Cultural Highlights of Japan and South Korea
Immerse yourself in the unique cultures and history of two fascinating nations
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- A range of cultural tours with an English speaking guide
- Flight from Korea to Japan and train travel
- Private transfers
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
Discover both South Korea and Japan on this privately guided journey to a selection of their highlights, mixing ancient history with ultra-modern metropolises, time-honoured traditions with eccentric subcultures, intricate artisan crafts with cutting edge art, and zen gardens with thronging markets.
Begin your two-weeks in the vast city of Seoul, one of East Asia’s major centres. Here, been shown around fabulous palaces and historic villages, try incredible street food, ascend the iconic N Seoul Tower and visit some eclectic museums, getting a sense the capital’s storied past and exciting present. Next Venture south to seaside Busan, Korea’s second city, where you’ll visit fish markets, the rainbow houses of Gamcheon and take a day trip to Gyeongju to see its 8th century temples and tombs.
A hop across the Sea of Japan sees you arriving amid the bright lights of Tokyo. Once again, a private English-speaking guide accompany you around some favourite sights including shrines, Edo era streets, famous temples and for a traditional tea ceremony. Board a bullet train across Honshu Island to Kanazawa, wandering the city’s incredibly well-preserved old centre, the magnificent Kenrokuen Garden and contrastingly contemporary galleries while staying in a ‘ryokan’, a type of traditional Japanese inn in the green hills a short way out of the city.
End with a final three nights in Kyoto, the former Imperial capital of Japan, home to another fine selection of iconic temples, gardens and palaces sat in the middle of an invigoratingly modern urban centre. As well as seeing the best of these, be shown around the Geisha District and visit nearby the beautiful old city Nara to meets it famous deer resident.
Example Trip Itinerary
Private transfer to your hotel in Seoul
Accommodation in Seoul
- 185 guestrooms including 38 suites
- Three restaurants
- 24th floor infinity pool
- Spa & Fitness Centre
In Seoul’s exclusive Gangnam District, the Park Hyatt’s towering glass structure encloses a thoroughly modern and understatedly elegant city hotel. It has an unmistakably Korean soul, littered as it is with select Korean antiques and works by local artists. There are a grand total of 185 guestrooms including 38 suites, the generous space maximised by the floor to ceiling windows and incredible city views in every room. Bathrooms don’t scrimp on size either with deep soaking baths and a rain shower. A particular highlight of the hotel is the 24th floor infinity pool with expansive vistas best at sunset. There’s also a modern fitness studio and spa. The Park Hyatt Seoul has three dining options; Cornerstone, an open kitchen restaurant specializing in grilled meats and seafood prepared in wood-burning ovens, the 24th floor Lounge’s Korean dishes and light snacks, and the Timber House, with its three bars (Sake/Soju/Sushi, Whisky and Cocktails) and exquisite Japanese cuisine.
- 317 rooms
- Seven restaurants and bars
- Swimming pool
- Golf simulator
Located in the heart of Seoul, the Four Seasons is a luxury five-star hotel perfectly positioned to allow guests to soak up the energy of this vibrant city. The hotel decor is a mix of old and new. Its 317 rooms and suites combine classic Korean motifs with a clean, modern aesthetic. Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure rooms are filled with natual light, and offer incredible views out over the city towards the mountains in the distance. Eating and drinking at the hotel is a real treat, with seven restaurants and bars to choose from. Enjoy sushi and Japanese sharing plates at Kioku, Italian cuisine served straight from the open kitchen of Boccalino, Korean favourites at Maru, or Cantonese at the Michelin-starred Yu Yuan. Indulge in a treatment in the spa, unwind in the Korean sauna, work out in the gym or take a dip in the indoor swimming pool. There is also a golf simulator where five 3D screens display courses from around the world and state-of-the-art technology means you can analyse swing and posture without having to step foot outside.
