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Sapa, Hanoi: A Commercialized Trekking

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Sapa is a perfect destination for those who want to have a break from the city and have an adventure surrounded by the mountain view and breezy weather.   

Sapa is located at Hanoi, Vietnam and known for its breathtaking hill stations and colourful tribal cultures. This town as we know as Sapa today was originally founded by the French at the beginning of 20th century. This place offers you a stunning mountain landscapes, verdant rice terraces, unique villagers and not to forget the Indochina peak, Fansipan.   

For my trip to Hanoi, I give Sapa a visit based on tourist recommendations and positive reviews that I read. Since I have limited time in Hanoi, what I did is to hire a travel agent to manage all my trip from Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi to Sapa for 3 days and 2 nights and transport back to Noi Bai International Airport.    

And since I landed early around 10 am in Hanoi, I have approximately 12 hours to walk around Hanoi city and explore to see what it can offer before taking a bus to Sapa. With 12 hours left, we manage to do this;  

  • Taste a bit of Vietnam by trying their famous food; Pho.  
  • Visit Hoan Kiem Lake  
  • Watch the Water Puppet Show at Thang Long Water Theatre.  
  • Walk around at the Old Quarters and see The Ancient House and St Joseph Cathedral.  

Later at around 10 pm, we are ready to take a sleeping bus from Hanoi which will take us to Sapa for around 6 hours.   

Booking a tour or do-it-yourself?  

There are several options you have based on what vacation you want to have in mind;  

  • Travel with the travel agent who will manage all your need during your stay. For three days of trekking and two nights in a hotel, the lowest price someone quoted me without bargaining was $USD90 including a sleeper bus to and from Sapa. The highest price was $USD120. It will include food and drinks with three breakfast, three lunches and two dinners.  
  • Travel by yourself. Planning your own trip to Sapa is very doable. There are a daily bus and train you can book it by yourself. When you arrive in Sapa, there will be locals waiting for you to offer their homestay or hotels and also to arrange you with any activities you preferred to do.   

How to get to Sapa?  

Getting to Sapa from Hanoi is definitely an easy task. The fastest route and most practical option are by bus. With the opening of the Noi Bai—Lao Cai Expressway, the travel time will take approximately 6 hours, less than the train journey which takes 8 hours.   

As for my opinion, a road is such a convenient option as there are multiple sleeper buses and vans you can choose from morning till night. Plus, passengers will be picked up in several picked-up locations in Hanoi and you will be dropped directly to your hotel in Sapa.   

You can book online bus tickets using this link. And if you prefer to take a train, you definitely can do so by using this link.   

Day 1  

Fansipan Mountain  

The first day we arrive in Sapa, we went to Fansipan mountain. Fansipan mountain is one of the most famous checkpoints in Sapa. If you are lucky enough, you can reach the top on a sunny day and enjoy the views of Sapa’s mountains, clouds and villages downhill from over 3,143 meters above.   

Back in the day, climbers required to have at least two days to conquer Fansipan’s peak. While nowadays, you can reach the top by taking a cable car that reaches to the top within a few minutes.   

We visit Fansipan by taking a two—way cable car to the peak. The price per person will be VND 700,000 and additional VND 100,000 for the tram ticket. If you want to avoid paying for the additional VND 100,000, you definitely can do so by climbing 600 stairs to reach the peak.   

During our visit to Fansipan, the weather at the peak is not on our side. It is raining heavily added with a strong wind which hinders our view. Even though the weather is not good, we still able to climb up to the peak. We were unable to take any good picture at the peak but the experience we get to reach the peak of Fansipan is still worth it.   

Half-day trekking at Cat Cat Village  

After seeing Fansipan in the morning, our next plan for the evening is to do half—day trekking at Cat Cat Village. Cat Cat is a small village at the foot of Fansipan Mountain. To me, it is only a stroll rather than a trek. This trip provides an excellent overview of the countryside surrounding Sapa. This trekking route is definitely easy and still acceptable for all tourists who came to Sapa. There is an old village of Black Hmong where you can discover many interesting facts about their real life and their culture.   

Cat Cat Village is also a perfect place where you can see traditional clothing being made, women weaving colourful handcraft and hemp being dyed. Along the way, you can see locals selling their hand—made merchandise for you to buy.   

