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It is a short read, not over indulged with words. The focus is on the photos with a short description of what the reader is about to experience. I found myself wanting more. This very interesting photo tour of Tokyo, Taipei and Hong Kong includes over 90 pictures from several tourist sites and historic locations. Both Tokyo towers, the old one looking a bit like a futuristc Eiffel-Tower, and the new one, completed and called by the locals Tokyo Sky Tree The Fotos are made from the top of the old tower A Shinto temple, one of the tens of thousands to be found all around Japan to worship the various "kami" - the spiritiual essences of gods or spirits The Fotos from Taipeh, the capital of Taiwan are shot from Taipeh , from the second highest building in the world.
Clearly visible the smog that covers this enormous city and fotos from one of the Taipei night markets Then You can admire the fishing village with the Floating Restaurant, the business district with major corporate buildings, and shots from all around Hong Kong by day and night. This foto book is highly recommended for those who have colours on the Kindle, or to be looked at on computer, lLaptop or tablet.
Made for all those who love travelling - in person or only from the armchair Go to Amazon. Ultimate Package Deal Finder. Become a trendsetter and be the first person to make a comment on this post! Comments are automatically closed 30 days after the post is made. Name Email. Join the group and find out! You do nevertheless get what you pay for with high standards.
In Western Europe you get beautiful churches and galleries. In Japan you get beautiful temples and gardens with culture shock of the best possible kind as a supplement. From beer or hot tea in cans from vending machines, love hotels, mega cities, bowing from the girl serving you in a fast food chain, harrowing history lessons, toilets with remote controls, passing Mount Fuji in a bullet train, skiing and tropical beaches, food to die for and high standards - Japan is not one to miss for the sake of a few hundred bucks saved.
Japan with a little cash, care and a rail pass is truly one of the highlights of Asia and world travel and very easy to include on many round-the-world tickets or as aside trip by ferry from China or S. Capitalism meets Zen master. Japan is intriguing, confusing and always fascinating - few destinations in the world will have such a lasting impression on you.
Highlights : Tokyo, Kyoto , Nara , Mt Fuji , Himeji castle, the public baths, iconic views of Mount Fuji, the learning experience of a visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki plus lots of great places off the tourist trail. In general however the real highlight is just being there and day-to-day experiences. Lowlights : Japan's history is full of earthquakes, fires and arsons and wars Choose carefully the sights to visit in Kyoto as entry fees are around Y.
10 Brilliant Ways To Use Cathay Pacific Asia Miles - God Save The Points
Most of them are wonderful but some temples are not worth the entry fee and crowds plus temple 'over-load' soon take effect. Plus climbing Fuji. Best weather in spring or autumn and most beautiful also. The famous parks in big cities become a frenzied hub during this time with picnics, sightseers and every blossoming tree surrounded by photo-taking Japanese.
The spectacle is fascinating and beautiful, but Cherry and Plum blossoms in Japan do however look the same as anywhere else in the world they bloom.
Costs : Thanks to Abenomics and the depreciation of the Japanese Yen, Japan just gets cheaper and cheaper. If you stay in hostels and cheap minshukus, and you are careful with your meals, you can survive easily with JPY a day which is a figure than can and does adjust in affordability as the Yen exchange rate moves. Add a train pass to this and you get to about USD or just over and this really is the minimum amount of money you need to visit Japan. Since costs are the one thing that puts people off and worries so many it is useful to break-down here typical minimum costs: Accommodation : a capsule hotel or hostel bed runs at around 2,JPY per person to about 3,JPY per person for a double.
Transport - you will also need some transport and a day metro pass for somewhere like Tokyo is around 1,JPY. Moving around the whole country the Japan Rail pass 'per day cost' varies depending on how long you buy it for 7, 14 or 21days - if you consider 7 days most expensive 'per day cost' then per day you will pay around 4,JPY a bargain to actual costs.
Buy a train pass for longer than 7 days and spend some days without one or using regional local trains and you can average daily costs further down still. Start staying in hotels, taking taxis, eating meat or Sushi in fancy restaurants and buying bullet train tickets without the rail pass and you might as well multiply a USD per day budget by times. Money : Japan is quite safe so don't fear about carrying too much cash. Japan is essentially a cash society and although you can use a credit card it is best to stick with cash.
Changing money any hard currency cash or travellers cheques is easy, but not really super convenient and is very difficult outside of banking hours. The best and easiest bet is to use any post office as in a bank you may end up spending some time trying, due to communication problems. Private exchange offices are not easy to find or common - again any post office is your best bet. ATMs are common and yes they do have opening hours, which in most cases are similar to office hours and they tend to suddenly shut down at random times.