South Korea’s capital and by far its largest city with a metropolitan area home to over half the country’s entire population, Seoul is one of East Asia’s major centres of culture and commerce. A contrasting mix of bleeding edge technology and tradition, an incredible work ethic and serene Buddhist temples, utterly unique youth subcultures and conformity, it is a truly fascinating city.
Bisected by the Han River into the northern historic ‘Gangbuk’ and modern southern ‘Gangnum’ halves, Seoul is further divided into 25 districts, known as gu, each with an area and population comparable to a small city. With these each having their own centre, the whole metropolis has no true core, much like Los Angeles. Thankfully getting around is easy as Seoul enjoys an incredibly comprehensive, modern and genuinely pleasant metro system.
Sites to see include five major palaces, numerous temples and many museums. Food lovers will be spoilt with delectable street food, busy markets and great restaurants while numerous and vast nightlife districts play host to one of the liveliest city scenes in the world. Getting out of town, the surrounding mountains reward hikes with spectacular city views.
Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace (also known as the Northern Palace) was the main Joseon Dynasty royal palace in Seoul. Among the city's most popular sites, it is a symbol of South Korea and represents its national sovereignty. In the heart of the city, the complex expanded until the Japanese invasion of 1592 when it was reduced to ashes. It wasn't until 1867 that, under Regent Heungseon Daewongun, a restoration was completed on a grand scale, with some 330 buildings within the palace walls including offices for royal and state officials, living quarters and gardens. Due to it's importance, it was again demolished under Japanese occupation in 1915, with a second round of rebuilding and restoration beginning in 1990.
Surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses called hanok that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing visitors with an insight into Korean life here some 600 years ago.
Insa-dong, located in the heart of the city, is where you can find Korean art, crafts and antiques for sale. There is one main road in Insa-dong with alleys on each side. Within these alleys are galleries, traditional restaurants, tea houses and cafes. To keep the ambience, even international chains like Starbucks change their usual signage from English to Korean Hangeul.
Gwangjang Market is one of the Seoul's oldest street markets, an energetic place with some 5,000 independent stalls and shops selling food and clothing. It's also famous for its delicious Mung-bean pancake (Bindaetteok).
Standing atop Namsan Mountain, the N Seoul Tower was built in 1971, instantly becoming an iconic landmark of the city. It's observation deck was opened in 1980 and the panoramic views it affords are a must for any visitor.
The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art has two distinct halves. Museum 1, designed by architect Mario Botta, houses a collection of traditional Korean art. 36 pieces are designated national treasures and the exhibits range from landscapes and folk paintings to traditional ceramics and porcelain, 14th century daggers, crowns, Buddhist art, sculptures and manuscripts. Museum 2 is the work of Jean Nouvel and features modern and contemporary art from both Korean and foreign artists such as Damien Hirst, Warhol, Rothko, Yves Klein and Donald Judd.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza was built in 2014, designed by world famous architect Zaha Hadid. Also known simply as the DDP, it is is located in the center of the Dongdaemun area and has become the newest iconic landmark of Seoul after N Seoul Tower. Its sweeping neofuturistic shapes house large exhibition and art spaces, numerous shops and the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park which was made around historic remains uncovered during construction.
The 19km-long Bugak Skyway runs along the northeast ridge of Bugaksan Mountain. Opened in September 1968, the road quickly became known as one of Korea’s most scenic driving routes with lovely views of Bibong and Munsubong peaks on one side and Namsan Mountain on the other side. Trees line the roadside and different flowers bloom each season. The skyway leads to an octagonal pavilion at the top called Palgakjeong, where visitors can get a panoramic view of the city.
The Korea Furniture Museum offers a fascinating overview of Korean antique furniture and craftsmanship in a beautifully restored traditional house that hosts over 2,000 pieces.
