The Best of Japan and South Korea

The Best of Japan and South Korea

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 16 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers


Day 1 – Arrive in Japan

Arrive at Narita Airport and you will be welcomed by an English speaking assistant who will help you transfer to the hotel using a shared minivan. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight at the Park Hotel Tokyo or similar 

Day 2 - Tokyo

After breakfast we explore Tokyo with our guide, using the city’s famous public transport systems. On this full day tour, you will visit the Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace Plaza, the Tokyo Tower, Hama-rikyu Garden, Sumida River, Asakusa Kannon Temple and the Nakamise Shopping District. This is a great introduction into one of the world’s busiest and most intense cities. Overnight at the Park Hotel Tokyo or similar (BL) 

Day 3 – Tokyo

Continue our exploration of this marvellous city when we will visit Tsukiji Outer Market, Ueno District, the nostalgic district of Yanesen and the Kagurazaka area. Once again today we will use public transport to navigate the city with our guide. Overnight at the Park Hotel Tokyo or similar (BL) 

Day 4 – Tokyo to Kyoto

We leave our hotel after breakfast and take a taxi to the Tokyo train station. Here we board one of the famous JR Shinkansen high-speed trains (also known as the Bullet Trains) and travel to Kyoto. Our guide will accompany us on the journey as we travel in tourist class at speeds of up to 200mph. We arrive in Kyoto at 11:20 and transfer to the hotel before having lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon we will explore Kyoto on bike with an English speaking cycle guide (this tour is not exclusive to Undiscovered Destinations clients). You will visit the Miyagawacho (geisha) and Gion districts, the Shirakwa river and the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. Overnight at the Mitsui Garden Hotel or similar (BL)  

Day 5 – Kyoto

Today we will explore Kyoto with our guide using Kyoto’s public transportation. You will visit Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace / Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine, Heian Jingu Shrine and the Sanjusangendo Temple. Lunch is taken at a local restaurant. Overnight at the Mitsui Garden Hotel or similar (BL) 

Day 6 – Farm Homestay, Asuka

After breakfast we take the Kintetsu Limited Express Train to Kashihara Jingu (Tourist Class). The journey takes about 1 hour 25 minutes. On arrival we will visit the Rice Terraces, Ishibutai Kofun Burial Mound and the Oka-dera Temple before having lunch at a nearby restaurant. This afternoon we head to the farm where we will be staying the night with a local family. Here the family will give us a demonstration of Japanese home cooking where you will be taught how to cook like a local! Overnight at the Minshuka Homestay in Asuka or similar (BLD) 

Day 7 – Asuka to Nara and Kyoto

After breakfast at the farmstay we will transfer to the Kashihara Jingu Station by taxi. A short ride takes us to Miwa station where we will visit the Omiwa shrine, which protects Mount Miwa. One of Japan's oldest shrines, legend has it that a white snake is one of the gods protecting and residing in the mountainside. The sweet aroma of the Japanese cedar trees from the forest surrounding the Shrine is wonderful. We then visit the local Sake brewery and get to sample, or even buy the sake from Japan's longest continuously operating sake maker - Imanishi Sake. After lunch we set off again by public transport to Nara and visit the Todaiji Temple, Nara Deer Park, Kofukuji Temple and the Naramachi District. A half hour train ride then takes us back to Kyoto for the evening. Overnight at the Mitsui Garden Hotel or similar (BL) 

Day 8 – Kyoto to Hiroshima

We transfer to the Kyoto station after breakfast to take the JR Shinkansen high-speed train (tourist class seat) to Hiroshima. On arrival, your guide will accompany you as we travel to Miyajima via public transport. Miyajima Island, one of the most scenic spots in Japan and once we have taken the ferry across to the island, we will visit Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima Ropeway and Mt. Misen. Overnight at the New Hiroden Hotel, Hiroshima or similar (BL) 

Day 9 – Hiroshima and Fukuoka

This morning we will explore Hiroshima with a half day city tour using public transport. You will visit Peace Memorial Museum and Peace Memorial Park with the ‘A-bomb’ Dome. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome – ‘A bomb’ Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. We have lunch at a nearby restaurant before we leave Hiroshima for Hakata, Fukuoka by JR Shinkansen high-speed train. On arrival, we will transfer to our hotel and the rest of the afternoon is free at your leisure. Overnight at the Hotel Monte Hermana or similar (BL) 

