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Japan Itinerary and JR pass questions/China 72-hour Visafree question

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Apr 22nd, 2014, 09:27 PM
  #1
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Japan Itinerary and JR pass questions/China 72-hour Visafree question

General Itinerary and JR pass thoughts
Apr 23, 2014, 12:20 AM

Good Day everyone!

I was looking to get some advise on my basic itinerary and transportation conundrums.

May 29th JFK to NRT. Land at 9:00pm on the 30th (direct flight)

Places to visit:

Tokyo-

Nikko- day trip from Tokyo

Hakkone- one evening, 2 full days

Hiroshima

Kyoto

Mt. Koya-- Looking to do a temple stay for one evening. Is there another region I am going to that would be better recommended to save travel time? I hear Mt. Koya is really a beautiful place and worth the visit from my readings. Thoughts?

Osaka-- Flying out from KIX to PEK

Fly out to PEK on June 12th

Not sure how many days to spend where, what is the smartest layout of travel including keeping transportation (rail) timetables in mind. I'm a bit overwhelmed at this point and looking for some guidance. Any help would be so very appreciated.

Transportation questions:

I was thinking of getting the Nikko pass, Hakkone pass and the general subway (SUCIA?) pass for the first few days and then get the 7 Day JR pass for the rest of my itinerary. I figure this "saves" me some money and might make a bit more sense.

China Visa Question:

This brings me to my next question which I can cross post in the China forum. I know there is a 72 hour visa-free option If I leave from one country, land in PEK and the leave from PEK within 72 hours and fly to a different destination from the one that I came to PEK from (make sense?)

I was wondering if this route would qualify as we would be in PEK for 2.5 days and flying onward to JFK.****

Again THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 11:06 PM
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kja
 
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I can't answer all your questions, but I'll give you a start. And I'll start by urging you to consult japan-guide.com, if you haven't already done so!

Now, if I'm following, you have about 14 days in Japan, right? So you need to be selective, and I think you have done well with that. As you think about how to tweak your plans, just keep this overall limit in mind. IMO, you do NOT have time to ADD anything to your itinerary; you should have time to shift things among your chosen places. You MIGHT want to skip a place or two -- and that's entirely up to your interests and preferences.

Nikko- day trip from Tokyo -- Nikko can be visited as a (long) day trip from Tokyo. I was glad to overnight there, because it allowed me to see Kegon-no-taki and a bit of Lake Chuzenji, as well as the major sites of Nikko. It didn't take all that much extra time (I gave up one evening in Tokyo, and was back in Toyko after dinner the next night), but it gave me much more freedom in Nikko. You might even see if you can go straight there from Narita -- you'll already be exhausted, so why not add on a bit more travel time?!? (But it might NOT be possible -- I trust others will speak to that.)

Tokyo -- I preferred Kyoto by FAR. I gave Tokyo itself about 2.5 days, would easily have enjoyed a tad more, and have NO regrets about devoting my time to other places! Of course, I don't know what I missed or what I would think had I seen those things... It's just that I have a very strong affinity for traditional Japan, and less of a tie with modern/ultramodern Japan. Just my opinion.

Hiroshima -- IMO, well worth seeing! Combine it with Miyajima and plan on spending the night on Miyajima (I loved my stay at Momiji-so) after your visit to the very powerful peace museum/park/memorials in Hiroshima. Give Miyajima as much time as you can before heading off.

Kyoto -- an absolute must! I thought Kyoto itself worth at least 4 days, in addition to 2 full days in Nara. You probably won't have the luxury of giving it that much time, but do consider giving it as much time as you can!

Mt. Koya -- to my knowledge, Koyasan is really the only place in Japan where you can have an experience that is anything like spending the night in Koyasan. ;-) As I understand it, one's choice of temples makes a HUGE difference, so select carefully, even if it means paying a bit more. I was very pleased with Shojoshin-in. DO plan on visiting Ukonoin at dusk or dawn or both. And yes, it does take a while to get there (from anywhere!), but parts of the trip are stunningly gorgeous and worth every moment IMO. BTW, I would put Koyasan BEFORE Kyoto (either on the way to or from Hiroshima/Miyajima) because I would NOT recommend trying to make it from Koyasan to Kansai on a single day -- it's just too long and tricky a route. (And there's no reason to take anything but an overnight bag with you to Koyasan -- use Japan's magnificent garbage-forwarding option or the lockers in train stations. )

Osaka-- Flying out from KIX to PEK -- just confirming: this is already set in stone? And can I assume that you don't plan to visit Osaka? I'm not sure you have time unless it is a real priority for you....

With only 2.5 days, you will need to be extremely selective about what you see in Beijing. Get a guidebook or two, read some of our trip reports, study maps, and then decide what you most want to do in a way that maximizes your time. Do not even think of trying to see everything you will want to see -- you don't have the time, and things are spread out too far. Pick your highest priority for each day and then plan around that. AND be sure to read up on pollution in Beijing and make a decision, preferably in consultation with your physician, about whether to bring an appropriate mask with you. (Always better to be prepared, right?)