Private transfer to the train station
KTX train to Busan
Accommodation in Busan
Park Hyatt Busan is located in the heart of the city’s upmarket shopping and beach district and has everything you need for a luxurious, five-star stay. The hotel is deigned to look like a wave, fitting given its position on the tip of the Korean Peninsula. Inside are 269 rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the ocean and the Gwangan Bridge. Blonde wood and a neutral colour scheme create a light and calm space. The Dining Room is the hotel’s grill and sushi restaurant, while the Living Room offers modern French cuisine. There is also a patisserie offering a selection of delicious sweet treats, as well as a lounge on the 30th floor where you can drink in the incredible cityscape views. For unwinding, there is an indoor swimming pool, sauna, spa, fitness room and golf simulator.
Busan is South Korea's second-most populous city after Seoul, and is the economic and cultural centre of southeastern Korea. Its port is among the world's busiest and this energy can be found on its streets where gleaming high-rises fill the gaps between green mountains and the beach while elegant bridges span across the sea. There's an energetic restaurant and nightlife scene, thronging fish markets and some scenic hikes, it is a fascinating city where you can see many sides of modern Korean life.
Gamcheon is a beautiful village of brightly coloured houses built in staircase-fashion on the foothills of a coastal mountain. The many alleys cutting through this community are vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the residents, among which you can find a small museum, art shops, tea rooms and workshops.
One of the largest markets in Korea, Gukje sells everything from souvenirs and electronics to meat and fruit. There are also numerous food stalls.
Jagalchi Market, located by the sea across from Yeongdo-gu Island, famous across the country, selling both live, fresh caught and dried fish. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the vendors here are called Jagalchi Ajumma, 'ajumma' meaning middle-aged or married woman in Korean.
The UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea honors UN soldiers from 16 countries and UN aids from five countries that were killed in battle during the Korean War from 1950-1953. This serene park spreads across a grassy plain area of 135,000 square meters. Some notable sites and memorials include: Memorial Service Hall, Memorabilia Hall, two Turkish Monuments, Greek Monument, Australian Monument, British Common Wealth Monument and two ponds. The Memorial Service Hall and the Memorabilia Hall were constructed in 1964 and 1968 respectively. The citizens of Busan dedicated the Main Gate in 1966. There are many annual events held here such as April’s Tributary Ceremony of the Veterans of the Korean War, May’s American Memorial Day, June’s Korean Memorial Day, and October’s UN Ceremony Day.
Private guide and driver for Gyeongju day trip
Built in the 8th century on the slopes of Mount Toham, Bulguksa is a Buddhist temple complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site which contains a number of Korea's most revered national treasures. The grounds are designed to represent the land of Budda with three areas – Birojeon (the Vairocana Buddha Hall), Daeungjeon (the Hall of Great Enlightenment) and Geungnakjeon (the Hall of Supreme Bliss) – along with stone terraces, bridges and pagodas which show the incredible masonry skills of the time.
Close by is the Seokguram Grotto, built in the same period as Bulguksa, which contains a monumental statue of the Buddha surrounded by realistic depictions of gods, Bodhisattvas and disciples, and is considered a masterpiece of Buddhist art in the Far East.
A number of larges, ancient burial mounds of kings and noblemen of the Silla Kingdom can be seen around Gyeongju at the Daereungwon Tomb Complex. The most famous of these is Cheonmachong which was excavated in 1973. Found to contain a lacquered wooden coffin with burial goods placed around it, over 11,500 artifacts were recovered from the tomb. The name of the tomb, translating to 'Heavenly Horse Tomb', derives from a famous painting of a white horse found on a birch bark saddle flap.
Dating to the 7th century, Cheomseongdae Observatory is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia. Constructed from 362 pieces of cut granite during the reign of Queen Seondeok, it was used for observing the stars in order to forecast the weather.
