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)
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)
This afternoon we'll visit Sinheungsa Temple, believed to be the oldest Zen temple in the world. (B) Special Experiences: 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 Experiences: 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 Experiences: 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 Experiences: 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.
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 Experiences: Enjoy a nanta show - a non-verbal comedy show, and a very popular way to spend an evening in South Korea.
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)
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 Experiences: 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.
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 Experiences: 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 Experiences: Visit a former farming village, Iyashi no Sato Nenba, recently reconstructed as a museum after being destroyed by a typhoon in 1966.
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)
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)
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 Experiences: 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)
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)
Today we discover the art behind Japan's unique crafts and culinary delights! (B) Special Experiences: 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)
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)
Today we begin our journey home. (B)