The good news is that you will see some wonderful things in both Japan and Beijing no matter what you choose.

At least for Japan, do consider booking your lodging sooner rather than later, preferably with reservations that can be cancelled. Check your options on booking.com -- if you look at their cancellation policies, you will find than many can be cancelled free of charge up to 24 hours in advance. (But NOT all can, so be sure to pay attention!)

One last thing: you WILL have to shortchange one/more places. My recommendation is that you consider shortchanging the places that have international airports, as they are the places you can visit most easily again in the future. So, for example, if you decide to visit Hiroshima, then don't skip Miyajima to make more time for Kyoto or Tokyo. Just another thought!

Hope that helps!
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 11:16 PM
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kja
 
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Make that: "use Japan's magnificent BAGGAGE-forwarding option" -- how I hate auto-correct! No insult to your belongings intended!
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 11:54 PM
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Visa-free transit for China is fine as long as your flight leaving China isn't going to Japan.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 06:34 AM
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Thank you for your answers, everyone!


How about this as a framework:

Fly into NRT
Tokyo- Side trip to Nikko
Hakkone
Hiroshima/Miyajima
Mt. Koya
Kyoto- Side trip to Nara
Osaka-Flying out

Does that seem to make the most sense as far as transport is concerned?
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 09:08 AM
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Sure, that works. It makes sense, so do other routes. Like putting Kyoto before Hiroshima and Nara etc. after that. What passes you would use would depend on how long you stay in each place. A cheap flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima would be a good option.

The longer hauls on your itin are Hakone (Odawara) to Hiroshima and Hiroshima to Koya.

From Hakone you will go to JR Odawara station to get a shinkansen. Plan ahead to use a Hikari shinkansen. I would plan that to have a connection at Shin-Osaka. Departures from Odawara to S-O are shortly after the hours of 6AM, 7AM, 8AM, and then every two hours after that until 6PM. It will be a 4.5- to 5-hour trip and I highly recommend making it in daylight - at least the part between Odawara and Shin-Osaka. Sunset in Hiroshima on June 1 will be 7:17PM.
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Apr 30th, 2014, 10:16 PM
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Hello Again!

What would be the best way to get from Hiroshima to Koya? The Hyperdia website is a bit confusing (which stations would I use?)

Thanks again everyone!
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May 1st, 2014, 09:47 PM
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Here is a route map:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4904.html

See the left of the red line labeled JR Sanyo Shinkansen where it says "to Hakata". You will be traveling that line from that direction to Shin Osaka which is middle-top in the diagram.

The complication that hyperdia gives reflects the several options to get from Shin-Osaka to one of the Nankai Railway (blue line on diagram) stations of Namba or Shinimamiya.

A simple way to do that part of the trip is just take the Osaka City Subway Midosuji Line from Shin-Osaka to Namba and then walk over to the Nankai station (hyperdia says 7 minute walk).

The other options seem to be JR from Shin-Osaka to Osaka. From there the the subway, or the JR loop from from Osaka to Shinimamiya.

I wouldn't plan this whole trip using hyperdia - there is no one best itinerary.

I would plan to arrive Koyasan by 3PM. The trip is about 4 hours by any route, so I would leave Hiroshima by 10AM or no later than 11AM.

You can take a look at the hyperdia timetable for the Nankai Railways trip, but I would just take the next train after whatever time I arrived at Namba, i.e. NAMBA(NANKAI) on hyperia. If you are planning to arrive Koyasan at night then be careful to check the frequency of the the Nankai trains at night and when the last train departs. Then back out 5 hours (or more, to be even safer) from that last Nankai departure to determine your latest departure time from Hiroshima.

I haven't made the trip but that is how I would plan it: shinkanen to Shin-Osaka then subway to Nama then next Nankai train to Koya.
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May 1st, 2014, 09:49 PM
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If planning to arrive at night I would definitely want the timetable for the ropeway up Koyasan.
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May 13th, 2014, 07:10 AM
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I went from Osaka to PEK in March using the 72 hour visa-free option. I spent 2.5 days in Beijing before flying home to Canada. Make sure that your flight from Osaka to PEK is direct and has no stopover in any other city in China. If it does, even if you don't get off the plane, Chinese immigration considers that you have landed in China illegally and airlines staff in Osaka will not let you board the flight. My initial flight on China Eastern Airlines had a stopover in Qingdao (which I didn't realise) and I was not able to take it. I had to book a different ticket for the next day on Air China.

Airlines staff in Osaka will also check very carefully whether you respect the 72-hour limit so make sure that you have a printed copy of your onward itinerary to show them.
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