Day 1 - Arrive Seoul, South Korea
Upon arrival in Seoul, you are met and transferred to your
hotel in the heart of the bustling capital.
Day 2 - Seoul
Begin your exploration of this vibrant city with a visit to
Gyeongbokgung Palace. Commissioned in the 14th century,
the palace has risen from the ashes of conquest several times
throughout its storied past. Today, the palace endures as the
largest of Seoul’s five historic palaces, its compound housing
a wealth of museums, gardens and architectural wonders.
Next, browse the revealing cultural exhibits of the National
Folk Museum. Continue to Bukchon Hanok Village, a
collection of hundreds of hanoks (traditional houses) dating
back to the 14th century. After a lunch of traditional Korean barbecue, stop at bustling Gwangjang Market, one of the
oldest and largest traditional street markets in South Korea,
and home to over 5,000 shops. This evening, join your fellow
guests for a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 3 - Seoul
Today, head north to join a shared tour of the demilitarized
zone (DMZ), a hotly contested border region that has
divided the Korean Peninsula since 1953. Delve deeper
with a tour of the Third Tunnel, a highly secured, mile-long
corridor linking the two countries. At Odusan Unification
Observatory, look out across the DMZ line toward North
Korea. Then, visit Dorasan Train Station, its (as yet) unused
international customs facilities a symbol of hope for the
future reunification of north and south. Return to Seoul for
an afternoon at leisure, exploring the city on your own or
relaxing at the hotel. Later this evening, embark on a street
food tour in Seoul’s exciting Myeong-Dong neighborhood,
sampling everything from Korean egg toast to hotteok
(sweet Korean pancakes).
Day 4 - Busan
This morning, take a high-speed train to Busan, South
Korea’s second largest city and one of the world’s busiest
ports. After lunch, pay a visit to the UN Cemetery, a solemn
memorial marking the final resting place of more than
2,000 Korean War veterans. Continue to Gamcheon Culture
Village and explore its colorful narrow lanes. Later, browse
Jagalchi Fish Market, taking in a vast array of exotic seafood.
Check in to your accommodations and enjoy your Scenic
Sundowner overlooking the bay.
Day 5 - Gyeongju
Travel outside of Busan to Gyeongju, former capital of the
Silla Dynasty, a kingdom that ruled Korea from 668 to 935.
Begin your exploration with a visit to Bulguksa Temple, one
of Korea’s most iconic structures. Perched atop a series of
stone terraces, the temple’s 33 steps represent Buddhism’s 33
stages to enlightenment. The temple was all but destroyed
in a 16th-century conflict with Japan. Lovingly rebuilt, it
endures today as the crowning glory of Silla architecture.
After lunch, visit Tumuli-gongwon, a large park with 23 tombs of Silla monarchs and family members. Delve
deeper at the nearby Gyeongju National Museum and its
exhibits showcasing treasures discovered within the tombs
themselves. Return to Busan for an evening at leisure.
Day 6 - Osaka & Kyoto, Japan
Fly to Osaka, Japan, where you enjoy lunch at a local
restaurant. Visit Dotonbori, the bustling heart of this foodie
capital, where diners indulge in everything from octopus
dumplings to okonomi-yai, a battered, grilled concoction of
chopped cabbage, meat or seafood, and seaweed. Continue
on to historic, temple-filled Kyoto, and check in to your
Day 7 - Kyoto
This morning, contemplate Kyoto’s iconic Zen rock garden
at Ryoan-ji, the perfect spot for a meditative moment, and
discover the glittering Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion).
Covered with gold leaf, the temple casts its delicate reflection
in a tranquil pond. After lunch, explore the Arashiyama
neighborhood, including the garden of Tenryu-ji Temple. Dating back to the 14th century, the temple buildings
themselves were destroyed and rebuilt over the course of
several conflicts, while its stunning garden has survived
the centuries in its original glory. Later, bask in the magical
atmosphere of Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, strolling along
a winding path as sunlight filters down through towering
bamboo shoots — considered by many a healing experience.
Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Day 8 - Kyoto
This morning, visit a local temple where you experience the
art of the tea ceremony, noting its refined sense of hospitality
and etiquette, which date to the time of the samurai.
Continue to the 10,000 torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine.
The Shinto shrine is renowned for its visually striking tunnel
comprised of thousands of vermilion torii gates that line a
network of trails leading into the wooded forest of Mount
Inari. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit a local sake
brewery to gain a deeper appreciation of this national spirit
and enjoy a tasting. This evening, savor traditional Japanese
cuisine while an attending geiko (as a geisha is known in
Kyoto) and maiko (apprentice geisha) dance, sing, pour sake
and chat about life in Kyoto.
Day 9 - Tokyo
This morning, transfer to Kyoto Station and board a high-speed
train bound for Tokyo. Hurtling along in excess of 170 miles per hour, your route affords a glimpse of Mount Fuji’s iconic profile. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, learn more about local history at the Edo-Tokyo Museum as you browse an extensive array of interactive exhibits spanning the heritage of the city’s last 400 years. Check in to your hotel and gather with your fellow guests for dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 10 - Tokyo
Start your day at Tsukiji Fish Market, a bustling hub of
Japanese daily life where a dizzying array of seafood can
be found. Next, gain exclusive insider access to a local
workshop specializing in taiko (traditional Japanese drum)
making. Watch as the craftspeople skillfully ply their trade,
then try your hand at playing the finished instrument. Then,
embark on a culinary adventure as a local chef leads a hands-on
sushi-making class, followed by lunch. Next, visit the
sacred Meiji Jingu Shrine and stroll along the city’s famed
Omotesando Street. Tonight, enjoy cocktails and a farewell
dinner at your hotel.
Day 11 - Depart Tokyo
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.