What’s driving tourists in Japan?

Posted by - August 3, 2018

It’s true: We (travelers) are very visual people and this theory proves it. Source: Shutterstock.
JAPAN is one of Asia’s top 10 countries in terms of international tourist arrivals in 2017 and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
At least not for the next five years or so, with Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics. Japan will continue enjoying a surge in inbound travelers for sure.
In 2016, there were about 40 million departures from Japan, including 17 million by Japanese nationals.
In 2017, the country attracted a record 28.68 million tourists, reflecting the sixth consecutive yearly increase. As for departures, Japan saw around 45.2 million leaving its shores in the same year.
On top of strong promotional pushes by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the East Asian country already welcomes a steady stream of travelers ready to check out its dark tourism, sakura season, food tourism, heritage tourism, night tourism, fall foliage, and a whole lot more.
But what’s really driving the tourists in Japan these days? It’s not just tourism campaigns and guidebooks for sure.
Source: Shutterstock.
Destinations that are more off the beaten track like Nagano, the capital city of Nagano Prefecture in the Chūbu region of Japan for example, saw more than one million visitors last year.
Which is every bit impressive for the landlocked area as it marks a 36-fold increase in just three years.
How did this happen? First, CNN described Nagano as one of Japan’s most beautiful places, which spurred an influx of postings featuring Nagano’s sights flooding Instagram.
Since then, Instagram’s numbers have seen a steep increase, with Nagano becoming one of the most active markets on the platform.
Zenkoji Temple, one of the most important and popular temples in Nagano, stores the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan. Source: Shutterstock.
As of June 20, 2018, Instagram has reached one billion monthly active users.
And a majority of these users turn to the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app to match #ootd coordinations, decide where to eat, get suggestions on things to do, and add things to their travel bucket list.
“Instagram is different from other social media because users are the ones taking the initiative to post and spread pictures, not the local municipalities,” Travel And Tour World quoted marketing firm Full Speed Inc.’s Kazukiyo Yonemura of Full Speed Inc. as saying.
Source: Shutterstock.
For Nagano alone, there are more than a handful of Instagram hashtags chalking up thousands of posts such as:
City officials expressed their sheer surprise to see people of all ages visiting the mountains to get a shot of its shrine, with the mass crowds leading to four-hour-long traffic jams.
“We widened roads, built toilets and increased parking from 24 to more than 100 spaces this April,” Nagano city tourism division’s Erika Watanabe said.
The multiple foreign currencies, 27 to be exact, found in the shrine’s offertory box proved that many of the visitors were from overseas.
Last year, Instagram joined hands with the JNTO to introduce a new hashtag, #UnknownJapan, which led to more than five million foreign visitors sharing posts.

This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals

Posted by - June 26, 2018

MODERN DAY TRAVELERS seeking off the beaten path attractions and experiences at their destinations like a true local will appreciate TakeMeTour.
Created by robotics engineering graduate Taro Amornched, the online platform aims to match travelers with locals – but not in the sleazy Tinder kind of way.
#AIRBNB
Bali’s ‘Airbnb Experiences’ second most popular in Asia Specifically, it matches travelers with locals who can show them around.
So whether it’s a gastronomical tour of Bangkok’s Chinatown, a hiking trip along Japan’s nature trails, or a dance in a sunflower field your heart desires, TakeMeTour will connect you with the experts with all the know-how.
“On our website, a traveler can browse tours, itineraries, and experiences that are offered by locals. Currently, we have more than 20,000 local experts from 55 different cities. It’s like having a friend, some people you can trust, to show you around,” Amornched said in an interview with The Jay Kim Show.
Let’s get started Log in to the website and select a city you’d like to visit.
Source: TakeMeTour.
Then, choose from the list of one-day tours and experiences available. Once you find what you like, pick a date on the calendar or chat with said local for availability.
When all details are confirmed, book with them directly. Bookings will only be valid once the payments are made through Take Me Tour with a valid credit card.
It’s like making one new local friend with every booking.
“All the local experts speak Thai and English. We have been focusing on English-speaking travelers in the past two years, but starting this year, we will start focusing on a third language. That means you would see local experts who can speak Japanese, Chinese, and French as a starting point,” Amornched added.
About safety and security Is it okay to throw caution to the wind and simply follow a local around in a foreign country?
How safe is it, really?
A post shared by TakeMeTour (@takemetour_thailand) on Mar 23, 2018 at 10:30pm PDT
“We have very strict security measures. We check the ID, bank account, criminal record, and the like to make sure these local experts are actually legitimate. We also make sure we know how to find them,” Amornched explained.
Newly-listed tours will go through stages of approvals by both TakeMeTour as well as its network of bloggers to assure they’re meeting quality standards.
What if things go bad?
“If something bad happens, we can still make refunds. We also provide accident insurance for both travelers and local experts,” Amornched said.
Every listing also includes reviews from previous guests so travelers can gauge if the experience is something that they’d like.
#MEDICAL TOURISM
Healing on a holiday: Cheap rehabs boost Thailand’s medical tourism Currently, the Asian countries that TakeMeTour covers are Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan. The platform is looking to expand to Myanmar next month.
Check it out here.
The post This Thailand-based platform will match travelers with locals appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia?

