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!

Image taken from: matcha-jp.com/en/1632

 

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! To help you get started we’re taking 30% off all Japan tours & activities on touristly.com – Just use promo code CHERRY30 upon checkout. Promo ends 15 Mar 2017!

 

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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6 Outdoor activities in Nepal that aren’t hiking or trekking

Whenever Nepal comes to mind, perhaps the first activity associated with it would be hiking. However, there is more to the Himalayas than just hiking or trekking in the mountains. Here are a few outdoor activities that the adventure enthusiast can look forward to:

Mountain Biking

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One of the best ways to explore Nepal’s terrain is by mountain biking. Adrenaline will be pumping through your veins as you cycle downhill mountainous landscapes.

White Water Rafting

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One of the most popular adventure sports in Nepal, white water rafting down the Trisuli River will give you spectacular views of the greenery, landscapes, and villages that are located along the river.

Paragliding

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One of the best ways to see Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal would be by paragliding. See mountains, lakes, and temples from such great heights as you glide through the air.

Bungee jumping

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For that ultimate adrenaline rush, how about bungee jumping? Take the leap off the Bhote Koshi Bridge, 160 metres off the ground, and right into the middle of a gorge!

Ultralight aircraft

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Experience Nepal from a bird’s eye view via a microlight/ultralight aircraft fit for two as you soar around the mountains and lakes that are scattered around Nepal.

Canyoning

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For an all-in-one adventure experience, canyoning might just be the thing! Rappel, swim, scale and climb around the rocks of Nepal and untouched places of nature. Not exactly for the faint of heart but if you feel the need to push yourself a little, this might be just the thing!


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7 things you must have in your hand carry luggage for your flight

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Hand carry luggage space is precious as most airlines cap it somewhere between 7-8 KG (15-17lbs) and you should make the best of it, especially for long distance flights, long layovers and just in case you have an emergency. In the event of any of the mentioned, the last thing you want is to be grumbling at yourself at a lack of preparation so here it is: the seven things you must have in your hand carry:

1. Baby Wipes

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Both for the toddler and the adult who can’t seem to keep food off his shirt, baby wipes can be a life saver. Use it to save yourself a trip to the bathroom to wash your hands when you’re stuck in the window seat or to wipe down armrests and table trays which are reported to be amongst the dirtiest things on an airplane.

2. Dry snacks

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One of the most important things you can bring, dry snacks such as a protein bar, a small bag of trail mix or the chocolate bar can be a real life saver in situations when you are stuck in boarding gates or small airports with no access to cafes or restaurants. Just throw one or two rations in your hand carry and you will not need to worry about the potential tummy rumbling that may come from unexpected situations. This is especially important if you are travelling with kids.

3. Scarf

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As important as a towel in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the scarf is the multipurpose must have in your hand carry. Use it as a blanket, roll it to be used as a pillow or wrap it around your head when you are experiencing bed head after that long nap. One piece of cloth, many uses and you will be glad to have this one item with you, may it be in the terminal or during your flight.

4. Pen

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So you’ve gotten off the plane and now you have to fill in your immigration card and you’re left without a pen. The queues are filling fast and much to the resentment of a pen owner, you sheepishly ask if you can loan his/her pen. Don’t be that person! Bring your own pen, which will be much needed for instances like these. For good measure, bring along a notebook just in case you need to jot down something important.

5. A change of clothes

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For emergencies like delayed flights or missing check-in luggage, a clean change of clothes can be like that breath of fresh air you need after hours of sitting in the same clothes so do yourself a favour and pack everything from trousers, a top to the much needed clean underwear that you will need. Your mum will be so proud!

6. Toiletry kit

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Not exactly something you would need to worry about if you are travelling business or first class but for those in economy class or budget, it is almost imperative to have a toiletry kit with you. It gives you the chance to freshen up, wash you face, touch up that make up, brush your teeth, spritz a little cologne or perfume lest you come out of the plane looking like a hot mess. Just make sure you have the essentials like dental floss, toothbrush and toothpaste, face wash, moisturiser, body spray, and for the ladies, basic makeup items.

