What you get
South Korea and the best of Japan during the cherry blossom season
Megapolises and charming province of the most modern countries of the planet. And all this is in the most exciting time of the year, an unforgettable season of cherry blossom.
- Explore bustling districts of the greatest megacities of the world - Tokyo and Seoul
- Soak up ancient traditions of hanami in the most beautiful places of cherry blossom in Japan
- Walk under the torii ritual gates in the famous temples of Japan - Tsurugaoka Hachimangu and Itsukushima
- Walk to the top of the shaman Sonsan Ilchulbong volcano and conquer the highest point of South Korea
- Watch the vivid Korean mask show and observe the work of famous female Haenyeo divers on Jeju Island
- Stay in a traditional Korean house - hanok, and feel like a Korean of the times long gone
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 Okayama (or Tokyo) and from Seoul back home;
- Flight from Tokyo to Seoul (apr. $150);
- Insurance (mandatory);
- Entrance tickets to temples, parks and other places of interest (from $200);
- Food ($20-50 per person per day).
Day 1 - 2
We arrive in Okayama (or in Tokyo, and take a train to Okayama) and check into a hotel. We begin our group trip to Japan and South Korea! The next morning we begin to explore the city and go to the famous Korakuen Garden on the banks of the Asahi River - one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. Created in 1687 by order of the local ruler, it was used for entertaining important guests. In 1884, the park was transferred to the city government and was opened to the public. The concept of the park is a picturesque walk, during which a new view opens up at every turn. Everything is planned to the tiniest details!
We leave for the neighboring town of Kurashiki, which is famous for its canals and ancient houses of the Edo era. We wil enjoy a boat ride and admire elegant architecture and factories turned into art galleries. In the evening we return to Okayama.
In the morning we go to Hiroshima (40 minutes by train). This will be our first, but not the last trip on the famous Japanese high-speed bullet train! We will travel at 300 kilometers per hour. Landscapes outside the window will change very quickly, but we will be able to walk inside the train and even enjoy our full cups of tea withour spilling!
We take a ferry to the Miyajima Island. You must have seen photos from this picturesque island - sunset on the sea and red torii (ritual gates) in the water. And now we will see it with our own eyes! We take a cable car to the top of the mountain and inspect the Itsukushima shrine. These moments you will remember forever!
In the evening we return to Hiroshima by ferry and head to Peace Park. This is where the famous Genbaku Dome is located - perhaps the only building in the center of Hiroshima, which survived the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945. This building, like a ghost, reminds of the most tragic part of the history of Japan ... But look around - in just a few decades the Japanese have built a completely new city here! We return for the night to Okayama.
In the morning, we take the train and the ferry to Naoshima Island (1.5 hours on the way). We will visit the Chichu Art Museum, which is a landmark in its own right. After all, this unusual building was created by the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. In the museum we will see many world-famous paintings, for example, several works from the "Water Lilies" series by Claude Monet.
Naosima Island is full of surprises. Walking along its quiet alleys, every now and then you come across unusual sculptures and bright houses of bizarre shapes. But the most famous exhibit, perhaps, is a huge spotted pumpkin, which was created by the famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
In the evening we return to Okayama.
We continue our guided tour to Japan and South Korea and head to Tokyo - one of the coolest megacities in the world. Our bullet train will cover 800 km in just 4 and a half hours! After checking into a hotel, we go to the Shibuya area. It boasts the busiest crosswalk in the world, which was featured in many famous movies. For example, you definitely saw it in the “Lost in Translation”. Pedestrians cross the road from five sides here. Here, as nowhere else, you understand what they mean when they call Tokyo a giant ant hill.
We head to the Harajuku fashion and cosplay district. Young people who dress up like fictional heroes, love these streets and have become the symbol of Japan. Fashionistas from around the world visit loca clothing stores to buy themed costumes for every taste. In the evening we will take a look at the city from the observation deck of the Tokyo City Hall. What a day!
We leave for Kamakura (1.5 hours on the way). This city boasts the huge Buddha statue of 13th century. This serene figure over 13 meters in height did not immediately find its present peace. The first statue on this site was made of wood, and it suffered greatly during the storm in the 13th century. A few years later, a bronze Buddha was put at the same place, and a roof and walls were built around it. But the roof and the walls around the Buddha were twice blown away by the storm and tsunami! Since then, the bronze Buddha has been sitting here in the open.
