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Denmark: Cycling the Baltic Sea Route

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Like many visitors, when I first visited Denmark I didn’t venture outside of Copenhagen. That was a mistake.

It’s a mistake many make with London and the UK or Barcelona and Spain or Rome and Italy. There’s just so much more Denmark has to offer, from coastlines and landscapes, to forests and cosy villages. On this eye-opening trip, we discover majestic chalk cliffs, stone-sculpted heads, stunning islands, archipelago’s and sixteenth century castles. And we’ll do it all on two wheels.

Did you know Denmark is perfectly equipped for exploring by bike?

It’s flat, has purpose built biking roads and a superb network of cycling routes connecting the entire country. In this article, we explore the Baltic Sea Route, mostly following the N8 cycle route across some of the most beautiful coastal regions in Denmark.

The Baltic Sea Route connects pretty much the whole of South Denmark and stretches over 820km in a huge figure of eight. Therefore, you’ll want enough time to explore it, I’d recommend at least 10 days or 2 weeks, depending on whether you will only travel by bike, or if you will also drive some of the route. As with any travel you’ll get to know a destination better if you spend longer there, and you could easily increase that to 3 or 4 weeks to really take your time.

 

The Baltic Sea Route:

South Zealand and Møn

We started this epic cycling trip in South Zealand and Møn, which is a massive 170km of the Baltic Sea Route. This area isn’t too far from Copenhagen to the perfect place to start our adventure.

Our first stop was the Gavnø Castle. Known as the flower island, this beautiful building was reminiscent of a Manor House like Goodwood House in England. It has a grand entrance over the bridge and cycling up to it made us really feel like we arrived in Denmark. After a chat with Helle (the Baroness) it hit me just how much there is to Gavnø Castle. From the stunning flowers, a butterfly farm, climbing park, brewery and one of the largest art collections in Europe. There is quite literally something for everyone.

Not to be missed: get a pre-made picnic box from the café and enjoy it in the Castle gardens.

 

If you like your art and in particular, graffiti or street art, then head to the city of Næstved. For more than 30 years Næstved has built a reputation among the graffiti world and has several incredible paintings dotted around the city. The best way to spot them all is to arrange a local tour to show you the best of the 19 different street art locations.

We then headed to Møns Klint. Of all the places on the Baltic Sea Route I must admit I was most excited about Møns Klint, one of Denmark’s natural wonders. The stunning coastline and chalk cliffs are the main attraction here, with impressive views at the top and bottom. The cliffs are home to the protected peregrine falcon, the fastest bird in the world which nests here, so a popular spot for birdwatchers. And for the adrenaline junkies you can swap your road bike for mountain bikes and explore a variety of trails through the forest, catering for each standard. I stuck to the beginner tracks! Finally, the GeoCentre provides a fascinating insight into the geology of the area and sends you back millions of years when dinosaurs ruled the planet.

Hotel & Restaurant: To sleep I recommend Bakkegaard Gæstgiveri, a charming little Bed & Breakfast close to Møns Klint, and you’ll pass by Stege where you’ll find a delicious and fresh burger at Det Gamle Bryghus (I love the beer here, which is brewed just up the road).

 

Lolland Falster

After Møn we took the ferry from Bogø to Falster, for the next part of the N8 route, which covers a mix of forests, open landscapes and local cities. The N8 naturally flows down the coastline of Falster to my first recommendation; Marielyst Beach. The beach here has been voted the best beach in Denmark many times and has 20km of soft sand. The town itself has a charming laid-back vibe, and a café culture which invites you to watch the world pass by with a drink. Then sit back and enjoy live music in the evening.

For our next stop we headed to Lolland and ventured away from the N8 route and up to Dodekalith, Greek for ‘The Twelve-Stone’. Dodekalith will be a monument of twelve 8-metre-high statues in a circle, with each head sculptured on a legend from the Lolers. On top of that they will sing! If you stand in the middle a 12-channel sound system will play changing acoustics throughout the day. Although Dodekalith is far from finished, it’s still an impressive site and is a must visit if you come to Lolland. It is, and essentially will be, a great tribute to the island’s history and ancestors.

Hotel & Restaurant: We stayed and slept at Hotel Saxkjøbing, which is owned by Claus Meyer a famous Danish chef. The building has been here 200 years and has a fantastic heritage, it also plays a key role in the local community.

 

Southern Jutland

From Lolland Falster you have the option to explore Fyn or head over the South Jutland, we choose to see South Jutland first, and Fyn on the way back. South Jutland has more than 3,000km of marked cycle routes, and several bed and bike options, it also has 9 free bike repair stations spread all around in case you need to make any repairs to your bike.

We started in Sønderborg, the largest town in South Jutland. We cycled along the bridge which has fantastic views across the harbour and spent time exploring the impressive castle. The castle doubles as a museum for Southern Jutland history. The town is known as a countryside metropolis, and has several small cafes, pretty old houses and of course the harbour to enjoy.

We then followed the N8 from Sønderborg to Fjordvejen, right on the German border. It’s here the N8 connects to the Eurovelo 10, one of Europe’s most famous cycling routes. The scenery is beautiful, and you must try the famous hot dog at Annie’s Kiosk, which overlooks the Ox Islands. We then headed north to Aabenraa, a seaside market town with an impressive maritime history. You must stop by the historic street called ‘Slotsgaden’, which connects the small castle to the town centre, and take some time to wander the white sand beach.

Not to be missed: cycling across the beautiful and historic Gejlå Bridge on route to Haderslev.

Our final stop in Southern Jutland is Haderslev Dam, where the reservoir has a whole community of wildlife and entertainment built around it. We took the silent electric Dam Boat around the lake with our bikes onboard. It’s a hop on hop off service and the perfect way to see the largest lake in Southern Jutland. There’s a remarkable amount of bird and plant life here, and many activities for all ages. I recommend a few days to explore Haderslev Dam if you can. We jumped off the boat at Danhostel and cycled through the beautiful deer park.

Hotel & Restaurant: The Benniksgaard Hotel is perfectly located for your arrival into South Jutland, and has a fantastic restaurant on site, as well as a beautiful golf course. For a great meal after seeing Aabernraa lookout for Restaurant Knapp which has a fresh gourmet menu.

 

Little Belt

Still heading north on the N8 towards the west of Fyn we came to Little Belt, an area with a fantastic mix of history, culture and nature. Our first stop was the town of Kolding, an area with something for everyone. From forests, beaches, river valleys and historical gems such the majestic Koldinghus Castle. This impressive castle was destroyed by a fire in 1808, but has now been restored to its former glory, and for me was one of the most impressive castles we saw on the Baltic Sea Route.

Our next stop in Little Belt were the Fredericia Ramparts, one of the oldest and best-preserved ramparts in Northern Europe. They were built to strengthen Denmark’s defences at a time of war, and it is one of the only towns in Denmark to be built from scratch with no prior inhabitants. The ramparts are now a peaceful walking and biking spot, with plenty of nature to be seen in the surrounding area.

Our final stop in Little Belt is Middlefart and the Little Belt Bridge, where we walked along the top of it! This popular attraction takes you 60 metres above the water below, and you walk (safely) along the bridge with fabulous views of the area. The highlight was seeing wild porpoises (small whales) in the sea below, there are said to be around 3,000 of them here, so you’re extremely likely to see them. Little Belt itself also plays host to the largest nature park in Denmark, and the bridge walking is right next door to a beautiful deer park, which I highly recommend you check out before you head to Fyn.

