Seoul Food – a culinary tour of South Korea

A 7-day itinerary in Seoul and Incheon

As any seasoned traveller will tell you, food is one of the best ways to get to know a destination. And South Korea's cuisine perfectly captures all that's unique about this country: fiery, fresh, traditional yet forward looking. Our experienced Travel Advisors have assembled this 'tasting menu' of a trip, pairing their must-try dishes with the must-see sights, all while staying in some of the best luxury hotels in South Korea.

AT A GLANCE

  • 7-day independent itinerary in South Korea based on arriving and departing from Incheon Airport
  • Immerse yourself in the historic and cutting-edge culture of South Korea with this food-fuelled tour of Incheon and Seoul
  • Highlights include exploring parks and palaces, sampling authentic street food and staying in some of South Korea's finest luxury hotels

FOR STARTERS: INCHEON

Incheon makes the perfect starting point for your trip. While many rush on from the International Airport, it's well worth staying for two or three nights to find your feet – and see Incheon itself.

Begin your day as many of the locals do with a trip to Song Do Central Park. Work up an appetite with a jog around the grounds. Or hire a kayak and paddle on the lake. The park is dotted with cafes where you can enjoy a coffee, smoothie or milkshake and watch the world go by.

For lunch, make a bee line for popular Sinpo International Market. It's a hive of activity and a great place to sample some regional delicacies including dakgangjeong chicken – crispy, deep-fried chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. You'll also spot foods that will soon become very familiar: kimchi (fiery fermented cabbage), kimbap (rice roll) and jeon (thick savoury pancakes).

After eating your fill, you could happily while away an afternoon exploring the Jeondeungsa Temple. Over a thousand years old, it features delicate carvings, an 11th century bell and many ancient trees.

The next day, head across the water to Wolmido Island. Famed for its amusement park, it's also great for trying fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, with many seashore-lining restaurants. And, if fish is your thing, drop in to the Incheon Complex Fish Market. Octopus, stingrays, shellfish... many can be prepared fresh on the spot or eaten raw.

If you prefer something a little more refined, visit Paradise City – a gleaming resort with shops, art galleries, a casino and restaurants from Japan to Italy and beyond. Here, the world is your oyster.

Kimchi

UNPACK YOUR SUITCASE

As the sun dips into the ocean, return to the Art Paradiso Hotel to put your feet up and dream of more culinary adventures. Suggested stay 2-3 nights.

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES: SEOUL

From Incheon, it's a seamless 45-minute train ride into Seoul. Start your trip in trend-setting Myeongdong where you'll find a huge mix of restaurants. If you haven't already done so, this is the ideal place to try donkas (pork cutlets) and the ubiquitous bibimbap (a bowl of warm rice, topped with egg and meat).

For something completely different, head to the Café Gaene: a dog café in the centre of the shopping district. Before you turn your nose up, this is a place where you can pet and play with dogs while enjoying a coffee. If the retail therapy doesn't work, this will definitely do the trick.

For a more down-to-earth experience, make for Gwangjang Market. Established in 1905, it's one of the oldest markets in South Korea. And it's definitely one of the best places to try authentic street food. If you're not sure where to begin, how about a bowl of soondae (blood sausage stuffed with sticky rice), and bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) washed down with some Makgeolli (Korea's traditional rice liquor)

Between meals, be inspired by the intricate carvings at Gyeongbokgung Palace. Step back in time at Bukchon Hanok Village, a hotchpotch of traditional Korean wooden homes. Or leap into the future at the Trickeye Museum where art and technology collide to astonishing effect.

Before leaving Seoul, make sure you indulge in a Gogi-gui (Korean barbecue). These specialist restaurants serve melt-in-your-mouth beef, galbi (short ribs), pork and chicken, cooked at your table over glowing coals. Then round off your visit at the ultimate cooking-meets-circus spectacle: Nanta. Korea's longest running show, it's a dizzying mix of drumming, comedy and acrobatics.

Bibimbap

TO FINISH: LAID-BACK LUXURY

Temper the bustle of Seoul with the boutique calm of Hotel28 Myeongdong. Located in Seoul's cultural district, this stylish hotel captures all the glamour of the big screen. Suggested stay 4-5 nights.

TRAVEL TIPS

If you're exploring the markets, bring some cash and wear plenty of layers. Dining outside is all part of the experience, but it can get cold. Ask our Voice Reservation Team for details about transfers or transport provided by individual hotels.

BOOK YOUR BOUTIQUE HOTELS

To book the hotels on this independent itinerary, get in touch with our Voice Reservation Team on 0800 0482 314 (UK) & 1-877-234-7033 (US). You can find a full list of our dedicated toll-free numbers here. We're ready and waiting to plan luxury adventures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whenever inspiration strikes, just get in touch.