From ancient tradition to modern culture; buzzing cities to untouched tropical islands, this a land and sea adventure filled with a kaleidoscope of experiences and adventures waiting to be uncovered. Begin your journey by exploring the temples, gardens, castles, history, culture and cuisine of Japan before embarking on the ultimate expedition cruise of Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines’ subtropical islands where remote, idyllic isles and islands await.
Pricing for cruise and land:
Main Deck Single: $25,546AUD per person
Deck 4 Superior: $20,680AUD per person
Deck 5 Superior: $21,199AUD per person
Superior Single: $26,546AUD per person
Worsley Suites: $23,954AUD per person
Heritage Suites: $28,204AUD per person
Arrive in at Japan’s famed neonlit capital Tokyo, where tradition meets ultramodern and towering skyscrapers sit alongside ancient temples. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel by private car. Enjoy some free time at your leisure in this dazzling city before the evening, when you will enjoy a welcome dinner with your group tour and taste monjayaki, a popular dish in Tokyo.
Overnight at Hyatt Centric Ginza or similar
This morning we journey by shinkansen (bullet train) to Kanazawa. Located between the Japanese Alps and the Sea of Japan, Kanawaza is famous for its cultural and artistic richness and offers a real dive into old Japan. First, we visit the Samurai district of Nagamachi, which with its streets filled of earthen facades adorned with woodwork and its former lordly residences such as Nomura Buke, it offers a true immersion in the life of warrior lords. We enjoy lunch at Omicho market, a lively food market nicknamed Kanazawa’s kitchen. This afternoon, discover Kenrokuen garden, one of the three most beautiful landscaped gardens in Japan. In the center of the garden is a pond, the Kasumiga Ike, on the edges of which is a two-pillared lantern, the Kotoji, one of Japan’s most photographed monuments. Next stop is Higashi Chaya, one of the city’s three former geisha areas, with its centuries-old teahouses, lampposts and facades dating from the 19th century. The most beautiful of the houses is undoubtedly the Shima house. End your day at the gold leaf museum, whose production comes mainly from Kanazawa. An experience that is rare even for locals to enjoy, you’ll have the opportunity to watch a traditional geisha performance, interact with these beautiful performers, and enjoy an authentic local meal.
Overnight at The Sanraku or similar
This morning, have a look to the wonderful museum of contemporary art, displaying works by acclaimed Japanese and international artists before taking an express train to Kyoto. For lunch, explore the narrow streets of Nishiki Market and its family-run stalls. Afterwards, discover Nijo castle, whose delicate wood carvings are remarkable witnesses of Japanese refinement. Listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, this fortified castle is a former family home built in the 17th century for the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. In the evening, your tour guide will show you the beauty of Gion, Kyoto’s best preserved traditional district. With its wooden constructions, Gion is home of geishas. It is not uncommon, while strolling these small streets at the end of the day, to see a geisha painted with rice powder, dressed in a kimono enhanced with an obi, slipping into an alley under an umbrella.
2 nights at Cross or similar
This morning, visit Fushimi Inar, a shrine best known for its thousands of vermilion torii forming a path on the hill on which the temple is built. These torii are mostly donations made by individuals, families or companies to Inari, whose names often appear on the uprights of the torii. Then, we head to Kiyomizu temple, whose terraces offer a beautiful perspective on the ancient capital imperial. Dedicated to the 11- headed goddess Kannon, whose statue is only exhibited once every 33 years, this temple was founded in 798. The current buildings date from 1633. Enjoy a walk in Higashiyama district with its traditional and charming streets. After lunch, you will experience a tea ceremony at a private garden. Originally a means of relaxation and meditation, the tea ceremony (Chanoyu) has evolved into an extremely precise ritual requiring hours of learning and practice. The principles of the most famous tea master, Sen No Rikyûu are taught in schools across Japan. Nearby, visit Kinkaku-ji temple, nicknamed the ‘Golden Pavilion’. A wonderful garden stretches out in front of this pavilion covered in gold leaf, a perfect replica of the original building destroyed in 1950.
Today, take a private coach with your tour leader to one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Sea of Japan. We will visit Ine, a small and charming fishing village stuck between sea and mountains and far from mass tourism. With a local guide, learn more about Ine history, visit a sake brewery and a famous funaya or boat house. Enjoy also a boat cruise on the bay. After lunch at a local restaurant, your next destination will be Amanohashidate, which is recognised as one of the three most scenic views of Japan. Take a chairlift to Kasamatsu Park from where a panoramic view of Miyazu bay and the sandbar can be enjoyed.
