Japan and path there 2024

Japan is each traveler’s dream. I had a few plans so far, but until now I haven’t realized them. I started planning a 2-week vacation to Japan. While I was searching for possible flights to Japan. I find a cheap flight with Scoot from Athens. I was there almost a quarter of a century ago, so I had to stop over one day there. This flight meant a layover in Singapore. So one day I planned to stay there after a decade. If I went to the Far East I was also missing Taiwan and South Korea. So, the original plan was, that I would stop for 3 days in Taiwan and for 4 days in South Korea. On return, I wanted to stop over for a day in Doha as I was there 3 times at the airport but never saw the city. I ended with 18 travel days, and just 7 of those were in Japan.

Daily review

People

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Greece

The staff at the accommodation was very helpful. In a restaurant close to Sintagma Square waiter set the default card payment with a 15% tip? One shop owner told me to get away from the shop window where I stopped for a minute to check the map. In general, they didn’t seem too kind. Like they had enough of tourists. One could see some homeless in the streets.

Singapore

People in Singapore are mixed Chinese Buddhists, Malaysian Muslims, and Indian Hinduists. Even if somebody had to take my belongings I had warm feelings about the people here. Especially those at Changi airport; the info desk staff borrowed me the phone/tablet to use and later gave me some water and cookies; clerk Lavania gave me money for a taxi and food; Indonesian guys helped me buy a ticket online to Taiwan and I would save 200 €. Canadian gave me a box of cigarettes. Also, people in the Karaoke bar seem ok?

Taipei

In Taipei, I was just a day. But the people in service were nice, at the airport, the taxi driver, receptionist, … There were some homeless people around the main station.

South Korea

Here people were mostly kind and helpful, even if they didn’t speak English (airport, metro, hostel, restaurant, …). Talked to some people in Busan and later had some soju with a guy we didn’t speak the same language. There were again some homeless people around the main station.

Japan

Japanese are known for their politeness. But a few times they were annoyed with me when I missed the queue or had a problem paying, like I should know things up front. Also, once they reminded me that I couldn’t smoke at one spot in Nara. During the night out I had some interaction with locals. They were nice to me, locals and tourists. There were some homeless people around the main station and by the river.

Qatar

In Qatar, most people are immigrants from other Arab countries, South or South-East Asia. Locals you can hardly see. When asked about the direction in the street people tried to help. Tunisia receptionist upgraded my room after I talked nice about his country. The Indian barber was OK. In a mall, one woman stole my chair when I stood up to take spicy sauce from another table? In public transport, seats are separated for men and women.

Transport

Transport was a big part of my traveling experience and also a main item in my budget. I traveled around 31.000km (flights 27.000 km, on rails 2.500km, on the road 850km, walking 320km, and even on a ferry 1km ), used160 hours (flights 36 h, on the road 20 h, on rails 36h, walking 65h, on water 1h) and spent approximately 1900 € (flights 1400 €, train/metro 400 €-mostly Japan, car/bus/taxi 75 €, ferry 3 €).

Flight

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I had 8 (+1) flights this time. On the first day, I flew from Ljubljana (a nice small airport) to Belgrade (a bit bigger airport, renewed, nothing special) and a second flight to Athens (a big airport, not nice). Both flights were with Air Serbia for 125 €. The next day I flew to Singapore (Changi is huge and for me the best airport even though I had to spend there 36 hours) and the day after I continued to Taipei (a confusing airport). Both flights were 240 € with Scoot. I missed my second flight so a day later I went with China Airlines for 170 €. Flight with Scoot again to Incheon-Seoul (one of the huge airports, far from the city) 150 €. From Busan, I flew to Fukuoka (not a nice airport) with Air Busan, for 150 €. From Tokyo (Haneda is again a huge and good airport) to Doha (Hamad is the best-rated airport, but not for me) I used Japan airlines. The last flight to Vienna (an average airport I used often) was with Qatar Airways. Both last flights were 650 €. The complete cost was, with an additional flight to Taipei, 1400 €.

Train and metro

This was the main way of moving around once I landed in one of the countries. In Athens, I went from/to the airport. I paid 16 € for a return ticket. I needed 45 minutes to get to the city center.

In Singapore, I needed an EZcard for transport to use the Metro. Also, tourist cards are available for attractions with public transport included. The vending machine at the airport didn’t accept credit cards so I had to find ATM first. EZ card is 10 SGD, and 5 SGD is the initial balance. I topped it up with 20 SGD. The next day when I needed a new one, I couldn’t get it at the station in Little India and searched for a while until I found a shop for it. The ride price depends on how many zones you cross.

In Taipei, I used the express train from/to the airport (160 TWD one-way, 35 min) and the metro to/from Taipei 101 (25 TWD, 10 min).

