South Korean Food Tour

South Korea Food Tour – Savour Bulgogi and Bibimbap, Make Kimchi and More

A South Korea food tour crammed with tastings of quintessential Korean food, from bibimbap to bulgogi, and gourmet insider experiences such as a kimchi pancake-making lessons, Korean beer tastings and a coffee-roasting class is available for just one more day on Luxury Escapes.

Just back from ten days in Thailand – our second trip in two months – and after eating Thai food exclusively for the period, as much as I love it I am having cravings for anything and everything but Thai – Italian, Turkish, Spanish, and now having seen this Luxury Escapes South Korea Food Tour, Korean.

Before we left Australia (20 years ago this month!) our home of five years was Potts Point, Sydney, which was something of a little Korean Town back then with a Korean bathhouse, a luxe Japanese hotel catering to Japanese and Korean business peeps, karaoke bars, and Korean restaurants, one of which we’d eat tuck into Korean barbecue at almost weekly.

On my way home from uni or work, my late night takeaway favourite was japchae – stir-fried Korean glass noodles with beef and vegetables. We didn’t cook Korean food at home back then, as the Korean restaurants were so cheap and Korean food so delicious, even if we had nothing to compare it against. Oddly enough it was only after we moved abroad that Terence began to cook Korean.

Korea – South Korea and North Korea – have long been on our travel wish lists, but we haven’t made it yet. We were due to head to North Korea on magazine assignments a few years ago, but that fell through, but we’re hoping to get to South Korean in 2019. We’d hop on this South Korea food tour in a heartbeat if we could. It’s an absolute bargain. Check out the details below.

South Korea Food Tour – Savour Dakgalbi, Bulgogi and Bibimbap, and Learn to Make Kimchi and More!

Our friends at Luxury Escapes have an irresistible offer for our Australian readers only but note: this South Korea Food Tour has just come off their website so our readers can only get access for a very short time by using this link to Gourmet South Korea: 11-Day Small-Group Foodie Tour with return international flights, starting at AUD $3,999 per person (valued at AUD $5,880!)

On this mouthwatering small-group (max. 16) South Korea food tour you’ll get to savour Korean cuisine and culture with local experts to guide you through delicious insider experiences, such as Korean food tastings at local markets, Korean rice beer tasting and Korean tapas experience, kimchi pancake-making lessons, a seafood feast with fresh local produce from the fish markets, traditional Korean bulgogi barbecue dinner, hotpot dinner with the locals, Korean coffee experience with a coffee roasting class, and a Korean feast at the historic Samcheonggak restaurant.

Culinary Highlights on this South Korea Food Tour include:

  • sampling dak-galbi at one of Seoul’s best-known local hotpot joints: dak-galbi is a traditional Korean dish where ingredients such as marinated chicken and vegetables are cooked in a pot in the centre of the table, and eaten with fried seaweed rice;
  • trying your hand at a kimchi pancake making class and learning the secrets behind this beloved, staple dish;
  • visiting a local fish market where you’ll do a tour of the bustling market and pick out live fish, shellfish and other seafood, which we’ll then savour at a restaurant that will prepare it for your dinner;
  • tucking into the different types of Korean barbecue, including bulgogi or marinated ‘fired meat’;
  • trying a traditional bibimbap lunch by a certified Korean Masterhand Chef in Jeonju.

Luxury Escapes South Korea food tour is not only a culinary journey. Aussie coffee connoisseurs will love the day spent discovering Korea’s coffee capital of Gangneung, a coastal city that’s also known for its beaches. The city hosts a coffee festival, most of its countless cafés roast their own beans, and you’ll get to kickstart your exploration of the city’s bean culture with a visit to the Coffee Cupper Museum where you’ll do a coffee roasting class.

You’ll also get a taste of Korean culture, history and everyday life on insider experiences and excursions, such as an eye-opening trip to the North Korean border to visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) to learn about the peninsula’s turbulent history and how the Korean War changed the country, and get to discover South Korea’s unique geography and learn how it helped shaped Korea’s people, Korean culture, and Korea’s epicurean history, while exploring South Korea’s cosmopolitan cities, villages, and countryside.

This small-group South Korea food tour includes return international flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth or Brisbane; airport transfers and all transportation; nine nights deluxe accommodation; daily breakfast, seven lunches, six dinners; expert guides; plus a long list of gourmet insider experiences and excursions. See the itinerary, below, for more details.

