24-day South Korea and Japan Tour | The Dragon Trip

24-day South Korea & Japan Tour

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24 days Seoul to Osaka

24-day South Korea & Japan Tour

Start your epic tour travelling through the major regions, epic sites and hidden gems of South Korea, before jetting off to explore Japan’s rich culture, unique history and natural beauty.

Tick incredible destinations off your bucket list and go off-the-beaten-track to parts of South Korea you never knew you needed to see, every single day you’re there.From neon-lit metropolises to rolling countryside hills, long sandy beaches to temples in the mountains, and even a visit to the historic Demilitarized Zone. Fly across the sea to bustling Tokyo where you’ll continue your unforgettable adventure. Our adventure leaders will take you to the best spots in town and have you living life like a local. Find more details below or use the chat on the right hand of your screen to speak to one of our experts!

This trip begins in South Korea and ends in Japan

If you would like to travel to Japan first and then travel to South Korea, this is possible on specific tour dates. Just get in contact for more information!

What's included

Hostel Icon
Accommodation

Including hostels, bath houses, temples & 1 night in a Ryokan

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Adventure Leader

Bilingual Adventure Leaders in each city

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Transport

All transport within Japan & South Korea as well as the flight between them.

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Activities

50 activities included
Optional activities can be added.
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Itinerary & map

Day 1 – Seoul:

Get ready to start your South Korea adventure tour by meeting your guide and group at the hostel in the afternoon! Listen to a pre-departure brief as you find out everything you need to know about your trip. This is also an opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers over a Taekwondo Class and dinner which is a feast of Korean barbecue food – enjoy!

After a delicious meal, make your way to the top of Namsan Mountain, where you can admire spectacular views of Seoul lit up at night. Recognised as the most popular location in Seoul for couples, wander through the “padlocks of love” locked at the base of Seoul N Tower, representing visitors’ endless love! If you want an even better view of the city, you can head to the top of the Seoul N Tower.

Later, hop on public transport back to the district of Hongdae where your accommodation is. Enjoy some time to stroll around and explore the hip area or get an early night ready for your first full day tomorrow!

Day 2 – Seoul:

Today, you will visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Climb aboard a bus, taking you an hour north of Seoul to Imjingak, where you’ll have the chance to grab some breakfast. Continue your journey to Dorasan Station, the northernmost train stop in South Korea that was once intended to connect the country with North Korea. While there, you can buy a commemorative train ticket!

Pay a visit to Dora Observatory where you can see the nearest North Korean villages through binoculars. If you’re lucky, you might even see some people in the streets. Next, descent into the 3rd Tunnel created by North Koreans, taking you as close as 170m to North Korea!

After, you will begin your journey back to Seoul and make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk to a North Korean defector on the bus. Back in Seoul, try out a K-Pop Dance Class and then enjoy a night out in Hongdae, best known for its endless restaurant and bar options.

Day 3 – Seoul:

Today, you’ll wake up nice and early for a day exploring the ancient side of Seoul. Hop on the metro to Gyeongbokgung Palace where you’ll have the chance to watch the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony, before entering the palace groups itself.
After, make your way to Bukchon Hanok Village, stopping by the Blue House, which is the White House of South Korea, on the way. This is the official residence of the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in.

In Bukchon Hanok Village, you can change into hanbok, traditional Korean clothes, to walk around the historical village. After a jam-packed morning, enjoy a group lunch with your fellow travellers at Tongin Market, or grab something yourself from the nearby area.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a walk down the Cheonggyecheon stream, an area of tranquillity and relaxation restored during an urban renewal project. Afterwards, prepare to be inspired by the Insadong Art Street where you can take part in an optional Kimchi Tasting session at Museum Kimchikan.

In the evening, you will have some free time to explore Seoul further. Walk around Insadong Hanok Street, immerse yourself in local life with a group dinner at pojangmacha – soju or head back to Hongdae Street for a night out on a pub crawl!

Day 4 – Seoul & Sokcho:

Check out of your accommodation and depart for day-trip to Sokcho, in the north-eastern part of the country. Arrive at Seoraksan National Park in the late morning and pay a visit to Sinheungsa Temple. Embark on a hike to Ulsanbawi Rock for spectacular views over the national park. For those looking for a less challenging hike, you can hike the well-signed waterfall trail and board a cable car to another peak.

Refuel with some lunch back at the entrance of the park before taking the bus to Sokcho town. Here, you’ll travel on a gatbae to cross the river to Abai, a small village of North Korean refugees. Explore the historical village before climbing to the Lighthouse Observatory for incredible views of Seoraksan Mountain, the East Sea and Sokcho.