Hotel & Restaurant: Koldinghus castle itself has a fabulous restaurant which I highly recommend, it includes a traditional Danish fish buffet. We slept at Hotel Sixtus which has lovely sea views, and it’s conveniently located near Middlefart and Fredericia. Close to Hotel Sixtus is an all you can eat combo of Italian, American and Asian cuisine, called KiTZCHEN.

 

Fyn

The Little Belt bridge connects South Jutland to Fyn, our next destination on the Baltic Sea Route. Fyn and its Archipelago is known locally as ‘Bike Island’ due to it’s 1,200km of signposted cycle routes.

We explored several lovely coastal towns and our first stop was Svendborg. This picturesque town has a gorgeous harbour and a relaxed town centre to enjoy. We then headed to Valdemars Castle, which is more like what we would call a huge Manor House. The castle is set in stunning surroundings on the bay on the island of Tåsinge. There are fantastic views from Valdemars Castle, and the rest of Tåsinge has small and charming villages to pass through.

We followed the N8 north along the East Coast of Fyn to the next coastal town; Lundeborg. It’s cute little harbour town and small fishing hamlet with a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy. There are several restaurants and cafés, a museum, a local crafts shop and Broholm Castle to discover.

Want to see more of Fyn? Check out our other article Cycling in Denmark, where we explore the culinary routes of Fyn.

Our final stop was Nyborg, situated right next to the Great Belt Bridge. The Great Belt Bridge connects Fyn to Zealand and is Europe’s longest bridge. Nyborg also has a well-known fortress, a fantastic whisky and rum distillery and some amazing culinary treats.

Hotel & Restaurant: We stayed at Hotel Christiansminde, very close to the centre of Svendborg. It has panoramic views and a brilliant Nordic menu at the restaurant. However one of the best meals we had in Fyn was at Skerning Kro, conveniently placed on the N8 between Svendborg and Faaborg. Finally the Nyborg Distillery not only has whisky and rum to try, but a mouth-watering menu.

 

West Zealand

Our final district on the Baltic Sea Route is West Zealand. If you follow the N8 you will see it connects to our starting point, South Zealand and Møn. West Zealand has a mix of unique nature, beaches and of course stunning views of the architectural beauty of the Great Belt Bridge. The first place we stopped was Halsskov Reef where you can touch the belly of the bridge (if you so desire!). Whether you’re interested in that or not the small beach here offers fantastic views of the bridge and is well worth the visit.

There are many cosy small towns and heritage sites in West Zealand, and our first stop was the seaside borough of Skælskør. It has a small harbour and it is just over one hour’s drive from Copenhagen, making it popular for commuters to the city. It’s a village that always seems to have something happening due to its strong community and volunteers. We visited an arts and crafts centre where internationally recognised artists were plying their trade. Finally, close by to Skælskør there’s a variety of beaches and piers that people enjoy all year round, such as Kobæk Beach.

Next up in West Zealand was the island of Agersø which is a small detour from the Baltic Sea Route. We took the 15-minute ferry ride across, and you can either stay the night or just spend a few hours exploring this idyllic island. Make sure to see the windmill and enjoy fish and chips by the harbour. Our final stops on West Zealand were Holsteinborg Manor, where we took a break to walk the gardens, and Bisserups Marina.

Hotel & Restaurant: In Skælskør I strongly recommend you head to Restaurant Solsikken (Sunflower Restaurant), for the freshest fish and the best views across the harbour. In Agersø we stayed at Agersø Inn and ate fresh fish and chips at the harbour as the onsite restaurant was closed.

 

Cycling in West Zealand completes the final part of the figure of 8 that is the N8 Baltic Sea Route, and what an amazing journey it is.

If you want to experience some of the real Denmark, enjoy the nature, soak up the atmosphere at cute seaside towns, and absorb the fascinating history then this is the way it must be done.

It’s a real cyclists paradise, and many European countries could learn a lot from how accessible the country is by bike (especially the UK). I found travelling in this way remarkably stress-free, we enjoyed it at our own pace and it gave us a chance to get a feel for each of the areas we visited, what makes them unique, and what makes them, well, so Danish.

 

There are more awesome regions to explore by bicycle in Denmark and we’ve done just that. Check out our other video and articel: Top and Unique Regions for an Active Biking Holiday in Denmark

 

Travel tip shared by Scott for Travel Dudes.

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55° 15′ 1.188″ N, 11° 19′ 52.1472″ E

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How to Pack Without Stress For Business Travel


In the United States, more than 1.7 billion business trips are made per year.

If travel is a part of the way you conduct your business or career, you are definitely not alone, and it can be an exciting way to build a portfolio of personal and professional life experience.

Traveling for business can be exhausting, however, and it is never easy to get from point A to point B, even for a seasoned traveler.  What you pack for your business trip and what you wear while you are in transit has a big impact on your comfort, and even logistics such as the ability to move quickly through airport security check points, as well as customs for international travel.

 

Packing Light for Your Flight

Seasoned business travelers will tell you that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to pack too much.  The fear is understandable; who wants to be at a hotel and find that you don’t have enough clothing options to last for the duration of your trip?   The fear is real.  Have you ever seen a businessman try to find a Target store at midnight after forgetting a shirt or tie?  It is not pretty, but then again it is also not unheard of and not the end of the world if it happens.

Address your phobia about under packing head on.  Almost every hotel offers a dry cleaning or laundry service.  Yes, it’s not competitively priced but in the worst case scenario if you have forgotten to pack some key pieces, you can send your garments out for cleaning and then mix and match creatively.

An important packing tip for business professionals is to utilize your carry-on luggage for emergency needs.  While losing luggage at an airport is rare, it does happen and sometimes to people who have a large presentation or meeting the next morning.

Consider your carry-on bag to be an essential wardrobe back up.  Pack your sundries (remember to check larger fluid containers or they will be confiscated by airport security) and include two sets of clothing (pants, shirt, socks and tie) as well as one sports coat or suit jacket (which can be hung in the airplane closet if you ask the attendant nicely).  No matter what happens to your luggage, you will have a change of clothes ready to go (and time the next day to purchase more if you need to).

Remember that important electronics like cell phones, laptops, and tablet devices should always travel with you if they are needed for business use the next day.  Protect your devices from damage and your confidential business information from loss by keeping them close at hand while you travel.

 

What Not to Wear In Transit

Everyone wants to look good and be comfortable when they travel for business, but have you ever been on a business flight and watched someone who is too casually dressed run into other business people they know? It is awkward and while no one would directly accuse someone else of being dressed inappropriately, choosing casual or worn clothing is not going to create the right professional impression of you or the organization you work for.

No one is saying that you have to travel with a black, lined and double breasted suit and tie when you travel.  The term ‘business casual’ was invented as a guideline for what is normal, neat and business appropriate wear that includes khaki pants and dress shirts, with oxford shoes or penny loafer styled shoes.

Avoid wearing jeans in most cases, unless they are indigo or darker dress jeans which look more formal than casual or worn denim.  Running shoes look odd with business casual, but can be worn inside airports for comfort and practical reasons; remember to pack a pair of business casual shoes in your carry-on bag for a quick change.

Formal suit jackets are both uncomfortable and likely to be creased during air travel.  Check your suit jackets in a garment bag and opt instead for a quality sports jacket that is coordinated with your business casual attire.  A sport jacket is also a good back up for inclement weather like rain or snow.

 

Travel Friendly Fabrics

When expanding or establishing your wardrobe, consider that there are a number of affordable online retailers that specialize in bespoke mens suits.  Online retailers in men’s apparel have multiplied, providing convenience and increased selection of styles.

The type of fabric you choose for your business suits and business casual attire should consider your frequent flyer needs.  Fabrics like linen breathe very well, and are popular for business casual dress, but they are notorious for creasing and wrinkling during travel and wear.