Posted by - June 20, 2018

DO YOU LIVE TO EAT or eat to live? In Asia, it’s likely the former.
Asia is a melting pot of cultures and that translates well into the plethora of cuisines and tastes that can be found in the region. In fact, Asian countries are beginning to come out on top of well-known culinary destinations such as France and Italy.
#TRAVEL HACKS
Don’t make these cultural Pho-pas when eating in Asia Any visitor to Asia will find that “Where to eat?” and “What to eat?” are important everyday questions.
For the Malays, Chinese, and Indians, “Have you eaten?” is probably the first thing that people you meet will ask you.
Good food is the very thing that keeps their stomachs and hearts full, so much so that it’s a major deciding factor for the vacations that they take.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their desire to sample food and drinks motivates their travels.
A post shared by T(bar) (@tbar_teabar) on Jun 18, 2018 at 10:32pm PDT
According to a Booking.com survey conducted with over 50,000 global travelers, 82 percent of Hong Kong travelers are planning to take a dedicated food tourism trip sometime this year and 70 percent of them say they pick a destination for its great food or drink.
The survey also said that gastronomy tourism or food tourism is particularly popular among Asian travelers from China (65 percent), India (57 percent), Thailand (53 percent), Indonesia (50 percent), and Hong Kong (48 percent).
A post shared by bings_sydney (@bings_sydney) on Jun 19, 2018 at 1:31am PDT
Asian travelers are particularly attracted to just about anything Instagrammable, including food. Beautiful flat lays or close-ups of food and an explosion of colors are bound to get their attention.
The top four food destinations in Asia, according to millions of Booking.com’s traveler reviews, are:
Ipoh, Malaysia Located nearly 180km north of Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh is a city in Perak that first got its claim to fame for being the world’s largest producer of tin way back in the 1900s.
Aerial view of Ipoh at sunrise. Source: Shutterstock.
In the 1980s, after the collapse of tin prices, Ipoh took a seat back and simply became the ideal retirement place, thanks to its beautiful limestone karst mountains and serene ambiance.
These days, Ipoh has become a main “pit stop” for travelers heading to Cameron Highlands or Penang.
And truly, when it comes to its food, it can get pretty hard to decide what to eat.
A post shared by Shelby (@shelbybisou) on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:31am PDT
Our picks: Ming Court dimsum, Concubine Lane tau fu fah (bean-curd pudding), Thean Chun kai si hor fun (flat rice noodles with shredded chicken in broth), Thean Chun caramel pudding, Lou Wong bean sprout chicken rice, and Sin Yin Loong Ipoh white coffee.
Kaohsiung, Taiwan What first started out as a small trading village in the 17th century is now Taiwan’s must-visit destination.
Tips: Go to Kaohsiung with an empty stomach. Source: Shutterstock.
Located in southern-western Taiwan, the bustling Kaohsiung is a massive port city with impressive skyscrapers, gorgeous sprawling parks, and lively night markets.
Natural, historical, and industrial attractions aside, the city also boasts culinary delights and mouthwatering hidden eats that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
The food here is also relatively cheaper than Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
A post shared by xinkai09 (@xinkai09) on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:56pm PST
Our picks: Gang Yuan beef noodles, Gao Xiong Po Po shaved ice dessert, Hongmaogang Restaurant (for seafood), Liuhe night market, Wu Pao Chun Bakery, Duck Zhen braised duck, Royal Beef Cubes’ hand-torched wagyu beef cubes, and Ban Jiushi pan-fried milkfish.
Nagoya, Japan With a population of over two million people, Nagoya is the fourth-most populous city in Japan.
Nagoya has more than just its Edo period castle to be proud of. Source: Shutterstock.
It’s also an agricultural and economic center with automotive as its main industry due to its strategic location near the fertile Nobi Plain and the Pacific coast on central Honshu.
What really sets Nagoya apart from other Japanese cities, however, is its distinctive cuisine, referred to in Japanese as “Nagoya meshi”, which means Nagoya’s local food.
“A study conducted by the city of Nagoya related to domestic tourism found that more people visited the area to enjoy the food (50.9 percent) than to see the famed Nagoya Castle (49.9 percent),” CNN wrote.
A post shared by OG (@oga_yuki) on Jul 25, 2017 at 1:04am PDT
Our picks: Nonkiya doteni (pork or beef and vegetables simmered with miso), Atsuta Horaiken hitsumabushi (grilled freshwater eel with rice), Yabaton misokatsu (deep fried pork cutlets served with miso sauce and rice), Yamamoto Honten misonikomi (udon noodles simmered in miso), and Nadai Kishimen Sumiyoshi (flat udon noodles in broth).
Johor Bahru, Malaysia Just a short causeway ride away from Singapore and at the tip of peninsula Malaysia is the capital of Johor, Johor Bahru.
Johor Bahru is one of the biggest cities in Malaysia. Source: Shutterstock.
Regarded as one of the fastest-growing cities in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru (or JB, as locals would call it) is the main commercial center for the state and is located in the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle.
However, the city flies under the radar when it comes to Malaysia’s food havens as it’s often overshadowed by Penang, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, and Ipoh.
This just means there are more surprising culinary gems for travelers to discover, from restaurants to the simplest hawker fare.
A post shared by irene (@riinns) on Aug 23, 2017 at 7:25am PDT
Our picks: Hwa Mui Kopitiam chicken chop (Hainanese-styled), Bukit Chagar roti canai (Indian-styled flatbread), Kerala Curry House banana leaf rice, Hiap Joo Bakery banana cake, Restoran Ya Wang herb roasted duck, Restoran Tua Thow kway teow soup (flat rice noodles in broth), Ong Shun Seafood Restaurant, Restoran Ah Piaw wantan mee (wonton noodles), Kam Long Restaurant fish head curry, and Toddy’s Coconut Wine Shop.
The post Food tourism: Where are the top food destinations in Asia? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

