Day 1: Australia – – Seoul
Depart Australia today on your overnight flight to South Korea.
Please note: some flights might depart 1 day later.
Day 2: Seoul
Welcome to South Korea! Upon arrival at Seoul Airport, please make your own way to your accommodation.
Day 3: Seoul (B)
Today is a free day to enjoy the many sights of Seoul at your own pace.
Day 4: Seoul – Mt Seorak (B)
This morning we leave Seoul for the Seoraksan National Park. Enroute we visit Sokcho Fishing village. The residents of the village consist mainly of refugees originally hailing from Hamgyeong Province in North Korea who escaped south during the Korean War. The village is now famous for its seafood and cuisine. After, we continue to the Mt Seorak region. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Preservation District in 1982 due to the many rare species found in the national park, Mount Seoraksan National Park is Korea’s most famous national park. Tour Shinheungsa Temple and take the cable car to Gweongeumseong Fortress to experience the beautiful natural landscapes on offer.
Day 5: Mt Seorak – Andong – Gyeongju (B)
Today, visit the traditional village of Andong, with its well preserved traditional houses and unique mask dancing performance. The UNESCO Village is home to descendants of the Ryu clan of Pungsan and is well-known for its traditional houses. Birthplace of renowned scholars of the Joseon Period such as Gyeomam Ryu Un-ryong and Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong, the village became even more famous after Queen Elizabeth of England visited on April 21, 1999.
We then, travel to the Gatbawi Shrine. The Gatbawi statue is an imposing statue of the Buddha of Medicine that stands six metres tall, and it dates back to the 800’s. A wide flat rock sits on its head. This hat is called a “gat,” and it was traditionally worn by Korean men. After, continue we continue on to the southeast city of Gyeongju which was the capital of the 1,000-year-long Silla dynasty and is known for its extensive historical remains.
Day 6: Gyeongju (B)
Today we explore the many archaeological sites and temples of this ancient city. We begin, by visiting the Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory, constructed during the reign of Queen Seon-deok (632-647A.D). After, visit the Royal Tumuli Park, scattered with unique earthen mounds which are tombs of kings and nobles. Enjoy Gyeongju National Museum, home to many Silla Kingdom relics. Visit both the Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto Temple both UNESCO sites, both dating back to 700 A.D and considered a national treasure.
Day 7: Gyeongju – Busan (B)
Today, we leave Gyeongju behind us and make our way to the port city of Busan. On arrival, afternoon at leisure.
Day 8: Busan – – Fukuoka (B)
Today, we board the ‘Beetle’ high-speed ferry to Japan. The journey takes approximately 3 hours across the Sea of Japan. The ferry is an ultra-modern Hydrofoil making the trip fast and smooth. Welcome to Japan! On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel in Fukuoka. The rest of the day is then free at leisure in Fukuoka.
Day 9: Fukuoka – – Hiroshima (B)
Today, we leave the south of Japan and begin our trip north to the city of Hiroshima. Largely destroyed when the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the city became known worldwide for this unenviable distinction. On arrival the rest of the day is at leisure to explore at your own pace.
Day 10: Hiroshima – Himeji – Osaka (B)
We begin with the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima, where you can see the torii gate on the water at high tide. Then visit Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Museum, which commemorates the victims of the atomic bomb used in WWII. After we make our way back to Osaka. Enroute, visit Himeji Castle.
Day 11: Osaka – Nara – Osaka (B, D)
This morning we get to know this neon powerhouse starting with a visit to Osaka Castle. Built in 1583, the castle is an outstanding representation of Japan’s feudal period. After Osaka Castle we continue on to Dōtonbori, which exemplifies Osaka’s vibrant food culture. After we travel to Nara and visit Todaiji Temple, one of Japan’s most famous temples. The massive building houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas. Along the approach to Todaiji stands the Nandaimon Gate, a large wooden gate watched over by two fierce looking statues. Representing the Nio Guardian Kings, the statues are designated national treasures together with the gate itself. After the Todaiji Temple we wander back through Nara Park, home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods, Nara’s nearly 1200 deer have become a symbol of the city.
