Things to know before and during your trip in Japan
For those who are planning a trip to Japan, this article might be a bit of help 😉 I have listed essential Japan travel tips and advice which are especially useful for first timers to Japan. Check out things to know before and during your trip in Japan.
- Check general info
JST (Japanese Standard Time) is 9 hours ahead of GMT and has No Daylight Saving Time. From north to south, all Japan is in one time zone. Here are some time differences between Japan and some major international cities:
Japan has four distinct seasons: Spring (March to May), Summer (June to August), Autumn (September to November) and Winter (December to February). The climate and temperature vary depending on season and area, and also each season offers different attractions and sightseeing spots.
It’s a simple advice but it’s better to check the Japanese calendar than not doing. Japan has 16 public holidays through the year, and tourist attractions get very very crowded or some may be closed on these days. Especially, the long weekend in May “Golden Week” and middle of August “Obon” are the busiest time of the year. It’s a wiser idea to avoid travelling on these periods in Japan.
- Book Accommodation
Japan is one of the most popular countries to travel in the world, so booking accommodation in advance of your trip is essential especially during high season as many hotels tend to be fully booked. Besides regular hotels, there are various types of accommodation available in Japan where tourists can have unique “only in Japan” stay experiences such as Japanese style Ryokan inn and tiny budget capsule hotels.
- Book Pocket WiFi
Japan is one of countries where having pocket WiFi could make a massive difference. The area with free public WiFi is expanding slowly but still it’s not like you can connect everywhere you go. Also as I will explain it later, travelling Japan sometimes could be harsh with language barrier, especially in countryside. So the internet could be the biggest savior for your trip to Japan.
Japan-Wireless is highly recommended and reliable company providing rental pocket wifi with fast speed internet at very affordable rate. Make sure to book it before you leaving to Japan!
- Get Japan Rail Pass
If you are planning to travel multiple cities in Japan, Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a must-have item, and it can only be purchased outside of Japan which means you should place your order before coming to Japan. This “exclusive to foreigners” rail pass allow you to travel with any JR lines across the country including bullet trains (usually very pricey!). However, if you are only visiting Tokyo, this is not necessary item.
- Exchange Money
According to many travellers to Japan, the exchange rate in Japan seems like higher than other countries. Also there are not many exchange counters on the street either. So it’s wiser to have some yen ready in your country before travelling and manage with your credit card while travelling.
- Learning the culture
Japan has an unique own culture which is hard to understand for many and very interesting/valuable. While you are in Japan, it’s highly recommended to try one of cultural activities, such as kimono, tea ceremony and samurai training. These experiences could be done only in Japan and don’t miss a chance for the “once in your life time” kind of moment.
- Be an early bird
Japan is basically a small sized country with a massive number of population. Everywhere you go, it seems packed even during week. If you are quite keen on photography and wanna capture views of some of famous tourist attractions like on magazines, it may be a bit of disturbance to have tons of people surround you and a subject. So the best way to avoid this situation is to get up early and go to the destination in early morning.
- Use Suica wisely
If you are not familiar with Japanese money and wanna avoid fuss with dealing with coins, the best way is to use “SUICA” card rightly. It’s basically a electronic money card by JR to use for most of transportation in Japan, but it can be used for shopping too. It’s acceptable at most of convenience stores, vending machines, supermarkets, restaurants and more. You can purchase it or top-up at the ticket machine of any stations.
- Download apps
Some apps can massively ease your trip like Google map&street view are must. Also transportation app is very useful, which can tell you the nearest station and how to get to your destination, as Tokyo’s (especially) Metro is like a spider web.
- Maximise your trip with cheap domestic flights
Numbers of LCC domestic flights are available in Japan nowadays and it’s now more easy to travel around the country. If you are travelling Japan for over a week and willing to explore the country, it’s highly advised to visit one of countryside cities in Japan with cheap domestic flights. Japanese countryside is more interesting in cultural way than big cities and totally worth visiting.