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16-Day South Korea and Japan Cultural Adventure Tour

16-Day South Korea and Japan Cultural Adventure Tour

By RobertUpdated Jan. 25, 2024
East Asian Adventure: Exploring Japan and South Korea's Cultural Marvels

Embark on an epic East Asian Adventure: explore South Korea and Japan with a 2-week expedition across Seoul, Gyeongju, Busan, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Hakone, and Tokyo. Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of these mesmerizing destinations, witness world-famous landmarks, and discover historical cities.
With our meticulously planned itinerary and knowledgeable guides, this leisurely tour guarantees unforgettable memories and a comprehensive experience of South Korea and Japan.
Join us now for the journey of a lifetime!

  • Days:16±
  • Best For:First-timers, families, food enthusiasts, lovers of Asian culture
  • Departure date:up to you
  • Sample Price:from US$ 8,499 each (2 per room); 4-6 persons, save US$ 600 each!

Journey Route

Asia Tour Travel Guide

This is the perfect tour for those making their maiden journey to both South Korea and Japan, as well as for families. Enroll for your preferred segments of the tour or use the entire itinerary as inspiration, customizing each aspect to create a uniquely tailored experience for you.

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Highlights

Step into the rich history of Japan and South Korea: explore UNESCO sites and unveil hidden gems.

A UNESCO Site of South Korea
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Compare KTX and Shinkansen — South Korea and Japan bullet trains — on your journey.

KTX, South Korean High-speed bullet train

Embrace cultural splendor in Korean Hanbok and Japanese Kimono.

traveler wearing Hanbok
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Soar above the sparkling seas: take a breathtaking cable car ride over Busan's Songdo Bay.

Songdo Cable Car in Busan

Marvel at the enchanting seaside temple — Haedong Yonggungsa — an intriguing sight to behold... and discover!

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, on the seaside

Ascend the enchanting "Machu Picchu of Busan".

colorful cultural village in Busan
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Indulge in culinary delights: unleash your inner foodie on an Osaka cuisine adventure.

tasty Japanese food
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Unleash your inner warrior with an authentic Ninja experience.

Ninja experience in Osaka
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Discover Hakone's awe-inspiring landscapes, traversing dynamic vistas that captivate the heart and spirit.

sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi in Hakone

Relish the art of matcha-making in Uji, immersing yourselves in tradition while crafting the revered green tea delicacy.

traditional Japanese matcha
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Indulge in the whimsical delight of a Japanese anime café, reveling in a realm of beloved characters.

cute food in anime cafe
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Experience tranquility at a traditional Japanese ryokan in Hakone, with a rejuvenating onsen (hot-spring bath), inviting serene relaxation.

traditional Japanese accommodation
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Have your own guide and private vehicle during the guided day.

private driver and vehicle service

Itinerary in Detail

Craft your dream journey across South Korea and Japan with our team's expertise. A travel tapestry woven perfectly around your unique tastes and desires.

Day 1
Seoul Arrival

Welcome to vibrant Seoul, South Korea, a harmonious fusion of age-old traditions and futuristic innovation. From the bustling cityscape to the serene Buddhist temples, every corner is rich with dynamic experiences. Enjoy a comfortable ride to the hotel with our airport transfer service. Prepare to be enchanted by Seoul's captivating street food, iconic K-pop culture, and scenic Han River views. With our tailored itinerary and expert guidance, your journey is set to be truly unforgettable.

Upon landing in Seoul, your private guide will greet you warmly at the airport and escort you to your hotel, where you can unwind or begin your South Korean adventure at your leisure.

dusk of downtown Seoul
The dusk of Seoul
Day 2
Seoul Highlights

Embrace a day of wonder with our Seoul City Highlights Tour, guided by your dedicated local expert:

  • Unveil the magnificence of Gyeongbok Palace, where Korean royalty's splendor unfolds.
  • Engage in an enchanting Hanbok wearing experience, bringing centuries-old sartorial elegance of Korea to life.
  • Wander the enchanting lanes of Bukchon Hanok Village, a charming nest of historical Korean houses.
  • Lose yourself in Insadong's bustling streets, a haven for art aficionados and antique collectors.
  • Savor Seoul's bustling vitality and delectable culinary offerings at iconic Gwangjang Market.
Bukchon Hanok Village
A view of the Bukchon Hanok Village
Day 3
Cultural Highlights of Suwon and Yongin

Continue your journey with the cities of Suwon and Yongin, stepping further into the rich tapestry of Korean culture:

  • Step back in time at Yongin Folk Village, where the customs and lifestyles of historical Korea are brought vividly to life.
  • Explore the imposing Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, an icon of 18th-century military architecture and the Joseon dynasty's brilliant artistry.

