JAPAN 2017: 7D6N Kyoto-Osaka-Nara Itinerary

We just got back from our trip to Japan last week and I’m so excited to share with you guys our itinerary that I planned and used during the trip! First of all, we decided to not get a tour for this trip because you know, Japan = Everything is Expensive!!! So my mom gave this task to me and my sister, Dana, to plan everything out and be the tour guides because she doesn’t like to study for it anymore. This made me really excited because I always wanted to make our own itinerary and for once, be in charge (and maybe to prove to my parents that we can travel on our own already? Haha) 

You might be asking how I found the time to plan this? I started doing it last January, during our Christmas break. I was supposed to do it with Dana, but she’s busy with school and I didn’t have anything to do for a week before school starts, so I decided to do it on my own.

It was really hard to research everything. I read from different travel sites, blogs, instagram and watched vlogs to find out which places are a must-go for tourists. I even googled every place to locate it in the map and find the route from our AirBnb to every destination! For those of you who are travelling to Japan with family and  loves adventures, then this itinerary is perfect for you! I’ll be posting another blog of our Japan trip for more details and tips so please do check them out 🙂 Meanwhile, here’s a little preview of our itinerary 🙂

DAY 1: KYOTO

1. Arrival at Kansai International Airport

2. Travel to Kyoto via JR Haruka Express – Tip: You can buy the JR pass valid for 1 day worth 2300 yen than 2850 yen (One-way). You can read more about the JR Haruka here.

3. Arrival at Kyoto and check-in in our AirBnb – Tip: Rent an AirBnb because you will definitely save money than booking a hotel especially if you are a big family.

I highly recommend Cheiko’s Apartment ! Aside from its good location and neighborhood, it really exceeded our expectations! The place was very comfy and cozy for a family of 6. It is fully furnished and very clean. Plus Cheiko is a really accommodating host! Make sure to check out her apartment. 🙂

4. Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood – check out nearest convenience stores, restaurants and bus stops.

5. Rest! 

I also included destinations such as the Golden Pavilion/Kinkaku-ji Temple, Ryoanji Temple and Ninnaji Temple for our first day, but since we arrived late in the afternoon and had trouble finding our AirBnb, we weren’t able to reach it before closing time.

DAY 2: KYOTO

1. Go to Arashiyama 

2. Arashiyama Bamboo Groves 


3. Tenryuji Temple

4. Kimono Forest

5. Togetsukyo Bridge6. Monkey Park**

7. Lunch

8. Travel back to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

9. Walk through the streets of Higashiyama District ( Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka streets) to reach the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

10. Yasaka Shrine**

11. Gion District

DAY 3: KYOTO – OSAKA

1. Fushimi Inari Taisha2. Nishiki Market**

3. Nijo Castle **

4. Kinkakuji Temple/Golden Pavilion

5. Depart for Osaka through Rapid Express

6. Arrival at Osaka, Check-in at AirBnb

Here’s a link of our AirBnb in Osaka. It is very convenient especially if you’ll be using public transportation to explore Osaka. It is near the Matsuyamachi station, just 2 stops away from Shinsaibashi Station and 4 stops away from Namba station! If your feet are strong, you can walk from here to Shinsaibashi to shop and Dotonbori to go on food trips!

7. Dinner at Shinsaibashi

DAY 4: OSAKA CITY TOUR

1. Osaka Castle2. Osaka Museum of Housing and Living

Just a short reminder that the museum is closed during Tuesdays and Holidays. We went there on a Tuesday so we weren’t able to go inside but there are lots of stuff to see inside! You can dress in a Kimono and walk through recreated old town streets of Japan!

3. Tenjinbashishuji Shopping Street

This shopping street is just beside the Tenjinbashishuji Station and Osaka Museum of Housing and Living. There are a lot of drug stores, convenience stores, food stalls and other merchandise!

4. HEP Five Ferris Wheel

5. Hankyu Umeda Main Store**

6. Grand Front Osaka**

7. Umeda Sky Building

8. Dotonbori

9. Tombori River Cruise 

 

DAY 5: USJ

1. Universal Studios Japan 

2. Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!! 

 

DAY 6: DAY TRIP TO NARA/SHOPPING DAY

1. Travel to Nara

2. Kofukuji Temple**

3. Nara Park 

4. Todaiji Temple 

5. Travel back to Osaka

6. Shopping at Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, and Ebisujibashi – Recommended places: Don Quijote, Tokyu Hands, Daiso, GU, 3 coins store

 

DAY 7: DEPART TO MANILA

  1. Travel from AirBnb to Kansai International Airport

Our itinerary changed a bit because of the rainy weather so we had to move our USJ trip the next day. We were also not able to visit some of the places (I placed an asterisk** on them) because our feet were too tired and we were not able to wake up early during some of days. If you have the luxury of time, I highly suggest you visit them because they are famous tourist spots as well.

