Bohol Island: 5 Reasons why this island is the perfect family vacation destination

Plane Landing in Tropical Paradise
Bohol Island, Philippines.

Picking a family vacation destination can be quite complicated. There are so many variables to consider. How many people are going? What kind of place does everyone like? Is the country safe, especially for kids? Can everyone do all the activities available? The questions are endless, but here’s a suggestion that will answer all your questions, the Bohol Island, Philippines.

This beautiful Filipino island checks out all the boxes for a perfect big family trip destination and here and here are five reasons why. 

1. Low-tide beaches

The beaches in Bohol are not only breathtaking for anyone to swim in, but they are especially perfect for kids! Since the tides change throughout the day very slowly, meaning for majority of the day the tides are below knee hight, make it super safe for kids and parents can enjoy their beach day without having to worry too much.

In the mornings, the tide is at its lowest allowing a long view of the sandy beach and low waves. My little sister particularly liked being at the beach in this specific time because of the little ponds that formed, filling with fish, hermit crabs and other cute little sea creatures. Another curiosity that I encountered on the beach were these strange brain-looking sand piles that are formed by crabs while they dig their homes in the sand.

2. Tropical Weather

As a tropical island, Bohol has a consistently warm weather at any season.

December to February is winter season which can have a couple of stormy rainy days but in general this is common favourite season by locals since it’s not-too-cold-and-not-too-warm temperatures.

Another tropical perk that will make you fall in love with this island is it’s transparent waters. You can see fish and other aquatic animals swimming from far away through the warm water and play “spot the starfish” from the beach shore!

Women Relaxing on a Tropical Hammock
Bohol Island, Philippines

3. High Safety Control

In the last couple of years, the security of the Philippines has increased extremely. Especially in public places such as malls, hotels and main streets. 

At the Bohol Beach Club Resort where I was staying, you could see guards all over the property, even at the beach! Which made my family and all the other guests feel safe when the kids were playing in the sea. It decreases the chances of an accident happening and gave an extra safety guarantee for the parents so they can relax and enjoy their vacation to the maximum!

3. So Many Activities

It’s fascinating how many activities you can do in such a small island. Due to its rich jungle biological environment, this Filipino island is packed with adrenaline- and aquatic sports, animal and insect sanctuaries, and nature parks to explore.

On land, the Loboc Ecosystem Adventure Park is a great place to spend they day with activities everyone in the family will enjoy. The most popular being the zip-line that runs across the Loboc River with incredible views of the jungle and water falls. If you are not a fan of zip-lining, you can see the same beautiful view from the cable car that passes through the same path at a much slower pace.

In the water, you can partake in all the usual aquatic sports; rafting, scuba diving, kayaking and so on. But the unique activities you shouldn’t miss in Bohol, are snorkelling amongst the coral reef and go dolphin watching on a bangka, a Filipino watercraft.

Snorkelling and dolphin watching was definitely the highlight activity of the trip for the youngsters of the family. Especially when we helped the boat driver catch urchins and we got to try fresh urchins! It was definitely a unique experience.

For the little ones, the highlight activity was visiting the Tarsier sanctuary. In order to protect the adorable little creatures, visitors can only observe the tarsiers from a safe distance and must have a guide take you though the preservatory forest and points out the tarsiers as she spots them. Tarsiers are quite easy to spot during the day since they are nocturnal and most of them would probably be sleeping on a tree when you see them. But occasionally they will open their big bright eyes making them even easier to spot.

In regards to getting around the island with a big group, the best way is to rent a van with a local driver. Hotels and travel agencies can provide with great packages for day trips that can also include entry tickets making it much easier and faster to get around with a big group.

Another more relaxing alternative is to spend a day at the Bohol Bee Farm and Resort. An incredibly beautiful property with a restaurant, cafe, ice cream parlour, private beach and an organic store. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon.

4. Cheap prices

You might be thinking that you might not be able to do half of these activities because it’s expensive, as it is in most destinations, especially during the holiday season. But I have good news for you! The Philippines is quite cheap! On average, a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost about ₱800.00  which equals to €14.66. A local 0.33 cl beer bottle will cost ₱200.00 equals to €3.67. Even hotel and resort restaurants prices are much cheaper than your average prices. Making it the perfect opportunity to splurge and go out for a special dinner with the family!