In Japan, you can check-in to your Airbnb at a convenience store

Posted by - May 24, 2018

JAPAN’S biggest convenience store chain, FamilyMart, will soon allow Airbnb guests to pick up their keys at their stores.
The collaboration will enable travelers to easily check-in and also pick up some onigiris (Japanese rice balls) or bento boxes (a meal in a box) while they’re there.
#TRAVEL FAILS
Here’s what Japan did when a train was 25 seconds too early Here’s how it’s done:
Landlords simply need to leave their keys for pickup in special lock boxes at FamilyMart stores.
Their guests will then need to verify their information, such as passport details, and confirm their identities by using a tablet located close to the boxes.
Once their identities have been verified, the lock box will open and they can pick up the keys. Upon checkout, guests will need to return the keys to the lock box at the store.
Guests can pick up their keys from special lock boxes at FamilyMart convenience stores. Source: Shutterstock.
The implementation of a new law on private lodging business is on the horizon for Airbnb in Japan.
It will allow property owners to rent out vacant homes or rooms to tourists for up to 180 days per year after registering with local municipalities.
Both FamilyMart’s check-in service, as well as the new law, will come into force in June.
“Our business will expand if foreign travelers staying in private homes do some shopping at our stores,” The Jakarta Post quoted FamilyMart President Takashi Sawada as saying at a news conference in Tokyo.
Rows upon rows of snacks galore at Ikebukuro’s FamilyMart in Tokyo, Japan. Source: Shutterstock.
Earlier, Airbnb teamed up with Lawson, another chain of convenience stores, to provide the same services at its outlets in Tokyo.
Seven-Eleven Japan Co. is also jumping on the bandwagon, offering a similar key collection and return service in collaboration with Japanese travel agency JTB Corp.
FamilyMart, which operates over 17,000 convenience stores in Japan, said it hopes the service will reach 150 stores by February next year.
However, for now, it will be only available in Tokyo and Osaka.
#AIRLINES
All of Japan is getting involved in the Tokyo 2020 prep, even airlines Japan is expected to experience a tourism boom leading up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The government hopes to boost the number of foreign visitors from 28.7 million last year to 40 million in 2020.
The post In Japan, you can check-in to your Airbnb at a convenience store appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Japan bucket list: Peanuts-themed hotel

