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hotel

Things to think of before traveling to Japan, part 2

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Transport while on holiday

Before traveling to Japan Part 2, Part 1 can be found here. We have mostly traveled within Tokyo and we normally use a Suica card. It’s a bit like the Oyster card that they have in London. You can charge it up with money and you just tap in and tap out via the barriers at the train/underground station. There are two cards that can be used in Tokyo, Suica and Pasmo. Both do for most part the same job while traveling in Tokyo the cards can be brought direct from the ticket machines at the train stations you can get the Suica from the JR green ticket machines and the Pasmo from the pink ticket machines. When buying the cards you have to charge it with a certain amount of yen to get you started and a deposit fee of 500 yen is also included, which can be refunded if you decide to return the cards when you leave Japan. Links for both Suica: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html and Pasmo: http://www.pasmo.co.jp/en/. On our first trip we did buy a sort of travel as much you want ticket for x amount of days, but that would only work on the Tokyo metro. See their site for more info: http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/

Traveling out from Tokyo

If you are thinking of traveling to different parts of Japan, maybe like Kyoto, then it might well be worth buying a Japan rail pass. The card gives you 7, 14 or 21 days of travel on all of JR trains across the country to a heavily discounted price. You need to purchase the ticket before you travel to Japan, either from you local travel agent that deals with Japan travel or sites like japan-rail-pass.com. Just google “japan rail pass” for more info.

why_so_japan_3g_modem_01 before traveling to japanInternet on the go while in Japan

We have always rented a 3G and now 4G wifi router while in Tokyo. It lets us use our smart phones on the go in Japan, which can be of great help if you need to look up something on the go, or just check where you are on Google Maps. The company we normally go with is Globaladvancedcomm.com. You can read our review about their service from a previous posts via think link: whysojapan.com/internet-while-on-holiday-in-japan/ or just search for “internet” in the search box on the right hand side of the site.

 

Money

You will need to get money exchanged before traveling over to Japan. Of couse, you could do it once you get to Japan, but it saves time doing it before hand. How much money to take is a difficult question to answer. I don’t know really, it all depends how much you are going to spend, which most times it’s impossible to know. I almost always end up coming home with some yen’s over, which I normally will exchange back (sometimes to a loss). I’ve also saved it till our next trip, because I know we keep returning. You can find ATM machines to use your MasterCard / Visa card in, but not evey machine works with them. Your best bet is to find a 7-Elven store, which normally has an ATM that will work with those cards.

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Power

As we get all more tech savvy we like to take our electrical devices with us on holiday. Now you most probably will need to check if your device will work on the lower voltage in Japan, and in that case you will also need a plug adapter for your device. Check out this post which explains a bit about it all: whysojapan.com/electric-and-gadgets-while-in-japan/

Making plans

What we do each time before we leave for Japan, we make sort of our own guide book to things to see and do and thisis  where a lot of our research time goes into. We look up things to see and do. We always have certain things we want to see, so looking up addresses, opening times and all important info beforehand, saves you a lot of time and less time getting lost and stressed and more time enjoying your holiday. Another fun thing is to just walk around. It’s normally when you’re not looking for anything special you end up finding a gem of a place. A couple sites which are a good place to start with are: japan-guide.comjapantravelinfo.com/top/index.php, and tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g294232-Japan-Vacations.html. Of course there are tons of sites, so your best bet is to use Google as a good starting point.





Posted on by Paul in Visiting 1 Comment

Things to think of before traveling to Japan, part 1

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Things to think of before traveling to Japan

Before traveling to Japan eveyone thinks different, but I would like to share what things I think of before traveling to Japan. Of course, lots of things are obvious, but while planning what can be a big trip, it’s easy to forget different things, especially if you have never been to Japan before. I can remember the first time we decided to book Japan as our next holiday destination. The amount of research we did, even then, I’m sure we missed a bunch of things, and we probably still do. But as we are planing our next trip I thought I would share the things that we think about before we leave for Japan.

Visa before you buy your tickets?

Before you buy your tickets to Japan it’s importet to make sure your passport will be valid for the whole trip. It’s also important to check if you need some sort of Visa to entry Japan, which you might need to apply for before you buy your flight tickets. For us, we did not need to apply for any extra document, since we were entitled for the Visa Exemption Arrangements. Check with this site for more info about travel Visas: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/essential/visa.html

Booking your flight

Booking our flight we wanted to get the best deal as possible, so I kept my eye on flight prices to and from Japan. I ended up using a flight comparison site called Travel Supermarket, which is available in different languages. A great function they have is a price agent, which emails you every day with the cheapest prices and fastest flights. Now we wanted to balance the price to the amount of flight time, since we diden’t really want to be flying for 22 hours if we did not need to. We knew that we could get a flight for about 12-14 hours, so now it was just to keep an eye on the lowest flight time prices. Most of the time we found the flights that took more hours waiting at some airport for transfer were cheaper than ones with less transfer time. In the end we got a great deal, so our next trip to Japan from Europe will only take around 13 hours. It seems like we bought the tickets at the right time, because had we bought them a week later we would have had to pay a lot more for them, which might of ended up us have to take the longer timed tickets, just keep the price down.

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Landing in Japan

We have only flown into Narita airport, which is the primary international airport for greater Tokyo. Traveling from the airport you have a few different choices. We have always gone with the JR Nartia Express (NEX) train, which has been handy for us, since we normally stay in Shinjuku, which is one of the station NEX stops at. This means we don’t need to change trains with our luggage or anything, which is great. It’s not the cheapest way of getting into Tokyo, but it is one of the easiest, being a direct route for us to Shinjuku. Other train services that available are JR Sobu Line, Keisei Skyliner, Keisei Limited Express. A few different bus services are available too, and of course you could jump in a taxi too, but that will cost a bit, since the airport is about 60 km away from central Tokyo. A great site that I used to research what would be the best transportation for us can be found on this link here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2027.html

Hotel

Finding a hotel can be a pain because of the choice. There are a lot of hotels in Tokyo to choose from. A site that we always use is Booking.com. You can search for all different sorts of hotels, from the cheapest to the dearest ones. One thing we always do when we choose a hotel is to read the reviews for the hotel both on Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com. We also check around for the best prices. Booking.com might not always be the best price, sometimes it does pay to book direct via the hotel’s own homepage. Things we think of when booking our hotel are: is breakfast included in the price, if not how much does it cost? Is free wifi available throughout the hotel? In Japan you can choose if you want a smoking or non-smoking room, so this might be important to some people. Check-in and check-out times is something we also look into, and if you get to the hotel before check-in, can they store your luggage for you, and other hotel amenities.

Read part 2 click here.

Photo credit: El Scrapeo飛行機から富士山が見える





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Other 1 Comment