DAY 1: SEOUL
Welcome to Korea! Transfer to hotel in group transport. Meeting with your guide. At the end of the afternoon, we are going to enter this fascinating country and with our guide we will go on the modern and efficient underground (we will be taught to use this public transport) to City Hall to see this building shaped like a tsunami. In front of the City Hall, we will also see the Deoksugung Palace, which is lit up at night and which allows us to appreciate the tradition and modernity of this country together. On foot, we will then go from here to the district of Myeongdong, the largest and busiest shopping area in Korea. Its name means “brilliant tunnel”. Dinner included in a local restaurant. Accommodation.
DAY 2: SEOUL
Today we include a tour of the city of Seoul lasting five hours. We will see Changdeokgung Palace. This is a World Heritage Site formed by a group of palaces inside a large park. After the visit, we will go to Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional historical neighbourhood with tiny houses. Then we pay a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace, an impressive palace that is 600 years old, where we will see the Changing of the Guard ceremony (if scheduled). Afterwards we will visit the War Memorial, an impressive war museum that tells of the different conflicts suffered by Korea during its history, particular the Korean War with the United Nations in which soldiers from many different countries took part. To finish, we stop at LOTTE WORLD TOWER, an impressive 550 m building where there will be time to climb the tower or stroll in the park or around the luxury shopping centres. Lunch included in a local restaurant. Return to the centre and free time.
DAY 3: SEOUL – SUWON – JEONJU
Our next stop is the city of SUWON, former capital of Korea, a World Heritage Site famous for its walls Heritage of Mankind. We will see the impressive wall with its fortifications and will visit Hwaseong Haenggung, the summer palace. Before leaving this city, we will stop at the Samsung Innovation Museum to learn about the history of this famous technological company. Then we continue to JEONJU, where we will see its fascinating old town (Hanok Village), with its tiny houses, traditional shops and art galleries. Lunch included in a local restaurant.
DAY 4: JEONJU – HAEINSA – DAEGU – HAEDONG YONGGUNG – BUSAN
Amidst impressive mountain forest scenery, we come to 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 blocks of wood. We will visit the temple and the museum on the Tripitaka. We go on to DAEGU where we see the market of traditional medicines with its different herbs, and especially ginseng, and the Museum of Oriental medicine. Lunch included. In the afternoon we travel to HAEDONG YONGGUNG, 14th century Buddhist temple located by the sea. Then on to BUSAN, and our accommodation.
DAY 5: BUSAN – FERRY BUSAN – SHIMONOSEKI
Day in BUSAN. We are in the second largest city in Korea, full of life. We see the memorial to the United Nations with its cemetery were people from numerous countries are buried. After this time in the fantastic Doosan Haeundae complex with its more than 300 m skyscraper and its sports marina. We approach the largest fish market in the country, which is alongside Nampo port. Lunch included. Then we walk from there to Yongdusan park with its immense 120 m pagoda. Afternoon free. Night on a ferry, expected departure at 21.00hrs, crossing the sea of Japan in double cabins with bathroom.
DAY 6: SHIMONOSEKI – IWAKUNI – ITSUKUSHIMA – HIROSHIMA
We dock at the port of Shimonoseki at 08.00hrs (breakfast not included) and cross the border. We then depart for IWAKUNI, a small city where we will stop to admire the beautiful historic Kintai-Kyo Bridge. We then continue to Miyajimaguchi where we 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 over the sea. Here we have time to visit the temple, stroll through its attractive centre and have lunch. Then we continue to HIROSHIMA, sadly famous as the site where the atomic bomb fell in 1945, which destroyed the whole city. We will visit the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic bomb dome and the impressive Peace Memorial Museum. Dinner included.
DAY 7: HIROSHIMA – MATSUYAMA
Today we will take a ferry to Shikoku Island, on a pleasant crossing that lasts two hours and a half and see the many islands that make up Japan. In MATSUYAMA we will take the cable car up to its impressive castle. Afterwards, we will visit ISHITEJI, a beautiful Buddhist temple and a place of pilgrimage. Lunch included. In the late afternoon, we will visit DOGO ONSEN (admission included), a traditional Japanese bath facility built in the 19th century.