Posted by - May 16, 2018

SNOOPY is coming to town! By “town”, we mean if you’re anywhere in Japan or if you’re planning a trip to Japan.
Famed for being the “land of cute things”, the upcoming Peanuts comic strip-themed hotel will be yet another adorable addition to the country’s attractions.
#POP CULTURE
Here’s your first look at the magical ‘Ghibli Park’ Set to open in Hyogo prefecture near Sannomiya Station located in the heart of Kobe, the hotel spans six floors of rooms and facilities.
It embodies its motto, “It’s nice to have a home where your guests feel comfortable”.
Guests would be delighted to know that they will be getting a Peanuts Cafe (first floor), a Peanuts Diner (third floor), and three upper floors of guest rooms themed, “Imagine”, “Love”, and “Happy”.
A post shared by PEANUTS HOTEL / ピーナッツ ホテル (@peanutshotel) on May 13, 2018 at 8:14pm PDT
The hotel’s Peanuts Cafe offers the same menu as the Peanut Cafe in Tokyo’s Nakameguro neighborhood, filled to the brim with casual Snoopy-themed food and drinks that are totally Instagrammable.
Peanuts Diner, on the other hand, will serve a slightly more adult menu, complete with pasta and Japanese specialties such as Kobe beef.
And what’s a Peanuts hotel experience if there’s no merchandise?
Peanuts Cafe and Peanuts Diner will also sell Snoopy-themed goods such as T-shirts, tote bags, printed serviettes, and mugs, so you can take a piece of Peanuts hotel home with you.
A post shared by PEANUTS HOTEL / ピーナッツ ホテル (@peanutshotel) on Mar 21, 2018 at 10:01pm PDT
More importantly, be ready to be overwhelmed by the sheer cuteness of the guest rooms.
Each of the 18 rooms will boast its own design and decorations based on different comics from the Charles M. Schulz franchise.
So don’t forget to whip out your camera and snap away.
A post shared by PEANUTS HOTEL / ピーナッツ ホテル (@peanutshotel) on Apr 26, 2018 at 2:15am PDT
Interested? Reservations will start from 10am on July 9, 2018.
The Peanuts hotel will open in Kobe, Japan in August 2018.
Check out their website for more information.
The post Japan bucket list: Peanuts-themed hotel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

5 of Asia’s top 20 restaurants are in Japan

Posted by - April 16, 2018

AS the “Oscars of the Asian gastronomic world” draws to a close for 2018, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants have been chosen and announced to the world for culinary pleasure.
For any foodie who knows Asia’s gastronomy scene, it probably comes as little surprise Gaggan in Bangkok took the top spot once again.
The Bangkok restaurant is run by the wildly imaginative Gaggan Anand along with a team of multi-national culinary alchemists.
#BEACHES
Scuba right into Malaysia’s must-dive destinations Over 300 voters crowned this boundary-pushing restaurant winner but just because it’s at the top, it doesn’t mean it’s the only restaurant on the list worth visiting.
Each featured eatery has made it onto the prestigious list for its unique flavors, distinct dining experience, and progressive cooking methods.
Japan saw 10 restaurants make it onto the list, with five of them coming among the top 20.
Given that Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, this is quite the accolade but unsurprising as the tastes and experiences on offer at the joints are exceptional.
Take a sneak peek at Japan’s hottest restaurants and decide which one you’re going to try first.
Den A post shared by ajira (@ajirathecritic) on Nov 27, 2017 at 11:55pm PST
Coming in just behind Gaggan, Den in Tokyo was opened by Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with the simple philosophy of making people happy.
“Homemade food is food prepared while thinking about others being happy,” Zaiya wrote on the website.
“Every day, I think about the people who come to the restaurant and cook with the ingredients that arrive each day. For a homemade dish that brings a smile.”
A post shared by Chad (@chad_the_scientist) on Jan 11, 2018 at 9:27am PST
Each dish is playfully presented without compromising taste or technique. The style of cuisine is a modern take on kaiseki, involving a series of small intricate dishes.
Zaiya takes influences from something as simple as a garden salad and jazzing it up with over 20 vegetables.
Considering Den only entered the awards list in 2016 at a well-deserved number 37, it’s now close to being the best in Asia.
Signature dish: Aged fish for sashimi. Address: 2-3-18 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Average spend: US$170 without wine. Florilege A post shared by hansa.foodjourney (@hansa.foodjourney) on Apr 12, 2018 at 7:25am PDT
Coming in at number three, Florilege is headed by chef Hiroyasu Kawate and dishes up imaginative modern French cooking.
The concept of the beautiful restaurant is focused around respect and passion which can be seen as the chefs deliver the dishes to tables and talk to eager diners through the history of the ingredients and the heritage of the dish.
A post shared by Meg (@mmidorikawa) on Apr 6, 2018 at 6:38am PDT
Each dish almost looks too good to eat with vibrant ingredients served on an array of incredible plates and bowls displaying the skill and techniques gone into every bite.
From the green tiger prawns to the manju dumplings stuffed with pigeon and simmered in port wine, every dish on the menu could be considered a delicacy in that moment.
Signature dish: “Sustainability”. Address: Seizan Gaienmae B1F, 2-5-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Average spend: US$90 without wine. Narisawa A post shared by NARISAWA (@narisawapress) on Apr 14, 2017 at 11:13am PDT
Once again, Tokyo is home to another divine restaurant run by world-renowned Yoshihiro Narisawa, who’s considered a pioneer in Japanese cuisine.
Each menu correlates to the season and chef Narisawa prides his restaurant in cooking with a conscious and approaches his restaurant with the ethos, “beneficial and sustainable gastronomy”.
A post shared by NARISAWA (@narisawapress) on Jan 15, 2017 at 8:21am PST
The restaurant aims to take its guests through a sensory voyage incorporating sound, sight, aroma, texture, and taste.
Signature dish: Satoyama scenery. Address: Minami Ayoyama 2-6-15, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062. Average spend US$202 without wine. Nihonryori Ryugin A post shared by Love to Eat, Travel & Shop (@foodaddictmag) on Mar 30, 2018 at 6:44pm PDT
Aptly named Nihonryori Ryugin, meaning “Japanese cuisine” and RyuGin meaning “dragon voice”, Nihonryori Ryugin focuses on traditional Japanese dishes with contemporary methods of making them.
Head chef and owner Seiji Yamamoto changes the menu to reflect the season but goes beyond just using seasonal ingredients.
A post shared by FoodinLife World (@foodinlifeworld) on Jan 8, 2018 at 12:44am PST
Currently, the menu themes revolve around the prodigality of Japanese nature, incorporating the finest ingredients Japanese nature has to offer.
Past menus have incorporated ingredients such as bamboo shoots and wild herbs in spring, sweetfish in summer and the wild mushroom of fall.
Nihonryori Ryugin emphasizes that although it’s a Japanese restaurant, it does so much more than just crab or fugu (blowfish).
Signature dish: Fugu and matsubagani. Address: Ground Floor, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032. Average spend: US$250 per person without wine or sake pairing. La Cime A post shared by LA CIME OSAKA (@lacime_japan) on Apr 9, 2018 at 7:23pm PDT
The only one on this list not found in Tokyo is La Cime.
The restaurant is run by Japanese chef Yusuke Takada with inspiration taken from France where he worked at Taillevent and Le Meurice before bringing his excellent culinary skills to Osaka.
The constantly changing menu has a theme which consists of three amuse-bouche, three plates of hors dʼoeuvres, meat dish, pre-dessert, dessert, mignardises and coffee.
A post shared by LA CIME OSAKA (@lacime_japan) on Feb 4, 2018 at 6:52pm PST
Another constant on the menu, however, is the boudin dog, which Takada’s take on a hotdog
Signature dish: Boudin dog. Address: 3-2-15 1F Kawaramachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 5410048. Average spend: US$170 per person without wine. The post 5 of Asia’s top 20 restaurants are in Japan appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

