Japan & Korea Discovery
Explore the highlights of two amazing Asian countries
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Group Size: Varies
Trip code: JKDI
Duration: From 27 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 - 8: 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.
Days 9 - 10: Jeju Island. After a free day in Busan, 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). On day 11, visit Jeongbang Waterfall, then take a day-long trek along the Jeju Olle Trail before a barbecue party on the beach.
Day 12: Seoul. Fly back to Seoul today. Mark the end of this leg of your trip with a last night out in the city with your group.
Days 13 - 18: Tokyo, Japan. You’ve got six 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, and have a stint in a baseball batting cage (it’s a Japanese obsession!)
Day 19: 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 20: 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 21 - 23: 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. On day 22, take a boat trip down the Hozugawa River, visit the Arashiyama Monkey Park, Tenryu-Ji Temple and the Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama. Day 23 is totally free for you to explore the atmospheric city at your own pace.
Days 24-25: Hiroshima. Explore Kyoto by bike on day 24, including the Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-Ji and the Imperial Palace, before taking the bullet train to Hiroshima. On day 25 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 26: 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 27: 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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Whether you do Japan or Korea first will depend on your start date so please check your exact itinerary with your Travel Advisor booking your flights.
Most start dates will require you 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. The airport bus transfer is included in the trip price.
Most trips end on day 27 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.