- Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Explore this oceanside Buddhist temple with more than 600 years of history.
- Haeundae Beach
Relax on one of South Korea’s most famous and most beautiful beaches.
- Nishiki Market
Known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’, this lively shopping street is ideal for exploring Japan’s culinary delights.
South Korea’s capital is both trendy and deeply traditional.
- The Korean Demilitarized Zone
Experience a once-in-a-lifetime visit to the weapons-free buffer zone between North and South Korea.
- Travel by bullet train
Take in the scenic views as you travel by high-speed train in both South Korea and Japan.
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Essence of South Korea and Japan
Asiafrom £4,399 per person
2 passengers 13 nights Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £71 if not required
- VIP door to door
- All breakfasts and more
From Seoul to Tokyo
Look across the Demilitarised Zone into North Korea - one of the most closed countries on Earth, ride the bullet train, and ascend Mount Fuji on this first-class tour of South Korea and Japan. You’ll take in the highlights of two capital cities, contrasting traditional culture with dazzling skyscrapers in both Seoul and Tokyo, visit palace and temples, a world-famous beach, and learn about the sombre history of North and South Korea, as you travel by high-speed rail through both countries.
With departures in both spring and autumn, take the opportunity to see the beautiful cherry blossoms or spectacular autumns colours that adorn the landscapes. This relaxed tour also has plenty for foodies with sushi making, authentic Korean fried chicken, a traditional Yakitori dinner, tea tasting and visits to both a Ninja and Sumo restaurant.
12 nights in hotels, and 1 in flight
24 meals: 12 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 7 dinners
- Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK
- Return flights and transfers
- Saga tour manager
- Porterage at all hotels
Excursions and visits
- Seoul city tour
- Visit to Korean Demilitarized Zone and the Joint Security Area
- Gyeongju sightseeing tour
- Guided tour of Busan
- Kyoto city tour
- Visit to Mount Fuji 5th Station
- Lake Ashi cruise
- Komagatake Ropeway aerial lift
- Tokyo sightseeing tour
Day 1 UK-Seoul, South Korea
After taking your included door-to-door travel service to the airport, fly overnight to Seoul.
Day 2 Seoul, South Korea
Arrive in the capital of South Korea where you stay for the next three nights at the locally rated 5-star Novotel Ambassador Yongsam. This luxury hotel is centrally located, close to Yongsan Electronics Market, Shilla I’Park Mall, and the War Memorial of Korea.
After you’ve settled in to your hotel, enjoy an authentic welcome dinner of Korean fried chicken served with a local beer. D
Day 3 Seoul, South Korea
After breakfast at your hotel, set out on a full day included tour of Seoul. Start at the Gyeongbok Palace, regarded as Seoul’s grandest and most beautiful palace. Built during the Joseon dynasty in 1395, Gyeonbokung served as the main palace for 200 years, until its destruction during the Imjin War. The palace has been gradually restored over the last 30 years and today houses the National Folk Museum, which you will also have the opportunity to visit.
Next visit one of Seoul’s traditional tea houses in the Insadong district for a tasting session. Complete your tour with a stop at the N Seoul Tower, a 236-metre high radio and observation tower. As the second highest point in Seoul, the tower offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding city.
This evening perhaps join an optional excursion to Gwangjang Market. B, L
Day 4 Seoul, South Korea
Today learn about the sombre history of North and South Korea, and get a glimpse into one of the world’s most closed countries on a full day excursion to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the unoccupied land that separates the two Korean countries.
This once-in-a-lifetime tour takes you first to Imjingak Village, the most northerly point where South Korean’s can travel freely, and home to the Freedom Bridge where over 10,000 prisoners of war were traded at the end of the Korean War. Next see the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, one of four known tunnels that runs underneath the border between North and South Korea. You’ll have the opportunity to walk through the tunnel built in secret by North Korea to invade the South.
Continue to the nearby Dora Observatory where, through binoculars, you’ll be able to look across the DMZ into North Korea, and visit Dorasan Station, a railway station which used to connect North and South Korea and remains now as a symbolic gesture for reunification. Drive past Unification Village to Camp Bonifas, a United Nations military post lying 400-metres south of the border and home to the Joint Security Area (JSA), the only place in the DMZ where North and South Korean guards stand face-to-face. At this spot you’ll have the opportunity to stand over the border in North Korea. As part of the JSA tour, you’ll also visit Freedom House, the Bridge of No Return and the Axe Murder Incident Area.
Return to Seoul this evening for dinner at your own expense. You’ll also have the opportunity to see the longest-running show in Korean history on this evening’s optional excursion to see a performance of Nanta. B, L
Please note: You must bring your passport and dress conservatively for this full day excursion.
Day 5 Seoul-Gyeongju, South Korea
This morning embark on a two-hour journey on the KTX, a high-speed train, to Gyeongju, known as the ‘Museum Without Walls’. Once the ancient capital of South Korea, Gyeongju offers a glimpse into Korea’s splendid past. Join an included sightseeing tour of the city this afternoon, taking in Tumuli Park – an open air museum of grass-covered burial mounds, Cheomseongdae Observatory – the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia, Anapji Pond in the Gyeongju National Park, and the Gyeongju National Museum, home to numerous historical artefacts of the Silla Dynasty.
Tonight you’ll stay overnight at the locally rated 4-star The Suites Hotel Gyeongju overlooking Lake Bomun. B, D
Day 6 Gyeongju-Busan, South Korea
Enjoy the morning at leisure, or alternatively join an optional excursion to Seokguram Grotto in the Gyeongju National Park. This afternoon take the KTX train to Busan, South Korea’s second most populous city, and a bustling port, home to sandy beaches, striking mountains and mouth-watering seafood.
