Using a tour company or not?

Aug 27th, 2004, 05:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 268
Using a tour company or not?

My husband and are in the first stages of planning a trip to Japan next June. We have frequent flier miles to fly there. We are interested in knowing if is recommended to take a tour or do it on your own? We have traveled a lot in other countries always on our own iteniary never a tour: Costa Rica, Europe 4 times, New Zealand. We prefer to do it on our own. Is that possible in Japan? We are also interested in taking the cruise up or down the Yangzee River?

anitas is offline  
Aug 28th, 2004, 03:16 PM
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I think this is a question of personal choice.
I'm planning a trip in April 2005, and just went through the same dilemma. After talking to a number of friends that had been, they all told me the same--it's very do-able on your own. Just hook up w/tours while you are there...
glamgirl is offline  
Aug 29th, 2004, 05:19 AM
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If you decide to take a tour, definitely use Esprit -- They do tours that focus on specific subjects or areas and they take you into places you could never do on your own. You get a real feel for the culture and people. And their prices are very reasonable. I would NOT take just a general tour of Japan.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 29th, 2004, 03:37 PM
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My husband and I spent two weeks in Japan in March. We did not use a tour. I planned and booked everything myself.We were in Tokyo, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Kyoto and back to Tokyo, and did some day trips. I booked the airfare and hotels on the Internet and called ANA Airlines to buy JapanRail passes. You do not need to use a tour. Japan is very easy to get around and most signage is in Japanese and English. If you're used to traveling on your own as we are, you probably will be happier on your own, doing what you want and in your own time.

As for the Yangtzee River, we did that too but that was a different trip, to China. I don't recommend doing it on a trip to Japan. There's so much to see in Japan, you should concentrate on seeing what is there. Two weeks was definitely not enough and I can't wait to go back.
laurieco is offline  
Aug 29th, 2004, 08:44 PM
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June is the very worst month to go to Japan. May would be pleasant. Do NOT go to Japan in June! It's the rainy season, very hot and humid, the most miserable month of the year. If you are unlucky, you'll see nothing but rain the entire time you are there. Mid-July to August would be OK, just hot. Expect weather similar to Washington DC for the rest of the year.
simonv is offline  
Aug 30th, 2004, 01:45 PM
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We were in Japan for 3 weeks in June a couple years ago. While not as nice as the spring or fall, I certainly would go in June if that's what time I had.

We ran into only 2 rainy days (in Nikko) and the heat was unpleasant only our last few days in Tokyo.

Try and spend some of your time in the mountains (eg Takayama) as it is cooler there.

The only time I would not choose to go to Japan would be July/August. The one time I did that, it was brutally hot & humid!
lcuy is offline  
Aug 30th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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Icuy- I think anitas is asking not what season to go, but whether it is feasible to do Japan on your own, without a tour. I would say most definitely yes, and I first did Japan on my own, with the planning and assistance of the JNTO, in the 80's. It is much easier now than then, as so many more people speak English now in Japan, partic. in the big cities, and can assist you where needed. Even in the 80's, westerners were stared at in Tokyo and Kyoto, and my picture was taken at literally every shrine I went to! (that sounds flattering, but in fact it became quite disconcerting after awhile-I took to wearing a cape with a hood-kind of like a turtle-so people wouldn't stare at me!) That's certainly not the case now, so with some good guidebooks and the help of the JNTO, you should have no problem whatever planning an independent tour-and Japan is truly one of those countries where going it on your own can be tremendously rewarding in terms of memorable experiences!
Spygirl is offline  
Aug 30th, 2004, 11:27 PM
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Icuy - you were lucky with your weather in June. Yes, there's no need for a guide in Japan. Signs in train stations are both Japanese and English. You can find somebody who'd understand English there. A guidebook, good maps and common sense courtesy is all you need to get around. Not like Europeans, they'll get you round eyes away with a lot.
simonv is offline  
Aug 31st, 2004, 08:39 PM
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Sorry, I was just trying to reassure anitas after simonv's post telling her "do not go in June".

Anitas- get the guide book "Gateway to Japan". It will give you everything you need to do it on your own.

"Japan Solo" is another good one. There are not as many hotel/dining/rail listings as in Gateway, but it has really good info on walking tours and getting around within different towns and cities.

Just do a little research and then ask away here! Its a great country to visit.
lcuy is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2004, 09:28 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 116
You don't need an escorted tour for Japan, but you might look into buying a packaged independent tour, if you can find an itenery you want, for accomodations, train tickets, air and so on. As tour companies have buying power, you might get a better price than on your own. JTB is one of the major ones there, used to be government owned.
simonv is offline  
Oct 8th, 2004, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Glorialf posted a reply to this query re the tour company of Esprit. My husband and I are considering a trip with Esprit. Could glorialf please email me at [email protected] with her observations and so that I may query her a bit about her tour with Esprit. Thanks!
jwayman is offline  

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