5. Christmas at the beach

Last but definitely not least and in my opinion the absolute main reason to why Bohol is the best destination for an end-of-the-year family trip is having Christmas at the beach!

It might be strange at first, heading over to the beach on Christmas night wearing a t-shirt and shorts to have a buffet dinner with strangers from around the world. But as soon as you reach the beach and see how beautiful and atmospheric it is, trust me, you will have the time of your life.

At Bohol Beach Club Resort, where I stayed, they organised a delicious Filipino buffet with delicious authentic dishes that guests can dine underneath a star studded tropical night sky.

To top off this magical night, the hotel also organises a show full of dance performances featuring fire.

To see more Bohol island photos click here.

First Timer’s Guide to Lisbon

Lisbon should be on everyone’s Europe travel list. As the oldest nation in Europe (founded in 1139) and one of the cheapest, Portugal is a great destination for anyone who is travelling to Europe for the first time or is on a budget. There is so much to see, delicious authentic seafood to try, constant blue skies and beautiful beaches just outside the city. What more could you ask for in a trip, right?
So without further ado here is everything you need to know before travelling to Lisbon for the first time.

What to Bring & General Knowledge

  • Walking shoes: Walking through the streets of Lisbon is like walking through a museum. There is so much to see outdoors that you will want to spend most of your trip exploring around.
  • Sunglasses: At the farthest west coast of Europe, Lisbon is usually a ray of sunshine so make sure to keep your eyes protected.
  • Safety: Lisbon is a very safe city with a very low crime and violence rate. But just like every capital, keeping track of your belongings is recommended.
  • Best areas to stay: Chiado, Rossio, Alfama, Avenida Liberdade and Lapa.
  • Currency & tax refund: Just like most European countries, Portugal’s currency is Euros and cash is usually king. So make sure to exchange and keep cash with you. As tourists, you can get tax refunds at rates between 12% and 15% for purchases of €61.5 and above.
  • Language: The native language is Portuguese and about 32% of the people can speak English. If you find yourself lost on the streets you can definitely find someone who can help you. As an European city, many locals also speak Spanish and French.

Weather

Lisbon has one of the best weathers with the most consistent sunny and clear-sky days. During the summer the weather is a mild average of 23.5 C with lots of sunny days. In winter the average temperature is about 11.5 C with some rain and wind coming from the ocean.

The best months to visit are May, September and October. Summer usually arrives a bit earlier in Lisbon, so if you’d like a head start into the season, head over to the coast. September and October are also great months to travel to Lisbon because just like the summer starts earlier, it also ends later.

Must Sees

Lisbon is an outdoor museum city, with lots of beautiful places to see outdoors and indoors. Vibrant old architecture, statues, museums, squares and promenades. Here are the main attractions to see as first timer’s.

  • Castelo do São Jorge (São Jorge Castle): At the highest point of the city is Lisbon’s fortress and castle from the Middle Ages. After the Great Lisbon earthquake in 1755, this archaeological site was one of the few places in the city that wasn’t destroyed. Now a museum, this place is a great activity to do with the family. Tourists can explore the walls and towers of the fortress, observe the magnificent view of the city from the observation terrace and spot the residential peacocks.
  • Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge): This massive suspension bridge connects the two sides of Lisbon – with Almada municipality on the left side of the Tagus River and the rest of the city on the right side. In front of the bridge there is a garden promenade (Jardim Docas da Ponte) waterfront where you can take a walk in the afternoon.
  • Praça do Comércio: This 18th century historical square is probably the first place you’ll see upon arrival. As the welcoming port of the city, this square was meant to impress and represent the city with its beautiful colonnades, triumphal arches, King José I statue and vibrant yellow colours that compliment the blue sky and ocean. Around the main square there are lots of restaurants and cafes where you can try some croquettes and have a glass of Portuguese wine.
  • Elevator de Santa Justa: Have you ever wondered how an elevator looked in the 1900s? In Lisbon you can take a ride on this Neo-Gothic elevator from Lisbon’s Baixa district all the way up to the Alto district.
    Tip: As a popular attraction, you should buy your ticket before your trip to avoid the long line.

