I usually try to take 6-7 weeks off every year to indulge my travel interest, and during this time I like to spend around 2 weeks in a country I haven't been before. This year I was planning on starting in Japan in the beginning of October before heading to the islands of The Philippines later on. As Japan is a total unknown to me I was hoping for ideas and inspiration from the good people on this forum. I will be travelling solo.
Spending 3-4 days in Tokyo is mandatory just to experience the city, but after that I have no idea where to go. I don't really have a preference (beaches, mountains, cities, villages etc) as I've found that fantastic experiences could be found in the most unlikely of places, and vice versa. However, I do prefer not to stick to the tourist trail at all times as I get the feeling of being "shuttled" around pre-defined places (also the reason I don't do tours). I also try to stay clear of places that is purely geared towards tourism (i.e. Bali, Boracay, Phuket and such).
I am not travelling on a budget, so my default position is that I'm open to any suggestion and ideas.
#1 Remedy has been a member since 25/7/2009. Posts: 31
Seeing Kyoto and Osaka are on my list for the cities I'd like to visit. I'd also like to see Hokkaido because it is the least developed of the main islands.
I recently saw a travelogue that featured the Nakasendo way. It is part of the historic trade routes/paths that connected Edo and Kyoto. Though part of the ancient roads have been converted into highways, some of the ancient roads and paths have been preserved and I would like to hike/walk though some of them.
I can only offer some secondhand advice here - but all I've known who''ve visited Japan say that Kyoto is a must. As for the Philippines, if you are looking for somewhere a bit off the track from Boracay way I might suggest Palawan Island. I have a friend who is married to a women from El Nido area and everyone who visited for the wedding said it was fantastic and out of the way.
Thanks for the replies. I have a good handle on The Philippines, so it's primarily Japan that my question revolves around. Flying from Kyoto to Manila should probably be straightforward, so travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto seems like a plan. However, and this is where my quest for an adventure outside the tourist trail comes into play, I would like to stop somewhere in between. Someplace not filled with tourists. Any ideas?
#4 Remedy has been a member since 25/7/2009. Posts: 31
Number 1 Tip - travel by train and get a JR (Japan Rail). You must buy it in advance and then exchange a coupon for the pass once in Japan. Train travel is highly efficient and trains run on time to the second!
As for other places I enjoyed - Takayama and the surrounding region (know as the Japanese Alps) for scenery and traditional buildings, Matsumoto for the castle, Hiroshima for its history and from there you can take a train and ferry over to Miyajima Island to escape the big cities. Also from Tyoko, many people visit Nikko as a day trip and from Kyoto, Nara but both places are worth staying so the places can be enjoyed before and after the big tour groups arrive and depart.
They're not all between Tokyo and Kyoto and it'll be too much for a 2 week trip but hopefully it'll help with some ideas as a starting point.
We did 3 weeks in Japan a couple of years ago loved it and want to go back..
Kyoto is a Must, so it Hiroshima that was a truly haunting experience..
Okayama, Kurashiki is a good stop off point heading south has some nice architecture and such
Fukuoka\Hakata is a massive city but had an absolute blast there so much to do.
We did a couple of small towns like Tsuwano which was amazing it's a small village up in the hills in central Japan so super friendly non-existant english though! Charades work well.
Nagasaki was also really pretty you certainly can get templed out there!
#6 Bradders has been a member since 6/1/2013. Posts: 11
If you want to go off the beaten tracks of Japan, i suggest you go to other cities instead of Tokyo. Although I heard that Tokyo is fun, but well, why head to somewhere everyone goes? I suggest you try Fukuoka! I been there afew years back on a school trip. Its a beautiful place. Peaceful and kinda laid back. My host family brought me to this small, cozy comic house where they serve super delicious Okonomiyaki. Not the kind filled with vegetables, but those that you can choose your own flavour(i chose squid and cheese) and plus, it put on a shared hot plate so that your big serving of okonomiyaki doesn't get cold. There were so many comics but they were all in Japanese(sad for me, who cant read Jap). To plan your own trip, i suggest you take a look at this Japan Travel guide. It has rather comprehensive information about Japan's Transport, weather and other information.
People usually go Philippines for its beaches. Boracay is a beautiful place but expensive, that's why my friends and i chose Cebu. We opted for Cebu regency towers hotel, which is located in cebu city, as it is much cheaper than the beach hotels. There's really nothing much to see in the city and air is bad. But the massage parlor just beside our hotel made our stay so worthwhile. For just 200pesos(about 3-4 usd), you get an hour's worth of invigorating and simply amazing massage. On a side note, this parlor is not sleazy at all. To satisfy our beach craving, we headed to Camotes Island, an island northeast of cebu. We actually spotted wild dolphins at Camotes Sea. It was a pretty awesome experience.
#7 pamelaq has been a member since 23/5/2013. Posts: 2
Hi. I lived in Japan for 9 years (Tokyo and north of Tokyo), so here is my two cents worth.
You have already been given some good advice on the JR rail pass, but make sure you are going to use it a lot or it's not worth it. If you are only going to go from Tokyo to Kyoto, odds are it's not worth the money. It's great from long distance travel! But in the cities themselves it will only work on 1/3 to 1/2 the lines depending on the city.
I see you others have already told you the major highlights:Tokyo and Kyoto. I would add Hiroshima and Miyajima Island (half to full day trip from Hiroshima) to the every tourist must see list.
I agree with Nikko as a day trip from Tokyo, the leaves in the upper mountains should be breath-taking by the start of October (unless they have an unseasonable warm fall). Nikko doesn't have a great train system for getting around the city, but it has a good bus system.
If it were me and you are looking for some off the beaten path stuff, I would stay the night in Nikko and then head up to Jigokudani Yaen. (I would do this after a few days in Tokyo and then take a train, using JR pass, down to Kyoto.) The weather in October should be great for this, the monkeys will be there and it won't be so cold that you will be miserable. It is a couple miles walk though the woods to get there, so be sure you are up for some physical activity if you try this.
IF the timing works out, (Oct 9 and 10) I would suggest making a day trip to Takayama on the way from Nikko or Jigokudani Yaen (depending on where you opt to go) to Kyoto (or straight down to Hiroshima. If you are flying out of Kyoto, you might want to save that for you last city). There will a huge festival going on then. Most festivals take place in the summer, but this one always happens in Oct. Japan know how to do festivals well.
That's my two cents worth. If you are interested in anything I suggested and want more info, just ask and I can give your more details.