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New Marco Polo Journeys

South Korea & Japan: Cultural Legacies of the East 2020


11 days from $14,795

Limited to 18 guests

Explore two vastly different and evolving national legacies — each steeped in rich heritage and tradition — each poised on the cutting edge of tomorrow’s cultural and technological horizons.

A&K Advantages

Visit the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea, including the Third Tunnel

Discover South Korea’s imperial legacy in the temples and monuments of historic Gyeongju

Take in a dazzling array of exotic seafood in Busan’s bustling Jagalchi, the largest fish market in South Korea

Savor the time-honored tradition of a Japanese tea ceremony in a Kyoto temple

Learn the finer points of appreciating Japanese sake during a local brewery visit and tasting

Ride Like a Local on a high-speed train as you travel along an iconic route passing majestic Mount Fuji

Experience the art of sushi-making with help from a local expert in Tokyo

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1
Arrive Seoul, South Korea
Day 2
Seoul | Echoes of Empires Past
Day 3
Seoul | A Peninsula Divided
Day 4
Busan | Coastal Connections
Day 5
Gyeongju | Temples of the Silla Dynasty
Day 6
Osaka & Kyoto, Japan | Foodie’s Adventure
Day 7
Kyoto | The Golden Pavilion & Bamboo Grove
Day 8
Kyoto | Traditional Tea & Sake Tasting
Day 9
Tokyo | Heart of the Great Metropolis
Day 10
Tokyo | Taiko Drumming & Shinto Ceremonies
Day 11
Depart Tokyo
Day 1
Arrive Seoul, South Korea

Upon arrival in Seoul, you are met and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the bustling capital.

Four Seasons Hotel Seoul
Day 2
Seoul | Echoes of Empires Past

Begin your exploration of this vibrant city with a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Commissioned in the 14th century, the palace has risen from the ashes of conquest several times throughout its storied past. Today, the palace endures as the largest of Seoul’s five historic palaces, its compound housing a wealth of museums, gardens and architectural wonders. Next, browse the revealing cultural exhibits of the National Folk Museum. Continue to Bukchon Hanok Village, a collection of hundreds of hanoks (traditional houses) dating back to the 14th century. After a lunch of traditional Korean barbecue, stop at bustling Gwangjang Market, one of the oldest and largest traditional street markets in South Korea, and home to over 5,000 shops. This evening, join your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner at the hotel.

Four Seasons Hotel Seoul
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3
Seoul | A Peninsula Divided

Today, head north to join a shared tour of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), a hotly contested border region that has divided the Korean Peninsula since 1953. Delve deeper with a tour of the Third Tunnel, a highly secured, mile-long corridor linking the two countries. At Odusan Unification Observatory, look out across the DMZ line toward North Korea. Then, visit Dorasan Train Station, its (as yet) unused international customs facilities a symbol of hope for the future reunification of north and south. Return to Seoul for an afternoon at leisure, exploring the city on your own or relaxing at the hotel. Later this evening, embark on a street food tour in Seoul’s exciting Myeong-Dong neighborhood, sampling everything from Korean egg toast to hotteok (sweet Korean pancakes).

Four Seasons Hotel Seoul
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4
Busan | Coastal Connections

This morning, take a high-speed train to Busan, South Korea’s second largest city and one of the world’s busiest ports. After lunch, pay a visit to the UN Cemetery, a solemn memorial marking the final resting place of more than 2,000 Korean War veterans. Continue to Gamcheon Culture Village and explore its colorful narrow lanes. Later, browse Jagalchi Fish Market, taking in a vast array of exotic seafood. Check in to your accommodations and take in a scenic view of the bay.

Park Hyatt Busan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5
Gyeongju | Temples of the Silla Dynasty

Travel outside of Busan to Gyeongju, former capital of the Silla Dynasty, a kingdom that ruled Korea from 668 to 935. Begin your exploration with a visit to Bulguksa Temple, one of Korea’s most iconic structures. Perched atop a series of stone terraces, the temple’s 33 steps represent Buddhism’s 33 stages to enlightenment. The temple was all but destroyed in a 16th-century conflict with Japan. Lovingly rebuilt, it endures today as the crowning glory of Silla architecture. After lunch, visit Tumuli-gongwon, a large park with 23 tombs of Silla monarchs and family members. Delve deeper at the nearby Gyeongju National Museum and its exhibits showcasing treasures discovered within the tombs themselves. Return to Busan for an evening at leisure.

