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Highlights of East Asia: Japan, South Korea, and China

Hit all the hot spots of East Asia on this 24-day tour through Japan, South Korea, and China. Start with stunning mountain temples, shrines, and torii gates before heading to the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea and venturing to Beijing's monumental highlights (Great Wall, Forbidden City). Along the way, you'll experience destinations like the locals do — overnights in a Japanese Ryokan (complete with onsen baths and tatami floors), a local temple in Busan, and indulging in street eats to get a true understanding of day-to-day life in China.

  • Duration: 24 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of:
  • Physical rating: Average
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: AJKC/242612
  • Starts: Osaka, Japan
  • Finishes: Shanghai, China
  • Age requirement: 12 +
You will Visit
  • Osaka
  • Kōyasan
  • Hiroshima-shi
  • Kyoto
  • Hakone
  • Tokyo
  • Seoul
  • Gyeongju-si
  • Busan
  • Beijing
  • Xi'an
  • Suzhou
  • Shanghai

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Osaka

Arrive at any time.
We highly recommend booking pre-accommodation to fully experience this lively city.

02

Day 2: Osaka/Kōyasan

Depart early and travel to the centre of Buddhism in Japan and sleep in a temple atop the 800m Mt Koya. Savour a traditional dinner of shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine). Watch the monks pray in the morning.
Journey to Mt Koya, a religious centre founded in 816 by the Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi. The train ride up the mountain is possibly one of the finest rail journeys in Japan. For the final steep ascent, switch to funicular and then hop on a bus to reach the monastery.

In the evening, dine on shojin-ryori, typical vegetarian cuisine, and relax in a yukata, or kimono.

03

Day 3: Kōyasan/Hiroshima-shi

Watch the monks pray in the morning and enjoy a traditional breakfast before travelling to Hiroshima. This afternoon, visit the Peace Park and Memorial Museum commemorating the events of 1945.
Early morning offers the chance to observe the monks praying. Breathe in some fresh mountain air before a vegetarian breakfast, then start the journey back down the mountain via bus, train and funicular.

Later, board a train to Hiroshima, a historically significant city, marked by the explosion of the first atomic bomb in 1945.

04

Day 4: Hiroshima-shi

Take a ferry ride over to the sacred island of Miyajima to see the famous floating Torii Gate. Opt to hike around Mt Misen.

05

Day 5: Hiroshima-shi/Kyoto

Travel to Kyoto and start exploring. Visit the impressive Nijo Castle and gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evening, explore the geisha district of Gion on a CEO-led walking tour.

06

Day 6: Kyoto

Enjoy a visit to the beautiful Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine and walk under the bright torii gates. Opt to shop, stroll along the riverbank, or explore another of Kyoto's many temples with free time.

07

Day 7: Kyoto/Hakone

Take a boat ride on Lake Ashino-ko and a walk along the Old Tokaido Highway, and hopefully catch a glimpse of majestic Mt Fuji. Enjoy a stay in traditional ryokan accommodation, feast on a Japanese multi-course kaiseki meal, soak in the natural hot springs, and sleep on a futon.
Travel to Hakone, a town in the hills famous for its onsens, or natural hot springs. Stay in a traditional ryokan, with its own private onsen.

In the evening, enjoy the ryokan, savouring a complex meal of traditional Japanese foods, followed by a recommended soak in the onsen.

08

Day 8: Hakone/Tokyo

Head to Tokyo with time to do some last-minute shopping.
Arrive before noon to Tokyo, with time to explore this energetic metropolis.

Opt to visit Ueno park and the museums, Akihabara for cutting edge electronics, Harajuku for funky fashions, Ginza for the highest of the high end, walk the grounds of the Imperial Palace East Garden, or just stroll the streets, looking for the traditional life that still lies just under the modern surface.

09

Day 9: Tokyo

Explore this exciting day with a free day.

10

Day 10: Tokyo/Seoul

Catch a flight to Seoul, South Korea's capital city.

11

Day 11: Seoul

Enjoy a walking tour in the bustling capital of South Korea. Visit Gyengbokgung Palace, the National Folklore Museum, Jogyesa Temple, Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong alley.

12

Day 12: Seoul

Visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. With over a million soldiers on watch each day, it is one of the last remnants of the Cold War.
Travel to the DMZ in the morning by private bus and spend about 3-4 hrs visiting the site before returning back to Seoul for another night in the city.