Comments are very much appreciated! This is my first time to share our travel itinerary so I’d really love to hear from you on how I can improve on this. Thank you so much! ❤

Day 1 of 7: Arrival in Japan + Tips on Travel Passes and Accommodation

 

 

Travel Vlog: ILOCOS NORTE!

I apologize for not updating so much on this blog. I do try to post some of the happenings in my life but Med is just a pain. Anyway, I’m now sharing our travel vlog from our trip in Ilocos Norte last December! (I know, I’m 3 months late haha)

I used our Go Pro Hero 5, which was a gift from my parents last Christmas, to shoot this video and edited it using the Quik app. It’s my first time to use this editor because I used to edit through iMovie and decided to just give it a try. 🙂

Trip to the North from Jena Dominguez on Vimeo.

B4 Goes to La Union

The past 3 weeks had been so stressful, I was literally counting down the days before our Christmas vacation/Sembreak. For the first time in forever, we finally pursued our plan to go to La Union! I was so happy when my parents finally let me go, even if I was the one who made the plan in the first place haha!

Our 3D2N trip to La Union was budget-friendly since we didn’t have to pay for our accommodation (+ some of our other meals!) We were warmly welcomed by Francis’ tita, who took care of us the whole trip.

For the first day, we embarked on the Farinas bus headed to Laoag at 6AM.  It was a long bus ride since we didn’t pass through TPLEX I think? So the usual 4-hour ride to La Union, became 7. It didn’t feel like it took 7 hours though because we were all knocked out throughout the bus ride (I blame the 3 weeks of exams we just had hahaha). 

As we arrived at the house, we settled down first, had our lunch, then headed to the beach, which was just 5 minutes away! I didn’t swim though because I had my period then (bad timing!!) but of course I will not pass surfing! It was my #1 reason for suggesting La Union as the destination of our trip. I was really looking forward to surf again after more than a year!

We just enjoyed our time at the beach since we had nothing planned for the day. We stayed there for 2-3 hours and then headed back to the house. And that’s when Mark, April and Megan arrived too! Now we’re complete! 🙂  After that, we just played the guitar and sang along using the karaoke mic I brought 🙂


After dinner, we went to Surf Shack to chill and have some drinks. Of course, Celine and I ordered the non-alcoholic ones! Glenn, David and Celine even sang on the open mic! Hahaha It was quite embarrassing since they were not prepared at all but who cares right? None of the people there knows us anyway! It was a fun moment 🙂 And that’s how our first day ended. I wouldn’t elaborate more on the other happenings since they were a little personal hehe

 

On our second day, we had Tangadan Falls and Surfing on our itinerary. We woke up at 5:30 AM to have breakfast and then made our way to the falls. It took us a 30-minute tricycle ride to the entrance and then 1 1/2 hours to reach the falls. The trek was indeed very tiring, but the view was incredible once we reached our destination. It was amazing! We even had the falls to ourselves!


We enjoyed the cold water, swam here and there and even rode the balsa to go under the falls! It was so refreshing! Even though the water was very very cold, it won’t stop us from taking pictures and enjoying our wonderful view!


We also climbed to the top of the falls and discovered a smaller one where we can actually cliff dive! It was only I think 20-30 feet high? Not that high, but since it’s my first time to try cliff diving, I didn’t hesitate to climb the rocks. All of us tried it, so yeah #SubsecGoals!

Our trek back only took an hour since we didn’t stop for rest or anything. We went straight to San Juan Surf School and had our lunch at one of the restaurants nearby. We rested for awhile and then it was time to surf!

Alec, April and I planned to take the lesson for 2 hours since 1 hour is bitin for us, based on past experience. The massive waves made me feel more excited than ever! But since it was too big for beginners, we transferred to a different location. Oh! And we were able to get a discount since we were a big group. Normally, it costs 400 pesos for 1 hour of surfing (includes the instructor + surf board), but we got it for 350 pesos.

First batch to surf was me, Alec, April, Celine and Glenn!

Next batch was David, Mark, Chiara, Megan and Francis!

After an hour of surfing, I was too tired from drinking too much water and paddling/breaking through the big waves so we decided that 1 hour was enough. :)) It was still fulfilling though, because we were able to experience these waves which were only present during the -ber months.

