Han migrants who sailed for Taiwan in the 17th and early 18th centuries landed on the islands southwest coastline, an area of flat land suitable for rice cultivation. Often
compared to Kyoto, Tainan is an essential destination for those interested in history, religion and traditional ways of life. Upon arrival in the city we may enjoy some sightseeing this afternoon.

Overnight in Tainan.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Tainan Sightseeing
Today we will enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Tainan. This is an enticing city and a true highlight on the west coast of Taiwan. Being home to over monuments and temples, Tainan retains a stronghold of traditional Taiwanese culture, with frequent Buddhist parades and ceremonies. Our exploration will take us to several of Tainan’s historic sites and temples, as well as the Dutch fort of Anping on the coast. We will explore both the Chihkan Cultural Zone and the Confucius Temple Cultural Zone.

The Chihkan Cultural Zone covers the northern part of the old city, and highlights here include several temples and the Chihkan Tower. This was the site of Fort Provintia, built by the Dutch in the 1650’s. Meaning ‘eternity’ in Dutch, the Chihkan Tower has been a significant administration centre of Tainan ever since the Dutch invaded the country. The tower has been through various periods of Chinese rule, such as the Ching and Ming Dynasties, as well as a period of Japanese Colonization. Many of its original architectural features can still be seen today.

Anping is considered to be the cradle of Han Chinese civilization in Taiwan, and the first European base on the island. It took the Dutch nearly 10 years of hard work to construct the impressive Fort Zeelandia (Anping Old Fort) in the town of Anping. This noteworthy fortress is a clear reminder of colonial rule in the country. When constructing the fortress the Dutch selected a sandy peninsula in Tainan, and the strategic location was aimed at providing direct access for various supplies and support from Batavia (now known as Jakarta, Indonesia). Yanping Street is one of the oldest streets in Tainan. Also known as Anping Old Street or Taiwan’s 1st Street, it was the first established merchant street in the area. We will walk along the narrow and winding streets with their little shops and food stalls that cover a full range of souvenirs and handmade products.

As well as these sites we will also explore the southern half of the old city of Tainan where we see the well-preserved Great South Gate and the Confucius Temple. Built in 1665, the Confucius Temple is believed to be the oldest Confucius temple in Taiwan.

Overnight in Tainan.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Tainan - High-speed train to Taipei - Taipei Sightseeing
Today we will leave Tainan and travel back to Taipei by high-speed train. This high-speed line opened for service in 2007, using trains with a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). The journey time from Tainan to Taipei will take just over 90 minutes!

This afternoon we will complete our sightseeing of Taipei. A visit to the Taoist Lungshan Temple provides some insight into the local culture. Dedicated to Kuanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, this is one of the city’s most popular and busiest temples. Like most temples in Taiwan, the Temple worships a mixture of Buddhist, Taoist, and folk deities such as Matsu.

We will walk through the Dihua Street Area, where one can get a true feel for the city’s past. The old-town market has dozens of shops selling a variety of traditional goods such as Chinese medicines and herbs, temple icons and incense, spices and dried food, colourful bolts of cloth, and bamboo and wooden crafts. This is a fascinating patch of the past.

Built on a green hillside in 1969, the impressive Taipei Martyrs Shrine was architecturally inspired by the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing's Forbidden City. The shrine is dedicated to the 390,000 soldiers killed in the service of their country during the War of Resistance against Japan and the civil war between the Chinese Republican and communist forces.

Overnight in Taipei.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Taipei, Taiwan - Seoul, South Korea
Today we fly to Seoul / Incheon, South Korea and transfer to our hotel.

Seoul is a city of contrasts. In this rapidly evolving metropolis, the traditional exists with the modern in a state of harmony. For over 500 years the seat of Joseon Dynasty kings, Seoul is now the beating heart of modern Korea, the centre to which all else in the country is drawn.

Overnight in Seoul.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Seoul: City Tour
Today we tour Seoul, including the National Folk Museum, North Seoul Tower, War Memorial, and Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Of all the tourist attractions in Seoul, the Joseon Dynasty Palaces and, particularly Gyeongbokgung Palace, are the most tangible link between modern Korea and its not-too-distant monarchical past. Not merely inert relics, they are symbols of a deep history and rich culture. Although substantially reduced in number, the remaining palace buildings provide a glimpse of traditional architecture and the overall organization of a palace grounds.

General Yi Seong-gye (King T'aejo) ordered the construction of Gyeongbokgung-gung ("Palace of Shining Happiness") in 1394, two years after founding the Joseon Dynasty. In its original form, it is said to have had about 500 buildings. For the next 200 years, Gyeongbokgung-gung was the seat of government and the royal residence of Joseon Dynasty kings.