Next, we head to the famous Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shinto shrine, the main temple of Kamakura, built in the 11th century. This spot is the best to observe the luxurious flowering cherry blossoms! If we are lucky, we can witness a traditional Japanese wedding and a festive photo session.
On the way back to Tokyo, we stop in Yokohama to see the “port of the future” Minato Mirai 21. This futuristic waterfront boasts the second highest building in Japan, the famous Ferris wheel and impressive skyscrapers.
Day 7 - 8
In the morning we go to the symbol of the country - Fuji volcano (2 hours on the way). We will admire the mountain from the boat of the beautiful resort town of Fujikawaguchiko. The Japanese have been enjoying these views of Mount Fuji, composing poems about it, and depicting it in paintings for thousands of years. But when you see these beauties with your own eyes, only one, the most famous, haiku comes to mind:
climb mount Fuji!
These lines belong to Kobayashi Issa, the great Japanese poet, who enjoyed the same views as we do, only 200 years earlier...On the bus, or bicycles (optional), we ride around the five lakes. And then visit the open-air museum Iyashi-no-sato. This is an old village with traditional houses. In the evening we return to Tokyo.
The next day is free. We strongly advise you to go to the Tsukiji fish market for breakfast. Here you can not only see the inhabitants of the local seas on the shelves, but also enjoy the freshest seafood and sushi. Go to the park, where the residents of Tokyo love to watch cherry blossoms. This ritual in Japan is called hanami, and the whole family, or a group of friends, must pariticipate. Under the flowering trees, the Japanese, like hundreds of years ago, play musical instruments, draw, compose verses and, of course, have supper. Choosing souvenirs, pay attention to the maneki-neko - the Japanese cat figurine that brings good luck, or daruma - the traditional wooden doll charm. And, of course, do not forget about sake and sweet mochi!
Day 9 - 10
We continue our guided tour to Japan and South Korea and fly to Seoul. After some rest in the hotel, we go out into the city for a walk and our first introduction to the Korean cuisine. There are, of course, foreign restaurants in the country, but most Koreans still eat only their national food. And we do not blame them! This country enjoys an abundance of seafood and vegetables, rice, noodles from any flour, including buckwheat, grilled meat ... Very tasty and varied!
Full and happy, we head to the famous Seoul City Hall. This eco-friendly building boasts the largest green wall in the world, also known as a vertical garden. And the roof of the city hall offers a wonderful view of the city. Next morning we head to the former residence of the Korean rulers, the Changdeokgung palace, built in the 15th century.
We walk along the Insadong arts quarter, and then go up to the observation deck of the N-Tower to enjoy the view of Seoul. More than 10 million people live in this anthill, or 20% of the entire population of South Korea! In the evening, we examine another pride of the country - the futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid managed to fit into this building part of an old fortress, and even an entire park!
Day 11 - 12
Early in the morning we take a bus to the port town of Sokcho (2.5 hours on the way). Here we will do a short walk to the favorite places of Koreans - the national park in the picturesque Seoraksan mountains. Walking here in the spring, when nature awakens and trees are blooming is a special pleasure. What a contrast after Seoul!
The park has two routes - to the waterfalls, or to the observation deck. We will choose the one for us. If you wish, you can take the cable car to one of the peaks of Seoraksan. In the evening we return to Seoul.
In the morning, we take a bus and a train to the town of Danyang (3 hours on the way). We have come to the magical Korean countryside, where many traditional buildings are preserved. Let`s explore the town, and enjoy unhurried local life. We will also walk on the river front, and watch tiny karst Dodamsambong peaks.
Day 13 - 14
In the morning we go to the Guinsa temple. Burned during the Korean War, it was rebuilt only in 1966. Now it can host up to 10 thousand monks! The location of the monastery is ideal for meditation and quiet walks - only forests and mountains are around. Here we will learn more about Korean Buddhism, and enjoy food, prepared by the local monks.
We head to the Gosu cave, also known as the "underground palace". We admire stalactites and stalagmites, walk steep ascents and descents. Prehistoric people lived here millions of years ago...
In the evening we take a train to the town of Andong (about an hour and a half on the way) and check into a hotel. In the morning we go to the Hahoe Folk village. Back in the 16th century, families of Confucian scholars lived here, and now their descendants live in the same traditional houses. We will see the traditional Korean masks performarce and visit the the Museum of Masks to learn more not only about the ritual masks of Korea, but also of other countries in Asia and Africa. If there is time, we will take a ferry to the other bank of the river and walk among the "dancing" pines.
