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How to Plan a 2-Week Itinerary in Japan and South Korea

How to Plan a 2-Week Itinerary in Japan and South Korea

By Vicky LengUpdated Sep. 5, 2023

Japan and South Korea are becoming bucket list destinations for many travelers, especially families with teenagers and retired couples. They are neighboring countries in East Asia, and it only takes about two hours to fly from Osaka in Japan to Seoul in South Korea. It is possible to spend 2 weeks visiting both countries: 7–10 days in Japan and around 7 days in South Korea.

In Japan you could see spectacular Mount Fuji and breathtaking cherry blossoms, experience traditional ryokan accommodation, have an afternoon tea ceremony in kimonos with a geisha... South Korea is famous for its full-city Seoul views from Namsan, sandy beaches of Haeundae, great sea views from Jeju Island, and tasty Korean BBQ...

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Japan and South Korea?

Nationals of many countries are exempt from needing a visa to enter Japan, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Most travelers can stay in Japan without a visa for 90 days.

To encourage tourism in Visit Korea Year (2023–2024), from April 1, 2023 to December 31, 2024, K-ETA (Korea Electronic Travel Authorization) will be temporarily waived for 22 countries including the U.S., the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Where to Go in Your 2 Weeks in Japan and South Korea?

map of Japan and South Korea

Touring Japan and South Korea is suitable for a family or couple's vacation, due to this combo's plentiful experiences and charming attractions.

Top Destinations in Japan:

  • Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are top cities in Japan you shouldn't miss.

1) Appreciate the blend of history and modernity in Tokyo: view the magnificent Mount Fuji, feel the old vibe of Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple, make sushi at a local home, try on samurai armor, shop anime products to satisfy your kid's interest, and have a day tour in Hakone for onsen bathing.

Ghibli Museum in Tokyo Ghibli Museum in Tokyo

2) Discover the tradition-filled city of Kyoto: watch geishas perform in Gion District, immerse yourself in a classical tea ceremony, stay at a ryokan to enjoy Japan's old-style accommodation, try on kimonos for a memorable family photo, and have a close encounter with friendly deer in Nara.

try on kimonos Try on kimonos

3) Experience the prosperous trade city of Osaka: sample street food in Dotonbori District, make cup noodles based on your preference at Cup Noodle Museum, and spend a great time in the movie atmosphere of Universal Studios.

sample takoyaki in Dotonbori Sample takoyaki in Dotonbori
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Top Destinations in South Korea

  • Seoul, Busan and Jeju Island are well-known cities in South Korea.

1) Immerse yourself in the vibrant capital of South Korea: view Seoul's oldest palace — Gyeongbok, admire the sunset from Namsan, visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) to appreciate a cherished and guarded peace, and enjoy the lively nightlife in Hongdae.

a performance at Gyeongbok A performance at Gyeongbok

2) Revel in the bustling seaside city of Busan: feed seagulls on Haeundae Beach, stroll through Gamcheon Cultural Village with its colorful houses, and sample the freshest seafood.

feeding seagulls on Haeundae Beach Feeding seagulls on Haeundae Beach

3) Feel the relaxed pace of Jeju Island: enjoy brilliant sea views, stroll on sandy beaches, and visit the natural landscapes created by volcanic activity.

Jeju Island Jeju Island
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2-Week Japan and South Korea Itineraries: The Best 2 Options

Here are two itinerary options matching families' and couples' needs and covering the major attractions in Japan and South Korea.

1) A Classical Route (For Families)

This itinerary would be nice for a first family time in Japan and South Korea. It includes experiencing kid-favored animation elements, trying on kimonos, feeding deer in Nara, and, on the last 3 days, relaxing on the sandy beaches of Busan.