In the evening, enjoy a dinner with the rest of the group in and around the local fish markets. We’d recommend one of the most famous Korean fried chicken restaurants in the area, Manseok, known for its sticky sweet and sour boneless fried chicken.

Day 5 – Gyeongju:

After a night of relaxation and rejuvenation, check out of your accommodation and walk to Seoul station. Grab some breakfast before taking the train to Singyeongju Station near the city of Gyeongju.

After checking into your hostel, enjoy lunch at Seongdong Traditional Market or one of the many surrounding restaurants.

Get ready for an afternoon exploring Gyeongju by bike! First up, explore Cheonmachong Ancient Tombs, part of the Daereungwon Tomb Complex in Tumuli Park. Then, make your way to Cheomseongdae, the oldest existing astronomical observatory in East Asia.

Want to experience authentic Korean food? Have dinner at Dosol Maeul, a local restaurant serving traditional Korean set meals in an equally authentic environment! Later, why not take a stroll around to Anapji Pond for some amazing night time views of the palace? Be sure to pack your cameras because the lights are stunning.

Day 6 – Gyeongju:

Start the day early with a visit to Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Cultural Asset, or take the opportunity to have a lie-in. Grab a bite to eat for lunch in the city before transferring to Golgulsa Temple, where you’ll experience an overnight temple stay.

Upon arrival, check into the temple and start the day’s activities with a meditation class. Afterwards, try out the traditional arts Sunmudo before lending a hand to the temple’s communal work.

Enjoy a simple Buddhist dinner of vegetables, rice and fruit with the other temple visitors. Take part in the evening chanting service and meditation before learning the basics of Sunmudo yourself!

Day 7 – Busan:

Wake up with the sunrise and take part in the morning chanting service and meditation, followed by starting the day right with a traditional breakfast. After a relaxing morning, take part in your final Sunmudo training lesson to master your skills.

After a relaxing morning, take part in your final Sunmudo training lesson to master your skills. Have a delicious lunch before taking the bus back to the city. Then, make your way to Gyeongju bus station where you’ll start your journey to Busan. Arrive in the late afternoon and head straight to your accommodation, after which you will visit the unmissable Gamcheon Village.

Check in and make yourself comfortable before heading out for dinner. Grab some amazing food at tables along the beachfront. Make your way to Jagalchi Market, the biggest seafood market in South Korea. Wander through the bright and colourful stalls showcasing a huge variety of the day’s fresh catch. Pick the best of the bunch for a tasty lunch before heading to Nampo-dong, the city’s famous movie district and home to the annual Busan International Film Festival.

Day 8 – Busan:

Head out for a day exploring Busan. First up, visit Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a Buddhist temple nestled in the coastline’s cliffs.

Feeling in need of some more rejuvenation? Head to Spa Land in Centum City, located in Busan’s largest shopping complex! Make the most of South Korea’s high-quality jjimjilbang while you’re here and treat yourself to saunas, cold rooms, jacuzzis and more.

Take the metro to Gwangan Beach and enjoy dinner with your fellow travellers. Try the Korean delicacy, jokbal, or hit up Slice of Life for the best New York-style pizza around. Once the sun sets, be sure to admire the light show on Gwangan Bridge.

Day 9 – Busan:

Enjoy a free morning to explore Busan.

Venture out on your own or take part in some of our suggested activities. For example, you can join a cooking class and learn to make the Korean dishes you’ve tried throughout your trip. Alternatively, take a day trip to the colourful Gamcheon Culture Village, or embark on the Igidae Coastal Walk and Oryukdo Skywalk.

Later, you will collect your belongings from the hostel and make your way to the port where you’ll catch an overnight ferry to Jeju Island. Catch a great view of the city from the top deck as you pull out of the port. Chill out with your fellow travellers in the lounge areas or head to bed ready for an early start in the morning.

Day 10 – Jeju Island:

You will eat breakfast on board the ferry in the morning. Once you have reached Jeju, head to Seongsan Ilchulbong and enjoy a morning hike for some beautiful views. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a unique formation that was formed by hydrovolcanic eruptions over 5,000 years ago! Make your way back down the mountain, to then try out some sailing on yachts and enjoy the fresh sea air. The afternoon is then free for your own exploration and you can ask us for our recommendations.

Day 11 – Jeju Island:

In the morning, depart by private transfer on a day trip to Jeongbang Waterfall. Start the day at the waterfall, the only one of its kind in Asia, which flows directly into the ocean. Then, embark on a day-long trek along the Jeju Olle Trail.

