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Golden Route (Self Guided Trip)

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 10 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 14 people
Destination(s): Japan  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 2528 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2528 US Dollar (USD)

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at Narita Airport our representative will meet and greet you and put you on the Keisei Skyliner express train to Tokyo’s Asakusa district. Journey time is one hour and you will also be given taxi vouchers for the final five minute transfer to your hotel. Situated on the banks of the Sumida River, Asakusa is Tokyo’s most historic area and home to the magnificent Senso-ji Temple. With the colourful carnival of market stalls, food vendors and traditional ryokan, Asakusa’s relaxed down-to-earth atmosphere offers a glimpse of Tokyo life before the neon-spangled skyscrapers arrived. Meals: None

Day 2: Tokyo

Today you will have a knowledgeable local guide at your disposal for eight hours. Tokyo is packed with sightseeing opportunities so let the guide do the hard work and lead you to the highlights. Itineraries are not fixed in advance, so if you have any special requests the guide would be happy to incorporate these into the day. You will move around the capital by public transport as the Tokyoites do, to experience Japan’s capital up close with the guide on hand to answer all your Japan questions. Meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Tokyo

There are almost endless possibilities for your free day today. Get up early and sample Japan’s freshest sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market or take a gentle cruise along the Sumida River. Marvel at the crazy fashions on display in Harajuku or take in the elaborate costumes and high drama of a kabuki performance at the elegant Kabuki-za Theatre. Your complimentary Info-Pack and a good Tokyo map will fully equip you to get the most out of the sights, sounds and tastes that make Tokyo such a vibrant metropolis. Meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Hakone

Following in the footsteps of the samurai, your journey follows the old Tokaido post road as you travel to Hakone National Park. You will take the subway to Tokyo Station where you will transfer to the world famous Shinkansen ‘Bullet’ train for the 40 minute hop to Odawara, the gateway city to the national park. Set in mountainous countryside, the region boasts great natural beauty and on a clear day the near-perfect symmetry of Mount Fuji provides the perfect backdrop; keep your cameras at the ready for this glimpse of Japan’s most iconic image! Your accommodation is Japanese-style in a traditional inn where a quality traditional dinner is included. Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Day 5: Hakone

The Hakone Freepass is included in your package which covers all the public transport in the region including buses, mountain railways, cable cars and even a pirate ship across Lake Ashi! Of course you may wish to explore the national park on foot, so pull on your walking boots and head for one of the many hiking trails which criss-cross the area. Although the last eruption of Mount Hakone was 3,000 years ago, sulphurous fumes and bubbling hot rivers can be seen in the volcanic crater at Owakudani. No trip here would be complete without a magic black egg – boiled in the valley water and said to add seven years to your life for each one consumed. Perhaps this explains why the Japanese have the longest lifespan in the world! Hakone is also home to a number of excellent museums including the open-air sculpture park which boasts a sizeable Picasso collection among other treasures. At the end of a busy day’s sightseeing, take the time to relax in one of the many hot spring onsen baths for which Hakone is renowned. Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Day 6: Kyoto

Leaving Hakone behind, the ‘bullet’ train will whisk you down the eastern seaboard to Kyoto – 267 miles in just two hours and ten minutes. On first glimpse, Kyoto is a very modern city. Your arrival is heralded by Kyoto Station, one of the largest buildings in Japan, a triumph of futuristic architecture and worth a few hours exploration. Yet at it’s heart, Kyoto reveals the true history, culture and tradition of Japan. Today you will have a free afternoon to begin exploring some of Japan’s finest temples and shrines. Drink a cup of green tea at the picturesque Golden Pavilion, contemplate Zen at Ryoan-ji Temple’s rock garden or wander through the thousands of vermillion shrine gates that line the paths of Fushimi Inari Taisha. Meals: Breakfast

Day 7: Kyoto

This morning you will be met at your hotel by a local guide who will guide you through the mazy Kyoto backstreets to the most famous sights as well as some more hidden gems. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years and with such a rich history the guide will have plenty of stories to tell! Kiyomizu-dera is one of Japan’s best loved temples with a high wooden terrace crafted without nails that overlooks the city. Meaning ‘pure water temple’, a taste of the spring water at Kiyomizu-dera is said to have healing power. For those looking to be lucky in love, successfully walking blindfolded between the two love stones placed near the main hall is said to improve your romantic chances! The narrow lanes around Kiyomizu-dera are a warren of little craft shops and tea houses. As dusk falls, head to Gion to catch a glimpse of Kyoto’s secretive geisha as they scurry to their evening appointments adorned in luxurious kimono. Meals: Breakfast

Day 8: Kyoto

You may wish to spend another day exploring Kyoto or alternatively take advantage of your included Japan Rail Pass for an excursion outside the city. Just 40 minutes away by train is Nara, famous for the huge bronze statue of Buddha at Todai-ji. The temple is in a beautiful location in the centre of a rambling park – just watch out for the inquisitive sacred deer! The electric metropolis of Osaka is a 30 minute journey and Hiroshima, infamous for the atomic bomb attack at the end of World War Two, is two hours by Shinkansen and makes a very worthwhile day trip. Meals: Breakfast

Day 9: Tokyo

From Kyoto you will travel back to Tokyo today by Shinkansen. Your included Japan Rail Passes offer you some flexibility here: You could choose to spend the best part of the day sightseeing in Kyoto and take a late train to Tokyo, or head to the capital in the morning for some last minute shopping perhaps. For your final night in Japan you will be based in the futuristic Shinjuku of the city. This is a very different Tokyo to Asakusa; bright lights, busy department stores, lively restaurants and karaoke bars offer a dramatic scene to remember Japan by. Meals: Breakfast

Day 10: Depart

Sadly all good things must come to an end. You will make the transfer to Narita Airport by the fast and direct Narita Express train from Shinjuku Station. Meals: Breakfast

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:

- 9 nights accommodation in Japan
- Breakfast every day
- 2 evening meals
- All transport between destinations incl. airport transfers
- 7 day Japan Rail Pass and Hakone Free-Passes for local transport in the Hakone region
- Tokyo transport card with 2500 yen of credit
- Meet and Greet upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport
- 8 hours private guide service in Tokyo and Kyoto
- Complimentary Info-Pack.

Price Excludes:

- International Flights
- Local transport (buses, subways, taxis) at any destination unless otherwise specified
- Any entrance fees including those for shrines, temples and museums
- Baggage handling - you will be expected to carry your own bags for the duration of the trip.