After visiting Cat Cat Village, our next destination will be to Sin Chai. The trek will follow the Muong Hoa Valley through rice terraces and small houses. Sin Chai is a village of the Red Dhao ethnic, where their women wear embroidered clothes with silver jewellery and an enormous red turban.   

Another selling point for Sin Chai Village is that the locals here will take time to teach textile weaving and dyeing to visitors and their unique village is something you need to see with yourself. After finish the tour in Sin Chai Village, our transport takes us back to our hotel in Sapa.   

Day 2  

Full-day trekking to Lao Chai and Ta Van Village  

The next day, we do full-day trekking to Lao Chai and Ta Van Village. Here, we get the chance to see the spectacular mountain scenery and to walk through traditional villages and their rice paddies. During the start of the trek, a group of several ethnic people will start to follow you from the start until you arrive at Ta Van Village. They will most likely to help you along the way if you need any. Apart from that, they will start a small conversation with you to break the ice. The reason they do this is that they want you to like them and finally to help them by buying their merchandise at the end of the trekking.  

The first pit stop is to reach Lao Chai which is the village of Black Hmong ethnic people. We can see their daily life and witness how to make their traditional clothes, handicraft and indigo. Lao Chai Village also offers the best view of the rice terrace field in Vietnam.   

After Lao Chai Village, our next stop is Ta Van Village, a village of Giay people. It is a small group of ethnic people living in Vietnam but still preserves their rich and traditional culture. During this stop, they serve us with a delicious lunch with a local family here in one of their beautiful houses located on their rice paddy fields.   

Our tour end with a ride back to our hotels later in the evening.   

Day 3  

After having a full day trekking, getting a whole night to rest is definitely necessary. We woke up early today to get our breakfast and then we packed our things to check out before taking our sleeping bus back to Noi Bai International Airport.   

Bandung, Indonesia: Shop till you drop!

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Bandung is the third-largest city in Indonesia. It is the capital city of West Java province in Indonesia. Bandung has a cooler temperature compared to other Indonesian cities since it is located 768 meters above sea level.  

Bandung receives a lot of visits from locals and tourists who came here with an intention to shop until they drop. There is a swarm of markets where you can do good shopping, thriving cafes in Dutch relics and tons of restaurants, luxury hotels and traffic everywhere you look.  

With its popularity gaining each year, we visit Bandung to give it a try to taste its flavor. This is our story to Bandung.  

i) Top locations to visit  

White Crater (Kawah Putih 

Situated 50km away from Bandung city center, this crater lake has become a major attraction when visiting Bandung. Driving to Kawah Putih will take around 1 ½ hour but sometimes it will take more due to the infamous traffic in Bandung.   

Kawah Putih is a stunning lake of turquoise water and the view will take your breath away. Although it is beautiful, the water is actually highly acidic (pH 0.5). Do not even think about dipping your toes in it!   

Tangkuban Perahu  

Mount Tangkuban Perahu is another famous spot to visit while in Bandung. This spot is actually an active volcano that is reportedly last erupted in 1983. Tangkuban Perahu which means upside-down boat gets its name due to the fact that this mountain has a distinctive shape like it.  

Located 30km from Bandung, Tangkuban Perahu offers a lot of places and things to see and explore. There are three craters which we can walk through; Kawah Ratu, Kawah Domas and also Kawah Upas. Apart from seeing its huge craters, just enjoying the splendid panoramic scenery is enough to make Tangkuban Perahu an interesting destination for everyone.  

ii) Famous spot to shop  

Rumah Mode (Mode House)  

Pronounced as Moh-day House, this factory outlet is definitely a must-visit. This place holds a lot of international brands such as Zara, Mango, Billabong, H&M and many more.   

The concept of this place differs from any other shopping malls as this place is designed like a park. There is a spacious interior inside; a courtyard with a water feature, statues and have a lovely exterior for taking pictures too.  

Opening hours: 9.30am—9 pm daily  

Pasar Baru Trade Center  

This market has been around in Bandung since 1906 and already have countless shops to quench your thirst for shopping. This store will have everything that you looking for to shop; textiles, fabrics, clothing, batik, souvenirs, snacks and a lot of others.  

