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Holidays

Japan and South Korea

11 replies

Felix0204 · 22/04/2022 23:09

It's my 30th birthday next year it's always been my dream to go to these countries. Hopefully there will be an easing of COVID restrictions in SK and Japan. I want to visit Tokyo Kyoto, Nara and Okinawa. In South Korea obviously seoul but what are the quieter more rural spots ?

Can anyone give me any tips for this trip ?

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NoSleepTil · 23/04/2022 16:05

Watching because we are planning a trip to Japan next year - Okinawa and Kyoto are the main contenders rn

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Hubblebubble · 23/04/2022 16:16

I used to live in S Korea. I recommend Busan for a beachy vibe and the touristy green tea fields down south too. Oh and jeju island

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Nelliephant1 · 23/04/2022 16:24

Love Japan, we're hoping to return again next year, covid willing.

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QueenofLouisiana · 23/04/2022 16:27

I spent a few days in Seoul, utterly fascinating place. I took part in a tea ceremony and went to a restaurant which served Korean Temple Food and provided traditional Korean entertainment. This was definitely worth it. The Gyeongbokgung Palace in the middle of Seoul was very interesting, I went full tourist and had photos dressed in the hanbok.

We then took a train (fast, easy and not expensive- travelled first class which included snacks and drinks) right to the South of the country. We were based in Mokpo as I my DF lived there at the time. We were able to get ferries out to the nearby islands and could also take drives to beaches and tea plantations, other cities and temples. Wolchunsan (sp??) national park is down there and it is lovely.

It was beautiful, but steaming hot (rivers of condensation rolling down a chilled can, even in late evening), so take light clothing and body powder (very expensive if you buy it there, I found).

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Abraxan · 24/04/2022 16:32

We went to Japan for two weeks in summer 2019.
We visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, flying into Tokyo and home from Osaka.
We used the Shinkansen to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto.
We also visited Nara for the day whilst staying in Kyoto.

The whole trip was amazing; so glad we got to do it and didn't delay it til 2020 (which we were considering due to some family date clashes which we finally worked around.)

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TizerorFizz · 24/04/2022 16:39

@Felix0204
Unless you have a month, either visit Japan ir South Korea. Japan easily has enough to see and do for a 2 plus week holiday. Don’t confine yourself to cities. However you cannot see much of Tokyo or Kyoto in 3 days. You need longer. Using Kyoto as a base works well too. Train connections connections are brilliant. There is so much variety in Japan it’s a great shame to limit yourself to cities.,

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mrkb · 24/04/2022 17:33

Second the pp who said you want at least a month if doing both. I've been to Japan twice and spent just over 2 weeks there each time, barely scratching the surface. DH spent a whole week in Tokyo in a trip he took before we met. I've spent about 4 days (each time) in Tokyo and felt that was fine but could easily spend 2 weeks in Kyoto including little day trips out from there. Went to Osaka for a day and wish I'd planned to spend more time there.

To be honest I think the best approach is to think about what you like to do on holiday, look up itineraries online, and then mix & match what you think sounds best eg I love city explorations based around culture & food more than beach holidays (Japan's beaches are meant to be incredible though!) , looked on lonely planet, travel company trips like g-adventures etc and built my trip from there.

Some general tips:

  • August is unbearably hot, reaching up to 40 degrees in some places. I would try to avoid visiting in this month.
  • if you are planning on going in cherry blossom season you need to get booking now - accommodation books up around a year in advance.
  • Make sure you prebook all the tourist benefits - particularly the pocket wifi & JR pass. These cannot be booked once you are in the country but are heavily subsidised for tourists. Eg when I first went I planned poorly and had a 10 day JR pass but then realised I needed a one way ticket from Kyoto back to Tokyo - this cost (I think?) nearly £200.
  • FamilyMart/7-Eleven do great pastries, sandwiches, snacks etc. It's a good cost-saver to just have one meal out a day and go to the convenience stores for your day-trip food.
  • Fruit costs a fortune - accidentally spent nearly £12 on grapes!
  • two of my favourite days out were a) renting bicycles with a friend and cycling across the Kibi Plain and b) day trip to Miyajima (better than Nara for seeing the deer as they were less scary trying to mob you for food)!


...now I want to plan a trip back 😭
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Anglophobia · 24/04/2022 17:43

We did three weeks in Japan and it was brilliant. Our trip was arranged by Inside Japan and I cannot recommend them too highly . We did things and went to places that we could never have organised ourselves (and the language barrier is a big deal). They get credited on most tv programmes about Japan and I can see why

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Felix0204 · 24/04/2022 20:14

I don't like large cities just planning to spend maximum of 3 days in Tokyo looking at spending a minimum of 3 weeks there possibly 1 month if my OH will let himself have that much time off work . I don't think we will use a company tour I don't like keeping to a very tight schedule. I managed to navigate round China 10 years ago (smart phones didn't work) with a lonely planet guidebook and internet cafes 🤣. I will purchase a JR rail pass and brush up on the language a bit.

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Anaphylaxis · 24/04/2022 23:31

For S Korea, highly recommend Mt Seorak in Sokcho, East cost. Basically S Korea has mountains along East cost like spines and then you have coast right next to them. Mt Seorak is nice place to hike, and then easy to visit beaches (not warm water though) to enjoy scenery and lots of seafood.

Also rather than Busan, visit Gyeongju, a thousand year capital city when Korea was divided into 3 states. It has remains of ancient capital and temples, and has been designated as UNESCO site.

Seoul Busan Incheon they are typical mega cities with nice night lights etc but nothing spectacular imo. But should try to go a high rise building and look down at Han river and compare its size with any other rivers in Europe, Thames would look like a stream rather than a river...

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Anaphylaxis · 24/04/2022 23:40

Also in terms of season, best time is May/June or Sep/Oct for both Korea and Japan. AVOID July and August, it is either raining like hell or steaming hot. Also don't forget to bring enough deodorants as you will struggle to find a place to buy these there...

In terms of Covid, S Korea is accepting ppl from UK without any quarantine at the moment - as long as vaccinated.

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