Arrive In Seoul Welcome to Seoul, the capital of South Korea and a beautiful juxtaposition of modern and traditional. Tonight we'll enjoy a group welcome dinner. (D)
Seoul Stepping back in time, we visit the Korean Folk Village to gain an insight into life during the Joseon Dynasty and enjoy a traditional Korean archery experience. After some free time for lunch along famous Insadong Street, we'll visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, a collection of museums and historical sites. Later this afternoon we visit the iconic N Seoul Tower's observation deck. (B)
Seoul - Mt Seorak This morning we travel to Nami Island, a tiny half-moon-shaped island, famous for its stunning scenery and grassy fields where the wildlife welcomes visitors. We'll then continue to Sokcho. (B)
Mt. Seorak This afternoon we'll visit Sinheungsa Temple, believed to be the oldest Zen temple in the world. (B) Special Experience: Spend a full day exploring stunning Mount Seorak, visiting Sogongwon Park and travelling to Gwongumseong Fortress by cable car, enjoying the beautiful vistas.
Mt Seorak - Jeonju Departing Mt Seorak, we continue to Jeonju via Pyeongchang, where we visit Naksansa Temple. This afternoon we'll arrive in Jeonju and visit the traditional Bukchon Hanok Village. (B)
Jeonju - Muju We continue towards Muju, visiting beautiful Mount Maisan and the Buddhist Tapsa Temple along the way. (B) Special Experience: Relax and enjoy a traditional Korean spa, a very important part of the Korean way of life. Try the unique assortment of facilities and treatments, including 'bubble sense therapy' and 'sound floating'.
Muju - Gyeongju This afternoon we'll travel to Mt Gayasan and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Haeinsa Temple, home to the Tripitaka Koreana - a complete set of Buddhist scriptures. (B) Special Experience: This afternoon we'll travel to Mt Gayasan and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Haeinsa Temple, home to the Tripitaka Koreana - a complete set of Buddhist scriptures.
Gyeongju - Busan In the afternoon we'll explore Chomsungdae Observatory. (B) Special Experience: Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites of Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto this morning, where we'll experience a traditional tea ceremony with monks. Bulguksa Temple also contains seven of the National Treasures of South Korea, including two pagodas and statues of Buddha.
Busan We begin our sightseeing of Busan at scenic Igidae Park, where we'll wander along the trails and admire the rugged natural scenery. We'll also visit the Oryukdo Skywalk, a glass bridge stretching over the ocean. Our next stop is the UN Memorial Cemetery. This afternoon we'll visit the local markets and have some free time to explore. (B/L)
Busan - Seoul This morning we board the high-speed train to Seoul. In the afternoon we'll step into the kitchen and learn to make Korea's national dish - the spicy-sour side dish, kimchi. We'll also get a chance to try on the hanbok (traditional Korean dress). (B) Special Experience: Enjoy a nanta show - a non-verbal comedy show, and a very popular way to spend an evening in South Korea.
Seoul Today we visit the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) separating North and South Korea. Take a peek into North Korea from the Dora Observatory, Dorasan Station, Freedom Bridge and Third Infiltration Tunnel. Tonight we'll enjoy a group dinner, accompanied by a traditional Korean performance. (B/D)
Seoul - Tokyo We fly to Tokyo, Japan's dazzling capital. Formally known as Edo, a small local fishing village, the Tokyo of today is a vibrant metropolis known for its advanced technology and diverse fashion sense, intermingled with the traditions of Japanese culture. (B)
Tokyo Begin the day at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world's largest wholesale markets. We'll then learn the age-old culinary art of making sushi. This afternoon we'll stroll through the shopping district of Ginza on our way to dinner. (B/L/D) Special Experience: Admire the city lights on a dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay in a typical Japanese-style houseboat from the Heian Era, known as a yakatabune.
Tokyo Today our sightseeing includes the Edo Tokyo Museum, Asakusa Sensoji Temple and the Nakamise shopping arcade. Early this evening we'll experience the neon lights of the bustling Shinjuku District. (B/L) Special Experience: Enjoy a sumo wrestling demonstration over a traditional chanko nabe (hot pot) lunch.
Tokyo - Hakone We begin our morning with a stroll through the beautiful Hamarikyu Garden. We'll then travel to Lake Saiko, one of the Fuji Five Lakes. For the next two nights we stay in an authentic ryokan guesthouse. We'll have the chance to bathe in natural onsen and enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner. (B/D) Special Experience: Visit a former farming village, Iyashi no Sato Nenba, recently reconstructed as a museum after being destroyed by a typhoon in 1966.
Mt Fuji A highlight of any trip to Japan is a visit to majestic and iconic Mt Fuji! We stop at the fifth station (weather permitting) to take in the stunning views of the surrounding area. Later we'll ride the Komagatake Ropeway to enjoy magnificent vistas. (B/D)
Hakone - Takayama We travel by rail to the historic town of Takayama and explore the narrow, traditional streets on foot. We visit the Takayama Jinya, a former government outpost established to bring the Hida Province under the direct control of the Shogunate. (B)
Takayama We wander through the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago with its famous gasshō-zukuri (‘like hands in prayer') thatched roofs, designed to withstand the massive snowfalls of winter. This afternoon we discover the traditional art of Japanese rice paper-making in Gokayama. Rice paper, or Washi, is commonly used in the traditional paper-folding art of Origami, practiced in Japan since the early 1600s. (B/L)
Takayama - Hiroshima Early this morning we'll visit a local market before continuing our rail journey to Hiroshima, via Nagoya. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure in this naturally beautiful city. Hiroshima is a city with great historical significance, forever remembered as the site of impact from the world's first atomic-bomb, where so much devastation occurred. (B)
Hiroshima We cruise out to tranquil Miyajima Island and see the giant Itsukushima Torii Gate. This afternoon we'll visit the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome and the very moving Peace Memorial Museum. (B) Special Experience: We'll experience the art of shakushi (Miyajima rice scoop) making.
Hiroshima - Kyoto Travelling by bullet train, we make our way to historic Kyoto, Japan's cultural capital. Here we visit the stunning Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). The temple's top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf and the pavilion is set amongst beautiful gardens. (B)
Kyoto We explore the incredible orange torii gates that make up Kyoto's famous Fushimi Inari shrine. The magical path consists of more than 5,000 gates that wind through the hills at the base of Inari mountain. (B)
Kyoto Today we discover the art behind Japan's unique crafts and culinary delights! (B) Special Experience: Enjoy a variety of local activities including sake brewing & tasting, and a chance to dress in a kimono. Then witness a traditional dance performance by Maiko (Geiko^ apprentices. Geiko is the term for Geisha in Kyoto).
Kyoto - Mt Hiei - Osaka We experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony before visiting Enryaku-ji Temple on the sacred mountain of Mt Hiei. Here we'll enjoy a traditional Buddhist lunch. This afternoon we make our way to Osaka, stopping at the Umeda Sky Building for scenic views. (B/L)
Osaka This morning we visit Himeji Castle. Japan's largest and most-visited castle, it is regarded as the finest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture. We'll then venture into Osaka's Dōtonbori District in the early evening to take in its famous lights. Tonight we'll enjoy a Japanese-style group farewell dinner. (B/D)
Depart Osaka Today we begin our journey home. (B)