Tokyo Travels: OVERVIEW


Saliheen & Farhana Goes To Tokyo 2016 from fazmals on Vimeo.

As always, my lovely talented little sister will edit our holiday video beautifully after each trip and give me something to share after I am done with all of my blogging!!! Hahahahaha. We love our Tokyo video very much ok, I think Saliheen and I have watched it 10 million times since my sister posted it last month hahahaha. 

And as always, I'll do an overview post on the whole trip so here goes:

Our Travel Dates

7 January 2016 to 15 January 2016

Flight Itinerary & Journey Duration

Singapore to Tokyo via SQ638: 6 hours 35 minutes
Tokyo to Singapore via SQ11: 7 hours 40 minutes

Time Difference

Tokyo is 1 hour ahead of Singapore (If it's 12.00pm in Singapore, that means it's 1.00pm in Tokyo)

Weather During Our Stay

Between 3 to 6 degrees (Winter time, yo)

Why We Chose to Travel to Tokyo

I think I've mentioned this before - I never really considered Japan as a dream destination because I have never been interested in Japanese culture like anime, J-pop, etc; but I think it is mainly BECAUSE I AM A BIG FAT IDIOT. Haha! But Saliheen entah kenapa tiba tiba dapat seruan and mentioned Japan, then repeated it enough for us to seriously consider it. Before we knew it, we were booking our flight to Tokyo!

We considered travelling to Kyoto and/or Osaka as well but decided to stick to a full holiday in Tokyo so we can truly immerse ourselves into the workings of the city. Japan is a country that we don't mind returning to, so insya Allah we will have time, money and energy to explore Kyoto and/or Osaka in the next few years.

Where did We Stay at in Tokyo

First we narrowed down the area where we wanted to stay - it was either Shibuya or Shinjuku, since these two areas were the ones most mentioned by our friends and colleagues who have been in Tokyo. A hotel in Shinjuku came highly recommended by two of Saliheen's colleagues so we decided to focus on Shinjuku.

The hotel in Shinjuku they recommended was Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku; unfortunately they no longer had rooms available on Agoda on the dates of our stay. While tinkering around with the map on Agoda, we saw a hotel next to Hotel Sunroute Plaza, and it was JR Hotel Blossom Shinjuku! And as we all know by now, that was the hotel we chose to stay in. You can read on what I love about this hotel here.

The only minor downside about staying in JR Hotel Blossom is that it opened in August 2014 and is relatively new (you can see this as an upside, like we did, hehe) so all of the cab drivers didn't know where it was. But this is a minor issue because all we had to do was show them our hotel keycard cover (there is a map, address and directions in Japanese on the back) and we kept repeating that it was beside Hotel Sunroute (which the cab drivers knew since it is more established). Tip: Say "Hotel Sunrou-TOU!" to the cab drivers, they won't understand you if you say Hotel Sunroute HAHAHA)

Which Attractions did We Visit in Tokyo

We didn't get to visit Yasukuni Shrine (Yushukan War Museum) because we wanted to spare some time to return to Tsukiji Market, and we skipped Disneyland and DisneySea because we didn't want to wait hours to take theme park rides. Maybe another time, since we've visited most of the tourist attractions during this trip and can have an even more lax itinerary next time. Other things we hope to try next time: Visit a samurai house, tea sessions with geishas, queue up for Sushi Dai!

Availability of Halal Food

I mean..................... do you really have to ask this if you've read all my blog entries on Tokyo HAHAHAHAHA. Don't worry ok, there are many halal options in Tokyo so you will be spoiled for choice!

Some of the restaurants in Tokyo yang ada halal menu that we went to: Gyumon, Sumiyakiya, Hanasakiji-san, Ippin @ Shibuya, Naritaya and Ippin @ Asakusa. If you only have time to try only one or two of these makan places, then I highly recommend Gyumon and Ippin @ Asakusa. Jiwa raga boleh bergetar dari dalam, beb.

I must say majority of the food establishments which are halal certified or serves halal menu are located in terperuk locations, though (difficult to find and/or away from main streets) so you'll need to put in time and effort to pergi cari ok.

Oh, take note that not all of the restaurants are fully halal certified too, because some of them do serve alcohol and/or non-halal food. So if you are squirmy about eating at an establishment that serves alcohol/non-halal food even though the preparation is in accordance to the religion's standards, the utensils used are strictly for halal food/are disposables, the meats are certified halal, then... you kena pack maggi dari Singapore yang MUIS dah certify halal dalam luggage you, ok.

Transportation Around Tokyo

We would have preferred to take a cab but read/heard that airport transfers are ridiculously expensive (can masuk hundreds!) so we chose to ride the Narita Express (NEX) from Narita Internation Airport to Shinjuku. There are also buses available (which we didn't choose because we prefer trains over buses.) I also wrote about taking the NEX here.

As for travelling around Tokyo, we mostly took their public trains which were clean, efficient and always on time. Can get pretty crowded during peak hours though, so take that into consideration when planning your travelling time ok.

We opted not to get a Suica card because we were unsure whether we'd get the most out of it since we will be taking trains managed by different companies throughout our trip. I think our worries were unfounded though, so we'll probably consider getting it for our next trip. For this trip, what we did was: We consulted the fare board for prices, bought tickets from the ticket machines at the train stations (You can change language settings to English) and inserted the tickets into the entrance/exit slots. We watched videos here, here and here to familiarize ourselves with the process.

Where to Buy Souveniers

I've mentioned this in an earlier entry but will repeat it here for funsies:

1. Nakamise Dori - it is the stretch of shops leading into Sensoji Temple;
2. Don Quijote - feels and looks like Mustafa Centre and has outlets across Japan (We went to the Kabukicho outlet); and
3. AKKY II - it is a tax-free shop in Akihabara.

