Japan is a welcoming vacation destination with friendly locals and excellent transit options. But it is still a different world, and there are some steps you should take to get the most out of your visit. Get prepared for your trip to Japan with these three essential travel tips.
Get Your Phone Ready for Your Trip
There are a bunch of great apps you can set up on your phone before you head to Japan. Start with the basics and make sure you have Google Translate set up on your phone. Google Translate can help you understand the signs and other notices you will encounter. Likewise, Google Maps is another indispensable tool to get you from place to place.
You can supplement these tools with apps designed for travel in Japan. HyperDia is a great app to help you make sense of Japan’s busy train system, and it features detailed guides to departures, arrivals and routes in English. Waygo is an app that specializes in translating menus so you can figure out what you want to try at shops where the staff is unlikely to speak English.
It is also important to know that you will be able to use your phone when you need it. Rent a pocket Wi-Fi device so you can get a strong signal all over Japan. A pocket Wi-Fi will also allow you to connect any other devices you need, such as a laptop or tablet.
Decide How You Will Be Traveling Across Country
Once you have your itinerary laid out, take some time to think about how you will be getting around the country. Japan is home to an incredible, robust train system, and this is great way to move from city to city at your own pace. If you plan on doing this, make sure you get a JR Pass. JR Passes are available to foreign visitors only and allow unlimited use of the rail service for one week. However, because they are only available to visitors, they must be purchased ahead of time.
If you are going to be traveling from one end of the country to the other, look into a domestic flight. Tourist flights, which also must be booked ahead of time, can cost as little as $100 to fly across the country, which will not only save cash but will cut down on travel time.
Finally, you may want to look into a Suica or Pasmo card. These pre-paid cards work with local transit systems, such as subways or busses. This means you won’t have to learn how to pay for different services or book individual trips at confusing kiosks.
Get Ready to Experience a New Culture
Try and learn a couple Japanese phrases before you go. No one expects you to master the language – but learning how to ask for your bill, tell people your name or even just ask if they speak English will help you get around and feel more comfortable.
There are some customs you should be prepared for as well. Some restaurants, shops and even tourist attractions will expect you to take off your shoes. Make sure you wear socks and take shoes you can easily get out of. Tattoos are still associated with organized crime and are still somewhat taboo in Japan. Be prepared to cover them if you want to visit some place where they might be visible, such as a traditional hot spring bath, or you may not be allowed entry.
With a little planning, you will be ready to immerse yourself in a fascinating culture. So, load up your phone, practice your Japanese and look forward to a unique experience.