When selecting your garments for business travel, stick instead to quality fabrics like 100% cotton, or polyester and wool blends, which provide flexibility of movement but resist wrinkling or creasing.  You’ll spend less time ironing or less money paying for pressing of your garments at the hotel, if you choose travel friendly fabrics.

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Exploring Around the Kanagawa Prefecture: Yokohama, Hakone and Kamakura

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Kanagawa is a coastal prefecture in Japan, located within a short distance of Tokyo. The capital of the prefecture is Yokohama. 

Kanagawa Prefecture is also home to Kamakura and Hakone, two other highly popular day trip destinations that you can easily reach from Tokyo.

Kanagawa has a lot to offer for visitors to the region, such as rich cultural heritage, tasty cuisine and entertaining nightlife. It’s worth spending some time here and exploring this unique area of Japan. 

Within this helpful travel guide I will unearth the hidden gems that are worth discovering around the Kanagawa Prefecture.

 

Here are the Hidden Gems of the Kanagawa Prefecture

Yokohama, the Capital of Kanagawa

Start your journey to Kanagawa Prefecture by visiting the city of Yokohama

Yokohama is one of the largest cities in Japan. At the end of the Edo period in 1859, the city port opened to foreign trade, and Yokohama grew quickly from a small fishing community into one of Japan’s major port cities

Yokohama remains popular among expats and international communities as it is seen to be the first city in Japan that opened to the outside world. 

This is one of the reasons why international sports is popular in Yokohama, and you can find big stadiums with local teams, such as baseball, soccer and rugby there. 

Additionally, international cuisine and nightlife are popular in Yokohama, making this an exciting city to visit on a trip to Japan. 

 

Getting to Yokohama

The quickest way to Yokohama is by the Tokaido Shinkansen, a high-speed rail line which stops at Shin-Yokohama Station. 

The rail line connects the city of Yokohama to many major cities around Japan, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya and Osaka. Journey time from Tokyo to Shin-Yokohama Station is around 18 minutes. 

Another alternative is Yokohama Station which is the most popular and affordable option for reaching Yokohama from Tokyo with a journey time of around 45 minutes. 

It’s a popular commuter route and over two million passengers take this journey daily so bear in mind the busy commuter times as it can get crowded.

If you fly into Tokyo Haneda International Airport, you can easily take the Keikyu Line to Yokohama Station, and the journey time is around 23 minutes. 

Whilst in Yokohama, it’s easy and affordable to get around using the public metro service called the Yokohama Municipal Subway. Both the Minatomirai Line and Kanazawa Seaside Line will help you to access many of the main sites, areas and attractions in the city.

As you can see from the suggestions above, Yokohama is easily accessible from Tokyo by using a number of different options, so you have no excuse not to visit. 

 

Accommodation: Y’s Cabin hotel – Kannai, Yokohama

If you’re looking for something different and a unique Japanese place to stay in Yokohama, why not try a capsule hotel?

Y’s Cabin hotel can be found in the Kannai district of Yokohama, and it makes a great base location for your visit to Kanagawa Prefecture with easy access to public transport. 

In the late 1970s, capsule hotels became popular options for Japanese salarymen who happened to miss trains home or were away on business looking for affordable sleeping arrangements. In recent years, capsule hotels have also become popular amongst international travellers looking for affordable budget options. 

Capsule hotels work in a similar way to hostels where you share a large common room space (male and female sleeping areas and bathroom sections are separated), and each guest is assigned a personal private space called a pod. Within each pod you will find your bed, sheets, PJ’s, towel, locker storage, TV and privacy shade – everything you would need to make your stay comfortable. It’s your own private pod that you have to yourself to get a good night’s sleep. 

I would class Y’s Cabin hotel as a more upscale luxury version of the capsule hotel concept as the cabin space is modern and clean and makes for a wonderful first capsule hotel experience. 

You also have access to private hot bath called onsen where you can relax after a long day of traveling around Kanagawa Prefecture. 

If it’s your first stay at a capsule hotel, be sure to observe the rules and customs and follow the instructions given to you by the staff members at check in. Enjoy your stay in this unique Japanese environment. 

 

Rugby World Cup 2019 in Yokohama, Japan

Japan will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and Yokohama will be a host city for some of the biggest games of the tournament. The games will be held at the International Stadium, Yokohama.

– New Zealand vs South Africa – 21/09/2019 @ 18:45

– Ireland vs Scotland – 22/09/2019 @ 16:45

– England vs France – 12/10/2019 @ 17:15

– Japan vs Scotland – 13/10/2019 @ 19:45

 

Additionally, there will be Quarter Final and Semi Final games held in Yokohama. Yokohama is known for being a popular city for hosting sports events so be sure to stick around in the city after the game and enjoy the atmosphere of the fan zone area. 

 

The Cupnoodles Museum, Yokohama

Yes, you read the title correctly. You can visit a museum in Yokohama to learn about the history of the popular Japanese snack, the cup noodles

Momofuku Ando is the creator and founder of the instant ramen noodles and cup noodles. At the museum you can learn about his creative process that started in his work shed and lead to these great food inventions. The first instant ramen noodles (chicken flavour) were sold in 1958, and the convenient snack grew in popularity in both Japan and around the world ever since.

After a trip to California, Momofuku Ando decided to create instant ramen noodles served in a cup to make the snack easier to consume and attract an international audience. Launched in 1971, the cup noodles were a big success, and the instant ramen cup noodles concept has been popular ever since. 

The fun doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve learned about the history of the cup noodles, you can make your very own cup noodles to take home with you. Be sure to visit My Cupnoodles Factory and create cup noodles from scratch. You can choose your own ingredients and packaging design. It’s a super fun experience for ramen noodle fans of all ages! 

Momofuku Ando travelled the world to find new flavours and concepts for his instant ramen noodles. Be sure to visit the Noodles Bazaar to follow his ramen journey. The menu features eight varieties of noodles that he encountered during his travels in search of the origins of noodles. 

Enjoy the noodle culture from every corner of the world in an ambient night market setting. From Italian pasta to Malaysian Laksa you can sample all the different flavours and noodle tastes from around the world. 

For those brave enough, you can even try curry or miso flavoured cup noodle ice cream. It’s an acquired taste but worth trying for the unique flavours. 

 

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

Don’t end your Yokohama ramen adventure yet but head on over to Shin-Yokohama to visit the Ramen Museum. If you happen to be a fan of the ramen noodles, this place will blow your mind.  

The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is best described as a food court themed around Tokyo, Japan in the 1950s when the ramen dish was first created. The entrance of the food court will walk you through a train station to give you the impression that you have gone back in time. 

Walk around the area and enjoy the displays which give you a nostalgic feeling. It’s well designed and put together, and they even have street performers and police officers from the era walking around. You will find a selection of around 12 vendors selling a wide variety of ramen noodles. Each shop represents a ramen shop front. This means, you can try all the different ramen flavours from across Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu in one location, such as Fukuchan, Ide Shoten, Shinasobaya, Keyaki, Ryushanhai and Hachiya ramen.

Simply grab a map, select the ramen you wish to try and then purchase a ticket from the vending machine outside the shop. For those wanting to try all the different ramen bowls during one visit – you can! Each location has a small sample ramen bowl for you to enjoy the local flavours as you can. A word of advice before visiting: make sure that you arrive at the Ramen Museum with an empty stomach as you will be tempted to try multiple bowls of ramen during your visit. Enjoy! 

