Japan & Thailand
Backstory: When my boyfriend and I first started traveling we would tackle one country at a time, and it would be great, but we later realized we wanted to make it to at least two countries. We chose Japan and Thailand in a bundle deal.
Travel Agency: Trip Master
Flights and Hotel per person - $2,269 (for both countries)
Okay, so this one was a new one for us. We booked this trip very close to the travel date, so prices were a lot higher. We like to book our trips in a bundle, so it’s easier to manage. After about a week of researching, we decided to give a website called Trip Master a try; this is a website that allows you to visit different countries in one trip and they search up flights and hotels for an affordable price. The difference between this and other sites like Expedia is that you can fly back from a different country than the one you initially went to.
e.g. – New York- Tokyo – Phuket – New York. With Expedia, you would have to do New York – Tokyo – Phuket – Tokyo – New York
We had some issues booking at the beginning because we booked a package and later received an email saying the prices had gone up. Unfortunately, these are some of the downfalls of any bargaining website. One of the things we loved about booking with TripMaster is that they have an app that comes with your booking and they have information, maps of the area, a currency conversion calculator, reviews of restaurants and a lot more.
Note: Be careful with flights that have connecting flights. Some of the layovers don’t allow enough time to go through customs so make sure you have at LEAST 2 hours to connect or you will miss your flight.
Etihad Airways – To Tokyo and back to New York
China Eastern Airlines – Tokyo to Phuket
Japan - Tokyo
Wifi Router: When faced with the question to get or not to get a wifi router I would recommend the latter. We knew we wanted to explore as much as we could on our own on foot or trains and since there is a considerable language barrier, it was going to be difficult to ask for directions so we got the router and it was the smartest thing we could have done. We purchased a 3- day router from Expedia $27 and picked it at Narita Airport Terminal 1 ( there are only 2 terminals, and you can choose either one depending on the terminal you are arriving to) you can return the router to either terminal as well.
Getting to and from the airport: Public Transportation
Usually, we take cabs, but we were determined to only take trains the whole trip so after getting our router we searched for train directions through Google Maps asked a transportation agent if she could direct us. You have to take a train shuttle to the central transit system, and then you get on the train. She gave us a map and all the train lines were color-coded, so that helped; their train system is pretty easy to use and if you ever have doubts show a station worker the train stop you’re trying to get off at, and they will lead you. Also, keep your train tickets you will need them to get out of the station.
Hotel: Toshi Center Hotel
Very nice and simple hotel. We laughed at how small the room was. The room looked like there was only space for the bed, a counter, and a bathroom which just fit one person at a time. However, this was one of the more affordable options TripMaster gave us which was a Double Standard Room, so I am sure they have more lavished larger rooms. To be honest, the room turned out to be perfect for us, the bed was still a Queen size, and we only needed the place to sleep, shower, get dress and go. Nonetheless, this room will only fit a maximum of 2 people be mindful of the square footage and total amount of people. We were also able to change currency at the front desk, and their conversion rate was lower than the airports.
Places we went:
- Shibuya Crossing
- Tokyo SkyTree
- Tokyo Tower
- Meiji Shrine
- Tokyo Imperial Palace
- Yoyogi Park- Huge Park
- Ueno Park
Roppongi: Known to be the nightlife district with dancing and clubs, however, we didn't like that we kept getting solicitors trying to draw us to their bars, clubs, and restaurants. It was extremely uncomfortable, and after 10 minutes we turned around and left.
- Tokyo Skytree Fixed Day Ticket: Tembo Deck & Tembo Galleria Admission $29
- Robot Restaurant Show with Sushi Dinner $70
- Hop - On Hop Off Tour on Sky Hop Bus 24-Hour Pass $31
Visiting the temples:
To pay respect: At a Torii (shrine archway): Bow once when entering and leaving.
At Temizuya (water well): Rinse your left hand then the right hand. Then Rinse your mouth with your left hand before rinsing your left hand again. Lastly, rinse the dipper (allow the remaining water to run down the handle of the dipper).
At the Main Shrine building: Bow twice. Clap your hands twice. Make a wish if you like & Bow once again.
Thailand - Phuket
Getting to and from the airport: We took a cab from the airport.
Hotel: Centara Villas Phuket
This half of the trip was mainly to relax; we did so much walking in Tokyo we were relieved to just lay out by the pool. We only planned two excursions for this reason so besides that we just relaxed. Our villa was gorgeous right on the beach, and with two pool, we had an ocean view and woke up every morning to watch the sunrise. We also had breakfast and dinner at the Villa, and it was great! The breakfast was buffet style with assorted pastries and an omelet station.
Excursions and Places We Went:
*For all the excursions we had to pay cash upon arrival.
Elephant Sanctuary Thailand (Phuket): Their mission is to promote the proper treatment of elephants, and to educate visitors on the problems with irresponsible tourism practices. They house over 30 elephants, all of whom were victims of abuse and mistreatment, and all of whom can now enjoy full and free lives. We were able to feed them including prepping their meals, walk with them and bath them. There is strictly no riding.
Phi Phi Islands - We had difficulty getting in contact with someone about an excursion in the Phi Phi Islands, so we booked with the Villa we stayed in. This actually worked out because we were able to get better deals and ended up booking a car for the day at a really cheap price.
Bangla Road - This road is closed to vehicle traffic and becomes festival of lights, loud music and cheap beer (Chang Beer was the best one I had) Almost all the bars have an open front and outside seating. The best nightclubs are Seduction Complex, Illusion and Tiger Complex. We didn't go to any of these because we’re not big into the clubbing scene, but all the locals recommended we go there.
Fun Fact: Chang is the Thai word for Elephant.
Big Buddha - A massive hilltop statue of Buddha with a temple around it and a paranomic view.
Wat Chalong - The largest most visited temple in Phuket.
Patong Beach - The beach outlining Bangla Road.