Last Modified: 23 Oct 2012
Beijing to Seoul
Trip code: CBSZ
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Modernity meets tradition in Beijing and Seoul. Journey between these cities and revel in spectacular scenery, ancient art and ornate architecture along the way. Admire the simple beauty of daily life - villages, markets and food stalls provide a genuine taste of what its like to live in this part of the world. Staying in temples, on overnight ferries and in traditional guesthouses, provides a grassroots experience and reveals insights into a culture that is rapidly changing yet still very respectful of the past. Be enchanted by the people and heritage of China and Korea on this journey rich in history, culture and adventure.
Warning - This is a new trip for us!
Whilst we have been operating in South-East Asia for 20 years now and have had a team of researchers travelling in the area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is the first year of operating this trip. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong! We usually make this warning when we head to new destinations - and usually we find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones. But the warning is sincere, and if it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out. Any improvements to our itinerary are noted immediately on our website, so before booking and travelling please go to www.intrepidtravel.com and enter this trip code in the trip finder to check for any updates.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 6:00pm. We will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader. Your group leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information.
All our hotels on this tour are twin-share with private bathrooms. Please note that at some hotels reception and other staff may speak only very limited or no English. If you have any issues with the hotel while on the trip, please speak to your leader.
We start our journey in the Chinese capital of Beijing. The capital of the most populous country on earth is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However there are still plenty of places to go that will give you a great insight into the nation's history and ancient past as well as sights which showcase China's contemporary culture.
As this trip does not include any additional time in Beijing we recommend arriving a few days early. A great way to get started is by renting a bike from nearby our hotel and venturing onto the streets to get a feel for this enormous city. You could ride to the Temple of Heaven or just see where your wheels take you. A metro ride can take you to the Summer Palace, once an imperial residence, or visit the Panjiayuan Market for some bargain hunting and bargaining. A trip to the 798 Art District will give you a taste of where art is heading in today's China as you wander the multitude of galleries housed in an old factory complex or head into the winding lanes of Beijing's hutong districts and literally get lost in a world that is fast disappearing. Beijing's food is a highlight too, from the famous Beijing Roast Duck to dumplings or noodles in a tiny backstreet eatery to some of the best international dining in China there is no chance you will go hungry while here!
Tonight you can choose to join your fellow travellers for an optional group dinner at a local restaurant of your leader's choice to try some Beijing speciality dishes.
- Kung Fu show - CNY180
- Beijing Opera - CNY200
- Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY250
- Temple of Heaven - CNY40
- Summer Palace - CNY40
- Lama Temple - CNY30
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Qinhuangdao / Great Wall
This morning we take the bullet train from Beijing to Qinhuangdao (approx 2 hours) or Shanhaiguan.
Here we will have the chance to visit a number of different sections of the Great Wall. The Old Dragon Head is the only part of the Great Wall that meets the sea and the eastern most section of this amazing man-made structure. Rather than joining the masses of tourists on the wall itself we will view it from the beach for the best view. We also visit the First Pass Under Heaven section with its soaring watch towers and Great Wall Museum.
In your free time this afternoon you can explore this historic, walled city on your own. Climb up the drum tower or wander the winding hutong alleys. Duck in to a back street restaurant for a hearty local meal.
Tonight we stay in a courtyard-style guesthouse in Shanhaiguan's old town.
On day 3 we head for the hills for a rural countryside experience. Here we will see the Great Wall at perhaps its most impressive - relatively unrestored and following the line of the hilltops, sometimes at almost unbelievable heights and angles. We have a chance to clamber up some of these crumbling sections for great views. Tonight we will stay in a village guesthouse. The accommodation is basic with multishare rooms and shared bathroom facilities outside but the hospitality and welcome are warm. For dinner tonight we enjoy a meal of traditional local dishes cooked by our hosts.
- Great Wall - Shanhaiguan section
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 4 Overnight Boat to South Korea
Today we travel by to the port city of Qinhuangdao to board our overnight ferry to South Korea (approx 20 hours). Food and drinks are available on board but you might like to bring your own with you. We travel in 2nd class twin share berths on this journey.
Overnight boat (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Buyeo
Arriving at Incheon Port on day 5 we are met by our local Korean guide who will be with us for the rest of our tour in Korea. We take a local bus from the port to the bus station (approx. 1 hour) and then transfer to an intercity bus for the trip to Buyeo (approx. 3 hours).
Tonight we have our first try of delicious Korean food - you might be surprised by the variety of this under-appreciated cuisine that we try during our time here!
Our accommodation while in Korea is mainly in local motels or guesthouses. Some of these have twin rooms with two single beds while others are Korean style ondol rooms with a futon-type mattress on the floor.
On day 6 we visit the ancient kingdom of Buyeo to learn its fascinating history, see the treasures on display at the National Museum and have a chance to barter for a bargain at the busy covered markets.
- Buyeo National Museum
- Busosanseong Fortress
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 7 Gongju / Magoksa Temple
There's a fair amount of travelling today to get to our next destination - the Magoksa Temple and site of our temple stay.
