What you get
Japan and the best of South Korea. The magical season of "momiji" red leaves
How similar are these two neighboring ultra modern countries? We will see all the most interesting things with our own eyes and find our answer.
- Conquer the highest point of South Korea - Hallasan volcano.
- Live in traditional hotels - ryokan in Japan and hanok in South Korea and try high kaiseki cuisine. And how about a capsule hotel?
- Explore the Golden Temple and walk under the ritual red torii gate at the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
- Ride a boat on the lake, enjoying views of Mount Fuji.
- Immerse yourself in the turbulent life of super cities - Tokyo and Seoul. Skyscrapers, colorful districts and the country's largest spa complex.
The price of the trip includes:
- Two domestic flights in Korea;
- Accommodation in double/twin rooms of hotels and guesthouses;
- Almost all breakfasts;
- All transportation, including buses, trains, subway;
- Professional guiding services.
What is NOT included:
- Flight to Busan and from Tokyo back home;
- Flight from Seoul to Osaka (apr. $150);
- Insurance (mandatory);
- Entrance tickets to temples, parks and other places of interest (from $200);
- Food ($20-50 per person per day).
We arrive in Busan, the second largest city in South Korea. We leave luggage in the hotel and go for a walk around the famous local Dongbaek park. We enjoy the views of the city and the sea, and watch ancient trees and unusual sculptures.
We walk down to the Haeundae beach. It probably will be too cold to swim in the sea but we will enjoy the views and fresh air. If the weather allows we will take a ride on a pleasure boat along the coast. After lunch we check into a hotel.
In the morning we go to the cultural village of Gamcheon. Back in the 1950s, this district was founded by refugees from North Korea. Since then, Gamcheon was considered to be a poor area, but in 2009 it was decided to turn it into an object of art. Small houses were painted by famous Korean artists, the area was landscaped and now Gamcheon is a very cozy place. Here, it's hard to believe that you are still in a big city!
We admire the views of the city from the cabins of the cable car, which takes us to the top of Geumjeongsan mount. It used to boast the country's largest fortress, but now only a part of the walls and the gate remain. On the southern slope of the mountain lies probably the most unusual temple of Korea - the monastery of Seokbulsa. It is carved right in the rock. There are few tourists here, and the atmosphere is completely calm, Buddhistly peaceful. A wonderful place!
Day 3 - 5
Morning flight to Jeju island. After checking into a hotel we will explore the local parks and visit the only beach waterfall in Asia!
We will get acquainted with the culture of Haenyeo - traditional female divers. Since the 17th century, women of Jeju Island were famous for being able to dive to a depth of 20 meters and get delicacies and pearls from the bottom of the sea. Due to the success of this industry, matriarchy reigned on the island - women worked, and men cared for their children and home. Unfortunately, the profession is now considered dying.
We will visit Haenyeo museum and watch divers work from the beach. Then we will climb the Seongsan Ilchulbong volcano. We will also sail to the island of Udo - a paradise for wildlife lovers away from civilizations. This little piece of land is home to only a few fishing villages. But it boasts wonderful beaches, black volcanic cliffs, amazing views and crispy clean air.
We hike to the highest point of South Korea - Hallasan volcano 1950 meters above sea level. This hike will take us 8-9 hours.
Morning flight to Seoul (1 hour) where we will visit Itaewon district known for restaurants and shopping. It is here that the American military base has been located for decades, so Itaewon is often called the district where American and Korean cultures merge.
We will also visit the War Memorial of Korea to learn more about the Korean war the divided this peninsula into two Koreas - North and South. In the evening we will relax in Korea's largest spa complex Dragon Hill Spa. Called "a cultural staple of the Korean bathing lifestyle" by the New York Times, it boasts traditional saunas, massages, spa and salt therapy rooms. Enjoy!
Free day. Those interested can travel to Korean demilitarized zone - the border between South and North Korea.
Make sure to leave time for some shopping. Pay attention to traditional Korean tea with herbs, delicious rice cakes tteok and famous face creams.