This place is packed with people and it is highly advisable to come early. Since haggling is allowed, you could put your bargaining skills to test to get the best price. Based on our shopping experience in Pasar Baru Trade Center;  

  • At the entrance of the Pasar Baru Trade Center, you will see a few locals asking for a small donation. When I give a small donation to one of them, in an instance, I was swarmed by others asking for a donation too. My advice is, yes, you can certainly donate to them if you feel generous but please do it very discreetly to avoid others swarming and blocking your way.  
  • Inside the mall, there will be local peoples asking if you need their help to guide you around the mall (with a price of course!). Avoid their help as much as you can as the mall is easy to be explored. Hence, having people follow you around in the mall is not too comfortable, isn’t it?  
  • Asking for tips is common in this place. We met with a very nice seller in this mall. He explained a lot of things to us about his items in store and we made a few purchases. Since we didn’t aware of the tipping culture in Bandung, we left the store. A few moments later, he chases us to ask for a tip. As he did a fine job, we generously give him tips.  

Opening hours: 8 am—5 pm  

Jalan Cihampelas (Cihampelas Road)  

Known as a ‘Jeans Street’ and a haven for denim lovers, Jalan Cihampelas is indeed the busiest shopping area in Bandung especially during the weekend.   

All prices are affordable and there is a wide variety of options to choose from. Among the things you could find here is; t-shirts, jerseys, jeans, jackets, and accessories. All prices are affordable and there is a wide variety of options to choose from.  

Opening hours: most stores open at 9 am—night  
   

In Parfum Fragrance Bandung  

 Another thing that makes Bandung famous is its “inspired perfume”. This ‘inspired’ perfume is a fragrance that comes from the generics of the original designer perfume and sold in a frosted glass bottle.   

There is almost everywhere you will find this glass bottle of perfume selling in the streets of Bandung. The standard price for this 35ml of inspired perfume will cost around $USD3.   

I try a lot of this perfume around Bandung but one shop that strikes the most and getting a lot of attention is ‘In Parfum Fragrance’. To get to this shop is easy. Just type the name in google maps and it will show you the exact direction. And if you are taking a taxi, just mention the name of the shop and they will most likely know the place and bring you here.  

And since this place has gotten a lot of attention, buying perfume will take your times too.  As this shop is quite small to cater to all the demand, we spend almost two hours to queue, select our perfume and waiting for it to be ready.  

Opening hours: 8.15am—8.30pm daily  

Escape the Ordinary; Nusa Penida, Bali

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When you ask about Bali; Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Ubud, and Tanah Lot are among the ordinary places people will recommend you to visit. Little that you know, Bali actually hides a gem you could explore to uncover the true beauty of it. The gem that I’m talking about is Nusa Penida.

This island located southeast of Bali that includes the neighboring small islands; Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Nusa Penida covers a wide area for snorkeling and diving locations together with several spots that can be considered as Insta-worthy. 

How to get to Nusa Penida 

The only option available to get to Nusa Penida is to hop on a speedboat from Sanur Beach. From here you have several options available; 

  • Book your ticket online via this link. Please be mindful that booking must be done one day before departure.
  • Grab your ticket manually at their counter. I highly recommend you to come as early as you can to secure your ticket to Nusa Penida. 
  • Book a travel agent to take care all your trip to Nusa Penida (more about this later). 

One-way trip cost you around IDR 300,000 and the journey will take approximately 30 minutes. Upon your arrival at Nusa Penida, you will be greeted by locals who will offer you to rent their car or motorbike or even to offer you the best price for their tour packages.  

Booking Nusa Penida tour or do it on your own? 

Start from here, it is all up to your taste on which way you want to continue your adventure at Nusa Penida.  

  • You can rent a motorbike or car to explore Nusa Penida. But please be careful when you drive as the road could be treacherous. Most of the road is not properly built and maintain. A signboard is scarce and you will heavily rely on your Google Maps and internet connection. 
  • Book a travel agent that can offer a wide range of activities available. 

Based on my experience visiting Nusa Penida, I highly recommended you to book a tour as I find this alternative is the best option available in order for you to experience the full blast of what Nusa Penida can offer. Oh! Let me be honest and tell you that one-day tour in Nusa Penida is definitely not enough to cover all the famous spots. What considered being sufficient is to book two days tours that include sightseeing and snorkeling around Nusa Penida.  

