It would be easy to argue that there is no bad time to visit Japan. With a centuries-old culture, some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and stunning natural beauty, there is a reason that “travel to Japan” appears on so many bucket lists.
That being said, there are several reasons why 2019 is shaping up to be the best time to finally book that vacation to the Land of the Rising Sun. In fact, Japan itself is working hard to attract more tourists, with a stated goal of bringing 40 million people to visit the country by 2020. So, grab your passport and pack your bags, because now is the time to go.
1. Beat the Olympic Crowds
Tokyo won the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, meaning that hundreds of thousands of athletes and spectators will be descending upon the tiny island nation during July and August of 2020 — and beyond. Hotels are already filling up for dates around the Games, making 2019 the ideal time to travel to Japan if you want to avoid crowds. Construction of some Olympic venues is still ongoing, but the country has already invested in infrastructure, entertainment and more to attract tourists. This year will be your chance to see Japan at its finest without the huge crowds and high prices that the Olympics will undoubtedly bring.
2. New and Exciting Accommodations
When Tokyo won the Olympic bid, it did so despite a projected shortage of 41,000 hotel rooms throughout the country. As a result, since 2013, there has been significant investment in hotels and other accommodations, to the tune of approximately $4.9 billion. This investment includes constructing new hotels, as well as expanding and upgrading existing facilities. Travelers have more options than ever before when it comes to finding a place to stay, with options ranging from familiar Western-style hotels to Japanese inns and beds and breakfasts that offer a glimpse into Japanese culture along with a place to stay.
3. Improved Attractions
Japan has no shortage of attractions for tourists, but with the renewed focus on attracting visitors from outside Asia, the government has made some significant changes to major attractions to make them friendlier to visitors. For instance, in 2016, the Japanese government opened the Akasaka Palace in the heart of Tokyo to the public for the first time ever. Built as an Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince in 909, since the mid-1970s this European Baroque-style palace has been used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries. A similar palace can be found in Kyoto and was also opened to the public in 2016.
Japan’s leaders have also taken steps to make the country’s national parks more appealing to foreign visitors. During the multi-year initiative, the Ministry of the Environment has taken steps to more effectively market the parks to foreign visitors and made improvements within the parks themselves, such as adding new signage and information in multiple languages and making it easier to access especially scenic areas. With all of these preparations expected to be in place by the beginning of 2020, 2019 is a great time to enjoy them without major crowds.
4. Eased Travel Restrictions
Currently, travelers coming from 66 countries worldwide — including the U.S. — can enter Japan without a visa. In fact, Japan has recently eased visa restrictions for multiple Asian countries, including China, Thailand and Malaysia, as well as India, and seen a significant increase in tourism as a result. Americans wishing to visit Japan can do so with a valid passport and return ticket and stay up to 90 days. Your passport needs to be valid for the entire length of your stay in Japan, and you should expect to be photographed and fingerprinted when you enter the country. Otherwise, there aren’t any visa requirements for U.S. tourists.
In 2016, Japan also changed the rules regarding tax-free shopping for tourists. Generally speaking, items purchased by tourists to take home are tax free, provided that you meet certain restrictions. Shopping tax-free also requires carrying your passport with you while you shop, but it can save you a significant amount of money. Shopkeepers are familiar with the rules and can help you.
Japan is going to great lengths to attract new visitors in the coming years. With all of these tourist-friendly changes taking place, it’s easy to see why 2019 is the best time to visit Japan.
Cambodia – Land of Ancient Cultures
When it comes to tracking the history of ancient culture down to its very specifics, not many countries can come close to Cambodia.
With its historical significance dating back to the Funan Empire in 50 AD, Cambodia boasts a historical record of around 2000 years. That is why, it is one of the most sought after locations to be visited by those who value culture, history, and an all-around glorious land that is filled with lush-green sights to behold. Therefore, if you are a person who ticks any of these boxes, then it would be a good idea to get your Cambodia visa in advance, ahead of whenever you want to visit this magnificent country.
What makes Cambodia so special are not just the historical buildings and locations that it has been provided by the ancient empires, but also the natural biodiversity that it has been gifted by nature itself.
Due to these factors, a visit to Cambodia is easily one of the most immersive experiences that any tourist can have even without the added flashes of the neon lights of Vegas or the lucrative casinos of Macau. The simplicity of Cambodia acts as its most lucrative factor, which is arguably the most beautiful thing that you can notice about a specific region.
