Tuesday, February 20, 2018

First Time Female Solo Traveler in Japan


Glico Man at Dotonbori

Shibuya Crossing

It has always been in my bucket list to travel solo to an international country. And I am pretty sure that i’m not the only one hahaha! In this blog post, I will be sharing my experiences, places/tourist spots I enjoyed the most, expenses, difficulties, transportation, and etc during my 8 days and 7 nights travel! This post will be divided into two parts: Part One: Before the Trip and Part Two: During the Trip. I hope this post can help you plan your own solo trip to Japan. This is a lengthy post as I tried to make this as detailed as I can. This is not my first time in Japan. But it's my first time to travel solo.

Part One: Before the Trip (This includes my purchases, reservations, etc)

Airfare from Manila, Philippines to Osaka, Japan
I bought my plane tickets last July 2017. Cebu Pacific was offering low prices for some destinations and one of them is Japan. The total amount that I paid was 11, 356.65 php. This already includes the PH Travel Tax (1,620php) and an additional baggage to 30kg (850php). If you compute it, the roundtrip airfare costs 8,886.65php only!! It was definitely cheap so I booked it without any second thoughts hahaha! I even asked my family if they have any plans to go to Japan anytime soon so I can also include them in the booking and they said no. (BUT we ended up going to Osaka… three weeks before my solo travel lol that’s why I decided to include Tokyo in my solo travel)

Klook
A month before my travel, I opted to purchase passes and tickets from Klook. It definitely helped me to save money (discounts) and time (no more lining up to buy tickets). 
  • 1- day Osaka Amazing Pass (1,137php): This pass includes free entrance to 38 facilities, discounts on restaurants and shops, and unlimited rides on the bus and Osaka City Subway. Entry to the facilities is very simple. You just have to show them your pass, have it scanned, and that’s it! No need to queue for the entrance ticket. This is exclusively for non-Japanese travelers. Keep on reading if you want to know the places I went to and how I’ve maximized this pass. 
  • ICOCA Card (968php): This card is used to ride the subway, trains, and buses. It can also be used to purchase from some shops such as convenience stores. The card will have a balance of ¥1,500 and the other ¥500 as a deposit. You can refund the deposit at JR West Station or JR Kansai Airport Station ONLY. This card is available at any train or subway station in the Kansai Area.
  • Tokyo Tower Main Observatory Ticket (198php): If you buy your ticket there, it would’ve costed you ¥900 or about 410-420php. Quite a number of people was there so the line is quite long. 

Accommodation in Osaka through Airbnb (5,296.75php)
I had a difficult time looking for a place in Osaka which offers great location, price, and privacy. The cheap ones (less than 1,000php) usually doesn’t have spaces/cabinets for luggages so that’s a big NO for me. I am a heavy packer hahaha! I actually have two luggages, one large and one small. So even if it’s a bit pricey, I opted to rent a room. It’s 1,574.91 per night x 3 = 4,724.72 The service fee is 573.03php. The host gave me a discount of 200php per night. She was really nice and her place is great! Here’s the link to her place: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/18875835

Accommodation in Tokyo through Airbnb (2,153.89php)
It was 1,916.28php for 3 nights and the service fee is 237.61php. It was supposed to be 1,300 per night but they gave me a huge discount!! Here’s a tip, before booking a place, message them first and ask anything about their place and they will send you an invite with a discount. 
Here’s the link of the Hostel: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/17964567

If you haven’t registered to Airbnb, you may register through this link and save 1,600php on your first travel! Register to Airbnb. Click here! 

Flytpack Travel Wi-Fi (2,410php)
The portable Wi-Fi costs 280php per day. I had it delivered to my dad’s office in ParaƱaque and the delivery fee is 170php. I had no time to pick it up/return it from/to their office at BGC. There is a deposit fee of 2,800php

Overnight Bus to Tokyo (2,267php) 
I purchased the overnight bus ticket from Willer Express website. It was easy navigating through their website and filling out the forms. I opted for an overnight bus so I can also save a night-worth of accommodation. Make sure you save the mail/screen shot of the confirmation mail you received in you e-mail and show it to the bus driver. The bus was comfortable. You can recline your seat and place your foot on the foot rest. There’s a socket, head cover, and a blanket.

