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Best of South Korea & Japan

15 Days
Prices From:
US$ 8,395

FIRST-CLASS | PRIVATE-GUIDED: Discover the highlights of South Korea and Japan as you journey through culture, history, and nature. Start in bustling Seoul, then onto the historic temples of Gyeongju and the port city of Busan. Continue to Kyoto and some of Japan's most iconic gardens and temples. Understand the impact of Hiroshima before reveling in Japan's capital, Tokyo.

Experience two of East Asia’s most dynamic countries on this 14-day, privately guided trip.

The adventure begins in Seoul with a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace Explore a traditional Korean village and have lunch at a local restaurant before diving into the Museum of Korean Contemporary History to learn about Korea’s incredible journey. We know lunch was good, but save some room for Gwangjang Market, where you can graze through local street specialties.

Take the high-speed train to Andong, and explore exquisitely preserved Hahoe Village, starting with the awesome view from Buyongdae. Then visit the 16th-century Neo-Confusion Academy before transferring to Gyeongju. Here, you’ll visit Seokguram Grotto, the main stone temple in Korea. Then go on to the Silla Kingdom’s Bulgaksa Temple, one of Korea’s most iconic sites. The National Museum of Gyeongju will give you the chance to answer any questions the morning’s adventures raised (and ask new ones!) before paying your respects to the Silla rulers at the Daereungwon tombs.

Go on to Busan and visit the heart of Jogye Korean Buddhism at Tongdosa Temple with its rare relics. Then visit a rare temple on Korea’s shoreline at Haedong Yonggungsa. Busan is also a key city for the United Nations, containing the UN Memorial Cemetery, honouring soldiers from 16 countries. This richly international port is also home to Gukje Market, a former black-market hub that’s today one of the hotspots of local life. Before the day is out, take in the fantastic view from Songdo Yonggung Suspension Bridge.

Time to switch things up! Fly to the boisterous and friendly port city of Osaka, Japan, and transfer to the stately former capital, Kyoto. If you’re looking for old Japan at its most exquisitely preserved, Kyoto is where you’ll find it, with over 2000 religious sites and 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A guided full-day tour takes you to some of the best, including the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) and sweeping views from Kiyamizu-dera. With a day at leisure, you also won’t want to miss Fushimi Inari Shrine, known for its long path of red torii gates, or Chion-In Temple, the home of Japanese Buddhism.

Take the train to Hiroshima and visit the Peace Memorial Park. You’ll see the Atomic Bomb Dome before visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. After some local specialties for lunch, visit Miyajima Island and see the haunting Itsukushima Shrine, and serene Daishoin temple.

Your last stop is Tokyo, Japan’s sprawling megacity that continues to define the latest trends within the country and across the world. You can even stop en route to visit Himeji Castle if you wish. A half-day walking tour takes you around Asakusa, home to Senso-ji Temple, before visiting the Imperial Palace East Gardens. Your guide can leave you in either Ginza for superb shopping or the Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, where you can have lunch and pick up some gourmet souvenirs.

With another full day, visit Mount Fuji and stunning Hakone. Take a cruise on Lake Ashi, and ride the cable car up to Hakone Shrine Motosumiya. It’s an unforgettable last day in Japan, but of course, you may wish to stay longer in a city as diverse and energetic as Tokyo.


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15 Days
Prices From:
US$ 8,395

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrive Seoul

On arrival at Incheon International Airport, you will be met by an assistant in the arrival lobby after you exit the security zone. Then you will be escorted to your private vehicle to transfer to your hotel. The assistant will say goodbye once you board the vehicle. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a harmonious blend of ancient tradition and cutting-edge innovation. As a sprawling metropolis, it boasts historic palaces, bustling markets, futuristic architecture and a vibrant arts scene, making it a cultural, technological and historical hub in East Asia.

Duration3 Nights

Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae

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    Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae

    The hotel is located in Hongdae, which is very famous in Seoul for its urban art, indie music, clubs and shows. Hongdae's main attractions such as Hongdae Free Market, Must-Go Restaurant, Caf_ and Yeonnam-dong are minutes away from the hotel. The property is connected to …

    The hotel is located in Hongdae, which is very famous in Seoul for its urban art, indie music, clubs and shows. Hongdae's main attractions such as Hongdae Free Market, Must-Go Restaurant, Caf_ and Yeonnam-dong are minutes away from the hotel. The property is connected to Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport by AREX, which is just a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Within walking distance of Hongik University Station, local markets, parks, art galleries, and shopping and entertainment districts. It has 270 modern rooms with flexible furniture, premium bed, free WIFI, IoT control system and Chromecast. Facilities include a bar and restaurant, gym, coin laundry and 2 meeting rooms.