Take a break and refuel with lunch in Seogwipo city before continuing your trek to Oedolgae Rock. Take in the gorgeous natural scenery along the way, from the volcanic cliffs to the bright yellow fields of canola.

Return to the hostel in the early afternoon and enjoy some well-deserved rest time! Relax on the beach or chill in the hostel before your final night’s celebrations. If you’ve still got some energy, head out on to the water a try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding.

In the evening, kick back with a barbecue dinner! Eat delicious food, watch the sun go down and if you want, party into the night by the seashore.

Day 12 – Jeju Island & Seoul- Tokyo:

Bid farewell to the group and to Korea and get ready to fly to another East Asian cultural paradise in the form of Japan!

On the first day of your budget Japan tour, you will meet your Adventure Leader in the lobby of the Tokyo hostel in the morning, and drop off your luggage, have a briefing, discuss the itinerary and get to know your fellow travellers.

After your briefing you will head to the Asakusa District and visit the Sensō-Ji temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple.

At lunchtime, you will feast on the freshest sashimi you’ve ever eaten! This will take place at Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji Outer Market, where you’ll also be amazed by the variety of fish on offer and catch a glimpse of the famous blue-fin tuna. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry, your Adventure Leader will let you know where you can grab a bite to eat.

After lunch, you will soak up incredible views from the top of Metropolitan Government Building and then take part in some optional activities – either experience one of Japan’s national obsessions (baseball, at a local batting cage) or kick back and relax with a drink or bathe with the locals at a nearby bathhouse.

Day 13 – Tokyo:

In the morning, you’ll discover the Japanese art of sushi-making with an unforgettable lesson from a sushi chef, and then sample your creations for lunch!

Later, you will visit Akihabara, Japan’s ‘electric town’ and hub of Anime, which is also home to Japan’s most famous J-pop group, AKB48. You will find venues specialising in manga and games such as the Tokyo Anime Center. Here, you can take part in an optional ‘Made in Tokyo’ experience at one of the Akihabara’s maid cafes.

In the evening, you can head to Golden Gai and experience Japanese nightlife!

Day 14 – Tokyo:

Start the morning with a trip to the unmissable Tokyo Imperial Palace – an abundance of gardens and galleries, with guided tours and castle ruins. Surrounding the home of the Emperor, the grounds are perfectly maintained and are a top attraction for visitors to the capital. Here, you’ll learn more about why Japan’s Imperial Family is so unique.

It’s another afternoon of traditional-modern contrast in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. Your first stop will be Harajuku, which is Tokyo’s fashion district, you will encounter punks, goths, technicolour hair – anything goes in Harajuku. Take in the industrial vibes and if you want, grab some hair dye and get involved!

After this, you will make your way to Shibuya to visit the Meiji Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.

Then, you’ll head to the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world and iconic landmark, Shibuya Crossing. This is where you will find the Hachiko Statue. After, why not stop by the Cat Café MoCHA to make some furry friends while enjoying a cup of tea and slice of cake?

If you want to experience some more nightlife, you can explore the streets of Roppongi. If not, you can have a relaxing evening at the hostel.

Day 15 – Tokyo:

First thing in the morning, head to Tokyo’s Iconic area Odaiba to discover Tokyo’s magnificent cityscapes and urban attraction of Tokyo.

Upon arriving of Odaiba, walk to Joy polis the indoor amusement park produced by the game company called “Sega” which has most high-tech rides from the world and enjoy your free time with free rides ticket.

Meet in front of “Love sign” by Aqua city then walk down  to see Actual size Gundam Statue

Head Back to hostel, then free rest of the day

Day 16 – Tokyo & Kamakura:

Off to a new destination: Kamakura! After breakfast in Tokyo, it’s time to say goodbye to the modern capital and hop on a train to Japan’s medieval center. Kamakura is a seaside Japanese city south of Tokyo. As the political centre of medieval Japan, today, Kamakura is a resort town with many Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines.

Upon arrival you have the option to rent a surfboard and head to the beach, as the hostel is moments away from the coast, or you can make the most of this opportunity to sunbathe. There are beachside bars where you can relax, enjoy a drink, and watch the sunset later on.

Later on, you will explore some of the town’s many ancient shrines, and then hike over to Kotoku-in Temple to marvel at the Great Buddha statue, which stands at nearly 45ft tall, even after a tsunami, and is made of solid bronze! Afterwards, you will hike to Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine or you can kick back in one of the many beach front bars and watch the sun go down.

Day 17 – Hakone:

Say goodbye to Kamakura as you hop on a series of trains and buses to Hakone station. When you arrive you will hike along the Old Tokaido and enjoy lunch near Moto-Hakone. Hakone used to be a checkpoint to control traffic along the Tokaido, the highway which linked Tokyo with Kyoto during the feudal Edo Period. Today, a passage of the old Tokaido is located along the shore of Lake Ashi.

