Duration(in days): 19
From: UK - Tokyo
To: Phuket - UK
Enjoy three countries in three weeks on this beautiful Japan multi-centre holiday. Begin in enigmatic Japan where you’ll visit two big cities - Tokyo and Kyoto, where ancient tradition coexists with modern culture, followed by a scenic experience of tiny towns and dappled bamboo forests as you walk along the Nakasendo Trail.
From Osaka, you’ll fly onto Taipei in Taiwan, where you’ll have three days to explore this cool city – devouring street food in the night markets, admiring ancient architecture and shopping for boutique luxuries. Finish your break by unwinding on the white sands of Khao Lak in Thailand, where the Andaman Sea laps at the shore. Relax, sample the seafood and enjoy a cocktail on the beach as you toast a fantastic end to your Asian holiday.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport.
On arrival in Tokyo, you’ll be met at the airport and assisted with arranging your transport into the city (by bus or train). When you reach your hotel, you’ll check into your hotel for three nights.
Today is yours to explore Tokyo, so here are some suggestions.
Why not start in Tsukiji Outer Market? Tsukiji is always bustling with visitors and locals, who come to enjoy delicious food and shop for traditional ingredients. It’s a great spot to grab a snack before heading over to the 400-year-old Zojoji Temple, next to the Tokyo Tower. Here, you'll get a glimpse of Japan’s ancient history and modern architecture side by side.
You could enjoy a bowl of ramen for lunch before spending the afternoon discovering the serene beauty of Hie Shrine, a quiet haven in the bustling district of Akasaka. Statues of mythical creatures guard the shrine that sits at the top of several escalators (a modern addition!). It’s famous for its 90 bright red tori gates that divide the human world and the spirit world. The Japanese believe that the shrine is a doorway to a place where the gods can hear our prayers.
After breakfast, you’ll head off for a tour to Mount Fuji, and this is no ordinary tour of the famous volcano. First, you’ll make your way by train to the small town of Fujinomiya, where you’ll explore the local shotengai, or traditional shopping streets. After wandering and browsing, you’ll stop off to try your hand at making yakisoba, a delicious stir-fried noodle dish.
Armed with your new noodle-making skills and a full belly, you’ll be taken to a beautiful shrine to get fitted for a kimono! You'll learn about the history of this iconic garment before exploring the shrine, surrounded by beautiful views of Mount Fuji. You'll finish your day with a Japanese sweet-making workshop hosted by a local artisan. You’ll learn how to make wagashi, a confectionary that is delicately shaped and coloured to reflect the changing seasons. Afterwards, you'll head back to Tokyo by train, where you can relax or seek out even more Japanese treats.
Please note that Mt. Fuji is a very shy mountain and is only visible when the weather is clear.
This morning is free for you to explore more of Tokyo. This afternoon you’ll board the bullet train to Nagoya, followed by a beautiful journey on the limited express train “Wide View” to Fukushima.
On arrival, you'll check into your accommodation for two nights for a stay in a traditional ryokan, with paper walls and futon beds on the tatami mat floor. Dinner is included and will be a feast of delicious Japanese food!
Today is yours to explore this beautiful mountainous region. It's an amazing part of Japan to visit, especially if you like walking. We recommend hiking a section of the Nakasendo Trail, starting in the town of Tsumago. The town is famed for its preserved architecture that dates back to the Edo period.
The section of the trail between Tsumago and Magome is a beautiful walk of around three hours, including a couple of stops. You’ll pass old towns, fields of local farmers tending their crops and peaceful pine woodlands. When you finish your walk, you can hop on a bus back to Nagiso and take the train back to Kiso-Fukushima.
After an early breakfast, why not take a stroll around Kiso-Fukushima before catching your train to Kyoto? Alternatively, you can hike another section of the scenic Nakasendo trail from Yabhara to Narai. After your walk, you can stop to enjoy a lunch of gohei-mochi (sticky-rice cakes) and soba (buckwheat noodles). From Narai, you can catch the train directly to Kyoto. On arrival in Kyoto, you’ll check into your hotel for two nights and spend the evening at your leisure.
Today is yours to enjoy the cultural hub of Japan: Kyoto. You could start with a visit to Nijo Castle, originally built in the 1600s as a private villa for a powerful lord. The intricate sliding doors and “chirping nightingale” floors are an incredible example of Momoyama style architecture and a must-see when visiting Kyoto. Ryoan-ji Temple is home to a beautiful rock garden while Kinkaku-ji Temple boasts a stunning golden pavilion set beside a lake and covered with hand-made golden leaves.