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Day 2


Get ready to live like a local today as you travel around the city by public transportation with your private guide. Travel to Gwanghwamun plaza where you'll find the statue of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-Sin. Continue to Gwanghwamun gate, the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, through which the kings come. You'll have a chance to witness the guard changing ceremony there. This tradition has been performed for centuries in Korea and is a symbol of the nation's rich culture and history.

Continue your morning tour with a visit to the National Museum of Contemporary Korean History for insights into how Korea propelled itself from being an agricultural society to the modern economic powerhouse that it is today.

After lunch, proceed to Insadong Arts and Crafts Street, a highly renowned district in Seoul that serves as a vibrant hub for Korean traditional culture and craftsmanship. End your day at Gwangjang traditional market, one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Korea. The most popular section of the market is the food street that caters to a wide range of menus like Gimbap, Mung Bean Pancake, Tteok-bokki and Eomuk. Walk around the market and sample some traditional Korean dishes.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 3

Full Day DMZ Excursion

After breakfast at your hotel, meet your guide for a shared tour to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This border barrier between South and North Korea is steeped in history and intrigue. Spend time exploring the various sites and exhibitions at the DMZ including Freedom Bridge, 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, Imjingak Park, the DMZ Museum and the Dora Observatory. Return to Seoul, where you will be dropped off at City Hall. Your guide can provide instructions or directions to return to your hotel.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 4

Seoul to Andong to Gyeongju

This morning, transfer to the train station to take the high speed KTX train to Andong. The journey takes approximately 2 hours (no guide on the train). Andong is considered the spiritual and cultural heart of South Korea, known for its preservation of traditional Korean culture, customs, and architecture.

Upon arrival in Andong, meet your guide at the train station and begin your sightseeing tour with a visit to Hahoe Folk Village and the scenic Buyongdae Cliff that offers stunning views of Hahoe Village, the Nakdonggang River and surrounding mountains. The walk to the cliff takes about 30 minutes and is relatively easy. Then it's time to explore the village and surroundings. Hahoe Village is known for its well-preserved Joseon Dynasty architecture, including its thatched-roof houses and tile-roofed mansions. Continue to the Hahoe World Mask Museum which is home to a collection of over 800 masks from over 50 countries. The masks are displayed in five exhibition halls, each of which focuses on a different region or culture.

After lunch, continue sightseeing in Andong with a visit to Byeongsan-seowon Confucian Academy which was established in the mid-16th century during the Joseon Dynasty. The academy is renowned for its stunning architectural design and the harmony between the buildings and the natural landscape.

Then transfer by private vehicle to Gyeongju, a 2-hour overland journey. Gyeongju was once the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom, and is a historical treasure trove, brimming with palaces, temples, and tombs.


Accommodation: Best Western Plus Gyeongju

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Duration2 Nights
Day 5


After breakfast, visit Bulguksa Temple complex, one of the most famous and important Buddhist temples in Korea. The temple was first built during the Silla Dynasty and destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasions of Korea in the 16th century. It was rebuilt in the 17th century. Next stop is Seokguram Grotto located about 3 km away. The grotto is part of the Bulguksa temple complex and consists of a stone Buddha statue in a central chamber surrounded by a corridor.

This afternoon visit the Gyeongju National Museum, which houses a vast collection of artifacts, relics, and royal treasures. The museum features a comprehensive insight into the art, culture, and history of the Silla dynasty. Also visit the Daereungwon tomb complex (Tumuli Park) to take a stroll and pay respects to the Silla rulers. Take a closer look at the Cheonmachong Tomb which consists of a wooden coffin placed inside an underground chamber mounded with boulders and earth, characterized as a typical upper-class tomb of the Silla period.