Park Hyatt Busan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6
Osaka & Kyoto, Japan | Foodie’s Adventure

Fly to Osaka, Japan, where you enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Visit Dotonbori, the bustling heart of this foodie capital, where diners indulge in everything from octopus dumplings to okonomi-yai, a battered, grilled concoction of chopped cabbage, meat or seafood, and seaweed. Continue on to historic, temple-filled Kyoto, and check in to your beautiful hotel.

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7
Kyoto | The Golden Pavilion & Bamboo Grove

This morning, contemplate Kyoto’s iconic Zen rock garden at Ryoan-ji, the perfect spot for a meditative moment, and discover the glittering Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion). Covered with gold leaf, the temple casts its delicate reflection in a tranquil pond. After lunch, explore the Arashiyama neighborhood, including the garden of Tenryu-ji Temple. Dating back to the 14th century, the temple buildings themselves were destroyed and rebuilt over the course of several conflicts, while its stunning garden has survived the centuries in its original glory. Later, bask in the magical atmosphere of Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, strolling along a winding path as sunlight filters down through towering bamboo shoots — considered by many a healing experience. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8
Kyoto | Traditional Tea & Sake Tasting

This morning, visit a local temple where you experience the art of the tea ceremony, noting its refined sense of hospitality and etiquette, which date to the time of the samurai. Continue to the 10,000 torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine. The Shinto shrine is renowned for its visually striking tunnel comprised of thousands of vermilion torii gates that line a network of trails leading into the wooded forest of Mount Inari. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit a local sake brewery to gain a deeper appreciation of this national spirit and enjoy a tasting. This evening, savor traditional Japanese cuisine while an attending geiko (as a geisha is known in Kyoto) and maiko (apprentice geisha) dance, sing, pour sake and chat about life in Kyoto.

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9
Tokyo | Heart of the Great Metropolis

This morning, transfer to Kyoto Station and board a high-speed train bound for Tokyo. Hurtling along in excess of 170 miles per hour, your route affords a glimpse of Mount Fuji’s iconic profile. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, learn more about local history at the Edo-Tokyo Museum as you browse an extensive array of interactive exhibits spanning the heritage of the city’s last 400 years. Check in to your hotel and gather with your fellow travellers for dinner at a local restaurant.

The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10
Tokyo | Taiko Drumming & Shinto Ceremonies

Start your day at Tsukiji Fish Market, a bustling hub of Japanese daily life where a dizzying array of seafood can be found. Next, gain exclusive insider access to a local workshop specializing in taiko (traditional Japanese drum) making. Watch as the craftspeople skillfully ply their trade, then try your hand at playing the finished instrument. Then, embark on a culinary adventure as a local chef leads a hands-on sushi-making class, followed by lunch. Next, visit the sacred Meiji Jingu Shrine and witness a special Shinto ceremony. This evening, enjoy cocktails and a farewell dinner at your hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11
Depart Tokyo

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast


Prices are in USD, per person, based on double occupancy.

  • May 12 - May 22
    Limited Availability
    Price
    Single Supplement
    Internal air from
    Availability
    Price
    $14,795
    Single Supplement
    $5,395
    Internal air from
    $350
    Availability
    Limited Availability
    How many people are travelling in your group?
  • Oct 13 - Oct 23
    Limited Availability
    Price
    Single Supplement
    Internal air from
    Availability
    Price
    $14,995
    Single Supplement
    $5,595
    Internal air from
    $350
    Availability
    Limited Availability
    How many people are travelling in your group?
Journey Details

Internal Air: Economy class from $350
Busan/Osaka

This journey contains some active elements.

Minimum age is 10 years.

First group event: welcome briefing at 8:30 a.m. on Day 2.

Last group event: farewell dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Day 10.

Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Note: The visit to the DMZ is highly regulated, and entails shared touring with non-A&K guests and on non-A&K vehicles.


Preparing for Your Journey

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Essential Information

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Passports & Visas

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CDC Information

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