Beijing, Forbidden City, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Hakone
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Natural beauty, elegant culture, and sophisticated architecture will immerse you in the past while the vivacious energy of the contemporary cities will lead you into the future throughout your custom-tailored highlights tour of China and Japan. The harmony between temples and nature will mesmerize you while the stunning cuisine balances traditional dishes with a newer aesthetic that will make your mouth water. From geisha performances to wandering the Great Wall, viewing Mount Fuji to exploring...
Beijing – China’s Bustling Capital with the Day at your Leisure
Beijing is a city of grandeur and elegance, history and modernity touched with a brash fast-pace that leaves an indelible impression on its visitors. Your private transfer will greet you at Beijing Capital International Airport upon your arrival in China’s capital city, where the remarkable design of the streets derives from a city of assimilation dating back to the incoming forces of the Manchu and the Mongols. The aromas of steamed dumplings emanate for street-carts and luxurious restaurants have reimagined traditional staples on the Beijing table introducing gorgeous flavors and with unique aesthetics for locals looking for an elevated dining experience or an easy bite in one of the city’s more than 60,000 restaurants.
After settling into the comforts of your centrally located hotel, you have the remainder of the day at your leisure to get acquainted with marvels of Beijing. The mixture of soaring buildings and verdant parks give way to historical lanes that hide fabulous temples, including Yonghe Gong, or the Lama Temple. Nearby, the Hall of the Kings of Heaven contain a remarkable statue of Buddha surrounded by four kings. Each figure holds an allegorical object, such as a shield, sword, toad, or snake.
Day 2 - 4
Beijing – Tiananmen Square and the Extravagant Forbidden City
After breakfast, your guide will greet you in your hotel lobby eager to introduce you to the vibrant history and modern life of Beijing beginning at Tiananmen Square. The giant concrete public space was erected to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 1958, but the symbolic importance of the square dates back to 1919. A large obelisk made from 17,000 pieces of granite and marble adorns the square reaching a height of 125 feet tall. The southernmost gate leading into the square was first erected in the 15th century and restored in the 20th century as an imposing entryway.
You can continue to the grounds of the Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace. The foundations for the complex were constructed in the 13th century during the reign of the Yuan Dynasty and enlarged over time during the rule of the Ming and Qing emperors. The surrounding walls stand nearly 33 feet tall with defenses reinforced by a 164-foot wide moat. The massive complex consists of more than 900 buildings in total accounting for over 8,000 rooms. You will reach the Hall of Martial Valor inside the museum for insight into the workings of stunning calligraphy and paintings on display.
Day 5 - 7
Beijing – The Remarkable Great Wall and Famous Olympic Stadium
You will venture outside of central Beijing to reach the battlements of the iconic Great Wall of China. Before exiting the city completely, you can stop at the famous National Stadium used in the 2008 Olympics known as the “Bird’s Nest.” The unique design stemmed from the work of several architects and renowned artist Ai Weiwei. The stadium can hold up to 80,000 people on average but reached capacity at over 89,000 during the Nigeria-Argentina Olympic soccer game in 2008. The massive, fascinating design of the stadium towers over the Dragon Shaped Water System.
Continue outside of Beijing to reach the remarkable hills and mountain peaks crowned by the meandering pathway of the Great Wall of China at the Jinshanling section approximately 80 miles away from the city. The preserved portion of the wall is stunning and has fewer tourists making the longer drive to the section initially built in 1358 and restored in 1567. The particular section of the wall spans over nearly seven miles hosting a series of 67 watchtowers, and the paved pathway runs over five mountain passes that rise and fall with the undulating terrain. A cable car will take you to the top of the section to avoid the steep climb from the base of the foothill and give you a fantastic view accentuated by the crisp, clean mountain air of the countryside.