Overnight at Monjusou Hotel or similar
Road to Osaka, visiting its 16th century castle, the last witness to Osaka’s feudal past, where the memory of Shogun Hideyoshi lingers. Dominating the skyline, the imposing Osaka Castle is a reconstruction erected on the original walls in the largest park in the city. Afterwards, transfer to your pre cruise hotel where our group will meet your fellow cruise voyagers and expedition guides over dinner at the hotel.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before exploring Japan’s seventh-largest city and the third largest port, Kobe. In 1995, Kobe was hit by the Great Hashin-Awaji Earthquake, which killed more 5,000 people. Today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible event remain. Today you will have a variety of excursions on offer alongside time to explore for yourself including visiting Pure Water Temple Kiyomizudera, one of Japan’s most revered temples and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, built over the Otowa Waterfall and dating back to 780. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before exploring Buddhist temple Sanjusangendo or Rengeo-in, renowned for its 1,001 statues of the goddess of mercy Kannon, and the ultimate torii gate experience Fushimi Inari Shrine, dedicated to the gods of rice and sake. This afternoon board Heritage Adventurer, moored in Kobe, settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship.
Takamatsu has had a long history as a port town earning itself the nickname ‘Gateway to Shikoku’, although more recently locals have been calling it ‘Udon Kingdom’. If you have an interest in plants, a visit to Ritsurin Park, considered one of Japan’s finest gardens, is sure to be a highlight. Next you will enjoy a visit to Kinashi, one of Japan’s main bonsai production centres, where you will learn about traditional methods of growing bonsai. For those more interested in history and art you may wish to travel to Naoshima Island for a full-day excursion. Shikoku Island is known for its art and this excursion to Naoshima will have you admiring its architecture and art museums, including Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House, featuring work by Japanese and
This morning we plan to visit Miyamjima, a small island off the coast of Hiroshima and location of the famous giant torii gate which appears to float over the water at high tide and is ranked as one of Japan’s three best views. Miyamjima is also home to one of Japan’s most famous sites Itsukushima Shrine, which like the torii gate, is built over water. Spend the afternoon in Hiroshima, the epicentre of the world’s first nuclear bomb attack in 1945, now rebuilt as a centre of peace and reconciliation. We plan to visit the beautiful Peace Park and Museum, with its sombre cenotaph containing names of atomic bomb victims, and the permanently lit ‘Flame of Peace’.
Today sees us exploring the city of Uwajima, on Japan’s Shikoku Island. One of Japan’s premier pearl producers, we will have the chance to learn about the traditional process of cultivating and harvesting pearls during a visit to a pearl farm. We also plan to visit Uwajima Castle, built in the Edo Period (1603 – 1867), it features spectacular panoramic views of the town, harbour, and the tranquil Tenshaen Garden built in the Samurai era. We will make sure you have free time today to explore the town or perhaps visit one of the many gardens including Tenshaen and the island’s largest Nanrakuen Gardens. Other options include meandering along a cherry tree-lined lane in Yoshida, or visiting the historic Kabuki theatre.
Renowned for being the wettest place in Japan, Yakushima Island is located among the southern Japanese island chain of Osumi. Considered an eco-paradise, this 200-square-kilometre island is home to almost 2,000 species of flora including the hauntingly beautiful primeval temperate rainforest of giant sugi (Japanese cedar). Earning this small island UNESCO World Heritage status (Japan’s first), these ancient cedars have stood for upwards of 5,000 years with the incredible Jomon Sugi thought to be 7,200 years old making it one of the oldest trees in the world. Experience the majesty of these ancient giants on a trek through Yakusugi-Land while keeping a look out for Yakushima deer and monkeys, and gain further insight through the interactive displays at Yakushima Environmental and Cultural Village. The island is also known as an important nesting site for endangered Loggerhead and Green turtles and, with all that water, boasts some seriously impressive waterfalls.
With 65% of Amami Oshima, the largest island in the Satsunnan Amami archipelago, forested in lush jungle and the location of Japan’s second-largest mangrove forest, this tropical outpost is rightly famous for its rare and diverse birdlife and primeval subtropical Kinsakubaru Virgin Forest. Beyond white sand beaches explore crystal clear underwater worlds and stunning wildlife filled coral gardens while on land a rich human history and unique cuisine charms. Visit the Nature Observation Park for a wilderness experience followed by a thrilling immersion into the island’s culture including observing the incredible detail that goes into creating the revered Oshima Tsumugi silk which has been used to make high-quality kimonos for centuries.
Dubbed the ‘Hawaii of Japan’ and the centre of the Ryukyu Kingdom for centuries, Okinawa Island only became part of Japan in 1868. Today we will discover the kingdom’s historic importance and the devastating impact of World War II which resulted in losses of more than 100,000 Japanese troops and thousands of US troops over 82 days. Options include a deep dive into the WWII history with a visit to the battle-scarred tunnel complex now a tribute to the former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters, the Peace Memorial Park dedicated to the more than 200,000 lives that were lost, and the Himeyuri Tower which honours the female high school students and their teachers who lost their lives after being put to work in army field hospitals in caves. Or explore the lush subtropical rainforest and Valley of Gangala, a limestone cave system created hundreds of thousands of years ago and working excavation site. Believed to have been the dwelling site of pre-historic humans who existed some 20,000 years ago, structures dating back thousands of years have been found at this site along with a giant banyan tree estimated to be 150 years old. Discover the ancient Shurijo Castle, the former residence of the Ryukyu kings was left in ruins following the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 and restored and opened as a national park in 1992.