Airfare from Tokyo to Osaka (3,316php)
I chose Jetstar Airways because it offered cheaper flights. I’ve tried Jetstar before and I did not encounter any problems. I also availed additional baggage of 25kg. 


Part Two: During the Trip

Day 1 (January 24, 2018): Flight from Philippines to Osaka + Dotonbouri

My flight is at 3pm and the ETA to KIX is 8pm. My arrival time is perfect because the HIS counter is opened until 10pm only. It is where you will exchange the vouchers from klook to get the cards. Fortunately the flight was not delayed unlike our trip last December 28, 2017 wherein I had to run from the plane to the HIS Counter just to get there before 10pm because our plane arrived at 9:30pm! 

The immigration officer asked me a lot of questions, what my occupation is, where I worked at, what I will do in Japan, and etc. I think she thought that I might become an illegal worker there lol but then a woman suddenly came and started talking to the officer that she can’t wait in line because her plane will be boarding in less than 5 minutes. The immigration gave a loud sigh, rolled her eyes at the woman, and said “first time niyo po ba mag-ibang bansa?” Well she has a point. If you know the time of boarding, make sure you’re inside 10-15 minutes before the boarding time. She then gave me my passport and told me to pass through.


Hi!! (I know what I wrote is in Korean but I don't know how to write in Japanese so... lol)

I took the bus from the airport to Namba OCAT. The ticket counters are outside the airport. The ticket was ¥1,050 or about 493.5php. It was about 45-50 minutes of travel. From Namba OCAT, I took the subway to get to my airbnb. After I settled my things, I took this selfie for my parents. haha! 




I rested for 30-40 minutes and went out to eat dinner. After dinner, I walked along dotonbouri and did a short midnight shopping at Don Quijote. I went back to my place around 1:30am.

Day 2 (January 25, 2018): Dotonbouri + Kuromon Market + Shinsaibashi

I overslept and woke up around 11am. I was supposed to go to Nara for a half-day tour but I wasn’t able to wakeup early. I left my place around 1:30pm and went to Dotonbouri, Kuromon Market, and Shinsaibashi. I decided to make my second day in Osaka as my Pasalubong shopping. I finally had a photo with the Glico Man!! I totally forgot about it when I went there with my family. 




Day 3 (January 26, 2018): Kyoto

I went to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Sannen-zaka, and Ninnen-zaka. I was supposed to go to Kinkakuji Temple but it was so cold and I didn’t think I can walk for more than 30-40 minutes to get to Kinkakuji Temple. The bus stop from Kiyomizu-dera temple and Kinkakuji Temple is really far. It’s more than 1km. Using a taxi is not an option because it was expensive. It would be about ¥3,000 one way. 

It was snowing!!! My hands were freezing and it made taking photos really difficult hahaha! Kiyomizu-dera was really beautiful despite the harsh weather lol







First time to experience snow shower! When I was in USJ last January 3, 2018, it was only snow flurry and it only lasted for a few minutes.


Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Otowa Waterfall: People drink water coming from three streams. Each stream represents academic achievement, success in relationships/love, and longevity. I was supposed to line up but the queue is really long and I can't stand the cold. lol
I ate at a restaurant and ordered soba for ¥700 yen. I forgot the name of the soba that I ordered. 



I spent the rest of my afternoon in Sannen-zaka and Ninnen-zaka. I bought souvenirs such as post card and fridge magnet. 






I went back to Namba and ate my dinner before going back to my airbnb.

Day 4 (January 27, 2018): Osaka Day Tour + Overnight Bus to Tokyo

I took a taxi to Namba OCAT (¥960) and left my luggage at the luggage storage counter. It is located in front of the bus area. The fee is ¥500 for one luggage. So I spent ¥1,000 in total. The luggage storage is open until 9pm. 

Transportation and Entrances are covered by the Osaka Amazing Pass. Prices are for reference only.

Shinsekai + Tsutenkaku Tower (¥700 yen). The view was nice. I was not expecting much because it wasn’t very high. 



