K-Culture Korea Private Tour

Local Time

Why You Should Go

While some still narrowly view Korea as an underdeveloped country following the Korean War, Korea has become an ascending, culturally rich East Asian travel destination! Seoul is the epicenter of cultural vibrancy, with its lively markets and colorful streetscapes. The thoughtful nature of the city’s architecture allows for historic landmarks to blend perfectly with modern engineering, Seoul City Hall being a perfect example. With the old city hall erected during the Japanese occupation, the new city hall looks like a wave, seemingly overtaking the old. In this fast-paced environment filled with craft stands, food stalls, and luxury boutiques, we consider this city to be the “everyman’s marketplace.” After Zen’s trip to Korea, she has increasingly become enraptured with K-culture. The food and hanbok experience, renting traditional Korean clothing, especially caught her eye.

K-pop has become a worldwide phenomenon, drawing countless fans to Korea from all over the globe. Music fans of all generations will enjoy the energetic K-pop scene. Our Lynch family is also fully immersed in the world of K-dramas, with Misty (2018), Trolley (2022), and The Glory (2022) being among our favorites.

We fully agree with Mina Lee’s New York Times comment on the increasing popularity of all things Korean, “This wave of cultural and material exports has helped South Korea transform itself into a global economic powerhouse.” Balancing Korea’s unique pop culture exports is its rich and complex history. Folk villages, fortresses, and 20th-century historical sites await on this culture-focused private tour.

Best Travel Time: Spring Summer Fall

*All of our comprehensive private tour itineraries are inclusive of all luxury accommodations, private guide/driver throughout, daily meals as specified, INTERNAL flights/rail /private transfers as needed, & all taxes/service fees.

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Love Locks at Namsan Tower

Sample Itinerary

8 Days + Jeju Island Extension

Each private luxury tour is custom to the wishes of each client. This itinerary is a sample. Our Sister Company, TRAVNET, may provide assistance with mileage points conversion. Do not hesitate to call Randy to create your custom tour.

1

Day 1

Fly to Seoul
Through our sister company, premium air provider TRAVNET, we may assist with your international airfare, as well as with mileage points conversion.

Seoul downtown cityscape with fortress and Namsan Seoul Tower on sunset Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea
2

Day 2

Arrive Seoul
Upon arrival in Seoul, you will be welcomed by our local representative and transferred to the Four Seasons Seoul. Here, you will have the remainder of the day to unwind and enjoy the hotel’s amenities.

Meals: —
Accommodations: Four Seasons Seoul

Seoul Cityscape
Seoul, South Korea
3

Day 3

Seoul Private Touring

*Optional: Hanbok Wearing Experience

Following breakfast, embark on a full day of Seoul sightseeing. Stop by a local rental shop to personally select hanboks (Korean traditional clothing), available for both men and women.

You will tour Gyeongbokgung Palace, the political center of the powerful Joseon dynasty (1392 – 1910). Constructed in 1395, the palace grounds span 99 acres and house 500 buildings. Strolling through the palace and gardens in a hanbok transports you to the Joseon dynasty.

For some light shopping and a bite to eat, stop at the iconic Insadong markets, known for wide-ranging food stalls and craftwork stands. Conclude your day at the summit of Mount Namsan atop the observation deck of the N Seoul Tower (776 feet high!). With rotating art installations and performances, there are constant sights to explore.

During Zen’s graduation trip, there were traditional musicians and a martial arts performance illustrating how to use Joseon-era weapons. Later, their guide offered them the option to see Myeongdong at night, a neighborhood filled with boutiques, cafes, and street food.

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodations: Four Seasons Seoul

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Hanbok Wearing at Gyeongbokgung Palace
4

Day 4

Gwangjang Market & Seoul Entertainment

Option: Color Analysis

Start your day with a visit to Cocory Personal Color. For those interested in fashion and self-image, color analysis works to find the colors best suited for one’s complexion so you can always know your complimentary hues for makeup and fashion. The aim is to look more vibrant and lively, specifically focusing on under the eyes and mid-forehead. There is a large focus on finding the aesthetic you feel represents yourself, in combination with the colors that look objectively good on you.

After this life-changing revelation (!), you will swiftly be taken to learn the skill of Kimchi making. The instructor will teach you the steps, from fresh cabbage to kimchi prepped, with the wait time significantly slimmed down. From there, each person can customize their kimchi to taste how they please. Within Zen’s friend group, the kimchi flavors ranged from “more fish sauce, less spice” to “allspice, barely any sauce.” Once packaged, feel free to snack on these treats throughout the trip or paired with meals.