Later, you will climb aboard a sightseeing cruise with a twist – it’s a pirate ship! From the deck of this ship, you’ll cross the Lake Ashi’s clear blue waters and, on a cloudless day, get an unforgettable view of the famous Mount Fuji.

You’ll take the Hakone Ropeway for a great cable car journey that drops you at Owakudani, an active volcanic zone where you can try black eggs – a local delicacy coloured by the sulphuric water they’re boiled in.

Spend the evening soaking in the sulphuric water of a traditional Japanese outdoor bath, called an ‘Onsen’. (Please note: those with tattoos may not be able to enter an ‘onsen’ in Japan as tattoos are associated with gang culture – you can read more about it here)

Change into your kimono after a long hot bath ready to learn about the art of Japanese rice wine during a Sake tasting session! You’ll listen to an introduction about how sake is made, the different varieties and top it off with tasting opportunities to truly understand the art.

Day 18 – Kyoto, Arashiyama

Next, you’re off to Kyoto via bullet train. You’ll zoom across the country, covering around 273 miles in two hours, leaving plenty of time to experience Kyoto later in the day and evening.

After leave your Luggage at the hotel departure to Kiyomizu Temple which one of the most Iconic Buddhist Temple in Japan also chosen by Unesco as world heritage site.

Then free time in Gino Area. You can wander through Pontocho alley in the Geisha District.

In the evening you have option to explore city centre of Kyoto or return to the Hostel with the group.

Day 19- Kyoto:

Spend the morning on the Hozugawa River Cruise.

Then Arrive at Togetsukyo Bridge and Head across to the Arashiyama Monkey Park, where you can feed monkeys or simply enjoy the panorama of Kyoto below.

After optional lunch, pay a visit to Tenryu-Ji Temple to see breath taking Zen garden. After leaving the temple, hike through Arashiyama’s Bamboo Forest.

Then, Departure to Kyoto city for Calligraphy Class

Evening is Karaoke!

Day 20 – Kyoto:

Take a breather and relax your vocal cords after the previous night’s exertions – you have a free day to enjoy!

If you feel you have the energy, we would suggest taking a look at the majestic temples that adorn the Philosopher’s path.

Alternatively, you could check out the Todaiji Temple and deer Park in Nara and Fushimi Inari Shrine for thousands of red torii gate which is at southern part of Kyoto.

Day 21 – Kyoto & Hiroshima:

Today you will cycle around Kyoto like a local! First, you’ll ride over to a Zen temple where you can discover your inner peace with meditation led by a Buddhist monk.

Continuing your Kyoto adventure, admire an iconic image of Kyoto: The Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-Ji. Walk around the mirror pond and prepare to be mesmerised by the shimmering golden reflection of the pavilion on the water.

After lunch, jump on your bike and cycle around to the Imperial Palace, before bidding farewell to this magical city. In the afternoon, you’ll take another bullet train and venture further west for Hiroshima.

Day 22 – Hiroshima:

Hiroshima, a modern city on Japan’s Honshu Island, was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. Today, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the 1945 event. Here, you will find out how this city came to suffer the consequences of the world’s first atomic bomb, but you will also learn that Hiroshima is now the standard bearer for a peaceful and nuclear-free world.

After a train ride and a short ferry trip to Miyajima Island, you’ll reach the Itsukushima shrine. To avoid angering the gods on the island, the main temple buildings were built on stilts on the shores of the island. Just offshore, you will see an enormous torii gate standing in the sea. At low tide, you can walk across the sand to take a closer look.

Make your way back to the hostel and enjoy a free evening to relax.

Day 23 – Osaka:

Today, another bullet train will take you to Osaka – you’ll arrive in time for lunch in the Shinsaibashi area.

After enjoying your typically Japanese lunch of yakitori, ramen, sushi or whatever takes your fancy, it’s a short subway ride to the Osaka Castle. The castle is one of Japan’s most famous landmarks as it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the 16th century. Take a stroll around the castle that rises above the moat, and don’t forget to check out the 9-level dungeon.

Time for a free afternoon! You can choose to explore more of Osaka on your own, have the ultimate Japanese shopping experience in Shinsaibashi or have a rest.

Your evening you will start the night off by playing off to become The Dragon Trip Arcade Challenge Champion, or eat, drink, game and enjoy the endless Dotonbori and Namba night scenes.

Tonight, you will sleep at a capsule hotel – small, private and quintessentially Japanese.