 

Enjoy Nightlife in the Noge district

If you’re looking for a good time and fancy some nightlife, look no further than the Noge district in Yokohama. I would recommend some spots for you to visit but I personally think it’s best to arrive in the Noge district and simply get lost and let the night take over and guide your plans

First off, arrive at Yokocho street which is located along the Ookawagawa River. This street is especially popular for its old-fashioned Japanese atmosphere. Here you will find a large selection of bars lined up against each other in old wooden buildings that bend around the river. Each bar has a cosy space and can only fit around eight people at a time including the bar staff. The bars serve a selection of beer, drinks, cocktails or Izakaya snacks for customers to enjoy. 

It’s a fun experience with a small group of friends and you never know where you might end up so choose wisely and have a wonderful evening. What I loved about the Noge district the most was how the bars were different from each other and each location had a local and welcoming atmosphere. It’s fun to hop around visiting multiple locations in one night to get the feel of the place. 

I also had a great experience asking the bar staff for recommendations for a place to visit and often the owner would walk us personally to the recommended spot. You get a real sense of community and fun with the locals in the Noge district. 

 

Explore China Town

When visiting Japan, it must feel rather odd to seek out Chinese culture, but the China Town area of Yokohama is the biggest in the country and a vibrant part of the city to explore. With its bright lights, colourful decorations and tasty dishes, it’s worth spending some time here exploring the back streets for a bite to eat. 

Keep a good look out for a long line and this should lead you to a wide selection of tasty steamed buns called Manju that are worth trying. 

 

Take a Walk Along the Harbour Front

Start your walk by visiting Yamashita Park, which is closely located to China town. Here you will find a stretch of park land located close to the water. This space is frequently used by the locals to relax and exercise – it is a popular running route. Along this path, you can get a great skyline view of the city. In this area you can also find Osanbashi Pier, Hikawa Maru ship and Yokohama Marine Tower which offers a nice viewing platform.

 

Enjoy a Peaceful Journey Around Hakone

Hakone is located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park just west of Yokohama and Tokyo. Here you will find Lake Ashi, the Owakudani geothermal valley with hot springs as well as the Hakone shrine

The mountainous town is best known for its endless amount of nature. The trees offer a beautiful autumn time foliage and stunning views of the vast lake. On a clear day you can even see the striking Mount Fuji in the background. 

In Hakone you can find hot spring resorts (onsen) created from the sulphur springs of the Owakudani valley. Another stunning place to check out is the Hakone Shrine, a Shinto shrine with a red “torii” gate overlooking Lake Ashi. The shrine can also be enjoyed from the boat cruise at a distance. 

 

Purchase a Hakone Free Pass – Hakone Transport Pass

For those visiting Hakone, be sure to check out the Hakone Free Pass which is a great way for travelers on a budget to explore the region. The Hakone Free Pass is valid for 2 days and you can purchase the pass at Odawara railway station. You can reach the station from Yokohama or Tokyo. 

The Hakone Free Pass gives you unlimited transportation on the Hakone Tozan railway, Hakone Tozan buses, the Hakone Tozan cable car, Hakone ropeway, Hakone Sightseeing Cruise, Odakyu Hakone Expressway buses and Numazu Tozan Tokai buses. The pass pretty much covers your whole journey around Hakone and will take you to all the top attractions making navigation nice and easy. 

Be sure to pick up a map with the timetables and work out your best route – you can travel around in a loop formation trying all the transportation options with the pass. My recommendation is to arrive early at Odawara railway station to collect your pass and take the Hakone Tozan railway to access the Hakone ropeway. The ropeway then brings you to a Sightseeing Cruise and onwards to Odawara by bus creating a nice loop route that covers all the main sights. 

As the Hakone Free Pass covers 2 days you can also stay overnight at one of the onsen resorts and enjoy the area longer – the option is yours. 

 

Hakone Tozan Railway

Being the only mountain railway in Japan, Hakone Tozan railway is a special experience for Japanese railway lovers and enthusiasts. The journey will take you from Hakone-Yumoto station (96 meters above sea level) to the final station, Gora (541 meters above sea level). The journey time to the top of the mountain is around 40 minutes. During the journey the trains will perform a track manoeuvre called a switchback. 

What is a switchback? Great question. I’ll do my best to explain this unique train ritual. A switchback allows other trains to pass by on a single track as they go up and down the mountain. 

This is done by the drivers reserving the train into a parking bay to allow other trains to pass and switch the direction of the trains. Each time this happens, the driver and conductor switch compartments, and this occurs several times throughout the journey. 

It’s rather interesting to watch the driver and conductor perform this unique routine that has been done this way for many years whilst enjoying the journey up to the mountain. It’s for sure a unique train journey to enjoy in Japan. 

 

Owakudani – Geothermal Valley

From Gora to Sounzan you can take a transporter up the hill to reach the cable car. From Sounzan to Owakudani you can take the Tozan cable car to reach this point. Once you’ve finally reached Owakudani, be sure to spend some time here as you can find a selection of viewing platforms and take a good look of the surrounding valley and the geothermal activity that is taking place in the area. 

You can clearly see all the steam created from the hot active lava of the volcano. This is why one of the most popular attractions in the area is a selection of naturally heated hot springs called onsen. 

Another popular attraction to enjoy here is the black egg called Kuro Tamago. The egg is cooked in a geothermal spring until the egg goes black. You can purchase the eggs in the visitor centre in a bag of five. Locals believe that if you eat a black egg, you can add seven years of longevity to your life. Don’t eat too many!

The Hakone ropeway offers stunning views over the valley and of the autumn foliage. The ropeway will take you from Owakudan to Togendai where you can access the cruise boats that will furthermore take you across Lake Ashi. 

 

Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

Before you get on the cruise boat, why not take a lunch break in the small town of Togendai? It’s located around the dock and looks over Lake Ashi. I would recommend enjoying a Japanese curry at the restaurant Ran located a short walk away from the dock. The best way to enjoy Lake Ashi is to enjoy a peaceful cruise across the waters. A selection of boats run this route which is included within the Hakone Free Pass. 

I’d recommend waiting for the iconic pirate ship if you can so you can feel like a captain of the sea throughout your voyage. This also happens to be the best viewpoint to see Mount Fuji, so fingers crossed for you that you end up with a clear day and can enjoy a good sighting.

 

Hakone Shrine and the Floating Gate

Hakone Shrine is a Shinto shrine nestled peacefully in the woods on top of a hill

The steps start from Lake Ashi and lead up the hill to the Hakone Shrine. At the foot of the steps you will also find a picturesque floating gate which looks over the lake and makes for a perfect Instagram spot. 

A word of warning if you wish to take a photo of the floating gate: you won’t be alone as many photographers line up to capture the moment. You might have to wait for your turn for some time. During our visit in the autumn 2018, Hakone Shrine was under construction but still open for visitors. The renovation should be completed in 2019. 

Hakone Shrine is a peaceful place to walk around for a while so do spend some time here exploring the grounds. You can also purchase a fortune telling slip at the entrance and see if it brings you good fortune.  

The Hakone Sightseeing Cruise stops close by to the shrine and you can stop off in a small town called MotoHakone-Ko for a relaxing coffee break at popular spots, such as Bakery and Table where you can look over Lake Ashi. 

You can also get the bus from MotoHakone-Ko back to the train station Yumoto. From there you can take a train back to Odawara and then onwards to Yokohama/Tokyo, which will complete your loop around Hakone. 

Hope you have fun exploring Hakone. 

 

Spend Some Time Exploring Kamakura

Kamakura is a Japanese seaside city in Kanagawa Prefecture just south of Tokyo and Yokohama. In medieval times, Kamakura was an important political capital of Japan, which is one of the main reasons you will find many historical and important landmarks here, such as Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines. Today, the city is a popular resort town. Sometimes called the Kyoto of Eastern Japan, Kamakura offers numerous temples, shrines and other historical monuments to visit.