First we take public transport to get to the town of Gongju, changing buses at the intercity terminal. In Gongju we have the option to visit the City Museum and take a walking tour with our guide through the Songsanri Tumuli - ancient burial mounds.
We walk from here with our luggage to get on our next bus which will take us all the way to the temple.
During our temple stay we have a unique opportunity to experience Buddhist temple life. We'll need to abide by the strict rules of the temple which include changing into robes, honouring periods of silence and leaving mobile phones and music players in storage for the duration of our stay. We have the chance to take part in chanting, meditation, ceremonies and meals with the monks and temple residents.
Dinner tonight and breakfast on day 8 are included at the temple.
- Magoksa Temple stay
- Songsanri Tumuli walking tour
- Gongju Museum
Temple stay (1 nt)
Day 8 Jeonju
After a very early start to witness the morning ceremonies we leave our temple and transfer with a few changes of bus (total travel time approx 3 hours) to Jeonju.
In Jeonju we have a walk with our guide through the Hanok Village, where traditional houses line cobbled streets and it's easy to forget we are in one of the most developed countries in Asia.
We get a further insight into the local culture with a tea tasting ceremony.
- Jeonju Hanok Village walking tour
- Tea tasting
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 9 Mt Naejang National Park
The day starts with breakfast at our guesthouse before we travel by public transport to stunning Mt Naejang National Park.
This area of volcanic cliffs and rocks is perfect for hiking and this afternoon we have a chance to trek some of the trails with our guide to get in amongst the superb natural scenery.
Tonight we stay in a local guesthouse.
- Mt Naejang National Park entry & guided hike
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Gyeongju
Total travel time to our next destination of Gyeonju is around 5 hours by public transport.
Gyeongju is relatively rarely visited by foreign tourists so don't be surprised if we attract the attention of curious and friendly locals! As the former capital of one of Korea's ancient kingdoms, the city is often called a 'museum without walls'. We wander through ancient ruins, temples, palaces and pagodas on a guided walking tour of relics of a great era of the nation's history. To better get around between all the sights there might be the option of renting a bike.
Just outside the city centre is Bulguksa Temple, often regarded as the most impressive in Korea. From here we hike 20 minutes up the hillside to the spectacular seated Buddha at the Seokguram Grotto.
For those who are ready for more energetic activity, Mt Namsan, a spiritual significant site for local Buddhists is only a 5min bus ride away where trails scattered with carved boulders and tiny temples await our exploration.
Tonight we stay in a 3 star tourist class hotel with twin rooms and private bathrooms.
- Mt. Namsan guided hike
- Gyeongju National Museum
- Cheomseongdae & Tumuli Park walking tour
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 12-14 Seoul
We leave nature behind and head to the capital of Korea this morning by high speed train (approx 3.5 hours).
A modern city with a population of over 12 million, Seoul nonetheless is very accessible with great public transport, English signage, friendly locals and some interesting sights.
Spend time at the former royal residence of Gyeongbok Palace, check out the National Folk Museum or wander along Insadong Antique Street for some souvenirs or street food. We can get between the sights by the efficient subway or on foot. Today we say farewell to our local Korean guide.
Seoul is well known for its style and shopping and there are plenty of outlet malls, markets and shopping districts to satisfy even the most energetic shopper! For a more laid back pace, head to the Samcheong-dong district, a neighbourhood of traditional style houses, slowly sloping streets and plenty of tiny coffee shops and chic boutiques to browse in.
We take a full day to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to learn more about the tragedy of this divided nation. Our trip also includes the 3rd North Korean Tunnel and depending on availability, Panmunjeom border village. Please note that DMZ tours are controlled by the Korean Tourism Board and as such we are not able to organise a private tour. Instead we will have a seat on one of the regular day tours run by local agencies along with other travellers from outside our group.
We return to Seoul in the early evening of day 13 and there is the option to join your group for a final night dinner at a restaurant of your leader's choice to look back on our journey together.
Day 14 is departure day and we say 'to boayo' to our group. There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 12:00 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. If you would like some more time to explore we recommend you book accommodation well in advance to extend your stay.
- Gyeongbok Palace
- Kimchi and Tteokbokgi cooking class
- Demilitarized Zone day tour
- Insadong Cultural Area walking tour
Hotel (2 nts)
- Beijing to Seoul - Single Supplement (CBSZ)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- China Encompassed (CBSMC)
- Explore China (CBSW)
- Land of the Rising Sun (CJST)
- Wander the Great Wall (CBAW-O)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable In some locations it may be possible to hire porters. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.
The official currency of Korea is the Korean Won (KRW).
ATMs are readily accessible in most cities in Korea and foreign exchange from major world currencies widely available. Your leader and guide will advise you if there are some destinations where you may not be able to access an ATM so you can prepare your spending money in advance.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
Tipping in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Intrepid does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.
Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.
Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
The price of the Single Supplement does not include the following nights where single rooms may not be available:
Day 4 - Overnight boat
Guesthouse (8 nts), Hotel (3 nts), Overnight boat (1 nt), Temple stay (1 nt)
The style of accommodation described in the day to day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we are arriving prior to normal check in time. However this is not always possible which means we will not be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you have purchased pre or post trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
BEDS AND ROOMS:
Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. Passengers that require a soft bed should consider bringing an inflatable camping mattress or sleeping mat.
Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible.
WIFI, in room, or in public areas of accommodation is not as common as travellers may be used to in other regions.
In smaller, rural locations in China we often stay in guesthouses, which are mostly small family run establishments. Facilities are basic compared to hotels and the towels provided are small.
Please note that on occasion the group may be accommodated in separate guest houses or home stays within walking distance of each other.
In Korea some of the accommodation will have "ondel" style beds. These are simple thin mattresses placed on the floor, a little like a traditional Japanese futon.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
9 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Metro, Bus, Minibus, Taxi, Train, Boat
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
KaiChuang Golden Street Business Hotel 北京凯创金街商务酒店
32 Baishu Lane 北京市东城区柏树胡同32号
Joining point description
Centrally located in downtown Beijing's Wangfujing District, the Kaichuang Golden Street Business Hotel is close to many historical and cultural landmarks, including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The hotel is also within easy reach of the CBD and Financial Street and a few minutes walk to the nearest subway stations. The hotel offers comfortable rooms including ensuite, TV & AC. Hotel rooms may include a vanity pack which are not complimentary. You will be charged at checkout if you open or use the vanity pack.
Joining point instructions
Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3.
An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
If you have pre-purchased an arrival transfer, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with the Intrepid logo and your name on it. If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk at door #7 and ask them to call Ms Qi on her mobile. If you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk on the right side of Exit B and ask them to call Ms Qi on her mobile (+86) 13671299816.
If making your own way to the hotel:
By bus, take airport bus route 2 (CNY16) to Dongzhimen or route 3 to Beijing Railway Station, then it's a short taxi ride to our joining point hotel (CNY 15, approx 10 minutes.
By subway, Take the Airport Express to Dong Zhi Men Station. Change to Line 2 at this station, then to Line 5 at Lama Temple. From Lama Temple station, take the train to the direction of Songjiazhuang, and get off at Dengshikou Station. Turn left from Exit A, and take the first left at Baishu Hutong, which is a narrow lane. Walk down this lane for about 200m, you'll see the Kaichuang Golden Street Business Hotel on your left (Hotel name is on the top of the building in Yellow )
Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes and should cost around CNY80-100 (plus CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI TOURS THAT TELL YOU THEY HAVE A METERED TAXI PARKED OUTSIDE THE AIRPORT**
Check-in time is 2pm.
Please note local language address for Kaichuang Golden Street Business Hotel below which is useful to show to a taxi driver or to ask for directions:
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
KOREA, REPUBLIC OF
Phone: 82 27940171
Fax: 82 27950457
Finish point description
The Hamilton Hotel is situated in the Itaewon area of Seoul, central to sightseeing, shopping and restaurants.
The hotel offers several restaurants, a swimming pool and fitness centre, with rooms including internet access (at extra charge) cable TV, and hairdryer.
Finish point instructions
A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged during the trip. Please advise your flight details at least 14 days prior to your trips start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
If you have booked a post trip airport transfer, please ask your leader to confirm with our local operator the time of departure and meeting place.
Incheon International Airport is located 75km west of Seoul. One if the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English.
There is an airport limousine bus every 15 minutes from the Hamilton Hotel, the cost is KRW15000. The first bus is at 05.40 and the last bus at 22.20 and the journey takes 90 minutes.
Taxis to Incheon Airport cost approximately KRW100000-150000 (there are standard and deluxe taxis available). Travel time depends largely on time of day and traffic volume, allow at least 60 minutes.
Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
MAINLAND CHINA & HONG KONG:
Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong If you have time here before your trip departs. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days. Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Kashgar, Turpan or Tibet anywhere on your application form. While these areas are not off limits to travellers, they are considered politically sensitive, so including these on your visa application could lead to significant delays or your visa being denied.
Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.
606 InterChina Commercial Building
33 Dengshikou Street
+86 10 6406 8022
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this please email us with your booking number and trip details. Please tick the hotels in all destinations that your trip visits
* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the embassy or not
* Itinerary – please print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS
Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking, at least 30 days prior to travel:
*Clear, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport
Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well.
Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
Most travellers do not need visas for Korea for stays of up to 30 days.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag also has carry straps as you will need to carry your own bag up and down the many steps in train stations. Overweight or bulky bags will be difficult to store on the overnight train and will need to be kept on your bed if they do not fit in the overhead racks or storage space under the bottom bunk.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
In China, clean and safe drinking water is widely available for free in hotels, restaurants and bus and train stations.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Pay attention on all roads, even small streets and alleyways. Vehicles find their ways into impossibly small passages leaving no room for both you and the traffic. Traffic can be very noisy and horns are used to signal turning, overtaking and to announce going through intersections.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in China include:
* Beijing Huiling offers innovative services to youths and adults with learning disabilities and teaches people to respect what those with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't. Their activities and training facilitate independence and improve daily living and employability skills in a family-like group home environment.
* Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.
Carbon Offset C02-e 1111.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.