Note also that this small-group South Korea food tour run mostly in low season, beginning in February 2019, with some high season dates: the 9 March 2019 trip coincides with Cherry Blossom season and the 2 November 2019 trip with Maple Tree season. There are still dates to choose from, but hurry, as this deal is going to end very very soon!

South Korea Food Tour Itinerary by Luxury Escapes

Day 1: Australia – Seoul, Korea

Today you depart for Korea – your departure city will determine your time of arrival.

Day 2: Arrive Seoul

On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. We’ll begin our South Korea food tour with four nights in the centre of Seoul’s cultural and urban arts district at Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong where you’ll be surrounded by bustling marketplaces, local produce, street performers, and up-and-coming eateries. The hotel’s 27th-floor all-day dining restaurant not only boasts great food but incredible views.
This evening we will meet your fellow travellers for a walking tour of the surrounding area and get to sample some great Korean street food followed by a welcome dinner at one of the city’s best-known hotpot joints. Learn the secrets of authentic Korean cuisine as you enjoy a dak-galbi, a popular local dish of stir-fried chicken and vegetable hotpot followed by fried rice.

Accommodation: Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong
Meals: Dinner

Day 3: Seoul

Today you’ll embark on a Seoul History and Architecture Tour. We will start with an early breakfast in one of the popular eateries where you will get a chance to mix with the locals and experience Korea’s true local way of life. From here we continue our exploration and uncover both the historic and modern sides to Seoul. We visit the Ewha Woman’s University and the famed Yonsei University – to see how missionaries and a western education system helped change Korean society. We’ll then go to Gyeongbukgung Palace, the President’s House: Cheongwadae, the Folk Museum and then explore Bukchon’s North Village.

After touring the antique and arts-filled street of Insadong, we’ll enjoy a traditional lunch of bamboo steamed rice with marinated meat wrapped in leaves. We’ll then continue to the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which was designed by British Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Also called the DDP, this major urban development landmark in Seoul showcases a distinctive neo-futuristic design characterised by the “powerful, curving forms of elongated structures”. The landmark is the centerpiece of South Korea’s fashion hub and popular tourist destination, featuring rooftop parks, futuristic retail stores and restored parts of the Seoul fortress. The DDP is responsible for Seoul’s designation as World Design Capital in 2010.

Accommodation: Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Day 4: The Demilitarized Zone

Depart early this morning as we travel to the North Korean border and visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). As your local guide will not be permitted into the DMZ, you will join a group tour today to see how war changed the country from a colony of Japan to a country torn apart by politics and rescued by various allies of the United Nations. We’ll have lunch near the DMZ and then return to Seoul in the afternoon where you will have time at your leisure to explore Seoul’s streets and local food scene. This evening is your opportunity to venture out on your own and explore the local street and food markets.

Accommodation: Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Day 5: Gangneung

We will take Korea’s newest fast rail to the coastal city of Gangneung, the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics. It is also famous for its beaches and coffee culture. We will take a private bus to visit the sites and parks where the Olympics were held followed by a walk through Gangneung’s Pine Forests. We’ll then dine on homemade soft tofu stew for lunch.

After lunch we explore Gangneung-si, well-recognized as the ‘city of coffee’, in Gangwon-do. This is the first local district in Korea to host the country’s annual coffee festival. Here you will find Korea’s best coffee artisans located in ‘coffee street’, where almost all coffee shops roast their own coffee beans and there’s a coffee museum, coffee factory and a barista academy. Here we take a stop at the Coffee Cupper Museum and participate in a special hand drip coffee roasting class.

Later, enjoy a seafood dinner on Gangneung’s famous beachfront where you will savour local produce and fresh seafood caught that day before we take the train back to our hotel.

Accommodation: Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Day 6: Seoul – Jeonju: Capital of Korean Food

We will check out of our hotel and take a train to Jeonju City where you will enjoy two nights at Ramada by Wyndham Jeonju, just a stone’s throw from the famous Jeonju Hanok Heritage Village filled with over 800 traditional houses, craft shops and an abundance of food stalls. Explore the unique history behind this village and its striking contrast with the contemporary, vibrant city that surrounds it.

We will be picked up from the train station and taken to a famous bibimbap restaurant that has been around for over 30 years. Bibimbap, literally meaning “mixed rice”, is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables), gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or doenjang (a fermented soybean paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating.

