Best of Korea & Japan
Japan and South Korea make a great pairing — though whether they’d agree about that is another question.
Like bickering siblings, Japan and Korea want you to know they’re unique — and they are. But at the same time neither can escape their shared history, which has shaped everything about them from their food and drink to their philosophy. This trip is about exploring similarities, noticing differences, and celebrating two distinct but equally fascinating cultures.
Transport in detail
In South Korea, transport will be by private car with a driver. In Japan, you’ll use the bullet train network to get around. Between the two, you’ll have a connecting flight (not included).
This itinerary explores classic destinations from different angles, combining well-known sights with lesser-known highlights
There’s a fantastic variety of destinations, both traditional and modern, spanning cities, countryside and coast
You’ll experience first-hand the subtle cultural differences between these close neighbours
Things to consider
Though we’ve included some more unusual experiences, all the destinations on this itinerary are well-trodden classics
Though we’ve included some day trips to get you into the countryside, this is a fairly city-focussed itinerary
Prefer to stick to one or the other? Check out the rest of our Japan and Korea itineraries — or have us design one just for you. Asia is your oyster.
Your adventure begins in Seoul, one of the most underrated capitals in Asia. A full day with a guide will help you get your bearings — perhaps including the traditional hanok district of Bukchon, the antique stores and sweet shops of back-alley Insadong, or street food and people-watching among the fashionistas in glitzy Myeongdong. The possibilities for your time here are endless, but be sure to make a stop at one of the city’s palaces (Gyeongbok is the biggest and most impressive) and check out sprawling Gwangjang Market, where you can eat your way through endless soondae sausage, bite-sized rice rolls and mung bean pancakes.
See (and hear!) the historical reenactment of the changing of the guards at Gyeongbok Palace
Visit a workshop and make your own wooden sujeo (chopstick & spoon set) to use on your travels
Make an optional day trip to Suwon, home of World Heritage Hwaseong Fortress
Your next destination will whisk you away from cutting-edge Seoul and back to the days of the Joseon Dynasty (or as close as you can get in modern Korea). Hahoe is a preserved clan village dating back to the 16th century, but it’s no museum: this is a living, working place with a sense of authenticity that’s often lacking in Korea’s reconstructed “folk villages”. Explore with a guide to demystify the local history and customs, then take the ferry across the river to Buyongdae Cliff for epic views. On your way back to Andong, stop at a World Heritage Confucian academy and the lovely Wolyeonggyo Bridge, arriving back in time to make the most of the city’s many bars and restaurants.
Visit the Hahoe Mask Museum and learn how the locals keep their heritage alive through ritualistic mask dances and traditional festivals
See stunning views of Hahoe Village and the Nakdong River from Buyongdae Cliff
Spend a night in a traditional hanok house by the river, sleeping in a thatched cottage around a packed-earth courtyard
The finer detail
- Breakfast every day
- Four full-day guided tours in Seoul, Andong, Kyoto and Tokyo
- Three half-day experiences: chopstick & spoon making, Gamcheon culture village tour, afternoon tea with a maiko
- Two evening experiences: Busan Night market tour, evening izakaya experience
- Hakone Free Pass for transport in the Hakone region
- Portable Wi-Fi device
- Preloaded T-money transport card for local transport in South Korea
- Preloaded IC transport card for local transport in Japan
- Seven-day Japan Rail Pass
- All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
- All internal transport & accommodation
Logistics & journey times
Car transfer from Incheon airport to Seoul (50 minutes)
Car transfer from Seoul to Andong (2 hours 40mins)
Car transfer from Andong to Busan (2 hours 40 mins)
Car transfer from Busan to Gimhae Airport (40 mins)
Flight from South Korea to Japan (not included)
Car transfer Kansai airport to Kyoto ( 90 mins)
Train transfer from Kyoto to Odawara (Hakone) (2 hours 10 minutes)
Train transfer from Odawara to Tokyo (40 minutes)
Shared minibus transfer from Tokyo to Narita/Haneda airport (30 - 90 minutes depending on the airport)
What's not included
- International flights
- Any meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
- Tips for guides & porters