This is the one place that always stuck to us. We miss the people, the places, the food; we were left with a great impression of the island and will go back there someday. Enough of the cheesy stuff! This is what we did for trip to Bali.
Ya, like we’ve said before, just get them as early as you can. Bali is a growing tourist destination for people all around the world. Plus, the earlier you get your ticket, the more options you have for setting up your trip schedule.
We were provided a taxi driver through our AirBnB. This taxi driver became our driver, tour guide, and a reliable friend. We can’t recommend his services highly enough and we could see that there are many taxi drivers in Bali that have that same friendly service.
Homestays are everywhere in Bali. Everywhere you look in Ubud, you’ll find a homestay. The drawback to this is that you’re not guaranteed an air conditioner. This is what killed us! Our AirBnB/homestay, though everybody was nice and the breakfast was great, didn’t have an air conditioner and that made our nights hard to sleep through. If we had to do our trip over, we’d make sure that the place we were staying at had an air conditioner.
Temples and Other Sights:
The temples and other sights often require that you pay an entrance fee which they call a “donation” (still bugs me to this day). Temples are great because you simply pay the entrance fee and you’re good for the whole stay there. Places like the rice terraces require an entrance fee, but if you want to go onto the other side of the terraces (where you can see from higher up and there’s a better looking swing you can ride on) you pay an additional two donations along the way, otherwise you can’t enter.
One thing we didn’t know when we went to the Pura Lempuyang Luhur temple was that you were required to wear a sarong as to be respectful to the temple and the Indonesian traditions. If you don’t have one, then you could pay your entrance fee plus a little more to rent a sarong until the end of your stay. Luckily for us, we had two in our bag. Other temples and religious areas probably have similar codes, so, just to be safe, bring a sarong.
After seeing many of images of beautiful temples and unique structures, we knew we wanted to go to Bangkok, Thailand. We took out a piece of paper and listed the places we wanted to visit while we stayed in Thailand. We grouped the places by proximity and decided how long we’d need to visit all the places we wanted to visit. Everything else we just sorta figured out along the way.
-The Earlier the Better
Same with any other big trip you’re planning for, you should buy your plane tickets way ahead of time. We bought our tickets about 7 months prior to the actual flight. Doing so allowed us to have a bit more of a guarantee that Sky and I would be able to sit next to each other. Plus, Bangkok has become a pretty touristy area. You will definitely have a hard time trying to find last minute flights to Bangkok. Make sure to plan ahead.
-Which Airline to fly with
This can make your flight a very good experience or a very bad experience. We were flying from the Narita Airport in Japan to the Don Muang International Airport in Thailand and there were many Low-Fare Airlines in Asia; knowing which one was the best was hard to tell (we’ve flown with Scoot and AirAsia so far). All Low-Fare Airline tickets will allow you to take a carry on bag with nothing else, so if you have any large baggages, you will need to buy a special checked bag package with your ticket. Some airlines have better package deals than others. Unfortunately for us, we flew with Scoot. The 5 hour flight from Japan to Thailand was painful in that our package didn’t come with a meal plan, and their itinerary told us that we couldn’t bring any food onto the plane. The seats were alright except for the arm rest, which buttons for the light and to call the flight attendant were installed into it. So, whenever I’d try to rest my elbow on the arm rest, the light above me would pop on. In the end it’s just going to have to be based on which airline has the best ticket package as well as which airline schedule best fits your trip.
Just so you know, if you want some food during your flight, get a package with AirAsia.
How to get Around:
-Pictures of Words and Places
Although most countries have representatives that speak English very well almost anywhere you go (especially the airport), Thailand isn’t one of those countries. We had a hard time finding anyone who can actually communicate with us. Even the man who was trying to get us to rent a SIM card was having a hard time trying to get anything through to us. We found that simply taking screenshots of places or addresses or even words made communicating with people much easier and less stressful.
When we first arrived in the Don Muang Airport, we figured we’d need to get a taxi to get where we were staying. The first place we saw that advertised taxis were offering to get us to where we were staying at for 980 Baht (almost $30 US). We thought that was kinda expensive for what we were looking for. We soon found the location of the normal taxi service which was at gate 8. These taxis charge by the meter instead of a set price, which is actually way cheaper. If it weren’t for the taxi meter service in Bangkok, we’d be broke or probably still at the Don Muang Airport wondering what we should do. Seriously, the taxis in Bangkok are numerous, cheap, and reliable. The cars come in all different colors from green, pink, yellow; we tended to stick to waving down cars that had both green and yellow colors.