If you are planning a visit to Cambodia whether to learn about the culture or just to relax in its natural beauty, then knowing about which segments to look forward to might help you in creating an itinerary that would keep you organized yet open for fun over your trip.
Without further ado, here are some of the most famous aspects of a visit to Cambodia that would help you gain knowledge about the region while also creating unforgettable and fun memories for you and your loved ones.
The Historical Sites in Cambodia
Once again, Cambodia is immensely rich in terms of history. As with other historical sites, the association of the history itself comes with a mixed feeling of joy and grief; but nonetheless, it lets you learn about human history, the consequences of the actions of past civilizations, and the comparison of decisions taken decades ago to the ones that the humans are making in this day and age.
The Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, also known as the Cambodian Killing Fields, are what denote to the last sentence the most. Originated out of mass killings of over a million people during the Khmer Rouge regime, these sites hold a historical significance of those who were not fortunate enough to survive what can only be called a genocide. The fact that these killings took place just over 4 decades ago, between 1970-1975, brings about a profound feeling in itself.
While many sites are tied with the Killing Fields era, the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center remains as one of the most famous locations of the genocide. It stands as a monument to the victims of the genocide, while the other locations such as Tuol Sleng house museums that tell the story of those who couldn’t survive the brutal regime.
Apart from these two sites from recent history, the Bayon Temple remains tall as an ancient history monument, being built in the 12th or 13th century. The temple is the epitome of ancient architecture, where just one look at it is enough to transport you back to the era where this state temple with no less than 216 stone faces was built with exceptional craftsmanship.
Moving to other sites, you will also be able to visit the Angkor Wat, which stands tall as one of the largest monuments in the world when it comes to religious structures. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Angkor has the distinction of being one of the most popular sites to be visited by tourists all over the world, which is not shocking at all once you read more about it or have the opportunity to visit its magnificent temple yourself.
About the Natural Wonders of Cambodia
Looking past the historical sites and towards the more natural ones, the Angkor Center of Biodiversity might be one of the most fantastical displays of nature’s creations in their natural habitat. The biodiversity center is a great place to learn more about the different species that roam the lands of Cambodia, and remains a must visit for those with a certain adoration for wildlife.
Speaking of which, the Tonle Sap Lake should also be on your list of locations that cannot be missed when it comes to appreciating nature and wildlife in their most magnificent forms. The biodiversity mentioned above can be easily appreciated at the lake and its adjacent area, which would let you witness different animals, birds, and fishes roaming in their natural setting and provide you with memories that you would cherish for the rest of your life.
With this, the lush green lands that you can witness throughout these locations and across many other sites within Cambodia would sing praises of the region’s status as a prime tropical spot on the Earth.
To summarize, a visit from this perspective would also leave you just as fulfilled as a visit from a historical point of view.
About the Gastronomical Offers of Cambodia
Cambodia is one of the richest regions when it comes to fresh food consumption. The food that is served here is mostly made out of fresh ingredients and meat, and prepared with influences from various cuisines of cultures that have touched the region in its many years of development.
In Cambodia, you can find pho-like soups that are not really pho; you can find seafood that is prepared within minutes of being caught from the ocean; and you can enjoy pork and chicken dishes that are created with the aforementioned fusion of flavors that you can identify easily, but would not be able to taste in the delicious combination that Cambodia makes possible for you.
Visit Cambodia with a Warm Heart and You Will End Up Learning A Lot
When you visit Cambodia, you will be visiting a land that is rich in everything that money can’t buy, and experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Overall, a visit to Cambodia is a visit to a location whose associated feelings cannot be emulated elsewhere. Therefore, if you are to visit this land of wonders in the near future, then you are definitely in for a treat.
Top 7 tips for choosing the best Kerala tour packages
Kerala is the 13th largest state in India and one of the most applauded travel destinations in South India. Kerala is blessed with dense mountain, lush greeneries, serene backwaters, exotic flora and fauna, and many more things. That’s why Kerala is known as “Gods own country” and throughout the year, people used to visit this place.
There are many tour operators who offer some lucrative and best Kerala tour packages to the customers. But you should be very careful while choosing the best package as the options are endless. Here, we are mentioning top 7 tips for choosing the best Kerala tour packages.
