Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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5 Reviews

  • Reviewed September 2017

    South Korea unmasked

    As this is only my second group trip I have a limited experience with comparing these types of trips but I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Our guide was knowledgeable and filled any gaps in our itinerary with valuable insightful excursions. All key sights were covered in the trip. Unfortunately we did not get to go to the JSA, however this did not detract from the the overall visit to the DMZ. The DMZ felt very surreal and to be able to peak into North Korea was an experience. Seoul is your typical city, traffic included but the subway system is very easy to negotiate and cheap and clean. There are plenty of lively markets to immerse oneself into the culture and to sample various food on a stick. I would recommend catching the Nanta show. This was amazing. The scenery was breathtaking especially in Seoraksan National Park and Jeju Island. For a country that had to completely rebuild it is amazing how the government was able to cultivate such wonderful green spaces. The food on offer was second to none and I did not find the food too spicy at all, although when given the option I chose the least spicy option.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment was learning all the history behind South Korea. Admittedly I did not much about Korean history but I found the topic fascinating. It was uplifting to learn how through adversity the Korean people were able to achieve all they have in such a short space of time. It was not only the infrastructure that was rebuilt but the green belt too. The fact that the government even thought about constructing green spaces demonstrates how forward thinking a government can be. The temple stay was a highlight too, especially the conversation with the monk. It was interesting to hear about how an enlightened person thinks about the modern world.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mirium was an exceptional group leader and she always recommended good restaurants that were not expensive. She was always providing us with background to all the places we were visiting and her in depth knowledge of the history was very compelling. I don't think I know English history as well as she knows her Korean history. What was also good given that we were visiting during elevated tension levels with the North, she not only gave us a daily briefing on what was on the news, as on a couple of days we had no access to English channels. She also offered an insight of the South Korean mindset regarding the North. She also made sure that everyone was accommodated and was willing to flit between restaurants to ensure everyone was able to order what they wanted. Her instructions on where and when to meet were very clear and I felt she went above and beyond her duties. At all restaurants she would recommend the items on the menu which she knew were the local dishes and good. This sort of knowledge is priceless.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a lot of walking on all types of terrain and eating good food.
  • Reviewed November 2016

    An Unknown Country

    There are very few British tourists visiting this lovely country and this Exodus trip was a good way of understanding the Past and the Present state of Korea. A visit to the DMZ gives you an understanding of the conflict between the South and the North. The gardens and ordinary road-side trees are beautiful and the people are charming. There was absolutely no hassle from the local people or officials.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Although uncomfortable by our standards, the Temple Stay was inspirational and an eye opener. We lived the life of a monk (but only for one night!) well away from the electronic world of some parts of Korea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Minhe Kim was a petite and charming girl with an infectious and rather cheeky smile which made up for any shortcomings on her part.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a rather hectic trip involving two internal flights and walking tours as well as optional hikes. So make sure that you are reasonably fit and that your shoes are comfortable but sturdy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food was an interesting experience and to complete your experience you need to sample street food as recommended by your tour leader. If this is not to your tastes you could always have Western type meals or resort to Pot Noodle! Even Starbucks serve Pot Noodle and so that was not a facetious comment on my part!
  • Reviewed May 2016
    Dan Fitt

    A taste of Korea

    I thoroughly enjoyed this trip & can recommend it. This trip is not only a great introduction to Korea but a good way to visit Asia if you haven't been to the Far East before as compared to other countries in this region, it is clean, safe, and developed. However, to get the most out of it you have to be prepared to explore during your free time. This trip puts you in the position, by giving you the opportunity to see some wonderful things that are not on the itinerary. For example the Seoul Tower with the wonderful Season’s table all you can eat Korean restaurant, or the Sun Cruise Resort and surrounding area in Gyeongpo, a 20 minute taxi ride from your hotel. Taxis are cheap and a good way to get round. Budget wise I would suggest you allow about £20 per day on food. The food here is lovely but expensive. Credit cards are widely accepted but I would take US Dollars or Euros to change into the local currency, the Won. I found it hard to change the Pound, with the only place being a handful of banks in the major cities. When you arrive in Seoul I suggest you change your money you need for the trip then, as changing it in other areas other than Busan and Jeju was difficult. Even though ATMs are widely available for debit cards, you have to look for a global one which we found difficult finding and it was hit and miss whether the card would be accepted. You must have patience as service can be slow and language can be a barrier. My main criticism is we didn't have enough time in Busan; it was almost a fleeting visit, which doesn't do the place justice. I would like to have more time there at the expense of the temple stay, which in my opinion added little value to the trip. There was also too much emphasis on Buddhism. My biggest surprise coming here was the number of churches I saw, and finding out that they aren't devoutly religious or follow one particular faith, just a mix of multi-faith and non-religious groups. For example, there are more Christians and other religions than Buddhists – for instance 29 % are Christian and only 24 % are Buddhist. With this in mind, I would like to reduce the number of temples that are visited by exploring the other faiths and learning more of the contemporary recent history that makes up this dynamic nation. Highlights; (1) the big Yakcheonsa Buddhist temple in Jeju, which we allowed to freely photograph; (2) DMZ; (3) The museum in Busan, which explained in concise terms the history of this nation. Low points; (1) Temple stay, which was a complete waste of time and added nothing to my understanding of Korea. This should be made an optional extra or cut out completely, with time better spent in Busan. (2) Not enough time in Busan and war memorial. (3) Too many markets and temples visited - only one or two would do. Overall I can recommend this trip to anyone who wants a taste of Korea but to get the most out of it, you must have a sense of adventure and explore the surrounding area in your free time. 4/5.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Going to the War Memorial and museum in Busan which puts into context the sacrifices made by the Korean people, This not only provided an excellent concise summary of contemporary Korean history but also to the complete history of this fascinating nation.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour guide was good, very professional, and always on hand to help. In particular, she made a number of excellent decisions on changing the itinerary because of the weather and on when and where we went to each place. Exodus would do well to listen to her when it comes to refining the itinerary for future tours.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    See my comments about making the most of your free time in my Summary. To reiterate to get the most out of this trip you have to be prepared to explore during your free time. This trip puts you in the position, by giving you the opportunity to see some wonderful things that are not on the itinerary. Like I said, I can recommend this trip to anyone who wants a taste of Korea but to get the most out of it, you really must have a sense of adventure and be prepared to explore the surrounding area in your free time. 4/5.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    See my comments about money in the Summary.
  • Reviewed November 2015
    Anonymous

