Highlights of East Asia: Japan, South Korea, and China

Classic, Osaka to Shanghai

Image by G Adventures

Tour description provided by G Adventures

Hit all the hot spots of East Asia on this 24-day tour through Japan, South Korea, and China. Start with stunning mountain temples, shrines, and torii gates before heading to the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea and venturing to Beijing's monumental highlights (Great Wall, Forbidden City). Along the way, you'll experience destinations like the locals do — overnights in a Japanese Ryokan (complete with onsen baths and tatami floors), a local temple in Busan, and indulging in street eats to get a true understanding of day-to-day life in China.

What’s included

  • Your Local Living Moment: Overnight in Mount Koya Temple, Kōyasan Your Local Living Moment: Overnight Temple Stay, Busan Your Discover Moment: Shanghai
  • Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum visit
  • Miyajima excursion with floating torii gate visit
  • Nijo Castle and gardens visit (Kyoto)
  • Gion walk
  • Fushimi Inari shrine visit
  • Lake Ashino-ko boat ride (Hakone)
  • Traditional ryokan stay with kaiseki meal
  • City tour of Seoul
  • DMZ visit
  • City tour of Gyeongju
  • Yangdong Folk Village visit
  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple Visit
  • City tour of Busan
  • Great Wall excursion
  • Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City guided tour
  • Terracotta Warriors tour
  • Master of the Nets Garden visit
  • Shanghai orientation walk
  • Chinese acrobat performance
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass (7 days)
  • Internal flights
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Highlights

  • Stay overnight in a temple on top of mt koya
  • See miyajima's floating torii gate
  • Visit the demilitarized zone between north and south korea
  • Walk along the great wall of china
  • Explore shanghai's famed bund waterfront.

