Escorted tours of Japan

   tel  +44 (0)1424 88 35 70

Home Page


Tours and Dates








About Us



Request info.



How to Book



Contact Us









  • This is the first holiday where I genuinely felt part of a different culture and not so much of a tourist 
    – some aspects were different / more challenging than I expected but this made for a more rewarding 
    experience – a truly amazing journey. Mr J.D. Gloucestershire,


  • This has been a terrific trip – stimulating, informative and very well organized. The trip as a whole 
    was one of the best I’ve been on with a wide variety of things to see. Your knowledge of the language 
    and people enormously expanded our enjoyment. Your efforts were greatly appreciated and you made
    every move to ensure our comfort and enjoyment. Mr D.M.
    Avon , UK 


  • Small groups work very well. I was lucky to be in a small group with people who were a pleasure to travel with. 
    The tour leader and local guide were excellent, their background knowledge on the country helped to make me
    feel more a part of the place for my visit rather than just a tourist. Both were very friendly courteous people. 
    Pre-departure information was excellent, it answered all my questions. It was obvious from this that a great deal 
    of thought has gone into anticipating the requirement for background information on the country visited 
    and for the items needed for the trip. In short it made organizing for the trip very simple. Overall the trip was superb. 
    Very well organized from the outset. Mr G.S. Essex,


  • As I travel often with The Oriental Caravan it is becoming more obvious that Phil’s contacts make the holiday – 
    the local guides always surpass expectations. Mrs J.L. London,


  • The trip content was very impressive, Every day was different and as good as the previous one. 
    The trip was extremely well organized and the information provided by knowledgeable guides (and by you) greatly 
    increased our understanding and thus enjoyment. But we know what you are capable of and that is why we came! 
    THANK YOU. Ms M.S. Avon,


  • Phil, I thank you giving me the opportunity to spend some of the happiest times of my whole life on your trip 
    with The Oriental Caravan!! I loved it!! I appreciated the time you took going out to dinner with us and taking 
    us to the great places after it was great fun!! Mrs G.L. Inverness,

  • The itinerary and trip content were all excellent with the balance just right between escorted and free time. 
    Also, we weren't overburdened with facts! Thanks for a great time! Mr and Mrs A. and J.R. Gloucestershire


  • The whole thing went off perfectly and if we had to do it all again, I don't think I would change any of it. 
    All in all a pretty damn good trip - thanks! Mr G.B. East Yorkshire

JAPAN / KOREA / CHINA                                                                                                                                        top

  • A well thought out itinerary. Every day was exciting and special. I particularly liked Nagasaki...  having a tour leader is a first for me and I think it works well. I came with The Oriental Caravan for a trip to see Japan and Japanese and avoid the usual ‘touristy’ elements. I enjoyed TOC’s style of travelling and would certainly recommend TOC to anyone who is interested in a trip east.     Mrs S. E. Lancashire, UK

  • Good introduction to Japan. Its great to see the Japan other tour groups miss. When you are welcomed warmly in places you visit frequently it makes group members feel at home.    Mrs J. L. London UK 


  • A nice sampling of different places in Japan. I enjoyed them all. A well-organised, well thought out trip, well planned and executed.    Ms R. D. San Francisco, USA

  • Excellent. A really memorable experience! Even in 2 weeks I felt that I had a real taste of Japanese culture. Gave a real mix of traditional and modern Japan. Enjoyed ‘free’ afternoons/days because provided opportunity to refresh batteries if necessary.     Mrs L.H. UK


  • Great variety of scenery, sights, gardens etc – all most interesting and well chosen. Tour leader was really good; provided a caring attitude to all ages and all requests.    Mrs S.W. UK


  • Very pleased to have a Japanese speaking tour guide – very informative, friendly and helpful, thank you! Would not have benefited so much from visiting Japan without the information and advice we received.   Anon


  • Enjoyed every stop... we would not have thought to go to some of these places on our own. Had a great time with you. You are well-organised, knowledgeable and fun.    Mr B.C. Missouri, USA