After breakfast, you can explore more of Kyoto, but we highly recommend taking a day trip to Nara, a small town just outside of Kyoto. For 74 years in the 8th century, Nara was the capital of Japan, and it's home to several shrines and temples of historical importance. Nara Park is the focal point of the town, where you’ll find many friendly tame deer grazing in the grass. It’s also home to the Todaiji Temple, a huge wooden building that houses Japan’s largest Buddha.
In the afternoon, you can return to Kyoto and visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, where thousands of photogenic torii gates frame paths through the forests of Mount Inari. It’s a unique hike up the mountain, with hundreds of photo opportunities next to these striking gates. If you reach the summit in the late afternoon, you'll catch a spectacular sunset over Kyoto and its surrounding hillsides.
After breakfast, you'll hop on a shuttle transfer to Osaka Airport and board your flight to Taipei. On arrival, you’ll be driven to your hotel, where you’ll check in for three nights. Stopping over in Taiwan is a great way to explore more of Asia. After visiting Japan, you’ll immediately recognise the Japanese influence, which from the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the early twentieth century.
You'll have two full days to explore this city, steeped in history and culture. In refreshing contrast to other Asian cities, Taipei is a peaceful, tree-lined city, surrounded by lush green mountains. Taipei is an undeniably cool city packed with intriguing boutique shops and minimalist cafes. Everywhere you turn, you'll find a hint of Japanese style, but with a simpler and more natural vibe.
We recommend that you start your day in Liberty Square, where you can admire the magnificent arch and explore the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Next, visit the National Palace Museum with its collection of Chinese art, then head to Longshan Temple in the afternoon to see worshippers gather to chant amongst the incense.Grab a tasty, local bao bun for lunch and enjoy a stroll through the small streets, where aloe vera plants hang from grocery stalls alongside big wasabi roots.Taipei is a top foodie destination with a cuisine flavoured by both Chinese and Japanese influence.
Tonight, we’ve included an evening street food tour to Ningxia Market. Here, you can look forward to sampling fried yam balls, pork leg with rice and shrimp soup, as well as a delicious salt and pepper chicken with barbecue sauce, plus vegetarian dishes like sticky rice with mushrooms or taro balls with egg. Enjoy a bubble tea or a peanut roll ice cream for a sweet finish!
After breakfast, you’ll be driven back to the airport for your flight to Phuket. On arrival, you will be driven north to Khao Lak, where you’ll check into your beachfront hotel for five nights. Relax and enjoy a delicious meal to welcome yourself to Thailand – the Land of Smiles!
This part of your trip is pure relaxation. Khao Lak is a dreamy spot to enjoy the best of Thailand’s food and beaches. The resort we’ve chosen is set on the beach, so you can stretch out on the white sand or play in the gentle surf. Make the most of Thailand’s delicious cuisine, feast on local seafood and sip sunset cocktails at a beach bar.
After breakfast, you’ll be driven back to the airport in time for your flight home.
In Japan, expect prices to be higher and availability limited around Golden Week (early May), O-Bon (mid-August) and around New Year. Cherry blossom season runs from late March to early April in the Honshu cities, so to secure availability you must book well in advance. November offers spectacular autumn foliage and is also a popular and very busy time. June - July is rainy season for most of Japan and can be very humid, but autumn (September to mid-December) usually offer cool, clear days. Late December and January are cool or cold in Honshu and you’ll often find snow on the mountains, plus many businesses close over the new year period.
Taiwan is mostly warm all year round, although there’s a chance of tropical rain, which keeps the island so lush and green. There are around four typhoons a year that tend to hit between July and September, so one of the best times to visit is between October and May.
The Southern region of Thailand has two seasons ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. On the west coast where you’ll stay on this trip, most rain falls between April and October with dry and sunny weather typically for the rest of the year.
Luggage handling is not included in this trip, but Japan has a fabulous luggage forwarding service which you can use to send your luggage on to your next destination. It will take between 24 and 72 hours to get the luggage to the next point so we recommend preparing an overnight bag when using this service. Luggage can be sent between any two points in Japan and the bell desks or receptions at your hotel will be happy to assist you with arranging this luggage transfer.
If you'd like to get a feel for this trip, read our blog posts What to do in Taiwan in 7 days and Travelling around Japan – a cultural paradox written by our consultants who have been there.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.