Here is a well-organized itinerary for your inspiration:

map of Japan and South Korea
  • Days 1–3: Tokyo, Japan
  • Days 4–5: Hakone
  • Days 6–8: Kyoto
  • Day 9: Osaka and fly to Seoul in South Korea
  • Days 10–12: Seoul
  • Days 13–15: Busan

Days 1–3: Tokyo

take a manpower rickshaw in Asakusa Take a manpower rickshaw in Asakusa

Tokyo is the top city for entry into Japan, and international flights offer many options. Visit the historical Meiji Shrine, feel the Edo vibe and take a manpower rickshaw in Asakusa, and make sushi at a local home. For anime lovers, you can buy your favorite anime products in Akihabara and have a happy time in the Pokémon Center or J-World.

Spending a day in Disneyland or Disney Sea would be a good choice as well.

Days 4–5: Hakone

soak in onsens in Hakone Soak in onsens in Hakone

Hakone is the home of onsens (hot spring baths). Stay at a ryokan with an onsen to enjoy an incredibly relaxing time with your family, and visit Lake Ashi on a replica pirate ship.

Days 6–8: Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Kyoto is an impressive medieval capital of Japan where geisha, sake, tea ceremonies, and ryokan stays are the essence of the city.

  • Visit the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine and orange-red torii gates to understand the history of Japanese shrines.
  • Have an afternoon tea with geishas in Gion District, and try on kimonos for memorable photos.
  • Sleep on a tatami at a ryokan to experience the best of traditional Japanese accommodation.
  • Participate in an authentic tea ceremony in a tea house.
  • Spending a day in Nara. Feeding the friendly deer at Nara Park could be a great family moment.

Day 9: Osaka

Sample delicious street food like takoyaki (octopus balls) in Dotonbori. Depart from Kansai International Airport and fly to Seoul, Korea.

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Days 10–12: Seoul

Korean traditional village of Bukchon Hanok Korean traditional village of Bukchon Hanok

Seoul is the energetic capital city of South Korea. Its Korean food and K-Pop are famous around the world.

Visit Seoul's biggest and oldest palace — Gyeongbok Palace, try on Hanbok and meander around the quiet Korean traditional village of Bukchon Hanok, have a full view of the city from Namsan, and sample delicious Korean rice cakes, bibimbap ('mixing rice'), or kimchi (Korean pickles).

Days 13–15: Busan

Gamcheon Cultural Village Gamcheon Cultural Village

Busan is the second-largest city in South Korea and a flourishing port city. Enjoy the comfortable sea breeze and feed seagulls in Haeundae, take a leisurely walk around Gamcheon Cultural Village with its multicolored houses, and visit Haedong Yonggung Temple — a Buddhist temple with stunning sea views.

Suggested reading: 2-Week Japan Itineraries for Families, Couples

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2) A Route Full of Natural Beauty (For Retired Couples)

For a couple (or family) who want to discover the deeper rural life in Japan and South Korea, this itinerary allows you to travel at a laid-back pace. Visit traditional villages in both countries, interact with locals, and see the World Natural Heritage on Jeju Island.

Here is a hand-picked itinerary summary with more detail following:

map of Japan and South Korea
  • Days 1–3: Tokyo, Japan
  • Days 4–6: Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa
  • Days 7–9: Kyoto
  • Day 10: Osaka, fly to Seoul in South Korea
  • Days 11–13: Seoul
  • Days 14–15: Jeju Island

Days 1–3: Tokyo

make sushi at a local home Make sushi at a local home

Tokyo has perfect blend of history and modernization. Try on samurai armor at Samurai Museum for a cool photo, sample freshly-prepared sashimi at Tsukiji Market, and visit a Japanese garden with amazing scenery.

Suggested day trips from Tokyo:

  • Spend a day at Fuji Five Lakes to see the spectacular Mount Fuji perfectly framed.
  • Relax in an onsen with your partner in Hakone.
  • Nagano is 200 km (130 miles) from Tokyo. You can see monkeys bathing in hot springs, and ski in winter (December to February).

Days 4–6: Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa

beautiful winter lighting in Shirakawa-go Beautiful winter lighting in Shirakawa-go

Explore Japan's picturesque countryside away from the crowded cities.

