Want to experience something truly unique and utterly delicious? Look no further than the busy streets, misty mountains, blooming cherry blossoms, and abundant beaches of South Korea.
Join Cheema’s Travel, Chef Esther Choi, and an intrepid group of like-minded foodies for 9 nights 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 a few Korean specialties including gochujang (traditional red pepper paste) and makgeolli (rice wine) with the best and most notable Korean chefs/cooks, including Monk Jeong Kwan from the Netflix original show, “Chef’s Table" all while experiencing cherry blossom season.
On this trip, you won't just visit South Korea, you will be fully immersed in Korean culture. You’ll get to experience the absolute best of the country: historic palaces, traditional villages, relaxing and indulgent saunas, and more.
This guided trip is all-inclusive and there are no supplementary fees whatsoever.
We are inviting you to join us on this expertly curated small group culinary trip. This adventure along with all my other trips are a culinary dream itinerary that we personally curated with my preferred partners to make sure it is the perfect experience for all parties involved.
Please understand that the concept of these adventures is similar to traveling with friends. Like-minded individuals who not only love to eat, drink, make, and have immersive experiences, they want to connect with our "cousins" on the other side of the planet. If you love eating, drinking, adventure, laughs, and great company... this adventure is like no other.
Cheema's Travel is a travel agency, not a large group tour operator so no umbrellas or flags to locate our local guide.
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."
Esther Choi; Chef & Restaurateur
Esther Choi is a chef whose heart beats for the Korean food she grew up. From her Korean grandmother’s kitchen to the Food Network, New York City’s La Esquina and ILILI, Esther’s rich culinary experiences led her to open her own venture, the critically acclaimed Mŏkbar. She has tapped into different area of the culinary world but now, Esther is looking to share South Korea with you.
Chef & owner of Mŏkbar
Host of the Eater’s Kitchen Gadget Show
James Beard Foundation Nominee
Zagat “30 Under 30”
Your 9 Night Itinerary
Day 1, April 03
Welcome to South Korea
Arrival day. We’ll check into our hotel, freshen up, then hit the ground running with by warming up are bellies with something familiar. A feast of Korean BBQ. Trust me, this isn’t your NYC K-Town BBQ.
Will need everyone to arrive at their hotel on April 3rd before 6:00 pm. A car will be provided for those who book the suggested flights. Missed dinner? We’ll send you dinner, but you’re not going to want to miss this welcome dinner.
Direct Korean Air Flight KE86 departing JFK April 02 at 12:50am. Arriving April 03 at 4:10am. Sleep on your flight and try to beat that jetlag. Flights out of SFO and LAX have the similar departure and arrival times. Please email email@example.com to book your flight.
Day 2, April 04
Hoping you have a restful night because after slurping up your breakfast, we hit the ground running. 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 and a visit to the Kimchi Museum for your first cooking class (please, don’t wear white, you will regret it). We will take our jars of kimchi for a walk to Insadong where you’ll be delighted by the street food (tour) and charming shopping options before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Day 3, April 05
SEOUL – SUNCHANG – BEAKYANGSA
This morning you’ll head to Beakyangsa Temple. Before reaching the temple, we will stop at Sunchang Village, known as the Gochujang Village where you'll stretch your cooking muscles again by learning to make gochujang. You can digest your grilled short rib patty lunch during the drive to Baekyangsa Temple, the home of Philosopher Chef, Monk Jeong Kwan. After the welcome tea ceremony, we'll be able to hike about the peaceful mountains (weather permitting), and enjoy your first vegan temple meal. You’ll have a true temple experience, sleeping in communal rooms.
NOTE: This experience is run solely by the monks. Cheema’s Travel surrenders to the monks and so will you.
Day 4, April 06
BAEKYANGSA – BUSAN
Morning prayers start early at the temple. After a morning of cleaning, meditation, and breakfast with the monks comes the hands-on cooking class from Monk Jeong Kwan’s kitchen. If you have yet to watch her on Chef’s Table, it’s a great way to get excited about the trip. For lunch, you’ll get to eat the meal you’ve worked all morning to prepare. We’ll bid the monks a fond farewell, and drive over to the port city of Busan. Once in Busan, we will check into our hotel where you'll have the rest before our puffer fish dinner. Evening to explore or rest.
IMPORTANT - Keep the Temple’s rules and regulations for the program. Please keep the noble silence during your stay. No smoking, no alcohol. "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." Monk Kwan is a monk, not a chef with a restaurant. They may need to be else where during our class. We cannot guarantee Monk Kwan will be with us the entire time.
Day 5, April 07
For a jam-packed day, you’ll start it off with a hearty Busan-style pork soup meal. First up will be a stunning coastal temple, followed by the Jagalchi market for a seafood stew lunch. Ggangtong and Gukje’s markets present an opportunity to try some Busan-specific street foods that will knock your socks off. Dinner will be at a restaurant specializing in pairs foods with their house made Makgeolli.
Day 6, April 08
BUSAN - SEOUL
After breakfast we will head back to Seoul. After enjoying some Kalgooksu for lunch we will visit the Yeouido Cherry Blossom Road. Check into our hotel and have the afternoon at your leisure until dinner. Dinner will be a surprise chosen by our local guide and her friends.
Day 7, April 09
After breakfast. We will head over to one of Seoul’s best cooking schools for an intermediate > advance cooking class. After enjoying some your “homemade” lunch we’ll have the afternoon to explore our local guides favorite haunts.
Day 8, April 10
Free day to explore, eat, see, and meet with who ever you want. Our local guide will freestyle the day as well if you choose to join which… we recommend you do. Dinner at 2 Michelin Star Mingles with wine, soju, and liquor pairings (be still my heart).
Day 9, April 11
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, a jjimjilbang. This is a unique and unforgettable experience. Take another cooking class. Visit the DMZ and get the chance to step into North Korea at the JSA. We will help you arrange your preferred activities before having our farewell dinner.
Day 10, April 12
That’s all! We bid a fond farewell to a life-changing experience.
Don’t fret, we can all meet again in in Japan, India, Italy, or any of the other fabulous countries we’ve planned adventure in.
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