7. Phone charger

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An absolute essential in today’s world, make sure you have your cable charger with you in your hand carry as many planes nowadays offer USB ports at your seat and sometimes a book or in-flight entertainment just does not cut it. For even better measure, purchasing an additional cable and keeping it in your hand carry as a backup for emergency situations is not exactly a bad idea.


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Fancy taking USD100 off your holiday?

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The Eid Mubarak festivities are just around the corner and we want to celebrate this occasion with you! The best celebrations are the ones that are shared with friends and family and in light of this, we are giving away 3x USD100 coupon codes for your upcoming holiday itinerary. Go on that quad-bike tour around the rice fields in Bali or get in touch with your inner Indiana Jones on a tour around the Angkor Wat temples, on us!

That sounds amazing! What do I need to do?
Step 1: Log into Touristly
Step 2: Create a trip with your preferred destination
Step 3: Add attractive activities to your trip
Step 4: Share your trip on Facebook with the hashtag #touristlyholidays so we can find you (psssst, don’t forget to change your post settings to ‘Public’)

That is easy! When does this start?
From the 22nd of June 2016 until the 4th of July 2016 so make sure you create a super amazing itinerary and share them between those dates.

How will I find out if I’ve won?
We will be making announcements on Facebook, via comments on the winners’ post. Make sure you have liked and are following Touristly on Facebook so you don’t miss out if you have won.

Are the coupons only available for use during the Eid Mubarak holidays?
Good news! These coupon codes will be made available for you to use until the 31st of August 2016.

What are the terms and conditions?
For more information, head over to the Terms and Conditions page on our Touristly website.


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Travel hacks that you could use on your holiday [Infographic]

Being away from home can be difficult at times but it does not have to be devastating. With all the right tips and tricks, your holiday can be smooth sailing all the way, until your flight home.

The people at Baltic Travel Company  were kind enough to share 21 of their travel hacks with us. Keep these in mind when you travel to optimise on your holiday’s enjoyability!

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How to avoid getting hacked while travelling

thepennyhoarder.com

Gone are the days when the last thing a person would think of packing was a charger. Nowadays, it is considered a norm to bring along all, if not most of your electronics with you, especially for the remote worker.

One of the last things you would want while on the road is getting locked out of your device, or finding that your accounts have been compromised. To avoid that from happening, here are a few measures you can take to keep yourself from getting hacked while on holiday.

1. Fully update software on your devices before travelling

Many people overlook the importance of updating operation systems, anti-malware, security, and anti-virus software always leaving it for later. Updates patch up ‘holes’ in your software that could potentially leave your device vulnerable to hacking. For greater measure, make sure you update your software on a regular basis.

2. Change passwords before travelling

One thing that could possibly put a damper on your holiday is finding out that you have lost access to your accounts. To reduce the chances of that happening, change all your passwords before hitting the road. Make sure that you use strong passwords with upper and lower case, numbers and symbols.

3. Be wary with public WiFi

One of the worst things you can assume is that the WiFi in a building is safe because it is named after the establishment. Hackers are able to create a fake hot spot, potentially enabling them to obtain your data and passwords should you connect to their network. Using mobile data from a SIM card may be a better option should you require to access the internet.

4. Activate device encryption when you are travelling

Encryption scrambles the information that you store, rendering it useless to a certain party unless you have a ‘key’ to unscramble the information. You can download a third-party encryption tool if your device does not come with one.

5. Use incognito/private browsers when using a public computer

Web browsers have the knack of keeping a history of your visited web pages, downloads, and the lot and if you don’t want others knowing what you are up to, use Incognito mode on Google Chrome or a private window/browser which will clear all your cookies and cache once you are done.

6. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tool on your devices

A VPN tool will send your information through a discreet tunnel, encrypting it along the way, making it a secure connection as it allows you access a private network through public networks, making it harder for hackers to obtain your information.

7. Password protect your smartphone

This may be a bit of a hassle but it is better to be safe than sorry. The harder it is for people to access your smartphone, the better it is for you when it comes to keeping your information safe.


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Taboos you need to know to avoid committing cultural faux pas in Asia

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socialnewsdaily.com

It can be pretty exciting to immerse yourself in a completely different culture and when that is happening, a sense of respect for the place you are in is crucial. As the say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and here are a few taboos you should avoid committing while being a guest in another’s land.

China

Don’t rest or stick your chopsticks in food, especially if it’s rice as it is considered offensive and bad luck. This is only done during funerals and it also is reminiscent of joss sticks used during prayers.

India

When it comes to eating or handling food, only do so with your right hand. In Indian culture, the left hand is used for ‘bathroom activities’ and considered unclean.This also applies when you are passing objects or gifts to other people.

Thailand

Don’t pat people or children on the head when in Thailand. The top of one’s head is considered the most sacred part of their body and should be respected. Feet, the lowest point of the body should never be used to touch another person to point at something or someone as it is considered disrespectful.

Japan

Don’t eat while walking as it is considered to be bad manners in Japan. Japanese people respect their food and the hands that produced it and one should sit down to fully savour the food that nourishes.

Malaysia

Pointing with the index finger is considered rude and is frowned upon. Should you need to gesture at something, hold your hand lightly like a fist, and point with your thumb facing upwards or point with an open hand instead.

Taiwan

In Taiwan, it is very rude to curl your finger in a ‘come here’ manner with your palm facing upwards. If you would like to call someone to where you are, gesture with your fingers with your palm facing downwards.

Hong Kong

When given presents or giving presents, it is considered rude if the receiver opens the gift in front of the giver. This is to make sure that the giver is not discredited should the gift be considered inappropriate or is something undesired.

Indonesia

Indonesians are generally a peaceful bunch and do not like public displays of anger. Make sure you don’t shout or use aggressive gestures that might attract attention because it is considered disrespectful and rude.

South Korea

When eating and you are having a bit of a runny nose, make sure you do not blow your nose at the dining table as it is considered very rude. If you feel the need to clear your nose, make your way to the bathroom instead.

Vietnam

Taking pictures in Vietnam, don’t be shocked if a local refuses to be in a picture with you and another friend as having three people in-frame is taboo. In Vietnam, the number ‘3’ is considered sacred and the locals believe that if you take photos of three, the devil will take one away.


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Do’s and Don’ts when visiting a Buddhist temple

 

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In Southeast Asia, Buddhist temples are more or less everywhere and the last thing that a traveller would want to do is offend the locals on sacred ground. Before you plan on visiting a Buddhist temple, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind.

Take your shoes off around temple grounds

Just like in most homes in Asia, footwear is not allowed indoors and this is also practiced in temples so do as the locals and find the closest shoe rack or area to leave your footwear before entering a temple. In some places, they might give you a plastic bag to carry your shoes. For good measure, remove your hat as well.

Refrain from pointing at Buddha statues

Pointing can be considered rude in Asian culture and is considered offensive when it comes to statues of Buddha. If you need to gesture at something, do it with your right palm facing upwards instead. Also, back away when exiting a temple instead of turning your back as a sign of respect.

Do not point your feet at the main statue

Feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest point of one’s body in Buddhist culture and pointing your feet towards a statue, or another person can be considered very offensive. A good way to sit in a temple is by tucking your feet under your legs.

Dress decently

Leave your tank tops and shorts at home when visiting a temple. It can be considered offensive if you expose your knees and some temples might prohibit you from entering should you dress indecently. It might be a good idea to bring along a scarf in case you need extra coverage.

