Your Guide to Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry Blossom Festival Guide 2017

It’s that time of the year again for Japan to celebrate its yearly cherry blossom festivals. Better known as Hanami in Japanese, which literally translates to “viewing flowers”, people gather under blooming cherry blossoms for food, drinks, entertainment, and of course to experience the dazzling beauty of the cherry blossoms. Here’s your guide to the perfect cherry blossom festival experience:

Cherry blossom viewing

The best cherry blossom viewing spot is undoubtedly Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo, a park encompassed by more than 1500 cherry trees. However, its popularity also makes it an extremely crowded spot, which might cause some viewers to feel daunted. Nevertheless, there are many other viewing spots that offer gorgeous views, such as Ueno Park, Chidorigafuchi, Hirosaki Castle and many more. Here’s a viewing calendar to help you plan your Japan travels during cherry blossom season:

Cherry Blossom Viewing Calendar 2017

Japanese Cuisine

Besides cherry blossom, while in Japan one should not miss out on the opportunity to savour some of the local delicacies.

Japanese yakitori

Image taken from: migrationology.com

 

Like your food grilled or skewered? Omoide Yokocho in Shinjuku do both and they do them well. Kushiyaki, which essentially means “anything skewered and grilled” is a must try on your trip, be it grilled chicken, grilled mushrooms or even grilled blood- if you’re feeling a little adventurous!

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Whenever matcha is mentioned, a person’s immediate thought will flit to Japan, the origin of the matcha flavour. While any store selling matcha flavoured ice-cream might satisfy your palate, only Suzukien Asakusa will take you to 7th heaven with the 7 intensity levels of matcha ice cream! So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try the world’s richest matcha ice-cream in Asakusa.

Themed Eateries

If you’re looking to take a break from all the walking and cherry blossom viewing, pay a visit to the many themed eateries Japan has to offer!

Robot Restaurant, Japan

Image taken from: www.travelcaffeine.com

 

Remember those childhood memories of playing with toy robots? Relive those fond memories again by visiting Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, where 10-foot-tall robots’ ballet dance, sharks with laser beams on their heads and even explosions happening all over the place.

 

Image taken from: shichijyuuni.com

 

Are you a  Final Fantasy fan? Immerse yourself in the world of Final Fantasy by visiting Eorzea Café in Akihabara. When you enter the café, be prepared to be transported to your very own fantasy world, where weapons, armour and even cute Moogles come to life. Eorzea Café is certainly a MUST for Final Fantasy fans, period!

Other activities 

 

Cat Island, Japan

Image taken from: metro.co.uk

 

Are you a cat lover? Who we are kidding of course you are! Pay a visit to Tashirojima Island a.k.a Cat Island to get your daily dose of fluffy feline cuteness. Over here, cats rule and are treated like kings – they are well fed and cared for by their humble servants (the few people who are living on the island).  The island is located at the Northeastern part of Japan, so if you are travelling around the area, Cat Island should be on your travel itinerary.

 

Totoro

Image taken from: his.com.sg

 

Ghibli Museum is a showcase for the renowned animation studio as well as a playground for children. The museum combines a series of rooms with motifs of each and every animation of Studio Ghibli’s, including replicas from the animation. No doubt, this small but perfectly formed museum should be considered as one of the destinations to visit during your stay in Japan.

Thanks for reading and we hope that this blog post will help inspire you to plan your trip to Japan!

 

The 5 people you meet while travelling

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Travelling just wouldn’t be the same without these colourful characters. The beauty of embarking on a sojourn is that you never really know what to expect. From the food you’ll eat, the sights you’ll see all the way down to the locations you accidentally stumble upon, each connection that you make is an adventure in its own right and this definitely applies to the people you’ll meet along the way.

From the eternally selfie-ing couple to the enthusiastic newbie who went overboard on the packing, your travels are bound to put you in contact with a host of unforgettable personalities who will forever be ingrained in your memories.