Day 12: Osaka – – Kyoto (B)
This morning, we board on the Japan famous Bullet Train Shinkansen to Kyoto. We begin with the UNESCO World Heritage Kiyomizu-dera Temple and drink to your fortune from the streams of the Otowa Waterfall. The water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. The Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan and has spectacular views over Kyoto. After we visit the Nishijin Textile Centre and enjoy a traditional kimono show. Kimono’s are still used for important festivals or formal moments in Japan until this day.
Day 13: Kyoto (B)
Today is a free day to explore Kyoto at your own pace. Kyoto attracts millions of visitors every year and it’s no wonder. With over 1,600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens, who wouldn’t want to visit? You might be luck enough to spot a Geisha in the old district.
Day 14: Kyoto – Kanazawa (B)
This morning we visit Nijo Castle, the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogunate and is designated a UNESCO world heritage site. It is then on to Kinkakuji, commonly known as the Golden Pavilion. A Zen temple and World Heritage site with two floors covered entirely in thin layers of pure gold and detailed architecture incorporating three distinct styles of Shinden, Samurai and Zen. We finish with a visit to the Togetsu Bridge, the landmark of Western Kyoto’s Arashiyama District for over four hundred years. We then continue to the city of Kanazawa
Day 15: Kanazawa (B)
We begin with a visit to the Higashi Chayagai district famous for its teahouses built in traditional Japanese design. We then continue to the Kenroku-en Garden – from its scale and beauty, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful feudal lords’ gardens in Japan and has been maintained over generations. After the gardens we make our way to the Nagamachi Buke Yashiki district. Nagamachi was a samurai district located at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle, where samurai and their families used to reside. The area preserves a historic atmosphere with its remaining samurai residences, earthen walls, private entrance gates, narrow lanes and water canals. We finish our tour with a visit to the Omicho Market and sample some local food. Afternoon free at leisure
Day 16: Kanazawa – Shirakawa Go – Takayama (B)
Today after breakfast we make our way to Takayama. Enroute, we visit Shirakawa. Shirakawa is a village located in Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is best known for being the site of Shirakawa-gō, a small, traditional village showcasing a building style known as gasshō-zukuri. After, we continue on to Takayama.
Day 17: Takayama (B)
Today we visit some of Takayama’s highlights. We begin our day with the Hida Folk Village, an open air museum exhibiting over 30 traditional houses from the region. After, we continue to the Matsuri-no-mori museum which showcases the key aspects of the Takayama Festival, which takes place for two days each spring and autumn. After learning about the Takayama Festival we head to San-machi Suji. Sanmachi Suji is a collection of three streets that make up Hida Takayama’s famous historic district. The area located in the centre of Hida Takayama served as a bustling merchant town in the past. Today it is easily recognized with its distinctive old wooden architecture and charm, a traditional Japanese village area and Takayama Jinya. A small 3 lane area is filled with old wooden buildings consisting of sake breweries, small boutiques and some larger merchant houses which are now museums.
Day 18: Takayama – Matsumoto (B)
Today we leave Takayama for the city of Matsumoto. On arrival we make a visit to Matsumoto Castle, considered in the top 3 feudal castles of Japan and arguably the city’s most famous site. You will have time to stroll through the former merchant district of Nakamachi, lined with well preserved old buildings where you can find lovely local crafts, treasures and great restaurants
Day 19: Matsumoto – Mt Fuji (B,D)
Today we leave Matsumoto behind us and travel to Mt Fuji.
While you still have a few days to enjoy, tonight’s dinner allows you to farewell your fellow travellers before enjoying some free time in Tokyo over the next couple of days.
Day 20: Mt Fuji – Tokyo (B)
Today, visit Oshino Hakkai. Known as the Springs of Mt Fuji, the eight ponds are fed by melting snow filtering down from the slopes of nearby Mount Fuji through porous layers of lava resulting in very clear spring water that is revered by the locals. Later, visit Gotemba Peace Park to capture a breathtaking view of Mt Fuji before taking a cruise on Lake Ashi, Savour the numerous delights of nature in the Hakone region. Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone is one of the most popular destinations among the Japanese looking for a break from Tokyo.
Day 21: Tokyo (B)
Today is a free day at leisure to enjoy the Japanese way of life in one of the World’s greatest cities.
Day 22: Tokyo – – Australia (B)
Spend the day at your own leisure before being transferring to the airport for your homeward flight.
Day 23: Australia
Arrive home today.