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14 days in Korea and Japan... help with itinerary! What are must-sees/dos?

14 days in Korea and Japan... help with itinerary! What are must-sees/dos?

Feb 27th, 2014, 05:01 AM
  #1  
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14 days in Korea and Japan... help with itinerary! What are must-sees/dos?

Hi everyone! We will be traveling to South Korea and Japan for 14 days in September (although with 14 days, potentially a 3rd country - I don't want to try to cram too much into the trip - but suggestions on that would be welcome as well).

Our round-trip flight is booked through Seoul, so on the 14th day we will need to end up back there.

We are a bit overwhelmed in terms of planning. There are just so many places to see, and not enough time.

So far I've been thinking that we spend 4-5 days in Seoul, 2-3 days in Jeju island, and then the rest in Japan (definitely Tokyo. Maybe Kyoto?)... but we would love advice on specifics, days needed in each place, must-sees/dos etc.

Thanks in advance for any advice/tips you can provide!
hoyahaven is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 06:10 AM
  #2  
 
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If you haven't been, I would definitely recommend Kyoto.

Love Seoul - a really underrated city.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 05:26 PM
  #3  
kja
 
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With only 2 weeks, you might want to consider visiting EITHER South Korea OR Japan.

If you are committed to seeing both, you might be able to trim your time in Seoul to just 3 or 4 days (I haven't been there yet, but am deep into the research for an upcoming trip there). My sense is that 3 days is about right for Jeju-do (same caveat).

IME, a first trip to Japan is more typically in the 3-week range. FWIW, I FAR preferred Kyoto to Tokyo, but that's really a preference for the historic "old" Japan over its modern, technological center. (Not that I didn't enjoy Tokyo -- I did. For excellent info, I strongly recommend japan-guide.com

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 11:59 PM
  #4  
 
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What Kja said, in the sense that a first trip to Japan merits at least 2 weeks, certainly more than just a few days. I've never been to Korea, so can't comment on how long is justified there.
Kavey is offline  
Feb 28th, 2014, 04:05 AM
  #5  
 
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My opinion is that if all you have is a week for Japan, then all you have is a week for Japan. One can have a good time in a week. I'd personally keep it restricted to Tokyo and/or Kyoto, but it should still be a good time.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 28th, 2014, 06:07 AM
  #6  
 
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Completely hear where you're coming from travelgourmet...

I guess it depends on circumstances. If someone is only able to take 7 days away from work or caring duties, yes you can still have a great trip. If someone is going on a work trip and is able to tack on an extra week personal time, then yes you can still have a great trip.

But if you have a 14 day break available, I think it's fair to advise that some of us believe you can get more out of a longer stay in one country than two shorter ones in two countries.

It's not a case of saying don't do it, but just sharing personal opinions on how to use one's time best.
Kavey is offline  
Feb 28th, 2014, 07:23 AM
  #7  
 
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To some extent, I think it comes down to a) how much you hate flying, and b) your ability to afford multiple flights. If I want two weeks in Japan it is, in many ways, easier for me to take two one week trips than one two week trip.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 28th, 2014, 07:54 AM
  #8  
 
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Yes, that's very true... whereas for me, the cost and the effort of flying mean I'm the opposite!
Kavey is offline  
Feb 28th, 2014, 09:52 AM
  #9  
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Thanks for your feedback everyone! To provide additional context, my mother's side of the family is from Korea and we will be visiting family. That being said, I haven't been to Korea in over 20 years, so it is certainly a touristy trip in nature as well.

I do recognize that a week would not be nearly enough to cover Japan, but given the time constraint, it seems that Tokyo and Kyoto are the "must-sees"...?
hoyahaven is offline  
Feb 28th, 2014, 10:15 AM
  #10  
 
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given the time constraint, it seems that Tokyo and Kyoto are the "must-sees"...?

I would agree with that, though obviously depending a bit upon your personal interests. Kyoto is probably a bit more "Japan in a nutshell" than Tokyo.
travelgourmet is offline  
Feb 28th, 2014, 11:51 PM
  #11  
 
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Aah, thanks for the extra information, Hoyahaven!

I agree, Tokyo and Kyoto make the most sense for a short visit, for the first time visitor.

If you can stretch the days you have in Japan at all, even by just one or two, I think it would be worthwhile.

And it may be worth looking into open-jaw ticket - fly into Tokyo and back out of Osaka (near Kyoto). Saves you backtracking to the original city.

If you can dedicate 5 days (or more) to Kyoto, I don't think you'll regret it. Kyoto has so much to see itself and then there is a lot in the nearby vicinity, from Nara to Osaka to Arashiyama and more.

With 7 nights (which is perhaps just 5-6 full days) I might actually JUST do Kyoto only.

With 9 nights, you could do 4 nights in Tokyo and 5 nights in Kyoto, which gives you a chance to explore a bit more.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 30th, 2014, 05:09 PM
  #12  
 
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I did a split trip between Korea and Japan, but it was 3 weeks. The short answer is that there are no must sees; you can't cover that much, so see what really interests you. Even Tokyo is not a must see. If you are interested in history and traditional culture or village life, Tokyo is not a very good place compared to others. It depends on you.

I spent two weeks in Korea and one in Japan. In Japan, we spent all our time in Tokyo and Yokohama, and in Korea we spent 3 nights in Busan, 4 nights in Seoul, and in between we rented a car for a week and drove a rural circuit from Busan to Goryeong, Heainsa, Maisan Provincial Park, Jeonju, Damyang, Boseong (to see the tea plantations), Nagan Stone Village, and Darangyi on Namhae Island, and back to Busan. Busan, Korea's second largest city. is a rare beautiful city in Korea where the mountains plunge right into the sea. 3 nights were not enough, and I think if you want to find one place in Korea where you can see a little bit of everything in one place, Busan is a treasure. You've got mountains, the sea, beaches, a fortress a couple of rare temples, colorful neighborhoods, Korea's largest fish markets, miles of other traditional markets....and a vibrant city. On my road trip, the Daehan Dawon tea plantation, Maisan, Nagan, and Darangyi were highlights. But I can't imagine going to Asia and not exploring rural areas.
shelemm is offline  
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