Something to note, the taxi drivers are not always honest and will tell you how much it is to get to a place. THAT’S NOT USING THE TAXI METER!! Before you get into any taxi, always ask, “do you use taxi meter?” or “do you use meter?” and point to the little box sitting on the car dashboard. Make sure they say yes or nod. Then we’d show a picture of the place we wanted to go or a screenshot of the name of the place in Thai. It was simple and got us around quickly and cheaply.
Pocket Wifi and SIM Cards:
Both devices were available for rent, but we didn’t get either. We felt that we didn’t need it and didn’t want to bother trying to figure how to return the items, but you can rent them from little places all around the airport. The AirBnB we stayed at had wifi, so we’d just plan where we wanted to visit the next day then just take a taxi to get around. Since we had our AirBnB home address as well as some instructions on how to get there for the taxi driver, we never got lost. In case you’re worried about whether or not there will be a taxi in your vicinity, trust me when I say that 50 percent of the cars on the road are taxi cars. Don’t worry!
Place to Stay:
There are a lot of hotels as well as homestays in Bangkok, Thailand; both have their pros and cons. Hotels are nice and have convenient things such as tour booking and shuttle bus pick-ups and such. The draw back is that they’re expensive. If you’re like me, a poor college student, then you’d probably avoid hotels; plus we’re out on the streets most of the day, so, why would you need nice appliances and stuff? We chose to stay at an AirBnB. The room had everything we needed; it had air conditioning, a large space, a nice bathroom, and street food nearby. The apartment maid was also super nice!
Stuff to Bring:
It’s hot and humid in Thailand. You’re going to sweat A LOT, so drink and bring lots of water. Don’t ever drink from the tap. The water is dirty and could make you very sick. So, if you don’t have a water bottle, go buy one from a Seven-Eleven. They’re everywhere.
During rainy season, there is a lot of spotty rain. Rain just comes and goes and having a small umbrella is pretty nice during those times.
If you’re a foreigner like me, you’re going to want to bring some Pepto-Bismol or some kind of anti-diarrheal medication, because your body is most likely not going to be used to the foods in Thailand. If you’re going to any foreign country, bring medication.
Street Food and Street Shopping:
Instead of eating at a nice restaurant, you should really try the local foods. The best place to get it is on the street and street vendors are everywhere in Thailand. Thailand is famous for their stir-fry dishes, but expand and experiment. You might find something you like!
If you go to Khaosan road, or anywhere there’s a shop, you’re bound to find something that you like/want. When that happens, make sure to use your bartering skills. Compare the different shops before you buy anything and don’t forget to barter and you may be able to get as much as 30-40% off of the original price of the item.
Places we Visited:
Our trip to Bangkok, Thailand and how we did it.Note: Every temple or palace is bound to have an entrance fee, so be ready for that. Also, there is a clothing code on temple grounds that discourages any revealing clothing. They won’t necessarily kick you off the premises, but it’s more respectful.
I’m pretty sure every one of us wonder when is early enough to buy tickets that are affordable. This is up to you. For us, we bought the ticket 7 months before the trip for a few reasons. First of all, most of the time it is cheaper to buy early; second of all, we get it out of the way so we know that we will go on this trip for sure. We bought one-way tickets since we were visiting other countries as well. It was about $1100 for both of us. I’m sure you find better deals out there, but once you have bought your tickets, don’t search for any other deals since you already bought your ticket and they are pretty unchangeable, so why search other deals and feel sorry that you can’t change tickets.
Other note: we flied Singapore airlines. Highly recommend it. Their service is the best and their food is amazing!
2. How to prepare before the trip?
Look for one that is most suitable to you. Make sure to read the fine print and be safe on your trip! The one we bought is about $80 for 2 people that covers our whole trip including our stay in multiple countries.