13

Day 13: Seoul/Gyeongju-si

Travel to Gyeongju and visit the UNESCO-listed sites of Seoguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple on an included tour.
Depart Seoul in the morning and travel by high-speed train to Gyeongju, taking just over 2 hrs to reach the city.

In the afternoon, enjoy an included tour of some local highlights, including the UNESCO World Heritage temples.

14

Day 14: Gyeongju-si/Busan

Take a day trip to Yangdong Folk Village, a UNESCO site, before continuing to Busan to visit the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple.
Take a private van to visit the 500-year-old UNESCO site of Yangdong Folk Village, located in Gyeongju National Park, to get a feel for life during the early Joseon Dynasty.

Travel to the picturesque 14th century seaside temple, Haedong Yonggungsa. Continue to Busan and enjoy a walk or swim at Haeundae Beach, the most popular beach in South Korea, or perhaps a light trek on Dongbaek Island.

15

Day 15: Busan

Visit the bustling Jagalchi fish market, Gujesijang market, and Yongdusan Park, before an overnight in a local temple.
Stay in rooms called Ondol. These rooms are very traditional, heated to be cozy and comfortable, with beds made up directly on the floor. The rooms here are multi-share, divided up by male and female rooms. Enjoy a traditional dinner and breakfast during the stay.

Have the opportunity to learn about temple etiquette, experience the daily drum and bell ritual, craft your own prayer beads and take an easy hike up to the oldest and highest temple in Busan for morning meditation.

16

Day 16: Busan/Seoul

Enjoy a final morning in Busan before returning to Seoul by train.

17

Day 17: Seoul/Beijing

Board a flight to Beijing, China.

18

Day 18: Beijing

Enjoy an included visit to the Great Wall.
Head out of town to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Spend time wandering around, taking photos, and picking up souvenirs.

19

Day 19: Beijing/Xi'an

Take the Beijing metro to visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Later, board a fast train to Xi'an.

20

Day 20: Xi'an/Suzhou

Enjoy some free time exploring the city before a visit one of China's greatest archaeological treasures—the Terracotta Warriors. After enjoy a local lunch at a farmhouse before hopping on an overnight train to Suzhou.

21

Day 21: Suzhou

Visit Suzhou, the "Venice of the East." Explore the Master of the Nets Garden, one of China's most exquisite gardens.

22

Day 22: Suzhou/Shanghai

Travel to Shanghai and take an orientation walk along the Bund. After enjoy a Shanghai acrobat show.
Travel by metro and train to Shanghai. After an orientation walk along Shanghai's famous Bund, you are free to explore the delights this modern Chinese city has to offer.

23

Day 23: Shanghai

Enjoy free time in this bustling city.

24

Day 24: Shanghai

Depart at any time.
We highly recommend post-accommodation to fully experience all Shanghai has to offer.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Your Local Living Moment: Overnight in Mount Koya Temple, Kōyasan Your Local Living Moment: Overnight Temple Stay, Busan Your Discover Moment: Shanghai
    • Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum visit
    • Miyajima excursion with floating torii gate visit
    • Nijo Castle and gardens visit (Kyoto)
    • Gion walk
    • Fushimi Inari shrine visit
    • Lake Ashino-ko boat ride (Hakone)
    • Traditional ryokan stay with kaiseki meal
    • City tour of Seoul
    • DMZ visit
    • City tour of Gyeongju
    • Yangdong Folk Village visit
    • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple Visit
    • City tour of Busan
    • Great Wall excursion
    • Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City guided tour
    • Terracotta Warriors tour
    • Master of the Nets Garden visit
    • Shanghai orientation walk
    • Chinese acrobat performance
    • Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days)
    • Internal flights
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Hotels (19 nts), mountain monastery (1 nt, shared facilities), traditional inn (1 nt, shared facilities), temple (1 nt, multi-share), sleeper train (1 nt)
    • 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
    Transport
    • Bullet train, tram, ferry, public bus, private vehicle, train, subway/metro, plane, walking
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Tour Highlights:
  • Stay overnight in a temple on top of Mt Koya
  • See Miyajima's floating torii gate
  • Visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea
  • Walk along the Great Wall of China
  • Explore Shanghai's famed Bund waterfront.