Secrets of South Korea 2023

5,000 years of culture and history

Trip Scholar: Professor James B Lewis

Associate Professor of Korean History, University of Oxford, and President of the Association for Korean Studies
Available to Alumni of Oxford and Cambridge, family and friends

11 day tour
Price from £3,599

A compact country full of delightful contrasts, South Korea’s juxtaposition of ancient tradition and fast-paced modernity make it truly unique. Travel in the company of Professor James B Lewis, Associate Professor of Korean History at Oxford University, on a journey exploring this incredible country. From tranquil Buddhist temples and UNESCO-listed fortresses, tombs and villages, to shimmering Seoul, South Korea’s economic powerhouse, you will discover the country’s culture and traditions, kept alive through its traditional music, poetry, religion and dance.

Tour dates 17/18 -28 September 2023 

Note: The dates of this tour are slightly different to the ones originally advertised, as the tour now departs four days earlier. These are the final and confirmed dates for the tour and will not be moved again.

South Korea 2023 printer friendly tour details

Tour highlights

  • Discover the 500-year Joseon Dynasty with visits to well-preserved UNESCO-listed Changdeokgung Palace, Hwaseong Fortress and the atmospheric Bukchon Village
  • Learn about the Korean War at the demilitarised zone and ‘Freedom Bridge’, and see the infiltration tunnel discovered in 1978 after a tip-off from a defector
  • Explore Hahoe Village, where centuries-old traditions influenced by the teachings of Confucius are still alive
  • Enjoy unique insights from trip lecturer Professor James B Lewis, President of the European Association for Korean Studies

Itinerary at a glance

Day 0:    Those flying on Temple World booked flights will fly from the UK to Seoul today overnight
Day 1:    Tour starts in in Seoul with a road transfer to Changdeokgung Palace | Overnight Seoul
Day 2:    Explore demilitarized zone & Freedom Bridge | War Memorial Museum | Overnight Seoul
Day 3:    Move to Andong and visit Hahoe Village | Move to Daegu | Overnight Daegu
Day 4:    Move to Mt. Gayasan National Park | Visit Haeinsa Temple | Move to Gyeongju |
Day 5:   
Full day tour of Gyeongju
Day 6:    Transferred to Busan | Afternoon tour of Busan | Overnight at Busan
Day 7:    Full day tour of Busan
Day 8:    Take high-speed KTX train to Seoul | Overnight Seoul
Day 9:    Full day tour of Seoul |  Gyeongbokgung Palace  |  Bukchon Hanok Village  | Overnight Seoul
Day 10:  Those on recommended flights are transferred to the airport for day-time flight home | Arrive home

Dates and Prices
Prices are in UK£, per person, based on double occupancy

18 - 28 September 2023 (17-28 September including flights from UK)
Room TypePriceSingle SupplementOptional Flight from LondonAvailability
Standard£3,599£680£900-£1050 return approxAvailable - minimum numbers reached

Share of twin or double bedded room with private bathroom, breakfast daily, lunch daily (except day of arrival and day of departure), dinner on all except three evenings,  all excursions mentioned with local guides including entrance fees, expert leader.

International flights, drinks, 3 dinners (evenings at leisure), visa charges, travel insurance, tips to drivers and guides, items of a personal nature.

Optional flights
Temple World can arrange flights to coordinate with this tour for approximately £900-£950 return inc. taxes direct from London with Asiana or Korean Air.  There may be some indirect services with Lufthansa, Air France etc which are cheaper and we can also book those.

Booking your own travel
You are most welcome to book your own flights to coordinate with this tour. The start point and end point is Seoul, and there are no activities until dinner on the first day, and nothing after breakfast on the last day so that guests can arrive/depart at almost any time. We can arrange private transfers to meet any flight (supplement applies).

*Very important! Those who plan to book their own flights should not make any binding or non-refundable arrangements until their place has been confirmed in writing on the tour and Temple World has confirmed that it is a guaranteed departure


NHS Fit For Travel advises travellers to South Korea are usually recommended to immunise against: Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese Enchephalitis and Rabies. 

Malaria risk is low throughout the year mainly in northern areas of Gangwon Do and Kyunggi Do Provinces and Incheon City. Antimalarials are not usually advised however malaria precautions are essential. Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers especially after sunset, using insect repellents on exposed skin and, when necessary, sleeping under a mosquito net.


Entry Regulations
If you have a British Citizen passport you can enter South Korea as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa.  You must also have an onward or return ticket.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into South Korea.

You currently do not need to provide a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test certificate or to take a COVID-19 test on arrival, regardless of Covid vaccination status.

Fitness Guideline

We have graded the fitness level required for participation in this tour as Moderate. This is a busy itinerary with a number of hotel changes and a full schedule of sightseeing without much free time during the tour. There is quite a lot of walking in the tour and there may not be anywhere to rest or sit down regularly.  Not suitable for those who require walking aids. There are long and strenuous walks and sightseeing might be ‘on the go’ for several hours at a time, without breaks to sit down and rest.  It is important that everyone is able to keep up with the group.  Tour participants over 80 will be asked to provide a letter of fitness from their GP. Please contact us for a full fitness briefing.

Trip Scholar
Professor James B Lewis
Professor James B Lewis is Associate Professor of Korean History at the University of Oxford. His courses include an introduction to Korean history, Korean history through classical texts and methods in Koreanology. His particular research interests are the cultural, economic and social histories of premodern Korea and the history of Korean-Japanese relations prior to 1850. Editor, author and co-author of many books about the history of Korea, Professor Lewis is currently preparing a monograph on the economic history of Korea from 1400-1900 and translating the Korin Teise, an early 18th Century Japanese view of Korea and diplomatic relations with the Joseon Dynasty.

Lectures during our tours
All our tours are accompanied by an academic ‘trip scholar’ as well as local guides. The local guide or guides provide the day-to-day guiding on our tours, whilst the trip lecturer will give regular lectures on his/her specialist subject throughout to provide an academic overview. Lectures/talks usually last 30-40 minutes including questions and answers (if applicable). These are generally held in the evenings before dinner and attendance is optional. We don’t usually specify before travel which days the lectures will be given (for operational reasons) but guests can expect them roughly every other day as a minimum, with some lecturers giving some kind of talk or presentation more frequently.

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    A fantastic holiday, one of my best ever. Our lecturer was excellent. He pitched his frequent impromptu and organised speeches at just the right level for those of us, the majority, who had no previous experience of Geology. Rosemary

    Congenial Companions

    Our small group tours are exclusively available to alumni of Oxford and Cambridge universities and their friends and family, making for a wonderful atmosphere amongst like-minded individuals.

    Expert Lecturer

    All our small group alumni tours are accompanied by a university lecturer as well as local guides, with illuminating lectures given throughout the tour to enrich understanding of the destination.

    To reserve a place on one of our small group alumni tours, contact us for availability then send us a signed booking form and deposit.

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