Friday, April 28, 2017

Japan 2017: The Osaka Amazing Pass

Japan is inviting more tourists to visit their beautiful country.  However, the notion that traveling to Japan is expensive has always been one factor that hinders travelers to visit Japan.  As such, Japanese government had devised ways in which to help tourists save while they visit Japan.  These include transportation passes, tourist attraction passes, and even tax-free shopping!  

One of these passes is the Osaka Amazing Pass.  It’s an all-in-one pass that covers entrance fees to more than 30 different tourist attractions and unlimited train and subway rides.  It also comes with a guidebook that has a map and “TOKUx2” coupons that serves as discount vouchers to some establishments at Osaka.  A one-day pass costs JPY 2300, while a two-day pass costs JPY 3000.  We availed the two-day pass and were able to save a lot of money.  



We bought our Osaka Amazing Pass at the Kansai Tourist Information Center at KIX (Kansai International Airport) when we arrived at Osaka.  Osaka Amazing Pass has 24-hour validity that starts at 5AM of the day you use the pass up until 4:59AM the next day.  So if you use the Osaka Amazing Pass at Day 1 at 8PM, the pass will expire 4:59AM the next day.  To maximize the pass, use it early morning up until late evening for a one day pass.



There is no Osaka Amazing Pass for Children.  Children below 6 years old are free in all transportation rides.  They are also free on most attractions.  Few attractions have entrance fee for children but you will only pay for half the adult price.  We tried to buy Neo an Osaka Amazing Pass, but the nice Japanese staff at the Kansai Tourist Information Center won’t give us one as he said “Kindergartens are free of charge.  No need to buy.”

Dotonbori! 

Osaka Amazing Pass gives you access to a lot of tourist attractions at Osaka.  The attractions are divided into six (6) areas: Kita, Minami, Osaka Castle, Bay, Tennoji, and Nagai.  You can plan your visit per area as to maximize your time.

That’s me and Neo hiking up Osaka Castle. 

Using this pass, we were able to visit eight (8) tourist attractions within Osaka area.  It also saved us a lot in transportation as long as we use the subway.  Here are the tourist attractions we visited, the cost of entrance per tourist attraction, and the transportation cost to go to these attractions.  Also included are Neo’s cost (a child below 6 year old).



Entrance Fee
Neo's Entrance Fee
Day 1


Osaka Castle
JPY 600
Free
Osaka Castle to Tsutenkaku Tower (Transportation)
JPY 240
Free
Tsutenkaku Tower
JPY 700
JPY 300
Tsutenkaku Tower to Bay Area
(Transportation)
JPY 280
Free
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
JPY 800
JPY 800
Captain Line (2-way)
JPY 1,300
JPY 500
Bay Area to Namba
(Transportation)
JPY 280
JPY 280
Tombori Cruise
JPY 900
Free
Namba to Umeda
(Transportation)
JPY 240
Free



Day 2


Umeda to Tenjimbashi Shopping Area
(Transportation)
JPY 180
Free
Osaka Science Museum
JPY 400
Free
Osaka Science Museum to Umeda
(Transportation)
JPY 180
Free
Hep 5 Ferris Wheel
JPY 500
Free
Umeda Sky Building
JPY 1,000
Free



Total
JPY 7,600
JPY 1,880


Overall, we could have spent JPY 7600 per person in all these attractions and transportation rides, but we only spent JPY 3000 each because we bought the Osaka Amazing Pass!  That’s JPY 4600 savings per person!  Our savings was way more than what the Osaka Amazing Pass cost.  And we also saved a lot for Neo, since initially we wanted to buy him an Osaka Amazing Pass for himself and ended up only spending JPY 1880 for him.  It’s JPY 1120 savings for Neo – thanks to the staff at the Kansai Tourist Information Center for not selling us one for him. 

Osaka Amazing Pass saved us a lot of money.  So if you are planning to visit Osaka, buy the Osaka Amazing Pass.  It will not only save you money, it will also help you in touring Osaka as tourist attractions are suggested already in the guidebook and a map is also provided for your needs.