Overnight in Seoul.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Seoul - the DMZ - Mt Seorak
Today we travel along the Jayuro (Freedom Road) to Imjingak, the northernmost point bordering North Korea. On the way, we will be able to view barbed wire fences and military guards on duty all the way along the river, as well as serene rice paddies and the North Korean propaganda village over the confluence of the Han River and the Imjin River. At Imjingak, we visit the Mangbaedan memorial ritual altar which was established in 1985 for those who were separated from their families or displaced from home during the Korean War. It is a symbolic spot used to hold traditional memorial services for ancestors or to pray for separated family members living in the North and for reunification of the country.

We will see the Freedom Bridge, the very locale where 12,773 Korean War prisoners walked to freedom to South Korea in 1953. We then board a tour bus that will take us to the 3rd infiltration tunnel dug up by North Koreans. On the 20-minute ride to the tunnel, we pass through the check points, military camps and mine fields.

Before going down to the tunnel, we will view a short video presentation and visit exhibition hall for information on the divided Koreas. A seven-minute tram ride (if available) or a walk down a steep access through a narrow and steep interception tunnel, leads us to the lower platform, a point where we are only 170 meters from the Military Demarcation Line.

Our next stop is the Dora Observatory where we can see the whole expanse of the Demilitarized Zone, North Korean propaganda village, Gijeong-dong, where the world's largest flag hangs on a 160 meter-tall flagpole, South Korea's northernmost village of Daeseong-dong and Panmunjom where the armistice that ended Korean War was signed.

Finally, we visit the functioning northernmost railway station Dorasan, located 700 meters from the Southern Limit Line of DMZ. Here, the mile marker "Seoul 56km/Pyeongyang (the North Korean capital) 205km" still stands tall for all to see.

We continue to Mt Seorak through the picturesque countryside to the vicinity of Seoraksan National Park, with its towering craggy peaks, waterfalls, forests, hiking trails, mysterious temples, and remote hermitages.

Overnight Mt Seorak.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Mt Seorak Area
We depart for Mt Seorak National Park where we take a cable car to one of the peaks for panoramic views of Mountain Seorak. Seoraksan's aerial tramway runs 1100 metres (3,608 feet) from the valley floor to the ridge above. The 5-minute ride offers a bird's-eye view of the Outer Seorak area.

We later proceed to Sinheungsa Temple. A short, easy stroll from the park plaza brings you to Sinheungsa ("Divine Undertaking Temple"), the principal temple of Seoraksan. At the junction of two major valleys below high peaks, this small compound has one of the most spectacular settings of any temple in Korea. It was established in 653 as Hyangseongsa Temple by the monk, Chajang. We have time for an optional afternoon hike to the Gyejoam Hermitage -- a religious site for Buddhist monks still practicing in the area.


Overnight in Mt Seorak.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Mt Seorak - Daegu
We depart for Daegu, one of the metropolitan cities of Korea.

En route, we will visit Gangneung's famous Gyeongpo beach area, then Buseoksa Temple (a masculin temple that differentiates itself from other temples by its huge size and the beautiful and refreshing scenery,) followed by a short stop in Andong area at Byeongsanseowon Confucian Academy which was established by esteemed Confucian scholars to pay tribute to the memory of Seong-nyong Yu (1542-1607), who was well-respected for his writings and personality. His mortuary tablet is enshrined at this school.

Overnight in Daegu.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Daegu - Haeinsa - Gyeongju
In the morning we have brief visit within Daegu: Daegu Oriental Medicine Museum, Dongseongno Street.

Then we travel to Haeinsa Temple, one of the most important Buddhist treasures in Korea. Haeinsa Temple features the famous Korean cultural treasure, Tripikata Koreana, built during the Goryeo Dynasty to protect the country from the invasion of Mongolian troops. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tripitakana Koreana consists of over 80,000 pieces of inscribed wooden plates carved during the Goryeo Dynasty. It took more than 15 years to complete this incredible work.

Finally, drive down to Gyeongju, Korea's ancient cultural city and the capital of the once great Silla Kingdom. It is to Korea what Kyoto is to Japan. During its 1979 meeting in Thailand, UNESCO selected Gyeongju as one of the world's most important ancient cultural cities, both for its position in the historical and cultural development of East Asia and for its role in the formation of the Korean nation.

Overnight in Gyeongju.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Gyeongju: Area Tour
We will spend a whole day sightseeing in Gyeongju with visits to Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Grotto, Tumuli Park-Royal Tombs. While many important sites are scattered in the vicinity, Gyeongju, as the heart of the former Silla Kingdom, still has the largest concentration of remains. Mounded tombs, the most obvious remnant of the city's past, dominate your view as you approach this historic city. Many of the early tombs were constructed near the Banwolseong Palace site-- then undoubtedly the city centre but now at the edge of downtown. Later others were constructed outside the city, in the midst of flat farming fields and at the foot of the low hills that rim this valley.