    South Korea - a fascinating snap shot

    This is a different and wonderful country which is very misunderstood. It has a lot to offer from the busyness of Seoul, the beauty of the National Parks to the amazing volcanic island of Jehu. I thought this country would be a mixture of Japan and China yet it is quite different. The culture is fascinating - when they are into something (such as coffee shops, hiking), they are into it big time yet the battle between tradition and western influence is fascinating to witness and observe in different areas in Seoul and in the rest of the country. Each area specialises in a different type of food (Kimchi always included) and this trip gives a great snapshot into different parts of South Korea from the cities (Seoul and Busan) to the DMZ to the countryside (national park and folk villages). This is not a very active holiday and there are not any long trips.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The DMZ is fascinating in terms of set up and hearing the views of people affected. Jehu is a beautiful island - stay longer here if you can as although large, is a fascinating volcanic island with lots to visit. Seoul is like a usual capital city, busy but with lots to see (palaces and modern architecture) and lots of exciting districts.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Seony adapted well to the needs of the group and always was helpful and friendly when asked. I think the culture of South Korea is that they don't try to interact too much in free time during or after meals though.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are 3 days where you have to sleep on the floor with thin or no mattresses. The Buddhist Temple stay is fascinating experience but it it no 3 star hotel! Visit now though as the balance between tradition and western culture and China is very apparent!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Out of the cities, there isn't a great amount to do in the evening. Also, there is quite a lot of free time on the trip for you to plan to do your own thing if there is something to do in that area.
  • Reviewed November 2015
    Brenda Smithwhite

    Discover South Korea

    A great two week trip around South Korea, Exodus's first trip there. Fascinating places to visit, good food and transport and accommodation, giving a glimpse into a country that is definitely worth visiting, and a trip that covers the main sites. The itinerary worked well, some timings need tweaking and trip notes altering slightly. Just the one early start on temple stay and leaving day, some busy days, and sometimes quick turnaround between arrival at hotels and going out. The hotel we had in Seoul is away from some sites, but metro is nearby and cheap to use. On arrival there was no early check in booked or planned, so we did the market that morning. The rest of the day is free. I went to the aquarium and saw an underwater sardine play. Plenty to see in Seoul over the next few days. The JSA and DMZ are fascinating. There followed a busy trip - cookery school, National Park, the idyllic guest house, Temple-stay (go with the flow), Busan (more time needed here), Jeju Island (optional trip well worth doing), then back to Seoul for a last afternoon and evening. Food was great, cheaper than the trip notes, and lots of it, we enjoyed the bbqs. The autumnal colours were beautiful. Some great nights out in the singing rooms and snow flake desserts

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A highlight each day, for me - Jogyesa Temple, the food, the JSA, singing rooms, snow flake desserts, guest house in Gyeongju, ceremonies at Haeinsa, normal Korean life.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Seony had the patience of a saint at times, lots of information about each site, timings accurate, may have left the odd one or two people behind at times though. Very helpful with the evening group meal choices and translations.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I should know this by now but if you see it buy it. e.g. at Andong Village, and won't have time at Haeinsa Temple to buy anything there. Department stores are a bit posh with lots of assistants. Souvenirs, metro are very reasonably priced. Evening meals around £10, beer anything from £1.50 to £6 depending on where you are eating/partying. JUMP show in Seoul is very good, also optional Jeju trip. Not much free/down time, say first day in Seoul and the afternoon before departure day. Loads of coffee shops and convenience stores for snacks. I liked the BBQ meals. For cash need to use ATMs marked as Global, of which there are only a few but there's plenty of money exchanges around. The Temple-stay early morning is then followed by a very long day in Busan, sense of humour needed on this day. In Busan the hotel is a bit out of centre but plenty of places to eat and drink nearby.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy, go with the flow. I recommend this trip as a comprehensive trip to South Korea.