Itinerary

Day 1 Osaka We highly recommend booking pre-accommodation to fully experience this lively city. Included Activities: Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Osaka/Kōyasan (1B, 1D) Journey to Mt Koya, a religious centre founded in 816 by the Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi. The train ride up the mountain is possibly one of the finest rail journeys in Japan. For the final steep ascent, switch to funicular and then hop on a bus to reach the monastery. In the evening, dine on shojin-ryori, typical vegetarian cuisine, and relax in a yukata, or kimono. Included Activities: Overnight in Mount Koya Temple Oku-no-in Cemetery Visit Transport: Train (3.00 hour(s))
Day 3 Kōyasan/Hiroshima (1B) Early morning offers the chance to observe the monks praying. Breathe in some fresh mountain air before a vegetarian breakfast, then start the journey back down the mountain via bus, train and funicular. Later, board a train to Hiroshima, a historically significant city, marked by the explosion of the first atomic bomb in 1945. Included Activities: Hiroshima Park and Peace Memorial Transport: Bullet train (5.00 hour(s))
Day 4 Hiroshima Take a ferry ride over to the sacred island of Miyajima to see the famous floating Torii Gate. Opt to hike around Mt Misen. Additional Notes: Please note the floating Torii Gate will be under construction from June 2019 to August 2020. Included Activities: Miyajima Island Visit Transport: Hop a ferry to reach the island and journey back in the evening. Ferry
Day 5 Hiroshima/Kyoto Travel to Kyoto and start exploring. Visit the impressive Nijo Castle and gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evening, explore the geisha district of Gion on a CEO-led walking tour. Additional Notes: Please note the Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle will be closed from Dec 26-Jan 3. Groups travelling during this time will visit the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Included Activities: Nijo Castle and Gardens Visit Gion Walk Transport: Bullet train (1.50-2.00 hours)
Day 6 Kyoto Enjoy a visit to the beautiful Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine and walk under the bright torii gates. Opt to shop, stroll along the riverbank, or explore another of Kyoto's many temples with free time. Included Activities: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Visit
Day 7 Kyoto/Hakone (1D) Travel to Hakone, a town in the hills famous for its onsens, or natural hot springs. Stay in a traditional ryokan, with its own private onsen. In the evening, enjoy the ryokan, savouring a complex meal of traditional Japanese foods, followed by a recommended soak in the onsen. Included Activities: Lake Ashino-ko Boat Ride Traditional Ryokan Stay with Kaiseki Meal Transport: Bullet train (3.00 hour(s)) Local bus (0.50 hour(s))
Day 8 Hakone/Tokyo (1B) Arrive before noon to Tokyo, with time to explore this energetic metropolis. Opt to visit Ueno park and the museums, Akihabara for cutting edge electronics, Harajuku for funky fashions, Ginza for the highest of the high end, walk the grounds of the Imperial Palace East Garden, or just stroll the streets, looking for the traditional life that still lies just under the modern surface. Transport: Bullet train (2.00 hour(s))
Day 9 Tokyo Explore this exciting day with a free day.
Day 10 Tokyo/Seoul Catch a flight to Seoul, South Korea's capital city.
Day 11 Seoul (1B) After exploring the city, opt to see a show, explore a local museum, or hit the pavement and eat your way through street markets trying local fares such as bibimbap, soondae, and kimchi. Included Activities: Seoul City Tour Gyeongbokgung Palace National Folklore Museum Jogyesa Temple Bukchon Hanok Village Exploration Insadong Alley
Day 12 Seoul (1B) Spend about 3-4 hours visiting the Demilitarized Zone. On your way there pass by the Blue House, home to the President of the Republic of Korea and South Korea's official government complex. The DMZ was founded in 1953 when the Korean war ended and it is highly militarized on both sides. With a buffer zone 4km wide and spanning 250 km long separating North and South Korea there has been very little development in the area, therefore nature and wildlife have pretty much taken over. Later, return back to Seoul for another night in the city. Additional Notes: A DMZ shuttle bus will be used within the DMZ area. Included Activities: Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Visit Transport: Private Vehicle (1.50 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (1.50 hour(s))
Day 13 Seoul/Gyeongju-si (1B) Depart Seoul in the morning and travel by high-speed train to Gyeongju, taking just over two hrs to reach the city. In the afternoon, enjoy an included tour of some local highlights, including the UNESCO World Heritage temples. Later, opt to further dive into Gyeongju by visiting some more local historic sights or basking in the serenity of Anapji Pond. Included Activities: City Tour of Gyeongju Transport: Bullet train (2.00 hour(s))
Day 14 Gyeongju-si/Busan (1B) Take a private van to visit the 500-year-old UNESCO site of Yangdong Folk Village, located in Gyeongju National Park, to get a feel for life during the early Joseon Dynasty. Travel to the picturesque 14th century seaside temple, Haedong Yonggungsa. Continue to Busan and enjoy a walk or swim at Haeundae Beach, the most popular beach in South Korea, or perhaps a light trek on Dongbaek Island. Included Activities: Yangdong Folk Village Haedong Yonggungsa Temple Visit Haeundae Beach and Dongbaek Island (APEC House) Visit Transport: Travel to the village and back by private vehicle. Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (1.50 hour(s))
Day 15 Busan (1B, 1D) Stay in rooms called Ondol. These rooms are very traditional, heated to be cozy and comfortable, with beds made up directly on the floor. The rooms here are multi-share, divided up by male and female rooms. Enjoy a traditional dinner and breakfast during the stay. Have the opportunity to learn about temple etiquette, experience the daily drum and bell ritual, craft your own prayer beads and take an easy hike up to the oldest and highest temple in Busan for morning meditation. Included Activities: Jagalchi Fish Market Gukjesijang Market Yongdusan Park Visit Overnight Temple Stay
Day 16 Busan/Seoul (1B) After arriving into Seoul by train head to check out Korea's oldest traditional market, Namdaemun Market. Then make your way by cable car to N Seoul Tower to see this beautiful landmark and opt to make the trip up to the observation deck if you're feeling adventurous. Spend the rest of your day in Seoul seeing Banpo Bridge, the floating islands or hanging out in the Gangnam district. Included Activities: Namdaemun Market Visit N Seoul Tower Visit Transport: Bullet train (2.50 hour(s))
Day 17 Seoul/Beijing Board a flight to Beijing, China.
Day 18 Beijing Head out of town to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Spend time wandering around, taking photos, and picking up souvenirs. If you’d like to do something fun this evening, opt to pre-book the Beijing Acrobatics Performance Tour on the checkout page to include this optional activity on your tour or ask your GCO or travel agent for assistance. Included Activities: Orientation Walk Great Wall Mutianyu Visit Transport: Private Vehicle (1.00 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))
Day 19 Beijing/Xi'an Take the Beijing metro to visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Later, board a fast train to Xi'an. Included Activities: Tiananmen Square Forbidden City Tour Transport: Metro Local train (5.75-6.00 hours)
Day 20 Xi'an/Suzhou (1L) Enjoy some free time exploring the city before a visit one of China’s greatest archaeological treasures—the Terracotta Warriors. After enjoy a local lunch at a farmhouse before hopping on an overnight train to Suzhou. Included Activities: Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour Transport: Basic overnight train (beds) (14.00-16.00 hours)
Day 21 Suzhou Visit Suzhou, the "Venice of the East." Explore the Master of the Nets Garden, one of China's most exquisite gardens. Included Activities: Master of the Nets Garden Tour
Day 22 Suzhou/Shanghai Travel by metro and train to Shanghai. After an orientation walk along Shanghai's famous Bund, you are free to explore the delights this modern Chinese city has to offer. Included Activities: Orientation Walk of the Bund Shanghai Acrobatic Performance Transport: Metro (0.50-1.00 hours) Bullet train (0.75-1.00 hours)
Day 23 Shanghai Enjoy free time in this bustling city.
Day 24 Shanghai We highly recommend post-accommodation to fully experience all Shanghai has to offer. Included Activities: Departure Day
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