Gyeongju Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond was the secondary palace site which was used by the crown prince. It also served as a banquet site for important national events and important visitors. After the fall of the Silla dynasty, the site was abandoned and forgotten. The pond was referred to as Anapji during the Goryeo and Joseon period. In the 1980s, pottery fragment with letters Wolji (a pond that reflects the moon) carved onto it was found, revealing the true name of the pond. After the discovery, the site was renamed to the current Donggung Palace and
Private transfer to Busan airport
Flight from Busan to Tokyo
Private transfer to your hotel in Tokyo
Accommodation in Tokyo
- 278 rooms and 12 suites
- 10 restaurants and bars
- Evian spa
Opposite the Imperial Palace gardens, bordered by a serene moat, the Palace Hotel Tokyo offers one of the best city views of any hotel here. 278 rooms and 12 suites take inspiration from the neighbouring gardens, with leafy carpet motifs, earthy tones and contemporary lines. Floor to ceiling windows, some with private balconies, make the most of the surrounding panorama. The brand of luxury is innate but restrained, a modern take and tribute to omotenashi – Japanese hospitality. There are ten restaurants and bars here, with something for everyone, whether it’s French fine dining at Crown, authentic Japanese at Wadakura or refined Chinese at Amber Palace. Bars include the brooding Royal Bar, chic Lounge Bar Prive and the exclusive Club Lounge. Also on site is an Evian spa for a range of French savoir-faire and Asian wellness therapies after a day out in the city.
- 200 rooms and suites
- 3 restaurants and bars
- Free Wi-Fi
- CHI Spa
- Heated indoor swimming pool
- 24-hour gym
- Jacuzzi and sauna
- Collection of 2,000 artworks
After a smooth and speedy trip on the world-famous bullet train, you’ll find yourself at the elegant Shangri-La Tokyo, a haven of refinement set amid the relentlessly buzz of Tokyo, just opposite Tokyo Station. With some of the largest rooms in the capital, the Shangri-La is a calming, sleek retreat from the 24-hour energy of Tokyo. There’s one lobby bar and two restaurants, including the Japanese restaurant Nadaman, located on the level 29, where you can sample Chef Takehiro Yoshida’s sautéed eggplant wrapped in thin slices of Wagyu beef. The palette of dark wood, chocolate brown and burnt orange is complimented by low, amber lighting, exuding a sense of elegance and sophistication. Many of the spacious rooms have views across Tokyo, a scene that is best viewed at night. That’s ideal, because you’ll be spending your days out and about exploring the endless fascinations of Tokyo. Within walking distance of the hotel, you’ll find the Ginza shopping district and the Imperial Palace in its park surroundings, and a 20-minute train ride will deliver you to the Buddhist Asakusa Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple.
- 84 rooms and suites
- Restaurant and bar
- Pool and fitness centre
Embracing the minimalism of traditional Japanese architecture, this retreat is the epitome of the luxury found in the very heart of Tokyo. Aman is a stylish, bespoke hotel that will offer you an array of amenities and easy accessibility to the city’s sights. Each of the 84 guest rooms and suites have unique layouts with uncompromising city views and every contemporary convenience. You’ll find the design inspiration evident throughout the hotel, from traditional Japanese residential structures to the use of classical materials such as camphor wood, washi paper and stone alongside modern luxurious fabrics. The hotel also offers an exquisite dining experience in their elegant mediterranean fine dining restaurant on the 33rd floor with views of the Imperial Palace Gardens and Mount Fuji. Take a dip in the infinity pool on the 34th floor, high above the hustle and bustle of the city or head to the spa to relax after a long day of exploring the city. You’ll also enjoy Ginza, the upmarket shopping area just a pleasant 15 minute walk away.
- 57 rooms and suites
- Fitness centre
Nestled in the heart of the central business district of Marunouchi, the Four Seasons Tokyo is a luxurious bolthole from which to explore this exciting and vibrant capital. 57 rooms and suites and bright and spacious and feature contemporary design and slick modern furnishings. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the room with light and offers views out across the city skyline. The hotel restaurant, Motif, serves French-inspired cuisine and adopts a ‘farm to table’ concept to offer exceptional freshness and quality. If it’s light bites you’re after then you can enjoy tapas, a sumptuous afternoon tea or cocktails and nibbles at the bar. When you’re not out sightseeing, relax and unwind at the spa which features jet showers, a sauna and a traditional onsen hot spring bath. There is also a fitness centre.
