Route: Seoul Busan Fukuoka Hiroshima Kyoto Tokyo Niigata Sendai Sapporo
Duration: 19 nights
Transport: This route is a 20 day trip covering 9 of South Korea and Japan’s most popular cities. You’ll spend 19 nights in your accommodation and travel mostly by train during the day, with a ferry to connect the two nations.
Summary: This three week trip hits all the must-see spots, giving a taste of both the traditional and modern sides of Korean and Japanese culture. Kick off your trip by exploring the wonders of South Korea’s capital, Seoul, before heading down to Busan for the stunning beaches and incredible seafood. Take the ferry across to Japan and city hop between several fascinating destinations. From the temples and shrines in Kyoto, to the historical sites in Hiroshima and a little bit of everything in Tokyo, each city has it’s something special to offer. Explore beautiful shrines and temples as well as amazing luxury cuisine and street food, making this trip a must for any foodies!
Combine tradition with modern life across South Korea and Japan’s most popular cities!
Cover all the most popular cities across these two incredible countries over the course of 3 weeks. With 2 or 3 nights in each place, you’ll have plenty of time to see each place but there’s no chance of you getting bored! Get a taste of ancient traditions from many of the temples and shrines that can be found in each city you’ll be visiting, particularly in Kyoto and Sendai. From the old to the new, many of the cities, but particularly in Seoul and Tokyo are full of weird and futuristic attractions, unlike anywhere else in the world. Don’t miss some of the incredible local delicacies and head pout to sample some of the buzzing local nghtlife!
In the capital of South Korea visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty and still one of the grandest typical structures in the city. Take a trip up to N Seoul Tower for a view of Seoul’s scenic skyline and a breathtaking panorama of light shows, which reflect upon the Hangang River. If you instead wish to immerse yourself in the culture, have a walk through the largest traditional market in Korea, Namdaemun Market: home to more than 10,000 stores that sell any kind of good, from traditional oriental medicine to cheap typical snacks. To continue your traditional journey in discovering South Korea, don’t miss a trip to Bukchon Hanok Village, an ancient village that preserves a 600-year-old urban settlement. Also, grab a bite at Noryangjin Fish Wholesale Market, Seoul’s oldest and biggest indoor fish market selling the catch of the day. Wondering what to do at night? Dance the night away in Itaewon, the go-to district for anyone looking for wild nightlife, or book a private karaoke room to sing along with your friends, if you are more up for something chill.
Train to Busan – 3 hours
Busan is the second largest city after Seoul and it has everything from beaches, amazing seafood, temples and mountains. Here is the largest wall fortress of Korea ,Geumjeong, 17km of walls and includes 4 impressive gates. Beomeosa is an impressive temple in the city but with a peaceful atmosphere and is located against an impressie mountain backdrop. Haedong Yonggungsa is a beautiful temple overlooking the ocean. The secluded Seokbulsa Temple with impressive Buddhist images set in stone. Check out the Jagalchi fish market and mingles with the locals before eating some delicious sea food! Relax on the beach either Haeundae with its skyline or the less crowded Gwangalli before heading to Gamcheon Culture Village. Get lost in this colorful mountainside district, colours from the roofs, alley stairs and murals. Take advantage of the city delicious food such as pork soup, wheat noodles in a cold meat broth or sweet fried seed pancakes. As for the nightlife Soemyeon, Texas Street or PNU disctrict are the best places in town.
Ferry to Fukuoka – 3 hours
Fukuoka is the biggest city in Kyushu. As a harbour town close to the Asian mainland, you will experience a buzzing city influenced by Chinese and Korean culture. Fukuoka is home to Japan’s first Zen Temple, Shofukuji, but also a huge Buddha statue lying on the ground. If you’re looking for a unique experience, the beautiful Futamigaura beach featuring a white torii in the water and huge “wedded rocks” in the distance is the perfect picture spot. Wander around on the beach or in one of its peaceful parks before your night out in the Canal city or Nakasu to eat the famous Hakata Ramen and then hit the many bars and nightclubs this young city has to offer.
Train to Hiroshima – 1 hour
Hiroshima is a charming town worth visiting for its historic past and relaxed atmosphere. The Peace Memorial Park which features the WWII bombing museum and its peace park are enlightening and tranquil despite its tragic past.Take the time to visit the impressive Hiroshima Castle which will give you a panoramic view of the city, before trying some local delicacies such as an oyster hot por or even fried oysters and the famous maple leaf cake. There is a laid back feel here, wander around Hondori or Nagerakawa to try the restaurants and sample the nightlife. The perfect day trip from Hiroshima would be Miyajima Island; which offers a peaceful green forest and well preserved temples. It also features the famous big red tori gate in the water which is stunning at sunset.