 

After a very long and tiring day, we still had the energy to push through with our bonfire by the beach! We divided the group into 2: the bonfire group and the drinks/snacks group. I was part of the bonfire group along with Alec, April, Celine and Glenn. We proceeded immediately to the beach after dinner to set up the fire and it was exhausting! I didn’t expect that it could be this hard to build a fire with just a few wood and charcoal as our materials. After at least 30 minutes, we were able to start it. It wouldn’t have been possible without April and Alec’s perseverance. Haha! We had a few drinks, sang our hearts out using the portable karaoke and of course, had an open forum (parang retreat lang ang peg!) Anyway, that part’s personal so I won’t share any of it here. It was getting scary around 11:30PM because of the big waves and our bonfire already died too so I suggested that we go back to the house already. And that’s how our second day ended. 🙂

The next morning, we had our breakfast and got ready for our beach photoshoot! We even went to a resort nearby for a better view 🙂 And after that, it was time to say goodbye! We went to the bus station and waited for a bus that can accommodate us. It was a long ride home once again (almost 8 hours!). We rode a jeep to UST and then parted ways. Celine and I had dinner in McDo, while waiting for my GrabCar. But nobody picked me up :(, so I just took a jeep back to the condo. 🙂

 

It was very tiring indeed! But I had a lot of fun with my B4 family. It was one of the best ways to end the semester with new memories to treasure! I hope this is the start for more adventures with them! (sana payagan ulit ako hehe)

Wonders of Chimelong: Xiangjang Safari Park and International Circus

One of the tourist spots in Guangzhou is the Chimelong Tourist Resort located in the Panyu District. It is a world class “kingdom” composed of Chimelong Paradise (amusement park), Chimelong Xiangjang Safari Park, Chimelong Water Park, Chimelong International Circus, Guangzhou Croco Park and the Chimelong Golf Park.

chimelong-tourist-resort

top_cl

For our second day in Guangzhou, we visited the Chimelong Xiangjiang Safari Park and the Chimelong International Circus!

From our hotel located in Guangdong, we journeyed for 1 and a half hours by a private van, provided by the travel agency, to reach the resort. We arrived at around 10 AM and there were already crowds of people arriving from several tour buses. The weather was again colder than expected, but we came prepared by bringing our coats, scarves and masks.

Travel Tip: You are not allowed to bring food inside the park, but water bottles less than 350mL can be brought inside. You can bring candies and small snacks because they weren’t that strict when checking the bags, so you can sneak in those 😂. Food sold inside are quite expensive, so it’s better if you bring your own. 👍🏻

Before entering the park, our tour guide oriented us with the location and gave recommendations on the must-see attractions. She recommended to watch the White Tiger Diving and the Elephant Show. The first thing we did was of course, take pictures!

  

Travel Tip: Seize the moment! You don’t want to regret not taking a picture afterwards, so I suggest you take them as much as you want, in any way possible. They’re for free anyways! 😁 They will serve as memories you can keep forever. You’ll never know when you’ll come back to that place, so it’s better to keep them in pictures 😊

We rode the Safari on Wheels first. Some locals who brought their own vehicles can use them to view the park. If you didn’t bring yours, you can just ride the safari train! 🚂🚂Fortunately, our tour guide accompanied us through the ride to translate the descriptions of some unfamiliar animals. Even though this is not my first time to visit a Safari park, I was truly amazed by how they maintained the whole place. Some animals were unique and even came from different parts of the world! We stop from time-to-time, then the caretakers feed the animals. It was wonderful! Though I promised to save my phone’s battery life and just take a few pictures, I wasn’t able to control myself from taking a lot because the animals were just too cute! 😂

Travel Tip: Can’t get enough of taking pictures? Make sure to charge your phones and cameras to full battery! You can also bring with you your power banks, which will save you from worrying about battery life and enjoy capturing those moments to your heart’s content!

After the Safari on Wheels, we journeyed through the whole park by foot. There was a Jurassic forest, which houses artificial dinosaurs which were made to look as authentic as the real one. They even mimick their actions and sounds! There were several other animals such as the monkeys, avians, elephants, koalas, pandas, giraffes and so much more! The park was soooo huge, we weren’t able to go to everything! Since we’ll be meeting our tour guide by 4pm, we weren’t able to visit the others.

Travel Tip: If you were given only a limited time to enjoy an attraction, budget your time wisely! Some animals were already well known and I have already seen in the Philippines. It’s better to skip those, or just sneak a peek, take one picture, then go to the next. This way, you can save time and be able to see those animals which you’re not familiar with.

