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Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Internationally Known

Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

I've seen some amazing pictures and stories on travels to Asia on this community.  Next February we will be taking an Asia trip which includes a nine day cruise (cruise - thanks will be to Barclays).  We will be spending a week in Tokyo before flying to Hong Kong.  Three days in Hong Kong before our cruise.  Our cruise ends in Singapore and we spend three days there before heading back to SFO. 

 

I have been researching things to do and places to visit in and around Tokyo.  I am open to all suggestions.  We are staying at the Hilton Tokyo in downtown (thank you Hilton Honors) not very far from one of the train stations.  

 

Hong Kong we will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express on the island (thank you IHG).  I haven't done very much research for Hong Kong yet.

 

Our cruise takes us to three stops in the Philippines (Ilocos, Manila and Subic BAy) and two stops in Vietnam (Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City).  We will just book excursions for those locations.  Will have to research best excursions when they become available.   

 

In Singapore we are staying downtown at the Hilton Garden Inn (again thank you Hilton Honors).  I have not done any research on Singapore as of yet. 

 

All reservations (flights thanks to Chase Ultimate Rewards) are made.  I would appreciate any help/suggestions.  Like I mentioned I am open to all suggestions.  I want to cram as much as possible into this trip. 

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Jeff

9 Replies
Internationally Known

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Wow! Isn't it great to make use of all of those points? Good for you! I haven't been to that part of the world, so I can't offer suggestions, but happy planning and take lots of pictures! Can't wait to hear all about it when you return.

RJean
Internationally Known

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Hi Gefe57, sounds like a great trip! There is a lot of stuff you can do from Tokyo, but please keep in mind that you will be jet lagged and need some time to adjust.

 

That said, one of the most memorable day trips I took twice is a visit to Hakone National Park with its famous hot springs. You will be able to buy a round trip ticket that includes a high speed train, a **bleep** railway, a gondola ride up and one down, a boat ride, a bus and the return by train. It is a full day trip, you leave early and come back late evening. You will see beautiful villages, a wonderful mountain range, get a close look of famous Mount Fuji, see the hot springs (and likely cook some eggs over hot water), take a romantic boat ride over Lake Ashi and still have time for a long lunch and dinner at a place of your choice. It is fairly easy to do, all well marked, you will get a broschure and you do not have to speak Japanese. I had posted some stories about this trip but you can just google it.

 

You could take a train to the seaside town of Kamakura. Wonderful pedestrian only street with lots of shops carrying typical Japanese items, impressive temples, fresh air and great restaurants. 

 

You could take a high speed train to Kyoto. Takes about 3 hours, costs a little more but makes a wonderful day trip if you leave very early. Kyoto's old center is packed with temples and wooden houses that are centuries old. Admittedly, there is so much to see that a day trip kind of limits what you can do. 

 

You could also take a train to Nikko. Nearly the entire town is a world heritage site. Is home to one of the most important temple complexes in Japan. Takes several hours to see it all.

 

Japan in February can be quite wet and cold. Went the same time (for the first time) in 1991, streets in Nikko were covered in ice, Mount Fuji was covered in snow (very impressive). 

 

3 days in Hong Kong will be just enough to cover the basics (Hong Kong Island, Kowloon). Highly recommend taking the cog railway up to Stanley Peak. Not sure how you will do with your hip by then but there is a paved, flat loop trail along the top that lasts about an hour or so. You will get the most stunning views over Hong Kong from there. There is also a wonderful Chinese restaurant with a beautiful garden not far from the railway station.

Of course you will have to take a ride on the star ferry that is connecting Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Another fun thing to do is taking the escalators in Hong Kong Central. You will get a feeling how people live left and right and you won't have to walk much. Gets you through an expats area with lots of international restaurants. In the Mid-Level section is a nice French bakery called Maison Eric Kayser, they also have great coffee. We stayed not far from there in an airbnb a while ago.

 

Manila unfortunately has not much to offer for tourists. The main tourist attraction is Intramuros with Fort Santiago. Is also home to a small museum. Is ok. We actually liked Chinatown but it can be very busy (watch your stuff). Makati is home to the Greenbelt Mall, a high end mall with a couple of great restaurants. All air conditioned (can be hot in Manila). Getting around Manila is easiest by taxi but the city is constantly traffic jammed. Getting you from one place to the other can take an hour or more (be aware of this if you have to get back to the ship).

 

Let me know if you need anything else. Have fun researching and good luck with your surgery!