Train to Kyoto – 2 hours
Kyoto is the former Japanese capital and is considered a historical treasure with numerous shrines, temples and monuments – including the famous 1000 torii gate temple in the mountain, Fushimi Inari Taisha. Take part in a traditional tea ceremony and wander around the old streets of Kyoto, imagining what the city used to look like. Be mesmerised by a temple covered in gold overlooking a large pond.Try some matcha dessert or drinks while strolling down the Philosopher’s Path, the perfect spot to see the cherry blossom. Visit some impressive shrines and temples such as Kiyomizu dera and its wooden stage built 13m above the hillside. Try to spot the Geisha going to work in the Gion district before heading to Nishiki market and filling your belly with delicious local food such as Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki. Anywhere in the city is good for a night out, especially along Kiyamachi road.
Train to Tokyo – 2 hours
Tokyo is not only the Japanese capital but is also the most populated city in the world. This is a city where traditions and modernity mix perfectly, so don’t be surprised to find small shrines surrounded by a jungle of skycrapers in the middle of a busy street. However, if you want to immerse yourself in traditional Japan, Asakusa is the place to visit with its narrow alleys, shops, street food stalls and, most importantly, its famous shrine and huge red tori gate marking the entrance of the site. It is a drastic change to the buzzing Shibuya or Akihabara districts, with their buildings covered in neon lights and billboards. Yoyogi Park is the perfect escape from the crowded Shibuya and Harajuku districts also known as the fashion districts. Tokyo is also a food hub, you’ll find any type of food you desire. Tsukuji fish market (now Toyosu Market) is the perfect spot to experience fresh out of the water sushi made by experienced sushi chefs. Tempura and soba are better eaten in small shops away from the main tourist roads but if you’re looking for a unique restaurant experience, Tokyo has a large range of themed restaurants such as vampire restaurant, ninja restaurant, robot restaurant and of course the famous maid cafe. One of best known landmarks is the Tokyo Sky Tree which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city, best enjoyed at night. One thing for sure is that the Japanese know how to party and hence the nightlife in Tokyo is amazing. The best spot to go out would be Shibuya and Shinjuku for cheap drinks, nightclubs and restaurants, while Ginza is home to more expensive venues and a slightly older audience. Finally Roppongi is a well known spot for tourists to go out drinking and clubbing.
Train to Niigati – 2 hours
It’s the biggest port city in the sea of Japan and is crossed by two rivers. Niigata has its own type of Geisha called Geigi, and you can watch a performance every saturday in the Villa Saitou! Niigataken Gokoku-jinja and Hakusan-jinja are two beautiful temple, perfect for a peaceful afternoon stroll. You can wander around in Hakusan Koen or on the beach for a breath of fresh air. The six-arch bridge is a symbol of the city and you should definitely admire it, especially at night when it’s illuminated! This city is home to plenty of seasonal festivals which are worth a visit. NIiigata is also famous for its premium rice “Koshihikari rice”, as well as for its sake – you can learn more about the local production when visiting one of the sake breweries. Furumachi is the entertainment district and is the location of many bars and restaurants.
Train and bus to Sendai – 5 hours
Sendai has it all – a big modern Japanese city with a deep feudal culture, with former lords shrines such as Zuihoden Mausoleum, Rinnoji Temple but also Osaki Hachimangu. These are not only impressive, but also feature beautiful gardens and a peaceful atmosphere. Sendai is not yet swarming with tourist and you will enjoy the local life even more by attending the morning market with its food stalls, or enjoy a night out in Chuo Dori or Kokubuncho districts which are filled with izakaya (traditional japanese bars). Remember to taste Gyutan, a type of grilled beef tongue, or sasakamaboko, a fish sausage – both local delicacies. Visit the ruin of the Aoba castle before drinking a refreshing beer at the famous Kirin Brewery in Sendai.
Bus to Sapporo – 1 hour
It is Hokkaido’s capital city, and it will not disappoint. As the birthplace of beer in Japan you have to have a drink there and visit the Sapporo Beer Museum. Despite being a big park in the city centre, the Odori Park is also home to many festivals in Summer as well as the renowned Snow Festival which attracts contestants from all over the world to create impressive ice sculptures. The Moerenuma Park was created by a designer and its art sculpture will be sure to take your breath away. You can also visit Okurayama Observatory and enjoy an impressive view of city while visiting the Olympic Ski Jump Stadium. The Historic Village of Hokkaido, Kaitaku no Mura, is an open air museum about city life in the 19th century. Hokkaido is famous for its fresh fish and amazing sushi but also for its spicy curry soup and the Ghengis Khan BBQ dish. For your night out, Susukino district is the place to be.