  • Great! Trip of a lifetime.    Mr A.H Cambridgeshire, UK

  • Fantastically well-organised. Good to explore further then most western tourists get. Never imagined we could eat so well for so little money. Very pleased to have been introduced to so many types/styles of food – a gastronomic tour as well.    Mrs M.C. Stockport, UK

  • Superb. Thanks for an intelligent itinerary. Mr M.B. Bedfordshire, UK

  • A truly wonderful cultural experience. Thank you.    Mrs H.M. Isle of Man

  • Just thank you for a perfect holiday. So many wonderful memories.    Mrs S.C. Redhill, UK

  • All I can say is it was a wonderful experience. (Tour leader) What could one say – absolutely great, considerate to us older more delicate ladies. We all had a wonderful trip thanks to Phil and his planning.    Mrs L.F. Isle of Man


  • We’ve seen so much and such a wide variety that we’ve never been bored for a moment. Phil is very skilled. good judgement of the group and in the amount of information given and its timing. Just about perfect I’d say!    Mr and Mrs R. and S. W. Cheltenham, UK


  • I think [the tour leader] did a great job being able to handle all the various personalities of the group and [his] obvious interest in the country.  Mr C.R. Maine, USA


  • My lasting impression will be of an unbelievably smooth operation: there was always enough time to do what was required whether it was visiting gardens and temples; museums and markets or stocking up on daily supplies. What fascinated m e was the way Phil would reach into a shoulder strap underneath his jacket and conjure up as if by magic, an endless supply of material but above all those precious train tickets skilfully handed out as if individual names had been written on them. Of course, what the pre-departure information does not prepare you for is the way that Phil makes everyone’s comfort his particular concern, with help cheerfully given to those who needed it and the genuine pleasure and generosity of spirit with which all this was rendered.      Mrs A.W. London, UK

  • Phil Colley is an ideal guide for such a trip with his knowledge of the country and ability to communicate in Japanese. He was totally unflappable and dealt with all members of the group equally. This was an excellent experience of a new culture and country. I shall be recommending both Japan and The Oriental Caravan to other travelling friends and family. Phil made the trip.        Mrs S.B. Devon, UK

  • Something of interest every day and I consider it was very good value for money.  Phil was just brilliant. Cannot speak too highly of the holiday from start to finish.     Mrs A.S. Surrey, UK

  • It is really difficult for me to express in English how much we want to thank you for the experiences which you offered to us. There were so many ‘small touches’ which made the trip particularly outstanding. I [will] spread the ‘good news’ among my friends, they should not miss out on extraordinary experiences – a big thank you again for all your troubles.     Mrs A.F. Derbyshire, UK

  • We enjoyed [the tour leader’s] patient and caring attitude… The guide in Kyoto was/is a treasure – his profound knowledge and his ‘English’ sense of humour; do not lose him.     Mr A.F. Derbyshire, UK


  • It was such fun and everything was wonderful. You did a great job planning and guiding this trip. You are one wonderful, with it guy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.     Mrs P.L. New York, USA


  • Good blend of nursemaiding and independence...Wonderful trip, wonderful company and Phil was great. I felt group size was just about right with 12 of us. Phil had picked up that it was Ron’s birthday during the holiday and celebrated it with a bottle of Champagne and a gift from the group. Very nice and truly appreciated.Thank you for a truly brilliant value for money holiday.       Mrs B.C. Bristol, UK


  • It was a truly great and memorable trip helped in no small part by the huge amounts of behind-the-scenes 
    planning and networking that had gone on to help it run smoothly. The tour leader's knowledge of the areas 
    travelled through is vast and his inimitable style part of the experience. It was great to see how he (and therefore we!) 
    was so warmly received in the many places he was already known... I wouldn't want to travel in
    China without a leader 
    who was as fluent in the language and as thoroughly at home in the country as he is. The fact that most of the group 
    had travelled with The Oriental Caravan before is a recommendation in itself!" Mrs J.L London,