Taiizan Kotokuin Shojosenji is a Buddhist temple that is known for its giant Great Buddha, a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which is one of the most famous iconic landmarks in Japan.

At Sagami Bay you will find the popular visitor spot, Yuigahama Beach which is a great for surfing and catching the waves or just relaxing on the beach. In addition, Kamakura’s sandy beaches attract large crowds during the summer months.

Here is what else you can find in Kamakura city. 

 

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is Kamakura’s most important shrine. It was founded in 1063 and enlarged and moved to its current site in 1180. The shrine is dedicated to Hachiman, the patron god of the samurai.

During the New Year holidays, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is visited by over two million visitors. It is one of the country’s most popular shrines for hatsumode (the year’s first visit to a shrine).The shrine is located along a wide stretch that starts from the water front and leads you through the city passing many bridges and gateways. Finally, you will reach a flight of steps that take you to the top of the main hall that overlooks Kamakura from above. A great way to walk around and explore the city. 

The hall also includes a museum which displays a selection of masks, swords, ancient documents and other treasures. Be sure to check out the large and impressive display of donated sake barrels that can be found on display next to the steps. During my visit I was lucky enough to witness a wedding ceremony taking place at the shrine. It’s a popular attraction in the city to explore for sure. 

 

Houkokuji – Bamboo Forest and Tea Ceremony

For a less crowded bamboo forest than the one in Kyoto, be sure to visit the more relaxing Houkokuji bamboo forest in Kamakura

Often referred to by visitors as the bamboo temple, this location can at first be hard to find as it’s nestled within a residential area off the beaten path. However, you will be beating the crowds that can often found at other bamboo forests. 

Walk around and enjoy the ambiance and relaxing atmosphere of the bamboo forest. Be sure to take a seat and take in your surroundings at the tea house and enjoy a casual tea ceremony. The tea is bitter but tasty with home-made sweet treats. 

Sit back, relax and take it all in. Perfect spot for those wanting some inner peace.

 

Cooking Knives at Sword Masamune

You will find a lot of historical heritage in the city of Kamakura but for a unique experience be sure to visit the cooking knives shop called Masamune Sword and Blade Workshop

In ancient times this shop used to make swords for the samurai, and the skill of sword making has been passed on through the family. 

The current owner is an 8th generation swordsmith but as the samurai are no longer around today, the swordsmith skill has moved on to making everyday kitchen knives. 

Be sure to visit the shop, meet the owner, and check out this unique workshop and swords on display. Why not take a part of Japanese skill home with you and purchase an authentic Japanese kitchen knife? From fish knives to vegetable knives, they have a large selection to choose from.

These knives are top quality and extremely sharp, just like the samurai swords. Perfect way to remember your time in Kamakura, Japan. 

 

Okonomiyaki Kamakura Tsukui for Lunch

Making Okonomiyaki is a fun cooking experience with a group of friends when traveling around Japan. Made popular in Osaka, you can still find this food being prepared in other parts of Japan like in Kamakura at a restaurant called Okonomiyaki Kamakura Tsukui

The idea is to mix eggs with vegetables, such as bean sprouts, and a seafood, such as squid and shrimps. 

Then you cook the mixture in front of you on a hot plate grill until the food turns crispy golden brown. Once cooked, you can add fish flakes and sauce in the mix for additional flavour. 

This is an interactive Japanese cooking experience which is fun to try with friends. Most importantly, the food is extremely delicious, something you must try on a trip to Japan. 

 

Kamakura Shopping Along Komachi-dori Street

Before you leave Kamakura, be sure to make the most out of all the exciting shopping that can be found along Komachi-dori Street. 

Starting from Kamakura JR station you will find the entrance marked by a red torii gate. Along this popular street you can find a large selection of boutique fashion outlets, Japanese souvenir gift shops and countless cafes, restaurants and bakeries to choose from.

Komachi-dori Street is also a good spot to find Kimono rental shops. Walking around in this traditional piece of clothing can be a fun way to explore ancient Kamakura.

Thank you for reading about Kanagawa Prefecture.

I hope you’ve found this in-depth travel guide about Kanagawa Prefecture useful and full of information for your next visit to the region. 

Have fun exploring the areas of Yokohama, Hakone and Kamakura on your next trip to Japan.

 

Travel tip shared by Dave for Travel Dudes.

Location: 
35° 26′ 27.7944″ N, 139° 40′ 2.1972″ E

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The Ultimate Road Trip Guide to Exploring the Kyushu Island, Japan

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Road Trip

Kyushu Island is a unique part of Japan that is often overlooked by visitors.

It’s far away from the busy hotspots of Tokyo and Kyoto. 

What if I tell you that Kyushu Island is only a short domestic flight away and it’s easy to reach and explore? 

Kyushu is a paradise for nature lovers with its stunning countryside and unique landscape with trees, mountains and active volcanoes. The island offers a more relaxed experience of Japan, giving you a break from the hustle and bustle of the most popular cities in the country. 

What I most like about Kyushu Island is how easy and accessible the island is to visitors, and it’s the perfect location to enjoy a road trip in Japan. 

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your driving licence, grab a rental car and explore the major sights around Kyushu Island.

I’ve put together a fun itinerary for exploring Kyushu that can be done over the course of one week.

From the onsens of Oita to the stunning rolling countryside of Yufuin and from the volcanoes of Aso to the castles of Kumamoto to the exciting nightlife of Fukuoka, Kyushu has it all. 

 

Here is My Ultimate Guide to Exploring Kyushu, Japan:

Transportation Options: Flying to Kyushu from Tokyo 

Flying to Kyushu Island from Tokyo Haneda International Airport couldn’t be easier. Once you’ve arrived at the international terminal you can transfer to the domestic terminal. 

There are many domestic flights going to Kyushu. With Japan Airlines or ANA (All Nippon Airways) you can fly to Oita, Kumamoto or Fukuoka which has the biggest and most popular airport of the three. 

Tokyo Narita Airport also has some options for flying to Kyushu, such as with Jetstar to Fukuoka. 

You can also take the Shinkansen highspeed train to Kyushu Island. Depending on where you are in Japan, you can take the train from Tokyo or from Shin-Osaka station to Hakata (Fukuoka) station by using the JR Tōkaidō Shinkansen or Sanyō Shinkansen lines. 

The train can be a more expensive option for travelers compared to flying. Journey time from Tokyo to Hakata by train is around five hours. 

Another alternative travel route to reach Kyushu Island is to take the ferry boat from Busan, South Korea to Fukuoka, Japan. 

 

How to Rent a Car in Kyushu, Japan

It’s rather easy to rent a car on the island of Kyushu, Japan. Be sure to register for an international driving licence in your home country well in advance before arriving in Japan. 

I arrived at Oita Airport and used Toyota Rent a Car company which offered a pickup service from the airport. After exploring Kyushu, I could drop the rental car off in Fukuoka at the end of the trip. 

One tip would be to request an English navigation system in your rental car as they have both Japanese and English ones available.

Driving in Japan is rather simple and straightforward. Just keep an eye on the local speed limit. It’s also advised to keep some small change at hand for parking and tolls as normally the machines only take cash. 

 

Recommended Road Trip Route Around Kyushu Island

To complete my recommended road trip route, you will need a week’s duration to visit all the destinations listed in this guide. 

If you wish, you could break up sections to complete over a long weekend or take longer and spend more time in each destination and extend the trip further than a week. The option is purely based on how you prefer to travel. 