We’ll then visit a brassware maker’s shop to see how they make the traditional bowls that are used in ceremonial meals followed by a stop at the Korean Masterhand Museum which features master crafts people in art, food, furniture and traditional clothes.

This afternoon you will learn the history of kimchi and try your hand at a Kimchi pancake cooking class. Kimchi, a staple in Korean cuisine, is a traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage and Korean radishes. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with different vegetables as the main ingredients. In traditional preparations, kimchi was stored underground in jars to keep cool, and unfrozen during the winter months.

This evening, we’ll indulge in a Korean rice beer and tapas dinner – a specialty of the local area. For those looking for a nightcap, we’ll visit a traditional market whose second floor has been transformed into a young entrepreneurs’ incubation space and have a beer (extra charge).

Accommodation: Ramada by Wyndham Jeonju
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Day 7: Jeollabukto Province

This morning venture outside the hotel and experience a traditional Korean breakfast of beansprout rice soup and learn about its medicinal use in modern culture. Following breakfast, we visit Gyeonggijeon Shrine which was built for King Taejo of the Baekje Dynasty.

We’ll then head to the Damyang Bamboo Forest and enjoy a tasting of bamboo ice cream. We’ll lunch at a Korean restaurant well-regarded for its dukgalbi, marinated and grilled beef patties, followed by a walk along the river park in Damyang before taking our bus to go to Geumseongsanseong Fortress which originally dated back to 57 BCE. Here we’ll enjoy a leisurely hike up and through the fortress that separates two villages and served as an important military installation.

This evening, we learn all about Korea’s internationally-famous bulgogi as we enjoy a dinner at a Korean bulgogi BBQ restaurant. Bulgogi, translated to “fire meat”, is a Korean-style grilled or roasted dish made of thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue or on a stove-top griddle.

Accommodation: Ramada by Wyndham Jeonju
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Day 8: Jeonju – Busan

We’ll check out of our hotel and ride like a local by express bus to Busan City where we’ll spend two nights at Busan’s Ramada Encore by Wyndham Haeundae, located just steps from Korea’s famous and arguably most beautiful Haeundae Beach, in the heart of this large port city, surrounded by sparkling beaches, majestic mountains, and natural hot springs.

On arrival we meet our private bus and enjoy a special lunch at one of the city’s popular Korean noodle and dumpling housesFollowing lunch, we visit the famous Beomeosa Temple perched on the coast of Busan City. Toward the city, we’ll explore the street food scene and taste some of the many dishes on offer such as red bean chrysanthemum bread and sugar caramel fried donuts, hotteok. A highlight today is a visit to Busan’s Gamcheon Village, a once poor mountainside community that has been transformed into an art hotspot. The area is known for its steep streets, twisting alleys, and brightly painted houses, vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the residents. In the evening, we’ll tour the fish market, picking out live fish, shellfish and other seafood before we have a restaurant cook it for us for dinner.

Accommodation: Ramada Encore by Wyndham Haeundae
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Day 9: Botanical Island of Oedo and Haeundae Beach

This morning we’ll take a ferry to the beautiful botanical island of Oedo. We will spend the morning walking around the beautiful botanical garden which was created in 1970 by Lee Chang-ho and his wife. They initially tried to grow citrus fruit but when that failed, they turned the island into a large botanical garden filled with sculptures and architecture from all over the world.

Following this we take the ferry back to Geoje Port and take our bus to Gadeokdo to enjoy brunch with coffee, tea and strawberry cake at Café Myungga, overlooking the beautiful coast. The rest of the day is at your leisure: you can shop, check out the Busan Film Festival Theatre, or explore Haeundae Beach.

Accommodation: Ramada Encore by Wyndham Haeundae
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Day 10: Busan – Seoul

Spend the morning exploring Busan some more before boarding our KTX Train and returning to Seoul. On arrival, we’ll check into the hotel and you can spend the afternoon at your leisure, perhaps seeking out more culinary delights or enjoying some last-minute shopping.

In the evening, we’ll visit the historic Samcheonggak Restaurant. Built to host royalty, diplomats and hold important events, this is the perfect venue for our final dinner together. Afterwards, work off dinner with a stroll around this historic area before heading back to the hotel.

Accommodation: Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong
Meals: Breakfast & dinner

Day 11: Depart Seoul

Today you’ll transfer to the airport to catch your flight back home – depending on your flight time the day will be at your leisure.

Meals: Breakfast

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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

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