Kyoto – Lovely Kyoto, Japan with the Day at your Preferred Pace
In the morning, Beijing’s contemporary global connection becomes apparent with the popularity of brunch. The hip, cosmopolitan crowd of the city enjoy milling about the cafes covering both Chinese and Western cuisines including dishes connected to the renowned dim sum like chicken feet, steamed dumplings, and fried tofu. After breakfast and trying it all out, your private transfer will escort you to the airport for your flight to Osaka International Airport. You will then continue by private escort to Kyoto, one of Japan’s largest cities and surrounded by the gorgeous scenery that has been shaped by the central Honshu hills.
Kyoto has a distinct ambiance that stems from the preserved culture and maintained heritage after escaping much of the damage from the Second World War. The city has acted as the cultural and educational center of the island for over a millennium and continues to display majestic sculptures, marvelous paintings, and various forms of artwork exhibited in galleries and museums. The majesty of Kyoto becomes apparent upon your arrival at your gorgeous accommodation near atmospheric gardens and upwards of 2,000 sublime temples. The aroma of steeping tea emanates from the collection of traditional teahouses, and you will feel relaxed and ready to take it all in.
In the evening, you will enjoy a remarkable maiko dinner show for an authentic experience in Kyoto. The maiko is an apprentice to an official geisha, also known as a geikon in Kyoto. The scent of customary Kyoto cuisine will fill the room and draw your eye to dishes like simmer tofu, traditional pickles, and vegetables fried in tempura. The apprentices will perform elegant dances that showcase their fluid movements and stunning grace. The alluring music adds a captivating layer to the dreamlike ambiance amid the flowing kimonos, vibrant aromas, and playful traditional Japanese games.
Kyoto – The Tremendous Charms of History and Beautiful Kyoto
Your morning adventures in Kyoto will begin with your visit to Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that looms over the city both geographically and historically. The maintained stronghold was erected in the 17th century and served as the seat of the government that resulted in the abolishment of the powerful Shogunate. The walls, towers, and moat create a divine ambiance that reflects the architectural style of the Edo age. Walking along the nightingale floors will highlight the ingenious method of utilizing the squeak in the wooden floorboards as a way to unofficially announce visitors into the rooms, ebbing the possibility of an invader sneaking up on an emperor. The design imitates chirping of a nightingale inspiring the name.
The paintings of mountainous landscapes that decorate the Shogun’s private apartments create a tranquil space, while large images of larch trees painted against a golden background in the Audience Hall accentuates the prestige of the shogun. You will soon reach the famous Fushimi-Inari Shrine, one of the most visited shrines in the city. The sacred site was built in the 8th century as a tribute to the goddess of rice-growing. Merchants and tradesmen often visit the shrine to pray for prosperity and the health of their future finances. The main structure was erected at the end of the 15th century with an avenue that stretches nearly three miles long adorned with 32,000 glowing orange archways.
Kyoto – Explore the Stunning Golden Pavilion and Bamboo Forest
The life of Kyoto emanates from the aisles of the Nishiki Market. Your guide will lead you through the wonderful foods of traditional Kyoto cuisine at the heart of town and find vendors selling pickled vegetables and wasabi salt, yakitori skewers and customary Japanese confections. Chefs from around the world visit Aritsugu, a store selling some of the renowned kitchen knives in the world. The attentive staff can engrave your name in in the medal in either Japanese or English.
They are also eager to teach you the best methods for caring for the knives from sharpening the blade to boxing them up. The store originally opened in the 16th century as a blacksmith that produced swords, resulting in a business that passed down the secrets of intricate craftsmanship through the generations. You will soon reach the famous Golden Pavilion and notice the shimmering image of the golden façade on the stoic reflective pond.
The original edifice was erected in the 14th century as a villa for a retiring shogun before becoming a temple. The structure was rebuilt in the mid-20th century after a fire following the original design, but the gold covering was extended from across the ceiling to covering the lower floors as well. The glistening golden hue was meant to relieve any possible negative associations with death by adding a luscious beauty to the architectural feature. The aroma of freshly brewed tea drifts through the windows of the Sekkatei Teahouse, and you can continue to the towering green stalks of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove to see the ethereal light filtering through the spaces between shoots for an enchanting ambiance.