- 314 guest rooms and suites
- Pool and fitness centre
- 3 restaurants
Built of amber Namibian granite, The Peninsula Tokyo is a construction of sheer opulence occupying a covetable position opposite the Imperial palace and Hibiya Park in the business district of Marunouchi. The hotels offers you commanding city views, elegant design, luxurious comfort, sophisticated facilities and extraordinary dining. With 314 spacious guest rooms, this hotel is as large as it is luxurious. Designed by the renowned interior designer Yukio Hashimoto, the hotel intertwines rich earth tones, woods, stone and lacquers with modern design and functionality to create a stunning luxurious living environment. Customise your space with the use of the bedside panels allowing you to tweak the room’s ambience from the comfort of your bed. Taste the delicious European Cuisine at Peter with stunning views from the hotel’s 24th floor over the Imperial Palace, or visit the Hei Fung Terrace for a sophisticated Cantonese dining experience. Make sure you don’t miss out on the sensational Japanese cuisine at Kyoto Tsuruya where you can watch the skilled chefs prepare Japan’s oldest and most loved culinary delights.
- 179 guest rooms and suites
- Eight restaurants
- Two bars
- Tea lounge
- Fitness centre
Relax in contemporary luxury at the Mandarin Oriental. Located in the heart of Tokyo, this hotel offers serenity above a ever-growing metropolis. When you arrive in the 38th floor lobby, you’ll find yourself stunned by the dramatic views over the city’s skyline. The 157 guest rooms and 21 suites are heavily inspired by the Japanese aesthetic, blending futuristic luxury with a typical Japanese understanding of sense of space, aesthetically capturing the country’s rich culture within the modern luxury that Mandarin Oriental are renowned for. Step out of your hotel and you’ll be in the middle of Tokyo’s metropolis, just a five minute walk from Ginza shopping district. After a busy day enjoying the buzz of Tokyo, relax in the Sense Tea Room or head to the Mandarin Bar and enjoy a signature cocktail by their award-winning chief bartender whilst listening to live jazz.
Enjoy your time exploring the incredible metropolis of Tokyo, a city with an infectious energy that is like no other where neon light futuristic architecture sits backed by the iconic Mount Fuji.
Spend the next two days exploring Tokyo with a private driver and guide visiting the following highlights:
Take a stroll through Hamarikyu Gardens, an attractive landscape garden in central Tokyo that sits in green contrast to the skyscrapers it neighbours. Originally feudal lord's Tokyo residence and duck hunting grounds during the Edo Period (1603-1867), it then later served as an imperial garden before being made into a public park.
The Suminda River flows from Iwabuchi into Tokyo Bay. Cruise along the water admiring the city from a different angle and enjoy the leisurely pace on this historically significant waterway.
Today you'll visit the Asakusa District, one of Tokyo oldest and best-preserved districts. We'll stop at the Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, marked by its huge lantern. We then walk along the Nakamise Dori merchant street. The Nakamise Dori merchant street dates back to the Edo period when the temple’s neighbours were given special permission to open their shops in the approach to the temple. Your guide will show you the small streets of Asakusa, where you can still feel the presence of Ancient Japan.
Experience a tea ceremony, one of Japan’s most famous traditional cultural practices, a part of culture that encompasses not only the making of tea, but also tea-room architecture, the appreciation of tea utensils and bowls and Zen Buddhism. The tea master will then teach you how to prepare and present 'matcha' powdered green tea.
Visit some of Ginza’s famous department stores, heading down to their basement floors called ‘depachika’ which house high-end food courts where Tokyoites buy their delicacies. A combination of 'depato', meaning department store, and 'chika', meaning basement, the 'depachika' of Japan are a fun place to try a range of delicacies.
You will visit one of the newly opened craft-beer bars offering 10 to 15 different varieties of beer, all crafted by small operating breweries using the highest quality malts, hops and yeasts and traditional techniques.
