The Korean peninsula is a tantalizingly unexplored slice of East Asia – a pine-clad land of mountains, misty archipelagos and rice paddies of emerald green, studded with urban pockets of incomparable joie de vivre. While its troubled history has made Korea’s very existence nothing short of miracles, amazingly its traditions and customs have largely survived intact – and for visitors, this highly distinctive culture is an absolute joy to dive into.
While retaining its time-honored culture, Japan rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the vibrant green of the mountains, amidst the fluttering cherry blossom petals, within the transition of the four seasons, people see colors. Within Japanese-style homes, in the fragrance of wood and the outlines of tableware, Japan’s colors and shapes are messages that convey spirit and culture.
Your tour in the Far East starts from Seoul, South Korea. One of the largest and most technically advanced cities in the fast developing Asia, the Korean capital regularly confounds expectations by proving itself steeped in history. Here, fourteenth-century palaces, imperial gardens, teeming markets and secluded tearooms continue to exude charm among a maze of skyscrapers and shopping malls.
Wing on to Osaka, Japan and transfer to Kyoto, where 1000 years of history and Buddhist culture live on today. Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan for as long as 1,000 years after 794. Thirteen temples, three shrines and Nijo Castle are all registered as World Heritage Sites. Take a day trip to Nara, the first permanent capital of this island nation. This small city is full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.
A bullet train ride will take you to Hakone, a part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone is one of the most popular destinations among Japanese and international tourists looking for a break from big cities such as Tokyo.
Then, another train ride will take you to your final stop Tokyo, the Capital of Japan. The city’s history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa, and in many excellent museums, historic temples and gardens. Tokyo also offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and fine dining to its visitors.
Fly home from Narita or Haneda International Airport of Tokyo.