PS:  Do check this website for updated pricing and pass inclusions.  Osaka Amazing Pass website




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Japan 2017: Our 11 Days Itinerary

Our Japan 2017 trip was a very memorable one.  We spent eleven (11) days in Japan, visited five (5) cities, had fun in four (4) different theme parks, and toured a lot.   To be able to do it, we had a really jam-packed itinerary and tight schedule, but we were able to follow it all.




Our 11 days Japan itinerary looks something like this.

Day 1 – Arrival in KIX (Kansai International Airport in Osaka)
Day 2 – Visit Osaka’s tourists’ spots
Day 3 – Visit Osaka’s tourists’ spots (part 2)
Day 4 – Universal Studios Japan
Day 5 – A Quick Kyoto and Nara visit (Overnight bus ride from Kyoto to Tokyo)
Day 6 – Tour Tokyo by Train
Day 7 – Fuji Q Highlands
Day 8 – Tokyo DisneySea
Day 9 – Tokyo Disneyland
Day 10 – Tour Tokyo by Train (part 2)
Day 11 – Depart Japan via Haneda Airport (located in Tokyo)

We spent five (5) days in Kansai region, and visited three (3) cities – Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara.  We toured the city of Osaka for two (2) days and visited quite a number of tourist attractions using the Osaka Amazing Pass.  Another day was spent at Universal Studio Japan.  We had a quick tour of Kyoto and a short visit of Nara in one day too.  


The famous Glico Man. 

After 5 days in Kansai, we took the overnight bus to Kanto region.  We spent two (2) days touring the city of Tokyo.  We also allotted a day each in having fun at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.  We spent another day at the city of Fujiyoshida in Yamanasahi prefecture to see Mt. Fuji up close and indulge the little boy’s request to visit Thomas Land. 


Busy streets of Shinjuku, Tokyo. 

Our itinerary was very tight.  We have a schedule printed in 30-minute intervals.  This intervals includes the date, time, attractions we will visit, activities we will do, and subway lines we will ride.  As Japan is very popular for being on time, we were able to schedule our tour and train rides as exactly on point as possible (thanks to Hyperdia).



Following this itinerary will make you maximize your Japan visit, but please do take note that our family traveled with two (2) adults (me and the hubby) and one 5-year old kid.  Both the hubby and I love to walk, and are quite fit.  Our little boy was also very game in walking with us, and keeping up with our pace.

I have to reiterate that this rigid and tiring itinerary is not for: big groups (as we tend to wait for one another) and groups with small children and elderly.  But if you think this itinerary is for you, and you want to mirror it, do shoot me an email and I will send you a copy of our detailed itinerary to help you in your Japan visit J



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Japan 2017: 11 Days, 5 Cities, 4 Theme Parks for Php49,000! (Plus A Shinkansen Ride!)

Japan is one of those countries I dream to visit even when I was a little girl.   Being a fan of Japanese anime (yes, I am an otaku), traveling to Japan has always been included in my bucket list.  I have heard and read a lot of stories about how expensive traveling to Japan is, and I do agree with them, but let me share to you how we were able to travel to Japan for eleven (11) days, visited five (5) cities, enjoyed four (4) major theme parks for less than Php49,000 per person including airfare!  Ooops, did I also say riding the Shinkansen was included in the cost? J




We visited Japan last March and after this travel, I realized that I am no budget traveler.  I am a practical traveler.  By my definition, a practical traveler travels with a certain budget (not too low) and with this budget makes the most of his or her travel.  So how did we (my family and I) managed to be a practical traveler?