Day 10 – Hakata, Fukuoka to Busan, South Korea

We have our breakfast at the hotel before we transfer to Hakata Port by taxi with our guide. We leave the guide at the port and board the high speed Hydrofoil from Hakata for Busan, South Korea. The journey takes approximately 3 hours and there is no accompanying guide on the Hydrofoil. On arrival at Busan Port, you will clear customs and immigration before meeting our South Korean guide. Our first visit is to the Gamcheon Art village and Beomeosa Temple. Transfer to the hotel and check in at the hotel. Overnight at The Mark Haeundae Hotel or similar (B) 

Day 11 – Busan to Gyeongju

We take breakfast at the hotel and check out before heading to the Jagalchi Fish Market. We then depart for Gyeongju City and the Gyeongju Historic Area. Registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in November 2000, this is an area that embodies the time-honoured history and culture of Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom (57-935). Enjoy lunch in a Local restaurant. We will visit Golgulsa Temple and watch a demonstration of Korean Spiritual Martial Art called Sunmundo. Note: Visiting the temple is a uphill hike. Visit the Royal Tumuli park and in the evening visit Anpji Pond during sunset. Overnight in at The Suites Hotel or similar (BL) 

Day 12 – Gyeongju to Sokcho

An early morning visit to Bulguksa and Seokguram Grotto (it opens at 7.30am and we aim to be there by 8am). Seokguram, located on Tohamsan Mountain, is the representative stone temple of Korea. Bulguksa Temple is the representative relic of Gyeongju and was designated as a World Cultural Asset by UNESCO in 1995. The beauty of the temple itself and the artistic touch of the stone relics are known throughout the world. We continue to Seorak National Park and hope to travel up Seorak Mountain to admire the breathtaking view. Stop for dinner in Sokcho at the fish market - great for seafood (meal not included – payable locally) before travelling a further 20 minutes to Sokcho. Overnight at the Maremons Hotel or similar (BL) 

Note: From Gyeongju to Seoraksan is about 4 ½ hours. The last cable car is at 5pm in Seoraksan but every day the time is updated depending on the weather conditions. Therefore, it is important to try to arrive as early as possible. The earlier we start the day the more chance there will be to take the cable car up. If we miss the cable car or it is not operating, we can take a walk in the park. 

Day 13 – Sokcho to Seoul

This morning we will drive back to Seoul and visit Gwangjang Market and have lunch there. We continue with a tour of the highlights of Seoul, including Gyeongbokgung Palace and folk museum, a walk to the Bukchon Hanok Village and then a visit to Jogyesa Temple and Insadong Antique Street. Overnight in at the Centermark Hotel or similar (BL) 

Day 14 – DMZ & Panmunjeom Village

An early start as you make your way to the Lotte Hotel for 8am (you will need to take a taxi from the hotel to Myeongdong which is not more than 5,000 won - about 5$) to join the specialised mixed group tour to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) & Panmunjeom Area. The tour covers Imjingak, the bridge of Freedom and the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the DMZ Theatre and Exhibition Hall, the Dora Observatory, Dorasan Station, Camp Bonifas (with a slide show & briefing) and the Joint Security Area (JSA - Freedom House, Conference Room, Bridge of no Return). On your return to Seoul, why not take the opportunity to explore the Myeongdong Area which is right across from your drop off point at the Lotte department store. Transfer back to the hotel on your own. Overnight in at the Centermark Hotel or similar (BL)  

Day 15 – Suwon and Yongin

After breakfast, this morning we will drive to Suwon City and visit Hwaseong fortress. This impressive structure from the latter part of Joseon Dynasty, is designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. We will have lunch in the area at a local restaurant before be continue the drive to Yongin to visit the Korean Folk Village. Minsok village is a living museum where you can experience the traditional culture from the late Joseon period. The village has a farming area, Confucian academy, seodang (village school), and a village street as well as a nobleman’s house and traditional workshop. We drive back to Seoul and the highlight of the evening is our stay in a traditional Korean house. Overnight in a Hanok traditional house. 

Day 16 – Depart Seoul

We transfer to the airport for your departure flight.