This segment of the tour crafts a deeper understanding of Korea's cultural heritage, bringing history alive for your thrilling exploration.

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress wall
The wall of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Day 4
Seoul to Gyeongju

Embrace another day of captivating discovery as you journey from Seoul to Gyeongju.

  • Your day commences with a swift transfer to Seoul station, paving the way to your next adventure.
  • By hopping onto the sleek KTX, Korea's high-speed train service, you'll quickly glide into the ancient city of Gyeongju.
  • The city's regal past awaits at Daereungwon Tombs, where you'll unravel Korea's royal history.
  • Ascend to the celestial heights of Cheomseungdae Observatory, constructed during the reign of Queen Seondeok (632–647) and one of the landmarks of Gyeongju.
  • Bathe in the tranquil beauty of Wolji Pond (known for centuries as Anapji), a large walled pond with enchanting pavilions and an interesting history.
view of Wolji Pond
A colorful bridge on Wolji Pond
Day 5
Gyeongju & Busan Highlights

Venture into yet another pristine day drenched in cultural marvels and breathtaking sights in the heart of Busan.

  • Start your expedition at the world-renowned Bulguksa Temple, renowned for its magnificent architecture and spiritual serenity.
  • Marvel at the mystique of Seokguram Grotto, where sublime Buddhist artistry resides amidst serene mountains.
  • Transfered to Busan and Visit the exquisite Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a unique seaside temple offering an extraordinary blend of spiritual sanctity and natural beauty.
  • End your day soaking up the vitality of Haeundae Beach, a premier hotspot for sunbathing, water sports, or simple relaxation.
Haeundae Beach Gwangan Bridge of Busan
Haeundae Beach and Gwangan Bridge
Day 6
Busan Cultural Highlights

Prepare for a vibrant day in Busan, reveling in its eclectic blend of art, local flavors, and thrilling vistas.

  • Start your day at colorful Gamcheon Culture Village, often known as Korea's Santorini, for its splendid array of art-infused hillside houses.
  • Dive into the lively atmosphere of Jagalchi Fish Market, Korea's largest seafood market, and the bustling Gukje Market to discover Busan's pulsating heart of local life.
  • Cap your day with a breathtaking Songdo Cable Car ride, soaring on high to capture a panoramic view of Busan's mesmerizing skyline.

This day offers you a unique insight into Busan's culture, from its charming art village and buzzing markets to the stunning cityscapes from an aerial vantage point.

busan market
Discover local markets in Busan
Day 7
Busan to Osaka

On the seventh day, get ready to embrace the style of your next destination — the historic charm of Osaka, Japan. To ensure a seamless transition:

  • You'll be taken from your Busan accommodation to the airport with a hassle-free airport transfer.
  • Upon arrival in Osaka, another reliable transfer awaits to take you to your hotel.
night of Dotonbori Osaka
The busy night of Osaka at Dotonbori
Day 8
Osaka Cultural Highlights

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Osaka for an unforgettable day:

  • Begin your journey at the historical gem of Osaka Castle Park, where you'll witness centuries-old architecture amidst lush greenery.
  • Uncover the layered narratives of Japanese art at the Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum.
  • Indulge in an exciting Ninja experience, delving into the mystique of these legendary warriors.
  • Culminate your day with a gastronomic adventure in Shinsekai, Osaka's vibrant food district, savoring a range of scrumptious local delicacies.
Osaka Castle Park
The Osaka Castle
Day 9
Osaka to Kyoto via Nara

Continue onwards on this spellbinding journey on a day that takes you from Osaka to Kyoto via the culturally-rich city of Nara.