DAY 8: MATSUYAMA – KOTOHIRA – TAKAMATSU – NARUTO – KOBE
We depart for KOTOHIRA, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the God of sailors and a place of pilgrimage. The shrine stands on Mount Zosu and is reached by climbing 785 steps. Afterwards in TAKAMATSU we will visit RITSURIN, one of the prettiest gardens in Japan. Lunch included. Then, in NARUTO, we cross an impressive bridge over the sea, stopping on the way to admire the construction and walk on its glass floor with the sea 45 metres below us. Our road is surrounded by beautiful scenery and then crosses long bridges between islands over the sea. Arrival in KOBE, accommodation.
DAY 9: KOBE – OSAKA – MOUNT KOYA
In Kobe we visited the Earthquake Memorial Museum, a place to remind the tragic seism that devastated the city in 1995 and its perfect reconstruction. We go on to OSAKA. We will depart from this city to visit, MOUNT KOYA, one of Japan’s sacred mountains and Japan’s main centre of Shingon Buddhism. There are 120 shrines and monasteries on this mountain which is a magical place of pilgrimage. We will visit Okuno Mausoleum, a spiritual place and an immense cemetery in the wilderness that has more than 200,000 graves. We will visit Kongobuji temple, built in 1593.
DAY 10: MOUNT KOYA – KYOTO
Japanese breakfast at the temple. Then we leave early for KYOTO, to spend the whole day in the city, which was the capital of Japan between 794 and 1868 and home to the Imperial Court. During World War II the city was the only major Japanese to escape the bombardments, and so it still preserves its wealth of artistic heritage; the famous protocol restricting greenhouse gas emissions was signed in Kyoto in 1997. The visit includes a trip to one of the most important parts of the city. We will see the marvellous Shinto Shrine of Fushimi Inari, the Imperial Palace and Kinkakuji temple, “the golden pavilion” and its wonderful gardens. Free time before visiting GION, a busy traditional quarter famous for its Geisha. Free time.
DAY 11: KYOTO – TOKYO
After breakfast transfer to the station to take the BULLET TRAIN to Tokyo. Arrival to Tokyo after almost 500 km in just over two hours. Late in the afternoon, we will pay a visit to this fascinating city by taking a trip on the metro (tickets included) to the Shinjuku district and see the crowds of people who use this modern and efficient collective transport system. Shinjuku is one of the most important nightlife districts. Dinner included and return to hotel.
DAY 12: TOKYO
In the morning, we take part in a 5-hour trip with our guide to see this amazing city, with its hustle and bustle and extremely modern districts that coexist with quiet, peaceful areas. Brief stop at the Zojoji Temple to make a beautiful photograph of the Tokyo Tower. Pay attention to the hundred of Jizos, stone traditional protecting deities who guide us on our travels, give power to those who are weak (such children) and those in dangerous places, and who are dressed including hats, robes and windmills. Then we head to the junction of Shibuya, a junction that is said to be the most crowded in the world. The Meiji Temple is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji, his wife, and their spirits. We continue on our bus along the elegant street of Omotesando. We will edge the most beautiful part of the Imperial Palace and the gardens. Stop to visit the famous Nijubashi Bridge. We will pass through the district of Akihabara, the “electric town” with icons from the popular Japanese Manga and Anime culture and then see Kokugikan, the Sumo stadium, home of this Japanese sport. We will also visit the Buddhist temple of Sensoji, the oldest and most important temple in Tokyo, with its 55-metre high pagoda. Then we will have some free time to visit the traditional commercial street of Nakamise in the district of Asakusa. Lunch included in a local restaurant. Return to hotel. Free time in the afternoon.
DAY 13: TOKYO
After breakfast, end of our services.