See if you recognise any of them in the list below and should this inspire you to get back out on the road or finally embark on that trip you’ve been planning for so long, remember to first check out Saleduck travel to snag the best deals on flight tickets, tours, accommodation and more great travel offers!

The Frat Bros
These guys have devoted their lives to bicep building and crushing beer cans with their forehead. Identify them by their board shorts, muscle tanks, tribal tattoos and bloodshot eyes cultivated from months of killing it at beer pong at the local bars of the cities they’re currently cruising through. Loud and boisterous, they travel in packs and are unlikely to turn down an invite to the next Full Moon festival (heck, it’s probably the reason why they’re here in the first place) where they are likely to show up in neon body paint and a surplus of glow sticks. Mostly to jab one another in the eye with after pre-gaming it at the hostel prior to turning up at the festival.

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The Worldly Wanderer
This is the person who has been on the road for longer than they can remember and have become fully acclimated to their surroundings. By sustaining themselves financially on a healthy diet of volunteering, work exchanges and strategic penny pinching, they’ve given up the pursuits of air-conditioning and 800 thread count sheets to fully immerse themselves into discovering the many wonders Mother Earth has to offer. From having the local lingo down pat to knowing which back alley dishes out the best Phở you’ll ever have the pleasure of sampling, the Worldly Wanderer is an encyclopaedia of entertaining travel tales, helpful suggestions and enlightening information. Plus points if they’ve also mastered the ways of the bum gun.

The Technobohemian
Basically the Worldly Wanderer but armed with a plethora of different apps and tech devices. Don’t be deceived by the harem pants and faded tank because hidden away in that burlap tote bag he or she carries is an iPhone 7 loaded with mesmerizingly efficient and obscure travel applications that can map out an entire journey for you, aggregate the cheapest hostel prices, book tours, convert currency and track your water intake. Chances are this person is an under-the-radar digital nomad who has been quietly running their super-successful organic smoothie delivery business from a guesthouse in Cambodia over the last six months but whatever the outcome, you’ll usually walk away from an encounter with this individual a little bit more tech savvy then when you first came in.

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The Photographer
There’s always that one person who’s constantly whipping out their camera to capture everything that goes on. They’re the ones likely to almost get left behind during group expeditions while fiddling with the aperture setting on their DSLR and go missing from their bed at 5am in the morning to take pictures of the sunrise from the hill behind your hotel. Nothing escapes their lense and everything from a rowdy night out with other hostel guests that ended in you attempting to befriend a palm tree to breathtaking images of the temples of Thailand are stored in their Cloud. You sometimes want to snatch their camera away and beg them to just experience their surroundings but a lot of the time, you’re hankering after them to send you the images of yourself and your new buddy Jeff the palm tree.

The Enthusiastic Packer
The enthusiastic packer has overestimated exactly how many pairs of underwear he’s going to need and his luggage is nearly ripping at the seams from all the weight it’s carrying. And it’s a brand new piece of luggage. Guidebooks, hand sanitizers, toiletries and tent; there’s also a first aid kit shoved somewhere in between his raincoat and laptop charger. Over time the Enthusiastic Packer will evolve into the Deep Heat Diablo due to his reliance on pain relief rub to cope with the complimentary backaches he keeps getting from lugging around his bags. This will eventually lead to him giving away a fair supply of his belongings to fellow travellers in an attempt to lighten the load. The first thing to go will most likely be the bulk supply of hand sanitizers.

Have you met any of these colorful personalities on your travels? Or do you identify with any of them? Share your experience with us in the comments below 🙂

Four days in Ho Chi Minh City for USD112!

Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon, is the bustling city located in the South of Vietnam. Known for its role in the Vietnam War as well as the influence the French Colonials had on this charming place has made it a popular destination for travellers and tourists alike.
If you’re looking for things to do and places to visit, do check out this holiday itinerary that would leave you with unforgettable memories once home.