We fly to Osaka in Japan and check into a capsule hotel - a famous Japanese invention. After some rest we take off to explore the five-story samurai castle. Built in the 16th century, it was so unapproachable because of the moats and high walls, that in 1614 it repelled the attack of the 200,000-strong army! But it was not so persistent against air strikes during World War II ... The castle was restored only in the 1990s.
From here, we go to the famous entertainment and restaurants street Dotonbori. Here we will try the most unusual dishes of Japanese cuisine and watch the Japanese enjoy themselves. In the evening we will view the city from the observation deck of the Umeda Sky skyscraper.
We go to Kyoto (about 1 hour on the way) and check into a hotel. This city is known not only as the cultural capital of Japan, but also as a city of temples. There are more than 2 thousand of them here! We go to the most famous temple of the country - the Golden Temple of Kinkakuji. In the 14th century, it was built by the powerful family of Fujiwara. When the head of the family was arrested because of suspicion of attempting to kill the emperor, the place fell into disrepair and was soon given to Buddhist monks. And then followed the tragedy, described by Yukio Mishima in the famous book "Golden Temple"! ..
Next, we head to the traditional Japanese Ryoan-ji stone garden. There are 15 stones here, but they are placed in such a way that you can see no more than 14 at the same time, no matter from what angle you look. The Japanese believe that only a person who has attained enlightenment can see all the stones at the same time. Let`s try!
We go to the main Shinto temple of the country - Fushimi Inari in the evening. You must have seen it on the famous photos of red torii - the sacred Japanese gates of red color. They are so close to each other that they form a real tunnel leading up to the temple. There are more then a thousand torii here! Interestingly, they are all donated by various Japanese businessmen. The tradition of donating sacred gates began in the 17th century. Thus the devout Japanese asked a higher power for help, or thanked heaven for their fulfilled wish.
In the morning we go to the suburb of Kyoto Arashiyama. Here we will discover the Iwatayama wild monkey park, and walk to the famous bamboo grove. The impression is that we were on another planet! Smooth, as if artificial bright green trunks go high into the sky, and the sun, making its way through the leaves, floods the entire grove with unreal emerald light ... Incredible!
We walk further to discover a small Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple. There are almost no visitors here, but the place is very cozy, with an unusual history. The prior of the temple, a sculptor by profession, used to give simple stone carving lessons руку. With his help, the visitors could carve ou simple figures of racans, the disciple of the Buddha. The figures remained near the temple as an offering. Thousands of them have gathered here! And each has its own unique facial expression and character.
In the evening we will watch a geisha performance. These graceful beauties learn their dances for years!
Free day in Kyoto. You can explore the city on your own, and visit the unusual temple Kiyomizu-dera. The Japanese believe that the spirit of love dwells here and come here with prayers for love. Even if the prayers are not answered, you will definitely enjoy the wonderful views of Kyoto from this temple, and also admire the noisy nearby waterfall.
You can also go to Himeji (40 min by train). It boasts the famous White Heron Castle, which was featured in many famous movies. You will surely remember it from "The Last Samurai" and the Bondiana fifth film - "You only live twice."
In the morning we go to Nara - a city that has become famous thanks to wild reindeer who freely walk here in parks and even streets! (2 hours on the way). You can feed these friendly animals from your hands!
We will also explore the largest wooden structure in the world - the Todai-ji Buddhist temple, and on the way back stop at the town of Uji - the homeland of matcha tea. This traditional Japanese tea has been grown and sold here since the 12th century. We will walk along cozy streets, try some tea.
We travel to Arima-onsen, one of the most famous hot-spring villages in Japan. We will stay in a traditional hotel - ryokan, and will be able to fully experience how the Japanese lived in ancient times. Ready to learn new Japanese words? The floors in our hotel are lined with tatami, and futons are spread on them for sitting and sleeping. Instead of the doors, shoji is used here - bamboo lattices with fine rice paper.
Hotel staff wears traditional kimonos, and the price of the room includes two meals. Here, for the first time, we will try Japanese high cuisine kaiseki - a multistage dinner consisting of many small gourmet dishes and tea. If interested, you can take a cable car to the top of Rokko mount to enjoy wonderful views of the city of Kobe.