This evening take a walk to Woljeong Bridge, and the historical "gateway" connecting the royal palaces of Silla to the south, on the Namcheon stream. End the walk at the Wolji pond, an artificial pond located in Gyeongju National Park that was part of the palace complex of ancient Silla.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 6

Gyeongju to Busan

The day begins with an approximately 1.5-hour drive from Gyeongju to Busan. On the way, you'll visit Tongdosa Temple, one of the five "Palace of the Jewel of Nirvana" temples in Korea, which enshrine the relics of the Buddha.

Upon arrival in Busan, transfer to the hotel to drop off your bags and then start your Busan journey with a visit to Haedong Yonggungsa Seaside Temple. It is located on the seaside and offers a stunning view of the ocean.

Continue to Dongbaekseom Island (island of Camellias) which is located at the right end of the popular Haeundae Beach. Take a scenic coastal trail on a raised wooden deck along the coastline around the island's forest.

Next, head towards Dalmaji Hill, a famous spot to catch the sunset and enjoy the panoramic views of Haeundae Beach. The walk takes about 30 minutes. You can see its artistic atmosphere and many galleries and boutiques along the way. Once you reach the top of Dalmaji Hill, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the ocean and the city.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights

Felix by STX Hotel and Suite

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    Felix by STX Hotel and Suite

    Felix by STX, the first hotel brand introduced by STX, aims to provide customers with a pleasant experience beyond a comfortable rest. Felix takes 'communicatio', 'diversity' and 'youth' as ​​its core values. Based on communication, differentiated service for maximizing customer satisfaction, diversity with urban sensibility …

    Felix by STX, the first hotel brand introduced by STX, aims to provide customers with a pleasant experience beyond a comfortable rest. Felix takes 'communicatio', 'diversity' and 'youth' as ​​its core values. Based on communication, differentiated service for maximizing customer satisfaction, diversity with urban sensibility and leisurely resort area, youthful lifestyle that transcends generations to seek. The fun begins at Felix, where the lively and dynamic Haeundae, leisurely relaxation and a vibrant youth culture coexist.


    • Bar(s)
    • Fitness Centre
    • Restaurant

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Day 7


Start today with the colorful Gamcheon Cultural Village, known for the houses built in a tightly-knit fashion on the hillside, giving it a unique appearance. Next, head to The United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, a significant and poignant site commemorating the Korean War. Visiting the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan is not only a way to pay respects to the fallen soldiers but also an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the history.

Our next stop is Gukje Market, initially established by refugees and traders who settled in Busan after the war, making it one of the oldest markets in the city. The market played a crucial role in helping the local economy recover during difficult times. Just a short walk from Gukje Market is Jagalchi Fish Market, which is South Korea's largest seafood market. It's an excellent opportunity to experience the local seafood culture.

Then, it's time to sit back and relax on a cable car for a 1.62km journey (15-20 mins) across the ocean at a height of 86m. With the cable car traveling in the middle of the sea, enjoy panoramic views of Songdo Beach, Yeongdodaegyo Bridge, Namhangdaegyo Bridge, Songdo Coastal Dullegil Road and rock cliffs. Hop out of the cable car and follow the signs to Songdo Yonggung Suspension Bridge which connects Amnam Park to the small uninhabited island of Dongseom Island. Take in the 360-degree views of the ocean, cliffs and surrounding islands.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 8

Busan to Kyoto

Enjoy time at leisure until you check out and are met and transferred to the airport for your regional flight to Osaka.

At Osaka's Kansai International Airport you will be met and assisted to your transfer to Kyoto.

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years before Tokyo became its capital in 1868 and is Japan’s most beautiful city with a rich cultural heritage possessing 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is known as the “City of 10,000 shrines” because there are 2000 religious sites (mainly Buddhist). Other major attractions on a Japanese vacation are Kyoto’s palaces and gardens plus its old and colourful neighbourhoods. 

The balance of the day is at leisure to relax or explore Kyoto at your own pace.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration3 Nights

Hotel Vischio Kyoto by Granvia

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    Hotel Vischio Kyoto by Granvia

    The new-brand hotel "VISCHIO" of JR West Hotels retains the quality of "HOTEL GRANVIA" while placing emphasis on accommodations with a sophisticated urban and modern flair. The term "VISCHIO" means "mistletoe" in Italian, a tree that is considered holy and is said to bring luck, …

    The new-brand hotel "VISCHIO" of JR West Hotels retains the quality of "HOTEL GRANVIA" while placing emphasis on accommodations with a sophisticated urban and modern flair. The term "VISCHIO" means "mistletoe" in Italian, a tree that is considered holy and is said to bring luck, peace, and happiness according to Norse mythology. The name was selected due to of our desire to a place of 'urban refuge' where our guests can recover from their tiring journey and gain a sense of well-being during their stay.


