Thursday, April 27, 2017

Japan 2017

Tulips - the most romantic flowers in Japan
Matsumoto Castle - Japan's National Treasure
The Tateyama Kurobe Alphine - The Roof of Japan

" Do it with Passion or not at all "

" Passion fuels energy. Our Passion is our strength "

" No alarm clock needed, my PASSION wakes me "

" My 7 days 6 nights package tour to Japan - accompanying my wife to visit the Japan Alps & Central Honshu region from 21-27 April 2017 organized by Parlo Tours Sdn Bhd - my 4th visit to Japan "

Image result for shirakawago map

Travel Itinerary: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) > Kansai  (Osaka) > Nagahama > Gujo Hachiman > Shirakawago > Toyama > Alphine Route > Tateyama > Matsumoto > Kamikochi > Gero Onsen > Nagoya > Kyoto > Kansai > Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (total 1,187km)

Image result for shirakawago map

For DIY or free & easy travelling - here are some of the estimated costings ie the indicative train & bus fares as at April 2017 were quoted as below. However, if you are travelling by express trains or Shinkasen, the reserved seat train fares are probably 60% more in comparison with the bus fares. Assuming your starting point is Tokyo and your departure is from Kansai Airport, my conservative estimate of transport costs covering one train ride from Tokyo Shinjuku to Matsumoto and then the rest of the journey by buses plus 3 day tour packages covering Shirakawago, Snow Wall Tateyama Kurobe Alpine & Kamikochi, the total transport bill comes to approx. Y36,460 = Rm1,487 (US$337)

- Tokyo Shinjuku > Matsumoto (JR Train) - Y6,900
- Matsumoto > Hirayu Onsen (Bus) - Y1,570 (1hr) > Kamikochi (Bus) - Y1,160 (25mins)
- Takayama > Gero Onsen (Bus) - Y1,040 (45mins)
- Gero Onsen > Nagoya (Bus) - Y2,800 (2.5hrs)
- Nagoya > Kyoto (Bus) - Y2,700 (2.5hrs)
- Kyoto > Kansai Airport - Y2,550 (2hrs)
- Shirakawago day tour from Takayama Nohi Bus Center > Shirakawago > Takayama return - Y6,690
- Snow Wall Tateyama Kurobe Alpine transport (one way) from Nagano/Shinano Omachi Station > Dentetsu Toyama Station - Y9,000 (Tateyama Kurobe Option Pass)
- Kamikochi day tour from Takayama Nohi Bus Center > Hirayu Onsen (Y1,570) > Kamicochi (Y1,160 one way & Y2,050 round trip)

As for hostel & guesthouse accommodations in major cities / towns in Japan, a dorm bed costs Y2,000-3,000 ! A light lunch eg Ramen or Udon noodle costs Y700-900 and a normal set dinner meal in a food court is around Y1,000-1,500. Hotel Japanese style buffet lunch costs approx Y1,600 and a hotel set dinner costs around Y2,500.

Parlo's Package Tour Fees inclusive of discount, airport taxes, overseas tipping (7 Days 6 Nights) - Rm7,518 (US$1,708) per pax

Travel Insurance: Rm60
Food & sundries: Y4,800 (one lunch & a dinner at own expense)
Exchange Rate: US$1=Rm4.40; 1,000=Rm40.80

Flight Information:
21/4/2017 Kuala Lumpur > Kansai 0800>15.25 (6 hr 25min)
27/4/2017 Kansai > Kuala Lumpur 11.00>16.35 (6 hr 35min)

Hotel Information:
21/4/2017 - Nagahama Royal Hotel, Nagahama City, Shiga
22/4/2017 - Hida Plaza Hotel, Takayama, Gifu
23/4/2017 - Tokyu Rei Hotel, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano
24/4/2017 - Yamgataya Onsen Hotel, Gero City, Gifu
25/4/2017 - Nagoya International Hotel, Nagoya, Aichi
26/4/2017 - Star Gate Hotel, Izumisano City, Osaka

Eating & Dining
- Fresh local farm specialty set lunch
- Special salt baked fish
- Nagoya specialty chicken wings
- Kyoto tofu & Udon noodle hot pot

My wife loves coming to Japan and so am I. Our last visit to Japan was in 2015 (Hokkaido). So far, my wife had visited Japan three times & as for me, this was my fourth visit. So after this Japan Central Honshu trip, I am pleased to post a number of pictures I had taken in this trip in my travel blog and I hope you enjoy reading them.   I believe by now, based on what I have seen and heard, I am more than qualified to talk 3 & talk 4 on this "Land of Rising Sun", a nickname for Japan. 

Before signing this package tour, both my wife and myself had visited two travel agencies in Kuala Lumpur ie Apple Vacations & Parlo Tours. After studying their tour brochures, we decided to pick Parlo as we wanted to see a greater Central Honshu country side besides the two most popular tourist destinations ie the Historic Villages of Shirakawago & Snow Wall of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route, a must see for overseas tourists visiting Japan.