Tokyo – The Scenic Bullet Train to Tokyo for the Day at Leisure
At breakfast, the aroma of lemon verbena fills the dining room of your hotel from the fragrant steeping tea. Your private transfer will meet you in the lobby and escort you to Kyoto’s train station to catch the iconic bullet train bound for Tokyo. The train travels over 318 miles in less than 140 minutes reaching speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. By sitting on the left side of the train when traveling between Kyoto to Tokyo, you will have a fantastic panorama of Mount Fuji’s captivating snowcapped peak.
The marvelous image of the peak is visible for approximately 10 minutes while rice paddies grow along the opposite side of the train. You will soon arrive in Tokyo and immediately notice the bustling pace and futuristic glow of neon lights contrasting the quiet, historical design of Kyoto. Fashionable boutiques and megamalls accentuate the blur of Tokyo’s metropolis juxtaposing a culture proud of its heritage. The main boulevards and avenues wind beneath staggering high-rises and lead to narrow alleyways and backstreets hidden in the past with wooden homes, manicured bonsai trees, and the aroma of burning incense from secluded temples and shrines.
The remainder of the day will be at your leisure to get swept up into the remarkable whirlwind of Tokyo at your own pace. For a distinctive perspective of the city, you could visit the Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world that connects five streets and pulses like the central heart of Edokko culture. During rush hour, up to 1,000 people can cross the street at once in a blind dance with pedestrians, dodging one another with incomprehensible agility.
Tokyo – The Dynamic City of Tokyo on a Prefecture Highlights Tour
The energetic city returns to life in the morning as you travel through the streets with your guide. Stop at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which was structure was built in 1991 with a set of twin towers reaching 662 feet tall. The panoramic platforms offer an unforgettable view of the endless cityscape with high-rises piercing the sky. On a clear day, the view west is crowned with a view of Mount Fuji.
You will soon reach the famous Harajuku prefecture, home to the grand Meiji Shrine. The remarkable religious complex was constructed in the early 20th century and rebuilt in the 1950s after the Second World War. The main hall hides in a wooded grove reached by a gravel path while towering gates frame the walkway that leads to a wellspring where visitors pour water over their hands as an act of purity, a principle belief of Shintoism. The unpainted cypress wood creates an ambiance of unpretentious elegance beneath a roof plated with copper.
Walk next along the tree-lined boulevard of Omotesando, which juxtaposes the tranquil rituals of the shrine. Fashionable shops and shading trees line the walkways alongside contemporary architecture. The crowd forms along the walkway leading through the eccentric fashion bazaar of Takeshita-dori, which has acted as an outlet for Edokko subculture for decades with windows full of plaid skirts and safety pins, vivacious tutus, and Victorian dresses.
Tokyo – The Majesty of Mount Fuji and Owakudani Boiling Valley
After an early breakfast, you will set out into the countryside with your private driver and enjoy the slower pace and the tranquil scenery that leads to the peak of Mount Fuji. The Fifth Station is the most popular destination along the foothills of the celebrated mountain due to its accessibility and remarkable views located at 7,874 feet above sea level. Backpackers and hikers take the Fujinomiya Trail leading to the top of the mountain offering the shortest route to the peak, which can take up to seven hours.
The neighboring mountain trail leads to the top of Hoeizan, a peak along the southeastern slopes formed when Mount Fuji last erupted in the 18th century. The summit offers an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean to the east and the distant skyscrapers of Tokyo, while the walking trails around Fifth Station reveal pristine views of Mount Fuji’s snowcapped at 12,389 feet above sea level. After taking a scenic ride along the double-wired Hakone cableway, you can visit Owakudani. The volcanic valley was formed approximately 3,000 years ago and maintains hot springs and sulfur vents due to the continued geothermal activity of the region. The heat from the steam drifting out of the vents increases the temperature of the valley for a remarkable contrast against the cooler climate of the surrounding mountain slopes.