- Go with a reputed tour operator: If you were looking for the best Kerala tour packages, then you need to choose carefully your tour operators. Always go for a well-known and reputed tour operator who has an in-depth knowledge of Kerala so that they can guide you thoroughly in your Kerala tour. They must know all the famous and popular places where you should visit within your limited days. It would be a prudent decision for you if you can avoid a novice tour operator because they have lack of experiences and thus, they can’t give you the best packages for your tour.
- Take references from your relatives and friends: Are you looking for the best Kerala tour packages? Then why don’t you take references from your friends, relatives, or acquaintances who have visited Kerala recently (within 6 months) with a travel and tour operator. This will certainly help you how you can choose the best Kerala tour packages from a tour operator.
- Price: Price will be a prime factor when you are looking for the best Kerala tour packages. Don’t consider those tour operators who quote a very low price for your tour. Because they might not give you the best quality for your tour. It doesn’t mean that you should pay a humongous amount to get the best tour packages for your trip. Get the quotation from 2 to 3 tour operators and compare their rate and finally, choose the best one which will satisfy all your needs.
- Take a deep look at the portfolio of your tour operator: A reputed and experienced tour operator can only provide you with the best Kerala honeymoon packages for your trip. Thus, before choosing your tour package, don’t forget to check the portfolio of your tour operator. Take a look at the feedback and recommendations that your tour operator got from the other clients. If your tour operator has a questionable market reputation, then don’t take any package from them.
- Know the local pulses well: If your tour operator has a good knowledge of the local pulse and flavour, then they will certainly provide you with the best package. For example, auto-rickshaws are a common mode of transport in Kerala and very often tourists are exploited in terms of fare. But if your tour operator shares a good relationship with the localities, then there will be a less chance of exploitation. So, if you want the best Kerala tour packages, then choose a tour operator who has a good knowledge of Kerala local markets and people.
- Finalize the number of days yourself: Before going to a tour operator for Kerala tour packages, first, finalize the number of days that you want to spend in Kerala. Most of the tour operators have their own travel programme which may not suit your requirements. So, if you want the best Kerala tour packages, finalize the number of days by yourself and then ask a travel operator to make a plan within those days.
- Cover the main places: Kerala has many places to visit. It would be a difficult and hectic job to cover all the places within a limited time period. If you are looking for the best Kerala tour packages, then go for a tour operator who covers all the prime attractions like Alleppey, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Munnar, Kumarakom, etc.
These are the top 7 tips for choosing the best Kerala tour packages. Now, you can contact an eminent tour operator and ask for the best Kerala tour packages.
Philippines Couples Vacation
The Philippines is one of the least explored countries in Southeast Asia. While tourism has picked up over the last few years, it is still mostly a backpacker’s destination. That said, one recent trend has been the increase of couples, especially honeymooners, who come to the country in search of romantic, unspoiled beaches.
While standard honeymoon vacation packages offer a visit to the country’s main tourist spots, Palawan and Boracay, there are so much more you can see if you dare go off the grid for a short while. This is especially true now, with Boracay island being closed for at least 6 months for rehabilitation.
Boracay’s closure shows exactly why responsible tourism is so important, to preserve nature and keep the place clean and safe. Over-development is a huge risk in 3rd world countries which are rapidly becoming tourist magnets, and it’s clear this is already starting to happen in the Philippines. Luckily, there are so many other beautiful islands to which the mainstream tourists didn’t come to yet. This might be your last chance to enjoy those places before they are lost forever in the hands of modernization and commercialization.
Palawan’s hidden secrets
No one in his right mind would tell you to not visit Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. There is, however, ways to make your trip more special and help you avoid the crowds. The 2 most popular locations in Palawan are El Nido and Coron, both offering some of the most spectacular small islands and hidden lagoons you will ever see. The problem is there are literally hordes of tourists taking the island-hopping tours each day, so you never get to really enjoy those places to yourself.
One solution, if you can afford it, would be to hire a private speedboat. You can leave at your own time, and since the boat is faster than the sailboats used for regular tours you can easily reach all the nice places before the organized tours gets there. This option is more relevant for families and larger groups, since you can split the cost of the speedboat between all of you. Couples might find renting a boat each day to be too costly though.
The alternative to that would be to go to the islands and beaches which are still off the tourist radar instead. In El Nido, a perfect solution would be to stay at the Qi Palawan resort and take their tours when you feel like it. This romantic boutique resort is owned by foreigners and standards are very high, it’s a perfect place for couples who want a romantic and private setting for their vacation. The resort is located about an hour’s drive from El Nido town and facing the other side of the bay, so it’s ideal for going on alternative tours.
