Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page > Japan or Thailand, or Somewhere New?
Notices

Japan or Thailand, or Somewhere New?

Reply

Jul 29th, 2012, 04:13 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 267
Japan or Thailand, or Somewhere New?

This might one of those posts that can't be answered; or, perhaps the answer is: "only you know what you like to do and to see". In any event, here goes....

I am having second thoughts about an upcoming trip, particularly about the Japan portion.

I am currently booked for a trip in early October to Osaka and Kyoto for 6 days, then to Hong Kong for 6 days, then to Hawaii to visit a friend. My specific quandary is that I am considering substituting Bangkok, with a possible couple of nights in Chiang Mai, for Osaka/ Kyoto. My general quandary is: Do I want to return to places I have been before, or go somewhere new? I have been to Hong Kong several times, and I have also been to Kyoto once, and loved it; I spent four days, and saw just about every major "sight" there (even though I am not big on typical tourist sights usually).

Kyoto was fantastic, but do I really want to go back, or go back just two years after I was there last? I have not been to Osaka, where I plan on spending two nights; I am into food and exploring cities; but I am not really sure that I am that excited about Osaka either. I was originally going to do a few days in Tokyo (where I have been before), a few days in Kyoto, and maybe one night in Osaka; but I am traveling during a huge holiday weekend, which is followed by major conference in Tokyo, during which all of the hotels I am considering (I am one of those people for whom hotels matter; to me, where I stay an important part of my trip) are sold out. Additionally, the inflated expense of the hotels in Osaka (due to the holiday), and the prospect of crowded or full trains (which are not my favorite transportation to start with; as my general intelligence in many areas seems to be completely absent when it comes to taking trains), and full restaurants and sights etc. are concerning me. Additionally, one thing I was significantly excited about was going to Himeji Castle for the day; I just found out it is closed for renovations....And the combination of the high expense of everything combined with what I anticipate might be a particularly high "hassle" factor due to the three day holiday, for someone who prefers taxis and walking over trains is giving me pause. I am scratching my head wondering why I am taking this trip.

So I was thinking about returning to Bangkok, where I have been a few times (but have not been in eight years or so), but do not feel that I have "seen or done everything", and maybe flying to Chiang Mai, where I have never been, for a couple of nights. The idea of returning to one of those great BKK hotels, and enjoying the great food and fascinating nightlife, etc. Maybe this a better choice for me than Japan this trip(?).

If I did choose the Thailand option, any suggestions on how to split up 6 days, and what a good amount of time is in Chiang Mai; I was thinking two or three nights. Or feel free to suggest something completely different.

Thank you.
fishskis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 29th, 2012, 04:31 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,783
October isn't the best time for Thailand, as it can be quite wet. I've certainly been to Bangkok at the end of October and enjoyed my trip, but wouldn't choose October over November, for instance.

Consider some other places: What about Bali? With a side trip to Java, perhaps, and a layover either way (or both) in Singapore? If you have 12 nights in Asia, I might opt for a single night at the beginning in Singapore, fly to Java (fly to Yogyakarta or Solo CIty) the next day, maybe three nights in Java (Borobudor and Prambanam), then on to Bali for 6 nights and a two night stay in Singapore on the way home?
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 29th, 2012, 06:15 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 267
Actually, I am trying to keep my timing as it is right now; I am somewhat tied to being in Hong Kong on certain dates. I forgot about the weather in Thailand; this is early October, so hot and possibly very rainy I guess? Maybe not ideal.

Thanks for the other suggestions; I've been to SIngapore several times, and I do not care to return at this time; Bali is a great idea, but my experience with Bali is that it is better to be a couple, instead of a single, which I will be for this trip.
fishskis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 29th, 2012, 06:39 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
How about elsewhere in Japan - Kanazawa combined with onsen maybe?
KimJapan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 29th, 2012, 06:50 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,783
Ok, some other ideas. Have you been to Taipei? How about Hanoi for 6 days?
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 29th, 2012, 07:14 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 267
Thank you all for the suggestions. I have been fortunate enough to travel through Asia extensively, both for business and pleasure. I have been to Taipei many times (for business mostly), but while I have been to Vietnam, I was only in Ho Chi Minh City, not Hanoi; so maybe I should consider it.

Regarding Kanazawa, I am (at this moment), looking at other options in Japan to see if anywhere else interests me; I will do a little research on Kanazawa. I am almost completely unfamiliar with Japan other than Tokyo and Kyoto.
fishskis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 29th, 2012, 09:45 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
What are you interested in seeing/doing during your travel?
KimJapan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 29th, 2012, 11:28 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 132
Recently back from Hanoi. Its completely different to any city I have travelled in Asia. Whilst we were there a cold front from China came through bringing cold and dreary weather. This made me fall even more in love with the place. Such an amazing place to explore. Would recommend to anyone!
Little_Miss_Flighty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 09:36 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,729
Flying into Osaka?

Kanazawa- Shirakawago- Takayama- Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, Kiso Valley.

Matsue- Hagi- Hiroshima- Matsuyama- Okayama/Kurashiki

What Japanese holiday is it?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 10:27 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,320
Himeji-jo is being renovated but is not closed to the public. While access may be limiting at times there is also the chance to see the reconstruction work being done and actually witness the process which I understand to be very interesting as they are trying to honor the older traditions of building during this restoration process. See here for details:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3501.html

There are some great suggestions made by KJ and Mrw or you could head off into the mountains(Japan Alps) or north into Tohoku to see the fall colors. There is so much more to Japan than Tokyo and Kyoto and if you did enjoy your first time there then giving it another shot is a good idea.
What is it that specifically haunts you about riding the train system....maybe we can help or suggest alternatives or answer some of your questions or address some of your wants or haunts?

