Sunday, July 27, 2008

travel tips for crafty types

Luckily for me, Corrie had only just been a couple of months before I left. So I was able to get some good advice before leaving. I thought I would pass on some of what I learnt when I was there. If you have anything to add, please leave it in the comments section for all of us to read.

Most ATM's don't accept foreign issued cards. Even if they display the Visa or Mastercard logo. The only two I know of that do are Citibank and the post office.

Think about taking a small Roley bag or trolley on your shopping excursions. All that fabric and books can get heavy!

The train system can seem daunting at first. But once you work out which line you need to get on, it's quite easy! All the ticket machines are bilingual and onboard announcements are also made in English. I found this site such a time saver, just put in your destination and it will give you the line and fare. Another option with the fare is to buy the lowest fare of Y130 and just top up your ticket at your destination using the adjustments machines before exiting.

If you get to a Yuzawaya store ask about their discount card. You will get a 10% discount across the store. It's free to join and the staff didn't seem to mind that we were using an international address on our application form.

Fabric in Japan is sold by the metre. Which is approximately 4 inches longer than a yard.

Looking for a hotel in tokyo? I would highly recommend the Kadoya hotel in Shinjuku. It's reasonably priced, central, clean and quiet. It also has free internet access in your room or you can use the PC in the reception area if haven't brought your own laptop. The post office is also directly across the road, perfect for grabbing some cash or sending home all that excess baggage!


Julie said...

No trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Kyoto. Just a couple of hours from Tokyo on the bullet train (shinkansen), it houses a wealth of cultural sites and artifacts, an uncharacteristically large number relative to other Japanese cities. It was not bombed at all during WWII because the Allied forces thought they should preserve the city's historical wealth. And on Fridays during the tourist season, there is a giant swap meet at one of the temples. You can buy inexpensive Japanese fabric, partially finished kimono for deep discounts, and hand spun yarn. Remnants and scraps of various gorgeous prints abound. They've also got more expensive vintage kimono for those of you with a larger budget.

Anonymous said...

Most 7-11 convenience stores also have international ATM machines. This is where we got almost all of our cash during our 2 1/2 week trip in April. The only city we had trouble finding them in was Osaka...they are there but not nearly as prominent as most other places.

Blooming said...

Here's another great transport site:

ATMs with the Cirrus mark are international. You can make cash withdrawals with your credit card.

Print the map before you go so you can show your hotel manager.

Mal said...

the post office ATM's have the best exchange rate for Americans. Literally would have been broke if there weren't post offices everywhere.

and I've been to tokyo twice on Business and stayed at 2 different hotels. The Westin in Ebisu is nice, but super snobby. Cerulean tower in Shibuya is MUCH better, younger crowd non-snobby staff and more international hipster crownd. Both those hotels are SUPER expensive so only make reservations if your corporate master is picking up the tab.

Simaimasen (sp?) is "excuse me," but I found it more effective to just say See Mah Sen instead.

Riding a bike in Tokyo rocks!!! I brought my bike on my last trip and was sooooo awesome not to have to get on a train or get in a taxi unless I wanted to. On the sidewalk, you are treated like a pedestrian. On the street you are treated like another car.

I'll try to post bike photos on my blog later for you.

Evelyn said...

as much as it pains me to say, i could not get by without my lonely planet guide advice though is to make a beeline for the tourist information and grab a map...the best one i went to was at osaka station - the lady that was in there spoke perfect english and was super helpful.

also a hotel chain that is a local secret is the toyoko hotel chain...they have branches everywhere and their rooms are cheap and have net access. though for foreigners it might be a little harder to get a room as they only let you book within 3 months of the date you want to stay and because they are a business hotel. but if you can, try and get a room there - they were big (by japanese standards), clean, have tea facilities and a mini fridge, and are all air conditioned (especially welcome in summer).