15 days 14 nights
Go and observe the panorama offered by South Korea and Japan. The Land of the Morning Calm and the Land of the Rising Sun have many treasures and different facets that will make your trip unforgettable.
Welcome to Korea! Transfer to the hotel by public transport. Meet your guide.
At the end of the afternoon we will enter this fascinating country and with our guide we will go by the modern and efficient metro (we will be taught how to use this public transport) to the City Hall to see this building shaped like a tsunami. In front of the city hall, we will also see the Deoksugung Palace, illuminated at night, which will allow us to appreciate both the tradition and modernity of this country. We will then walk to the Myeongdong district, the largest and liveliest shopping district in Korea. Its name means "shining tunnel". Dinner included at a local restaurant. Accommodation.
Today we include a five-hour Seoul city tour. We will see Changdeokgung Palace. It is a world heritage site consisting of a group of palaces inside a large park. After the tour, we will go to Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional historic district with small houses. We will then visit the War Memorial, an impressive war museum that chronicles the various conflicts suffered by Korea throughout its history, particularly the Korean War with the United Nations, in which soldiers from many countries participated. . We continue to the Gangnam district, one of the liveliest areas of the city, where there are many shopping and leisure centers. Finally, we stop at the LOTTE WORLD TOWER, an impressive 550 m high building, where you will have time to climb the tower (entrance not included) or stroll in the park or around the luxury shopping centers . Lunch included at a local restaurant. Return to the center and free time.
Today's visit to Seoul includes Gyeongbokgung Palace, an impressive 600-year-old palace, where we will witness the changing of the guard ceremony (if scheduled). Our next stop is the city of SUWON, the former capital of Korea, listed as a World Heritage Site.
We will see the impressive wall with its fortifications and visit Hwaseong Haenggung, the summer palace. Lunch included at a local restaurant. Continue to JEONJU, where we will see its fascinating old town (Hanok Village), with its small houses, traditional shops and art galleries.
In the middle of impressive landscapes of mountain forests, we arrive at HAEINSA, a Buddhist temple built in the year 802 where we discover the Tripitaka, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts engraved on 80,000 wooden blocks. We will visit the temple and the museum on the Tripitaka. Continuation to DAEGU where we will see the traditional medicine market with its different herbs, notably ginseng, and the museum of oriental medicine. Lunch included. We arrive in BUSAN. We are in Korea's second largest city, full of life. Visit the fantastic Doosan Haeundae complex with its skyscraper of more than 300 m and its sports marina. Accommodation.
Day in BUSAN. We leave the city of Busan to visit HAEDONG YONGGUNG, a 14th century Buddhist temple located by the sea. Return to Busan. We see the United Nations memorial with its cemetery where people from many countries are buried. We approach the largest fish market in the country, which is located along the port of Nampo. Lunch included. Then we walk to Yongdusan Park with its immense 120 m pagoda. Free afternoon. Night on a ferry, departure scheduled for 9:00 p.m., crossing the Sea of Japan in double cabins with bathroom.
Note: Due to the limited capacity of the ferry in double cabins, we will sometimes take a fast ferry leaving Busan at 3:00 p.m. and arriving in FUKUOKA at 6:30 p.m. (border crossing, free time in Fukuoka and hotel accommodation).
We dock at Shimonoseki port at 08:00 (breakfast not included) and cross the border. We then leave for IWAKUNI, a small town where we will stop to admire the magnificent historic Kintai-Kyo bridge. We will then continue to Miyajimaguchi where we will take a ferry to Miyajima, the island "where men and gods live together in peace", with its Itsukushima shrine dedicated to the guardian of the seas, built partly on the sea. We have time to visit the temple, walk around its attractive center and have lunch. We will then continue to HIROSHIMA, infamous for being the site where the atomic bomb fell in 1945, which destroyed the entire city. We will visit the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome and the impressive Peace Memorial Museum. Dinner included.
Today we will take a ferry to the island of Shikoku, in a pleasant 2.5 hour crossing, and see the many islands that make up Japan. In MATSUYAMA, we will take the cable car to its impressive castle. Next, we will visit ISHITEJI, a beautiful Buddhist temple and pilgrimage site. Lunch included. Late afternoon, we will visit DOGO ONSEN (entrance included), a traditional Japanese bathhouse built in the 19th century.
Departure for KOTOHIRA, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the God of sailors and a place of pilgrimage. The shrine is located on Mount Zosu and is reached by climbing 785 steps. Then, in TAKAMATSU, we will visit RITSURIN, one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. Lunch included. Next, at NARUTO, we cross an impressive bridge over the sea, stopping along the way to admire the construction and walk on its glass floor with the sea 45 meters below us. Our route is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and then crosses long bridges between islands above the sea. Arrival in KOBE, accommodation.