    • Fitness Rooms
    • Guest Lounge
    • Restaurant

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Day 9

Private Full Day Kyoto Gold Highlights Tour

Start your full day tour at one of Kyoto’s most celebrated sites, the world-famous Fushimi Inari Shrine. The shrine complex spans over the entire Mt. Inari (233m/765ft) and thousands of bright red torii gates line the mountain trail. You will visit the main shrine hall and the famed vermillion gate tunnel.

Next, travel to central Kyoto to visit Sanjusangendo Temple, the longest wooden structure in Japan. Inside, you will find 1001 statues of Kannon, the Buddhist saint of Mercy.

Then visit another celebrated site, Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This temple is older than Kyoto as the capital of Japan and is famous for its wooden platform stage, the Kiyomizu Butai. The massive stage was constructed out of wood and joints – no nails. At four story’s high, it was once a popular wish-making spot.

In the afternoon visit Kinkakuji Temple, a favorite to millions of visitors each year. You will quickly see why this jewel set into the northern hills is one of the most visited sites in Japan, it is covered in real gold leaf and vibrant at any time of year no matter the weather.

Continue to Kintano-tenmangu, a remarkable shrine to scholarship that was built to appease the spirit of an angry ghost. The shrine’s surrounding entertainment district was first built after a fire in 1444, when a large section of the temple had to be rebuilt, and the remaining timber was used to construct 7 tea houses that became the first ‘flower town’ or Geisha district in Kyoto.

Explore the Kamishichiken district, every bit as charming as its more touristy cousin the Gion district, with the added bonuses of fewer crowds and excellent photo opportunities.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration8 Hours
Day 10

Kyoto at Leisure

Day at leisure to explore historic Kyoto at your own pace. Please ask your destination specialist about option excursions available

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 11

Kyoto to Hiroshima to Miyajima Island

This morning transfer to Kyoto JR station to board the bullet train to Hiroshima an approximately 2 hour journey. An assistant will meet you at your hotel, escort you to the train station and then help you board the train. 

Upon arrival in Hiroshima, meet your private guide and begin your tour with a visit to Peace Memorial Park. The area where the park now lies was ground zero for the Atomic Bomb on August 6th, 1945. After the bombing, Memorial Park was created and dedicated to those who lost their lives in the attack. Stroll through the park and discover the many memorials, monuments and statues in the park before heading into the Museum itself.

From Hiroshima, a short train and ferry ride will take you to Miyajima Island. A small sacred island located in the Island Sea, it has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. Here you will find perhaps the most photographed site in Japan - The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan's '3 Most Beautiful Views', the shrine dates back to the 6th century with the present structure dating back to the 12th century. You will have time to explore the island and its many shrines and temples and sample local goodies like maple leaf-shaped cakes.

Overnight at a ryokan on Miyajima Island.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Dinner
Duration1 Night

Hotel Kikunoya

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    Hotel Kikunoya

    At Hotel Kikunoya, we welcome everyone to our home in Miyajima at any time. We receive you with open arms as if you were family returning back home. That is the heart of our spirit of hospitality.

Day 12

Miyajima Island to Tokyo

Following breakfast, travel to Hiroshima by ferry and train and then take the bullet train to Tokyo, Japan's sprawling capital city. The balance of the day is at lesiure. 

We suggest you stop en-route in Himeji to visit Himeji castle, one of Japan’s most famous castles. The castle is about a 5 minute taxi ride from Himeji station, making it a very convenient stopover. Please let us know in advance if you would like to make the stop, as we need to arrange your train tickets accordingly.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration3 Nights

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo

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    Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo

    The Keio Plaza Hotel is the ideal location to explore the delights of the city of Tokyo. Only minutes away from the most popular shopping and entertainment spots, the luxury hotel provides stunning views over central Tokyo. The Keio Plaza Hotel offers a wide variety …

    The Keio Plaza Hotel is the ideal location to explore the delights of the city of Tokyo. Only minutes away from the most popular shopping and entertainment spots, the luxury hotel provides stunning views over central Tokyo. The Keio Plaza Hotel offers a wide variety of home-away-from-home hospitality, with 1,435 guest rooms to choose from to accommodate your every need. Located in Shinjuku, in the very heart of the Tokyo metropolis, the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo extends top rated services and facilities, features that guests come to expect of a world class hotel.