How long are you going to stay in Japan? Where in Japan are you planning to visit? All that matters! If you stay in Japan for a week (in my opinion, that is enough) and if you are going to multiple areas like Tokyo, Kyoto, and etc., then buy a JR pass. It is worth it if you are going to different areas in Japan. Japan is huge!! So, a JR pass would help you save some money to travel to those different areas. From Tokyo to Kyoto, it cost around $160/one way/person. The JR pass is about $250/person for a week. It can also work for all the JR local trains. It doesn’t work for other trains or buses that are privately owned and run. Use Google maps to see which trains to take.
JR passes don’t work for some bullet trains, so ask the information desk at the train station which route to take to get to your destination (for us it was to arrive in Tokyo from Kyoto) or how to get around using the JR pass, they will tell you which trains to take. Sometimes, Google map doesn’t tell you all options that are available. Always ask the information desk what train to take to make sure you won’t get lost and so that you can potentially save money.
If you are only staying in Tokyo or just Kyoto, don’t buy a JR pass, because the train costs are pretty cheap usually topping out at around $3.00 one-way. Don’t take a taxi if you want to save some pocket money. Taxis in Japan are expensive!! We only used trains to commute in Tokyo. In Kyoto, we used both trains and buses.
We didn’t think about the need for wifi before we headed to Japan. When we were at the airport, we tried to look for what trains to take, but the wifi at the airport is so weak and it took us so long to figure out which train to take to our airbnb place. Wifi at the convince store never work the way you want it to. The first day there we didn’t a way to conveniently connect to wifi so that we could use Google Maps, but then we found out about a device called “pocket wifi” that you can rent and carry around with you. It provides you with good wifi wherever you go. If you buy a JR pass, you will have the option to rent a pocket wifi, sadly we didn’t know how crucial it was, so ignored the offer. We found a pocket wifi renter and did the whole renting procedure online. Since we didn’t rent it ahead of time, we didn’t have the option to pick it up at the airport. We didn’t want to wait for the pocket wifi to be delivered to our AirBnB, so we just picked it up at the rental place. Below is the link to rent it, but there are many websites and places you can rent them from. The pocket wifi is worth the money and it worked perfectly. Rent once and use up to 10 devices on it. Also, when it’s time to go back to your home country, you can just drop off the device at a post box from which it will be returned to the renters. There’s a post box at every terminal at Narita Airport.
-Find a place to stay
We don’t really care for hotels much, we just stayed at an airbnb. Plus we only sleep there anyway. Tokyo is a busy place; tons of people visit Japan, so book ahead of time. We booked 7 months ahead of time. $80 for 3 nights is way better than $300/for 3 nights right?
-What to pack?
Who else is like me? Pack tons and tons of things before the trip and end up only using a few of them. I do that all the time. But knowing what to pack totally depends on when you are visiting Japan. We visited Japan during the summer, so it is HOT; WAY TOO HOT and HUMID. Don’t pack long-sleeved shirts and tight jeans; you will end up not using them at all. You will walk a lot too, so wear something comfortable and breathable.
3. Places to visit
Moving on to “what places to visit.” You are a pro at this. You probably know where you want to visit, right? If not, Google is your best friend! J
But here are places we visited that we want to share with you
There are a lot of places around the temple to take good pictures
-Tukiji Fish Market
This one is my favorite! You can find so many fun things to buy and try there. Be prepared to eat and sample all the good food there
This is really close to the Tsukiji market
-Harajuku Shopping Street
-Shibuya Scramble Crossing
-Fushimi Inari Shrine
-Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
And of course you will run into some random beautiful places along the way
4. What and where to eat?
To be honest, we didn’t look for places to eat. There are so many restaurants there that you’ll see them while you’re visiting the sites. My favorite was the sushi shop. I live in Utah and sushi in Utah is not good at all, but sushi in Japan is HEAVEN. Eat as much as you can while you are there J
Travel is stressful, tiring, and you get lost a lot. It is hard to plan when or what to eat sometimes too. Convenience stores in japan are nothing like the US; they have such good food and drinks there. We usually just grab something there to eat if we are in a rush.
Lastly, I’m really bad with this, I stress out when we get lost. Haha don’t be like me. Just enjoy and think of everything as part of the adventure. We love Japan for a ton of reasons:
-Japan is a safe place; You will never worry about theft or pick pocketing
-Japanese are very polite.
-Japan is very clean; you will never see trash on the street.
-And of course there are many beautiful places to go.
Enjoy your trip to Japan. Comment below if you have any questions J