Day 24 – Osaka:

Say goodbye to your fellow Dragons over breakfast in Osaka before catching your final bullet train back to Tokyo – where you’ll arrive at 13:42pm.

Safe travels!

Photos

South Korea Included Activities:
  • Welcome dinner of Korean barbeque (Seoul)
  • Enjoy the great views of Seoul from Namsan Mountain (Seoul)
  • Visit the Demilitarized Zone and have the chance to talk to a North Korean defector (Seoul)
  • Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)
  • Walk around the historic Bukchon Hanok Village (Seoul)
  • Pay a visit to Insadong art street (Seoul)
  • Visit Seoroksan National Park, Sokcho town, Abai Village via a cable pulley boat, then walk to the Lighthouse Observatory for breathtaking views (Sokcho)
  • Spend the night at Jjimjilbang the traditional bathhouses (Sokcho)
  • Take a cycling tour of Gyeongju (Gyeongju)
  • Overnight stay at Golgulsa Temple: take part in meditation and chanting services, traditional arts performance and Kunmudo lesson, drink tea with a Buddhist monk and enjoy traditional Buddhist meals (Gyeongju)
  • Ride Busan’s Marine Cable Car (Busan)
  • Take part in a Haenyeo Divers Experience (Jeju)
  • Traditional Liquor Making Workshop (Jeju)
  • Hike to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong (Jeju)
  • Witness a Haenyeo Divers performance by the beach (Jeju)
  • Day trek along the Jeju Olle Trail (Jeju)
  • Enjoy a BBQ party by the beach (Jeju)
  • Domestic flight from Jeju Island to Seoul
  • International flight from Seoul to Tokyo
Japan Included Activities:
  • Airport bus ticket into Tokyo
  • Panoramic city views from the Metropolitan Government building (Tokyo)
  • Tsukiji Outer Market (Tokyo)
  • Asakusa district and Sensoji Temple (Tokyo)
  • Shinjuku Batting Cages (Tokyo)
  • Sushi-making class (Tokyo)
  • Explore Akihabara (Tokyo)
  • Tokyo Imperial Palace Nijubashi Bridge (Tokyo)
  • Imperial Palace East Gardens (Tokyo)
  • Head to Meiji Shrine (Tokyo)
  • Visit the famous Shibuya Cross and Hachiko statue (Tokyo)
  • Edo-Tokyo Museum (Tokyo)
  • Sumo Museum (Tokyo)
  • Samurai Museum (Tokyo)
  • Visit the Daibutsu Buddha located in the Kotoku-in (Kamakura)
  • Hike to Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine (Kamakura)
  • Hike along the Old Tokaido (Hakone)
  • Take the Hakone sightseeing cruise from Moto-Hakone to Togendai (Hakone)
  • Ride the ropeway to Owakudani (Hakone)
  • Sake tasting session, only for travellers aged 20+ (Hakone)
  • Kiyomizu Dera (Kyoto)
  • Watch a Geisha show (Kyoto)
  • Take a cruise down the Hozugawa River (Kyoto)
  • Visit the Iwatayama Monkey Park (Kyoto)
  • Tenryuji Temple (Kyoto)
  • Walk through Arashiyama Bamboo Forest (Kyoto)
  • Cycling city tour (Kyoto)
  • Daisen-in Temple: Meditation class (Kyoto)
  • Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji (Kyoto)
  • Visit the Peace Memorial Museum (Hiroshima)
  • Day trip to Miyajima island (Hiroshima)
  • The Great Torii (Hiroshima)
  • Osaka Castle (Osaka)

 

Find our extra optional activities here.

Drones

The use of Drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is prohibited during activities organized by The Dragon Trip. If you are in possession of a drone when entering the country it is your responsibility to be informed of and follow all local laws. This may include registering your drone with authorities. If you violate this policy or operate a drone illegally you are subject to removal from the tour as per our terms & conditions.

If you would like to travel to Japan first and then South Korea, this is possible on tours departing either 18th June 2020 or the 1st October 2020.

A deposit is required to make a reservation on our Japan and South Korea tours, with the balance due 70 days prior to departure (unless booking with one of our promotions, for which specific balance due dates may apply).

The deposit is 10% of the group tour price (unless stated otherwise). If you book on to our Japan and South Korea tours less than 70 days prior to departure, the full balance will be due within 3 days of booking.

No bookings can be accepted within 40 days of a trip departure date.

The price of a single room upgrade for the trip is £940 and a double room upgrade is £910 per room (£455 per person). Please note that for one night the room in Osaka is “private” but in a capsule hotel.

Visit our FAQs page. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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