Since we wanted to visit the world, one country at a time, we planned our Japan travel with the thought that we won’t be visiting this beautiful country in the next 10 years (because we want to visit other countries too).  And so we created our itinerary in such a way that we will be able to visit as much places as we can in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Our itinerary (a detailed one will be shared in a separate post) for 11 days includes arriving at Japan through Kansai International Airport in Osaka and departing at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.  It also includes visiting Universal Studios Japan, Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland, and Fuji Q Highlands, where Thomas Land is also located.  In between visiting theme parks, we planned to tour the cities of Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara.  We also wanted to see the majestic Mt. Fuji so we need to travel to a city with a nice view of it.  And of course, we wanted to ride the famous Shinkansen.

So without further ado, let me share to you the breakdown of your Japan budget.  Please do take note that all costs are in Philippine Peso.  1 PHP = 0.4478 JPY, as this is the conversion rate we had when we bought Japanese Yen.

Airfare:  We flew to Osaka, Japan via Cebu Pacific and were able to book on seat sale.  We flew back to Manila from Haneda airport via China Eastern – not a budget airline but since we used the hubby’s Delta miles, it cost like a budget one.  Baggage allowance was not a problem as non-budget airlines allows two luggages for check in without cost.  Airfare cost back and forth for one person: Php 5,132.57.



Accommodation:  We booked our accommodations through Airbnb.  We booked one apartment at Fukushima in Osaka, and another one at Nakano-sakaue in Tokyo.  Airbnb is like renting your own place.  The apartments we rented were both fully furnished, with beds, kitchen, bathroom, small dining area, and a washing machine.   It was like living like a local.  Accommodation cost for 11 days for one person: Php 9,183.00.



Transportation:  Japan has expensive transportation but you will not regret paying for the cost.  Trains, subways, and buses are very clean, on time, and staffs are very polite.  Japan offers tourists a lot of options on how to save on transportation: JR Pass, Tokyo Metro Subway Pass, Osaka Amazing Pass, etc.  We made sure to grab some of these passes.  I will create a separate blog post on how to save transportation in Japan.  Even with the transportation passes, we still spent a lot on transportation.  Transportation cost for one person: Php 10,143.58.




Food.  Japan serves very delicious foods but at a cost of course.  A ramen meal would cost around JPY 1000-1500 (Php450-650).  Budget meals are also available in 7/11, Family Mart, and Lawson.  These meals cost around JPY 300-500 (around Php150-250).  Street foods range from JPY150-700.  We were able to save on food cost by cooking in our Airbnb apartment.   Food cost for one person: Php 7,353.48.



Passes/Entrance Fees.  Since we went to four (4) major theme parks our overall budget for passes was very high.  Osaka Amazing Pass for 2 days cost JPY3000 – this has access to almost 30 attractions in Osaka (which will save you a lot on entrance fees).  Universal Studios Japan admission cost JPY7600.  A 2-day pass for visiting Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea cost JPY13200.  (The 2-day pass will save you a lot instead of buying separate tickets for Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea as each would cost JPY7400.  However, you have to visit the theme parks on consecutive days.)  We were so lucky to see a flyer for a free entrance at Fuji-Q Highland as normal admission fee is JPY1500 (and you have to pay in every attraction or rides you enter).  Some tourist attractions have entrance fee too, though minimal.  Passes / Entrance Fees cost for one person: Php 10,926.32.




Visa/Travel Tax.  Japanese Visa application won’t cost a peso but travel agencies who will process your application will charge you.  Total cost of application per person is Php 1,330 including the cost of requirements (NSO birth certificate, marriage certificate, and the likes).  You are required to pay travel tax when you leave the country.  It amounts to Php 1,620 per person.  Visa/ Travel Tax cost Php 2,950.

Miscellaneous.  Since we live in a very tropical country, we don’t have warmer in our closets.  We bought some before going to Japan, and good thing we did as during our visit, the temperature was down to 6 degrees in the morning and almost 2 degrees in the evening.  We also spent some money in keeping our luggage in coin lockers while we were touring.  Miscellaneous cost Php 2,988.65.

Overall, we spent Php 48,677.59 per person! 



PS: Pasalubong cost is not included.  