Do note that although ATMs are plentiful, many do not work with overseas cards. Still with a little hunting in any major town you will find an international one and the place you will always find an international compatible ATM is at the main Post Office - always easily found on a map or by asking, even if you have no Japanese.
Also as mentioned these are also perfect places for exchanging money, but do stick to regular hours and the ATM is inside so to use that ATM you have to visit within these normal business hours. Guide book : Many good guides, all the main players have similar information and are about the same standard. It is worth noting that because Japan has had almost no inflation in the past 10 years, even older guides have fairly spot on prices. Also worth a mention are free maps and other excellent English language tourist information that are widely available. All major train stations have a tourist information office.
What to take : Very western country so standard gear. Plug adaptor and mosquito repellent may be handy, but are not really essential. Do however make sure you have clothing to suit the climates depending on the time of year you visit. It is worth noting that you will be required to remove your footwear frequently, in temples, homes, hostels, etc. Japan has an incredible rail network; trains are fast, comfortable some are amazing and always on time. Shinkansen bullet trains fly at over kph on a few especially built lines.
The only problem is they are pretty expensive, especially the super-fast bullet trains. As an example the 15min jolt from Osaka to Kyoto will set you back as much as 2,JPY, however the regular not bullet train, which will take much longer will be much, much cheaper. To cover every aspect of Japanese trains fully would take a website in itself indeed they are out there , so you will excuse this broad and somewhat basic summary. To generalise you have roughly 6 types of train in Japan. Shinkansen bullet trains with lines all over the country connecting most major cities.
These are really fun to ride and like travelling in business class. Zooming along and seeing Mount Fuji out the window is a real thrill, but on the whole these trains are really too fast to enjoy the scenery and looking out the window too long zipping through tunnels and embankments will give you a headache pretty fast. These tickets are also really expensive and best avoided if you don't have a rail pass and are on a budget. Then you have the Nozomi which is the fastest grade of bullet train, these only run on only a few special built lines and are really expensive.
They are not covered by the rail pass. A much cheaper option to the bullet trains are tokkyu , limited express services, but these still have a considerable supplement applied. They are less than half the speed of the bullet trains and more like trains you might be familiar with. They are however much faster than the snail-pace kyuko express and futsu normal services. These are the cheapest, slowest option and while painful in a way, they are best for taking in the scenery and the only option sometimes.
The final type is trains not on the JR Japan Rail network and on private lines. This means if you have the rail pass you can't use them for free. On the whole you don't come across these lines too frequently, but every now and again for example the trip to Mount Fuji five lakes you have to change from the JR line to a private line for the last leg and then pay for a ticket even with a rail pass. Hyperdia is a search engine that allows you to do specific point-to-point rail searches for travel in Japan and get an idea of times and cost.
It is not the best, but a good start. The cost of a one week pass is not far off the price of a return to Osaka and back on the bullet train and you can really get your money's worth. Plus your trip seems so much cheaper seeing as you have made a large upfront payment to get around. If really travelling Japan i. They are available to cover the whole country for 7, 14 or 21 days.
The pass is available in many varieties the traditional version that covers the whole country or versions that cover only certain regions - official website here. You can use the pass to some extent in big cities to get around Tokyo or Osaka on the JR line that rings the cities , but you will not get the cost of having the pass for a day just using it in a city and really if landing or leaving in Tokyo or Osaka you are better to time your trip so you do not have the rail pass while you are there and activate it which you do with ease in the airport or main train station for the date of the day you leave and start your tour proper you can decide this when you activate it.
There is loads of excellent information on: Japan Travel , which has details of all the pass types, tonnes of questions answered and will mail you a pass to Japan if you forget to buy it at home or couldn't if on a really long trip.
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Your pass will always be checked on the train and it will have your name and passport number printed on it. However rail passes have no photos on them and the passport number and name printed on it is very rarely checked against another ID. If you find yourself without a JR pass or slow your pace of travel down where you are not taking travelling too much then avoid bullet trains. Getting trains and buying tickets is very easy and information is found in English. With a JR pass just flash the pass at the station entrance and exit.
There is no need to buy a ticket. For bullet trains you don't need to, but it makes sense to go to the ticket office to get a reserved seat. If they have no space, ask for smoking or the non-reserved carriage. Apart from super peak periods like Golden week , you always find some space on the train and departures are frequent, giving you great flexibility to travel with minimum planning. All train stations have luggage storage so you can tour a few cities and end up where you want to stay, storing your bag in each station before continuing. Boats : Long distance ferries are good value if you have plenty of time and there are a number of useful overnight hops.