I’ve recommended flying into Oita airport to pick up your car rental and then end the trip in Fukuoka. If you want to switch the route around you could start by flying into Fukuoka and ending up in Oita. 

Another option is to start in Fukuoka and then loop around from Oita and head back to Fukuoka (journey time 2 hours). Toyota Rent a Car has pick up and drop off points at both locations. 

All route options are flexible, and it would depend on how you reach Kyushu Island so feel free to adapt and change my recommendations to fit your travel plans best. 

 

Global 3G/4G data and Wi-Fi in Kyushu, Japan

All around the Kyushu Island I found the 4G signal reliable and well connected. I’d recommend getting some data whilst exploring Japan so you can stay connected.

Google translate can come in handy to help with conversations, and Google maps can help with directions if the navigation system becomes confusing. It’s also helpful to contact local guest houses in case you encounter a delay on route. 

I would recommend getting a Skyroam device to take with you on your trip as it offers good daily rates for multiple devices so you can stay connected whilst in Japan. 

 

Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Across the Island of Kyushu

In 2019 Japan will be a host country to the Rugby World Cup, and many of the games will be held at stadiums across the Kyushu island making this a wonderful excuse to go on a road trip. 

Games will be held in Oita at the Oita Stadium, in Fukuoka at the Fukuoka Hakatamori Stadium and in Kumamoto at the Kumamoto Stadium.

 

The games will be as follows:

– Oita – Oita stadium:

New Zealand vs Canada – 02/10/19 @ 19:15

Australia vs Uruguay – 05/10/19 @ 14:15

Wales vs Fiji – Wales vs Fiji – 09/10/19 @ 18:45

Two of the Quarter-Final games will also be held in Oita.

 

– Fukuoka – Fukuoka Hakatamori Stadium:

Italy vs Canada – 26/09/19 @ 16:45

France vs USA – 02/10/19 @ 16:45

Ireland vs Samoa – 12/10/19 @ 19:45

 

– Kumamoto – Kumamoto Stadium:

France vs Tonga – 06/10/19 @ 16:45

Wales vs Uruguay – 13/10/19 @ 17:15

 

Fukuoka, Oita and Kumamoto city will be putting together a whole host of activities for traveling fans such as transportation to the stadiums and fan zone areas to cheer on your team. 

 

Matsuri in Kyushu

To mark the celebration of the Rugby World Cup 2019 and to promote the unique and diverse culture that can be found around the Kyushu Island, a special event called Matsuri in Kyushu will be held for international visitors.

Matsuri in Kyushu, which in Japanese translates into Kyushu festival will be held between the 28-29th of September in Kumamoto city centre. It is close to the Rugby World Cup fan zone area so everyone can take part in the fun activities that will be on display over the course of the two-day event. 

Prefectures participating in the event will be from around Kyushu. Yamaguchi, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa will all come together to showcase their local culture to the international visitors. It will for sure be an entertaining event jam packed with loads of traditional Japanese activities to take part in. 

 

Practical Guides and Rules to Understanding Onsen Culture:

Bathing in an onsen is a popular and relaxing pastime in Japan. It is most popular in Oita, the home of onsen with geothermal activity from the volcanoes heating up the hot springs. You will find many naturally heated onsens in the area, and, in fact, Oita is the onsen capital of not only Kyushu but the whole of Japan with thousands of hot springs to choose from. 

So, bring your onsen towel with you as you will have many opportunities to enjoy a relaxing onsen around Kyushu. 

What I wanted to do here is offer some words of advice to international visitors and first-time users of onsen as there are a few points you should bear in mind before you get started. 

– Take a shower before entering the onsen to ensure you’re completely clean. 

– You must be naked in the onsen as clothes are considered dirty. 

– Public onsens are normally split into male and female sections. If you wish to share an onsen, you can book a private one at selected guest houses. 

– No tattoos are allowed in onsen. If you have tattoos, you can look for tattoo friendly onsen. Tourism Oita have created a map to show the locations. 

– Your towel must never touch the onsen water. You can place your small onsen towel on your head whilst enjoying the onsen. 

–  Don’t dunk your head under the onsen water.

– Avoid water splashing in the onsen area. 

– Dry yourself before entering the changing rooms. 

– Remember to sit back, relax and enjoy your onsen experience in Kyushu. 

You will soon learn that Japan is a culture built on respect, and rules are normally put into place to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. Now you know the basic rules to enjoying an onsen experience and you should be all set. 

 

The Prefecture of Oita

Within Oita Prefecture, you will find popular locations such as Oita City, Yufuin and Beppu to explore which offer plenty of onsen options to choose from as well as beautiful countryside, nature and fun city life. 

 

Oita 

First, we will visit the city of Oita which is worth staying over for the night. 

 

Tenku Open-air City Spa & JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Oita

When you arrive in Oita city, why not relax and enjoy your first onsen? Be sure to check into the JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Oita which is easily found next to Oita railway station. 

Once checked in, you can enjoy the best city view of Oita city from the relaxing Tenku Open-air City Spa which is located in the roof of the hotel. Perfect for relaxing either at sunset when the city lights start to turn on or first thing in the morning as you watch the sun rise over the city. It’s truly the best and most relaxing spot in Oita city. 

This natural carbonated hot spring features baths with panoramic views of the city, plus saunas.

 

Bar Hopping and Local Foods Around Oita 

The best nightlife and places to eat around Oita City can be found north of the train station. Here you can find a wide selection of bars serving izakaya style BBQ snacks or a whole host of local dishes. 

The area was made popular by salarymen enjoying a tasty bowl or two before grabbing the last train home. 

Local dishes that are a must try include Bugo beef, Seki mackerel and chicken tempura. You can wash down these tasty dishes with a glass of Shochu which is produced in Kyushu. Enjoy the nightlife by sampling a taste of local dishes on your visit around Oita city. 

 

Beppu

Oita as a prefecture has the most onsens and the largest output of hot spring water in Japan. One good example of this can be found in the city of Beppu. Driving from Oita city to Beppu is relatively easy to do as it’s around a 25-minute drive.

 

Enjoy a Relaxing Foot Spa

If you would like to rest your feet, Beppu has a large selection of free self-service public foot spas that can be found scattered around the city. Don’t forget to pack your own towel to dry your feet when you’re done. I would recommend the Beppu Kaihin Sunaba Onsen which looks out to a stunning sea view. 

Close to this location you can also find a sand onsen on the beach. It works by being buried under sand which is heated by rising steam. This is a very unique form of onsen that can be found in Beppu and around Kyushu. 

 

Jigoku Hells Visitor Onsen

Beppu is also home to visitor onsens called Jigoku which translates to English as “hells”. These hells are meant for viewing only. You can find seven of them located around the city of Beppu. 

You can purchase a Beppu Jigoku ticket at any of the entrances that will give you access to all seven of the hells. Parking is also available for free at the locations. 

Because of fumarolic gas of around 100 degrees, these hells are not open for bathing and only for visitors to view from a distance. Five of the hells are located in the Kannawa district and two in the more remote Shibaseki district.

Umi Jigoku is the most popular of the hells and one of the most beautiful as well. Here you can see the large hot spring and the vast steam that rises from the pond. 

Worth trying on your visit to the Jigoku is the hot spring steamed pudding which is served at a number of the cafes at the hells. 

At Chinoike Jigoku location, the pond water is a red blood colour. It is one of the most photogenic locations of the seven. Worth visiting and stopping off for sure. 

 

Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Center

Feeling hungry? Why not go to an onsen restaurant! At Jigokumushi Kobo Steam Cooking Center you can purchase a selection of ingredients, such as fresh vegetables, dumplings, eggs, meat cuts or seafood to be steam cooked from the hot spring steam. 