    • Bar(s)
    • Bellman/Porters
    • Business Centre
    • Conference Facilities
    • Currency Exchange
    • Gym/Fitness Centre
    • Hair/Beauty Salon
    • Mail and Postal Facilities
    • Massage Treatments
    • Medical Services
    • Parking
    • Pool (s)
    • Restaurant(s)
    • Room Service
    • Sauna
    • Secretarial Service
    • Spa

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    Preferred Hotel
Day 13

Private Half Day Tokyo Edo Tour

Travel around Tokyo using the city's sophisticated and efficient subway and train lines together with your private guide to visit some of Tokyo's main sites. Start the tour with a visit to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple. After visiting the temple grounds, stroll along Nakamise shopping street to look for souvenirs. Then travel to the Imperial Palace East Gardens, a part of the inner palace area. The palace itself is not open to the public as it is the residence of the emperor, but you can walk through the garden grounds to see the moats, remains of Edo castle and gardens. Next, visit either Ginza or Tsukiji Outer Fish Market. Your guide will then say goodbye so you can continue exploring these areas at your own pace.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 14

Full Day Mount Fuji and Hakone Tour

Travel from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji by bus this morning and head up to the 5th Station. The 5th Station is situated at 2,300 meters (7,546 ft) above sea level. At this height, you will be amazed at spectacular, breathtaking views from above the clouds. After which you will enjoy lunch. Once your lunch is done a short visit on a Lake Ashi Cruise. This crater lake along the southwest wall of the caldera of Mt. Hakone was formed by a powerful volcanic eruption nearly 3,000 years ago, and provides postcard views of Mt. Fuji towering 30 km northwest. Admire the superb view of Mt. Fuji from aboard a ship. Take a ropeway ride to the peak of Mt. Komagatake. There will be time to include a walk around at the peak. Take a cableway ride up to the spiritual Hakone Shrine Mototsumiya (original shrine) that nestles at the mountaintop. Depart Hakone and proceed to Odawara Station by bus. From Odawara, you'll continue by bus back to Tokyo where you'll be dropped off at either Tokyo Station or in Shinjuku. You will arrive back in Tokyo between 8-10pm, all dependent on traffic conditions. You will need to make your own way back to your hotel on arrival.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 15

Depart Tokyo

Following breakfast, transfer to Tokyo's Haneda airport for your onward flight.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information


*private tours operate daily but the Mt. Fuji and Hakone tour operates on select dates


  • Meet and Greet and private arrival and departure airport transfers in Korea
  • 3 nights first-class accommodations in Seoul
  • 2 nights first-class accommodations in Gyeongju
  • 2 nights first-class accommodations in Busan
  • Private-guided tours in Seoul, Andong, Gyeongju and Busan as per itinerary
  • Local transportation for Seoul tour on Day 2 
  • Shared join-in group tour to the DMZ (max 40 passengers) 
  • Private overland vehicle travel from Andong to Gyeongju to Busan as per itinerary
  • KTX Express Train Ticket (2nd class) from Seoul to Andong
  • All applicable entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Shared arrival and departure airport transfers in Japan
  • 3 nights in first-class accommodations in Kyoto
  • 1 night in first-class ryokan on Miyajima Island
  • 3 nights in first-class accommodations in Tokyo
  • Private-guided Kyoto highlights tour
  • Private-guided Hiroshima highlights tour
  • Private-guided Tokyo Edo tour
  • Shared tour to Mt. Fuji and Hakone (max. 40 guests)
  • Point-to-point train tickets in Ordinary Class: Kyoto > Hirohsima // Hiroshima > Tokyo
  • Escort Assistance from your Kyoto Hotel to the Bullet Train Platform to Board the Train
  • Breakfast daily (excluding day 1), 5 Lunches, 1 dinner


  • Travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Meals not specifically noted in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees not explicitly listed as included
  • Drinks unless specified
  • All international and domestic airfares and airfare taxes unless specified
  • Ferry and JR train costs between Hiroshima and Miyajima Island


Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please enquire.

18 Nov 2024
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