Internationally Known

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Liketraveling, thank you for all the great info.  I will reread your stories and research some of the info you gave me.  Getting close to Mt Fuji is on our list for sure and the snow covering will make it even better.  I haven’t looked into the trains very much yet but I’ve heard they are fairly easy to figure out.  We have a free shuttle from our hotel to the nearby train station.  I’m preparing for the weather in Japan which will be much different than our other stops.   Manila we will more than likely just pay for an excursion through the ship.  My wife and her family is from a province just outside Manila but it has been many years since they have been there.  At least I won’t have to worry about language barriers, I have my own translator.  HaHaHa!  I know 3 days in Hong Kong isn’t enough but we still have to plan around my wife’s vacation time from work.  For me, well, everyday is Saturday.  HaHaHa!  I’m planning on my hip being at least 80% (hopefully more, they say 100% in about a year) recovered by then because the trip is about 9 1/2 months after surgery.  🤞🏻

Internationally Known

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Just remembered a worthwhile trip for Manila. It is about a 45 minute drive from the center and very popular with locals. The town is called Tagatay (we actually stayed there for 3 nights) and is situated at one of the largest watercovered craters in the world. There are a couple of very nice restaurants, some of them with views over the crater. Easy to do if your wife is from the Philippines. It is about time you visit her home country😉, spectacular islands, great people! We spend close to 8 weeks island hopping... 

7. Tagaytay - Carmelence View (View from our Terrace) (1).jpg

Internationally Known

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Liketraveling, thank you again for more info.  Im open to all suggestions.  Some day I hope to be able to spend much more time in the Philippines, maybe after my wife can retire.  We have been traveling other places because my wife and in-laws have wanted to visit other parts of the world.  I am excited to at least get a quick visit to her home country.  Maybe this visit will inspire her to want to return for a longer time period.  8 weeks island hopping would be awesome.  I have many friends from some of the other islands.  Love the picture.

Stately Explorer

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Sounds like an exciting trip!!

 

Hong Kong is incredibly crowded so do prepare yourself for that! I'm a New Yorker, and I felt more overwelmed there because HK is just so tiny compared to NYC. The rooms in HK are much smaller than people are accustomed to, so don't have high expectations there (not sure what the Holiday Inn rooms look like). 

 

I definitely recommend Victoria Peak! That was nice, and we also did a trip out to the Big Buddha if you're feeling a trip out there. HK is also a big shopping city, especially the big brands. If you're around Yau Ma Tei there's a 'night market', but sellers will try to upsell you. Restaurants in HK are excellent, some are super pricey and some are decently priced. 

 

Honestly, one of my biggest regrets was not going to Hap Mun Bay and Tai Long Beach. Theyare just gorgeous from the pictures I've seen! I know you'll be cruising, but I still think it might be worth a trek (it's a hike or ferry ride to Tai Long Beach). Mini red shuttle from TST area to Hap Mun Bay I believe or you can hire a decent fare from a taxi or Didi (China's verison of Uber). 

 

Also, try Macao! If you just want to check out HK's neighbor and a do a bit of gambling it's a quick trip across.

Internationally Known

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Vmrjah,  thanks for all the good info.  We have three days in Hong Kong, I know that’s not much time but we will make the best of it.  My time is not limited but everyone else is under a work time constraint.  I have heard about the hotel room sizes being pretty small, the pictures they show of the Holiday Inn Express rooms don’t look too bad.  Either way it’s just for three nights.  Thanks again.

City Slicker

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

If you decide to do much in the way of train travel in Japan, the JR train passes are quite worth it.  IIRC, you can get one for a full week and the only exclusions are some of the bullet trains from Tokyo to other major cities.  With a whole week in Tokyo, you will definitely want to get out of the crush and do a couple of day trips.  You have to order the passes in advance and they will be mailed to you.

 

We went to Japan in the summer, so I'm sure we had very different weather than you will experience.  Tokyo is a really interesting mix, some tourist sites are practically empty, some are jam-packed with humanity.  One of our favorite quirky experiences there was getting auto-sushi in the Shibuya neighborhood.  There are a couple of restaurants where all the ordering is done via touchscreen and the food arrives by conveyor belt.  It's a fun experience.  The only thing you will actually have delivered by a person is alcoholic beverages, if you order them.

 

Tokyo has two different subway systems and the tickets are not interchangeable, so you will need to do some advance research and planning on how to get around to places you want to see.  The major train stations (like Shinjuku) are just huge and crazy and you can easily spend the entire day just wandering around looking for something if you don't know where you are going.  Also, metro passes (like for 3 days or a week) are actually not sold in metro stations, which took us about 2 hours and 20K steps to find someone who could explain that to us.  They are available at some camera stores in the stations, but you need to have your foreign passport with you to purchase them.  

 

Have fun!  

Internationally Known

Re: Asia Trip - Never too soon to start planning

Thanks for the info.  I’m glad we still have plenty of time to research for our trip and the info I’m getting from the community gives me more to research.  I know the weather in Japan will probably be chilly/cold but the rest of our stops should have decent weather.  Thanks again