We had an early dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant. It was chosen by the travel agency, so everything’s been settled. Even the food was ordered beforehand.

After our dinner, we headed straight back to the Chimelong Resort to watch the International Circus!

The International Chimelong Circus is Guangzhou’s competitive culture brand, best night entertainment, and China’s Culture Card. It shows all throughout the year, from January 1 to December 31! The circus only performs once a day. It opens at 5:30 PM, so tourists can enter early and enjoy the different attractions inside. The seats are also in the first-come, first-served basis.  Food stalls are also available. The show starts at 7PM and ends at 9PM.

It’s my first time to watch a circus, so I was really looking forward to it. I’ve only read about them in some fictional books and now, I’ll be seeing it live! I’m anticipating if it’ll be just like what I imagined!


 The arena was almost full even though it was a weekday. And of course, most of the viewers/tourists were Chinese. Seldom will you see a different nationality 😂 Good thing the circus won’t have dialogues or else we won’t understand anything!
  
There were many acts presented in the show. You’ll be fascinated at how the artists execute their choreographies with ease and creativity. It was an international circus, showcasing different talents from all parts of the world. It was an eye candy for everyone! The show was not only for children because even adults would enjoy the different stunts. The program consists of the following:

  1. Laser and Fog Dance Opening  
  2. Bungee
  3. Kazakstan Horsemanship  
  4. Trapeze
  5. Sphere Ring Glass Ball
  6. Teeterboard show with Baby Elephant
  7. Bear
  8. New Elephants Show
  9. Samba Parade
  10. Ball of Death
  11. Clown Show
  12. Sky Ballet
  13. Wheel of Death
  14. Horse Parade
  15. Diving and Trampoline
  16. Magic Show (White Tiger)

I enjoyed the show a lot! My favorites would be the Sphere Ring Glass Ball and the Wheel of Death! It is truly the wheel of death because they were practically jumping high up in the air, while the wheel continues to turn. It was INCREDIBLE. All the other acts were magnificent as well! All throughout the 2 hours of the program, I didn’t run out of “Wow’s!” and “Ang galiiing! (Amazing!!)”  Indeed, what I have imagined was right, but even  better now that I have seen it live! ❤️ It is definitely one of Guangzhou’s pride!
After the show, we went straight to the hotel and rested. It was a looong day indeed.

For more information regarding the circus, such as ticket prices and program content, you can check out their website at http://int.chimelong.com/GZ/circus 🙂 I also blogged about our first day in Guangzhou. You can check it out here Exploring Guangzhou! Thanks again for reading 🙂

Up next: Chimelong Paradise!

 

Exploring Guangzhou

Travelling has always been part of my dreams, be it in the Philippines or any part of the world. Travelling makes me learn a lot of things about a particular place/country, so I always get excited whenever my mom plans a vacation. (It’s also one way to escape all the stress Med school gives me 😪). This Easter break, we decided to visit Guangzhou, China.🇨🇳

It was my first time to visit this beautiful country, so I was really looking forward to learning a part of China’s culture. Even though Guangzhou is not one of the popular places you’d think to visit in China, unlike Shanghai or Beijing, it made me even more curious on what I was about to discover in this city. Even I myself am not familiar with Guangzhou. We only decided to visit this city because my mom visits here every year for the Dental South China International Expo and because our travel days were only limited.

Here’s a brief introduction about the so-called “City of Flowers”:

Guangzhou is the capital and largest city in the province of Guangdong, China. It is located near the Pearl River, where the “Silk Road” originated. This served as an important trading port and transportation during ancient times. Even though it’s only a city, it is populated by almost 14M people! It is almost as large as a region here in the Philippines!

Night view of the Pearl River
View of the Pearl River from the Canton TV Tower

Our vacation in Guangzhou was scheduled for 4 days and 3 nights. We also decided to take on a tour offered by Rakso travels because it would be much better to have a tour guide to help us since we are not familiar with the Chinese language.

We travelled with China Southern Airlines. It was also my first time to use this airline, and surprisingly, I was satisfied with their service because 1) They served free drinks (non-alcoholic, of course) and 2) They served yummy breakfast! I know most international airlines have this but what made it satisfying was because we were not informed that they’ll be serving us food. It was not indicated on our tickets, and the travel agency did not inform us either. We realized that that was the probably the reason why the ticket price was expensive 😂

Our departure time was at 8AM, but we arrived at the NAIA Terminal 1 around 5AM. The travel time was approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes from Manila to Canton. When we arrived, the pilot informed us that the ground temperature was at 16 degrees Celsius ++ it was raining! We panicked a little, but only for a while because we expected this temperature as predicted by the Weather app. I got a little worried because we only prepared one coat each, and I forgot to bring tights for my dress and skirt 😂

Travel Tip # 1: Always be prepared! Check the weather beforehand because countries with four seasons have weathers that are very unpredictable. If it’s rainy, make sure to bring an extra coat, jackets, a scarf and umbrellas. It’s also handy if you bring at least a pair of tights/warmers.