These places sell various things for cheap, ranging from facial masks, chopsticks, tea sets, green tea packs, t-shirts, fans, terompah, chocolates, novelty gifts, etc. If you are looking for Tokyo Banana, you can get them from souvenier shops in the airport, kat situ belambak lambak (I know there is doubt as to whether Tokyo Banana is halal, this is just general information ok. You nak beli for yourself ke, for your non-Muslim friends ke, nak buat jeruk ke, apa ke, that is up to you)

Availability of Wifi

Wifi is available in the hotel room and some cafes in Tokyo, but Saliheen and I wanted to have Wifi on-the-go for various reasons: directions on Google Maps (paling penting), looking up information and of course, social media. Heh heh.

I don't really like using local SIM cards (because leceh) so it was a blessing we met up with another couple for dinner a few weeks after we booked our flight tickets in July... because they were the ones who told us pasal the Wifi router rental from Changi Recommends! Thank you Syaf and Najib!!! One of the best tips we got for this Tokyo trip. Hehe.

That barang is a godsend, you guys, especially bagus for group trips because you can split the costs since the Wifi router can connect up to 6 to 10 devices (depending on your destination country).  And I love that I already have Wifi the minute we touched down in Tokyo, no need to waste time and walk around the airport to cari local SIM card retailers.

Connection was fantastic, we could even use it up in Mount Fuji, amacam cakap. Just walk in to any of the Changi Recommends counters in the airport terminals to rent the Wifi router but it's subject to availability, so kalau takut kehabisan, you can make reservations via their online form ok. Payment is upon return of device after your trip.

Shopping in Tokyo

Saliheen and I didn't shop much - Saliheen bought a few t-shirts and caps from Harajuku and I only bought two pairs of shoes (both of which I LOVE!) and a couple of bath products from LUSH. I guess it doesn't help that 1) the fashion styles available in Tokyo isn't what Saliheen and I would normally wear 2) we were there during winter so a lot of the baju baju and stuff were meant for winter wear, which will be of no use to us when we return to all day everyday hot and sunny Singapore, and 3) Tokyo fashion stores (unsurprisingly) don't really carry a lot of designs in our sizes lol.

One good shopping tip I got from my friend Azrul (because he is the auntie of good deals and discounts): You qualify for tax refund if you spend more than ¥10,000 (approximately S$123.00) in a participating retailer. You can read more here.

Research Resources

I depended heavily on friends who have travelled to Tokyo, stalked related hashtags on Instagram and did my research by reading Japan Guide (this is my favourite website out of the lot, it is very informative and user-family), Time Out TokyoLonely PlanetGo TokyoTokyo Cheapo and Have Halal, Will Travel.

Would We Return to Tokyo for Vacation

Ummm, are you kidding me? 

Saliheen was planning our return trip to Tokyo while we were still IN Tokyo ok hahahahaha!

This is a 100% YES YES YES ok! We love the people, we love the culture, we love their taste and their aesthetics, and we love love love all the glorious and delicious Japanese food!!! Saliheen daripada tak pernah cari matcha/green tea, sekarang he keeps two giant packets of matcha AND green tea leaves in our kitchen and religiously drinks them everyday ok.

It also helps that Japan is near to Singapore (Less than 7 hours away via flight), which makes it more manageable to fly to than if we were to return to NYC, for example. Also, Japan is relatively more affordable!

The Total Expenditure

I usually share my travel expenditure details so I don't have to dig for scraps of information here and there every time someone asks me how much he/she will need for a similar trip so here is the rough cost breakdown for our Tokyo trip:
1. Flight from Singapore to Tokyo (round-trip via Singapore Airlines): S$1107.40 (S$553.70 x 2 pax) 
2. 8D/7N Stay at JR Blossom Shinjuku Hotel: S$1645.20 (S$822.60 x 2 pax) 
3. Narita Express Train (round-trip from Airport to Hotel): S$96.00 (S$48.00 x 2 pax) 
4. Meals (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner): S$20.00 per meal per pax but increased to S$50.00 - $100.00 per meal per pax if it's for something special like BBQ meat at Gyumon or omakase meal at Kyubey. 
5. Taxi Fares: Approximately S$20.00 per trip (from Shibuya to Shinjuku kind of distance) 
6. Train Fares: S$2.00 to S$3.00 per pax per trip 
7. Mount Fuji Tour Package via Viator: S$402.78 (S$201.39 per pax)  
8. Souveniers for Family & Friends: S$150.00 to S$200.00 per pax 
9. Entrance Fees: S$20.00 to S$30.00 per pax on average, but most shrines and parks are free of charge. 
10. Sumo Tournament Tickets: S$226.00 (SGD113.00 x 2 pax) but you can get cheaper/more expensive seats, depending on your seating preference.
11. Wifi Router Rental: S$82.00 for 1 device (up to 10 connections) 
12. Travel Insurance: S$90.00 (with discount)
Some of these are estimations because it really depends on what you want to eat, what you want to see and where you want to go! This breakdown also does not include shopping, since shopping is subjective and dependent on individuals.

Ah well. I guess this is it then?! I've come to the end of my Tokyo 2016 blog series so.....

Sayonaraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, everybaaaaadddyyy!!!

2 comments

  1. Love your entries about your Japan trip, Farhana!! Not only were they helpful, they were super entertaining! Now, you've got me all tingling with excitement for my trip in a week's time...

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Cita cita nak entertain orang kat TV tak menjadi so entertain orang kat internet je la hehehe. And OMG you are gonna love Tokyo, insya Allah!!!

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