As for the museums, Lisbon has many dedicated to history and culture:

  • The City Museum (Museu da Cidade): Located inside the beautiful 17th century Palacio Pimenta, this museum tells the story of Lisbon and the evolution from the prehistoric era to present day. Including archeological finds, paintings and engravings.
  • Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum): It is impossible not to fall in love with the beautiful Portuguese tiles when visiting the city and if you are wondering how they are created, you should visit this museum and even make your own tile as a souvenir. 
  • Casa do Fado e da Guitarra Portuguesa (Fado House and Portuguese Guitar Museum): A museum dedicated to Portuguese music and its main instrument. 
  • Museu Do Chiado – Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporanea (Chiado National Museum of Contemporary Art): Portuguese art starting from 1820 to the present.

Local Dishes & Drinks

Apart from walking a lot, eating will probably be the second main activity you’ll do during your trip. Portugal has a really rich cuisine with a grand variety of dishes that will charm even the pickiest person. At almost every restaurant you can find a varied range of meats, vegetarian and seafood dishes. I haven’t had a single bad meal in all the times I have visited.

As a first timer, there is a long list of iconic dishes you must try in Lisbon, with several of them being bacalhau (cod fish) dishes. There is a saying in Portugal that you can eat a different cooked-type of bacalhau for every day of the year because there are over 365 different ways of cooking this delicious fish! On the oven, grilled, fried, raw, you name it. One of the most popular (and my personal favourite) is bacalhau à brás, a mouth-watering egg scramble with pulled codfish and other complementary ingredients. Other dishes that

Make sure to save some space for sweet pastries! Especially for the iconic pastel de nata, a creamy egg tart, that after the first taste, you will want to stop at every bakery for another one!

To accompany your meals, order the local Portuguese green wine. Of course this wine is not exactly green colour, but it gets its name because instead of using red grapes the Portuguese use green grapes.

On the weekends on a night out for drinks, make sure to try the deliciously sweet Ginjinha, a Portuguese liquor made of cherries. This is my all time favourite drink ever because not only is this drink super yummy but in many places it is served in a chocolate shot glass that you can eat it afterwards! If you are looking for a fun night in Lisbon, this is the Portuguese way to go.

Prices

It is surprisingly amazing how cheap things are in Lisbon and how exceptional the money value is. Food, drinks, transportation, hotels (especially hostels) and tourist attractions are cheaper than most capitals around the world. But it’s not every city that can combine low prices and high standards like the Portuguese can. It’s beautiful how they dedicate their time into making all of their businesses beautiful and to the best that they can. Which is why it is an affordable destination for anyone.

In a day, a student or a backpacker would spend:
€2 for transportation
€16 for food and drink
€7 for activities and entertainment
€25 for accommodation

Transportation

Lisbon has several sources of transportation; metro, busses, trams and taxis. A metro single ticket is €1,50 and a bus ticket is €.

The cute yellow “Remodelado” trams are the most popular transportation amongst tourists, but unfortunately they are not the cheapest, with a single ticket costing €3,00. If you are planning on using public transportation regularly, I suggest getting the 24-hour ticket that costs €6,40 that includes all transports.

Taxis are also quite cheap in Lisbon. A ride from the airport to Baixa district (center of Lisbon) is about €12-15 including the luggage surcharge.

Day Trips

  • Belém (20 minutes): Belém is technically part of the city of Lisbon, but with so many attractions, I suggest taking the day to fully explore the neighbourhood. Take the Remodelado yellow tram from Praça da Figueira (#15 or #127) and get off at Jerónimo’s Monastery. From there visit the other attractions by walking through the riverfront promenade. Make sure to visit the Torre de Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos (A Tribute to the Historical Figures of the Age of Discovery), walk around the beautiful Jardim da Praça do Império (Imperium Garden Square) and most importantly, have one (or a couple) of pastéis de nata from the iconic Pastéis de Belém Bakery.
  • Sintra (45 minutes): If you are looking for a fairytale European trip full of ancient castles and beautifully-designed gardens, then the town of Sintra is the magical place for you. Make sure to visit the colourful Pena Palace hidden on top of the hill trees and the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira.
  • Cascais (45 minutes): With its beautiful beaches and cliff coast, Cascais is the perfect day trip destination on a hot day. Just a short train ride from the Cais do Sodré station, this cute laid-back seaside town has a beautiful promenade with cute boutiques and lots of restaurants and cafes to dine at.

