Want to experience something truly unique and utterly delicious? Look no further than the beautiful beaches, busy streets and misty tea-fields of 2018ʼs top travel destination: South Korea!
Meet Your Host: Rani Cheema; Founder of Cheema's Travel
"My goal isn't to visit as many countries as possible, but to truly understand the place I'm visiting and the people that I meet... also, to eat anything and everything. I tend to base my adventures on the things I want to eat rather than the sites I want to see."
- Recognized as a South Korea Travel Specialist by Bloomberg Pursuits & The New York Times
- Former Art Director at the Food Network & Cooking Channel
- Founder of Gwangju Foodies
- Former Food & Soju Editor of the Gwangju News
Join Rani and an intrepid group of like-minded foodies for 8 nights and 9 days of adventurous gastronomy, as we search out every scrumptious delicacy that this exotic peninsula has to offer. This trip is not for the faint of heart! Korea is known for having spicy and pungent dishes, such as kimchi and tteokbokki. Over the course of the trip, you will have mastered at least five Korean specialties, including gochujang (traditional red pepper paste) and makgeolli (rice wine) with help from the best and most notable Korean chefs and cooks such as Monk Jeong Kwan from the Netflix original series, Chef’s Table.
Your Adventure Begins...
On this trip, you won't just visit South Korea, you will be fully immersed in Korean culture. Experience the absolute best of the country: historic palaces, traditional villages, relaxing and indulgent saunas and more. You’ll also experience the bustling capitol city Seoul, history-packed Jeonju, mountainous Baekyangsa and the seafood lover’s haven Busan. This guided trip is all-inclusive and there are no supplementary fees. The itinerary is subject to change based on the chefs’ schedule and the weather.
Day 1 - April 13
Arrival day. We’ll check into our hotel, freshen up, then hit the ground running with a feast of Korean BBQ, Chimek Chimaek (chicken and maekju also known as beer) and "Royal" Tteokbokki. IMPORTANT NOTE: Everyone must arrive before 5:00 pm on April 13th.
Day 2 - April 14
After slurring up Kalguksu at Namdaemun Market, our first stops will include two historic palaces and a traditional village smack in the middle of the city. Samgaetang (Korean ginseng chicken soup) for lunch, followed by your first cooking class. After enjoying your culinary creations, you’ll be delighted by the street food and charming shopping options in Insadong Market before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Day 3 - April 15
SEOUL – JEONJU – BEAKYANGSA
We’ll head to Jeonju in the morning, but before reaching the town, no Korean road-trip would be complete without experiencing Korean rest stops… trust us! With the array of foods available here, you won't miss having a hotel breakfast. A visit to the Jeonju Hanok Village will pair nicely with our street-food tasting. Gyeonggijeon Shrine will give you a glimpse of the distant past. And we’ll stop for lunch, bibimbap, at one of the oldest restaurants in Jeonju. You can digest all the delicious food during the drive to Baekyangsa Temple, the home of philosopher and chef, Monk Jeong Kwan. After the welcome tea ceremony, we'll hike in the peaceful mountains (weather permitting), and you’ll get to enjoy your first vegan meal at the temple. We’ll sleep in the communal rooms for an authentic, unforgettable temple experience. This experience is run solely by the monks.
Day 4 - April 16
BAEKYANGSA – BUSAN
Morning prayers start early at the temple. After breakfast, participate in a hands-on cooking class in Monk Jeong Kwan’s kitchen. Watch her on Chef’s Table to increase your excitement about this trip. For lunch, eat the meal you’ve worked all morning to prepare. And after that, we’ll bid the monks a fond farewell, and drive over to the port city of Busan. But first, we’ll stop in Sunchang to stretch your cooking muscles again by learning to make gochujang, as well as tteokbokki, in this immersive class experience. Once in Busan, we will check into our hotel where you have the option to explore the city or rest.
IMPORTANT: During your temple abide by its rules and regulations for the program. Please keep the noble silence during your stay. No smoking or alcohol are allowed. Your mission while staying here should be: "I take full responsibility and liability for my own health and safety during the participate temple stay program. I agree to abide by all the temple's rules and regulations for the duration of the temple stay."