Surrounded by turquoise coastal waters, the idyllic subtropical Ishigaki Island combines coral reefs and jungle-clad mountains with being the commercial centre of
the Yaeyama Islands and the largest island in the chain. Renowned for its pristine beaches, here we have the opportunity to explore the mangrove-lined Miyara River with its prolific butterflies and birdlife, take in the sensational views of the Hirakubo Peninsula from the Tamatorizaki Observatory and experience island traditions including weaving the distinctive Minsa textiles. Discover the hidden treasures of Ibaruma Sabichi Cave resplendent with stalactites and leading to beautiful beach. A highlight of the day will be visiting neighbouring Taketomi Island where we will enjoy transport via a traditional buffalo cart to see the island’s iconic bungalow style houses with their terracotta roofs and hibiscus and bougainvillea covered walls.
Surrounded by mountains and proudly presided over by Taipei 101 – the 1,600-foot-high skyscraper and former Taipei World Financial Center styled on a bamboo stalk – Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, combines an exciting mix of Asian and Western influences. Rightly famous for its prevalent street food, be sure to sample its variety of xiaochi (little snacks) while exploring top attractions including the Chinese influenced Martyrs’ Shrine; Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, commemorating Taiwan’s former president; and the National Palace Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Chinese art. For those looking for a nature fix, head to Yehliu Geopark with its world famous surreal landscape of honeycomb and mushroom eroded rock formations and Japanese-era mining complex turned tourist attraction Gold Ecological Park where hillside walkways connect 1930s offices, workshops and dormitories for an insight into early mining history.
Taiwan’s second-largest city Hualien, located on its mountainous east coast, is our gateway to the world-famous 19- kilometre-long canyon Taroko National Park and its namesake Marble Gorge. The spectacular marble walls here soar to more than 300 feet high and are surrounded by verdant green bamboo forests promising an unforgettable experience. Comprising some 227,000 acres and varying altitudes, from near sea level at the mouth of the Liwu River to towering more than 12,000 feet high at Mt Nanhu, the park’s dramatic landscape provides a diverse array of vegetation and habitats which
boast a third of Taiwan’s vascular plants, half of its mammal species, the rare Nanhu Salamander and more than 140 bird species.
Part of a tiny archipelago of 10 islands, the Philippines northernmost province Batan was the country’s first landmass to succumb to Japan’s invasion during World War II. Offering an intriguing mix of historic churches, the unique architecture of its Ivatan houses, rugged coastline and rock formations, panoramic vistas and beaches, we will have the option to join local guides who will share the island’s harrowing WWII history with us during a visit to a tunnel used as a hideout by Japanese soldiers. There will also be an option to venture to the top of former lighthouse and U.S. weather station Radar Tukon where incredible 360-degree views across of the island can be enjoyed. Take in the charming country/ocean views of the endless grassy undulations at Vayang Rolling Hills and explore the town plaza and the striking Santo Domingo de Basco Church, one of the first limestone building to be built under the Spanish regime in 1812.
Anchoring in the port of Currimao, this morning, we explore the culturally rich North Luzon. At Badoc we plan to visit Juan Luna Shrine, the restored home of famous Ilocano painter Juan Luna’s and Badoc Church where a 400-year-old image of the Virgin Mary, La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc, found by fishermen in the 17th century is displayed. In Bantay the iconic 16th Century Bantay Church Bell Tower, built in
1590 with Baroque and Gothic inspired architecture, takes centre stage and offers a glimpse into the region’s colourful history along with incredible views from the top, before making our way to Vigan. Considered Asia’s finest example of a planned Spanish colonial city, the perfectly preserved 16th century Vigan’s grid street pattern and architectural influences fusing Philippine building design and construction with
colonial European architecture earned the city UNESCO status in 1999. Wander the historic cobblestone streets, consider the unique architecture and pay a visit to the traditional Pagburnayan pottery makers and learn about Vigan’s famous hand-crafted earthenware Burnay jars.
Despite its name, Hundred Islands National Park is comprised 124 lushly vegetated, mushroom shaped islands and islets scattered across the turquoise waters of the Lingayen Gulf, believed to be formed more than two million years ago. Decreed a national park in 1940, the collection of islands combine white sand beaches lapped by tranquil crystal clear waters, caves, fascinating limestone cliffs and rock formations, coral reefs teeming with marine life, and bird and wildlife-filled forests and mangroves. We spend our last day exploring one of these magical islands birding, beachcombing,
snorkelling and Zodiac cruising among this wonderland.
This morning we arrive in the Philippines’ bustling capital Manila, a former port town now buzzing commercial hub, heritage centre and culinary hot spot. After breakfast there will be a complimentary coach to a central hotel or to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. To allow time for disembarkation procedures and travel from Manila, we do not recommend booking flights departing before 1300 hours.
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 4 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of 25% per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.