For lunch visit Gwangjang, one of the largest traditional markets in Seoul. Opened in 1905, Gwangjang features over 5,000 unique shops and food stalls. We highly recommend stopping for a bowl of kalguksu (knife-cut noodles), as seen on the Netflix series, Street Food Asia. Foodies will also enjoy tteokbokki (spicy-sweet rice cakes), and other traditional street foods.

Option: Jjimjilbang Stopover
End your day with a visit to a Jjimjilbang, a traditional Korean spa/bathhouse to soak, unwind, and nap. During Zen’s graduation trip, she and her friends enjoyed going between the furnace-like saunas and the ice room. Supposedly this method, while intense, provides the most health benefits and relaxation. Additionally, they each found their favorite spots to take naps to recuperate from their jet lag.

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodations: Four Seasons Seoul

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Kimchi Making at Seoul Kimchi Academy
5

Day 4

Full-Day Private Touring

Following breakfast, take an excursion outside of Seoul to the fairytale-esque, Nami Island. Located less than two hours from central Seoul, Nami Island is the ultimate setting to enjoy nature and culture.

Getting to Nami Island is easy as there are various transportation options to suit any traveler — Seoul Subway system, shuttle bus, or private car.

Namiseom garnered worldwide attention for being the location site for various Korean dramas such as Winter Sonata. Since then, visitors have flocked to the same location to retrace the steps of their favorite K-drama characters and get a chance to explore the natural beauty of the half-moon-shaped island. Nami Island is beautiful at any time of the year and in any season. For those who want to feel like they are in a Hans Christian Andersen fable, Nami Island is the perfect addition. For an extended day on the half-moon-shaped island, there are plenty of “pensions,” or villas/short-term hotel and house rentals to spend the night.

Upon taking the ferry back from Nami Island and enjoying lunch, stopover at a local waterfall. Please note: the trail is quite steep so those with a fear of heights or respiratory issues should be wary.

After a brief drive, visit the Gangchon Rail Park. Each rail bike consists of four seats with pedals. The 40-minute course passes over scenic rice paddies, rivers, and mountains. There are even some tunnels, each with their own surprise. Some points can be a bit difficult to traverse, however, this leisurely ride can be taken at your own pace.

To close the day, visit Hongdae Street. Dubbed the “mural” street, the city has permitted graffiti artists to transform the streetscape into a colorful open canvas. Buzzing with life, Hongdae is filled with young people visiting streetwear and vintage shops, self-photo studios, and Korean BBQ spots.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations: Four Seasons Seoul

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Gangchon Rail Bike RIde
6

Day 6

DMZ Excursion & Scenic Seoul Touring

This morning, you will join an organized group visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), established in 1953 by the United Nations. This 160-mile-long strip of neutral land divides North and South Korea, embodying the long history of armed conflicts along the 38th parallel. Although private tours are not offered, the zone is a sobering sight to behold in the company of others.

Upon returning to Seoul, you will take a scenic, 40-minute ferry ride along the Hangang River through the heart of the city. During this journey, feel free to enjoy the scenery and architecture or feed the seagulls that stay close to the boat. Dried anchovies are available upon purchase to throw to the birds. For those feeling adventurous, you can hold the anchovy by the tail and the seagull will swoop it out of your hand (patience is necessary!).

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodations: Four Seasons Seoul

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The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
7

Day 7

Korean Culture Classes & Seongsu-dong Touring

Following breakfast, visit Dongdaemun Plaza (DDP). Inaugurated in 2014, the building’s neo-futuristic design has caught the attention from people all over the world. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the building holds art exhibitions, free lounge areas, and countless shops.

Across the street sits department stores for those interested in their shopping endeavors. Thankfully, Zen walked away with only a few items. However, if she had it her way she would have left with a whole new suitcase full of Korean clothing.

Afterwards, HiKR is a popular spot for young people interested in K-Pop. As a free K-pop-inspired location, HiKR offers a variety of backgrounds for photo opportunities and mini activities. Even if you are not a K-pop fan, it’s a fun place to visit since there is a lot of tech and history regarding the rise of Korean media.

Next, continue your day with a performance of the popular NANTA show. This clever piece of non-verbal cooking theater is both interactive and comedic. Enjoy the thrilling acrobatics and magic tricks coordinated with traditional Korean “Samul Nori” rhythms. Please note: for those with stage fright, this show does include some audience participation so go at your own risk.

Proceed to Seongsu-dong, the “Brooklyn of Seoul,” known among young people for restauranteurs, cafe owners, and fashion designers. Once a shoe factory district, the old brick buildings of Seongsu-dong have found new life since the streets and businesses in this area are now considered the trendiest spots in the city.

Option: Night In Hanok

Hanoks are traditional Korean lodgings similar to a Ryokan. However, it is unfair to compare the two experiences in terms of lodging since they come from inherently different cultures. The accommodations that come with each Hanok are entirely up to each location. Some with more history, like Rakkojae Hanok, come with less modern accommodations.