In Seoul, I used a train (10k KRW, 35 min) to get to the city and later a metro (didn’t pay?) to the hostel. Later I used a transport card (4k KRW) with a topped balance If you pay this way, you will save 100 KRW on each ride. The next morning’s metro was 1.4k KRW as one day after. KTX High Speed Train (up to 305 kmh) to Busan was 59k KRW.

The first train in Japan was from Hiroshima to the ferry (320) and back. The ticket for the fast “bullet” train Shinkansen (up to 320 km/h) from Hiroshima to Kobe was 11.300 JPY. Moving on to Osaka was 370 JPY. There I used a metro to get to the hotel, 290 JPY.

The next morning I paid 240 JPY for the metro. Moving to Nara meant using the metro for 240 JPY and 2 trains for 620 JPY. The last move that they was to Kyoto, 760 JPY. That night I used the metro towards the temple and back, 490 JPY. Another metro next day to the train station, 230 JPY. To get to Myoko I needed 4 trains (3800+9800+9800+670 JPY).

A move to Nagano by train, 850 JPY. The last fast train was to Tokyo, 8740 JPY. Metro twice to capsule hotel, 180 JPY. The next day I took the metro 5 times, 1000 JPY. Last day 3 metros for 600 JPY. To Henada I paid train 1000 JPY.

In Doha, a daily ticket for the metro was 6 QAR

Taxi/Car

Sister drove me to the airport in Ljubljana (35km, 25 min).

From Changi airport to Little India Lavinia paid for me 21 SGD (20 km, 20 min). Later I shared a taxi for the last two metro stops after midnight, but they didn’t take any money from me.

In Taipei, I paid for a taxi from the station to the hotel 180 TWD (4km, 10 min).

In Busan, I paid from K-Guesthouse Seomyeon 1 to the airport 15.5k KRW (17km, 15 min)

In Ljubljana, I paid 7 € (4 km) from the station to my home.

Bus

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In Seoul, I paid for a bus to the traditional village 1.2 KRW. In Busan, I paid from the station to the accommodation 1.5k KRW. Next day trip to the beach, 2k KRW for one direction.

I used a bus in Japan: in Fukuoka from the airport (360 JPY). I took a night bus from Fukuoka to Hiroshima, a huge space but the curtains around were funny, 36 €. In Kobe, I returned to the train station with a bus, 290 JPY. In Kyoto to the bamboo forest and back, 2x 230 JPY. in Osaka and in Tokyo.

Boat

Ferry to Itsukushima Island, 500 JPY for a return ticket.

Walking

Walking is the best way to see and feel the place you are visiting. I would walk each day from 5 to 30 km, on average 18 km/day. In total, I moved on feet more than 300 km.

Accommodation

Again out of 18 nights on the road I slept in the airport (2 nights), plane (3 nights), bus (1 night), cheap ho(s)tels, capsule rooms, Ryokan, normal hotel to 5-star hotel. Summarized accommodation costs were 470 €.

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In Athens, I slept in an apartment (The cave) for 46 €. It had a good location in the center, a good interior, wine and cake as a gift, the breakfast was included, but it was in a basement. The second night I was on the plane. Next two days I slept at the Changi airport. In Taipei, I was at a cheap Shranger hotel for 23 €.

Shanger hotel, Taipei, Taiwan
Shranger hotel, Taipei, Taiwan

In Seoul, I was in a private room with a double bed in a Korea Original hostel with a shared bathroom, for 33 € per night.

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In Busan, I stayed at K-Guesthouse Seomyeon 1, in a private room with a double bed and bathroom, breakfast included, 34 € per night.

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In Japan first night was on bus Fukuoka-Hiroshima (36€).

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In Osaka, I slept in a private room with a shared bathroom for 9 €.

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In Kyoto, I stayed at a MONday hotel, 3 stars, clean and practical, good interior, 61€ for one night.

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In Myokan I stayed in a twin room at a typical Ryokan with onsen and traditional breakfast included, 60 €.

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In Tokyo first night I stayed at Capsule Hotel Block Room for 29 €. The next day I stayed in robot Henn na Hotel Tokyo, 3 stars, 118 €.

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The next night I was on a flight to Qatar. In Doha, I stayed in a 5-star Oryx Rotana hotel for 45 €. Last night I was on a flight to Vienna.

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Food and drinks

In these countries, there is a big difference in cuisine. I tried to experience as many different options as possible. Also drank drinks from water to sake. I started with a few homemade sandwiches. Mostly I would eat something from a shop or fast food options. But I also indulge in a few expensive meals like Kobe beef and sushi. On average I spent less than 20 €/per day, together around 350 €.