Booking a Nusa Penida tour is easy since you can spot them offering their services on the internet and some even open a tour booth around Bali. All you have to do is to do some research to find the best tour that fit your taste, budget, and timing. As for me, I book my two days tours from Go Explore Nusa Penida website. This tour gives the price depending on how big your group is (as I’m traveling in two, the price per person is IDR 1,250,000) and their two days tours cover pretty much everything together with food, transportation, and accommodation. 

The Activities: Day 1 

i) Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach 

Right after when we reach Nusa Penida, the tour agent welcomes us. He will be the one to guide us around in an air—conditioning mini MPV. Our first destination to go is Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. As this place is located next to each other, you will kill two birds with one stone.  

Angel’s Billabong is a beautiful natural rock pool. To get the best shot here really depend on the weather, the tides and your luck. I am definitely not lucky on that day since it is raining season in Nusa Penida, hence the pool definitely not clear and looks muddy. 

A few steps ahead from Angel’s Billabong, you will arrive at Broken Beach; an arched tunnel in the cliffs. You can’t climb down to the Broken Beach since there are no accessible routes to go there unless you are taking a boat and make your way in through the arched tunnel.  

ii) Paluang Cliff 

Our next destination is at Paluang Cliff. This cliff is actually located at the backside of Kelingking Beach. There is no barrier whatsoever near the cliff. Whenever you wish to take a picture, please watch your steps. The view here is spectacular as you are particularly standing at the edge of the cliff and you can watch the blue ocean as far as your eyes can see. 

iii) Kelingking Beach 

I can bet you this is the most famous spot to go based on its popularity on social media. Even if you Google an image of Nusa Penida, the picture of Kelingking Beach will keep popping up on your search results. It is easy to see the reason behind it. It’s so stunning, right? 

Did you notice the white beach surrounded by azure seas at the bottom of it?  

In Kelingking Beach, it is possible to descend there. However, the path is not safe. Some path is too steep, narrow and broken. If you still decide to go all the way down, please be extra cautious and patient at the same time as there are many others who will try to go up or down using the same path.  

iv) Crystal Bay Beach 

Crystal Bay Beach is a beautiful beach surrounded by clear water. This location is getting a lot of attention because it is one of the best sites to snorkel or dive around Nusa Penida. Having a wide 200—meters stretches of sand in the secluded area, this is a commonplace to relax and to have a piece of your mind.  

We end our first-day tour by relaxing and swimming at Crystal Bay Beach before we finally get our rest and to continue our adventure tomorrow morning. 

The Activities: Day 2 

i) Rumah Pohon 

After having a full rest with a delightful breakfast, we are ready to start our day in Nusa Penida. Our guide picks us up to bring us to Rumah Pohon.  

Rumah Pohon has a total number of three treehouses inside its area. In order to get here, you need to walk a long way down to the Rumah Pohon. The view is absolutely breathtaking and seeing this place will make you want to live here forever. However, I definitely have a mixed feeling regarding this Rumah Pohon or also called Tree House.  

The way the owner operates his business spoils the experience when people come and visit Tree House. This Tree House operates with two different ways at the same time; 

  • Tree House is open to being visited with a fee of IDR 10,000 per person. 
  • You can book and stay at one of the treehouses for IDR 500,000 per night. 

Here is where the contradiction begins. When you come and pay the fee to visit Tree House, all you want is to snap a picture while exploring their beautiful treehouses. However, you will definitely be shocked to see there is actually someone live inside the houses. On the other hand, if you booked to stay at the Tree House, you will definitely have zero privacy. People who come to visit Tree House will climb up your house and annoyed the hell out of you.  

ii) Pulau Seribu / Raja Lima 

After a few stairs up from the Tree House, you will arrive at Raja Lima. The viewpoint you see here is what they call as Pulau Seribu or Thousand Island Viewpoint.  

iii) Diamond Beach 

Diamond Beach is among one of the most amazing beaches I have ever been to. It is located on the most eastern point of Nusa Penida. The beach is not accessible before until recently it is open to the public when they carved a limestone making a stair heading down to the Diamond Beach.  

The route going down to the Diamond Beach is better than the path you find in Kelingking Beach since it is safer and secure.  

iv)  Snorkeling (3 locations) 

Our next destination is to go back to the first place where we drop off at Nusa Penida. But wait, we are not heading back to Sanur Beach yet. The plan to get here is to take a private boat so we could continue our next activity; snorkeling. Nusa Penida has five best spots for snorkeling which is; Crystal Bay Beach, Gamat Bay Beach, Wall Point, Buddha Temple, and Manta Point. Our tour allows us to choose a maximum of three spots for our snorkeling activity. 

