Crossing borders: Korea to Kyushu
Besides close geographical proximity South Korea and Japan share many similarities and make natural holiday partners. Both are countries rich in ancient history, where deep-rooted traditions are balanced by contemporary culture and technological sophistication. Natural wonders and scenic beauty can be found throughout the two, as can a distinctive cuisine and friendly people. This ten day itinerary offers a teasing taster of both destinations.
At a glance
- Discover Seoul, the city where K-pop and palace dynasties unite
- Explore the ancient tombs of Tumuli Park in Gyeongju
- Visit Busan, the little known beach destination of South Korea
- Explore Fukuoka's Shofukuji Temple, the first Zen temple to be built in Japan
- Taste ramen at the yatai - open-air food stalls in Fukuoka
Seoul - 2 nights
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a sprawling metropolis that, like Tokyo, has enjoyed rapid post war expansion and is now one of the most densely populated cities in the world. A 24-hour metropolis of glittering skyscrapers, searing neon and K-pop culture, Seoul also holds the rich history of an ancient and traditional city, where Buddhist temples, Joseon dynasty palaces and wooden ‘hanok’ houses share the space. Weave through the night bars and eateries of one of Asia’s ‘cities that never sleep’, and feed the next morning’s weary body with a comforting bowl of bibimbap.
Day 1 - Arrive Seoul
On arrival in South Korea, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your Seoul hotel.
Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these. The rest of your day is at leisure to start scoping out the best spots for dinner and drinks.
Day 2 - 'Old & New' city tour
Sample Seoul’s key highlights with your guide, travelling in local style on the subway. Start at the imposing Gyeongbokgung Palace for a behind-the-scenes glance at the royal guards in traditional costume, rehearsing before the morning’s changing ceremony. Walk ten minutes to the contrasting Bukchon Hanok Village: home to around 900 Joseon dynasty homes, built using wood and clay, with their distinctive curved roofs. Stroll through the narrow streets, stopping for a famed bibimbap one-pot wonder lunch. Visit UNESCO-listed Jongmyo Shrine (Korea’s oldest and best preserved royal Confucian shrine) to see the ‘spirit tablets’ of ancient kings and queens. In the early evening, head out with your guide to get panoramic sunset views from N Seoul Tower - the highest point in the city. With your mind full of Seoul’s wonders, return to your hotel where your evening will be at leisure.
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Gyeongju - 1 night
Often referred to as South Korea’s cultural heart, Gyeongju was capital of the Silla dynasty for close to a thousand years and is home to more temples and tombs, pagodas and palaces than anywhere else in the country. You'll spend the afternoon exploring some of these with your guide.
Day 3 - Train to Gyeongju, historical highlights
Take the KTX Express train to Gyeongju, where you'll meet your guide for an afternoon tour of Gyeongju’s historical highlights. Start at Daereungwon Tomb Complex (also known as Tumuli Park), where over two dozen large tombs, said to hold ancient kings, can be found. Step inside Cheonmachong tomb, the origin of astonishing treasures including a gold crown, to see impressive wall paintings of horses. Move on to the 7th century Cheomseongdae Observatory, reputedly the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia, then on again to Banwolseong, the site of the palace fortress during the Silla dynasty, and now an attractive park area with a handful of atmospheric ruins. The nearby Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond were originally part of the palace complex, and a treasure-trove of ancient relics, from exquisite roof tiles to gilt bronze Buddha figures, have been discovered beneath the waters. At the end of your tour, check in to your hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.
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Busan - 2 nights
Busan, South Korea’s second largest city, is famed for its beaches and seafood, and frequently referred to as ‘Seoul by the sea’. Though rich with historic sites, buzzing markets, ultra-modern high rise architecture and plenty of chic soju bars, Busan enjoys a more laid back vibe than its capital cousin in the north. Head to Haeundae beach and try some fresh seafood snacks, or marvel at the colourfully illuminated suspension bridge across the bay from Gwangalli sands, before finding peace amid the city’s temples and enjoying a night on the town.
Day 4 - Temple visits, journey to Busan, cable car ride
Head straight to Seokguram Grotto this morning, sitting on Mount Toham overlooking the sea. This UNESCO-listed cave temple houses a 11.5 feet tall, seated Buddha made from white granite, and other incredibly well preserved sculptures. Walk back downhill to the unusual, 6th-century Bulguksa Temple - a complex of wooden halls, pagodas and shrines built on raised stone terraces, which is still a practising place of worship and home to Buddhist monks.
Following an insightful tour depart Gyeongju, heading south towards the seaside city of Busan. Spend the afternoon exploring Gamcheon Art Village before gliding high above Songdo Beach on a scenic cable car ride.
Day 5 - Tour of Busan’s highlights
Set out early for Beomeosa Temple on the picturesque slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan to explore this designated National Treasure, still home to around 150 monks, and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. In contrast, your next stop is the Jagalchi Fishery Market: a noisy, frantic place full of a mind-blowing array of freshly caught seafood, where you can stop for lunch at an eatery recommended by your local guide. Pause at BIFF Square, the original location for the prestigious Busan International Film Festival, then take a high-speed lift up the 390-feet high Busan Tower to enjoy panoramic views over the city. Your last stop of the day is Taejongdae, where you can stand on the rocky clifftops and gaze across the sea towards Japan’s Tsushima Islands.
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Fukuoka - 4 nights
Fukuoka grew from a castle town and its nearby port into the largest city on Kyushu island, and one of the oldest in Japan, known throughout the country as being the home of Zen Buddhism. The contrast between its two historic areas can be seen as you wander along the beaches at the redeveloped harbour area, and the waterways of Canal City, enjoying the museums, restaurants and futuristic skyline. The city is actually closer to Seoul than Tokyo, and shares many cultural ties with Korea and China. The result is most obvious in the city's diverse cuisine!