Meals: Breakfast
Accommodations: Rakkojae Hanok

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Dongdaemun Plaza
8

Day 8

Fly Seoul/Home

Following breakfast, enjoy the morning as you see fit. Before departing Korea, Zen and her friends went to Namdaemun to enjoy the street eats and last-minute shopping. For those interested in tech and electronics, Namdaemun is a great spot to look for cameras and other small items.

Once finished, you will be privately transferred to Seoul Incheon International Airport for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

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Cafe in Seoul, South Korea
Jeju Island Extension

Jeju Island Extension

We highly recommend this optional extension to Jeju Island, the “Hawaii of Korea!” Located in the Korean Strait, Jeju Island’s temperate climate and rugged volcanic topography imbue it with an almost celestial, otherworldly quality. From Mount Hallasan, its highest peak (at 1,950 meters or 6,400 feet), to its colorful meadows of wildflowers in subtropical gardens, it is Korea’s honeymoon capital and one of the best regions of Asia for hiking.

Highlights of this extension include a scenic island tour on horseback, multiple nature parks and garden stops, and Yakcheonsa Temple—home of Korea’s largest Vairocana Buddha and the center of the Jogye Buddhist sect. You may also witness the ancient diving tradition of Haenyeo, the female divers of Jeju. Watch in awe as these highly skilled divers catch and prepare fresh seafood in a practice that dates back to 434 A.D.!

Jeju Island
Jeju Island

Hotels

The 5-star luxury Four Seasons Seoul is our exception to 200+ room-size properties. Located in the heart of the city near Gwanghwamun Square, the rooms here are among the most spacious in Seoul, and all are equipped with modern comforts. The hotel recalls classic Korean design motifs while featuring sleek, contemporary elements. Here, there are several impeccable dining options, including the Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant, Yu Yuan. The Four Seasons breakfast buffet is equally outstanding; it is located in The Market Kitchen, an eclectic bazaar of international cuisines with artifacts on display underneath glass floors. Amenities include a gym, pool, indoor golf simulator, and garden terrace. Enjoy!

Four Seasons Seoul

View More Info >>

The 5-star luxury Four Seasons Seoul is our exception to 200+ room-size properties. Located in the heart of the city near Gwanghwamun Square, the rooms here are among the most spacious in Seoul, and all are equipped with modern comforts. The hotel recalls classic Korean design motifs while featuring sleek, contemporary elements. Here, there are several impeccable dining options, including the Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant, Yu Yuan. The Four Seasons breakfast buffet is equally outstanding; it is located in The Market Kitchen, an eclectic bazaar of international cuisines with artifacts on display underneath glass floors. Amenities include a gym, pool, indoor golf simulator, and garden terrace. Enjoy!

Being big fans of Japan’s luxury ryokans in Kyoto, we are excited to recommend Korea’s version, the “hanok”. Both hanoks and ryokans are traditional inns conceived to provide the visitor with a complete cultural immersion experience. Hanoks and ryokans share similar characteristics: welcoming guests with a hot cup of green tea, a choice of western or Korean/Japanese breakfasts, futon-style bedding, and a sincere sense of hospitality. Resembling an aristocratic home in the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1897), Rakkojae Hanok offers a quiet, tranquil Korean cultural experience, in the midst of the noise and traffic of bustling Seoul.

Rakkojae Hanok

View More Info >>

Being big fans of Japan’s luxury ryokans in Kyoto, we are excited to recommend Korea’s version, the hanok. Both hanoks and ryokans are traditional inns conceived to provide the visitor with a complete cultural immersion experience. Hanoks and ryokans share similar characteristics: welcoming guests with a hot cup of green tea, a choice of Western or Korean/Japanese breakfasts, futon-style bedding, and a sincere sense of hospitality. Resembling an aristocratic home in the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1897), Rakkojae Hanok offers a quiet, tranquil Korean cultural experience, amid the noise and traffic of bustling Seoul.

Request Custom Itinerary

1

Thank you for your interest in Kipling & Clark. We look forward to serving you!


Please note we specialize in global private luxury travel, including private guides and drivers throughout,

high-quality accommodations, inclusive of safari lodges and ryokans, in-country rail/air, and all taxes/service fees.


Dependent on destination and seasonality, our comprehensive private tour costs are upward of USD 5K-6K per couple per day.

                                         (312) 351-3121

                            rlynch@kiplingandclark.com



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Location

Overview

Temperature
Highs: Low 80’s
Lows: Low 30’s
Area
99,313 SQ KM
38,345 SQ MILES
Capital
Seoul
Population
51.7 million
Language
Korean
Currency
South Korean Won

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