We could not choose Manta Point since the minimum number to do this is five people. Since there is only two of us, Manta Point is out of the option. Our next option to go to Buddha Temple but our guide told us this spot is currently under maintenance during our visit. Hence, we are left to pick these three locations which are; Crystal Bay Beach, Gamat Bay Beach and Wall Point. 

Snorkeling will be the last activities we did for our tour to Nusa Penida which marks the end for our unordinary trip to Bali. Our tour agent bid us farewell as we take the last boat from the harbor to Sanur Beach before we heading back to Bali.

A city of magical, Bangkok

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Food 

A trip to Bangkok will never be the same. Every time you visit Bangkok, you will surely experience different thing between them. It’s a city full of culture, foods, and experiences. I’ve been to Bangkok before and wanted to tell you what I love about Bangkok.  

This is a no-brainer. Who doesn’t love food, right? And food in Thailand? Heaven. I love it! Food hunting in Bangkok is a must. I use Google search and apps like Foursquare to read the reviews from locals and foreigners on where to hunt for my next meal. If I’m not using them, I will use my instinct instead. The more crowd I see in that’s will be my next meal. Some food you must hunt when you visit Bangkok is; 

i) Pad Thai (Thai Style Friend Noodle)

ii) Gaeng Keow Wan Kai (Green Chicken Curry)

iii) Som Tam (Papaya Salad) 

iv) Tom Yum Goong

v) Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)

These foods, for example, are easy to hunt. Even kids can do it. Street food in Bangkok is available 24 hours. But the problem here is to search for the best. That is entirely up to your taste and creativity to hunt for them.  

Culture 

Sawadikap (with my palms pressed together in a prayer-like manner) is how you say hello in Thailand. I feel so captivated on how cultural they are. Whenever I do the gesture of slightly bowing and my palms pressed together while saying ‘Sawadikap’, they will respond the same. I do this to my taxi driver, to a cashier when I finish shopping and some even stop eating and do the gesture and reply when I do this to them. That is how cultural they are with their tradition. I am truly impressed by this small gesture from them.  

If you a fan of architecture and buildings, here in Bangkok you can find tons of unique temples and museums for your liking.  

Nightlife 

*cough* *cough* 

It is undeniable that Thailand is well—known for its sex industry. Yes, you heard it right. There are tons of brothels, massage parlor, go-go bars especially scattered around the city of Bangkok in the red district (Patpong area). Do not be surprised if you are being approached by someone offers you a list of girls (prostitute/service worker) you could hire with only as low as THB 1000. There are ladyboys (drag queen/transgender) & gay activities available to be hired if you are looking for that one too.  

Apart from its sex industry, Bangkok is also known for its nightlife. There are tons of clubs and bars that open until morning. You could search for any event they organize which might trigger your interest to pay them a visit. Be bold and courageous to explore Bangkok and have fun with your new experience.  

Places to Visit 

There are plenty of places you could visit in Bangkok. First, ask yourself what you wanted to experience for your visit to Bangkok. If you wish for something historical, you can visit Grand Palace, Wat Prakeaw & Wat Pho (Giant Reclining Buddha) and If you wanted to experience their floating market, just head to Damnoean Saduak, but be warned the place is located 2 hours away from the city at Bangkok. While if you are more into modern stuff you definitely can try its theme park, Dusit Zoo, and its unique puppet show. 

Grand Palace Bangkok
Wat Prakeaw
Wat Pho
Floating Market Bangkok

Shopping Haven 

It is a shopping spree. Although honestly, I’m the person who is not a fan of shopping. But I can tell you there are many places you could try to shop. For higher quality items, you could try a mall. Some of them are Platinum Fashion Mall, Central World, MBK Center and Siam Paragon. If you are looking for cheaper options but with less quality, you could try night market like Chatuchak Night Market, Khao San, Talad Roi Fai which open every night.  

What interesting is when you are out shopping in this night market place, your bargaining skill will be put into a test.  

My shopping experience buying from Chak Tu Chak Night Market is not great. I strike a deal to buy a knock-off Birkenstock sandals with only RM35 (USD 8/THB 275). The price they offered is RM45 and I bargain for RM10 off. I wore the sandals for the next day to the airport for my flight back to Kuala Lumpur. Just only a few steps from the hotel to the airport, the sandals snapped. Not even a day.   