Where to eat in Dublin

Last weekend I went to Ireland with my friends and I was extremely excited to have Guinness beer and Jameson whiskey in their home country. I was sure the drinks were going to be the highlight of the trip, but little did I know delicious the food was!!
Tasting different dishes turned out to be the favourited activity and one of the most delicious foodie trips I’ve ever had!

Every dish kept getting better – all with rich flavours and high-quality ingredients. And it wasn’t just authentic dishes that the Irish perfected, even international foods like burgers and toasts were also top notch.

Here are all the delicious places I tasted this weekend:

1. SoMa – Brunch and Burgers
This cute restaurant is full of delicious dishes perfect for brunch. Complete with burgers, avocado toast, club sandwiches, juices, milkshakes and fresh coffee. 
One of their locations is right in front of the Spire monument, at the centre of the city, a great place to watch the street life.

I had the delicious avocado toast with poached egg and grilled potatoes.

2. Leo Burdocks Fish & Chips

This Irish restaurant chain has been serving fresh fish and chips since 1913. It has become a favourite by locals and highly recommended to anyone who’s craving a classic fish and chips.

The reason for their popularity is that fresh fish are cooked on coal-fired pans that give that special taste. The fries are perfectly done and the cod is also equally perfect cooked inside and crispy on the outside.

3. Bunsen – Straight Up Burgers

In all seriousness, this is the BEST BURGER I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. And trust me I’ve had a loot of burgers in search for the best burger and no ground beef has ever come close to this flavourful and crispy burger. 

Their success is expected from a joint that has dedicated to only specialising in burgers and fries. Visitors get to choose exactly what they want in their burger from a business card-sized menu and three different types of crunchy fries (including sweet potato fries!!).

If you have to pick between one of these restaurants to visit, this is definitely the one. 

4. O’Neills

This historical bar/restaurant/lounge/pub is over 300-years-old and is the perfect place to spend a typical Irish afternoon where you can have a delicious homemade dinner and have drinks all in one huge place!

Every nook and cranny (Irish slang for part of a place) is beautifully decorated creating a cosy atmosphere local beers and whiskey. When hunger strikes, head over to the restaurant where all the traditional food is cooked there. If you are in the mood for something lighter after all the beers, there is also a fresh salad bar right next to the restaurant. 

5. Third Space

This authentic Irish breakfast chain cafe is located in several locations of the city where you can taste the traditional all Irish breakfast in two different sizes – the large (hungover and hangry) and normal size.
The interior of this place makes you feel at home with big windows to let the sunshine in and books and tables everywhere.

The brewed coffee was also delicious and if you don’t have time to stay, you can also take it to go!

6. The Seafood Cafe by Niall Sabongi

This fresh seafood restaurant has won the 2018 and 2019 Irish restaurant award for its rich and fresh dishes and quality of ingredients.

The place is quite small, which could make it hard to find a spot (so make sure to book your spot as soon as you read this), but it also creates a cosy atmosphere and it gives you the perfect angles to watch the magic in the open kitchen happen.

I had the local oysters as appetizer then the fish taco and the clam chowder as main dishes. All incredibly delicious!

Overall, this foodie trip to Dublin was one of the best and most successful food trips I’ve ever had. Not a single bad or meh dish. Even the sandwiches I bought at the Guinness museum and at the airport were delicious!

Note: Although every dish was delightful, the prices were not as much. Judging from the cheap flight and hotel prices, I assumed the food prices wouldn’t be too far off. Although, everything was completely worth it for the quality and quantity of every food.

Stockholm: A Charming Winter Destination

December can be a stressful month for everyone, with final exams, Christmas planning and the end of the year! So visiting the Swedish capital at this time of year will give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the beautiful Nordic city.

What makes Stockholm unique is that it is incredibly busy while at the same time very quiet and relaxing. The streets are always filled with people and activities, such as sports, museums, shopping and seasonal events. Here are a few ways you can spend your serene vacation.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Sweden is the dream destination for sports lovers. With an average temperature of minus 1 degree Celsius in December and minus 3 degrees Celsius in January, there are several activities you can try out such as:

Ice skating at a rink in the center of Kungsträdgården.

Ice-fishing or long-distance skating at a frozen lake.

❄ A day trip to Hammarbybacken, located right outside of the city, where you can go skiing and snowmobiling.