  • Thoroughly enjoyed the trip which exceeded all my expectations. It was varied and interesting and gave me 
    a good insight into
    Japan and its culture. Loved the Mt Aso trip and the overnight stay on Miyajima 
    - very special to be there at night and early the next morning! Beppu was fantastic & fun. Great place 
    to re-charge one’s batteries midway through the trip. Charming guesthouse and hostess in Aso! Enjoyed using 
    public transport and also thought the number of free days was about right. Hectic but still had time to savour precious 
    moments. The local guide in
    Kyoto is a MUST. He was superb as, of course, was The Oriental Caravan leader 
    who led in a relaxed and friendly way and kept us all in order! Good organization. 
    Have written to the Japan Tourist Board Savile Row singing your praises! Shall continue to do so 
    and hope to be with you again in the future. Mrs K. B Yorkshire, UK  

  • A good insight into life in Japan - changed my views of the Japanese people. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip 
    and value the hard work that must have been done to make it so successful and troublefree." 
    Phil Colley at his best. Mr A.R. Nottingham,


  • We saw/experienced far more of the Real Japan than would have been the case on our own 
    or in a Big Company Tour – I felt part of the country rather than an observer. Very pleased 
    with the level of support received from Phil on the tour and we appreciated the amount of time 
    that was spent leading the group. The walking was very much to our taste and made for some 
    great memories – climbs at Beppu and Aso were great. Transport, what can I say – excellent. 
    Taxis worked well.
    Kyoto hotel was very pleasant and excellent service, good location. 
    Magical evening in Miyajima. Mt Aso was a brilliant experience, and sleeping on a futon was 
    surprisingly comfortable. In terms of the food, there was a nice variety combining traditional 
    and western dishes. A good balance as full on Japanese takes a bit of getting used to. 
    Some fun and memorable meals out were had particularly in Beppu, Nagasaki
    and Miyajima, 
    the latter being my favourite. The talks by Kunio were much appreciated as well. 
    I’ll do this honeymoon lark again!
    Mr J.D Gloucestershire, UK

  • I have withdrawal symptoms for all the special food. The hotel in Kyoto was excellent 
    - first time for me to take pics of a toilet! Loved watching the bullet train from my window!! 
    Island was very good. The owners were friendly, the doll display interesting, food
    was good. One of the highlights of my trip was spending special time at one of the little 
    oyster bars in one of the streets just sent the owner a gift for the grandchildren – a Scotland
    bagpipe CD!! Beppu Excellent!!!! Loved it at that place. The hot spring baths and massage chairs
    were just wonderful!! Nagasaki
    was one of my favourite hotels my kind of place. Lots of style and 
    staff very helpful. The transport was excellent 10/10 + Phil for all your great efforts!! I hope 
    your tours continue to be successful. Mrs G.L. Inverness, Scotland

  • An excellent introduction to Japan! Mr K.C. and Mrs M.C. London UK  

  • The itinerary was well-balanced allowing individual exploration and group exploration. The trip gave me 
    a real feel for life in
    Japan. There was always something to explore and many interesting insights 
    in Japanese life. Accommodation and food was excellent. On
      Miyajima Island [we stayed in] a very pleasant, 
    homely inn with a very nice family atmosphere, and a superb location. I liked this one a lot! Mt Aso as per 
    Miyajima accommodation, had great personal touches. Felt like one of the family. Sleeping on the floor
    just like camping indoors!
    Nagasaki smallest of accommodation, but nice comfortable room serviced with usual 
    Japanese efficiency. I really enjoyed eating out in Japan. The restaurants were superb, my particular favourites 
    were the one in Beppu (second night) and the natural food restaurants in Tokyo. Not forgetting on Miyajima, 
    enjoyed watching it being prepared. Could not fault the transportation – no shortage of taxis. The trains are superb, 
    on time so little waiting at any point on the trip made traveling around Japan
    a pleasure. Even the underground 
    Tokyo was easy, I found. The company I was in made for a very enjoyable and unforgettable trip. I have 
    and will continue to recommend Oriental Caravan to friends etc. Mr G.S Essex, UK

