Immerse yourself in an incredible journey covering three fascinating countries, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Discover South Korea’s capital city, Seoul. Seoul is Korea’s financial, political, commercial and cultural centre with over 600 years of history. Travellers can explore the many archaeological sites and temples before enjoying the beautiful natural landscapes this country has to offer. After an enchanting tour of South Korea, you will explore one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Japan. Uncover a new level of cool with a journey through cherry blossoms, mountains, bustling cities and ultimately, history. Then discover the many sides of Taiwan, from picturesque towns and villages in the stunning countryside to modernist skyscrapers in the vibrant metropolis Taipei. The combination of places visited in these three countries will provide you with an unforgettable life-time experience. Start packing already!
South Korea: South Korea has become a dream destination for many travellers. The capital, Seoul, is a fast-paced cosmopolitan centre with an appetite for fashion, pop culture and the latest in high-tech gadgets. Yet just an hour away from the cityscape, travellers can find themselves enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the various national parks encompassing gorgeous hiking trails and dense mountain landscapes, and with the ancient cultural traditions retaining a strong presence throughout the country, travellers seeking a cultural experience are also sure to be satisfied.
Friendly people, delicious food and delightful contrasts between the modern and the traditional, ensure that the indomitable spirit of South Korea will absorb and inspire travellers from all walks.
Japan: We love for our customers to experience and Japanese culture & history. From the ancient temples and Zen settings of Nara and Kyoto, to the manic energy of Tokyo, this country has something for everyone. We will spend few nights of the tour in a traditional Japanese hotel, sleeping on rice straw mats called tatami. You will also visit restaurants on this tour where it is customary to remove your shoes and be seated at low tables called kotatsu. It’s all part of the Japanese experience!
Taiwan: Taiwan remains a mystery to many Australians. The ‘renegade province’ remains close to its ancient cultural roots, yet it’s super-contemporary, with the urban action sitting comfortably alongside pristine natural settings. Having escaped the Cultural Revolution on the mainland, in some ways it’s ‘more Chinese than China’ on this beautiful island. Emerging from military dictatorship in 1987, Taiwan is now a thriving democracy. Tourism has boomed, attracting travellers who come to enjoy a thriving indigenous folk culture, museums bursting with treasures, bustling night markets with a unique food culture, and the latest in high-tech gadgets. But what really makes visiting Taiwan such a pleasure is the friendly outlook of the 23 million people who call the island home.
Fly to Seoul via a connecting city. Note: some flights may depart the next day
On arrival in Seoul, you will be warmly greeted at the airport by your tour guide and transferred to your hotel.
Visit the traditional village, Andong, which features traditional houses of the Joseon Dynasty period (1392-1897). In Daegu, take a stroll in Dongseongno Shopping District, a major fashion retail district. The streets are packed with hundreds of stores full of personality that reflect the city’s fast-paced fashion trends. Enjoy magnificent views by taking a cable car to Palgongsan Natural Park.
Today we explore the many archaeological sites and temples, royal tombs, and monuments of Gyeongju, the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom (57 BC – 935 AD). Visit Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory, Royal Tumuli Park, Gyeongju National Museum, Bulguksa Temple, and Seokguram Grotto Temple.
In Busan, we visit Haedong Yonggungsa (East Sea Dragon Palace Temple), situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of the city and overlooking the ocean. Afterwards, you will have an opportunity to view the waves while looking down through the transparent floor of the 15 metre high Oryukdo Skywalk, which is set over a 35 meter-high coastal cliff. Travel to Gamcheon Culture Village situated on the foothills of a coastal mountain and nicknamed ‘Machu Picchu of Busan’. You will be thrilled by the many alleys cutting through this village, vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the local residents. Stop at one of Korea’s largest markets, Nampo Dong Gukje Market for a wide variety of goods at affordable prices. Then visit Nurimaru APEC House, a memorial hall and prestigious international conference hall located near Haeundae Beach, offering visitors spectacular views of the nearby natural landscape.
This morning, visit Changdeokgung Palace, one of the ‘Five Grand Palaces’ built by the Kings of the Jeoson Dynasty, and Insadong, a street full of traditional Korean antique and art shops, restaurants and tea houses. Continue to Cheonggyecheon Stream and admire this urban oasis before visiting Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s main commercial districts.
Visit North Korea’s 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, located within the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), a 44 km drive northwest of Seoul. In the event of an invasion from the North, an entire infantry division could have move through the tunnel in an hour. View North Korean territory, including the Propaganda Village, People’s School, and Gaeseong City – the old capital city of the Goryeo Kingdom – from the Dora Observation Platform. Also visit Freedom Park, dedicated to the 5 million people who left their families and homes in North Korea. North Hall contains displays of North Korean lifestyle. Later, try on a hanbok, the traditional attire of the Korean people at Namsan Hanbok Culture Experience Centre before experiencing the city’s best night view at Namsan Tower.
After breakfast, board a direct flight operated by a local carrier to Osaka. Your friendly tour guide will be waiting at the airport to transfer you to airport hotel. Note: Baggage allowance for this sector is 1 piece max weight 15kg per person
This morning, travel to Kyoto and visit Fushimi Inari Shrine and Nijo Castle before heading to Nara. Visit Todaiji (Great Eastern Temple), with its Great Buddha Hall – the world’s largest wooden building. This impressive building houses the world’s largest (15m) bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. Wander through Nara Park, where over 1,200 wild sika deer roam free, before travelling back to Osaka.