I usually drank water (up to 3l per day), a few juices, teas, and coffees. As for alcohol, mainly it was beer with prices up to 15 € for small beer in Singapore. Cigarettes were in Athens 4.6 €, in Singapore 11 €, in Taipei 3.5, in South Korea 3 € and in Japan 3.4€.

In Athens one day I had gyros pita for 3 € and the next day I had breakfast included (kaurma, egg, bread, juice, coffee). For lunch, I took souvlaki with beer. In a tourist trap place, I paid 35 € with a tip.

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I ate at McDonald’s for 8 € in the morning and some noodles later. I paid for a small beer 15€ at Marina Bay Sands and in the karaoke bar 12 € for a big beer. The next day, I had some cookies and water in the morning and in the evening in Little India, I ate thali with beer, 24 €.

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On a flight to Taipei, I had a meal.

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At the train station, I ate noodle soup for dinner (6.5 €)

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The next morning some bananas and sandwiches (2€).

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In Seoul, I ate fish cake and gimbap (5.5€) for breakfast.

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Later I had a hot pot with fish soup, 16€. I drank beer for 3.5 €.

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At Seoul station I paid 5€ for the Burger king menu.

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In Busan, I had a rice bowl with beef (5.5€).

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The next day I tried Korean BBQ with 2 beers, 26 €. Breakfast in the hostel, toast and juice.

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In Fukuoka ramen was 4.5 €.

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McDonalds was also 4.5 €.

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Oysters were 4 €.

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Okonomiyaki was 4.5 €.

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Kobe beef on the grill and beer were 49 €.

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Grilled chicken and udon noodles with beer for 10 €.

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A beef skewer was 4 €. Tea and sweets in a zen garden, 3€.

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Pizza and IPA beer, 15.5€.

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Traditional breakfast was included in the room price.

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Sweet rice dumplings and tea ice cream, 5€.

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Fried chicken, rice and cabbage, 7€.

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Sushi with soup and sake, 50 €. Beer for 5€. Sandwich 2€.

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Burrito, 6€. Two meals on the plane.

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Pasta with a piece of fried chicken and cola, 4€.

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Cola 1 €, water 0.5€, beer 15€. Two meals on the airplane (sandwiches and omelet).

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Sights

Countries on this trip were different and they offered not so similar sights. Also in some places, I decided to visit ones that are payable or even bought a for multiple sights and in others I would just admire them from outside.

Greece-Athens

In Athens, I focused on Ancient Greek sights. On arrival, I visited the Acropolis Museum (15 €) which prepared me for the next day’s visit to Acropolis (UNESCO). Beside Acropolis with Thater of Dionysius, Stoa, Odeon of Herodes, Athen Nike temple, Propylaea Parthenon and old Athena temple (46 € ticket for 6 sights) I descended to the city and visited the Holy Church of Hosios Athanasios, park, Agora with Hephaestus temple and Stoa of Attlos, Hadrian’s library, Monastiriki square, Sytgama – changing of the guard, National garden, Aristotle’s Lyceum, Panathinaikou stadium, Zappeion hall, Arch of Hadrian.

Acropolis museum, Kore statues
Acropolis museum, Kore statues

Singapore

I started with a Botanical garden with an Orchid garden (10€, UNESCO) in the central area, moved south and walked from West to East (China town, Little India, Muslim quarter, many colonial buildings there beside typical ones for specific culture). I finished in Marina Bay, where I checked two light shows, one with trees and other with water. Changi Airport is one of the best in the world with a lot to offer

Changi Singapore
Changi Singapore

Taiwan-Taipei

I just visited Taipei 101, because I was there 2 days less than expected. Otherwise, I bought a tourist ticket to visit museums and attractions.

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South Korea-Seoul&Busan

In Seoul, I visited palace, traditional village, temple.

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And in Busan, I went to the beach

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Japan-Fukuoka&Hiroshima&Osaka&Nara&Kyoto&Nagano&Tokyo

In most cities, you will find Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, Castles, or palaces. The core of each city is usually the main train station with many shops around it.

In Fukuoka, I visited a few temples but I liked most the castle with green space full of flowers around it. Typical food Ramen.

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Hiroshima is very powerful with Peace Memorial Park. There is also a castle there and a traditional garden.

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Short trip to an island with Itsukushima Shrine (Torri in water). Typical food is Okonomiyaki.

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In Osaka, a Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine is worth visiting. There is a big castle.

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In Nara, you can find many temples and shrines (800 JPY). Tōdai-ji Daibutsuden (The Great Buddha Hall) is maybe one that stands out. Also here are famous for deer walking freely around and are fed by people.