  • The trip content suited me as I like a wide range of different things – I particularly enjoyed the walks, 
    but I also like gardens and being in cities so I was happy as Larry. Felt that the trip starting in
    and ending in
    Tokyo worked really well, as by the time we arrived in Tokyo we were really relaxed and 
    so could enjoy the city properly. Altogether the accommodation was faultless. Favourite was Mt Aso 
    – I loved it and could have stayed many more nights! Good mix of Japanese food/ more familiar options 
    which I think would suit both adventurous and wary eaters. Particularly enjoyed the traditional 
    Japanese meals and Miyajima. Fantastic use of the public transport system really added to the whole 
    experience of seeing the real Japan
    , Always comfortable and lived up to its reputation of being dead on time. 
    Phil was always courteous, very well organized and friendly so I felt totally confident in him throughout. 
    He made the trip fun, Would be happy to travel with him in future. Altogether a fantastic trip – I enjoyed 
    (almost!) every minute and have brought back some great memories. Thanks for all your hard work
     – so long and thanks for the fish. Ms KS,
    , UK  


  • Good introduction to Tohoku with added interest of following Matsu Basho. We saw so much 
    but it was never exhausting. Great variety, plenty of interesting places and great evening venues. 
    Tour leader tireless in providing interesting and novel experiences for the group!! Everything went 
    remarkably smoothly considering the areas being traveled through and using public transport throughout. 
    Really good food – helped by having an ardent vegetarian [Phil Colley] who speaks Japanese on board. 
    Especially remember the sansai and noodles on the way to Iwaki San and the meal in the bar in
    Great evening as well. Transport – totally consumer friendly – easy to use/efficient etc. Country trains are great. 
    I thoroughly enjoyed this trip – having been south of
    Tokyo before this was a totally different experience. 
    Mrs J.L. London, UK


  • We wanted to go to Tohoku - an area of northern Japan popular with the Japanese - but hadn't a clue 
    how to arrange the trip. Nobody seemed to take tours there and so on recommendation we turned to 
    The Oriental Caravan. All in all, what with walking amidst snow capped volcanic mountains, cruising 
    around the islets of Matsushima Bay, drinking at cherry blossom parties and bathing in steaming onsen, 
    this was the perfect introduction to Japan's varied and beautiful countryside. Many thanks to The Oriental Caravan! 
    Ms L. London. 


  • A great trip! The itinerary was excellent - very varied and comprehensive. I loved the 'bullet trains' and also 
    the Sonic Express with its Mickey Mouse headrests! The Oriental Caravan leader was, as usual, excellent
    - charming, considerate and humorous. A big thank you and good luck! 
    Mrs G.R. Nottingham,


  • The arrangements worked extremely well leading to a memorable visit to an area of Japan 
    where very few foreigners go to. The minshuku Magariya is truly outstanding. 
    Mr M. Edinburgh,
    Scotland .

  • I really enjoyed the tour it was a great 14 days, I enjoyed all the trains they were excellent. 
    Tour leader – that’s you Phil, always courteous. You led us well – we were always on time for our trains etc.
    Mr W. and Mrs F.D. Melbourne,

  • The Leader was good with plenty of extra information on request for self exploration. 
    It was a very good idea to transport the luggage separately.
    Tokyo hotel was good 
    - easy to get to the subways and JR railway line. I really enjoyed the trip. Thank you. Mrs H.B Wigan UK


  • Just want to say thank you for the CD. It will bring good memories of Japan. I had a wonderful time. Ms E.R. USA


  • Thank you for the great job you did for us – your insight and kind personality were perfect in the guidance
    and moulding a group as diverse this – I’ve traveled overseas many times and you are the best guide I ever had, 
    congratulations on a job well done. I am following several leads as to how more travelers can be made aware of
    your talent for both developing a thoughtful and organized tour, and leading a diverse group to unusual and thought 
    provoking locations. Mr J.M.


