Visiting Hiroshima and Miyajima should be on everyone’s itinerary. Hiroshima has one of the saddest reminders of what humans can do to each other during war. Miyajima is the reminder of beautiful things humans can create. Both can be done in one day if you are on a tight schedule. We arrived at Hiroshima station in the morning and went straight to Miyajima. You need to take a local train to Miyajima-Guchi station and then follow the signs to the ferry to Miyajima Island. The JR Hiroshima Kansai Pass is valid on both the train and the ferry. Getting their is really a no-brainer if you understand the Japanese train system.
If you think all deer are innocent beautiful creatures like Bambi, a visit in Nara will make you reconsider. I recommend Nara to all my friends. It should be a must-see item on everyone’s bucketlist. Not only do you get to see beautiful shrines and temples amid lush nature, you also get to interact with deer and by interact I mean try to feed one, get surrounded by many, get bitten on your behind and try to get away from them while they follow you begging for more deer-cookies and bowing their heads Japanese style. What a fun day!
Nara is one of my favorite destinations. We went there twice and I wouldn’t mind a third visit. The town is pretty small and it is easy to walk to the park from the station. You can get a city map at the information counter which shows you the best walking route. Most of the attractions are located in the park and surrounded by crowds of tourist and deer. The tourists start to disappear when you get deeper into the park since most come to visit the Todaiji Temple (東大寺, Tōdaiji, “Great Eastern Temple”), the deer on the other hand are everywhere. And I love it!
Arashiyama is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto. It is easy to reach from the Kyoto station with the JR Sagano Line (also known as JR Sanin Line), which goes to the Saga-Arashiyama station. If you are visiting Kyoto, you should take a day to go there. There are a lot of must-see places, including the famous Bamboo Forest, Togetsukyo Bridge and Monkey Park Iwatayama (my personal highlight). There are also beautiful temples like Tenryuji Temple or Daikakuji Temple.
If you are thinking on visiting some other places rather than Seoul, Gyeongju (경주시) might be a good choice. The city offers many historical sites from the Silla Dynasty such as Seokguram Grotto, Bulguksa temple, the Royal Tomb Complex, the Cheomseongdae, which is one of the oldest astronomical observatories in East Asia and the Anapji royal pond garden. I have been to all of these sites before and they are all interesting, but if you have limited time, I recommend visiting these three: Anapji, Seokguram and Bulguksa. I wish I had photos of all of these attractions, but the first time I was there I had a really old camera and the photos are not presentable. This time we picked the day with the worst weather and it was raining cat’s and dog’s by the time we were finished with Seokguram and on our way to the Tombs. All sights are in the open and it was not worth getting soaked in the rain.
My favorite Buddhist Temple in Korea is located in Gyeongsangbuk-do (경상북도) and is called Unmunsa (운문사/ 雲門寺) or “Cloud Gate Temple” in English. It might be less known among foreign tourists, because it is not easy to reach. However I love this temple especially because of it’s beautiful location amid lush forests and mountains. There are buses going there from Daegu Nambu Terminal and from Cheongdo Bus Terminal, but it is more convenient to go there by car and enjoy some great scenery along the way.