8 Tips To Know Before You Go to Japan

15 Aug 2018

Booked a trip to Japan? Here's what you need to know before you go.

#1 Get the JR Rail Pass

It will allow you to cover massive distances in very short time - SO worth it when you consider Japan is a large country with VERY different cities and counties. There are 7, 14 and 21 day passes, and you only have to activate it on the first day you are going to use the pass, so you can stay in one city a few days before you activate it. You must get the JR pass before you enter Japan. Here’s the JR pass website with info.

#2 Get a Wifi dongle

It’s very hard to find wifi spots in Japan – the most reliable way to always be connected is to hire a personal wifi dongle from websites such as these. You order and pay before hand and can decide where you want the dongle to be shipped (e.g. your hotel) or pick up at the airport. When you’re leaving Japan, simply pop it in the post box at the airport.

#3 Download offline maps & Google translate

Most places in Japan don’t name things in English. Maps, menus, names of restaurants will be all in Japanese. Having an offline version of the cities you’re going to visit plus Google translate will get you out of any situation.

#4 Download Hyperdia

A great app showing you all the information you will need for travel, including times, platforms and stops for JR trains and subway alike.

#5 Read how to do “Onsens”

Read online about what to do and not to do in an Onsen. Also, read about bath culture in Japan, as most hotels you will stay at will have a public bath which they will offer to run you a bath on. Say yes! It’s a fantastic experience.

#6 Book at least one Ryokan

If you can, book more. Ryokans are Japanese traditional hotels and guesthouses, but you will be surprised at how much more comfortable their futons are to our western beds. Do the bath / sleep routine and you will sleep like baby.

#7 Take a gift

Or a few. Just chocolate bars or something like that. When someone does something nice for you (in a hotel they might be super accommodating, or help you find something… or a restaurant maitre d’ might give you an umbrella to take with you if it’s raining outside).

#8 If you plan on driving, you will need an international driving permit.

Been there, been burnt.

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