  • Begin your adventure with a matcha-making experience, where you'll craft and savor the quintessential Japanese tea.
  • Explore enchanting Nara Park, home to friendly deer and lush greenery.
  • Visit the majestic Todai-ji Temple, an architectural masterpiece housing the world's largest bronze Buddha statue.
  • Engage in an authentic Japanese tradition at the Gekkeikan Sake Brewery, tasting the perfection of meticulously crafted sake.
  • Your day culminates at mesmerizing Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, with its iconic red torii gates leading you into a spiritual journey.

From experiential tea ceremonies, temple visits, and sake tasting to shrine explorations, this day offers a rich immersion in Japan's spiritual tradition, drinking culture, and tranquil beauty.

Torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine
Thousands of Torii gates in Fushimi Inari Shrine
Day10
Kyoto Highlights

Immerse yourself in a day steeped in Kyoto's rich history and culture, featuring the city's cherished highlights.

  • Start with a visit to the storied Nijo Castle, a splendid example of Edo Period architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Journey through the sensory delights of Nishiki Market, experiencing the kaleidoscopic array of local cuisine and goods.
  • Revel in the tranquility of the Golden Pavilion — Kinkaku-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple overlaid with gleaming gold leaf.
  • Slip into the graceful attire of a traditional kimono, absorbing the essence of Japan's cultural heritage. This thoughtful prelude perfectly sets the stage for your visit to the next destination...
  • Clothed in your kimono, you'll visit the revered Pure Water Temple. With its impressive wooden stage and panoramic views of Kyoto, you're assured remarkable photo opportunities, ensuring this day remains an everlasting memory.
Pure Water Temple with red leaves
The Pure Water Temple (also called Kiyomizu Temple) in Autumn
Day11
Kyoto to Hakone

Indulge in the freedom and excitement of three independent (but well-planned-and-prepared) adventure days visiting Hakone. To facilitate a seamless journey:

  • Your Shinkansen bullet-train tickets and 3-Day Hakone Pass — a passport to explore the region's diverse and captivating attractions — will be handed to you in advance by our guide.
  • You'll be briefed fully on their usage, leaving no room for confusion and ensuring a smooth journey.
  • On the day, independently navigate your way to Kyoto Station and board the Shinkansen bound for Odawara.
  • Upon arrival at Odawara Station, making your way to your Hakone accommodation will be a breeze, thanks to the detailed instructions provided beforehand.

The day's journey, while not guided, has been thoughtfully coordinated to offer you the exhilarating thrill of exploring at your own pace, without any logistical worries.

Japan Shinkansen
The fast Shinkansen bullet train
Day12
Discover Hakone on your own
  • Experience the joy of personal discovery as you embark on an independent exploration of Hakone, aided by your 3-Day Hakone Pass. The pass grants you flexible access to a host of transport options across the region, including trains, buses, boats, and cable cars.
  • Whether you're drawn to the natural beauty of Lake Ashi, the stunning vistas from Owakudani Volcano, the serenity of Hakone Shrine, or the masterpieces at the Hakone Open-Air Museum, this day in Hakone is yours to design at will.
  • Remember the Hakone Pass is your key to unlocking Hakone's treasures, offering unlimited travel and special discounts at select attractions, boosting your freedom to explore at your own pace and as the mood takes you.
view of Lake Ashi in Hakone
The sightseeing cruise and Torii gate with Mt. Fuji as the background
Day13
Hakone to Tokyo

Conclude your independent travel adventure with a seamless journey from Hakone to vibrant Tokyo.

  • Your day begins with a journey to Odawara Station using your Hakone Pass.
  • Once there, your reserved Shinkansen ticket will take you onto the sleek bullet train bound for Tokyo.
  • Upon your arrival in Tokyo's pulsating cityscape, navigate your way to your hotel based on directions and advice given to you before the trip to Hakone.

This journey, while free of guides, has been orchestrated to ensure a smooth and convenient transition allowing you to immerse yourself in the thrill of independent travel. Take in first impressions of Tokyo's electrifying charm uninfluenced and at your own pace.

tokyo at night
The night of Tokyo
Day14
Tokyo Highlights

Prepare for a thrilling exploration of Tokyo's iconic landmarks with your private guide and convenient transfer services.