Our small our group trip to Japan and South Korea takes us to Gyeongju (1 hour on the way). This is the former capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, which existed on the Korean peninsula until the 9th century. Of course, you have to live in a traditional Korean hanok hotel! Koreans have been building such houses since the 15th century, making wooden support structures, and walls made of “bricks” of soil and grass. Interestingly, that such traditional houses had floor heating! The pipes led from the fireplace in the kitchen under the floor throughout the house. We will check into the hanok to learn more about the old life and feel like Koreans of times long gone.
We walk at the tumuli where the Korean kings are buried and visit the museum inside one tumulus to see gold jewelry and other items that were buried along with the ruler. Of course, we will also see the famous image of a horse with wings, known as the "sky horse."
Next, we head to the Seokguram grotto, a cave monastery, famous since the 8th century. In the mysterious passages here and there, from the twilight appear ancient statues of Buddha and images carved in stones. Very mystical place! We get down to the famous Bulguksa temple. Built in the 8th century, it is the most famous temple in the whole country! One of the stupas of this temple is even depicted on a coin of 10 won.
Day 16 - 17
In the morning we take a bus to Busan, Korea’s second largest city (1 hour on the way). We check into the hotel and go for a walk in the Dongbaek park - a favorite spot of locals. Walk down to the main beach of the country - Haeundae. It will be still cold to swim, but we can enjoy the sea air and the views. If we are lucky with the weather, we will take a ride on a boat along the coast of the city, as well as see the Busan Cinema Center, where the famous film festival is held every year.
In the morning we go to the Gamcheon Culture Village. In the 1950s, refugees from North Korea settled in these places, the area had a bad reputation because of poverty and crime. But a few years ago, everything changed when Korean artists and activists took up the problem. Now it is a colorful place of bright houses and great views!
We take a cable car to the top of Geumjeongsan mount. The views are beautiful! We walk - and go to one of our most favorite places in South Korea - the rocky monastery of Seokbulsa. There are practically no tourists here. But there are huge statues of Buddha, images of saints carved in the rocks, and a completely calm, intimate atmosphere.
Day 18 - 20
In the morning we fly to Jeju island and check into a hotel in Seogwipo. Let`s walk on the seafront, soak up the beautiful views and visit the waterfall, which flows directly into the sea! What a contrast after noisy Busan ...
Except the wonderful nature, Jeju is famous for female Haenyeo divers. The Japanese have known about these women who dive to a depth of up to 30 meters to get shells and sea delicacies, since the 17th century. Because of them, matriarchy reigned on the island. While the women earned a living by diving, the men took care of home and children. If the weather is good, we will be able to observe the work of modern Haenyeo right on the seashore. And to learn more, we will visit the Haenyeo Museum.
We will also conquer two volcanoes. First we walk to the top of the Sonsan Ilchulbong volcano, which is also called the Peak of the Sunrise. In ancient times, shaman ceremonies were held in its unusual crater. The place is really unearthly! .. And the next day we will walk to the highest point of the country - the Hallasan volcano (1950 meters above sea level). This walk will take about 8-9 hours (with stops for rest and lunch). We will also visit the small island of Udo to explore the beaches, walk on the black volcanic rocks, and enjoy the complete absence of civilization.
Day 21 - 23
In the morning we go to the airport (1.5 hours) and fly to Seoul (1 hour). After checking into a hotel we head to Itaewon district. There has been an American military base here for decades, and many bars, cafes and shops catering to foreigners have been open around it. Perhaps, this is the most cosmopolitan area of the entire Korea. And one of the most vibrant! We will visit the War Memorial of South Korea and in the evening go to the largest spa complex in Korea, Dragon Hill Spa. It boasts pools with water of different temperatures, massage, herbal bath and other traditional amenities. But do not forget to observe fellow Korean visitors. The traditional sauna is taken very seriously. Entire families of Koreans come here for the entire day.
The next day is free. Those who wish can go to the amusement park or join the excursion to the demilitarized zone on the border with North Korea. When buying souvenirs, pay attention to traditional tea with herbs, tteok sweets made of rice flour, and famous Korean cosmetics.
The next day we go to the airport and fly back home. Our group trip to Japan and South Korea has come to an end. Thank you for exploring the world 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
Excursion to the border of South and North Korea
Price: + $50
Half-day excursion to the demilitarized zone on the border of South and North Korea.
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