MUSEUMS

Stockholm has plenty of interesting and educational museums for all tastes in history, music, art and science.

❄ Because of the country’s rich Viking and medieval history, there are several museums dedicated to different decades, such as the Vasa Museum, Swedish History Museum and the Nordic Museum.

❄ For science-based ones, there is the Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Science and Technology.

Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum, lets you experience Swedish life before the industrial era.

❄ For music lovers, there are many music-related museums such as the ABBA Museum, dedicated to the infamous Swedish band.

❄ Swedes are fans of modern art and photography, and you can check out their work at the Museum of Modern Art and the Fotografiska Museum.

CAFÉS & SEASONAL TREATS

Since it is cold for a large part of the year, the city is filled with cozy cafés, restaurants and bars where people can hang out indoors and enjoy Christmas-y treats.

Warm glögg (mulled wine) and pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) are served at all times of the day during this season in cute booths and restaurants.

Espresso House is a beloved coffee shop that serves delicious drinks and traditional Swedish snacks. In Stockholm you will find coffee shops on almost every street.

❄ Swedish cafés have a laid-back and casual style to them, with candles, cosy couches and Scandinavian interior decoration that will make you feel right at home.

FASHION
Sweden, especially Stockholm, has been acknowledged for being an iconic fashion location due to its simple but elegant style.

❄ Many high fashion brands such as ACNE, Filippa K, Tiger of Sweden, WesSC and others hail from Sweden.

❄ Walking down the streets of Stockholm is like being on an outdoor runway since Swedish people are so effortlessly fashionable. In winter, it might be difficult to be able to see outfits, but it is nice to see how Stockholmers get fashionably creative in this season.

❄ Youngsters who want more affordable clothes should check out Bik Bok, GinaTricot, Cheap Monday and Monki, which are Scandinavian brands found all over Stockholm.

❄ Make sure not to miss H&M. Their Swedish stores are even better and bigger than the ones around the world because not only do they sell clothes, but they also have a large section of beauty products and H&M Home, which sells home decor.

UNIQUE EXPERIENCES

Since Stockholm is located in the Nordic region, there are several unique features that come with the territory, especially during winter.

❄ Unexpected sunsets at 3 p.m. Can you imagine being able to watch the sunset every day in the middle of the day?

Saunas are a big part of the Swedish culture, and they can be found in many places in the city, including at hotels and hostels.

❄ There are ice bars all over the world, but how unique would it be to actually go to an ice bar in an icy country – especially when it is sponsored by the country’s leading Absolut Vodka and Ice Hotel. At the hotel, you can have drinks at the Nordic-themed ice bar at minus 7 degrees and learn how to create ice sculptures.

CONVENIENCE

Since Stockholm is the capital of Scandinavia, leading the region’s commerce, education, fashion and sustainability, it is no surprise that the country functions extremely well, providing a stress-free trip.

English is fluently spoken by the majority of the people, so if you are lost in the middle of Gamla Stan(Old Town) and ask someone for help, they will most likely be able to help you.

❄ There is easy access to Wi-Fi almost everywhere at cafés, restaurants, stores, malls, convenience stores and other places, making it much easier to find your location on maps and decide where to go next.

❄ Swedish tap water is extremely clean and every café, restaurant and bar offer free water.

❄ Not only is public transportation (trains, buses, trams and boats) reliable, but they are also beautiful. Especially the underground metro station which is known internationally for their beautiful art decoration of Swedish history.

CHEAP FLIGHTS

Winter is the off-season in Stockholm, making round-trip flights super affordable! Flights from New York can be found as low as $315 and from Los Angeles for just $342. From within Europe, there are numerous daily flights with Scandinavian airlines such as SAS, Norwegian and Finnair.

Swedes are very private and reserved, so if you are looking for a quiet and relaxing trip where people won’t disturb you, Stockholm is the perfect place for you.

Tokyo: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go

Before you embark on a trip to Tokyo there are a couple of awesome things you need to be aware of and a lot of awesome things you need to plan so you don’t miss out on.

Useful Phrases

English has become much more common in Tokyo as preparation for the Olympics in 2020, but in small places it is better to know some useful phrases:

こんにちは – Kinnichiwa – Hello/ Good evening!

おはようございます- Ohayo – Good morning!