Day 1: Half-day Ho Chi Minh Highlights City Tour, USD25

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Need a little help with getting acquainted with the city? This is for you! Learn about the Vietnam War at the War Remnants Museum, visit the Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, buildings left from French Colonial times.

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/8hYmAZ

Day 2: Street food tour with dinner, USD35

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Not sure what to eat or drink? Get a guide to introduce you to the mouthwatering favourites of Vietnam in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and eat as the locals do! Make sure you’ve worked up an appetite before heading on this tour.

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/xmFjHg.

Day 3: Mekong Delta tour including My Tho and Ben Tre, USD25

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Want a bit of an adventure? Take a boat cruise down the Mekong Delta where you will be able to see floating houses and local activities along the river. Think coconut tree canals, islets and authentic villages!

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/wv8cxT

Day 4: Cu Chi tunnels tour, USD18

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The Cu Chi tunnels is a network of underground tunnels used by the Vietnamese in the war as hiding spots during combat, supply routes, hospitals, weapon caches, and living quarters. Embark on this tour as you try to scurry through the maze of tunnels back in the day.

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/hsgfMl.

 

Sounds good? Click here if you would like to copy this holiday activity itinerary for an amazing time in Ho Chi Minh City!


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5 Outdoor activities for the adrenaline junkie in Auckland, New Zealand

Are you a bit of an outdoor enthusiast who loves nothing more than the sheer excitement of having adrenaline rush through your veins? New Zealand would be the place for you! Here are some incredible activities that you could send your heart pumping in Middle Earth:

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Bungee Jumping

Take in all of the view from the Auckland Harbour Bridge on this 40-metre bungee jump from a suspended pod built over the Waitatama Harbour! Not for the faint of heart but definitely for the adventure seeker!

Find out more here!

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Zip lining

Take a boat over to the famous Waiheke Island and zip line past treetops, above lush vineyards, valleys and stunning forests. Consisting of three 200-metre zip lines, this activity is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Find out more here!

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Skywalking

Want a bit of that adrenaline rush without jumping off anything? Sky walking might just be the thing for you! Take a heart pumping stroll 192-metres off the ground on the Sky Tower in Auckland. Hailed as one of the best urban adventures in the area, you’ll be awestruck by the amazing 360-degree view

Find out more here!

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Sky diving

Fancy experiencing the highest tandem skydive in New Zealand’s North Island at 16,500ft? Freefall for 75 seconds at a speed of 200km/hr over Parakai, not far from Auckland city. A must do once in your life, this activity is certain to leave you wanting more!

Find out more here!

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Caving

Want more out of an adventure? This caving activity in the Waitomo Caves just might be for you! Take part in black water rafting in an underground river followed by abseiling. Also, go on a cave glow worm tour that is bound to leave you in awe.

Find out more here!


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Things to do on a four-day holiday in Seoul, South Korea

Synonymous with K-Drama, K-Pop, and bulgogi, Seoul in South Korea is a city bustling with a wonderful mix of city life and traditional culture. If you find yourself there with four days and unsure of what to do, here’s a little itinerary that could point you in the right direction.

Day 1: Full day Seoul city & Folk village tour

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Learn about South Korea’s heritage on this tour with an introduction to its history and cultural traditions. Also pay a visit to the Jogyesa Temple and the famed Gyeokbokgung Palace, finishing the day with the Korean Folk Village.

Day 2: Everland Resort theme park visit

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Korea is known for its amazing theme parks and a trip to Korea is not complete with a visit to the Everland Resort. Have fun on the thrilling rides, water slides and animal attractions!

Day 3: World Cultural heritage morning tour and night time shopping tour

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Start your morning visiting Changdeok Palance and the Jongmo Royal Shrine, two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Seoul. Learn more about the Joseon Dynasty as well as the significance of Confucianism in Korea on this tour.

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Shopaholics, this tour is for you! Myeongdong area is well known as a haven for shoppers. Find the latest trends, fashion and cosmetics here, followed by a visit to the Gwangjang Market, one of the biggest traditional markets, famous for its street food!