Transfer to Roppongi to visit the Mori Art Museum. Faithful to the belief that each of the world’s diverse cultures must be accorded equal importance, the museum takes an open attitude in introducing the newest art forms from all over the world, with its key emphasis placed on the concepts of being contemporary and international.
Climb up to the Roppongi Hills observation deck located on the 52nd floor of the same building, where you can enjoy amazing 360 degree view of Tokyo. There are two relaxed cafés where you can take a break enjoying the sweeping sights over the metropolis.
Private transfer to Tokyo station
Bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa
You will be met by your private English speaking guide from your bullet train. Start your excursion by private chartered vehicle to the Omicho Market, which local people regard as the “Kitchen of all Kanazawa”, for a short visit before lunch.
Move on to the ancient Samurai district of Nagamachi. Walking through this traditional part of Kanazawa, you'll see tangible evidence of Kanazawa’s prosperous past. In a tranquil setting, the narrow, rock-laid street bordered by earthen walls and decorative gates exude an ambience of feudal times. A visit to Nomurake, a former Samurai House, gives a great insight into Traditional Architecture.
Finally, stroll the magnificent Kenrokuen Garden, reputedly one of the three most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan. Admire the harmonious coexistence of six Chinese attributes of perfection, evolving as seasons unfold.
Yamashiro and Yamanaka
Accommodation in Yamashiro and Yamanaka
- 17 guest rooms and suites
- Tea house
- Hot spring
Unwind in the calmness of this luxury Japanese ryokan, and it wont take you long to feel like you’re immersed in tranquility. You can start your day with yoga, take part in a traditional tea ceremony and finish it the hotel’s hot springs. Combining Japanese and western decor, the 17 guest rooms and suites are all decorated uniquely. Comprising of solely Japanese-style rooms, Western-style rooms and some of which are a hybrid between the two, this ryokan is like no other. The hotel’s architecture elegantly emphasises contrast between light, shade and neutral colours creating a peaceful atmosphere for total relaxation. During your stay taste the phenomenal Kaiseki cuisine in the inclusive 10-course meal. With a strong cultural emphasis on fresh, local produce enjoy the exquisite flavours of this region.
- 10 guest rooms and suites
- Hot springs
- Dinner and breakfast included
This luxury ryokan is located in the small hot springs village of Yamanaka, which is untouched by time. Surrounded by thick forested hills and stunning natural beauty, find yourself immersed in rich Japanese culture whilst you unwind at this tranquil inn. The 10 guest rooms and suites are arranged in the traditional sukiya style of a tea ceremony pavilion. The decor is discreet and elegant from the tatami walkways to the original painted screens, the luxury and exclusive ambience of this ryokan is undeniable. During your stay relax in the natural hot springs renowned for their soothing and curative properties. The piece de resistance of this ryokan is the cuisine. During your stay you will be served in your room, feasting on the delicious true Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Taste the exquisite local ingredients you are in for a true culinary delight.
- 18 guest rooms and suites
- Breakfast and dinner included
- Lounge bar
- Hot springs
Dating back over 800 years, this ryokan is immersed in Japanese history. Relax in the hotel’s onsen which have won international acclaim. In authentic Japanese Sukita style, the 18 luxury guest rooms face the tranquil zen-designed garden. The natural beauty of the garden is echoed in the rooms, where the traditional Japanese use of light and space is evident, from the washi-paper sliding doors and tatami-mat flooring, you’ll find yourself emerged in this rich culture. During your stay you will dine in on an abundance of local cuisine, tasting delicacies from the nearby sea and the bountiful land that surrounds the area. Find yourself totally emerged in local culture, even down to your clothing, this will be an experience you will never forget.
For more than a thousand years, Japanese holiday makers have been coming to Yamashiro and Yamanaka to sooth body and mind in their warm therapeutic waters. Two of the most celebrated hot spring resorts on the Kaga onsen circuit, the towns lie next to each other between the mountains and the sea in pretty countryside locales.