I was not able to take a decent photo with it. It was always against the light hahaha

I had my lunch after strolling around Shinsekai.

Tennoji Zoo (¥500)
I was supposed to go to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan but it was quite far from Shinsekai. So I decided to just go to the tourist spot nearest to Shinsekai. I thought I would find this place boring but unexpectedly, I had fun. hahaha! it was my first time to see a rhinoceros, flamingo, polar bear, spectacled bear, penguin, and etc!

Rhinoceros!!!!

Beautiful Flamingos

Polar Bear. This is the animal I wanted to see the most

Spectacled Bear

Penguins!!!!


Tennen Onsen Naniwa Hot Spring (¥800)
It was my first time to experience bathing in an onsen. I had to mentally prepare myself before stripping down and going inside the bath. I brought a small towel with me and used it to cover my front whenever I’m walking inside. I tried going inside the sauna but it was too hot for me lol. I had no photos because it was not allowed to bring your phones inside and to take photos. Before coming in, I weighed 51.3 kg. After the bath, I weighed myself again and lost 0.4 kg. hahaha! If I had another chance to go to an Onsen, I definitely would! But I had to admit that it was weird at first hahaha!

If it’s your first time in Osaka, I recommend going to Osaka Castle, Cruise Ship Santa Maria Day Cruise, Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, and Umeda Sky Building. During my first time in Japan, I chose the facilities/attractions that are expensive and must see in Osaka so I can maximise the Osaka Amazing Pass. If you’re up for it, try going into an Onsen. You may choose from 2 Onsen that is included in the Osaka Amazing Pass.

I went back to Namba OCAT and waited for my 11:35pm overnight bus to Shinjuku. I tried to make my Tokyo itinerary while waiting for my bus.






Day 5 (January 28, 2018): Shinjuku to Hostel and Tokyo Tower + Imperial Palace

I arrived before 8am in Shinjuku Bus Terminal. I took the subway and after an hour of getting lost and riding the subway, I finally found my hostel. The check in is at 4pm so I left my luggage there and started my day tour. 

I went to Tokyo Tower and spent an hour there. Aside from the viewing deck, there are cafes and stores inside. 





The Tokyo Tower looks like a smaller and an orange version of the Eiffel Tower. 



I went to the Imperial Palace. The place was restricted to the public and you can only go in through tours. So I just took photos outside. 


Meganebashi. It was difficult to take a clear photo of the palace since I was only using my iPhone.


Moat surrounding the palace

Day 6 (January 29, 2018): Shibuya + Shinjuku + Harajuku

I started this day a bit late. I swear, the weather makes it so difficult to get out of bed! hahaha! I woke up around 11am. My first agenda was to go to Shibuya and take a photo with Hachiko. I first knew of Hachiko by watching the anime Super Gals! I liked that anime hahaha! Instead of using my selfie stick, I asked other tourist to take my photo hehehe.

Hachiko Statue


The busiest intersection in Japan (I’m not sure if in the world as well), Shibuya Crossing.




Looked for a cheap place to eat and found this ramen restaurant. I ordered the wrong one, which is the ramen without broth. hahaha!



I walked around Shibuya before I went to Harajuku and Shinjuku. The only two things I did in Harajuku and Shinjuku are shopping and eating. I did not bother going to the themed cafes because I wasn’t really interested in that. 


A shopping street in Harajuku. This is the first thing you will see once you exit the train station.

Shinjuku. I swear, Japan's buildings are so beautiful at night!!

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Day 7 (January 30, 2018): Tokyo Disney Sea

Again, I woke up later than I should’ve hahaha! I bought the ticket there which costed ¥7,400 yen. There was no queue to my surprise so I was able to get inside quickly. 


The train going to Disney Sea!




Tokyo Disney Sea is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l and a-m-a-z-i-n-g and it has got to be my favourite theme park to date!!! 



I did not notice that my iPhone cable is in the frame and that's where my camera focused. :(




Here are the attractions and shows that I was able to experience/see:


Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage is a 13-minute boat ride. I did not enjoy it as much because I did not understand a thing. The voices of the characters are all in Japanese lol. But I have to admit that the statues, the movements, and everything is else is beautifully made. 