Over the centuries these mounds have, by and large, been left un-plundered. Some informal excavation was done in the early 1900's, but the first government-sponsored excavations were authorized by the Japanese during the occupation.

Overnight in Gyeongju.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Gyeongju - Busan: City Tour
Our journey continues to Korea's second largest city, Busan (formerly Pusan). The city's name derives from two place names: Suwon, which means "water source" -- the land depression that the city occupies was for centuries known for its clear-water wells. High above the city rises P'aldal-san, a tall hill at its height of beauty in the spring, with its slopes awash with the colour of pink cherry blossoms. In the late 1600's the military established a garrison here as one of the five principal fortifications set up to protect the approaches to Seoul. Intending to move the official capital from Seoul to Suwon, King Chongjo the 22nd Joseon Dynasty King, had the fortress wall constructed in 1794. Battlements and palace buildings were erected, but the king died before he could initiate the move. Although there were great plans for this city, they never had the opportunity to mature, as the decision was made to keep the capital at Seoul.

Our tour continues with a visit to Kukje Market and Jagalchi Fish Market. We will also visit the impressive UN Cemetery and head up Busan Tower for impressive views. We finish with the Gamcheon Cultural Village, spread out in a panorama of endless rows of low-rise cubicle homes climbing up the steep hillsides, earning it the nicknames "Santorini of the East" and "Lego Village." The cheerful blue, yellow and pink hues a delight to the eye. Narrow stone and concrete alleyways wind their way through the homes, yielding something new at every turn. The village used to house the city’s poorest people, but during the Korean War, refugees fled their homes for Busan, which was the only area which was free from fighting.

Overnight in Busan.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 16 Busan - Seoul - Depart
Today we return to Seoul via the "KTX" high-speed train direct to Seoul-Incheon Airport and connect with our homeward flights.

NOTE: LAND ONLY PASSENGERS MUST ENSURE THAT THEIR FLIGHT FROM SEOUL / INCHEON ALLOWS FOR THE INCOMING TRAIN FROM BUSAN. WE SUGGEST THAT YOU ENSURE THAT YOUR DEPARTURE TIME FROM INCHEON BE NO EARLIER THAN 4:00 PM.

BON VOYAGE!!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Landis Taipei Hotel

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Taipei
Country: Taiwan

Landis Taipei Hotel is situated in the business and financial area of Taipei City. It only takes a 15 minute
... to Taipei SongShan Airport and a 40 minute drive from Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport.


Read More.

Hotel Silks Place

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Taroko Gorge
Country: Taiwan

Offering uninterrupted views of the surrounding greenery, Silks Place Taroko Hotel is located within the Taroko National Park in Hualien
... It features an indoor pool and an outdoor pool. Guests can relax in the sauna, or enjoy scenic mountain views while exercising in the gym.

Rooms at Silks Place Taroko Hotel have private balconies with mountain or river views. Amenities include a flat-screen TV, a safety deposit box and tea/coffee making facilities.


Read More.

Landis Tainan Hotel

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Tainan
Country: Taiwan

Tayih Landis Hotel boasts of 315 spacious and comfortable guest rooms that are equipped with modern amenities such as air
... cable TV, hairdryer, ironing board, mini bar, telephone and a private bathroom.


Read More.

Haeinsa Tourist Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Haeinsa
Country: South Korea

Located near Haeinsa Temple and Mt. Gayasan National Park, Haeinsa Tourist Hotel provides you with good service and beautiful environment.
... TV, refrigerator, slippers, safe box, mini bar.
Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (mostly at local restaurants) are included daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for restaurant staff, porters, local guides. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic and international (if applicable) air taxes, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, not included meals.

Seasonality and Weather

Our fall departure coincides with the beginning of the drier time of year and cool temperatures with highs ranging 15-18 C (60-66 F). Rain showers can occur at any time, though their likelihood decreases the later we get into the fall. Our fall date is loosely set to coincide with autumn leaf colour, though this varies from year to year.

Spring will experience slightly cooler temperatures and the same possibility of rainfall. Our spring date may feature annual cherry blossoms at some locations.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Private air-conditioned bus; internal flight via scheduled carrier. You must be steady on your feet and be able to endure some full days and manage with your own baggage if necessary. We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are LARGE with steps and uneven surfaces.

Accommodation

All hotels are centrally-located, Western style, air-conditioned, 3-4 star standard with private bath facilities. Laundry service is available at most hotels for a rather high price. All hotel rooms are well equipped and usually include coffee/tea making facilities. Most hotels have hairdryers and irons. Some hotels have indoor/outdoor swimming pools. NOTE: Specially designated non-smoking rooms are generally not available (they are unfamiliar with the concept). We automatically request non-smoking rooms wherever they are available, though we cannot promise this. Porters are generally available (see 'Inclusions').

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, local guides at various locations.

Group Size

10-21 plus Tour Leader