Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Planning trip to Japan in 2010 - advice on flights/hotels?

Hi everyone, firstly I wanted to say how great this forum is (and also the Japan Guide website people shared the link of). So many questions have already been answered so hopefully I am not covering too much that has gone before.

It has been a long dream of mine to visit Japan, and I%26#39;ve decided to bite the bullet and start thinking of planning a trip to there for the Sakura season in 2010 with my girlfriend (and proposing while I am there!).

We live in Scotland, and I have started to look at options for flying out of Glasgow (Edinburgh also possible). The dates I would be thinking of would be around 10 days from about this time next year, as I understand that would allow us to catch the cherry blossom in Tokyo and/or Kyoto?

These are not available yet, but flights for feb next year seem to be around 750 each with BA/Virgin via Heathrow, and a little bit less for KLM via Amsterdan. I also understand Finnair do good deals but this would involve going Glasgow-Heathrow-Helsinki-Tokyo which, even though we are trying to keep costs down, would be a bit much.

I saw however that there are flights going in the next month or so that are much, much cheaper. So my question really is this, would we be better to hold off booking flights until the end of this year/start of next and try to pick-up a deal in the New Year sales, rather than try and get the first seats as they go on-line? Any other possible routes you can suggest we will take into account.

Following this up, is it better to book the hotel way in advance too? I understand that rates are beginning to drop slightly due to the drop in visitors with the credit crunch, do you guys think this is likely to continue?

For Tokyo, a lot of people suggest Shinjuku for a first timer (although I also read it was in a red light district!), and I have also read good things about Shibuya. We would really like to keep the hotel cheap (I have an engagement ring to save for too!) and well located, so does Shinjuku fit the bill better? I am also thinking in terms of us finding our way around Tokyo, going on day trips and travelling down to Kyoto for a few days. As much as we can normally get to grips with local transport this is the first time in Asia for us, and its a bit daunting so we don%26#39;t want to make things overly complicated.

Thanks everyone, that%26#39;s a bit long-winded, but basically checking that I%26#39;m looking at the right sort of dates for next year, and when the best time to start booking is and any advice. Particularly from those who have flown out of Scotland or the rest of the UK.

Scottie P

Planning trip to Japan in 2010 - advice on flights/hotels?

I should also have said I would quite like to experience staying in a Ryokan. From what I gather doing this whilst we are on the Kyoto leg of the trip would make most sense - how early should we be looking to book? Would it be cost effective to stay there for the whole time we were in Kyoto (3 nights I think it will be) or are we better suited finding a normal hotel and going to the Ryokan for one night?

Sorry for the double post!

Scottie P

Planning trip to Japan in 2010 - advice on flights/hotels?

There%26#39;s no way to predict airfares. IMO, I wouldn%26#39;t book anything more than six months in advance. When you%26#39;re ready, try www.kayak.com for airfares. I wouldn%26#39;t take a flight with more than one connection.

Many hotels don%26#39;t allow bookings more than three months in advance. I wouldn%26#39;t worry about booking until that time.

There%26#39;s a small area in Shinjuku called Kabukicho. It%26#39;s the red light district. Otherwise, Shunjuku is perfectly suitable for a visitor. The train station is amazing.

Transport in Japan is amazingly efficient and easy to use. Everything%26#39;s bilingual. Subways are inexpensive.

Thanks Dave, I will hold off booking until the end of this year.

No doubt I will be back them to bombard the board with questions!

You don%26#39;t need to worry about red light districts in Japan. I have often strolled through East Shinjuku of an evening and the worst thing that happens is that someone will hand me a leaflet written entirely in Japanese so I don%26#39;t have a clue what is on offer; absolutely no aggression or unpleasantness. There are many similar districts in Japanese cities, which you could walk through with your Wee Free granny without her knowing what was going on.

Hey ScottiePaul

I am also going at the same time as you! Be careful that everything is not booked out. For that time of the year I hear it is quite busy for the Cherry Blossom Festivals!

I have already booked my accomodation in Tokyo. I booked at Oakwood Apartments in Shinjuku! Have a look! They rate highly for a good price!

These apartments have a mimimum stay of one week though!

They make it quite easy to book via the internet!

Then will spend a week in Kyoto, probably in a Ryoken too, if i can find a decent one for a good price!

Have a nice time!

Transportation --

Just a quick thought from a fellow first timer:

When you land in Narita, pick up a foldable %26#39;Toei Subway Guide%26#39;. I did, and it was a lifesaver.

Don%26#39;t be concerned about the magnitude of the system and number of the rail lines -- it%26#39;s actually simple! Within a day or two, you%26#39;ll be riding the rails like a pro.

All the signs and announcements on the trains and at the stations are in Japanese characters and in English.

At the stations, all the staff were incredibly helpful. I%26#39;d point to my destination on the map -- then they would tell me the ticket to buy, the platform to stand on, and the train to ride.

Good luck with your planning.

hey there...

i just came back in march

first of all as your planning to go away in 2010...dont book any tickets YET!!!

wait for all special offers to come out

i booked with virgin manchester via heathrow for £545...i got the price reduced from £670 after blagging my way!!!

thats all i can say really

finnair does specials for about £500

Thanks guys.

I think we have decided on Shinjuku over Shibuya, simply going on what has been said here for us being first timers.

I think we will definately look at Oakwood, a little bit expensive, but I think it would be perfect for the last leg of our trip in Tokyo for the night. Especially if we stay in a more business hotel like Sunroute for the first 4 days, and then a ryoken in Kyoto. At the end of the day we won%26#39;t be in it much so it seems silly to spend a lot of money. Will be nice for a little bit of luxury for the last night though!

Out of interest, did you book with them directly or through a travel company like expedia?

Re. flights, yes I will definately wait until the seasonal promo%26#39;s are out. Will sign-up for alerts with BA, KLM, Virgin and Finnair so as not to miss anything.

Thank you all


I booked with Oakwood via there website! It was relatively cheap i thought compared to the hotels. But like i said i think they only take bookings for 7days or more. Because it is apartments and not hotel!


thought you was asking me then for a sec...but i%26#39;ll also answer that question as well

i booked with virgin direct

and my hotel with expedia VIA quidco

also travel insurance via quidco with amex

i stayed at sunroute plaza shinjuku, excellent location however hotel was clean but basic

my conversation with virgin

after a quote coming through at £670....

£670??? thats actually over my budget...i then go on about credit crunch...i then said you can better than that!!!!

to which the guy on the other line (he sounded asian... so dont think oh god, cant understand a word they say!!!)

give me 30 minutes!!

and my suprise he rung back with £545...i booked staright away as finnair special%26#39;s had gone and next price up at the time was £550 with klm, air france and BA...which i all refuse to use!!!

you seen my photos?

third to last post


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