 I feel like I'm inside an animated film. hahaha


Mysterious Island: The 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth are located here.


View outside

Inside



20,000 Leagues Under the Sea I really liked this attraction!! You will be in a submarine-ish ride and you’ll see sea monsters and more. Initially, I had a difficulty in looking for the attraction because I kept on saying the wrong name. I asked a staff, “excuse me, can you tell me the way to the Legends of the Blue Sea ride?” and the staff was stared at me for a few seconds and said, “sorry you mean 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?” I asked two strangers before that and they just said that they don’t know. Ayan, K-drama pa! hahaha!


I watched two shows: the Big Band Beat and the Mermaid Lagoon Theater (King Triton’s Concert). I decided to watch these shows because I desperately need to be inside a heated room. hahaha! I never thought that I would enjoy it but I really did! 

Big Band Beat

King Triton's Concert
Raging Spirits is a fun and small roller coaster ride. It took me approximately 3 minutes to line up since I went to the single riders line. Even if I am with my family, my brothers and I line up at the single riders line because it saves so much time!

The fire was cool. I thought it was fake from afar but when I got close, I realized it was real. haha!

Fortress Explorations: I actually got lost while navigating through this attraction lol The exhibitions (and buildings?) are beautiful to look at. I swear I was in awe while inside Disney Sea! 



I would like to thank the inventor of camera timer.

I originally wanted to take a game of thrones-esque photo but I had nowhere to place my phone! :(


Too bad the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull was temporarily closed due to maintenance. 



I forgot which area in Disney Sea these two photos are:







Now I am going to share my struggle in taking a whole body photo:

I'm blocking the globe... lol

Too far from the globe... lol

Still blocking it. but whatever... lol



Day 8 (January 31, 2018): Flight from Tokyo to Osaka to Philippines

I woke up around 6:45am and checked out of my hostel around 7:30am. The estimated travel time from my hostel to the airport by train is 1 hour and 30 mins. I woke up and left early because I expected that it would take me more time to get there because I need to use the elevator and the elevator in their train stations are usually located at the end of each station. 



I am not the biggest fan of cold and snow but I will definitely miss this kind of weather.

I arrived at the airport before 10am. I also arranged my check in luggage because it was over 25kg lol Good thing I came early and I have extra time. I ate lunch and dropped by baggage at 12 noon. 






I arrived in KIX around 3:30pm. Picked up my baggage and rode a bus (free) from the arrival area going to the departure area. My flight back to Manila is 8:45pm and baggage drop starts at 6:30pm. I decided not to go to Rinku Premium Outlet anymore because it was difficult to go anywhere with two luggages. I just killed time by eating, shopping, and reading a book inside the airport. I actually finished the book The Upside of Unrequited (it’s an okay book lol) 




After immigration, I did a short pasalubong and pabili shopping of Royce Chocolates lol 


The flight back to Manila was comfortable because I was able to recline my seat since no one was seating behind me.

Upon arrival around 12:20am, I tried to contact my family but Globe disconnected my line because of excess internet charges. (lol wtf right but to cut the story short, I permanently cut my globe plan and switched to smart after 14 years of using globe. I’ve had enough of their bad service) Good thing there was free Wi-Fi in NAIA and one of my friends was online so I asked her to text my parents hahaha! 

Expenses: 


Philippine Peso (and Yen if applicable) 1php=0.47 yen
PAID BEFORE THE TRIP:

Airfare (PH to KIX): Cebu Pacific 11, 356.65
Airfare (NRT to KIX): Jetstar 3,316
Willer bus Overnight Bus (Namba OCAT to Shinjuku Bus Terminal) 2,267
Limousine bus from KIX to Namba OCAT 493.5 (¥1,050)
Airbnb (Osaka) 5,296.75
Airbnb (Tokyo) 2,153.89
Flytpack Wi-Fi 2,410
Osaka Amazing Pass 1,137
Tokyo Tower 198


PAID DURING THE TRIP:

Tokyo Disney Sea 3,478 (¥7,400) 
Shopping + Pasalubong + Souvenir 9,635.94(¥20,502)
Food 6,725.7 (¥14,310)
Heat Packs 233.12 (¥496)
Kiyomizu-dera Temple entrance 188  (¥400)

Luggage Storage 470 (¥1,000)
Transportation (ICOCA card)
  • Klook
  • Reload
2, 847.73 (¥6,059)


TOTAL 52,207.28

If you look at the breakdown, you can definitely lessen the expenses by not shopping too much lol Mine’s probably half of that and the other half is for pasalubong. 