These shows in Asia are more tempting than a Broadway musical

Posted by - April 9, 2018

ASIA, the world’s most populated continent, is famous for its varied geography, historical landmarks, beautiful languages and dialects, diverse cultures and traditions, various tantalizing cuisines, and dramatic natural sights.
There’s hardly a shortage of things to do, places to go, people to meet, and food to eat.
#TRAVEL TRENDS
Asia’s safest places for solo women travelers But other than pigging out on street food in Taiwan or haggling for the best price at a Thai market, travelers would also enjoy shows that are unique to each country.
Attending one of these shows in Asia is akin to attending a Broadway musical in New York City or in London, except that the formats and styles are completely different from one another.
Tokyo: Robot show A word of warning: hold on to your eyes for the fear of them popping right out of their sockets because this trippy show is as wacky as wacky can get.
Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant, located in bustling Shinjuku, is a dinner show that’s a colorful clash of bright lights, special effects, crazy decor, blaring techno music, taiko drums, dinosaurs, dancers, and yes, robots.

It’s relatively family-friendly as most of the sexualization has been taken out of the show.
The eclectic one-hour cabaret show will shock you, amaze you, spin you right round, and leave you wondering what just hit you.
Address: 1-7-1 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo, Japan.
Hong Kong: Chinese opera A popular drama and musical theatre that evokes the mystery and charm of ancient China, the Chinese opera incorporates various traditional art forms such as music, song and dance, martial arts, acrobatics, as well as literary art forms.
It’s distinctive and recognizable, with its falsetto singing, a spectacle of kaleidoscopic costumes, exaggerated makeup, and extravagant sets.

There are many varieties of Chinese opera, from northern and southern China.
Regardless of Beijing or Guangdong, one thing’s for sure, it’s respected and appreciated everywhere in the country as a beautiful and timeless craft.
Address: Ko Shan Theatre or Yau Ma Tei Theatre.
Hanoi: Water puppet show Hanoi’s water puppet show is a representation of a traditional Vietnamese theatre show that dates back centuries.
Located near the Old Quarter’s Hoan Kiem Lake, the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre puts on daily 45-minute shows and is open 365 days a year.