In Kobe, we visited the Earthquake Memorial Museum, a place that recalls the tragic earthquake that devastated the city in 1995 and its perfect reconstruction. Note: On certain dates, the Earthquake Museum may be replaced by the Sake Museum or the Kobe Tower Climb. Continue to Osaka. We will depart from this city to visit MOUNT KOYA, one of the sacred mountains of Japan and the main center of Shingon Buddhism. There are 120 shrines and monasteries on this mountain which is a magical place of pilgrimage. We will visit the Okuno Mausoleum, a spiritual place and a huge cemetery in the middle of nature which has more than 200,000 tombs. We will visit Kongobuji Temple, built in 1593.
We will spend this night in a Buddhist monastery. The monks will offer us a Zen meditation session (Ajikan). Dinner included (vegetarian food). There is a religious ceremony at the temple early in the morning if you wish to attend.
Note: We consider the stay at the monastery to be an experience of great existential value. The rooms are modest, without bathroom, in the traditional Japanese style with tatami mats. Bathrooms are shared.
Japanese breakfast at the temple. We then leave early for KYOTO, to spend the day in the city, which was the capital of Japan between 794 and 1868 and which housed the imperial court. During World War II, the city was the only major Japanese city to escape bombing, allowing it to retain its rich artistic heritage. The famous protocol limiting greenhouse gas emissions was signed in Kyoto in 1997.
The tour includes an excursion to one of the most important parts of the city. We will see the wonderful Shinto shrine of Fushimi Inari, the imperial palace and Kinkakuji temple, "the golden pavilion" and its wonderful gardens.
Free time before visiting GION, a very lively traditional district, famous for its Geisha. Free time.
Note: If you have already visited Kyoto during your tour, our guide will give you information and advice for visiting other parts of the city without being accompanied.
We set off for TSUMAGO, crossing pretty countryside landscapes. This small village with its wooden houses is one of the most beautiful places in Japan. Free time to explore and lunch included. Then we will continue to MATSUMOTO, a tourist town, where we will visit the impressive 16th century castle, known as "Crow Castle". Free time to explore this bustling tourist town. Continue to NAGANO, accommodation.
In NAGANO we will see Zenko-ji, a pilgrimage site with the first Buddhist image in Japan. Our travelers will participate in the Gomakuyo ceremony for good luck. Then we will travel to the magnificent Japanese Alps and, in the mountains, we will go to the JIGOKUDANI Monkey Park, where we will have lunch and walk among its forests, rivers and thermal waters where colonies of macaques live and bathe Japanese. Then, very beautiful high mountain landscape (we climb to 2,172 meters), passing by semi-active volcanoes. KUSATSU, attractive spa town, whose main square is very lively. We will attend a show by Yumomi, with her actresses and her songs who will tell us about the traditional method used to cool thermal waters. Then we will walk around the city park where the outdoor onsen is located. We will then go to IKAHO, a picturesque spa town where we will stroll through its ancient center with its stepped streets. We will stay in a RYOKAN, a Japanese-style hotel, where we will continue to enjoy its baths. Traditional Japanese dinner included.
NB: In autumn, depending on the quantity of fruit in the mountains, the movement of the monkeys is unpredictable. If the macaques do not come down to the park, it may be closed. Kusatsu Tour and Yumoni Show are canceled due to weather from November to April.
We continue our journey to NIKKO, and in this fantastic city we will visit the impressive Nikko-Toshogu temple with its dragon sound hall. We will also see the Taiyuinbyo Mausoleum, an impressive place full of peace. Then, walk along the river in Kanmangafuchi, hundreds of Jizos are watching us! Free time in the center before leaving for TOKYO. - Arrival in Tokyo around 6:30 p.m.
In the morning, we participate in a 5-hour excursion with our guide to discover this amazing city, with its excitement and extremely modern neighborhoods that coexist with calm and peaceful areas. Brief stop at Zojoji Temple to take a beautiful photo of Tokyo Tower. Watch out for the hundreds of Jizos, traditional protective stone deities who guide us in our travels, give power to the weak (like children) and those in dangerous places, and who are dressed in hats, robes and windmills. We then go to the Shibuya intersection, an intersection said to be the busiest in the world. Meiji Temple is dedicated to Emperor Meiji, his wife and their spirits. We continue on our bus along the elegant Omotesando Street. We walk along the most beautiful part of the Imperial Palace and the gardens. Stop to visit the famous Nijubashi Bridge. We will cross the Akihabara district, the "electric city", with icons of Japanese popular culture from manga and anime, then we will see the Kokugikan, the Sumo stadium, headquarters of this Japanese sport. We will also visit the Sensoji Buddhist temple, the oldest and most important in Tokyo, with its 55 meter high pagoda. We will then have free time to visit the traditional Nakamise shopping street in the Asakusa district. Lunch included at a local restaurant. Return to the hotel.
6:30 p.m. - Meeting with the guide. In the late afternoon, we will tour this fascinating country by taking the subway (tickets included) to the Shinjuku district and see the crowds using this modern and efficient public transportation system. Shinjuku is one of the most important districts for nightlife. Dinner included and return to the hotel by metro with our guide.
After breakfast, end of our services.