Visit the ancient Higashiyama Geisha District. Built in 1820, it is reminiscent of feudal times with wooden lattice fronts on the old geisha houses. Visit the teahouse at Kaikaro to learn more about the history and traditions surrounding geishas.
The museum consists of three wings connected by corridors: an entrance wing, an exhibition wing and a contemplative wing. It also has three gardens - the vestibule garden, the water mirror garden and the roji garden. The museum is a great place to learn about the ideas and achievements of Daisetz Sazuki, a prominent Buddhist philosopher.
Visit the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, an architecturally striking building and one of the most successfully-run museums in Japan. The museum focuses on integrating the design of its space with the program and features many up-coming Japanese artists, as well as permanent installations by renowned international artists, such as Leandro Ehrlich and Anish Kapoor.
Private transfer to Kaga Onsen Station
Train from Kaga Onsen to Kyoto
Accommodation in Kyoto
- 189 guest rooms and suites
- Spa and fitness centre
- Three restaurants
- Pastry boutique
Located in the heart of Kyoto, the stylish Hyatt Regency offers spacious rooms and excellent hospitality. This hotel is perfect for those looking for a relaxed atmosphere whilst exploring the rich culture of Kyoto. Each of the elegant 189 guest rooms and suites are decorated in light neutral tones combining the aesthetics that Japan is famed for with the style and comfort of western living. During your stay marvel in the culinary excellence offered by the Hyatt, from authentic Italian cuisine to a French grill to flavourful Japanese dishes, there is something for everyone at this luxury hotel. Explore the wonders of Kyoto, with countless temples and shrines and other historical structures, marvel in this city’s fascinating culture. After a busy day of exploring why not visit the hotel’s spa for a relaxing massage or visit The Touzan Bar to taste the hotel’s boutique sake collection.
- Cafe and restaurant
Set along a river in the beautiful Arashiyama countryside within the grounds of the Tenry?-ji temple, Suiran is composed of two 100 year-old buildings which have been carefully renovated to meet the high standards of a luxury resort. With just 39 rooms, the Suiran offers guests a personal experience at a traditional Japanese hotel. Interiors have been designed in culturally significant hues and traditional motifs and there’s a lounge, restaurant, fitness centre and spa to enjoy. Poised in western Kyoto’s scenic Ukyo-ku, 30 minutes drive or so away from the city centre, the hotel is a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city and an ideal location for cherry blossom and autumn leaves viewing.
- 24 rooms
- Two restaurants
- Two lounges
Traditional Japanese aesthetics can be found throughout the luxury Four Seasons in the centre of historic Kyoto. Lanterns brighten interiors filled with artisanal furnishing and sleek hardwood floors while fusuma screens and urushi lacquerware create an engaging cultural experience. The 10 guest rooms enjoy balconies with incredible views overlooking the fascinating cityscape, Shakusuien Pond Garden or the distant Higashiyama Mountains. Upon imperial purple carpets, a custom Four Seasons bed waits after freshening up in a private rain shower oasis. 13 suites contain spacious living areas with sofas, coffee tables and marble-topped desks, natural light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Special touches such as shoji paper lamps and tatami-inspired wall panels contributes to a rich and contemporary residence. Savouring views of the beautiful 12th-century Myoho-in Temple, the Presidential Suite consists of Asa-no-ha hexagonal patterns and an approach to artisanal décor that authentically and intimately captures the essence of Japan. The Four Seasons has two restaurants. Brasserie boasts a relaxed atmosphere and a simple yet delicious menu. Locally-sourced ingredients combined with modern cooking techniques contribute to seasonal dishes throughout the day and into the evening. Sushi Wakon operates under the skilled hand of Michelin-starred Chef Rei Masuda, preparing a fine-dining extravaganza at the 200-year-old, 10-seat Hinoki counter. Drink tea while relaxing beside the 800-year-old pond garden, taking in the true essence and mystery of the Land of the Rising Sun. Additionally, the Spa is a haven of healing, restoring your mind and body to a state of blissful serenity.