Our Tour Guide in Japan had advised that The top 4 "must see" places (once in a lifetime) in Japan are Disneyland, Mt Fuji, Shirakawago Villages & the Snow Wall of Tateyama. I am glad that I had seem them all by now and look forward to visit one more time in Japan, maybe to the Kyusu island in the near future ! So I am very Japanese in this perspective like the mind of a Japanese who love travelling in their homeland !

Both of us were happy with Parlo's travel arrangements ie food, hotels & ground transport and the professional services provided by Parlo's Japanese driver, tour guides (Patrick Yang & Jessica Kok) throughout our 7 day stays in Japan. So one up for me in my world of travelling in this part of the world and as for Parlo, my first experience using their travel service ! Our group enjoyed very much Patrick Yang's commentary in the bus about everything tourists like to know about Japan  as Patrick is a very knowledgeable person having lived  in Japan since 1997 !

As a travel blogger, I tried to maximize the limited time I had (unlike my usual free & easy style of travel) for each day itinerary and take as many pictures as possible in addition to leaving our footprints in the various wonderful places which crossed our paths !

On a personal note in this trip, I experienced 3 onsen baths (Nagahama, Takayama & Gero), 2 nights in tatami rooms, eating a few tubs of soya based Natto, seeing 3 UNESCO sites ie, Shirakawago Villages, Kyoto & Matsumoto Castle, walked on 2 snowy mountain resorts ie Snow Wall of Tateyama & Mt Hotaka Range of Kamiochi, wearing the traditional Japanese Yutaka for dinners & Onsens and a very interesting morning market visit in Takayama & an educational tour of the Wasabi farm in Matsumoto. Last but not the least, a revisit to the ancient capital of Kyoto & the modern & colorful city of Nagoya!

Like all avid travelers, we all look forward for another Yosoko in Japan - all the best to all the tour members whom I come to know in this short & interesting trip - Sayonara and hope to meet any one of you in another corner of the earth one fine day !

Travel Highlights:


Rinku Premium Outlets Mall


Nagahama castle

Gujo Hachiman

Japanese food sample moulding factory

Shirakawago (UNESCO)

The Historic Villages of Shirakawago (UNESCO)


Alphine Route - Tateyama

Snow Wall - Roof of Japan


Matsumoto Castle
Wasabi Farm


 Chubusangaku National Park, Kamikochi


Gero, a popular Onsen city


Nagoya TV Tower & Oasis 21


Bamboo Forest

This comprehensive 7 days 6 nights Japan Alps & Central Honsu tour is organized by Parlo Tours Sdn Bhd - Tel +603-22747877, Wisma Parlo, 72, Jalan Kampong Attap, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Parlo Booth at MATTA Fair March 2017
Our Japan Tour Guide Patrick Yang & Tour Leader, Jessica Kok (Seated)

Now that our 7 days Central Honshu package tour is over (time flies), you may have a question to ask or a Customer Feedback form for you to complete for Parlo. After seeing all the major pictures I have posted in my travel blog - WHAT DO YOU THINK ? Did Parlo delivers what had been promised & said in their tour brochure (the pictures I had posted in my travel blog have accounted all the places  our group visited as featured in Parlo's tour brochure)  and what about the ground support services including the professional conduct of the local driver, tour guides, food & hotel accommodations, time management, vehicle safety etc. I think in my opinion (as a seasoned traveler), the answer is a BIG YES !!! Well done, Parlo !!! But in any package tours, there are bound to have petty & genuine comments on food, hotels, tour prices (early birds discounts) etc given the different educational, cultural, ethic & religious background of our tour members from Malaysia boleh ! Travel is very subjective. What one person loves, another loathes. Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends ...... the mind cannot break off from the journey !

Treat this as a Honeymoon Tour of a LIFETIME ! Happy Travelling !

Kansai, Japan 2017

Image result for kansaiairport  japan map

Day 1 - Departure from KLIA2 > Kansai, Osaka - Japan (08.00 > 15.25 - 6hrs 25mins)

KLIA2 Duty Free Shop

Breakfast & Lunch on board the Air Asia Flight departing 08.00 from KLIA2 arriving Kansai 15.25

Satay or Nasi Lemak or  Chicken Rice - pick your choice
Satay was my first choice
Chicken Rice

Day 1 - Arrival at Kansai International Airport

Ferry Wheel & Star Gate Hotel, Kansai

Day 6 - Shopping in Rinku Premium Outlets Mall, Kansai, more than 100 international branded labels await you !

Final Day 6 - Star Gate Hotel, Kansai - Online Agoda Booking (April 2017) indicative room tariff Rm873 =US$198 for a twin bed room

Day 6 - Dinner at the Food Court, Premium Outlet Mall, Kansai (Own Expense)

Y980 for this dinner set meal at the Food Court

Day 7 - Breakfast at Mid Air Dining & Bar Restaurant (54th Floor), Star Gate Hotel

A Panoramic View of Kansai from the 54th Floor of the Mid Air Dining Bar & Restaurant, Star Gate Hotel

Day 7 - Departure  from the Kansai International Airport to Kuala Lumpur (11.00>16.35 - 6hr35min)

Drinking water for top up at the Departure Gate

Ready for Boarding - Home Sweet Home after a 7 days wonderful visit to the Japan Alps & Central Honshu of Japan !