Having only less than a month to plan my vacation was by far, the most stressful part of this whole trip. Mainly because I wasn’t really expecting that my application for a visa would be granted so I didn’t do much planning.
Although I’ve been looking for hotels prior to submitting my application (for the itinerary) I booked my hotel only a week before my flight and thankfully I was able to purchase a promo airline ticket from an agency just two weeks before my departure date. Whew! Another important thing was having my money converted to Japanese Yen. It’s a good thing to have a credit card handy but better to have the currency available since most establishments only accept Japan Yen as payment.
Helpful Apps/Websites for your trip to Japan:
- Used this app/website to search for budget hotels, flights and also places of interest. (Read the reviews!)
- Everything you need to know about your trip to Japan can be found here.
- This site has an event calendar, itinerary suggestions and forums for your Japan-related questions.
3. Japan Travel Guide by Triposo
- This is my go-to app before and during my stay in Japan.
- OFFLINE map available! If you have a GPS-capable smartphone or tablet you can use this app to check for direction to places you want to go.
- Fact: I got lost in Kyoto and didn’t know which bus to ride to go back to the Kyoto Station. And to top it off, I had no wifi or internet connection on both my phone and tablet. So instead of riding buses and praying that it will pass by the station or at least somewhere close, I decided to use this app to direct me back to the station. Got back to my hotel safe and sound.
- It’s free and works offline! (Available in the App store and Google Play)
4. NAVITIME for Japan Travel or HyperDia
- Use this for route search, timetable for railway arrival/departure in each station and ticket price.
- NAVITIME for Japan Travel is available for iPhone users and Android users while HyperDia is available for Android users only.
5. Japan National Tourism Organization website
- This site is similar to Japan-guide.com.
TIPS that might help you in planning (and during) your stay in Japan
1. Volunteer Guides
There are both goodwill and professional guides available to tour you in your place/s of interest. For cost-covered guides you won’t have to pay the guide but you have to pay for their transportation, food and entrance/admission ticket/s to establishments needing it. I suggest looking for a guide as early as a month prior to your trip.
Check this site for the list of volunteer guides (professional and goodwill guides).
2. Rent a pocket Wi-Fi
You can find pocket wifi rentals at the airport or you could also apply online and they can have it delivered to your hotel. Pocket wifi is convenient to have since you can bring it with you wherever you go.
3. Learn Japanese phrases
It is frustrating when you want to talk to people when you want to or need to (especially when asking for directions) and you are overcome by fear that they wouldn’t understand you or vice versa. Learning even simple phrases can help you.
Here are a few:
Eego-o hanashimasu-ka. –> Do you speak English?
Wakarimasen. –> I don’t understand
Onegai shimasu. –> Please.
(Survival Japanese by Boye De Mente with Junji Kawai was helpful)
4. Did you know that you shouldn’t tip in Japan?
There may be things that you are accustomed to doing in your own country but I suggest reading about a country’s culture, manners, etiquette and the like.
Here’s a helpful site: 10 Things You’re Probably Doing (That you Probably Shouldn’t) in Japan. (credits to Tsunagu Japan)
So there you have it. Pack your bags and enjoy your trip to Japan! 🙂
“Only someone who is well prepared has the opportunity to improvise.” – Ingmar Bergman