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Kyoto was the capital of Japan for a long period and has many interesting places to visit. Royal palace with a lot of green space, and free entrance. On the west side, you have a bamboo forest with temples. Fushimi Inari Shrine with thousands of Torri gates is in the south. In the East, you can find Heian-jingū Shrine with a nice garden in the back, 600 JPY. Nanzen-ji temple with a zen garden where I enjoyed matcha tea and paid 2x 500 JPY.

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In Myoko I went out of the cities to stay in ryokan-traditional japanese inn, with onsen-spa and traditional breakfast

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In Nagano, I visited Zenkoji temple. Also, I saw a Lion dance, and there was some kind of festival.

In Tokyo, I visited the outer garden of the Imperial Palace. If you are into shopping Ginza district is a place to be. At Tsukiji fish market you should try sushi. At sumo stable Arashio-beya you can see fighters practice through the window, no fee. As for temples in Tokyo, a Senso-ji shrine is obligatory to visit. In Shibuya Prefecture you can find the famous busy crossing and close by Hatchiko statue. You can find green areas in a park around Meiji Jingu and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. In the Shinjuku area, you can party, the interesting street is Omoide Yokocho.

Qatar-Doha

I took a ticket for museums there, the National Museum has an interesting building and a range of exhibited items. In the Museum of Islamic Art again interesting buildings and different artifacts connected to Islamic culture. The Museum of Modern Art had a few exhibitions I liked but it was quite remote. You can also visit one of the malls, the Corniche – beachfront, mosques, old souq shopping area, campus with interesting library and mosque, few parkas (O2, airconditioned park, …), and financial area.

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Weather

Greece

In Athens was hot, 25 degrees Celsius, overnight it was raining.

Singapore

In Singapore it was very hot, 31 degrees Celsius, few short showers, it was very humid

Taipei

In Singapore it was hot, 25 degrees Celsius, it was humid

South Korea

In South Korea was hot, 25 degrees Celsius.

Japan

In Japan temperature varied from 9 to 30 degrees Celsius in different places. Most of the days it was raining at least a bit.

Qatar

In Doha was extremely hot, 37 degrees celsius.

Budget

This trip was moste expensive for me so far. I paid around 3.000 € (transport 1900€, accommodation 470€ food 350€-drinks excluded, misc 300€). With lost/stolen belongings (phone, camera, backpack with clothes, some cash, documents, additional flight ticket) I was probably close to 4.000 €.

Visa/Telecommunication

As for entering foreign countries, you might need a visa to do so. First, it is important to have a valid passport for at least 6 months (some countries allow just ID). Usually, you will fill out the form on arrival (personal info, about accommodation in the country, when and how you are leaving the country, …). And you should have prepared proof like hotel reservation and flight from country to next destination.

Greece

As Greece is part of the EU as Slovenia no visa was needed. you can cross the border with ID (same with Serbia, transit). A mobile operator from Slovenia has part of the quota dedicated to EU countries, there were no additional charges. Electronic socket types used are F in C. Also used in most European countries, so no adapter was needed.

Singapore

In Singapore, Slovenian citizens don’t need a visa. During the migration process, you need to show 6 months valid passport, filled (online) form SG Arrival Card (SGAC). For mobile operators from Slovenia, roaming would be costly. On the second day I bought a SIM card, 10 €. The electronic socket type used is G. Also used in the UK, Ireland, Malta, and Malaysia. It was a problem (when I bought a new phone I got a plug not working even in Singapore but I found one at the airport).

Taiwan

In Taiwan Slovenian citizens don’t need a visa. As a migration process, you need 6 months valid passport, filled form. For mobile operators from Slovenia, roaming would be costly. For one day I survived on free WiFi. Electronic socket typs used are type A and type B. Also used in the USA. It was a problem (borrowed plugin at reception).

South Korea

In South Korea, Slovenian citizens don’t need a visa. During the migration process, you need 6 months valid passport, filled form. For mobile operators from Slovenia, roaming would be costly. For four days I survived on free WiFi. Electronic socket types used are F in C. Also used in most European countries, so no adapter was needed.

Japan

In Japan, Slovenian citizens don’t need a visa. During the migration process, you need a 6-month valid passport, filled 2x form. A clerk at immigration said she gave me a 10-day visa? For mobile operators from Slovenia, roaming would be costly. I bought a SIM card with limitless data transfer valid for 7 days for 35 €. Electronic socket types used are type A and type B. Also used in the USA. It was a problem (bought a plugin for 8 €).

Qatar

In Qatar, Slovenian citizens need a visa, but as a promoting country for long layovers, you enter for free. During the migration process, you need a 6-month valid passport and filled out form. For mobile operators from Slovenia, roaming would be costly. For one day I survived on free WiFi. Electronic socket types used are G. Also used in the UK, Ireland, Malta, Singapore and Malaysia.

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