Japan & Korea Discovery
Explore the highlights of two amazing Asian countries
Book now for £199
Group Size: Varies
Trip code: JKDI
Duration: 24 days
Are you ready for some serious adventure in the Far East? This cracking combo tour kicks off with two weeks in South Korea, Asia’s up-and-coming travel destination. You’ll explore the Korean DMZ, learn the art of meditation from monks, pamper yourself in a Korean bathhouse and party all night on the beach. Then say Konichiwa to the neon-lit streets of Tokyo as you jet off to Japan! Learn how to make sushi from a master, see Mount Fuji from the water, explore ground zero at Hiroshima and stroll through graceful bamboo forests!
- Spend the night in a Korean Buddhist temple, learning martial arts and meditation
- Soak yourself in a jimjilbang (Korean bathhouse)
- Learn how to make sushi with a Japanese chef in Tokyo
- Take in views of Mount Fuji on a pirate-ship cruise across Lake Ashi
- Explore the mysterious world of the Kyoto geisha over a tea ceremony
Days 1 - 3: Seoul, South Korea. Your adventure starts here! Kick off with a Korean barbecue before heading up Namsan Mountain for spectacular views across the city. On day 2 you’ll head into the Korean Demilitarised Zone, visiting Dorasan Station, Doran Observatory, descending into the 3rd tunnel and chatting to a North Korean defector. On day 3 we’ll visit the majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Blue House (Korea’s version of the White House!) and the traditional village of Bukchon Hanok as well as enjoying a street food lunch and some culture on Insadong Art Street.
Day 4: Sokcho. Travel to Seoraksan National Park this morning and pay a visit to colourful Sinheungsa Temple before hiking through the picturesque park to Ulsanbawi Rock. After lunch, we’ll visit a village of North Korean refugees. Tuck into fresh seafood in Sokcho fish-market this evening, before travelling back to Seoul. You’ll stay in a jimjilbang tonight (a traditional Korean bath and sleeping house).
Days 5 - 6: Gyeongju. Explore the area by bike on day 5, taking in Cheonmachong Tombs in Tumuli Park, the ancient Cheomseongdae observatory, beautiful Gyerim Forest and Hyanggyo Confucius School. Day 6 is something special, with an overnight stay in Golgulsa Buddhist Temple. Take a meditation class, watch a traditional arts performance and Sunmudo (martial art) demonstration and learn the basics of Sunmudo yourself!
Days 7 - 9: Busan. Head to the ‘San Francisco of South Korea’. Visit the biggest seafood market in the country, explore the city’s famous movie district and take the Marine Cable Car for impressive views of the city. Have a free day to explore this city.
Days 10 - 12: Jeju Island & Seoul. Take the overnight ferry to the ‘Hawaii of South Korea’. Learn to free dive for fish with the Haenyeo (female divers who work without any breathing equipment), take part in a traditional liquor-making experience, and hike to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). Visit Jeongbang Waterfall, then take a day-long trek along the Jeju Olle Trail before a barbecue party on the beach. Head back to Seoul where your Korea adventure ends, before flying to Tokyo in Japan to start the next leg of your adventure!
Days 13 - 15 Tokyo, Japan. You’ve got a few days to explore this sprawling metropolis. We’ll visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Tsukiji Outer Market, colourful Senso-ji Temple, Akihabara district (Japan’s ‘Electric Town’), Tokyo Palace, Harajuku (home to Japan’s most extreme youth cultures), Meiji Shrine, Shibuya Crossing, Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Samurai Museum where we’ll watch a live sword demo – phew! We’ll also learn the art of sushi-making with an experienced chef!
Day 16: Kamakura. Say sayonara to Tokyo and hop on a train to Japan’s medieval capital. Our hostel is just minutes from the sea, so rent a surfboard and head to the beach to catch some waves. You can also visit some of the town’s many shrines, including the giant bronze Buddha.
Day 17: Hakone. Travel to Hakone and enjoy a sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi on board a pirate ship! Take in spectacular views of Mount Fuji, then board a cable car to Owakudani, an active volcanic zone. Spend the evening in a Japanese outdoor bath, or ‘onsen’. Then learn all about Japanese rice wine during a sake tasting session.
Days 18 - 20: Kyoto. Travel to Japan’s cultural heart on the bullet train. Kick off with a visit to Kiyomizu Dera Temple, and then attend an optional geisha performance, featuring a tea ceremony, puppet show and traditional music. Take a boat trip down the Hozugawa River, visit the Arashiyama Monkey Park, Tenryu-Ji Temple and the Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama. Day 20 is totally free for you to explore the atmospheric city at your own pace.
Days 21 - 22: Hiroshima. Explore Kyoto by bike on day 21, including the Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-Ji and the Imperial Palace, before taking the bullet train to Hiroshima. On day 22 we’ll learn about Hiroshima’s tragic history with a visit to the Peace Memorial Park. Then travel to Miyajimi Island, where we’ll see the striking Itsukushima Shrine.
Day 23: Osaka. Travel to Osaka on the bullet train, arriving in time for lunch before taking the subway to Osaka Castle. Marvel at the displays of original artefacts and learn all about Japan's ancient warriors, the Samurai. The afternoon is yours to explore Osaka at your own pace.
Day 24: Trip end. The time has come to pack your bags and say your farewells before heading to the airport or continuing your adventures. See you again soon!
Please note this itinerary is for guidance only and depending on the start date you may spend some extra nights in either Tokyo or Seoul. Please download the trip notes for further information.
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You will need to arrive into Seoul, Korea on day 1 or earlier. Incheon (ICN) is the nearest international airport. Make your way to your starting accommodation in Hongdae district. You can take the AREX train, which is one of the fastest and easiest ways to travel into the centre, airport bus or taxi. Taxi will take between 50 and 70 minutes and fare will vary depending on traffic. Activities don’t kick off until late afternoon, with a welcome meeting.
Your flight from Korea to Japan is included. On arrival in Tokyo you’ll need to transfer to your starting accommodation for Japan by bus. Your guide will meet you at the accommodation. The airport bus transfer is not included in the trip price but easy to get locally upon arrival.
Most trips end on day 24 in Osaka, Japan. You’ll need to make your way to the airport, or arrange your onward travel yourself. Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the nearest international terminal. Your guide can help you with booking your return transfer.
You’ll stay in a selection of hostels, jimjilbang (Korean bath houses), temples and have one night in a traditional Japanese Ryokan. Staying in a ryokan is a really unique experience. They typically feature rooms with tatami flooring, futons and sliding doors and communal areas where you can wear yukata (a summer kimono) and talk to the owner. Ryokan also usually have a communal bathing area, fed by water from natural hot springs (onsen).
2 dinners and 1 lunch are included on this trip. This includes a welcome dinner on arrival in Seoul, a barbecue dinner on Jeju Island and a sushi-making class in Tokyo where you get to eat your own creations! You’ll have to buy all other meals, snacks and drinks yourself. This means you’ve got total flexibility to eat where and when you want and to explore the incredible local cuisine.
You need to be a minimum of 18 years old to join this trip.
British citizens can enter South Korea and Japan for up to 90 days without a visa. However, you must have an onward or return ticket. Your passport should be valid for a minimum of 3 months from your date of entry to South Korea and for the duration of your stay in Japan. It’s your responsibility to obtain the necessary visas for your time away. Visa rules are subject to change without prior notice, so please do check visa requirements at the time of your trip.
This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:
Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.
Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.
Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.
Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.
Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.
Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.
24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.
It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.