We take a train to Okayama (1 hour on the way), and check into a hotel. Here we will visit one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan - Korakuen. It was created in the 17th century, when Chinese trends were fashionable in Japanese park art. We will enjoy wonderful views and all the colors and shades of autumn, as well as see the famous Japanese spots in miniature. We will see the miniature Fuji mountain, the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, and many other places that the true Asia lovers will recognize.
We leave for the neighboring town of Kurashiki. Here we will be riding boats along narrow canals, watching the houses and streets of the 17-19 century. We return to Okayama for the night.
In the morning we go to Hiroshima (40 minutes by train) and take a ferry to Miyajima Island, which is familiar to many from the photos from the torii (gates) in the water. We take a cable car to the top of the mountain and inspect the sanctuary of Itsukushima. Do not rush to take pictures and enjoy these sea views. They are considered one of the most beautiful in Japan. Really mesmerizing!
We return to Hiroshima and visit the Memorial Peace Park, where the famous Genbaku Dome is located. This is the only building in the center that survived the explosion of the atomic bomb here on August 6, 1945. We return to Okayama for the night.
Day 16 - 17
In the morning, we take the train and the ferry to the cozy island of Naosima (1.5 hours on the way). This island is a paradise for art lovers. We will visit the Chichu Art Museum. Here not only masterpieces of world masters are exhibited, but also objects of modern art. And the building itself is a masterpiece of its own, since it was created by the brilliant Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
We will explore the island, see many unusual sculptures and houses, and photograph the famous spotted pumpkin, created by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. We spend the night in Okayama, and in the morning take a train to Tokyo (3.5 hours on the way).
We check into a hotel and go for a walk around the Shibuya area. Here we will walk the busiest crossroads in the world, which you could see, for example, in the film “Lost in Translation”. Then we go to the Harajuku area, the world capital of fashion and cosplay! In the evening we will watch the city from the top of the Tokyo City Hall. What a day!
We leave for Kamakura, one of the oldest cities in Japan (1.5 hours on the way). It boasts one of the symbols of the country - a bronze statue of the Buddha of the 13th century. Prior to that, the same statue with a height of more than 13 meters, but made of wood, was located at the same place. It was restored several times after storms and damages until the people raised funds for the installation of a bronze statue. Look into this face - an image of tranquility and wisdom. There are a lot of visitors, but the place remains very calm and cozy.
We go to the famous Shinto Shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, built in the 11th century. If we have time, on the way back to Tokyo, we will glance into modern Yokohama to see the famous Port of the Future district. It boasts the second tallest building in Japan, a huge Ferris wheel and other famous buildings. Night at the hotel in Tokyo.
We head to the wonderful resort town of Fujikawaguchiko (2 hours on the way). Here we will ride a tourist bus (or bicycles) in the area of the five lakes and enjoy the views of the famous Fuji mountain. If interested, you can take a boat trip on the lake, or take a cable car to the observation area.
Next, we head to the near-by museum of traditional houses Iyashi-no-sato. Until 1966 this was a real old village. When it was partly destroyed by a landslide it was decided to restore it in the same place. Here we will walk between traditional huts with straw roof, have lunch and tea, as well as buy souvenirs. Night in the hotel in Tokyo.
Day 20 - 21
Free day in Tokyo. You can go shopping, explore the city. Start your day with a breakfast at the famous Tsukiji Seafood Market. Here you can not only see the exotic inhabitants of the local seas, but also enjoy the freshest sushi.
Do not forget about souvenirs! Many people buy cute maneki-neko cat figurines, which the Japanese believe bring good luck. A similar souvenir is a traditional wooden doll-guardian, daruma. Do not go home without the famous Japanese mochi sweets! There are so many kinds of them that it can be difficult to choose. We strongly recommend to try mochi with green tea. And of course sake - traditional alcohol from fermented rice.
The next day we go to the airport and fly home. Our group tour to Japan is over. Thank you for traveling with us!
Is this trip for you?
South Korea and Japan are visa free for citizens of most countries.
Citizens of some countries do need visa which should be applied for in the country of residence before the trip.
We provide free visa consulting for our clients.
SIM card with 3G internet in Japan
Price: + $30
SIM card with LTE internet, 1Mb per day
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