Highlights of Korea and Japan: Cherry Blossom Tour

Description

Day 1 Incheon Airport

Welcome to Korea! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an “All Japan Tours” sign.

Best Western Kukdo Hotel or similar class

Day 2 Andong (Andong Hahoe Village), Gyeongju (Gyeongju National Museum)

Start your tour of Korea with a visit to the traditional Andong Hahoe Village, a UNESCO Heritage site. Popularly known as the birth of Korea’s Confucianism, the place is being preserved for it’s thatched-roof houses and villages. This picturesque village is also known for it’s mask dance. Should time / weather permits, one can enjoy the traditional performance amidst the picturesque surroundings. After, we transfer to Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty for the Gyeongju National Museum. Divided into 3 main halls & an outdoor garden exhibit area, the museum showcases mainly ancient Korean Archaeology found in the area. The artifacts range from prehistoric times to the Three Kingdom Period, as well as items buried with the Royalties in the Tombs of Cheongmacheon area.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Gyeongju Kolon or similar class

Day 3 Gyeongju (UNESCO site Bulguksa & Seokkuram Grotto / Cheomseongdae)

This morning, we visit the UNESCO preserved site of Bulguksa Temple. Built in year 528, the name of the temple is literally translated as “Temple of Buddha’s Land” or “Buddha’s World Temple”. It aims to realize the blissfulness of the Buddhist scriptures where the mortal being’s suffering is being released. The steps leading to the temple being called the “Blue Cloud Bridge” & “White Cloud Bridge” as well as the decorative elements in the architecture are all symbolic of the temple’s name. This afternoon, visit the Seokkuram Grotto, a small and quaint temple which houses an elegant but majestic statute of Buddha. Despite it’s size, the exquisiteness of the temple’s architecture suggest that it was being used by the Royalty and nobilities in ancient time. Our last stop for the day is the Cheomseongdae, the oldest astronomical observatory in Asia.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Daegu Grand or similar class

Day 4 Seoul (Gyeongbuk Palace / Drive Pass Presidential Blue House / Presidential Museum / Jogyesa / Insa-Dong Antique Streets)

We head back to Seoul for the Gyeongbuk Palace, the main and and most grand of the five palaces. Construction started in 1300’s, and in the 1400’s its beauty flourished. Unfortunately, a few fires destroyed it and was eventually burnt down during the Japanese occupation. It was reconstructed several times since and now brought back to its former glory. Enjoy your walk in the palace grounds as your guide brief you through the various building. Next, we drive pass the Presidential Blue House, home to the current President of Korea. Please note that no photography is allowed. Next, we visit the Presidential’s Museum, set up in 2010 to co-incide with APEC meeting held in Seoul the same year. The museum encompasses the past, present and the future of Seoul as well as the entire Korea. The Jogyesa is considered the “head temple” of Buddhist temples in Korea. From here, walk the streets of Insa-Dong, often considered the “Mary’s Alley of Seoul” or antique streets. The traditional buildings and wide array of traditional souvenirs are absolutely mesmerizing.)

Breakfast / Lunch

Best Western Kukdo Hotel or similar class

Day 5 Seoul (DeMilitarised Zone: Imjinggak – Freedom Bridge – 3rd Tunnel – DORA Observatory / Nanta “Cookin” Show / Dongdaemun Market )

Depart for Imjinggak at DMZ, see the Freedom Bridge and Mangbaeda which is an altar for the Koreans to come pay respect to their families in North Korea. It is especially crowded during the Lunar New Year and Korean Thanksgiving Holidays as this is the closest the families can get to North Korea. After, transferring to the DMZ, we take a shuttle bus for a ride through the 3rd tunnel and DORA Observatory. One can see parts of North Korea from the observation deck. The Media Hall offers an insight of the disparities between the divided country. After, transfer for lunch and journey back to Seoul. This evening, get ready for some non-verbal comedy at the Nanta ‘Cookin’ Show. Embodying traditional Korean drumming skills into a modern kitchen scene, this light hearted comedy married with intense drumming will leave you thumping for more! After, we visit the famous Dongdaemun Market where you can find wares of every kind!

Breakfast / Lunch

Best Western Kukdo Hotel or similar class

Day 6 Incheon Airport, Osaka Kansai Airport

After breakfast, free for leisure until your transfer to Seoul Incheon Airport for your flight to Japan. Upon arrival Osaka, an AJT representative will meet you at the arrival gate holding an “All Japan Tours” sign.

Breakfast

Hotel Nikko Kansai Airport or similar class

NOTE 1: The airport transfer is available at 10:00 AM from the hotel to Seoul Incheon Airport, please arrange your flight departing after 2:00 PM.

