Travel: Japan: Tokyo and Kyoto

The trip to see both Tokyo and Kyoto is a must-do for any traveller.

Yes, Japan is expensive. But it is well worth it – Tokyo alone is worth a visit and is just 3 or 4 hours from Shanghai. It’s a stunning city that offers unique emotions and experiences. The feeling of Tokyo is difficult to describe, because it is one of those cities which has a pulse and a personality all of its own.

The place

The expected cleanliness, organisation and real uniqueness are the basic platforms that have made so many travellers fall in love with the place.

I’ve used the word unique twice now – a word over-used because anything can be ‘unique’ in some way. Yet for the well-travelled, this is true in Tokyo.

It’s easy to travel anywhere nowadays and be faced with the same chain brands, restaurants, city styles, traffic and skyscrapers and such.

Yet Japan is a place that is still insulated from this, in a good way. Tokyo may be the most ‘different’ city in the World because of this, and that is why it is one of the very, very few places to go that still feels ‘exotic’ – especially for the expat in China.

Expats find it difficult to discover the exotic. We can go to places in China and in other Asian countries that would have amazed or interested us when we lived in our home countries. Yet permanently living in ‘the foreign’ really does inure us to the ‘strange’.

Japan is somewhere that cures this.

It means that as a traveller, you can re-capture that feeling of being the explorer, the pioneer, tackling new lands, languages and people and succeeding in having new and different experiences.

The budget and the details

A city the size of Tokyo offers all the choice you want – meaning that accommodation can definitely be done on a budget.

Yet, I see Japan as a holiday to save for and splurge on.

Again, even for the China expat who may be used to regularly visiting the spread of 5 star hotels, the top hotels of Tokyo still give that feeling of sigh-inducing quality and satisfaction.

The best hotel prices you can find

All of the top hotel chains are of course in Tokyo, in different districts. Our two top recommendations would be the Peninsula in Ginza or the Grand Hyatt in Roppongi.

The Peninsula in Ginza may be the best hotel that you have ever stayed in, being superior to even other 5 star hotels that you may have experienced. The Ginza area is the expensive and luxury area of the city, as you’ll read in your guidebooks.

The point is that you definitely cannot ‘go wrong’ with choosing something of that quality, if that is your style.

If the location itself is more important to you, then the Grand Hyatt is perhaps the best choice.

What this means is that anywhere you stay in Tokyo will still require you to get familiar with the public transport (underground train) system, as the city is so big and you will want to visit all of the different areas.

Yet, staying at the Grand Hyatt means that the streets directly outside the doorstep will offer an energetic nightlife (and daytime) scene.


Kyoto takes about two hours to get to on the high speed train – which is not cheap. But it is still worth the experience if you have already flown to Japan.

A visit to Kyoto (and Tokyo, though less so) should be planned seasonally – the recommended times of the year in Spring and Autumn which allow comfortable walking-weather. This is because in Kyoto you will be outside for most of the time(!), walking around the different temples and seeing the historic sights on offer.


Hakone is between Tokyo and Kyoto and is known as a special area for hot springs – also well worth a visit once already on the train network.

These areas – Hakone and Kyoto, as well as even Tokyo – provide a much needed shot of civilisation and cleanliness for the China-based expat.

Hopping to ‘generic Asian beach’ is a popular – and cheaper – trip, and does make sense for any expat to do, as it is enticing to get out of a filthy city and sit on a beach doing nothing for a while.

The trip to Japan is more expensive and still focuses on a huge city (conurbation to be precise), yet is still more of an ‘experience’ and a real discovery of a completely different – yet still Asian – country.

Also, the food is spectacular.

hotel reward points and the best prices you can find

Agoda offers the best hotel rates you can find – and a loyalty points system


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Categories: Travel


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One Comment on “Travel: Japan: Tokyo and Kyoto”

  1. Rita Bellinger
    January 5, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    Reblogged this on The Wordy Photographer.

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