That is quite frustrating. So, folks please be extra cautious when buying from the night market and do a simple inspection before you buy.

i) Chatuchak Night Market.

One of the popular night market among tourists and locals. This market only opens during the weekend. On a Friday evening, they will open but the crowd will be amazing after 9 pm as people will always avoid the heat and prefer to enjoy walking at night. The market here is vast and impossible for you to see all in one trip. One thing I like about Chatuchak Market is that you can find almost anything here. From clothes, shoes, artwork, merchandise—and everything in between.

Operating hours:
Weekend only (Saturday & Sunday)
On Friday will be operating from 1800 onward

Chatuchak Night Market

ii) Rod Fai Market

Rod Fai Market has two different locations you can go to. One is Rod Fai Srinakarin and the other one is Rod Fai Ratchada. For easy access by transportation, I would hand down to Rod Fai Ratchada as its near to Thai Cultural Center MRT while Rod Fai Srinakarin near to Seacon Square Shopping Mall where you need to take a taxi ride for around 30—40 minutes. However, for the night market size, Rod Fai Srinakarin wins big time.
One of the unique things about Rod Fai is you will definitely recognize it by the sight of its rainbow-colored tents. The shopping section here is also very organized. You will find one concentrated area selling food and the other area selling fashion items and other stuff.

Operating hours:
Thursday – Sunday (From 1800 to 2400)

Rod Fai Night Market

iii) Khao San Night Market

This is another famous night market at Khao San road. As this market opens daily, you will find a lot of tourists chilling in the pubs and bars. This area is also packed with hostels and budget hotels hence the crowd will be vivacious every night. Here you can do some quick shopping or just relaxing and drinking at a pub.

Khao San Night Market

There you go. From its food, unique culture, a never-ending nightlife, tons of places to visit and a shopping spree are all the top reason I love to visit Bangkok. It’s a city worth to visit and explore. So, grab your flight ticket and fly to Bangkok today.

 

The Enchanting Tokyo, Japan

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 The experience of visiting Japan will always unlike any other countries you visited before. With their unique culture, the courteous of their people and Japan itself will make you feel welcomed the moment you arrive at this sunrise country.  

Japan is in the continent of Asia with no land borders to any countries and it is the 64th largest nation in the world. The capital city of Japan is Tokyo, which originally known as Edo. The surface area of Tokyo comprises a very impressive sprawl with a population estimated to be over 13.4 million. Being a capital city of Japan, Tokyo is known to be hectic with a fast-paced scene all around it.   

Growing up watching anime, collecting figurine of my favourite anime and playing Japanese video games like Super Mario, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Zelda and many others make me always eager to visit Japan. And when the opportunity arises for me to visit Tokyo, I never think twice!  

My experience visiting Tokyo during a winter season (December to February) is a bliss. I loved how discipline they are (i.e. people queuing up when getting on the train or getting up an escalator), how clean their country is (i.e. it is hard to find a rubbish bin while exploring Tokyo since their people are encouraged to bring back their rubbish home and yet their city is still clear from rubbish), and how courteous they are (i.e. the gesture of Ojigi or also known as Japanese bow).  

During our visit to Tokyo, we cover all the top places to visit while we are in Tokyo, trying their local cuisine and also to shop at some famous spot.   

Must-Try Foods  

i) Sushi  

Sushi has become widely known worldwide and eating sushi has become a common thing in most part of the world. The dish is done on a wooden or lacquer plates and involves dipping sushi in soy sauce. Others also enjoy eating it with wasabi and pickled ginger.   

Your trip to Tokyo will never be going to complete if you did not eat sushi in its homeland. And believe me, sushi tastes way much better when you are in Japan.   

ii) Udon / Soba / Ramen  

Udon is actually quite similar to Soba in terms of being a noodle. As with Soba, it can be served either hot or cold. Udon is made in a broth and best served while it is hot. There is a lot of a variety of toppings can be added into Udon like scallions or prawns.  

Ramen is also another famous Japanese dish. Ramen shop can be found almost anywhere in Tokyo and really easy to find. There are also tons of different types of Ramen available across Tokyo and one of them surely will strike to your likings.  

iii) Tempura  

Another must-try Japanese food while in Tokyo is Tempura, which is introduced by the Portuguese back in the 16th century. This dish includes a vegetable, seafood and other ingredients, all covered in eggs and flour which then fried in cooking oil to form a very crispy texture. Good tempura is always crisp and delicious but never greasy nor soggy.  