ください – Kudasai – Please

さようなら – Sayonara – Goodbye

ありがとうございました – Arigato Gozaimashita – Thank you

ごめんなさい – Gomenasai – I’m Sorry

トイレはどこですか? Toire wa dokodesu ka? – Where is the bathroom?

飲み放題 – Nomihodai – All you can drink (happy hour)

Foods & Drinks to try

  • Chu-hi drink – You can find these yummy alcoholic drinks at any convenient store and supermarkets. They have every single fruit favor imaginable with Zero edition which is stronger than the normal.

Ramen from Ramen Street
  • Ramen – If you are a fan of ramen, eating it at Tokyo station’s underground Ramen Street is ramen goals.

  • Shabu-shabu – Barbecue but with a Japanese twist, it is cooked inside a pot under the fire with water. Thin beef meat, Shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, thin-cut carrots, napa cabbage, tofu. Since it is cooked with hot water it is commonly eaten during the winter to warm up.

  • Sukiyaki – Also a barbecue with thin beef slices cooked in a pot but without water. This delicious dish includes glass noodles, green onions, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, tofu and shungiku leaves.

  • Okonomiyaki – Known as Japanese salty “pancakes” made out of thin sliced bacon, veggies, mayonnaise and other delicious ingredients. Going to an okonomiyaki restaurant is fun because you get to make it yourself on a hot stove table.

  • Yakiniku – Barbecue thin sliced meat on the grill.

  • Yakisoba – Fried egg noodles with pork slices, vegetables and yakisoba sauce.

  • Sashimi – Sashimi is actually more common and traditional

  • Unagi Sushi – Unagi is a river eel and the sushi contains a slice of grilled eel on top of rice with a sweet barbecue sauce. Japan waters as a lot of Unagi which makes them very fresh and wild-caught.

  • Yakitori – Barbecued chicken and scallions usually served on bamboo skewers.

  • Kebab bowl – The original Turkish dish has been adapted into a bowl, with rice on the bottom topped with kebab meat, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa sauce.

  • Tonkatsu– Also served in a bowl with rice but instead of beef, its friend pork with Japanese barbecue sauce.

  • Gyudon– The classic beef bowl, just like the others but with thin sliced beef, onions with a delicious sauce combination of soy sauce, sake, ichiban dashi and others.

  • Izakayas – After work tapas restaurants where businessman go to unwind with their coworkers. Every type of common Japanese dish is served here tapa-sized, including common drinks like green tea sour and honey yuzu. My favorite Izakaya chain restaurant is called Kin no Kura, where you can get all dishes and drinks for just ¥270 ($ 2,50) and all you can eat for ¥1,980 yen ($18,60). Plus you can do the ordering from a tablet menu in your own private room. There are also seafood only Izakaya’s where you can grill your own food.

Things you can only do in Japan

Tokyo DisneySea
  • Onsen – Onsen are the best places to relax after a long day of exploring. Take a delicious bath on hot spring pools, take a shower Japanese style and have a delicious cup of hot green tea. Most Onsens are gender separate, unless you are staying at an Onsen hotel, where you get your own pool per room. You can find these places everywhere in the city for as cheap as ¥700 yen ($6,50 ) to very high prices, but the quality is always very good and traditional.SXLLM

  • Disneyland & DisneySea– Personally, I like DisneySea more than Disneyland since it has more thrilling rides than the original park. When at the park, I recommend going checking out the souvenir stores, Japan has their own toy collections that are very kawaii.

  • Karaoke– Singing with your friends to your favorite songs while having drinks and appetizers on a skyscraper is the exact type of fun you can get in Tokyo. Some you can even rent costumes to wear for the night and all you can drink cocktails.

  • Arcade- These arcades are always so much fun, full of crazy Japanese style games like the drumming game, where you have to play the drums according to summer festival songs. The graphics of all the games are so vibrant and really easy to follow.

  • Purikura– At these arcade places you can also find Purikura machines which are silly and fun photo booths. On the pictures you can get crazy backgrounds, filters, cartoons and other silly things. They make you look exactly like an anime character.

  • Shinkansen – This bullet train is the most fun and fastest way to travel within the country. From Tokyo to Shin- Osaka with the train only takes 2.20 m while by car it takes 6.26 minutes. They can be pretty pricy, but they are always on time and perfect quality. The breathtaking views of the country side and rice field make it totally worth it.