  • Begin your journey at serene Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo's most famous Shinto shrine, tucked away in a peaceful forest.
  • Wander at leisure along Omotesando, often dubbed Tokyo's Champs-Elysées, dotted with high-end boutiques and haute couture.
  • Immerse yourselves in the energetic vibes of Shibuya, a hotspot for fashion and nightlife, and famed for the bustling Shibuya crossing.
  • Experience the vibrance of Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest and most symbolic Buddhist temple, located in the historic Asakusa district.
  • Cap off your day with a visit to Tokyo Skytree, Japan's tallest tower, offering breathtaking, panoramic views of the cityscape.

Accompanied by an expert guide and well-planned transfer services, this day promises a fascinating dive into the city's historic roots, contemporary culture, and commanding views.

Thunder Gate of Sensoji Temple
Thunder Gate, the outer gate of Sensoji Temple
Day15
Tokyo Cultural Highlights

Embark on a day steeped in Tokyo's vibrant culture and tantalizing flavors.

  • Begin your exploration at Tsukiji Fish Market, a bustling hub offering a glimpse into Tokyo's seafood industry.
  • Adorn the hat of a sushi chef for a hands-on sushi-making experience, following which you'll feast on your creations for lunch.
  • Find tranquility amidst the city's hustle in the beautifully landscaped Hama-rikyu Gardens.
  • Step into the whimsical world of a Japanese anime café, an immersive playground for fans of this uniquely-Japanese pop-culture phenomenon.
Tsukiji Fish Market
Fresh seafood in the Tsukiji Market
Day16
Tokyo Departure

As your remarkable journey draws to a close, a convenient transfer will be arranged from your hotel to the airport. This ensures you conclude your exploration of South Korea and Japan on a relaxed note, as you're comfortably escorted to your onward flight.

This grand adventure might be ending, but the memories and experiences you've gathered will echo for a lifetime.

Tokyo Haneda Airport
The Traffic Control Tower of Tokyo Haneda Airport

Ideas for Making This Trip Uniquely Yours

Special experiences can be added to brighten a honeymoon trip, a family vacation, a birthday, or satisfy personal interests.

korean Barbecue
Korean Barbecue

For Foodies

Korean DMZ
Visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone

For History lovers

enjoy performance by a geisha
Geisha Performance

For cultural immersion

preparing tuna
Whole Tuna Preparation Show

For those who like fresh Japanese foods

Hand-Picked Hotels

We have selected hotels with different styles and for different budgets. Let us know your preferences and we will help you find the right one.

Centrally located hotel in Seoul
Centrally located hotel in Seoul
Hotel near Haeundae in Pusan
Hotel near Haeundae in Pusan
hotel in Tokyo
Hotel in Tokyo with great location
Family friendly hotel in Kanazawa
Kid-friendly hotel with hot spring in Hakone
Hotel with Garden in Kyoto
Centrally located hotel in Kyoto

Tour Price:

16 days from
US$ 8,499 p/p (with 4-star hotel options)
  • The price is based on a private tour for 2 people during the low season.
  • The price varies based on program, travel date, number of people.
  • We could also price a tour including both 4-star and 5-star hotels for you.
  • We accept payments in multiple currencies (GBP, AUD, CAD, EUR...).

Price Includes:

  • Privately-driven air-conditioned vehicle with ample space (except where stated)
  • English-speaking local guide for the sightseeing
  • Attraction tickets and itinerary activities
  • Accommodation for all nights
  • Flights/trains between itinerary cities
  • Hotel breakfasts and itinerary lunches/dinners
  • 24/7 helpline while touring
  • Governmental taxes

Price Excludes:

  • International flights not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Overweight luggage more than 20 kg per person
  • Visa fee, if applicable
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Personal expenses

Tour code: ah-ea-2

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Why Travel with Asia Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)

  • Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
  • Hassle-free travel and peace of mind: Every aspect of your trip will be carefully planned and organized by your 1:1 travel consultant.
  • Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.
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