Tokyo – Depart for Home
In the morning, the doors to the Ghibli Museum opens to reveal galleries filled with the majestic artwork shaped by master animator Miyazaki Hayao. The Studio Ghibli produced award-winning classic movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke and displays original sketches and a fairytale atmosphere that captivates visitors. After one last adventure in the morning, your private transfer will greet you at your hotel and whisk you to Narita International Airport for your flight home.
- Walk along the Great Wall of China at one of the less-crowded sections that offer a spectacular view of the mountainside and the historical battlements
- Enjoy the graceful and sophisticated movements of a maiko, a geisha’s apprentice, during an evening dinner and performance in Kyoto
- Embrace the grandeur of the Golden Pavilion’s gilded walls and ceilings that are harbored in the serene landscape found along the edges of Kyoto
- Discover the historical importance and grand design of Tiananmen Square in the Beijing
- Traverse the grand halls and preserved stateliness of the Forbidden City that emanates from the approximately 8,000 rooms that form the complex
- Relax with a tranquil view of Mount Fuji along the winding trails and from the comforts of the Fifth Station on the famous mountain’s slopes
- Explore the fascinating manicured grounds and distinctive archways that line the long entryway to Meiji Shrine
- Step through the halls of the former Shogunates and galleries in which the emperor declared the former Edo ruling class illegal at Nijo Castle
Tradition will act as a guiding principle as modernity glows in the big cities during your 10-day highlights tour of China and Japan. Authenticity reigns in the dynamic history that spreads throughout both the sprawling suburbs and the cutting-edge urban landscapes. The remarkable, distinctive sceneries lead to staggering mountain chains that are crowned by the Great Wall or the slopes that lead to the snowcapped summit of the captivating Mount Fuji. Skyscrapers and neon lights touch the streets of Beijing and Tokyo with contemporary ambiance while the backstreets shine with traditional structures and the aromas of customary dishes. China and Japan are amalgamations of their respective pasts expressed in the preservation of culture intertwined with the eager view of the future.
Your immersive adventure in China and Japan will begin with your arrival in Beijing. Several nights in the capital of China will bring you to the heart of custom and culture as the fascinating history of the city and the country bubble to the surface as you visit Tiananmen Square and the fascinating galleries of the Forbidden City. Wander the secluded streets in search of hidden temples and visit the captivating Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. You also have the opportunity to view the famous Olympic Stadium known as the “Bird’s Nest” for an insightful view of the incredible feat of architectural design and engineering.
Move next to Kyoto and to the cultural center of Japan for three nights. Spending time in the enchanting ambiance of the city that has preserved its past will offer you a chance to bask in the tranquility of the gardens, quiet restaurants, and the approximately 2,000 temples and shrines scattered across the hills. Experience the continued elegance of a geisha performance during a show starring apprentices as they are honing their sophisticated skills. Enjoy the elegance of Nijo Castle as it layers the beauty and prestige of the Edo Era accentuated by architecture like the Golden Pavilion and manicured scenery like the Bamboo Forest.
Three nights spent in Tokyo will highlight the mixture of contemporary design as it towers above the antique buildings that are scattered around the backstreets. Neon lights become a collage of futuristic amusements that lead to charming temples that are fused with the aroma of burning incense. Traversing the prefectures of the city will offer insight into the impressive designs of preserved shrines like Meiji-Jenji and a former imperial residence. Venturing outside of the capital for a day will broaden the panorama of Mount Fuji along the Fifth Station and offer fabulous views of the iconic summit. Spend time traversing the Hakone gondola and cross the Owakudani Boiling Valley for a different perspective on the rugged mountains and verdant shores surrounding Lake Ashi. Looking for more recommended China and Japan travel inspiration? Consider browsing our China and Japan travel reviews page.
$4,363 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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