The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool, reminiscent of the original water puppet shows which took place in actual rice paddies. Puppeteers would hide behind a screen and use large rods to support the puppets, making it appear as if they were moving across the water.
The show is loved by both domestic tourists and international visitors alike.
Address: 57B, Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
Seoul: Nanta Nanta is a South Korean non-verbal comedy performance that incorporates the rhythm of the traditional Korean percussion quartet, samulnori.
The show, the longest-running in Korean history, is based on a story of three chefs and a manager attempting to finish preparing for a wedding reception within a strict time limit.

Very few words are spoken throughout as it focuses on using acrobatics, magic tricks, comedy, pantomime, and audience participation. The performance also features improvised “instruments” such as cutting boards, water canisters, and kitchen knives.
The 90-minute performance is held on the daily at the Hongdae Nanta Theatre.
Address: B2F, 357-4, Seokyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
Pattaya: Tiffany’s show Said to be Thailand’s most prestigious cabaret show, Tiffany’s Show is a household name in the country.
What started out as a one-man show performed for a selected group of friends on a fateful New Year’s Eve in 1974 has now become a multiple award-winning event, having bagged the country’s most coveted “Thailand Tourism Awards 2017 AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Thailand’s Best Recreational Attraction for Entertainment” title in 2017.

More than just transvestites dancing along to Thai beats, the family-friendly show is put together by an international production team with expertise in scenery, costume, lighting, and sound.
Every night, over 100 professional performers in dazzling costumes take the stage for the hour-long show.
Address: 464 M.9, Pattaya 2nd Road, Pattaya 20260, Thailand.
The post These shows in Asia are more tempting than a Broadway musical appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Surviving Asia’s 5 most expensive destinations for business travel

Posted by - April 3, 2018

WITH bleisure (a business and leisure travel combo) becoming a phenomenon, more and more business travelers are extending work travel for leisure.
However, extending your stay can be quite costly, especially if additional expenses for the trip has to come out of your own personal budget. This equals accommodation, meals, transport, on top of currency exchange, for the entirety of the extension.
The best way to go about this is to know firsthand which cities are expensive for travel.
#BUSINESS TRAVEL
These Asian countries are most welcoming for expats If you’re coming to Asia, keep in mind that despite the US dollar being the most powerful currency in the world, the cost of living in the region greatly varies and not all Asian countries are affordable.
In a survey released last December, market research company ECA International said 26 of the world’s top 50 most expensive cities to live in are in Asia, with 14 cities in China alone.
“This compares with just four EU cities and three US making it into the top 50,” the firm wrote.
It’s helpful to have a picture of how much life will cost as an expatriate or a business traveler in some of these locations, so here are Asia’s five most expensive destinations for business travel and the average daily expense you’d likely be making.
Tokyo Cost of living in Japan is generally high, with expatriates pegging the average monthly cost at around JPY100,000 (US$945). But it really depends on which Japanese city you’re going to.
For example, Tokyo is cheaper than both London and New York, but really expensive compared to Thailand or the Philippines, and a large chunk of your daily expenses will go to paying for your accommodation. Eating out at a restaurant, drinking at a bar, and going to the theater is also costlier than most Asian countries as they’re seen as more upscale activities.
There’s nearly nothing that you can’t find in Japan’s combinis. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$536 (JPY56,742).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the Tokyo Metro (Japan subway) and stock up on simple, money-saving meals from Japan’s popular combinis (convenience stores).
Hong Kong Although Hong Kong is no longer the most expensive city for business travel, it’s still one of the most expensive in Asia, and it certainly has the potential to empty out your bank account.
Four-star hotel prices in the land-starved country cost about US$284 per day. And due to the high price of goods, meals and drinks can cost up to US$186 per day. If you’re going to eat Western meals every day and dine out at nice restaurants all the time, then be prepared to cough up quite a bit of dough.
It’s not impossible to find affordable eats in Hong Kong. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$508 (HKD3,987).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the MTR (Hong Kong subway) and make cheap food places (market food, neighborhood noodle joints) your daily destination.
Seoul In 2015, The Economist‘s Worldwide Cost of Living report classified Seoul as the most expensive city in the world for buying everyday food items. For example, an average price for a loaf of bread (one kilogram) in Singapore costs US$3.54 while in Seoul it costs US$13.91.
And like the above well developed East Asian countries, staying in this South Korean capital can be expensive and business travelers should expect to fork out US$252 per day on a four-star hotel. That being said, subways, buses, taxis, eating out, and buying basic clothing is cheaper in South Korea than Toronto.
Remember to clink your soju glass and say, “Geonbae!” Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$490 (KRW518,625).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the Seoul Metropolitan Subway and seek out bars like Ssada! Maekju! or Makgeolli Salon in Hongdae where you can get free refills for draft beers (KRW7,295/person), soju (KRW4,863/person), and makgeolli (KRW5,269/person).
Singapore For the fifth year running, the Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore the world’s most expensive city to live. That goes hand-in-hand with it being one of the world’s most expensive cities for business travel as well.
Business travelers can expect to spend an average of US$251 on four-star hotels per day and about US$186 on food and drinks. You’ll never have a dull moment on the island because Singapore is home to various attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, Underwater World, Madame Tussauds, and more.
But they come with a price, of course.
The world’s most expensive city to live is also one of the world’s most expensive cities for business travel. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$472 (SGD618).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the MRT (Singapore subway) and check out all these free things that you can do.
Dhaka Are you surprised to find that Dhaka, the capital and largest city of Bangladesh, is on the list too? According to The Daily Star, the cost of living in Dhaka is as high as the Canadian city of Montreal although the living amenities and conditions in these two cities are worlds apart. In fact, it’s considered more expensive to live and work in Dhaka than nearby capitals like New Delhi and Islamabad, and cities like Kolkata.
The living cost rose by 8.44 percent in Dhaka in 2017 because of hikes in prices of rice, vegetables, house rents, electricity, gas as well as other services. Hence, you should expect to spend about US$155 on meals and drinks. And as a business traveler, most of your expenses will go to your accommodation as it costs about US$277 on average for a four-star hotel.
Built in 1872 and standing on the Buriganga River, Ahsan Manzil is one of the most attractive historical sites in Dhaka. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$456 (BDT37,921).
Tip for surviving the trip: Public transportation is not an option there, and traffic and pollution are exceptionally bad so plan your travels well and mask up if need be.
The post Surviving Asia’s 5 most expensive destinations for business travel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