Green Tea Pool at Yunesan

Seasonal things to try

Girls wearing Yukata at an takoyaki stand

Summer festivals (Matsuri)– During the summer, the whole country becomes a festival waiting to happen. The entire summer there are street festivals happening everywhere in specific days. Since Japan is very humid, there are festivals at night as well. Which I love because everything becomes more bright and magical. With all the lanterns, traditional food and drinks booths, dancing, singing and of course the beautiful yukatas (summer version of kimonos). These festivals usually take place at or close to temples which makes everything a billion times more special and beautiful. When you are in Japan during the summer make sure to check-out when these festivals are so you don’t miss it.

Full schedule of all the summer festivals in Tokyo

New year festival– New Year is the biggest and most important holiday in Japan, and on the first day of the year families gather together to visit Shinto shrines and make new resolutions for the upcoming year. People buy omamori which are charms that bring you luck on what you need that year such as love, money, strength, knowledge, health and so on. Then for lunch they celebrate by having a delicious special new year meal called, Osechi Ryori, served on big Bento boxes called jubako.

Useful tips

Transportation – During the day, rely on train, metro and busses – they are always on time, clean and there is information everywhere to help you find your way.

At night it’s better to take taxis since public transports stop working around midnight until 5AM

Get a JR metro card and fill it with money for the days you are there, it is much easier than buying a ticket every time, you can use it at the convenient stores inside the station and JR stations usually have Wi-Fi.

Take the Shinkansen bullet train to other cities, they are super comfortable and fast. Quite expensive as well, but the experience is very worth it.

Convenient stores (Family Mart, Lawson, 7Eleven…) – They are ALWAYS open and you can find them EVERYWHERE. They have literally anything you need here; food, drinks, ATM, printer, underwear, you name it.

Japan is really safe so you don’t need to worry about getting robbed. Although, girls might want to keep an eye out for men doing creepy things like trying to take a photo of underwear under the skirt, but apart from such petty crimes, they are harmless.

Always bring an ID with you, although restaurants and cafes don’t require it. University IDs are NOT accepted so make sure to bring an actual identification or driver’s license.

Best to use cash, American Express or Visa cards- Master Cards are not accepted in many places and it can be hard to find an ATM to withdraw. If you don’t have any other option, make an account at Western Union International Bank where someone can send you money from any currency.

Hotel check-in time is usually at 3PM so make to let your hotel know if you are going to be arriving early in the morning so you don’t have to walk around bamboozled to kill time.

Wi-Fi can be pretty hard to find in the city, except for several convenient stores, so make sure to purchase a wireless hotspot at the airport when you arrive so you can use it to find yourself around the big metropolitan

Electronic bathrooms can be a big surprise if you are not aware of them. Japanese toilet seats are VERY complex. Not in a bad way though, they have numerous functions and some of them even talk to you. They can play lounge music, serve as a duvet in different levels and are electrically warm. The main reason to why you should be aware of these toilets is because they are EVERYWHERE. Hotels, malls, restaurants and so on.

Other cities

Yokohama Port
  • Yokohama (MY HOME CITY & south) – A beautiful port city, 20 minutes south of Tokyo with the Toyoko line. At Minato Mirai 21 you can spend a day at the amusement parks by the bay, Cup Noodle Museum and a landmark view of the city and mount Fuji from the 69th floor. Yokohama also has a big Chinatown and the walk from Minato Mirai to Osanbashi Port is breath taking.

Nara in the spring

MXLLS

  • Kyoto (south) The most ancient city in Japan filled with beautiful temples, old streets and sakura trees.

  • Osaka (south) – A modern city similar to Tokyo but in the South.

  • Nara (south) – One of the oldest cities in japan full of temples and deer parks where you can feed them.

  • Hokkaido (all the way north) – All the way to the north, this is the best place to go skiing and other winter sports. It is also home to the Sapporo beer and the delicious Santouka ramen.

  • Hiroshima (south) – So much history and culture in just one city.

  • Okinawa (all the way south) – Beautiful beach coast with clear waters and occasional turtles in clear and blue waters.

If you want to have a spontaneous and crazy trip, Tokyo is definitely the right place. There i always something new and unexpected at every corner of this huge city that never sleeps.