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Old 07-23-2009, 07:08 AM
 
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Mr and Mrs Weekend Traveler are going to take a 2 week trip to China next year. The flight will be on Northwest Airlines and they allow us one FREE stop over on the way which could be Tokyo Japan.

Would you stop over in Tokyo if you could on the way to China and for how long? Is Tokyo as interesting as Beijing?

Last edited by Weekend Traveler; 07-23-2009 at 08:05 AM..
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:58 AM
 
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My parents & sister visited Tokyo many years ago and thought it was a worthwhile place to visit/see.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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Tokyo is much more interesting than Beijing, IMO. I recommend at least 5 days to enjoy it or 3 to get a good overview.

Tokyo is also much more expensive than Beijing.

Beware of scammers at Beijing International Airport. Taxi drivers at the taxi stand will "not know" where you are going, but a helpful fellow will come along and agree to take you there for "only" 200 Yuan (per person). More if you look like a sucker and/or don't speak Mandarin.

The best thing to do is take the airport bus into town and flag down a taxi there--if you can find one who will stop for foreigners. Oh, watch out for touts at the bus line, too. Talk to the guy BEHIND the desk INSIDE the waiting area just outside of the baggage claim. Everyone else walking around is a tout--even the ones wearing "uniforms" and "ID badges"

Actually, beware of scams all over China. We encountered more than we could count. Being fluent in Mandarin helps but sometimes you just can't get around the corruption and have to cough up. A good rule of thumb is this: if someone comes up to YOU, they are a con-artist or tout. If you have to go to THEM, then you MIGHT get a legitimate deal. But probably not.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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If you can, I STRONGLY recommend you visit Taipei, Taiwan, instead. It will give you a feel for the real difference between the Republic Of China and the People's Republic of China. If you're like most, it will make you sad for what might have been had Sun Yat Sen not been taken away too early.
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Living near our Nation's Capitol since 2010
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Tokyo is well worth the diversion. I suggest that you do your homework online to find the best uses of your time there. the Japanese people are very nice but we found that very few were willing or able to speak any English. Getting around the city is easy enough by cab.

If you have time, take the fast train to Kyoto...a magnificent city.
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Old 07-23-2009, 05:01 PM
 
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I have never been to Beijing, but I have been to Tokyo several times, and I would highly recommend it.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:52 PM
 
Location: SW MO
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Tokyo is a wonderful place. For a great view of the city, go to the top of Tokyo tower. And it doesn't have to be terribly expensive. Instead of fancy sushi places, try small noodle shops. They are great! The Japanese take Ramen noodles to a whole 'nother level. Try some Om Rice at a restaurant off the main tourist track. The Tokyo-Edo museum (or is it Edo-Tokyo?) is a great history lesson. The local trains make it easy to travel from one part of the city to another. We frequently bought breakfast at the train stations. And you must try the Tokyo Banana! I think it is only sold at train stations. Like a Twinkie, but filled with real banana cream. YUM!
There are a million things to do in Tokyo, do some research before you go to maximize your time.
I would go back in a heartbeat.
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Old 07-23-2009, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
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Should we stop over in Tokyo Japan on the way to China?
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Yes, if you can spend a week in Tokyo. If not, I'd choose Singapore or Hong Kong.

I worked in Tokyo for many years and loved it. There is so much about Tokyo that you cannot handle, let alone enjoy, in just a day or two or three. For one thing, you will be on a sleep/wake schedule that's opposite to that of Tokyo so you'll spend a few days just trying to stay awake. Tokyo has so many fascinating sights, and sounds, and foods, and shopping experiences. It's a very complex city packed with both the ancient and the futuristic. And very few Japanese speak fluent English so you will necessarily spend time just trying to deal with language, even at the Front Desk of your hotel. Finally, Tokyo is huge, massive, sprawling in every direction; the very center of town is geared to tourism, but the really interesting, fun, revealing parts are all quite distant from the center of town and without a tour guide or a friend or command of the language Tokyo is overwhelming.

I've also spent time in both Singapore and Hong Kong. Given their small size, splendid organization for tourism, and use of English (the British kind), I strongly recommend either of those cities. They will also provide you with ancient and modern, fabulous food experiences, and lots of fun shopping -- all in compact geographic packages.

No matter what you choose, I strongly urge you to browse on TripAdvisor.com (search for the city first, then you can drill down) to find out what you might enjoy seeing and where you might enjoy staying. Have a wondrous adventure!!
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:40 AM
 
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The thing that scares me about Japan is I am told that it is very English unfriendly and it is difficult for tourists to figure how to get around and communicate with even people in hotels. Also it is very expensive in related to China. With this in mind, is it still a good idea?
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weekend Traveler View Post
The thing that scares me about Japan is I am told that it is very English unfriendly and it is difficult for tourists to figure how to get around and communicate with even people in hotels. Also it is very expensive in related to China. With this in mind, is it still a good idea?
If you think Japan/Tokyo is English/Westerner-Unfriendly, you are going to be in for a shock when you hit China.

The language barrier isn't a problem in Tokyo. English is popular with the youth and any business hotel (or international tourist chain hotel) will have English-speaking staff and concierge. Cab drivers will usually know English names of tourist destinations or you'll be able to get close enough to "Shinjiku" for them to figure out where you are trying to go.

The rail/subway system is pretty easy to use and will save you a bundle over cabs.

Japan is very expensive, but there are deals to be had, even in Tokyo. You should be able to secure (ahead of time online) a 3-star (and it will feel like 5-star) business hotel for around USD 110-150 for a spacious and comfortable two-person room with western amenities (read: not a squat toilet) like WiFi, Cable, minibar, etc. Japanese hotels are, on the whole, the CLEANEST hotels in the world. Fairly cheap eats can be had on the street or in ramen/bbq shops if you have even the tiniest sense of adventure.

Try googling Sunroute Tokyo hotels for a reliable and reasonably-priced business hotel.

The best thing about the Japanese is that they are unfailingly polite and generally very honest. Service staff anywhere will not rest until they have found someone who can understand and help you.
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