  • Phil, good itinerary for Japan. The trip in Spring '98 was excellent, well organised and fun. 
    Definitely the right step to include more off-the-beaten-track stuff. Mr N.B. Oxfordshire, UK

  • The flying carpet of Japan unfurled as the blossom gained volume dangling and dancing in the wind. 
    The walking was gentle but at a passage of time all could cope with. I liked meeting locals 
    - how helpful all ages of Japanese are. The gentle introduction into Japanese lifestyle was a good progression.
    Mrs M.C. London, UK


  • Japan’s transport network is so well coordinated, clean and efficient, that made it a pleasure to travel. 
    The tour was well planned and well co-ordinated. A good overview of Japan
    that covered a wide range 
    of interesting attractions and major interesting cities. Mr L.G and S.F. Ireland

/ TIBET / NEPAL                                                                                                                                         

  • Thanks again for the wonderful Tibet trip. Beautifully organised, with seamless logistics, outstanding guides 
    and of course your good self to make it a great couple of weeks. I would recommend this trip 
    to anyone interested in first-hand experience of the Tibetan people, their culture and the unique 
    'Roof of the World' landscape." - Ms R.H Staffordshire, UK

  • Great trip. I look forward to joining the caravan another time. Great to know we were getting the ‘Tibetan view’ 
    Tibet. Guides were excellent. Couldn’t have asked for a more competent and knowledgeable guide than ours. 
    You did a typically great job too! Ms C.W Surrey UK

  • The journey to Mount Kailash was unforgettable. The tour allowed enough freedom 
    for all 'Caravaneers' to experience the endless spaces of Tibet in an individual way, 
    while being so well organised that the safety, security and (allowing for the more challenging 
    aspects of the terrain) comfort of all participants was ensured. Everyone who can should go to Kailash, 
    and The Oriental Caravan is the ideal way to experience it! Mr J.H London, UK

  • The hotel in Kathmandu was excellent and friendly - ideal to have such a good hotel after the flight 
    and after the trip. The hotel in
    Lhasa was also excellent. Friendly people, good situation in old town, 
    full of character. As for the restaurants and food – great variety and very tasty! The food was above 
    all expectations. Gesang [local guide] is a gem! Knowledgeable, efficient, friendly, good sense of humour, 
    diplomatic. No praise high enough! The 3 Tibetan drivers in the landcruisers were ‘gentlemen’ - very cheerful 
    and friendly - I had every faith in their driving. This was a fantastic trip. I knew Tibet
    would be good 
    but thanks to you the trip was better than I could have imagined. It must have required quite a lot of hard work 
    behind the scenes. Your knowledge of the people and language made all the difference! Highly recommended. 
    Many thanks. Ms M.S and Mr D.M Avon, UK

  • The trek – what can I say – a pony carried the tent, a man put the tent up – brilliant. 
    Paro was a great spot for beginning and ending the trip. Don’t change the guesthouse with no power 
    – a lovely spot - the Mountain Lodge was excellent, good rooms, good sitting area in dining room. 
    Food in
    Bhutan was much better than I had anticipated, always plenty of it and plenty of choice. 
    Mango juice – yum!! Peter was a great driver, even if a lousy joke teller! Sanjay – brilliant guide, 
    very knowledgeable, always seemed to have us in the “right place at the right time”. 
    [Meeting] Francoise Pommaret [world expert on
    Bhutan] – what a bonus that was! I had a great time. 
    Lovely country with beautiful scenery, people etc. A good crowd to travel with. Thank you. 
    Ms A.G. Berwickshire, UK


  • The trek – excellent! Tour content, tour leader, guides, information all excellent! Mr. G.A.B. Nottingham, UK