In the mood for Sakura: Blooming delicious seasonal eats in Japan

Posted by - March 26, 2018

SPRING has arrived in Japan, which means that the highly anticipated sakura (cherry blossom) season is finally here. And the Japanese take the celebration very seriously.
In Tokyo, rows upon rows of sakura trees bloomed on March 24, and it’s expected to last about two weeks.
#EXPERIENCES
5 best but underrated destinations in Japan to view cherry blossoms The celebration of the sakura blooming is such a big deal that travel and tour companies, F&B corporations, cosmetics and skincare brands, convenience stores, and retail outlets, all cash in on the annual occasion.
While locals and tourists alike are buckling up and quickly flocking to flower-viewing venues to picnic under the beautiful pink blossoms, a practice that’s known as hanami, companies are gearing up to push seasonal flavored food and products in line with the tradition. This is likely the only time of year that stores will be filled with sakura-themed goodies.
From stationery to greeting cards, to tumblers and drinks, here are some seasonal and limited edition sakura-themed items that you can’t leave Japan without trying/buying.
FamilyMart Popular Japanese convenience store franchise chain FamilyMart is celebrating the blooms by selling a sakura roll cake.
The soft dough is filled with fluffy whipped cream and topped with red beans, and big enough to share with your hanami buddy.
A post shared by てぃこ太郎 (@wakapanp) on Mar 20, 2018 at 12:34am PDT
Lawson Lawson, the other popular Japanese convenience store franchise chain, has also filled their stores with everything pretty-in-pink.
They’ve got mouthwatering-ly good sakuramochi (rice cake wrapped in a salted sakura tree leaf), “Pururun” water jelly (a raindrop cake enhanced with sakura extract), sakura and matcha cake roll, and more.
It’d be hard to not go crazy shopping in there.
A post shared by ヴァイオレット (@teruaihappy) on Mar 23, 2018 at 2:40am PDT
Haagen-Dazs While you’re at either one of the above convenience stores, be sure to grab a tub of Haagen-Dazs on your way out.
This year, the ice cream brand is promoting its Mochi Sakura, a flavor with a triple helping of cherry blossom deliciousness: sakura ice cream, mochi topped with a sweety salty sakura and red bean paste, and finally drizzled with sakura sauce.
It can’t get any more sakura-crazy than that.
A post shared by 前田玲奈(アイスフェアリー) (@maedarena) on Mar 7, 2018 at 8:29pm PST
Asahi While some of you may be picking up sakura-flavored shakes and teas, Japanese beer company Asahi has other ideas.
Asahi has rolled out a repackaging of its Super Dry beer in pink cans and bottles featuring a flowery motif.
On top of that, the company has also added their new fruity beer, Sakura no Utage (cherry blossom banquet) to its Clear Asahi line.
A post shared by siyeon 러브시연 (@siyeon0220) on Mar 25, 2018 at 4:09pm PDT
McDonald’s In 2014, McDonald’s Japan released its limited edition Sakura Teritama burger, a creation comprised of a teriyaki-glazed patty, egg, lettuce, a mayonnaise-based sakura pickle sauce, and pink buns
Although the burger didn’t make a grand return this year, the fast-food restaurant is still very much in line with the celebrations.
Head on over to a McDonald’s near you to sample some french fries seasoned with sakura salt.
Source: McDonald’s Japan.
Starbucks The world-famous coffee chain is also contributing to the festivities with three sakura-themed drinks: the Sakura Strawberry Pink Mochi Frappuccino (with bits of sakura-flavored mochi and strawberry chocolate chips), the Sakura Strawberry Pink Milk Latte (with bits of sakura leaf and sake lees), and the Sakura Strawberry Pink Tea (Starbucks’ first sakura-flavored tea).
This is on top of the pretty, cheery merchandise that’s for sale.
A post shared by スターバックス公式 (@starbucks_j) on Feb 14, 2018 at 2:26pm PST
Lipton From January to March last year, Lipton released its sakura tea exclusively on its online store for the first time.
The fragrant tea, which gets its flavor from sakuramochi, was an instant hit, cinching the number one position in online sales.
Now, back by popular demand, Lipton’s sakura tea is available on Rakuten and Yahoo! Japan for a limited time.
A post shared by choi_gh78 (@choi_gh78) on Feb 11, 2018 at 8:31pm PST
Pocky Japan’s homegrown snack food brand, Glico, is not one to be left behind this spring.
The brand’s snack food, Pocky (flavor-coated baked pretzel sticks), just added Sakura Pocky to its range – though for a limited time only.
Each box has 24 sticks (dusted with both sugar and salt) in total in four small sealed pouches, available at 7-Eleven convenience stores and supermarkets York Mart and Ito Yokado.
A post shared by Bell, Character Food Artist (@bellchan_cooking_bento) on Mar 24, 2018 at 9:53pm PDT
KitKat Pocky’s competitor, Nestle’s KitKat, has also jumped the bandwagon this sakura season with the repackaging of three of its flavors in flower-themed wrapping: milk, dark, and iyokan (citrus).
Its specialty boutique, the KitKat Chocolatory, will also be offering a strawberry sakura flavor in a tall cylinder decorated with the pretty pink blooms, as well as a sakura-shaped charm made of cherry blossom wood.
Source: Nestle Japan.
The post In the mood for Sakura: Blooming delicious seasonal eats in Japan appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Say hello to the new private island Hyatt Beach Resort in Japan

