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Area: 377,780 square kilometres (One and a half times the size of the UK)
Population: 127 million (Twice the UK’s)
Religions: The majority of Japanese follow more than one. Shinto (84%), Buddhism (76%), Christianity (1.4%), others (8%)
Languages: Japanese. A varying degree of English is understood. One can get by with English in major cities but not necessarily in remoter parts
Time: +9 hours (GMT)
When to Go
It is possible to visit Japan throughout the year. March to May and late September to November are considered the best times to visit owing to the milder temperatures, relatively low rainfall and frequent clear days.The climate varies considerably, the north being cooler than the south. Late November to mid March is generally colder than the UK and certain regions receive a lot of snowfall. July and August are hot and often humid (with the exception of Hokkaido) and there is a short rainy season beginning around June. From late May through to September occasional typhoons come in from the Pacific.
Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer direct flights from London Heathrow to Tokyo. Japan Airlines also have a direct flight from Heathrow to Osaka Kansai. Indirect options are available including via Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai and Seoul. Direct flight time is 11-12 hours.
Japan has a highly developed, fast and punctual rail system. Train travel is highly recommended. A Japan Rail Pass can be included and is often economical.
A good network of internal flights links many of the major cities and islands
Ferries link the separate islands as well as ports on the same island. Ferries can also cross to South Korea, China and Russia.
Japan has an extensive network of well maintained roads. Cars and drivers may be hired for transfers and sightseeing but this can be very expensive. Cars can also be hired but an international driving licence is required. We advise against driving in the major cities.
Private Transfers and Sightseeing
Hiring private cars and guides in Japan can be very expensive. In our tours the scheduled sightseeing tends to be a mix of private tours using public transport and tours of a ‘shared seat in coach’ basis. These shared tours generally run on a minimum of two people and you may be joined by like-minded travellers from other hotels.
Area: 36191 sq km (Slightly less than one twentieth the size of the UK)
Population: 23 million (One third of the UK’s)
Religions: A mixture of Buddhist and Taoist (93%), Christian (4.5%) and others (2.5%)
Languages: Officially Mandarin, though Taiwanese is also spoken. English may be understood in the major cites but is not widely spoken outside of these
Time: +8 hrs (GMT)
When to go
The most pleasant months to visit are spring and late autumn. Taiwan has a largely sub-tropical climate with two distinct seasons, hot from May to October (with the summer months being especially humid) and cooler from November to March. The northern areas receive monsoon like rainfall from January to March, and are generally cooler than the south. The southwest monsoon starts in May and ends in late September. Heavy rainfall can occur any time of year, and the typhoon season generally runs from May into October.
Getting to Taiwan
Eva Air fly to Taiwan via Bangkok. Connections are also available via Hong Kong on British Airways and Cathay Pacific. Flights generally take 15-17 hours including transit time. Connections are available across Asia.
A network of internal flights links many of the major cities.
There is a highly developed, fast and punctual rail system. Train travel is recommended.
Taiwan’s major roads are well maintained. To hire a car you require an international license. We do not recommend driving in the major cities.
Private transfers and sightseeing
In Taiwan we use private cars and guides for the majority of the transfers and sightseeing, though shared seat in coach tours and independent train travel can also be undertaken should you wish to have more independence or cut costs.
Area: 98480 sq km (Just less than half of the UK’s)
Population: 48.3 million (About 13 million less than the UK)
Religions: Buddhism (25%), Christianity (25%). Others include Confucianism, Shamanism and Chondogyo though around 50% of the population claim to have no religion
Languages: Korean. A varying degree of English is understood. One can get by with English in major cities but not in remoter parts
Time: +9 hrs (GMT)
When to go
The most comfortable months to visit are between late March and May and from September through to early November. The temperatures are comparatively mild (though there can be significant variance between night and day) and the skies clear. December through to March is cold and dry, though the north and east sees heavy snow. From June to September the country is hot and humid and the monsoon occurs around late June to early July. During this time the peninsula receives half its annual rainfall!
Getting to South Korea
Asiana Airlines and Korean Air offer direct flights from the UK. Indirect options are available via Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Flight time is about 11-11.5hrs
South Korea has a highly developed, fast and punctual rail system. Train travel is recommended
A good network of internal flights link many of the major cities.
Ferries travel to Japan and China.
Korea has a good network of well maintained roads. Chauffeured car travel is used in more remote areas. Cars can be hired but you need an international licence. We advise against driving in the major cities.
Private transfers and sightseeing
Our tours of Korea generally make use of a private car with an experienced driver and an English-speaking guide. Sometimes a ‘seat in coach’ tour is also used as private tours can be costly.