What you need to know about renting a car in Japan

So i’ve just made the car rental arrangement for my upcoming Japan trip. This would be my 4th time renting a car in Japan (well the 5th time including the rental on Yakushima Island). You could say i’ve learned quite a bit along the way. For the upcoming car rental, i chose to go with Tocoo. Yes, i’ve been critical of Tocoo in my original post about renting a car in Japan, but, this time round, they make sense.

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How to use digital FastPass at Tokyo Disney Resort

Using a digital FastPass (i.e. get FastPass on your phone) is essential at Tokyo Disney Resort to reduce waiting time for the rides. Unfortunately, there is a lot of difficulty involved in achieving this for foreigners. I managed to do it with the help of these two guides, and i have more details to share on how to do it.

Sunday crowd
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Okinawa 5 days itinerary

Took advantage of the now available budget direct flight to Okinawa. There’s not so much to see in Okinawa, to be honest, but it’s Japan nevertheless. Here’s what we did in 5 days.

Day 1
Ashibinaa Outlet – Aeon – Hamabe-no-chaya Teahouse – Banta Cliff

The flight touched down at budget flight kind of timing, 8am. Fortunately, the driving in Okinawa is quite well mannered, and the general speed limit of 50-60km/h is safe enough for driving under lack of sleep. By the way, I did not make use of the ETC card and i avoided the toll highway completely.

I did not plan beforehand where to have breakfast, and while driving about looking for a place, we stumbled across an A&W restaurant.

All American, including the music which was the radio broadcast from the US Air Base

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Hokkaido trip report card

I took more photos of food than sights in Hokkaido, so that tells you something. Granted, i was there right smack in between flower blooming seasons of which Hokkaido is famous for.

After landing in New Chitose Airport, we picked up the rental car and headed to Mitsui Outlet Park. This was a last minute added-on itinerary. Food options were decent here. Thereafter, we went to Takino Suzuran Park.

I was imagining i could see the entire hillside full of flowers, but it as completely bare! I later found out from a poster that the flowering season ended just THE DAY BEFORE, on 11 June. All was not lost, thankfully, as there was a very interesting children’s playground within.

A disappointing sight. No flowers, Nada.

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Hokkaido food review part 2

Seafood

Although you can get seafood from any part of Japan, Hokkaido justifiably lays claim to having a special association with seafood. Prior to visiting Hokkaido, the seafood we ate, when visiting the other parts of Japan, were limited to Sushi and Bentos.

While in Hokkaido, we had the priviledge of trying a few things we never did before, such as Uni (sea urchin) and crab (see part 1). I just found out that the summer months actually fall outside of the sea urchin harvesting season, but you will still get to eat them since they are farmed.

Uni Murakami was the restaurant specializing in Uni that i chose to sample this interesting sea creature. The squishy stuff actually tastes pretty good! It’s like one of those wonder ingredients that a Michelin 3 star restaurant would use.

3 way seafood Don. Obviouly, this was cheaper than getting a bowlful of Uni.

Continue reading Hokkaido food review part 2

Hokkaido food review part 1

Part of many traveller’s motivation of travelling to Japan is to sample Japanese food. For me, you could say it’s half the reason I’m there. I know exactly what I want to eat and plan for each meal of my trip.

Hokkaido is choke full of food offerings. Here are the food I sampled in Hokkaido and what I thought of them.

Ramen

The first thing i have to say about Ramen is, it’s almost impossible to get Ramen of the same kind of quality outside of Japan. For one thing, it’s consistently served piping hot in Japan, whereas i often get Ramen with lukewarm soup in Singapore. To be honest though, i don’t eat Ramen much outside of Japan, because the price and quality is not justifiable. And i have even less reasons to now, the more i visit Japan. Continue reading Hokkaido food review part 1

#yenkaitravels #Hokkaido

Time flies and it’s almost time for my Hokkaido trip. To be honest, i have the feeling it will be anticlimatic in comparison to my Europe trip, but nevertheless, there is food and tranquility to look forward to, not to mention the extremely hot weather in Singapore that i’m so so happy to leave behind.

I spent much of the past week working out the final details, such as the shortlisted places to visit, the restaurants to visit for every single meal, and the corresponding GPS coordinates of all these places (the nearest parking lot). Having done these, i have some extra travel tips to offer for those of you travelling to Hokkaido. Continue reading #yenkaitravels #Hokkaido

Renting a car in Hokkaido

The rental car business is a very competitive one in Hokkaido, because the majority of visitors to Hokkaido will rent a car. This means plenty of choices and relatively low prices. I booked a rental car for JPY 32120 (S$405) for 7 days, which is only S$58 per day. This is inclusive of a one way fee of JPY 1500 (S$19) for returning the car at a different location (pick up at Airport but return in Sapporo), but excluding CDW, which would have cost an additional S$100.

Here are some findings that may be of interest to you. I basically tried getting a quotation from all the rental companies that are listed that may offer the Hokkaido Expressway Pass. Not all of them worked. Some of them are aggregator sites for which i have no interest. Some of them don’t allow one way rental. Here is a summary of the quotation for a compact car: Continue reading Renting a car in Hokkaido

Hokkaido 9 days itinerary

It took 3 days to work out this itinerary and book all the hotels, so you could say a trip to Hokkaido is actually not difficult to plan for. I do still need to work out details like where to go for meals, finding exact view points to see, as well as to book a rental car (that will be another blog post), but once the accomodation reservations are done, the rest are less worrying.

All my itineraries are planned with the same basic assumption – that i will never visit there again. This itinerary covers all attractions that are significant in Hokkaido, including places that seem less attractive, like Hakodate. I guess everyone has different preferences and pacing when it comes to how they do a trip, and few people will do it like i do. Nevertheless, i believe i have tips to share that may be useful for reference and consideration.

My trip happens in mid June, and unfortunately, the timeframe is in between the Pink Moss and the Lavendar bloom. Some people might be going to Hokkaido specifically for these. If so, to catch the Pink Moss, you need to be there mid to late May, and for Lavendar, mid to late July. Continue reading Hokkaido 9 days itinerary

Now is the time to book your 2017 vacation flights

Thai Airways flights to Sapporo
Thai Airways flight to Sapporo

My brother-in-law alerted me to the availability of cheap flights on Thai Airways, which his friends found out through Skyscanner. Well, without hesitation, we went ahead and booked flights to Sapporo on the official Thai Airways website for next June, since it was a very good deal. S$1485 for 2 adults and 2 children. Sometimes it cost this much for 2 adults alone.

Well, i thought it was a good deal. I received a mailer from Cheaptickets which mentioned a S$30 discount on flights to Japan with the discount code “JAPAN2016 ” (valid until 11:59 PM on 31 October 2016), so i did a price check for the same flights to Sapporo just out of curiosity. Well, turns out that they’re even cheaper, by about $50 per adult. I don’t know why, but their child fares are always more expensive than the adults’. Even then, the overall price for the flights is about S$100 cheaper.

Cheaptickets Sapporo flights
Cheaptickets Sapporo flights before the discount code is applied

Standard disclaimer, i am not affiliated to Cheaptickets in any way. I am just a third time user of their website, and it looks like i will be using them more often.