There's no charge for sleeper berths in the bottom class you sleep on a mat and if you are lucky you can get a discount with an international student card. There are international ferries to South Korea, Russia and China. Your JR rail pass will also cover you on JR ferries mainly short hops.
Buses : It should be noted that if you have a JR rail pass see above , it is valid on the JR bus network. If you don't highway buses are cheaper than limited express trains and overnight services between major cities are comfortable and you make a good saving on the night's accommodation you don't need to pay for.
Kyoto to Tokyo being the most frequently used overnight route by travellers. Many other smaller carriers are also competing with them along the most popular routes, such as Skymart and Air DO. Tokyo's Narita Airport welcomes a few domestic flights, but most domestic flights leave from Haneda HND to the south of the city. Similarly, while there are some domestic flights from Kansai International Airport, more use Itami ITM to the north of Osaka, and Kobe's airport also hosts some flights.
Narita to Haneda or Kansai to Itami is quite a trek, so allow at least three and preferably four hours to transfer. Chubu, on the other hand, has many domestic flights and was built from the ground up for easy interchange. Locals : Always nice and polite; many will do their best to help you even if they don't understand you or know what you are looking for. Although communication can be a problem, many Japanese have some knowledge of English but seem afraid to use it.
Other travellers : All kinds of japanophiles, not difficult to meet people if you stay in backpacker places. Typical travellers mid's compared to the mid's majority you find in much of the rest of Asia. The majority of travellers are North American and Australian. You will come across plenty of Chinese on shopping trips.
However the big picture is in relative terms there are few foreign travellers although as the Yen dropped in value, numbers have dramatically climbed - including Chinese visitors and lots of Japanese tourists. Incredibly easy to get off the tourist track. Try to avoid the Japanese high season, particularly ' Golden Week ' first week of May. It is worth understanding that Japan is undergoing a huge tourist boom lasting many years.
Visitor numbers have been going up and up significantly each year. All the more reason to get away from the main tourist hotspots. Accommodation : There are many budget accommodation options: hostels, backpacker hotels, love hotels, business hotels and minshukus - all starting at Y at the lower end. Rooms are normally very small but very clean. Most have hard beds futon over tatami with harder pillows, and shared bathrooms. Many hostels around the country are on the Hostel International HI network where having a HI membership offers a worthwhile saving, but in major tourist destinations many private more travellers friendly options have sprung up, many with more than one location around the country J-Hoppers being a good example.
The best hostels do get booked out quickly and Japan is not really somewhere when in a big city you want to be stuck with no where to stay. So book ahead if you can, a simple phone call is all that is needed.
Be aware that many hostels have a lock out during the day a time when cleaning takes place and you cannot enter, from around to as in Western Europe. Check-in times are also normally and inconveniently from to around If you do get stuck without a place to stay many small business hotels or minshukus are available, with prices, which though are expensive, won't kill if it is an emergency. Equally capsule hotels are another cheap fall back to hostels, but not really convenient and more of an experience than something practical.
Most are men only, but some do take women although segregated. Average cost : Y per person with shared bathroom. In some places this will get you a nice double, in others, only just stretch to a massive impersonal dorm. Cost does bring standards, and dorms will all have AC. Communications : Internet is easyish to find in big cities, priced okay and Japan is home to some of the most amazing internet cafes on the planet where you can hire your own den complete with free drinks, comic library and lightning fast PC for cheaper than the equivalent time in a hostel.
Most hostels have normally free Wi-Fi network. Mobile phones, global roaming might not work in Japan. It's not uncommon to see travellers stuck as their phones had worked all over the world until then. Confusion between dual band and dual mode is worth checking here.
Best to track down one of a few English language book stores. Food : Food is great, a real highlight and there are lots of options for the budget traveller. You can have a basic meal from Y, a good meal for Y, or Y in a good restaurant. If your budget is suffering, you can go with instant noodles for Y or use supermarkets and cook in your hostel. Finding, choosing and ordering food is incredibly easy as you will always see plastic models of what is on offer in the window or at least a picture of every item on the menu card you can simply point to.
Meals almost always come with a free drink water or tea so no need to splash out more for something to drink. Vegetarians : Difficult for strict vegetarians as most sauces and soups contain dashi fish stock. Rating : 8. Intro : Korea might be best described by its rather obvious position on the map - that of something in-between China and Japan.
South Korea - which this summary mainly deals with - is effectively an island cut off to the North at the world's most heavily fortified border, however is well connected by ferry to China and Japan. Despite this and apart from those who come to teach English in their thousands or use Seoul as a stepping stone between Japan, China and Vladivostok the last stop on the trans-Siberian railroad , Korea is clearly a third choice over its heavily populated and touristed neighbours.