Now go ahead and plan your Japan travel!  It is not very expensive, you just have to plan and research a lot.  J



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Baby Company’s Baby Gear Sale 2017

Shopping has always been a therapy for women.  Do you agree?  Well, this is very true at least for me.  Shopping for clothes, shoes, and bags kicks off stress and acts as an anti-depressant.  Even when you become a mom, the shopping never stopped.  You become a more practical shopper – you shop less for yourself and shop more for your baby! J

Baby Company, one of the country’s go-to stores when it comes to baby needs, is holding its Baby Gear Sale from April 3 to 30, 2017.  Aside from the word shopping, moms like me love to hear another word.  Sale. 



And because a sale seems to draw me to a shop like a magnet, I visited SM City Trece Martires, one of the malls closest to me which has a Baby Company store.  



Now let me show you some of the items they have in sale and the items I like most.

Baby Company’s Baby Gear Sale offers as much as 50% discount on select strollers, baby carriers, and car seats.  Brands such as MacLaren, Chicco, Safety 1st, Apruva, Aprica, Baby First, and Graco are participants of the Baby Gear Sale.  Chicco also offers free Chicco Hippo Gym if you reach a minimum of Php6000 single-receipt purchase.  A Graco Baby Tub or Diaper Bag is also free when you buy a select Graco stroller.

Strollers at 10% off! 

Walkers at 10-20% discount!

 
Now let me show you my top picks.  This Graco car seat is on the top of my list of must buy.  Original price is almost Php4000, but is on sale for only Php1650!   So mommies close to SM City Trece Martires, grab it now!


Another one I like is the Pockit Compact Stroller.  This will really be on my to-buy list when I have my next baby.  It’s not on sale yet (I will be waiting when they will put this on sale) and it cost Php10,000.  It’s very compact that you can even hand carry it on airplanes!  Very travel friendly.


This Apruva Hip Seat Carrier is part of my top picks.  This is very practical as hip seat can carry babies until they are 36 months, unlike normal carriers which can only carry babies until 1 year of age.  It cost Php1,899.  We bought this. 



I also love this diaper bag, because it looks very sturdy and it doesn’t look like it’s a diaper bag.  It’s from Carter’s and it cost Php699. 



Nursing and feeding items are also on sale for up to 30% off!  Baby Company offers different brands that cater to various people.  There’s Nuby, Avent, Pigeon, Dr. Brown, Disney Baby, Ainon, and a lot more.  There are a lot to choose from.


Nuby at 30% off! 

There are also several selected baby products that are on sale other than the baby gears and nursing and feeding items.

Washcloth from Php299 to Php150!
Three pairs non-slip socks 
from Php199 to Php100!

Cleaning aides (bottle cleanser and 
laundry detergent).
For taking care of our babies’ teeth. 


And here’s what I bought during my visit.  Carter’s diaper bag, Apruva Hip Seat Baby Carrier, Johnson’s Baby Powder, Johnsons Baby Oil, Baby Clean cotton rounds, Lactacyd (because Baby Company sells items for moms too), and Giggles Baby Wipes (because as moms, we can’t have enough baby wipes! Plus it’s on sale too, 2 packs for Php160 J). 



Now that I have shown you these sale items, I know mommies and daddies are very excited to go to Baby Company and shop for their little ones.  All Baby Company stores are participating in the Baby Gear Sale except Hypermarket branches.   

For more information about the Baby Gear Sale of the Baby Company, visit their website or follow them on their social media sites: www.facebook.com/BabyCompanyPH , www.twitter.com/BabyCompanyPH and, www.instagram.com/BabyCompanyPH

PS:  Do buy a Mom Card too.  I did.  It costs Php100.  It will earn you points per purchase just like the SM Advantage card, but will earn you twice as much point when you buy from the Baby Company.



PPS: All these items I posted are from SM City Trece Martires, so if you are eyeing one of these sale items, I suggest you visit them. J

Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  However, all opinions and personal choices are mine.



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