Spend the next two nights at the locally rated 4-star Ramada Encore Haeundae located just a few minutes walk from Haeundae beach. B, D
Day 7 Busan, South Korea
Spend the morning at leisure or perhaps join an optional excursion to Jagalchi Fish Market.
This afternoon join an included sightseeing tour of Busan. Highlights include Haedong Yonggungsa Temple – one of the only oceanside Buddhist temples in South Korea, the 120-metre high Busan Tower offering panoramic views of the surrounding city, and Haeundae Beach – a 1.5-kilometre, sandy beach backed by modern skyscrapers, considered to be South Korea’s most beautiful beach. B, L
Day 8 Busan-Osaka-Kyoto, Japan
After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to Busan airport and take the short 90-minute flight to Osaka in Japan.
Then transfer by coach to Kyoto, one hour away, for a two-night stay at the locally rated 4-star Kyoto Tokyu Hotel. Your included dinner is at an Izakaya – a traditional Japanese pub. B, D
Day 9 Kyoto, Japan
Founded in 794, Kyoto is widely considered Japan's cultural heart and is a virtual living museum. On a full-day sightseeing tour see the Kiyomizu, Ryonaji and Kinkakuji Temples, treat yourself to lunch in Nishiki market and enjoy a stroll around the Gion district, once the haunt of geisha. You’re free to dine at your own expense this evening. B
Day 10 Kyoto-Fuji-Kawaguchiko, Japan
After breakfast transfer to the station and take a three-hour bullet train to Mishima for a full day exploring Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, and the surrounding area. First visit the small tourist village of Oshino Hakkai in the Fuji Five Lake region. Have your camera ready as the village is famed for its views of Mount Fuji, which are particularly breathtaking both during the cherry blossom season in spring, and when the autumn leaves in full colour.
Continue to the Fuji 5th Station, which lies at approximately the halfway point of the Yoshida Trail, leading from the Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine at the mountain's base to the summit. If the weather is unsuitable, visit the Fuji Visitor Centre instead.
Tonight you’ll stay overnight in Kawaguchiko at the locally rated 4-star Regina Kawaguchiki with an included Kaiseki dinner, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. B, D
Day 11 Kawaguchiko-Tokyo, Japan
This morning take a cruise across Lake Ashi to drink in the world-famous view of snow-capped Mount Fuji, and to see the hot springs that bubble up in this crater lake. Head for the shores to see the impressive Hakone Shrine and ride the Komagatake Ropeway cable car to the summit of Mount Hakone.
After an included lunch head back to the station to catch another bullet train, this time to Tokyo, approximately two hours away. Spend the next three nights at the locally rated 4-star Grand Prince New Takanawa, centrally located in Minato, a few minutes walk from Tokyo Shinagawa Station. B, L
Please note: departures in 2021 will stay at the locally rated 4-star Grand Nikko Daiba Hotel instead.
Day 12 Tokyo, Japan
Today you’ll have the entire day free to spend as you choose. After your included breakfast at the hotel, perhaps utilise Tokyo’s first-class public transport system to visit the bright lights of Akihabara Electric Town, the upmarket shopping district of Ginza, or the Asakusa district where you’ll find Senso-ji, the city’s oldest temple. This evening’s included dinner is at a Yakitori restaurant, a Japanese-style pub. B, D
Day 13 Tokyo, Japan
After breakfast join a half day included sightseeing tour of Tokyo, comparing and contrasting the city’s old and new sights. Visit Imperial Palace Plaza to see the Japanese Royal Family’s official residence, then continue to the Hamarikyu Gardens – a natural oasis in the heart of the city, and after a sushi demonstration, make your own sushi lunch. Spend the afternoon at leisure to continue exploring Tokyo independently. This evening experience a farewell dinner with a difference at Hananomai Sumo Restaurant, where performers, musicians and retired sumo wrestlers entertain as you dine. B, L, D
Day 14 Tokyo, Japan-UK
Check out of your hotel after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your return flight and included door-to-door travel service home. B
Gwangjang MarketOne of the oldest traditional markets in Seoul, Gwangjang Market is a must-visit for those looking to sample authentic Korean street food. As you explore the 42,000-square-metres of stalls and shops, try a range of local dishes, including soondae – traditional blood sausage, and bindaettoek – a mung bean pancake for which the market is famed.
Optional on 13 nights itinerary
Jagalchi fish marketJagalchi Market is the largest seafood market in the country, located in the Nampo-dong neighbourhood of Busan. The rows and rows of bustling market stalls are run by ajumas (married women) selling fresh red snapper, mackerel, squid, shellfish and more, as well as an array of dried and pickled seafood – perfect for taking home with you. Whilst here you can even purchase fresh seafood and take it upstairs to one of the many restaurants to be prepared and served to you.
Optional on 13 nights itinerary
Nanta performanceSit back and enjoy a performance of Nanta, a comedy show about three cooks attempting to prepare a wedding banquet. The longest-running show in South Korea involves acrobatics, magic tricks, pantomime and audience participation, and is almost entirely non-verbal, with the few spoken words in English.
Optional on 13 nights itinerary
Seokguram GrottoThe UNESCO-listed Seokguram Grotto forms part of the Bulguksa temple complex on the slopes of Mount Toham. Constructed during the Unified Silla Period in the 8th-century, and restored during the 20th-century, the huge artificial cave is home to a monumental 3.5-metre Buddha statue, facing towards the sea. This is believed to offer protection from invasions across the East Sea, which would have been frequent at the time of construction, and significantly, the rising sun strikes the statue in the centre of the forehead. It is considered to be one of the world’s great masterpieces of Buddhist art and architecture and is listed on the list of National Treasures of South Korea.
Optional on 13 nights itinerary
Asiafrom £4,399 per person
13 nights Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £71 if not required