  • Takayama: wander around the well-preserved townhouses and taste delicious Hida beef.
  • Shirakawa-go: View traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses. If you go in January or February, you can see their beautiful winter lighting.
  • Kanazawa: Purchase gold-leaf products and sample Japanese sake at a brewery.

Days 7–9: Kyoto

lush bamboo groves in Arashiyama Lush bamboo groves in Arashiyama

To experience traditional history and culture in depth in Kyoto, the best ways are to see its shrines, meet its geishas, and stay at an authentic ryokan.

Appreciate the ancient atmosphere in Nijo Castle and Kinkaku Temple, meander around the Gion district to see the beautiful geishas in kimonos and enjoy a high-class Kaiseki at a ryokan.

Suggested day tours from Kyoto:

  • Arashiyama is definitely a good place to relax: medieval Tenryu Temple, lush bamboo groves, and the sightseeing train will make your trip worth it.
  • Nara is popular with travelers because you can feed the lovely deer at Nara Park.

Day 10: Osaka

Visit outstanding Osaka Castle, and leave from Kansai International Airport on a short flight to Seoul, Korea.

Cherry Blossom Tour to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka at US$3,699 Per Person

Days 11–13: Seoul

Namsan in Seoul Namsan in Seoul

As the capital, Seoul contains all the essence of South Korea. Hike in scenic Bukhansan National Park, taste authentic Korean street food at local Gwangjang Market, and take a slow walk at Cheonggyecheon, which is quiet-but-huge recreation space in the downtown area.

Days 14–15: Jeju Island

Jeju Island Jeju Island

Jeju Island, an island formed by volcanic activity, is a good place to relax. Enjoy a wonderful sunrise or sunset on Seongsan Ilchulbong ('Sunrise Peak') — a World Natural Heritage tuff cone, visit the Manjanggul lava cave, and walk on the sandy beaches to appreciate stunning sea views.

The above represents popular choice of attractions, but you can simply tell us your preferences and requirements, and we will customize a tour for you.

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How Much Does 2 Weeks in Japan and South Korea Cost?

traditional ryokan in Japan Traditional ryokan in Japan

A 2-week tour of Japan and South Korea costs around US$9,000–10,000 per person based on a group of 2-4 people.

  • Private touring in Japan costs about US$350–400 per day per person, and the cost in South Korea is about US$400–500 per day per person, including 4-star hotels, full-day itinerary, tickets for attractions, private cars, and private guides.
  • Direct flights from Osaka to Seoul are about US$100–150.
  • Travel costs in peak times can be double, especially airfares and hotels. Thus, we recommend you plan ahead and book flights and hotels at least 6 months in advance.
  • It's worthwhile to try a night's stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan. They cost around US$300–450 per night.

We promise you a 100% refund of any payments made to Asia Highlights up to 3 weeks before departure (details⇒).

Get your family to the heart of Japan's beauty:

Best Times to Travel to Japan and South Korea

cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Japan Cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Japan

Japan and South Korea have similar climates with four distinct seasons.

The best times to travel to both countries are in spring (April and May) and in autumn (September to October), when you would enjoy pleasant temperatures, less rain, and the best scenery. In spring, you could appreciate blooming cherry blossom, and autumn is the time to enjoy red maples and golden gingkoes.

Summer (June to August) is hot, humid, and sometimes there are typhoons. But this won't affect a well-prepared and flexible journey too much, and prices are lower and attractions less crowded. Summer is the festival season in Japan, so you can experience a variety of lively festivals and fireworks shows.

November to March is cold and dry in most of Japan and South Korea. It's a good time to ski and soak in hot springs in northern Japan. Christmas and New Year is extremely busy in both countries; flights and hotels are easily booked up. So, we suggest you make reservations at least 6 months in advance for a festive-season stay. The weather is OK in November and March compared to summer and winter months, and prices are relatively cheap.

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