Wednesday, December 7, 2011

First Trip To Japan - seeking advice


I am planning a trip to Japan (06/23 - 07/13. My plan is to spend 6 days in Tokyo and 12 days in Kyoto (flying in and out of Tokyo).We plan to buy a 14 day pass for the train. I travel with my mother who is 62 but she’s in good shape.

---In Tokyo, I plan to explore the city and use it as a base to go to Kamakura or Nikko or Mt.Fujii.

---In Kyoto, explore the city and use it as a base for day trip to Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima/Miya Jima island, Himeji and Mt.Koya-san.

My questions are:

1) Is the time spending in each place adequate for sightseeing and resting?

2) In Kyoto, which hotel will be good for location (convenient for day trips outside of Kyoto)? Right now, I found these hotels that fit my budget: Comfort Inn Kyoto Gojo, Hotel Monterey Kyoto, and Hearton. I would like to find cheaper hotel (less than $110/night) – all I need is AC, clean room, private bathroom, convenient location to transportation.

3) In Tokyo, I am trying to decide between Oak Hotel (in Ueno / Asakusa) and Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku Hotel ( in Shibuya-Ku). Which one would you recommend for the location? I will take the train to Kyoto so I would like to stay at the hotel that’s convenient to transport.

4) At the temples, shrines and museums, will there be English signs? I don’t know Japanese and from what I read in this forum, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem since Japanese people are really nice and helpful?

5) Have anyone booked hotels from or web site? I would like to know if they’re reliable.

I%26#39;ve been reading this forum for a while and i%26#39;ve found a lot of useful information, so i%26#39;m hoping you guys can give me some advices on my trip.

Many thanks

First Trip To Japan - seeking advice

Another hotel to consider in Kyoto is Karasuma Kyoto Hotel. I think it is a bit more convenient to JR Station than the three others you mentioned (and roughly in the same class, though a bit worn around the edges). It is in the same general area as those three, as well--near the interesting business district and not too far from Gion. Their rack rates are not a good value, but they offer good special rates on their web site, which accepts reservations in English (they do tend to fill up early).

Anyway, you might want to check it out and read the reviews. I stayed there last summer and found that it was conveniently and pleasantly situated for exploring Kyoto. (It would be okay for a day trip to Nara, too.)

For exploring places to the west I actually suggest changing to a hotel in Osaka (the Umeda area is good). Maybe spend 5 or 6 nights in Kyoto and the rest in Osaka?

I think 6 days based in Tokyo and 12 based in Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka) is okay, although I would spend more time in the Tokyo area myself. (Tastes vary, but there are a lot of things to do just in Tokyo, plus numerous day trip options.)

I would choose Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku over Oak Hotel any day, although I expect you will have to pay a bit more for it (if they are the same price, I would definitely choose Sunroute Plaza).

First Trip To Japan - seeking advice

IMO - I think 12 days in Kyoto is too much. You might want to break it up a bit.

You shouldn%26#39;t have too much problems with signs in Japan. Most are bilingual.

If you haven%26#39;t booked in your plane ticket yet, you might want to consider an open jaw ticket. Fly in to Narita and out of Osaka (KIX). This will eliminate doubling back to Tokyo.

I agree with Dave. 12 days in and around Kyoto seems a lot, unless you have some particular interest there (e.g. visiting the hundreds of temples and shrines). And you do not appear to be using the full value of your JR Pass. I%26#39;d suggest (even though it will mean moving to more hotels) that you at least go to Takayama and Kanazawa; I haven%26#39;t been there, but I believe Kyushu and Hokkaido are also both worth visiting - but that will be a major extension to your currently planned route. The major tourist sights and routes have multi-lingual signs; in any case, the Japanese (even if they speak limited English; all schoolchildren are taught English) are incredibly helpful, so someone will be able to assist.

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