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The analogy of something between China and Japan goes further still. To cost, efficiency, feel and ease of travel.
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Although clearly due to its own version of the 'economic miracle' it is closer to Japan. On a smaller and less well-known scale, there is plenty. Misty forgotten archipelagos and volcanic islands linger off the coast while pine-clad national parks dot the mainland. Before Japanese occupation in , three dynasties ruled, dating back to 57 BC. We all know sake and sushi , but little of soju , gimchi , or perhaps the world's most fun to eat dish: Galbi.
Food is amazingly spicy and distinctive, eating seems to always involve plenty of people and alcohol and is for many visiting one of the main highlights. Between China and Japan few travellers find room for Korea and even fewer any real time outside of Seoul inc. It is worth not being one of them as Korea will almost certainly astonish. Highlights : [ South Korea] Korean food, drink and nightlife, an adventure in itself. Enormous Seoul, an urban massive by any standard with an amazing variety of districts. Jeju Island and getting well off the beaten track on any other of the country's hundreds of other islands.
Getting out into the countryside with Andong province being the most obvious choice. Any of the country's nation-parks with despite the crowds, Seoraksan, being the stand-out. And finally like Japan the simple bizarreness of so much you see and experience. Lowlights : [ South Korea] There is very little not to like about South Korea, but those coming from other cheaper parts of Asia will perhaps bemoan costs and the lack of obvious 'big' attractions compared to China.
Equally those coming from Japan will find it quite similar and those coming from China, SE Asia or India will perhaps find it lacking excitement. Visa strategy : Almost all Western country nationals get in visa free. Durations do vary, but most get at least three months. For a work visa you will need an employer to do all the leg-work. For North Korea you visa is arranged as part of your tour.
There is no tourist trail as such, but the high-speed train to Busan is the most popular route in the country, with Busan being the departure point to Japan and with Gyeongju. Dispute having a great network of trains and buses, there is no other obvious route between 'must-see-sights'. Spring and autumn being as with the rest of the countries on this section the best time to visit - say April to early Nov.
The summer is pretty muggy and half the country's annual rain falls in July and August. Winter is long cold and freezing, but travel is still easy and heating systems are good. Guide book : Both Rough Guide and Lonely Planet have good options with the former being better written and less popular.
Money : ATMs are widespread look in the ubiquitous convenience stores and with none of the problems you find in Japan. Costs : Costs, as with Japan, depend very much upon the fortunes of the national currency which has long been pretty good value, Although standards are high, day-to-day travel costs are below Western European, a good deal below North American and slightly below Japan.
At the low-mid range end: food, drink accommodation and public transport are great value for the standard. Being a small country means transport costs will be low. And lastly convenience stores can always provide a cheap pot noodle meal. Getting around : Getting around is easy. Although the train network does have restrictions, there is a great network of buses. It is also all great value for a developed country.
Trains : Trains are excellent, most being fast, sleek and cheap, but unlike Japan there fewer less lines than probably needed. Buying tickets is easy and apart from the super fast lines they are cheap. Like Japan, a rail pass is available KR Pass. However if you are heading to the North East, Islands or national parks, it is tough to make it really pay. Like the JR pass see Japan it is only available to foreigners when purchased outside the country.
There is a discount if you travel with 1 or more companions and you can book easily on the KR website. Buses : Long distance buses are far more numerous than trains and at rush hour it can seem like one is leaving every five minutes. There are two basic types: express and intercity. Standards are excellent with breaks at service stations and sometimes a movie.
With so many departures apart from at notable holidays see below - Seollal and Chuseok it is normally always easy to find one without booking in advance or waiting too long. Prices are cheaper than fast trains but take longer and about the same as the slower trains but, are often faster depending on rail connections. Air : There are numerous internal flights, but why anyone would need to take them apart from rush trips to some islands most Koreans come to Jeju by plane is a mystery.
Boats: With many thousands of islands off its coast there are many ferries and options. Fares are cheap, but for popular islands Jeju, Hongdo and others prices do shoot up. It's around 18hours by boat and for this reason many take one of the regular flights. Locals : Koreans are friendly enough, but very few have good English or the confidence to use what they know. It is also a fiercely traditional country outside of major cities. Most westerners you see in Korea are there to work that is teach English or are older, more experienced travellers, on a short trip.
Accommodation : There is plenty of accommodation in South Korea, across a wide range, but outside Seoul and a few other cities the budget choices are somewhat strange. Within Seoul and a few other destinations there are many excellent hostels , but often heavily in demand and worth booking ahead.
Around the rest of the country in places like Gyeongju you can find basic guesthouses friendly and perfect for travellers on a budget and not wanting a dorm bed.