You can rent a steam chamber to cook your meal in, and whilst you wait you can use the foot baths under the dining table to relax. A delicious, unique and fun dining and cooking experience to try in Beppu. 

 

Yufuin and Yufu mountains

Yufuin is famous for its stunning countryside and vista like scenery. A good idea is to park up your rental car at the Yufu train station and rent a bicycle for the day from bicycle shop ren-cha. Then you can go and explore Mount Yufu which includes a selection of wonderful foothills that offer a refreshing breath of fresh air and stunning views. A great way to spend the day. 

Close to the Yufu train station you can find the guest house Yufuin no Take which makes for a great place to park your car and rest your head for the night for a busy day ahead. You will want to wake up bright and early to make your way to Mount Aso.  

 

Mount Aso

Mount Aso is an active volcano and the mountain’s active volcanic peaks include Mount Nakadake, Komeduka, Kusasenri and Daikanbo crater. 

This area is a spectacular area of natural beauty and worth the stop along your road trip. The best and safest location to have a good look over the edge into the Nakadake crater is from the viewing area.

The toll road to the crater is also open if you wish to use your own car, and the crater is an easy one-minute walk away from the car park.

The popular ropeway that was used for visitors to get to the top of the crater remains out of service.

Before visiting Mount Aso, you should check for live updates on visiting the crater as the visitor situation can change daily due to weather conditions.

It’s important to note that if you have health issues such as asthma, it’s advised not to visit the crater area.

You can find a selection of light hiking paths that can take you to different viewing points of Mount Aso’s volcanic craters.

The hiking paths are normally less crowded and a great way to discover the landscape. You could find yourself having the whole place to yourself, and it almost feels like you’re on Mars whilst walking around the area. 

 

Stay at a Traditional Japanese Ryokan

Otohime no Sato is a traditional Japanese ryokan located within close driving distance from Mount Aso. 

If it’s your first visit to Japan, then staying one night at a traditional Japanese guest house called a ryokan is a must. 

Kyushu offers a wonderful selection of ryokans to choose from, particularly those with private access to relaxing onsens. 

The best ones that offer the most relaxing and peaceful atmosphere are located in the countryside amongst nature, and Kyushu has many of these types of ryokans to offer with an idyllic setting. 

Traditionally ryokans are passed through the guest house owners’ families, and many ryokans can date back through generations, some even back to the Edo time. 

Normally a night’s stay at a ryokan will come at an additional cost compared to standard hotel stays but the experience is well worth the value. 

Mostly for its unique Japanese cultural experience, a ryokan can be rather interesting to try for visitors as it’s so different to a normal night’s stay. So, why not try it on your visit to Japan at least once?

Your room will be a traditional Japanese room with tatami mat and thin paper walls and doors. It’s advised to take your shoes off before entering and to keep your luggage off the delicate tatami floor to avoid damage. 

Normally a guest will have a yukata robe, bed pyjamas, towels, bedding, sheets and pillows provided by the ryokan. These items might be stored away when you enter the room for the first time. This way you can use the room before bedtime when the beds are made up for use. 

Normally your stay will include a dining experience and breakfast service which is usually included in the price. 

The dining is a wonderful experience to enjoy traditional cuisine and dishes from the guest house area.

What is special about staying at the Otohime no Sato ryokan is the private onsens which you can rent out either in the evening or morning and you have one all to yourself to relax and enjoy. 

Be sure to book a ryokan for at least one night on your road trip around Kyushu. 

 

Kumamoto

Kumamoto is another popular city on the Japanese island of Kyushu in the south-west of Japan. There are many incredible attractions, sights to see and dishes to try for travelers who happen to be visiting the city of Kumamoto, the largest city in the Kumamoto Prefecture.

 

Hotel the Gate Kumamoto

For an affordable stay in Kumamoto, be sure to check out Hotel the Gate Kumamoto. This brand new modern, cosy and clean hotel is located close to JR Kumamoto station and offers you a comfortable stay. Here you can have a good night’s sleep in Kumamoto for a great price. 

 

Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle dates back to the 17th century and is considered one of the top three most important castles in all of Japan. The castle was greatly destroyed by the earthquake that hit most of the Kumamoto city in 2016. 

Work is underway to rebuild Kumamoto Castle back to its former glory, and it will take some time until the construction work is completed. Until then, many of the main areas are closed off from access but you can still walk around the outside fortress grounds of the castle. 

Kumamoto city is working on recovering and reopening the main Tenshu exterior by October 5th, 2019 for the rugby visitors.

 

For the Love of Kumamon

Created by the government of Kumamoto Prefecture, Kumamon is a mascot known in Japan as a your-charm. Kumamon is used to promote the island of Kyushu, and I’m sure you will spot the happy bear mascot all around the island of Kyushu whilst on your road trip. Be sure to keep a look out for him. 

You can even visit Kumamon’s official office in Kumamoto to say hello in person, and he also started a Youtube channel. 

Kumamon has grown in popularity over the years and has become a big success for the island’s promotion. Maybe you might want to buy some Kumamon gifts to remember your time in Kumamoto. 

 

Ajisen Ramen for Lunch

If you are looking for a lunch spot in Kumamoto, then you must try the popular ramen restaurant, Ajisen Ramen. The restaurant is famous for its heavy level of roasted garlic that takes over the thick broth. This food is sure to pack flavour, and you can get a good lunch set deal here for a reasonable price. 

Based on the Kurume ramen concept, the addition of the extra garlic chips and oil concept have earned many fans. Have a seat and enjoy a tasty bowl of Ajisen Ramen

 

Suizenji Garden

Suizenji Jojuen Park is a traditional Japanese garden that surrounds a natural pond. Here you can enjoy and admire the peaceful natural landscape that’s located in the city. For the best view of the garden and the pond, enjoy a tea ceremony at the tea house where you can relax and unwind with an incredible view. 

The garden is also home to a Suizenji temple which was built in 1632. The surrounding garden represents parts of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido, an ancient route that ran from Edo to Kyoto, and the hill is meant to represent a small-scale Mt. Fuji. 

 

Kamitori and Shimotori Shopping Arcade

When looking for nightlife in Kumamoto, be sure to visit the Kamitori and Shimotori shopping arcade area. It’s the place to be for evening dining and entertainment. With loads of options to choose from, these arcades are perfect for enjoying izakaya style dining and finding an excellent selection of craft beers. 

My recommendation is Neginozu for izakaya dining (chicken is a good option) and Voyager for a good selection of Japanese style craft beer. For those who are feeling more adventurous, you could also try a sushi train concept restaurant. It’s great fun, and the food is very delicious.

 

Fukuoka

Fukuoka is the capital and the largest city of Fukuoka Prefecture, located at the tip of the northern shore of the Kyushu Island. Fukuoka has been an important harbor city for many centuries. The city is best known for its ancient temples, great beaches, modern shopping and fun nightlife.

Fukuoka actually consists of two cities that were combined in 1889 when Hakata joined with Fukuoka to create a mega city. Hakata is still a popular district within Fukuoka. There’s a Shinkansen railway station there, and the district is also a popular spot for ramen lovers. 

 

Here is What You Can Do During Your Visit to Fukuoka.

Accommodation: Book and Bed Fukuoka

Book and Bed is the perfect stay for book lovers in the city centre of Fukuoka. Nestled between the book shelves you can discover hidden cabin beds where guests can stay for the night.  

When you’re not sleeping you can enjoy reading amongst the endless selection of books on display. 

It’s like a capsule hotel but with a unique and interesting twist. This is a fun and an alternative way to experience a one-night’s stay in Japan, and it’s also a perfect location to base yourself in Fukuoka. 