Day 7 Nara (Todai-ji Temple / Nara Deer Park), Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine / Green Tea Ceremony with Maiko Interaction)

This morning you will travel to Nara, the oldest capital city of Japan, by private coach. We will first visit Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in Japan. The temple also houses one of the largest bronze statues of Buddha at 16.3 meters high. Just outside the temple grounds is the Nara Deer Park, filled with over 1,000 Sika deer, where you can greet and feed them deer crackers. We continue our tour to Kyoto, where we will visit the stunning vermilion colored Fushimi Inari Shrine, whose 4km long tunnel of scarlet torii gates was featured in the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”. This complex wraps around a bamboo wilderness that includes mountains, streams, and ponds, the perfect backdrop for a scenic hike. Finally, you will partake in a traditional green tea ceremony, where you will also have the chance to meet a maiko. A maiko is simply an apprentice geisha. There will be photo taking opportunities and time to interact with the maiko.

Breakfast / Lunch

Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class

Day 8 Kyoto (Arashiyama – Tenryuji Temple Zen Garden – Sagano Bamboo Forest / Golden Pavilion / Nishijin Kimono Show / Kiyomizu Temple / Maruyama Park / Gion Geisha District)

Today, we will continue our tour of Kyoto, the former capital of Japan and arguably its biggest cultural center. First, you will go to Arashiyama, well known for its natural scenery and popular during the spring and fall season. Visit the Zen garden of the Tenryuji Temple, which is ranked first among the city’s five great Zen temples. Afterwards, enjoy a pleasant walk through the Sagano Bamboo Forest. We will then make our way to the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), a temple with two floors completely covered with 18 carat gold leaves. Next, you will have the chance to see an elegant kimono fashion show at the Nishijin Textile Center and learn how kimonos are made. Our next attraction is the famous Kiyomizu Temple, best known for its wooden stage that extends from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of numerous cherry and maple trees below, as well as a beautiful scene of Kyoto in the distance. From Kiyomizu Temple, we will head to Maruyama Park, which is one of the most popular places for cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in Kyoto. Lastly, we will tour Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district. Here, you will find many restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where maiko and geisha entertain.

Breakfast / Dinner

Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto or similar class

Day 9 Koka (Miho Museum), Hikone (Hikone Castle – Genkyuen Garden), Shinkansen Bullet Train Ride

This morning, we will visit the famous Miho Museum. The Miho Museum is known for its stunning architecture that allows visitors to appreciate the surrounding nature and natural light. It exhibits many works from different ancient civilizations. There is also a tunnel that leads from the museum to a road lined with hundreds of cherry blossom trees. It was designed by the renowned architect, I. M. Pei, and is named after Koyama Mihoko, one of the richest women in Japan and the founder of the museum. The group will continue to Hikone to visit Hikone Castle, an attractive hanami spot during the cherry blossom season. Hikone Castle is an original castle, meaning it has survived the post feudal era without undergoing destruction and reconstruction. It is regarded as a national treasure next to four other castles, the highest designation a cultural property can receive. Afterwards, visit the tranquil Genkyuen Garden, located on the grounds of Hikone Castle. Next, our group will experience a Shinkansen bullet train ride, which can reach speeds of up to 300 km/hr. Tonight, you will stay at the Onsen Hotel at Hamanako Kanzaiji Onsen, where you can soak in the therapeutic waters of a spa bath (onsen) and feast on a traditional Japanese Kaiseki banquet dinner.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

The Hamanako or similar class

Note: If Miho Museum is close, we will visit Kyoto National Museum or Sagawa Art Museum instead.

Day 10 Hakone (Hakone Ropeway / Owakudani), Mt Fuji, Tokyo (Shibuya – Shibuya Crossing – Hachiko Statue)

After enjoying a Japanese breakfast at the hotel, we will travel to Hakone and take a 20 minute ropeway from Togendai to Owakudani. Much of the area here is considered an active volcanic zone since its creation from the eruption of Mount Hakone some 3,000 years ago. There, you can experience hot springs and bubbling pools, where sulfurous fumes and steam vents still linger. Owakudani also has splendid views of Mount Fuji during pleasant weather conditions. From Hakone, we will proceed to Mt. Fuji on our private coach. Along the way, enjoy the changing scenery, from thick vegetation to lowlands and rolling clouds. We will stop at the Mt. Fuji 5th station (depending on the weather) to admire the world famous peak. In the afternoon, we will travel to Tokyo. Our final stop of the day will be in Shibuya. There, you will get to see the famed Shibuya Crossing in action and cross the street with the crowd. You will also be able to take photos with the Hachiko Statue, a monument dedicated to Japan’s most loyal dog, which continued for nine years after his owner’s death.