I was supposed to only travel in Kansai area but since I’ve already toured it three weeks prior to my solo travel, I opted to go to Tokyo as well. And it costed me more than 5,000php for the transportation.

Tips and Things to Remember:

  • The prices posted are exclusive of tax. So don’t be shocked when your total bill is different from what you estimated. Their tax is 8%. Some shops offer tax free and discounts only if your bill is ¥5,000 yen or more. Passport is also required.
  • Rent a Wi-Fi because Google Maps/Apple Maps will be your savior. I solely relied on those Maps during my two trips to Japan. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the subway lines and trains. I got overwhelmed at first because there was so many and some trains have the same name but could be an limited express, semi-express, or local train. It was confusing that I got lost 2 times hahaha!
  • Before availing the Osaka Amazing Pass, make sure that it will be worth it. Sum up the fees of the facilities you will be going to as well as the subway/bus fares to see if you will be able to maximized it.
  • I recommend buying tickets to amusement or theme parks online. It will save up time from queuing specially if you’ll go there during vacation season. Expect heavy crowd. You can look at the available tickets and passes here in Klook.
  • You may use a JR west passes if you will go up to Kobe and Himeji (This is what I and my family used during our first trip to Kansai area)
  • It’s easy to reload the ICOCA Card. Look for the word “english” in the monitor to translate everything.
  • Plan out your itinerary well and decide whether you’ll only stay in the Kansai region or go to Tokyo. I spent an extra 5,600php for my transportation to and from Kansai and Tokyo.
  • Bring your credit cards as it is accepted in almost all of their shops and restaurants. 
  • If you like shopping, themed cafes, and huge crowds, go to Tokyo. 
  • If you prefer seeing temples, shrines, historic spots, (like me) go to Kansai area. 
  • For Nara and Kyoto day tours, choose 1-3 temples since you don’t have to go to each temple/shrine/castle. Plan out the easiest way in navigating there to save time. 
  • Expect to walk a lot if you’re saving money. For example, the walk from the station to Kiyomizu-dera Temple was more than 1km. But if money is not a problem, you can always opt for a taxi ride. 
  • Mind your manners. Japanese are very polite and they usually avoid doing things that may inconvenience others. 
  • Clean up before you go. Don’t just leave your plate and trash on the table after you eat. (specifically for convenience stores or fast-food restaurants. 
  • If you are planning to go during the winter season, expect to allot budget for heat packs hahaha! I don’t really use gloves because it’s such a hassle to remove it every time I use my phone. 
  • If you are also a solo traveler, I can say that Japan is a great country to try a solo travel. It’s fairly safe since I was able to walk along Nipponbashi, Dotonbori, and Shinsaibashi up to 1am. Make friends with the the other travellers in the hostel your staying at!
  • Spend a few minutes to go to their ¥100 stores. You can find interesting and useful things. (I bought my brother a divider he can use for his drawers. He was surprised it was that cheap because here, it sells for more than 200php each.)
  • I brought bottled waters, breads, and few snacks from the Philippines.
  • Don’t give tips!! A simple thank you or saying that the food was good is enough. 
  • You can only claim the deposit of your ICOCA Card in JR West and JR Kansai Airport station. If you were not able to get it, the ICOCA card is still usable for 10 years. 
  • Research in advance about best food and shopping spots.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below and I will try my best to help! 

Best of luck to your solo travel to Japan!

If you want me to post my itinerary for my Osaka Trip during December 28-Jan 4, 2018, comment down below!

All of the photos are taken by mine unless stated otherwise. Please do not use any of my photos. If you really need to, message me and ask for permission. Thank you!

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