Day 4: K-Pop Tour

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When in South Korea, a K-Pop culture tour is a must! Visit the Hallyu Star Avenue a top hangout area for top celebrities such as Girls’ Generation, Super Junior, 2PM, 4minute and Beast. Also, explore the famous Gangnam district, SM Town Atrium as well as MBC WORLD, the first broadcasting theme park in Korea.


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Reasons why you should get out of Hanoi and into the Ninh Binh province

 

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam is always buzzing with activity, from the early hours of the morning till the late hours of the night, but if you step just a little farther from this South East Asian capital, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with Ninh Binh, which has endearingly dubbed ‘Inland Halong Bay.’ Here are some reasons why you should visit this province located just and hour and a half away from Hanoi:

Boat cave tours

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If you love landscapes such as the picture above, you will love visiting the boat caves such as Trang An or Tam Coc in Ninh Binh. Sit on a small boat peddled by a boat lady as you move along the river through caves, paddy fields and limestone formations.

The ancient capital, Hoa Lu

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Once the great capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th century, Hoa Lu is filled with amazing monuments and temples that were part of the ‘city’ back in the day. A perfect place for the history geek who loves to explore.

Hang Mua

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If you love views from great heights, Hang Mua, or Mua Mountain is just the thing for you! It’s a bit of a climb up the 500 steps or so but don’t forget to look back every now and then to be amazed with the incredible view of the limestone hills and paddy fields. A little tiring but well worth the climb!

Cuc Phuong National Park

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Take a walk on the wild side and head to Cuc Phuong, the largest national park in Vietnam which is home to hundreds of flora and fauna, such as the endangered langurs. Visit the endangered primate rehabilitation centre there as well as a 7,000 year old cave!


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5 reasons why you should visit Bako National Park in Sarawak, Borneo

One of the more popular national parks in Borneo, Bako is the perfect place for the traveller who wants a little bit of hiking and at the same time, see Bornean wildlife. Here are some reasons why you should check out the Bako National Park:

1. The boat ride

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One of the coolest things about going to the National Park is the 20-minute boat ride. Your journey will start at the jetty where you will take a small motor boat through amazing natural scenery. If you are lucky, you may be able to spot a crocodile or two!

2. Amazing wildlife

Bako National Park Wildlife Proboscis Monkey Borneo

The wildlife in the Bako National Park is everywhere! Be prepared to come within a few metres of the wild boars, silver leaf monkeys and macaques there. Don’t forget to look up! You may be able to spot a Proboscis Monkey (only found in Borneo) or four!

3. A LOT of hiking trails

Bako National Park Hiking Trails

There is no excuse not to hike at the Bako National Park as it caters to all levels. From the short 40-minute hikes to overnight hikes, you will be spoiled for choice with its 16 or so hiking trails.

4. Unique vegetation

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As it consists of a variety of ecosystems, you can find almost every type of plant life found in Borneo. Look around and maybe you’ll be able to find a pitcher plant or the rafflesia, the largest flower in the world!

5. The sea stacks

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Rent a boat for a nominal fee and see the very impressive sea stack rock formations made from the erosion of limestone and sandstone that surround the area by the sea. Not only are the views spectacular, the boat ride is pretty enjoyable.


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Things for the romantic couple to do in Sydney

Sydney is a hot spot for travelling couples and there are plenty to do when it comes to fanning the flames of love! We’ve narrowed it down to four of the top things we reckon could make you fall in love all over again with your S.O.

Wine Tasting Tour

wine tasting romantic tour sydney

What screams romance like a day trip around Australia’s most popular wine regions? Get away from the city lights and sounds and take in the picturesque views of rolling hills and valleys and gorgeous gardens!

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/CuAc9r

Tandem Skydiving

Wollongong Tandem Skydiving

If you would like some actual screaming, there is always skydiving! Your heart will be beating out of your chest as you jump out of a plane at an altitude of 14,000 feet!

