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5 Smart Hacks For A Hassle-Free Japan Trip

Make the most of your stay in the Land of the Rising Sun.
February 01, 2019
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From Marie Kondo to street fashion to ramen, our fascination with all things Japanese never ends. Explore Japan solo or with company, and you’ll find that there are so many things to do, see, eat, drink, and buy. So it’s no surprise that Japan remains to be a popular travel destination. Honestly, it can get overwhelming with the foreign language and the variety of things to check out, so here are five clever hacks for your Japan trip:

1. Have cash on hand.

Japan may be super high-tech, but many establishments accept only cash since they can’t process cards from foreign banks. Make sure you have enough yen in your wallet so you can start enjoying your trip the moment you arrive. If you have a foreign card and need to withdraw cash, you can rely on 7-Elevens and post offices—just withdraw before you head to the rural areas. Also, don't worry about carrying a lot of cash: Japan is one of the few countries in the world where no one will touch an unattended wallet, much less pickpocket.

2. Go beyond Konnichiwa.

Knowing how to say “thank you” and “where” in Japanese will prove useful with the world's friendliest, most respectful, and helpful people: Locals might give you an extra pointer or two. So study up and have translation apps (Waygo, Papago, TripLingo, or even Google Translate) ready. Knowing how to say “left” (hidari), “right” (migi), “straight” (massugu), “go” (ikimasu), and “turn” (magarimasu) can save time in case you get a little lost and the person you ask doesn’t know English.

3. Do what the locals do, transpo-wise.

Tokyo’s main public transport system is the train. Don’t be overwhelmed when you see the map! You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to navigate with the help of Google Maps or their local app called Navitime. If you have to commute to distant areas numerous times in your trip, purchase a Suica or Pasmo train card—it lets you into the station without having to line up and buy a ticket. However, note that the train isn’t operational 24/7: It usually runs from 5 a.m. to midnight.

4. Do pay for wifi.

Hotels, ryokans, and establishments may offer free Wi-Fi, but you’ll have an easier time traveling if you have internet connection at your disposal. Over 30 companies, such as Ninja, offer pocket Wi-Fi for rent so you’re bound to find a plan that suits your itinerary and your budget. Book two to three days in advance for pick-up at the airport or for delivery to your accommodation.

5. Fly to Japan early in the day.

There's no shortage of unique experiences in Japan for both seasoned and novice travelers. Even a three-day trip can be packed with great activities when you land early. Make the most of your vacation by booking an early flight from an airline that operates on time, like Japan Airlines (JAL). It can take you to Japan as early as 5 a.m. with its new flights from Manila to Tokyo via Haneda Airport. Special fares are available until February 16; travel period is until July 31, 2019.

Learn more about JAL’s new flight at their website.

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