Is Japan nice to go to in Winter?
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Jul 26, 2012 3:50 AM Last Post By: SingObserver
Jul 24, 2012 6:46 AM
Is Japan nice to go to in Winter?Hi!
I was planning on going to Korea before uni, but i think it will just be too cold! So i'll go there later. But anyway, Japan's weather in Janruary seems not too bad, 9.9 - 2.5 for Tokyo. So i think i might go to Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan this January/February. Is Japan a nice place to go to in Winter? I'd like to go to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. I'm not interested in going there for winter things like skiing, but seeing some nice snow would be great!
Also, is 5 days each a nice amount of time to spend in Hong Kong + Taiwan.
One thing which does kinda scare me, is that i'll just be 19, travelling solo for the first time. I am male, but very small and weak looking + i look very young for my age, people seem to think i'm 14-17 years old. Would it be safe for me to travel in these countries alone?
Thanks in advance.
Jul 24, 2012 7:56 PM
1It all depends where you are from and how you define cold. I am from California so Japan's winter is unbearable but my buddies from Scotland wear t-shirts in the winter here. I would highly recommend going to the Sapporo Snow Festival if you get the chance during the first week of February. It will be nice for you to travel in Jan/Feb because it is less touristy in Japan then.
5 days is a good amount of time in both countries. All countries are fine to trarrvel alone, they are among the safest in Asia. Hong Kong only has a problem with pickpockets but you can avoid that easily. I traveled when I was your age here and haven't looked back.
Jul 24, 2012 8:19 PM
2I love Japan in the winter. But bear in mind if you want to see snow, it may not be very likely in the cities you have mentioned. They will just be cold and maybe wet. (I was in Kyoto last Christmas and regretted not bringing gloves but the 4 days I was there saw only a dusting of snow. If you really want to see snow, plan to visit Sapporo (yes the Snow Festival is great) or alternatively Nagano/Matsumoto or other cities higher up in the Japan Alps.
Re: the safety question. No worries; the places you are planning to visit are among the most safe on earth for tourists. Take normal precautions (be aware of your wallet at all times on mass transit, etc.), but other than that go everywhere and do everything.
There are plenty of small men in these countries, too (though the young ones get bigger with every generation) so you needn't feel out of place. However, if if were you I would make it a point to carry a photocopy of my passport/proof of age everywhere I go.....if you want to stop in for a quick beer, you don't want to be refused.
Jul 24, 2012 11:37 PM
3Ah i've looked Sapporo and it seems quite nice! I've never really seen snow, kinda saw it once, so i think it would be cool to go check out. The cost to get up there doesn't seem too bad.
Should i add anything else to this trip, is there anything else Japan has to offer for someone only spending two (possibley three) weeks in Japan?
Also is it easy to get decent accommodation for a not so bad price in japan? I've looked up accommodation and it seems a bit pricey.
Is 5 days possibly too little or too much for Hong Kong and Taiwan?
Jul 25, 2012 12:55 AM
4@#2, if you want to stop in for a quick beer, you don't want to be refused
proof of age won't help OP get a beer in Japan; he's 19, drinking age is 20. However, he probably wouldn't be carded at a convenience store or supermarket anyway.
Jul 25, 2012 6:49 AM
5Ah. Thanks, GrogB......I didn't know Japan's drinking age was so high. It's theoretically 18 here in HK (though that's widely ignored). Same in Taiwan.
OP: I think five days is not enough for both HK and Taiwan. In that amount of time you can just manage a couple of days in HK and Taipei -- but Taiwan is much more than just Taipei (and Taipei is not IMHO the best part). And the added transfer will use up at least half a day, just getting from one to the other.
I would recommend that you pick one -- either HK or Taiwan. And spend your full five days enjoying the place rather than in more airports.....
I am biased but I think you would find more of interest in HK (and it is more accessible/easier to do for an English-speaker. (If you are a Hokkien-speaking Singaporean, the calculation would be different.) If you take five days in HK, you should add on Macau......spend at least one night in Macau so you can take some time to walk around the colonial-era districts and sample the local cuisine.
Re: what else to see in Japan. Be sure to visit a Hot Spring resort (Onsen). Truly unique. They are all over the country; check out the Lonely Planet guide for recommendations.
I love hiking over the volcanos in Hokkaido, but unfortunately winter is NOT the time to be doing that.....
Jul 25, 2012 7:14 AM
6Wow people on this forum are so helpful.
Sorry i meant 5 days each, for HK and Taiwan, is that enough?
Funny enough though i would rather go to HK (have wanted to go there for ages!), but the Taiwan bit was just a thought of what i could add to make this more special, unless if do you guys think spending a little time in mainland china would be better? I think i'd be more interested in going to China than Taiwan, but i'd only be able to spend a week or so in China which isn't much, it might be better for me to just have a bigger China trip latter on in life.
Jul 25, 2012 10:03 AM
7Taiwan is great (Japan is great too). Hongkong I haven't been.
Taiwan is very friendly people, very busy temples that are free and stay open until late at night (for example Taipei's Longshan temple), great food, taxi's are cheap and honest, great Chinese art in the Palace museum, beautiful nature (butterflies, monkeys, flowers, palm trees, squirrels, mountains, waterfalls...), no touts, very little crime, high speed trains, Taipei has a good subway system etc...
Jul 25, 2012 5:03 PM
8#7 is quite right. If you have five days to spend in EACH place, then I think 5 days in each would be good. 5 days in HK/Macau is about right. In 5 days in Taiwan you can identify a couple of places outside Taipei and see a bit of the place. Check out a guidebook to see what interests you -- if you're traveling in January you may want to just see cities -- I'm a hiker and love the countryside, but Taiwan in January is usually sodden wet and foggy. If the weather happens to be nice, however, there are two national parks in northern Taiwan which are well worth seeing: Yangmingshan just outside Taipei, and Taroko Gorge, on the island's east side.
Re: China.....yes, save that for another trip. You could spend 5 days seeing any one of a dozen different areas, but Beijing (the historically most interesting) is unpleasantly cold windy and polluted in the winter. Also, you don't say what nationality you are -- most westerners pay substantial visa fees for each visit to China, where Japan, Taiwan and HK are visa-free for most.
Jul 26, 2012 2:50 AM
Jul 26, 2012 3:50 AM
10Yah...that's the price the "full service" airlines (like Cathay Pacific) would charge. Advantages of flying a full service airline are greater reliability, greater comfort (TVs on long flights) and better customer service (useful if you want to change things).
But you could consider flying budget carriers. That would involve buying a series of one-way flights. Check out some of the options and see if you can put together something cheaper than the full-fare option. Try Jetstar from Sydney to Tokyo, then depart Japan from Osaka to Taipei on Jetstar. (There are very few budget flights from Tokyo to anywhere; planning to leave from Osaka you would have more options.)
Getting from Taipei to HK, there are no direct budget carriers but there is lots of competition. You could fly via the Philippines on Cebu Pacific Air or just book a one-way flight on a conventional carrier through Zuji (www.zuji.com.hk). Then from HK to return to Sydney, there's Jetstar via Singapore, or Air Asia via Kuala Lumpur.
In booking budget carrier flights, note that you have to pay extra for checked baggage.
So tote up all that, and see if it saves you a significant amount. If not, just book on a reliable full-service carrier. Cathay Pacific is quite good, and they do fly to all your stops: Sydney-(HKG)-Tokyo-Taipei-Hong Kong
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