Spend today free at your own leisure. You may spend the day visiting one of the most spectacular Japanese aquariums, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan; or taking a day trip to Hyogo to visit Himeji Castle (pictured), an enormous and unique castle decorated in white. An optional day tour is available for some departure dates. Please see optional programs for more information.
This morning, head to Nagoya and visit Inuyama Castle. Then, head to Atsuta Shinto Shrine (covering 200,000 square meters and established almost 2000 years ago) before enjoying some time for shopping it the Osu Kannon Shopping Quarter. Transfer to your hotel in the evening.
Today, visit Oshino Hakkai. Known as the springs of Mount Fuji, the eight ponds are fed by melting snow filtering down from the slopes of nearby Mount Fuji, through porous layers of lava, resulting in very clear spring water that is revered by locals. Afterwards, visit Hakone Shinto Shrine. Standing at the foot of Mount Hakone along the shores of Lake Ashi, the shrine buildings are hidden in dense forest. Finally, visit Owakudani – ‘Great Boiling Valley’ is a valley formed by the explosion of Hakone volcano more than 300 years ago, and contains hot springs and steaming sulphur vents – visitors usually eat eggs cooked in the boiling, sulphurous waters. At the end of the day we head to Tokyo.
Spend today free at leisure. You may wish to visit Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea (admission $120) or join the Tokyo Day Tour or Nikko Day Tour ($250). Alternatively, you can join our wide range of optional programs; tea ceremony, kimono photo shoot, cooking class. NOTE: All activities are not guided and transportation is self-arranged.
Spend today free at leisure before transferring to the airport for your flight to Taipei. On arrival at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, you will be greeted warmly at the airport by your local tour guide and transferred to your hotel. Standard hotel check-in time is 3pm.
Today’s highlight is a visit to the Presidential Building (outside) and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. This afternoon, visit Tamsui – a laidback waterfront town on the northern part of Taipei city. Enjoy lunch today at Tamsui Old Street, where you can feast on many famous Taiwanese snacks. Visit Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum. This elegant building is built in the style of prosperous houses in China’s Fujian province, where many Taiwanese migrated from, and the paving stones in the courtyard were once ballast in merchant ships. In the evening, explore the bustling night life of Taipei. Have a traditional Taiwanese dinner of Xiao Long Bao, then proceed to colourful Huahsi Night Market.
This morning travel to Sun Moon Lake, situated 762 meters above sea level in the lofty mountains of central Taiwan. Cruise across the lake and take in the view of Xuanguang Temple & Lalu Island, as you relax on the lake’s tranquil waters. Then, take Sun Moon Lake Ropeway to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and observe Taiwan’s traditional indigenous lifestyles and traditions. After a dinner of Taiwanese-style roasted chicken, check in to the hotel.
After breakfast, we will head to an Oolong Tea Farm before continuing south towards Kaohsiung and Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Centre (BMC). Completed in 2011, BMC has enshrined a relic of the Buddha, gifted by Tibetan Lama Kunga Dorje Rinpoche, since the beginning of contraction in 2001. We will be spending most of our day at this place to enjoy the serene atmosphere and explore the entire area at our leisure. Then, learn how to make Pineapple Tarts at the popular Vigor Pineapple Factory. Later we will be enter Kaohsiung City and explore Pier 2 Art Central, where 25 former warehouses have been converted into a thriving arts precinct. After dinner (Taiwanese Shabu Shabu hotpot), explore one of Kaohsiung’s bustling night markets.
The highlight today is a visit to Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s first nationally recognised park and undoubtedly one of the most spectacular landscapes you will see. Be awestruck by the vastness of the natural reserve and stand on the southernmost tip of the island at Maopitou and Longpan Park, also known as ‘The Light of East Asia’ as its lighthouse is one of the most powerful along the Taiwan coast. This afternoon, head to Kenting Main Street in the heart of Kenting, an area bustling with locals, tourists and vendors. Spend lunch time discovering the numerous stalls and restaurants offering a variety of local snacks and cuisines. Travel up the scenic Southern Link Highway to Taitung Country, ending the day with dinner at the hotel.
The highlight today is a visit the East Coast National Scenic Area, known as ‘Taiwan’s last unspoiled land’, stretching 170 kilometres down the east coast of Taiwan. Weathering and erosion have produced a wide range of breathtaking landforms here which can only be appreciated first-hand. Stop at Siao-ye-liou (‘little wild willow’ geological formations), San-sien-tai (Three Immortals Island), Shi-ti-ping (Stone Steps) and take in the spectacular views. Proceed to Hualien, to Taroko National Park. Encompassing Taroko Gorge, Swallow Grotto, and Shakadong Trail, the park covers over 120,000 hectares and rises from sea level in the east to heights of over 3700m further west. The aquamarine Liwu River cuts through the centre, forging deep slit valleys before joining the sea.
Today, visit a Marble Factory on the return trip to Taipei. Depending on the size of the group, visit local scenic towns Yilan or Shifen. These towns are both rich in culture and local history, and provide a nice glimpse of Taiwan’s beautiful natural scenery. Later, visit Taipei 101 (admission fee at your own expense, payable to the guide). Experience soaring heights and impressive views at the tallest building in Taiwan, and the 6th highest in the world. Taipei 101 was the first building to exceed 500m in height and has a unique design that mimics the shape of bamboo. Dinner will be at Takao Restaurant hotpot (or similar, depending on availability).
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home via a connecting city.
Arrive back in Australia this morning.