Arrive In Seoul
Welcome to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. This buzzing and vibrant city is a beautiful juxtaposition of modern and traditional, where towering skyscrapers neighbour temples and palaces from centuries ago. Later this afternoon we visit the iconic N Seoul Tower and the famous Gwangiang Market, before tonight's group welcome dinner. (WD)
This afternoon we explore Changdeokgung Palace, the grandest of all of Seoul's palaces, built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. (B) Special Experience: Today we visit the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) separating North and South Korea. Take a peek into North Korea from the Dora Observatory and stop at Dorasan Station and Freedom Bridge. We'll also take a tour of the Third Infiltration Tunnel by monorail.
Seoul - Mt Seorak
This morning we travel to Nami Island, a tiny half-moon-shaped island, famous for its stunning scenery and open, grassy fields where ducks, chipmunks, squirrels and peacocks welcome visitors. We'll then continue to Sokcho in Mount Seorak. (B)
This afternoon we'll visit Sinheungsa Temple, believed to be the oldest Zen temple in the world. It is recognisable by its Great Unification Buddha statue made out of gilt-bronze that represents the crucial wish of the Korean people for the reunification of the divided country. (B) Special Experience: We spend a full day exploring stunning Mount Seorak, visiting Sogongwon Park and travelling to Gwongumseong Fortress by cable car, enjoying the beautiful vistas along the way.
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 Hanok Village, a community of more than 800 traditional hanok houses. These houses are generally divided into 2 sections - the Anchae for women and the Sarangchae for men. (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!
Muju - Gyeongju
We learn all about Korea's traditional martial art, taekwondo, and enjoy a demonstration, then travel to Mt Gayasan and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Haeinsa Temple. It's one of the Three Jewel Temples representing Buddha's teachings, and home to the Tripitaka Koreana - a complete set of Buddhist scriptures. (B)
We visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites of Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto this morning. Bulguksa Temple also contains seven of the National Treasures of South Korea, including two pagodas and statues of Buddha. In the afternoon we'll explore Chomsungdae Observatory, which dates back to the 7th century. (B)
Gyeongju - Busan
After lunch we'll continue to Busan and visit the town's local markets. Special Experience: We stop at Golgulsa Temple for a tea ceremony with monks before trying our hand at traditional archery and watching a seonmudo demonstration - a Korean Buddhist martial art. (B/L)
Busan - Seoul
This morning we board the bullet 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). Tonight we'll enjoy a nanta show - a non-verbal comedy, and very popular way to spend an evening in South Korea. (B)
Stepping back in time, we visit the Korean Folk Village to gain an insight into life during the Joseon Dynasty. We'll then explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Tonight we enjoy a group dinner to farewell Korea. (B/D)
Seoul - Tokyo
We fly to Tokyo, Japan's dazzling capital. (B)
This afternoon we visit the shopping districts of Akihabara and Ginza, before sharing a Japanese-style dinner. Special Experience: Begin the day at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world's largest wholesale fresh food markets. We learn the age-old culinary art of making sushi (which we'll get to enjoy once we've finished).. (B/L/D)
An exciting day exploring one of the world's largest and most cosmopolitan cities. Our sightseeing includes the Edo Tokyo Museum, Asakusa Kannon Temple, Nakamise, and the famous Sumo Museum, dedicated to Japan's national sport. Special Experience: Enjoy a sumo wrestling demonstration by retired athletes over a traditional Chanko-Nabe (hot pot) lunch. This evening we'll experience the neon lights and hustle and bustle of Shinjuku. (B/L)
Tokyo - Hakone
We begin our morning with a stroll through Hamarikyu Garden before travelling to Hakone. (B/D) Special Experience: For the next two nights, we stay in an authentic ryokan guesthouse! We'll have the chance to bathe in natural hot springs and enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner.
A highlight of any trip to Japan is a visit to iconic Mt Fuji. We stop at the fifth station (weather permitting) to take in the stunning views. Later we'll ride a gondola and enjoy vistas of the Hakone Mountains. (B/D)
Hakone - Takayama
We travel by rail to the historic town of Takayama, and explore the narrow, traditional streets on foot. (B)
Today we wander through the heritage-listed site of Shirakawago with its famous gassho-zukuri thatched roofs. This afternoon we discover the traditional art of rice paper-making. (B)
Takayama - Hiroshima
We rise early today and visit a local market before catching the train to Hiroshima. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. (B)
This morning we cruise to Miyajima Island and see the giant Itsukushima Torii Gate. After lunch we'll visit the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome and the very moving Peace Memorial Museum, commemorating the atomic bomb dropped here in 1945. (B/L)
Hiroshima - Kyoto
We make our way to historic Kyoto via bullet train. On arrival, we visit 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 travel to Nara and visit the beautiful Todai-ji (Great Eastern) Temple then stop at famous Deer Park, where more than 1,000 deer roam freely. This afternoon we'll see one of Japan's most celebrated temples, the heritage-listed Kiyomizu-dera. (B)
Today we discover the art behind creating 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).
Kyoto - Mt Hiei - Osaka
We experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony before visiting Enryakuji Temple, located on the sacred mountain of Mt Hiei. Here we'll enjoy a traditional Buddhist lunch. We'll then make our way to Osaka, stopping at the Umeda Sky Building for views over the city. (B/L)
We travel by bullet train to 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 Dotonbori District at dusk to take in its famous lights. Tonight we'll enjoy a Japanese-style group farewell dinner. (B/D)
Today we transfer to Kansai Airport to begin our journey home. (B)