We met our tour guide, Cherry, by the exit of the Baiyun Airport and then proceeded to our first destination which is the Flower City Square!

Flower City Square is located in the Central Axis in Zhujiang New Zone. It ranges for about 560,000 square meters and is the largest square in Guangzhou. In the square, different buildings and architectures can be seen such as the new Guangzhou Library, the Guangzhou Museum and the Guangzhou Opera House. The Canton TV Tower can also be viewed here.

 

The New Guangzhou Library
Canton TV Tower

It was raining in Guangzhou for almost 3 weeks now, only a few flowers were in bloom. We still enjoyed our time by taking pictures with the Canton tower as the background, as well as the other buildings, even though it was freezingly cold!

Travel Tip #2:  If you’re into fashion and is preparing for your OOTDs, you can check out in Instagram the different outfits you can wear  that is suitable for a specific weather. Most posts are updated, and you can see how the people were dressed up in that particular place. (Well, that was what I did. Haha!) 

After touring the square, we checked-in on our hotel, the Vienna Hotel, located near the Guangzhou Railway South Station. We had our first meal in China afterwards, and guess what restaurant we chose….


McDonald’s! 😂 We couldn’t miss the chance to try the menu in China, so we decided to have our lunch here. I ordered the Chicken rice bowl, which was not available in the Philippines. What’s amazing here is that they have this hi-tech facility where you can order easily by choosing the food you want in the touch screen monitor. It saves you from speaking in English (where most Chinese people here don’t understand that much yet) and doing sign language. After choosing your order, you can just pay through card or pay directly in the counter!

It was our free time to go shopping after lunch, since our tour resumes the next day. We had the luxury of time to ourselves, without Cherry guiding us. We visited the Tee Mall, which was just across the street from McDonald’s. Time for shoe shoppiiiiing! 

My mom also brought us to this mini store, called MINISO, where most of the items are worth 10 yuan! (or 70 pesos). I saw a lot of cute stuff there, which were quite useful and handy. I tried to control myself and only got the ones I really need. 😂

I got a pair of mint-colored socks (10 yuan for 2 pairs) and a pair of stockings (to save me from the cold weather once I wear my dress 😂)  But what I can’t control myself from buying is when I saw the pastel-colored highlighters and ballpens! It only costs 10 yuan for 3 pieces, making it much cheaper than Muji pens! Since Miniso is from Japan too, I concluded that Muji and Miniso pens are almost the same hahaha! I couldn’t resist so I bought 1 set of black pens and 2 sets of highlighters. (Still useful in Med hehe)


We dared ourselves and tried riding the Metro to go back to our hotel. It was confusing at first, but it gets easier to understand once you know where your destination is and which stations will you go or transfer to. It was rush hour then, so the Metro was full of people who were careless whether you’re a tourist or not. Which was understandable since everyone is desperate to get on the train and get home early. We almost missed our first stop becaus the train was so full. Luckily we were able to squeeze ourselves out and transferred to another line, the one directing straight to the station near our hotel. We only spent 30 minutes and 3 yuan per person in riding the Metro rather than taking the taxi, which causes much more plus the traffic you’ll be facing.

 

Travel Tip # 3: If you’re travelling with family or a large number of people, it’s better to take the Metro than taking a taxi. It saves you a lot of money and time. All it takes it to be street-wise and make sure to read every signages and listen to what stop is coming next. There’s an English translation so, no worries!

We had dinner at a restaurant near our hotel. It was a small place which sells ramen and sushi rolls. Even though they barely understood us as we ordered, the food tasted better than we expected! One bowl of ramen costs only 12 yuan or 84 pesos, and 1 plate of sushi (6 pcs) costs only 20 yuan or 140 pesos! It was so delicious! Probably the best sushi I ever tasted ❤

Travel Tip #4: Explore! Don’t be afraid to try out different things, especially when it comes to food. It wouldn’t hurt to try, just make sure that you know what you’re eating and that the place is safe enough for you to dine. 🙂

 

Did you like my travel tips? Stay tuned for more!

Up next: Wonders of Chimelong (Part 1)