 

Yusentei Park

If you’re looking for tranquillity in Fukuoka and wish to escape the city for a moment, look no further than the Japanese garden of Yusentei Park

It is a peaceful place and a great example of a Japanese-style garden that surrounds a lake. Spend some time walking around here and check out the large selection of koi carp that occupy the lake as well as the superb greenery.  

Be sure to also visit the tea house that looks over the lake and enjoy a tea ceremony. 

 

Dazaifu Tenmangu

Dazaifu Tenmangu is a shrine dedicated to Sugawara Michizane who is known as the god of learning. The shrine grows in popularity around exam time when students flock to the location to pray for good results. 

As you walk up to the shrine you will notice a selection of brass ox statues which act as symbols of luck if you rub them. If it’s success in exams or academic achievement you seek, this is the shrine for you. 

The temple is located 250 meters away from Dazaifu train station. The street is lined with cosy traditional shops selling local products, such as hand-crafted chop sticks or the delicious bean paste cake called Umegae Mochi. Perfect spot for finding Japanese gifts to take back home with you. 

If you wish to jazz up your photos in Dazaifu, you can rent a kimono or yukata here for the evening as the cosy town offers a perfect back drop. 

Once you’ve passed the shops, you will find a torii gate that marks the entrance of the shrine. Leading up to the shrine, you will meet a series of two arched bridges and islands representing the past, present and future. They will then lead you to the walled courtyard of the shrine.

The area is also popular for being surrounded by over 6,000 plum trees which add a wonderful element of natural beauty to the surroundings

 

Ichiran Dazaifu Sando ramen noodle

Ichiran Dazaifu Sando is a popular ramen chain which was first established in Fukuoka, Kyushu. Their restaurants can be found all around Japan and the world. 

The Ichiran Dazaifu Sando location is popular amongst students because of its unique bowl shape which represents good luck and fortune for exams. That bowl is only available in the Fukuoka restaurant.

Ichiran Dazaifu Sando is unique compared to other ramen restaurants for its individual dining booths which allow you to focus on the tasty experience without distractions. It’s worth trying for international guests because there’s no other place quite like it.

 

Kyushu National Museum

Within walking distance of Dazaifu Tenmangu, you can find the Kyushu National Museum. Here you can marvel at the stunning architecture of the massive blue construction that almost looks like a sports stadium. 

Within the exhibition space you will find a large entrance hall that will lead you to four floors of displays covering Japanese history from the Prehistoric Era to the Edo Period. 

 

Ohori Park

Before you finish your road trip around Kyushu, why not take a morning walk around Ohori Park located in the city centre of Fukuoka? Here you can explore the old grounds of the once standing Fukuoka Castle and still see some of the ruins.

You can also visit Maizuru Park which has a large selection of seasonal flower displays. Enjoy the relaxing urban oasis which offers a perfect area for you to feel the seasons of Fukuoka. You can also find a selection of cafes here for you to enjoy. 

 

Yatai Food Stalls

Yatai food stalls must be the most exciting and vibrant place in Fukuoka to grab a bite to eat. Located along the water you will find plenty of food stalls serving a wide selection of Japanese dishes. 

This is the place to be as the lights illuminate the sidewalk in the evening, and eager and hungry food enthusiasts wait for their turn to grab an available stall for some delicious dishes to try. 

Best to arrive here without a game plan and dive into the space that grabs your attention the most. There’s simply so much choice you should seek your own stall to create your own food adventure. 

 

Thank you for reading my ultimate guide to Kyushu island, Japan

Kyushu has so much to offer for visitors to Japan and I’m happy that you’ve stumbled across this guide to get some tips and advice for your future trip to the island. 

I could only cover a small part of the island, but you have many options to choose from to create your road trip route. 

I hope you have a wonderful time exploring the unique part of Japan across the island of Kyushu.

 

Travel tip shared by Dave for Travel Dudes.

Location: 
33° 20′ 56.436″ N, 130° 50′ 6.6984″ E

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Cambodia: How to See Angkor Wat and Siem Reap

Video: 
Category: 
General information

What is Angkor Wat?

Angkor Wat is the world’ biggest religious site. Angkor Wat is a treasured temple and masterpieceof what is now known as the Angkor Archaeological Park. In terms of city history, the city of Angkor was built in the 12th century to be essentially the Khmer capital for King Suryavarman II. Another interesting fact; Angkor Wat was initially built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire. Later on, it was transformed into a Buddhist temple around the end of the 12th century.

 

How do you get to Angkor Wat?

Simply take a tuk-tuk to Angkor wat. Why? It may seem you can bike or even walk around Angkor Wat, but the complex is very large as it sits on over 400 acres of land. If you are curious about what tuk-tuk driver we used in the video then please comment or write us on our Big and Small Travel Youtube Channel. Our guide/driver cost us around $20-$25 USD.

 

Best Temples to see at Angkor Wat?

Every Temple below is featured in the Video:

1. Angkor Wat: 

The Angkor Wat temple the largest of all Angkor’s temples and one of the best preserved to wander and get lost. The main site is centered around a huge rectangular reservoir and an outer wall measuring over 2 miles in length. As well, the temple is made up of three tiered galleries and five towers shaped like lotus buds. Look out for the apsara, also spelled as apsaras. An Aspara is a type of female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist culture.

 

2. Bayon:

One of the most dazzling and iconic temples in Angkor is Bayon. When you are walking around the temple expect to see at least a dozen stone heads in view at any given time. THe big engraved faces are believed to be representations of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. This is a popular temple, but well worth the crowds.

 

3. Angkor Thom:

Part of the Bayon complex of temples. Make sure to visit this part of this religious site.  You will witness four huge faces, reminiscent of the stone heads at Bayon temple, pointing in all directions. Remember to get to Angkor Thom you need to approach Angkor Thom via the south gate along the causeway that is lined by 54 large gods and demons as well.

 
 

What to See in Siem Reap?

1. The War Museum Cambodia:

This is the only war museum in Cambodia. The museum has a unique collection, you can take a free guide, if you like with a war veteran if you want. We opted to walk around this eerie place to see and witness the dark history that has happened in Cambodia not too long ago.

 

2. Eat Cambodian Food:

Enjoy great local food in Siem Reap that includes Khmer cuisine, both traditional and new. Try everything from small family-run kitchens to sophisticated fine dining, each providing a local flavor and introduction to the food of Cambodia.

Location: 
13° 24′ 49.0896″ N, 103° 52′ 53.9796″ E

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Myanmar Ancient City, Bagan named UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Taiwan’s Crowd-pleasing KiKi Noodle Bar (KiKi Tea) Launching in Hong Kong at ifc Mall

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Mid-July opening with exclusive KiKi noodle dishes by Michelin three-starred Chef Albert Au Kwok Keung Hong Kong – Taiwan’s famed KiKi Noodle Bar (KiKi Tea) is launching in Hong Kong in late-July at ifc Mall in Central. In collaboration with renowned Hong Kong hospitality group Lai Sun Dining, the brand expands internationally to Hong Kong […]

Taiwan’s Crowd-pleasing KiKi Noodle Bar (KiKi Tea) Launching in Hong Kong at ifc Mall
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Palawan bags 8th spot in Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia Pacific 2019

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Palawan included in Lonely Planets’s Best in Asia Pacific 2019 Manila, Philippines — Philippine pride Palawan has been included in the international travel guide publisher Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia Pacific 2019. In its website, Lonely Planet listed Palawan in the 8th spot of the list which topped by Margaret River and Southern WA, Australia. […]

Palawan bags 8th spot in Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia Pacific 2019
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