Breakfast / Lunch

Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class

Day 11 Tokyo (Asakusa Sensoji Temple / Ueno Park / Sushi Making Experience / Tsukiji Outer Market / Imperial Palace / Tokyo Tower)

Today, you will be taken to the Asakusa Kannon Temple, an active place of worship where you can see the largest paper lantern in Japan. You will also be able to explore the Nakamise Market, which is located right after the temple’s outer gates. It is a traditional-style shopping street with centuries of history. Continue to Ueno Park, a famous cherry blossom viewing spot with more than 1,000 cherry trees. Afterwards, you will be able to participate in a sushi making experience with a professional sushi chef. Whatever you make, you will get to enjoy for lunch! Our group will continue to the Tsukiji Outer Market, which is lined with shops that sell fresh produce and other food-related goods. Then we will proceed to the Imperial Palace, the former site of Edo Castle and current residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. It is surrounded by moats and stone fortifications, located in the heart of Tokyo. In the afternoon, we will visit Tokyo Tower, the world’s tallest self supporting steel tower standing at 333 meters high. You will get to tour 150 meters up to the main observatory and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Tokyo.

Note: For Sushi Making Experience, if you are vegetarian, on gluten-free diets, have seafood allergy, or don’t eat raw fish, please contact us for other ingredient options.

Breakfast / Lunch

Hotel Mystays Premier Narita or similar class

Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo or similar class (NOTE 2 & 3)

NOTE 2: If you wish to stay in the center of Tokyo for the last night instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita, we can arrange for you to stay at Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo (or similar class). In this case, airport transfer is not included, but we will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance.

NOTE 3: If you will be flying out from Haneda Airport (HND) instead of Narita Airport (NRT), we can arrange for you to stay at Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo (or similar class) instead of Hotel Mystays Premier Narita. In this case, airport transfer is not included but we will provide full instructions for you to get to the airport in advance.

Day 12 Tour Ends

After breakfast, our tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11 am and Narita Airport can be reached by hotel shuttle bus.

Breakfast

Dates & Price

2019

Start Date End Date Twin/Triple Start City End City
Tue. Mar 26, 2019 Sat. Apr 6, 2019 USD $3698.00 Seoul Tokyo
Tue. Apr 2, 2019 Sat. Apr 13, 2019 USD $3698.00 Seoul Tokyo
Wed. Apr 10, 2019 Sun. Apr 21, 2019 USD $3698.00 Seoul Tokyo

2020

Start Date End Date Twin/Triple Start City End City
Thu. Mar 26, 2020 Mon. Apr 6, 2020 USD $3698.00 Seoul Tokyo
Wed. Apr 8, 2020 Sun. Apr 19, 2020 USD $3698.00 Seoul Tokyo

Please Note:
All prices are per person, based on twin (double on request) or triple occupancy.
International flights are not included on our tours – this allows you the flexibility to choose your own departure and get the best value for your money!
We can arrange international flights for US customers if needed, please ask for details.

Deposit

We require US$200 deposit per person to hold the space at time of booking and the final payment is due 2 month prior to departure

What’s included

  • 10 nights Western style and 1 night Japanese style accommodation
  • Meet and greet upon arrival at Incheon Airport & Osaka Kansai Airport
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Private coach transfers between destinations in Korea & Japan
  • Comprehensive escorted with AJT professional English speaking tour guide
  • Gratuities

 Meals

  • Breakfast everyday
  • 8 lunches and 4 dinners

Admission fees and activities

  • All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the itinerary

What’s NOT included

  • International Airfares
  • Meals that are not included in the itinerary
  • Travel Insurance
  • Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks
  • Personal expenses such as telephone and laundry bills

Additional Information

Transport

Travel by private coach between destinations, hassle free baggage handling

 Arrival Departure Airports

This tour starts in Seoul and ends in Tokyo. You will need flights for arrival at Incheon Airport (ICN), then international flight from Seoul (ICN) to Osaka (Kansai Airport-KIX) on day 6, with departure in Tokyo at Narita Airport (NRT). Please note that the airport transfer from hotel to Incheon Airport is available at 10:00 AM, please book your flight departing after 2:00 PM on day 6.

Meal Requests

Vegetarian or special meals can be arranged

Meet and Greet

Please note that the meet and greet and airport transfer to the first hotel is ONLY available on the first day of the tour after 11 AM. If you plan to stay extra nights before the start of the tour, please arrange your own hotel transfer.

Get A Quote

We can make planning your tour easy – all you need to do is complete the following information. An agent consultant will get in touch with you to provide you a quote on your escorted tour. You can also call us at 281-530-4979 to speak to someone right away.