For Coron, the same trick applies. The northern part of the island is much less developed but the beaches and scenery there is just as breathtaking. Near the area called San Jose there is a small pier called decalachao, from which you can go diving with sea cows, one of the most unique diving experiences the Philippines has to offer. Alternatively, you can also stay at the eastern side of the island, where more traditional island hopping tours are offered.
Siargao island – the next Boracay
If you ask any Filipino where the next big tourist spot will be, the answer is always Siargao. And it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy and the island is now fully booked for months in advance due to Boracay’s imminent closure. This has caught Siargao’s hotel industry by surprise, as this place is still relatively undeveloped and is now full of tourists looking for a place to sleep at.
What used to be one of the best hidden secrets and an ultimate backpacker destination is now quickly turning into a crowded tourist mecca. Now might be your last chance of going there and enjoying some peace and quiet before this happens. If you do go there, make sure you check for availability and book your stay in advance. luckily, there are plenty of places offering homestays, dormitory and Airbnb style accommodation, so finding room on a budget is still relatively quite easy.
The main area in Siargao is called General Luna, and it stretches out all the way into Cloud Nine beach. That beach also has quite a few hotels right next to it, since it is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world and is the original reason why Siargao picked up traction among tourists.
The best way to enjoy Siargao is by renting a motorbike and going on adventures yourself. The organized tours are cheap and quite fun, but you can easily get to all the cool places even without them. When you explore by yourself you get a chance to be on your own itinerary and stop anytime you see something interesting. And believe us, there is plenty to see in Siargao – hidden white sand beaches, thick jungles and stunning landscape all around.
If you feel brave, take the boat trip to Bucas Grande. It’s a grueling 3 hours sail in each direction, but once you get there you’ll understand it was worth the trouble. Sohoton cove is considered one of the most beautiful and unique lagoons in the country, rivaled only by the majestic scenes of Palawan. Right next to the lagoon there’s also the jellyfish sanctuary, where you can swim with stunning stingless jellyfish. Overall the area makes for a great location for a full day tour, filled with fun and unique attractions.
Malapascua – more than just diving
For people who really want to go off the beaten path, there aren’t many better places to visit than Malapascua – a small island right off the northern shores of Cebu island. The fact it takes 5-6 hours to get to the island (van/bus then a ferry) is actually a plus, as it keeps it remote enough that you can enjoy the ultimate island getaway adventure.
Malapascua is mostly famous for its amazing dive sites and a very well-developed diving scene in general. It’s one of the few places in the world where you are almost 100% guaranteed to see thresher sharks in the wild every day. What few people realize though, is that the island also has quite a few really nice boutique resorts. Developed by the island’s fledgling European community, these resorts offer a fantastic solution for couples who want to stay at a nice, small resort but still enjoy excellent amenities.
Overall, Malapascua is one of the best places to go to if you want that unspoiled island vacation, but also care about a comfortable stay. Thanks to the fact this island is so close to Cebu, it can easily be combined with other, equally beautiful locations nearby. Moalboal is a very popular diving town in its own right, and also home to the famous Kawasan Falls. Bohol is a popular tourist island nearby, closely resembling the beach party mentality of Boracay. Lastly, if you truly want to go off the grid, then take a trip to the exotic Camotes islands, a stunning location where even electricity and running water are considered luxury.
Don’t be afraid of exploring on your own
While the advice above is certainly enough to help you create an exciting trip, a big part of the fun is exploring the unknown by yourself. A big part of a vacation in the Philippines is its free spirited and adventurous nature. To fully enjoy what this country has to offer, you have to let go and learn how to go with the flow.
Luckily, the locals are extremely friendly and helpful and they all speak English. Start talking to people around you and soon you will be able to find a ton of exciting new things to do everywhere you go. Make friends with other travelers and book tours together – you’ll get to learn from their insights and it will also help you cut back on the costs.
The Philippines, with the exception of Mindanao island and some parts of Manila, is a very safe place. Don’t be too afraid to mingle or explore just because you feel you might get hurt. The worst you might encounter is petty crimes such as pickpocketing or small tourist scams, especially since couples are rarely targeted. These can be easily avoided by staying alert and using basic common sense. There’s no reason you won’t be able to discover everything this country has to offer and have the perfect holiday with your loved one.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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