- 134 guest rooms and suites
- Four dining outlets
- Indoor pool
Exuding Japan’s simple elegance, the Ritz-Carlton combines luxury modern design with traditional Japanese zen accents. With 134 guest rooms, the Ritz-Carlton is Kyoto’s first urban luxury resort. Sitting on the banks Kamogawa river, the hotel boasts astounding views of the famous Higashiyama mountains. The hotel has four restaurants and you can take your pick from traditional Japanese dishes, Italian cuisine or go for the seafood private dining option. Enjoy brunch or sweet treats by the French patisserie Pierre Hermé Paris next to a cascading waterfall in the terrace, or retire to the library where a range of Japanese art and architecture books are available for you to thumb through at your leisure. Situated in close proximity to Kyoto’s popular downtown areas, retail and entertainment districts, this hotel will allow you to enjoy the rich culture of Japan’s ancient capital within modern luxury. Explore the Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle or the atmospheric dining of Pontocho, all of which will be on your doorstep.
Kyoto is where you’ll find ancient and contemporary Japan collide in a fascinating cultural hub. The former imperial capital was spared much of the destruction of World War II and the city is unique for its abundance of prewar buildings including grand palaces, traditional “machiya” townhouses and ornate, ancient shrines. But as the country’s seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people, it’s put on a thoroughly modern face.
Visit the Kinkaku-ji 'Golden Pavilion' temple. Built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Kinkaku-ji served as the inspiration for the Ginkaku-ji the Silver Pavilion which was built by the Shogun's grandson.
We then continue to the serene Ryoan-ji Temple which is celebrated for its rock garden, comprised of nothing but clay walls, raked sand and 15 rocks.
Today we visit the Geisha district of Gion which is famed for its beautifully preserved traditional architecture. During Gion's golden age in the first half of 19th century, more than 3000 Geikos (young Geisha) worked in some 700 teahouses. We will keep our eyes open for Geisha on their way to an assignment. This is also a great opportunity for shopping in this craft-rich district.
You'll be brought to Sanjusangendo Hall where we'll feel the serene atmosphere of the temple. Famed for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess mercy, Sanjusangendo was founded in 1164 and its present structures date from 1266.
Kodaiji Temple, a temple of the Rinzai (Pure Land) school of Zen Buddhism which was founded during the Momoyama-period by the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the powerful general who unified Japan at the end of the 16th century. Kodaiji is interesting for its formal gardens and bamboo grove that leads to two famous teahouses.
Afterwards, we move onto Nishiki, a narrow shopping arcade only 400 meters in length with just over 100 vendors, guests can discover Kyoto’s distinctive culinary delicacies and be surprised by the sights, the sound and the smells. Aritsugu, which features a variety of excellent kitchen tools, is a recommended shop to visit. Afterwards, you'll be brought back to your hotel in a private vehicle.
Meet your private guide for your trip to Nara, the ancient capital of Japan in the 8th Century. Start your visit from Nara Park, a large pleasant park in the center of the city, commonly known as “Deer Park,” home to hundreds of freely roaming deers, regarded in Shinto religion as messengers of the gods and symbol of the city. A large numbers of historical sites in Nara are located in and around this park.
Visit Kasugataisha Shrine, originally established in 768AD as the shrine of the powerful Fujiwara Family. See the magnificent interior famous for its numerous bronze hanging lanterns, as well as the many stone lanterns that lead up to the shrine. Move on to the gigantic Todaiji temple, reputedly the largest wooden buildings in the world and one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples to be overwhelmed by the giant statue of Buddha Virocana.
Finish your Nara tour in Naramachi, the former merchant district of Nara, which was not affected by bombings during the Second World War. The district features several traditional warehouses and residential buildings including the Naramachi Koshi-no-ie, an old residence open to the public for free. Small boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants can also be found along the narrow lanes in the district. Back to the hotel by 17:00pm and enjoy time at leisure.
Private transfer to Osaka Kansai Airport
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Cultural Highlights of Japan and South Korea
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