Local Attractions  

i) Mount Fuji  

Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain with 3776 meters high. It is considered as a sacred mountain and becomes popular among tourists and locals throughout the centuries.  

A day trip to Mount Fuji is one of the best ways to see this Japan’s biggest attraction depending on the season you are visiting Japan. Since it was a winter season during my visit to Tokyo, I get an opportunity to head to Fujiten Snow Resort to try skiing for the first time of my life.   

Heading to Mount Fuji from Tokyo is easy since public transportation is ready for you to grab. There are two options to go to Mount Fuji from Tokyo which is via train or bus.   

  • A bus ticket from Tokyo Station to Kawaguchiko Station or Fuji—Q Highland will cost you around JPY 2000 (one way) and the journey will take around two hours. You can make your bus reservations for Tokyo to Kawaguchiko here. From Kawaguchiko Station, you can hop on a local bus or taxis which are readily available.  
  • The train is another option you can have if you are not interested in taking a bus. However, the price will be a bit expensive than buses. From Shinjuku Station, take the new Fuji Excursion Limited Express train direct to Kawaguchiko Station. It will cost you around JPY 4000 (one way) and the journey will take around two hours.  

ii) Disney Sea / Disney Land  

Tokyo Disneyland is the first Disney theme park to be open outside the United States. Just beside it is the Tokyo DisneySea, the one and only Disney theme park based on myths and legends of the sea making it the 4th most visited theme park in the world.   

This Tokyo DisneySea is made up of seven themed ports which are Mediterranean Harbour, Mystery Land, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and American Waterfront.  

We are intrigued by the fact DisneySea is only available only in Tokyo and we gave it a shot. We get to DisneySea by taking a JR Railway (Keiyo Line) and getting off at Maihama Station. It is only 15 minutes from Tokyo Station. We made our booking at KLOOK which made our entrance to DisneySea smooth as butter.   

iii) Tokyo Tower  

If you wish to view Tokyo from a top view, the Tokyo Tower will be your best bet. This tower painted in orange and white is the tallest structure in all of Japan and become the landmarks in Tokyo.   

Built-in 1958, this tower is used for communication and broadcasting but it is possible to visit one of the two observation decks which offer a spectacular view of the city below.  

We found the best deal for the admission to the Tokyo Tower from KLOOK. You definitely can check it out here.  

iv) Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing  

Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing is a part you must – see while in Shibuya because of its unique and beautiful sight. It is an enormous pedestrian crossing flooded with people at every change of the spotlight with a giant neon above displaying advertisement in bold colours with a flashing light. It is believed that around 2,500 will cross the streets every time the signal changes. And while in rush hours, this Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing could fill a football stadium with all the people that cross. That is how dense the population of the city is. 

Just directly in front of the Shibuya Station, you will notice the statue of Hachiko, one of the most touching real-life stories in the world. Hachiko is a golden-brown Akita owned by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo. Every single day, Hachiko will greet its owner near the Shibuya Station. This continues to happen until Professor Ueno did not return because he suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage and died, never to return to the station where Hachiko was waiting. Every day for the next nine years, Hachiko loyally waited at Shibuya Station patiently waiting for its owner until Hachiko also met its maker.   

Shopping Places  

i) Shinjuku  

Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s largest shopping and entertainment districts. This district is home to half a dozen major department stores and outlets of Japan’s largest electronics retailers combined with a host of other shops and boutiques along its streets and underground shopping arcades. 

ii) Akihabara   

Akihabara is a major shopping and electronics district in Tokyo. Japanese flock to Akihabara for tons of reasons and it is definitely a top pick for travelers primarily because of these two things; electronics shopping and otaku culture. There are a lot of electronics retailers such as Yodabashi Camera, Yamada Denki, Laox and Sofmap as well as several hundred small electronics shops jammed along the district’s streets.   

Apart from that, Akihabara is also known as a center of Japanese otaku and anime culture where there are dozens of stores specializing in anime, manga and others collectables. Honestly, since electronics and anime are my forte, one whole day walking around Akihabara definitely still not enough for me to explore all Akihabara had offered.   

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