If you need a little inspiration take a look at the fall colors of 2011. See this link for our pictures from a trip to see the Japan fall colors Nov 2011. If asked for a password it is

Fall 2011

Capital F and a space between the words.


http://hawaiiantraveler.smugmug.com/...0744&k=8NCmtNq

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 30th, 2012, 10:03 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 267
Thank you all so much for the helpful replies.

mrwunrfl..Yes, I am flying into Osaka. Regarding the holiday, it is "National Health and Sports Day" Monday 10/8; it is evidently a big three-day weekend; I arrive on Saturday 10/6. I will do a little reading on the places you suggested; thank you.

hawaiiantraveler..The Himeji Castle information is very helpful and encouraging. It does appear that it is still worth visiting,and, as you mentioned, it might be interesting to see the restoration process in action. Regarding the train question; the first issue is subways; in Osaka for example - crowded, confusing, and I am just generally, inexplicably somewhat inept when it comes to subways, and particularly concerned about the language barrier, and getting completely lost. I prefer to walk or to taxi. Regarding the trains (and Shinkansens), the two issues I have are the expense and the fact that I am not traveling light (I try, but I do not succeed); I can easily manage it myself, but I would have a large rolling bag, my backpack, and possibly a small rolling bag due to my further travels after Asia). For example the cost of taking the train from Kyoto to Hiroshima for a day trip is between $250 and $300; this seems expensive to me; and I do not think I am staying long enough to get a Railpass.

I just looked at the link. Wow!! Thank you for sharing that.

KimJ..That is not always an easy question; but, here are a few random thoughts; I love cities with energy...great people..walking and exploring..vibrant nightlife districts, great food and restaurants (I am a serious foodie), markets great architecture and design. I am not generally big on spending long periods in museums or at generally popular tourist sites, though in Kyoto, I loved the sites and the temples. I am intrigued by different cultures, and am currently very intrigued by Japanese culture and history. Staying in a a Ryokan (Hiiragiya) on my last visit was an incredible experience. I am very into photography as well. I am not the most patient person, and I do not love waiting in lines and large crowds.
fishskis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 31st, 2012, 08:27 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,729
I am not sure if it is rainy in Japan at the beginning of October, or where it might be.

I've only been in jam-packed subways a couple of times and that was in Tokyo. Signs are in English as well as Japanese so you might do ok and you will likely get some help. But there is a bit of contradiction given you are "not big on typical tourist sights".

From what you wrote in reply to the other posters it seems that you are looking for are Kyoto and Tokyo. Or at least Kyoto and an imaginary Tokyo without subways.

Many of the stops that I recommended don't meet your needs of vibrant cities with energy and vibrant nightlife districts. Shirakawago is a village with no nightlife, tho walkable with great architecture and a different way of life from most of Japan (not vibrating energy). Hagi is a town with little nightlife, probably none, and not much energy and the castle is in ruins. Interesing sitll, though, as it does give a different perspective on Japan and it is very walkable. Matsue is a small city, walk and taxi, maybe some nightlife, the wonderful original/restored castle and a couple of other sights. It has a bit of different energy, depending on where you stay, because of the wedding parties that stay there when having their wedding at Izumo Taisha. And there is the jaw-dropping Izumo Taisha nearby.

The luggage issue can be resolved. You would leave the one small rollaboard at the airport at a left-luggage counter and would ship the big bag ahead using the takkyubin delivery service. Or just leave the big bag and backpack at the airport and travel lightly in Japan with the small roller.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 31st, 2012, 08:37 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,729
a sentence was out of place, should be:

From what you wrote in reply to the other posters it seems that you are looking for are Kyoto and Tokyo. Or at least Kyoto and an imaginary Tokyo without subways. But there is a bit of contradiction given you are "not big on typical tourist sights".

Also, I should have mentioned that Kanazawa and Hiroshima are the places that I recommmended that come closes to what you say you are looking for.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 31st, 2012, 09:58 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,320
Follow the yellow brick road.....when I get lost in a large or small train station in Japan I look for the tactile yellow strips for the blind that are in all train stations large and small that lead to the tickets offices/machines and other important areas(restrooms)of the station. I need more time to answer your question and will be back when I can.....work calls

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 31st, 2012, 05:21 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
For food, Kanazawa is excellent. Sushi is unbeatable. My favorite restaurant is French, 3 tables, husband (chef) and wife owned and operated. French, yes, but using many locally sourced ingredients. There is also excellent Spanish and Italian. Excellent. Not to mention top class Japanese, such as Tsuruko and Zeniya.

It's very walkable, with lots of interesting architecture, including the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and the DT Suzuki Museum as modern examples, and Seisonkaku and the Nomura House as older ones...and more. We work with an architect who does a very nice walking tour (with interpreter) of architecturally interesting places.

I remember you mentioning that where you stay is important. It's possible to stay in a machiya (restored Japanese townhouse/shophouse) located on a pedestrian only street next door to the geisha practice house in Kazuemachi, one of Kanazawa's 3 geisha districts.

Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are not cities but certainly have the architecture box ticked. I love visiting as a day trip from Kanazawa.

Gorgeous onsen ryokan are many in the area. Look at Shiroganeya, Kayotei, Tadaya for starters if you have interest there.

Early October is a bit early for autumn leaves in most areas.

Nara also springs to mind as a place you might enjoy. It's more than temples and deer. Naramachi, the old town, is nice for strolling and filled with shops and cafes and machiya. Could be a diversion at the very least if you stayed in Kyoto/Osaka the entire time.
KimJapan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2012, 06:56 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 267
Great information. I am going to read a little more tonight about Kanazawa and some of the other places mentioned. KimJapan, thank you for the detailed recommendations.

Thank you.
fishskis is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:09 AM.