Day 5 - April 17
We let you enjoy your morning until about 11:00 am, and then it's time to head over to Shinsegae Centum, the world’s largest department store. You might be wondering, "why are we going to a mall?" It’s because traditional markets are great, but trust us, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn't get to experience a Korean supermarket. Next up… it’s time for a drink, but with a slight twist. You get to make and taste your own liquor. Everyone will learn to make makgeolli and taste the various versions of this ancient Korean rice wine before eating dinner at the makgeolli studio.
Day 6 - April 18
This jam-packed day starts with a hearty Busan-style pork soup meal. Then, we’ll visit a stunning coastal temple, followed by a visit to the Jagalchi market for a seafood stew lunch. Ggangtong’s and Gukje’s markets will provide us with an opportunity to try some Busan-specific street foods that will knock your socks off. Dinner will be at a restaurant that specializes in pufferfish dishes.
Day 7 - April 19
BUSAN – SEOUL
After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll head back to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, via train. The afternoon will be free, but you’ll be treated like royalty for dinner. No, really! The evening will feature a court meal from the historic royal table, which can only be found in 10 restaurants in South Korea. The art and flavors of the royal cuisine are from the Joseon Dynasty, preserved in ancient records, and still served just as they were 600 years ago.
Day 8 - April 20
The last full day will be a last chance to do whatever your heart desires on this mostly free day. Relax and be pampered at a traditional Korean spa/sauna or jjimjilbang. This is a unique and unforgettable experience. Take another cooking class with our friends at O'ngo. Visit the DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone) and get the chance to step into North Korea at the JSA (Joint Security Area). We will help you arrange your preferred activities before having a life-changing meal at Jungsik, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Seoul’s Gangnam district.
Day 9 - April 21
The culinary tour concludes until our next adventure in Galicia, Spain!
Inclusions: Everything on the guided trip is included with no single supplemental fees.
ITEMS INCLUDED IN THIS TRIP
- Accommodations - private rooms at hotels and shared spaces in temple
- Land transportation
- All meals
- All activity fees, tax, and tips
- If you decide to stay an extra day you will receive a complementary "Things to Do" list.
- You will also receive 1 complementary trip planning service from us.
- You must use this service that is valued at $300 by March 2019. Service is transferable.
ITEMS EXCLUDED IN THIS TRIP
- International airfare - This can be booked for you separately, just let us know. Just FYI, everyone must arrive April 13th before 5pm. Trip ends at check-out on April 21st.
- Incidentals - Anything done on free time and alcohol (except where noted above) are not included as part of the trip’s cost.
- Mandatory Travel Insurance is taken care of at the client’s own expense. Travelers must have travel insurance prior to departing. If you do not have insurance, you will not be able to attend the trip and will not receive a refund.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Temple Rules & Regulations: Must follow the temple’s rules and regulations for the program. Please keep the noble silence during your stay.
Smoking & Alcohol: Not permitted on temple’s premises.
Itinerary Subject to Change: This trip is subject to adjust based chefs, classes, and weather. Sleeping arrangements at temple are traditional, meaning guests will sleep on floor mats.
Passports: A passport valid for a minimum of three months is required by all US citizens.
Arrival & Departure Flexibility: Our culinary adventure starts the evening on April 13th and ends the morning of the 21st. If you choose to extend your stay, please let me know so we can arrange your accommodations.
Safety: South Korea is one of the safest countries in the world. It has one of the lowest crime rates. While its metropolitan areas are not free of petty thieves and drunken brawlers, they remain safe at all hours of the day.
Yellow Dust Season: We will be hopping around a lot. It will be Spring which means it is Yellow Dust season. If you are known for having respiratory issues, we would suggest talking to your doctor beforehand.
FAQ: Rani Cheema Answers a Few Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Aren't you worried about North Korea?
A: My short answer is “no.” My long answer is that we will never guarantee the 100% safety on our trips, even ones to neutral countries, such as Sweden founder. I can say that my safety, or the safety of my South Korean friends and American associates (who still live there), has never been a concern and there hasn’t been issues with safety in general.
Q: Do I need get vaccinated or other shots before traveling here?
A: Everyone is different. Please check the CDC's website. I’ve never had or needed shots, nor will I get any shots for this kind of trip.
Q: Is it safe to eat street food and drink tap water?
A: Yes. It is safe to eat food street food in South Korea. Koreans take hygiene very seriously. I drink tap water without a problem, but everyone is different. Bottle water is available everywhere if you decide to not drink tap water.