Posted by - March 21, 2018

HYATT, one of the world’s top hospitality companies, is getting ready to open its first ever beach resort in Japan and it looks to be stunning.
Up until a few years ago, the location of the newest Hyatt Regency Resort was just another bit of the East China Sea that swelled around the Japanese prefecture island of Okinawa.
#BEACHES
Nobody likes a soggy beach: The best times to go to Asia’s top 11 beaches But fortunately, Hyatt had the foresight to see the potential of this little bit of coast and the adjoining island as it is now getting ready to open the 344-room luxury hotel on Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island in Onna-son, Okinawa.
Onna-son is known as one of the best beach locations on Okinawa island and guests at the new resort will be able to enjoy private beaches all to themselves.
A post shared by okinawalocal_navi 沖縄ローカルナビ (@okinawalocal_navi) on Mar 20, 2018 at 6:11pm PDT
The hotel is surrounded by azure blue warm waters that can be seen from the guest rooms.
Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa hopes to energize its guests through experiences and connect them with what and who matters to them most.
This can be done through a myriad of health-focused activities on offer, from beach yoga to invigorating spa treatments.
Of the 344 rooms on offer at the resort, 320 of them will be housed in a seven-story building on the private island, while the remaining 24 rooms can be found in the three-story beach house on the Okinawa Island side.
#SINGAPORE
Save money in Singapore with these free activities Each room has a balcony and complimentary WiFi, so you can upload your stunning sea view pictures straight onto Instagram.
The food on offer here is a reason in itself to book a stay. Satisfy all your Japanese food cravings in one of the six restaurants at the resort which all offer fresh produce, including the catch of the day.
A post shared by Hyatt Regency Naha Okinawa (@hyattregencynahaokinawa) on Apr 17, 2017 at 3:21am PDT
You may even decide that this is the place you want to say your vows and enter into holy matrimony, and if it is, we don’t blame you. It is truly stunning here.
The onsite Seragaki Island Chapel can seat up to 40 guests and will hold a 10-meter aisle so all your adorning guests and lucky partner can watch you as you glide, or groove toward married life.
The hotel is now taking reservations for September 1 onwards. We’ll see you there for a spot of paradise living.
The post Say hello to the new private island Hyatt Beach Resort in Japan appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.