  • Our local guide Sanjay was very good indeed. Phil is Phil! I enjoy trips with him. Ms S.K. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia


  • The whole trip was great – fantastic country and people – a well planned tour making the most of the time available. 
    I’m recommending it to everyone I meet. (Only change would be more time for shopping in Thimpu). On the trek 
    we had great tents and great to have one each. Enjoyed the food – especially the breakfasts 
    - always catered for vegetarians amply. The hotel in Para was very comfortable especially the suite on the last night. 
    Entertainment laid on by the host! The hotel in Jakarta was very idiosyncratic but I liked it a lot and
    the village was unmissible – great to see the black neck cranes. Sangay and Peter [Bhutanese guides] were fantastic. 
    The tour made me want to see more of
    Bhutan, especially the East. 
    Mrs. J.L. London, UK


SILK ROAD  / XINJIANG / MONGOLIA / SIBERIA                                                                                                        top
  • It was a truly great and memorable trip helped in no small part by the huge amounts of behind-the-scenes planning 
    and networking that had gone on to help it run smoothly. The tour leader's knowledge of the areas travelled through
    Silk Road] is vast and his inimitable style part of the experience. It was great to see how he (and therefore we!) was
    so warmly received in the many places he was already known... I wouldn't want to travel in China
    without a leader who
    was as fluent in the language and as thoroughly at home in the country as he is. Having done a similar route in 92 this 
    was a much more well thought out itinerary. There was a good balance re road/air travel. PIA seems to have improved 
    but it could be because TOC wangled seats on the upper deck! The train journey was great much better than I expected. 
    All the hotels in Pakistan
    had spectacular views especially the hilltop in Karimabad the moonlight on the mountains 
    was surreal. The fact that most of the group had travelled with The Oriental Caravan before is a recommendation in itself! 
    Mrs J.L. London, UK

  • To those reading this, who do not know Phil, I met Phil in 1992/3. He was given the unenviable task of being 
    the translator and general 'get us out of trouble' guy on - to the best of my knowledge - the only single vehicle 
    (with no back up!) crossing of the Taklamakan Desert, in recent history. He knows his stuff and if I was not now 
    working in the
    , I would not hesitate to join him on a trip. Good Luck Phil, I hope all your trips are a success.

    Charley Snow (Exodus Expedition leader, 1991-93) USA

  • Had a really great time – seemed to fill every minute so seemed more than 16 days. Gave very good introduction
    Mongolia even if covering a very small geographical area. Plenty of variety – right balance of natural history
    / cultural interest. Fantastic drivers. Everyone was great couldn’t have asked for better. Worked well as a team.
    Food while camping was amazing – would never expect 3 courses especially at lunch – wouldn’t even expect 
    cooked lunch! Ms J.L Venezuela  


  • We wanted to go to Tohoku - an area of northern Japan popular with the Japanese -  but hadn't a clue 
    how to arrange the trip. Nobody seemed to take tours there and so on recommendation we turned to 
    The Oriental Caravan. The tailor-made tour that Phil and his team in Japan
    came up with ran very smoothly 
    and took us north of Tokyo
    and east and west along the coasts of both the Sea of Japan and the Pacific.
    The ryokan guesthouses found for us, including an old thatched farm, were ideal and ensured we had the full 
    'Japanese experience'. All in all, what with walking amidst snow capped volcanic mountains, cruising around 
    the islets of Matsushima Bay, drinking at cherry blossom parties and bathing in steaming onsen, this was
    the perfect introduction to Japan's varied and beautiful countryside. Many thanks to The Oriental Caravan! 
    Ms L London.

  • Still remember in 1997, the grasslands in northern Tibet? You playing guitar alone at sunset, empty beer cans 
    standing beside, hundreds of vintage cars around? Yes, the Beijing-Paris classic cars rally!
    Tang Jun, China  


For a selection of recent press cuttings click here

back to top


          Copyright © 2013. The Oriental Caravan. All rights reserved.                              
             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links