Do not engage in public displays of affection

This is a bit of a no-brainer but one would be surprised at the number of visitors who show indecent displays of affection on temple grounds. Keep hands off your significant other when visiting temples to avoid disapproving stares from locals and monks.

Keep your voice at a low volume

As a sign of respect, speak at a lower volume as loud conversations can disrupt those in prayer or meditation. Also, make sure that you refrain from using profanity on temple grounds as there is no tolerance for swearing or offensive remarks in these places.

Do not eat inside temple grounds

Some monks do only eat in the mornings so it might not be a good idea to be snacking around them. Also, accidently spilling a drink or potato crisps all over the floor would be frowned upon, especially when you are a visitor.

Lower your head when passing by people or Buddha statues

The head is considered the highest point in Buddhist culture and as a sign of respect and reverence, make sure you keep your head below the level of Buddhist statues and images. Also, do not touch the top of people or the Buddha statue’s head as this is extremely offensive in their culture.

Be aware of your conduct with monks

Monks are revered in Buddhism are to be respected when you are visiting a temple. When in conversation with a monk who is sitting, make sure you sit down first. Women should also refrain from touching monks as it is prohibited and should you give or receive something from a monk, make sure it is done with your right hand.

Do you have any other do’s and don’ts to share? Do let us know in the comments below. 

 


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7 must visit places for the animal lover in Japan

Kawaii!!! Perhaps one of the most popular words in the Japanese dictionary, kawaii, meaning cute, is something very much rooted in their culture, and what better way to celebrate all things cute than to pay a visit to the very cuddly animal residents of this Asian archipelago?

So here you have it, the must visit places for the animal lover when travelling in Japan:

Nasu Alpaca Farm

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mangeshvarde.com

The largest alpaca farm in Japan Nasu Alpaca Farm in the Tochigi prefecture has been dubbed as the farm that raises the world’s friendliest alpacas. Visit the 400 alpacas that call this place home and in fact, you could get an alpaca to accompany you down the aisle. What a way to calm those wedding jitters!

Zao Fox Village

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atlasobscura.com

What does the fox say? Well, you’ll definitely hear the answer straight from the horse’s mouth at the Miyagi Zao Fox Village, located in the mountains near Shiroishi. The best place in the world for the fox enthusiast, if you are lucky, you just may be able to cuddle a baby fox on village grounds!

Nara Deer Park

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flickr.com

Hello, Bambi! Located in the centre of the city of Nara, this UNESCO Heritage Site is a favourite amongst travellers who pass through the area. The 1200 deer that call this place home share it with several historical monuments such as Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. For maximum fun, spend the whole afternoon exploring this area.

Ōkunoshima Rabbit Island

Bunnies Attract Tourists To A Japanese Islet Okunoshima
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If your life goals entail being completely smothered by a herd of rabbits, then Ōkunoshima Rabbit Island is just what you need! There are several theories as to why there are so many rabbits on the island, but in the end of the day, all that matters is that they are super tame and ready to say hello!

Nagano Snow Monkey Park

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bigbearhakuba.com

Who says only humans know how to enjoy life? Clearly, these monkeys know a thing or two. Nagano is a paradise for these Japanese Macaques who come and sit in hot spring baths. When paying a visit, just make sure you don’t try to touch one of them lest you be rewarded with hisses and swpies.

Aoshima Cat Island

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ibtimes.co.uk

Either a dream come true for your inner crazy cat lady or a total nightmare for the allergic, Aoshima Cat Island is just one of the dozen or so cat islands you can find in Japan. Outnumbering humans 6:1, these cats can be seen almost everywhere you go in this fishing village.

Izu Shaboten Park’s Capybara Onsen

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The Izu Shaboten Park in Ito, Japan, is home to the 10-20 capybaras who live on park grounds who love taking baths in the onsen built just for them! This was discovered by accident when a staff member found one of the capybaras soaking in a puddle and the rest became history.

Do you know of any other must-visit animal places in Japan? Do let us know in the comments below!


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