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/3c31IW

Chinatown Food Tour

Sydney Chinatown Food Tour

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and a food tour through Sydney’s Chinatown could help in that department! Explore different Asian cuisines and culture on this activity. Perfect for culture enthusiasts!

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/pBFZsf

Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner Cruise

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For the sappy and soppily romantic couple, a sunset dinner cruise with the Sydney Harbour Bridge is sure to impress. Let MV Sydney 2000, Sydney’s most prestigious cruising restaurant spoil you and your loved one!

Find out more here: https://goo.gl/LVgFnJ

 


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Behold, a super effective way to pack a full outfit!

Travellers, tourists, holidaymakers…

If there is one thing that they have in common apart from the love of venturing to new lands is the want to make packing as easy as possible.

Enter Toby Lerone, life hacker extraordinaire and his Skivvy Roll.

Ladies, rejoice. Perhaps there is more space for a new dress, or four with this packing technique.


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16 Must eat desserts for the travelling Sweet Tooth in Asia Pacific

For the travelling foodie, street food is all the rage but nothing quite hits the spot like that little sweet something needed at the end of a meal. Here are some sweets for the dessert hunter around Asia Pacific:

Vietnam – Chè chuối

vietnamese dessert must eat in asia
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A traditional dessert found around Vietnam, this pudding is made out of banana, tapioca, and coconut milk, best eaten when warm.

Malaysia – Nyonya Kuih

nyonya kuih must eat dessert Malaysia Asia
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Bite-sized desserts or tea cakes made with sticky rice, rice flour, palm sugar, coconut milk and more, there is a variety of them that range from the sweet to the slightly savoury.

Laos – Khao Thom Mad

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Easily found on the streets, this steamed sweet sticky rice dessert is filled with mung bean and banana and wrapped in banana leaves, making it vegetarian-friendly.

Cambodia – Num Sang Khya L’peow

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A delicious custard dessert, a pumpkin is hollowed out and then filled with a sweet milky liquid made with coconut milk, palm sugar, eggs, and then steamed.

The Philippines – Halo Halo

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This is a popular shaved iced dessert in The Philippines consisting of jellies, evaporated milk, fruits and boiled sweets, perfect for a hot day!

Indonesia – Kek Lapis

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Indonesian layer cake, or Spekuk is a labour intensive but delicious spiced cake of Dutch influence that is popular as a gift when visiting friends.

Japan – Daifuku

daifuku japan dessert must eat asia
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Daifuku, which actually means ‘great luck’ is a Japanese sweet sticky rice cake with fillings. There is a myriad of different fillings that can be found, from green tea to ice cream!

Korea – Yakgwa

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This confection is a sweet biscuit or cookie made with wheat flour, sesame oil and honey. In the olden times, it was considered as medicine as it contains honey which was known for its health benefits.

Taiwan – Snow Ice

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A world renown dessert, Snow Ice is sweetened ice, sometimes frozen with milk that is shaved and served with toppings, sweet sauces and fruits.

Macau – Portuguese Egg Tart

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Sweet egg custard encased in a flaky pastry. How not to love? These little treats are a must eat, especially warm when in Macau.

Hong Kong – Mango Pudding

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Perhaps the world’s favourite fruit, mango pudding is a smooth pudding made with milk and fresh mangoes, often served with fresh fruit topping.

India – Palkova

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A sweet treat, Palkova is a candy made  by draining the water out of milk and forming the solids into bite sized pieces.

Australia – Pavlova

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A meringue dessert, crisp and airy on the outside, and topped with whipped cream and fruits. It is usually served during occasions and holidays especially during summer.

New Zealand  – Afghan Biscuits

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Afghan cookies or just Afghans have nothing to do with being from Afghanistan as the name may suggest. These cookies are baked with cornflakes, coated with chocolate and then topped with a walnut.

Singapore – Ice Cream Sandwich

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A staple found everywhere on the streets in Singapore. This dessert is basically ice cream on a slice of bread topped with condiments. A must have on a hot day out and about the city!


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