Day 6 - Ferry to Fukuoka
Transfer to Busan's ferry terminal in time for the 3.5 hour hydrofoil journey to Fukuoka in Japan. Having passed through immigration, you will be welcomed by a Selective Asia representative, who will accompany you to your hotel via public transport. The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Day 7 - Explore Fukuoka at your own pace
Your day is at leisure to explore Fukuoka and your Selective Asia consultant can help design the ideal self-guided day, with the tools & freedom to discover the city at your own pace. Perhaps begin with a morning visit to the Yanagibashi Rengo Ichiba fish market, dating back to 1916; enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Ohori Park; visit the Gokoku shrine with its impressive 13-metre tall torii gate built of Japanese cypress; or explore the Fukuoka Castle Ruins. As the sun sets we recommend taking in the panoramic views over the city and sea from the observation room of the 234 metre tall Fukuoka Tower.
Day 8 - Explore Nokonoshima Island, Shofukuji & Tochoji temples
Take the ferry to nearby Nokonoshima Island this morning with your guide. Though only a short ferry journey away, this small island has a very different feel to Fukuoka city and is famous for its beautiful flower fields. Each season sees a different variety of flowers and blossoms in bloom, from poppies to cherry blossom; dahlia to sunflowers. Returning to Fukuoka city after lunch, head to the 12th century Shofukuji Temple, the first Zen temple to be built in Japan, and then visit nearby Tochoji Temple, home to a 33 foot tall wooden statue of Buddha seated on a pedestal. Say farewell to your guide and your evening is free to explore the open-air food stalls.
Day 9 - Day at leisure to explore Dazaifu or Nagasaki
Your day is at leisure to explore Fukuoka’s surrounding regions and your Selective Asia consultant can help design the perfect self-guided day for you. You may like to visit nearby Dazaifu, the location of the Kyushu government for more than 500 years, playing a pivotal role in Japan’s defence and diplomatic relations and home to a number of interesting shrines and temples. Alternatively, head further afield to Nagasaki, forever linked with World War II history and the dropping of a second atomic bomb, however there is so much more to this picturesque city and it’s worthy of a full day visit. Whilst the Peace Park and sobering Atomic Bomb Museum are essential stops on any trip to Nagasaki, we also recommend visiting Glover Gardens where you can see the traditional homes that were built for British merchants and Oura Cathedral – the oldest wooden, gothic-style church in Japan.
Day 10 - Depart Fukuoka
Your day is at leisure until making your way to the airport for your onward flight.
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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.
Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.
|Hotel class||Price per person (based on total # travelling)|
|2 persons||3 - 4||5 - 6|
Crown Park HotelThe Crown Park is a hotel with the feel good factor, as part of its profits are reinvested in providing scholarships for Korean students, through the Kwanjeong Educational Foundation... See more
Gyeongju GG HotelThe Gyeongju GG Hotel enjoys a central location near the tumuli park region, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. See more
Ibis Ambassador BusanThis is an ideal choice if your goal is to get out and explore the city of Busan. It’s reasonably priced and centrally located, without all the bells and whistles of the more costly city hotels... See more
JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Hakata Chuo
With crisp interiors and familiar facilities, JR Kyushu Hakata Chuo ‘Blossom’ is a great no-nonsense option for city exploring...See more
Grand Ambassador SeoulThe Grand Ambassador enjoys a convenient location in the upmarket Jung-gi district of Seoul with shopping, sightseeing, dining and entertainment options right on the doorstep... See more
Commodore HotelThe Commodore makes a comfortable base for exploring the historical city of Gyeongju, boasting an enviable location on the edge of Lake Bomun, within easy access of the Silla tombs and Gyeongju’s other historic sites... See more
Avani Central Busan
Newly opened in 2019, the Avani Central Busan offers excellent value for money...See more
Hotel Nikko FukuokaA very short walk from Hakata station, the Hotel Nikko is a convenient and well-equipped choice for accommodation in Fukuoka, with a good range of dining options on the premises... See more
Grand Hyatt SeoulThe Grand Hyatt occupies a lofty setting at the foot of Mount Namsan, surrounded by landscaped gardens – an oasis away from the busy Seoul metropolis that is just 10 minutes downhill... See more
Hilton GyeongjuWhat makes the Hilton Gyeongju stand apart from its competition is its focus on art. The expansive lobby showcases a dramatic Miró canvas stretched right across it; artworks grace the walls ... See more
Paradise Hotel BusanThis large, luxury hotel certainly lives up to its name. There’s the sands of Haeundae Beach on its doorstep, a dedicated play areas for kids, a casino for the high-rollers, and an infinity pool with ocean views... See more
Grand Hyatt FukuokaEmbedded in Canal City - a smart complex in central Fukuoka - the Grand Hyatt is an impressive property all round... See more
Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.
These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
The important stuff
Please note: South Korean and Japanese hotel contracts are extremely seasonal in comparison to most of their Asian counterparts and therefore you should expect surcharges at various times of the year, including weekends, not just during peak seasons such as Christmas, New Year and Cherry Blossom. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.
- English speaking, local guide
- All accommodation listed
- Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
- All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals listed
- International flight reconfirmation
- Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
- Entry visas
- International airport departure taxes
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Drinks, other than water on activity days
- Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
- Travel insurance
- All other services not listed in 'inclusive'
All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.
FlightsWe will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.
VisaYou will not require a visa to enter South Korea or Japan. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.
PassportPlease ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.
InsuranceYou will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.
Vaccinations and Malaria PreventionYou will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.
Booking ProcedureOnly once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.
Travelling ResponsiblyWe care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.
Our tailor-made service costs you no extra
This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...
Your own private guides & drivers
You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.