Mt Fuji – Japan

Mt Fuji – November 2015
The symbol of Japan to many people, the countries number 1 tourist attraction and its surprisingly difficult to get there using public transport. I had 1 day to visit Mt Fuji and after extensive online research, looking at online maps and different modes of transport etc. I finally decided that it would be easier to join an organised tour from Tokyo city centre.

I booked using the app, which had a number of different options. I went for a mid-range tour which also included a de-tour to the local Lake Hakone. The bus left from a major bus terminal in Tokyo, it was easy to find and right next to a subway station. First stop was a fancy hotel at the base of Mt Fuji for a Japanese Brunch and a few photos.

Then the bus continued to about half way up the mountain, we had an hour here to walk around, take photos and visit the gift shop.

On the way back to Tokyo there was a de-tour included in the tour price, the bus stopped at Lake Hakone where we enjoyed a 30 minute boat ride to the bottom of Mt Hakone, and a cable car ride to the top of the mountain. It was really foggy so the view from the top wasn’t that great, but Mt Fuji can be seen in the background on a clear day.

The tour was a full day and the bus dropped us back in Tokyo, close to a few major subway stations. The day was fantastic even if the weather wasn’t. I really enjoyed letting someone else worry about planning the day and enjoyed a laid back and hassle free day.

All entry fees and meals were included in the price. Continue reading “Mt Fuji – Japan”


24 Hours in Tokyo

Tokyo – November 2015
On a recent business trip to Japan, I was lucky enough to tag on a few personal days onto the beginning. Even though I don’t really do solo travel, it wouldn’t make sense not to make the most of this rare opportunity. Knowing that I only had 2 nights in this amazing place, (before being stuck on an industrial estate for a week) I cram packed my itinerary before leaving to UK to make sure I hit the ground running, I give myself a full day in Tokyo.

I bought a tourist ticket for the subway system from the information stand in the airport, it was really easy, they speak perfect English and it meant that I didn’t need to worry about carrying a load of change. The subway was very reliable and there were plenty of trains, the route was extensive and covered the whole city. If you have ever been to London, New York or any other cities where they subway runs on a colour system, then you will be fine. All the routes are in English as well as Japanese.

My first stop was the Tokyo tower, it didn’t open until 9am so I had to wait outside for a few minutes, which was fine, it was surprisingly warm for a November morning. My view from the top wasn’t great but on a clear day you can supposedly see all the way to Mt Fuji. There is a food court inside the tower where I had breakfast (Pizza, blame the jet lag!). Food was ok but just a typical chain type food court.

I hadn’t planned to visit the Yoyogi Park but it was a warm morning and close to my next stop Takeshita Street. I ended up spending a few hours in the beautiful park and getting completely lost. It was a great place to people watch and relax. Takeshita Street was another great place to people watch, with lots of trendy shops and a great atmosphere.

I caught the next subway to Sensō-ji temple and braved the crowds to get a good view, there are some nice gardens and smaller temples surrounding the area. I was there on a Saturday and the massive food market made me regret a poor breakfast choice. I nearly fell asleep here but luckily it was 3pm and time to check into my hotel. (Separate blog post on staying in a capsule hotel.) after a nap and quick shower I was ready to head back out for the evening.

I wanted to see the famous Shibuya crossing and but didn’t linger to long, I made the Government building my last stop for the day. Its free to visit the top floor observation deck and its open till late. By the time I got there all the crowds had gone and it was relatively quiet.

Finally, I called it a night and went back to the hotel, thoroughly exhausted and my feet killing me. I didn’t even undress before passing out on the bed. I had a great day in Tokyo and will certainly be returning with Sean one day.


HaLong Bay

HaLong Bay – July 2016

Vietnams number 1 tourist attraction, and for good reason! the scenery is absolutely breath taking, and if you can drag yourself out of bed at 5:30AM, sunrise over HaLong Bay is not something you will easily forget.

Prices can be high to cruise HaLong Bay, but usually local pick up / drop off is included as well as all meals and excursions when on board.

We booked onto the Aphrodite Supreme Cruise through and we would fully recommend the service, it was one of the more luxurious of ships and couldn’t be faulted. The staff at organised everything, including our visa’s into Vietnam. Once on board, the food was amongst the best we have ever tasted (and that’s saying something!), and when our flight to DaNang was unexpectedly pulled forward by 2 hours, the staff on board did everything they could to get us to the airport on time, including a private speedboat ride to get us back to shore on time.

Different tour operators offer different excursions, ours included 3 main activities:

  • A guided tour into caves inside one of the islands, we had the option to wander off on our own if we wanted but Mary was really interesting.

  • Kayaking through a cave, which then opened up to a massive private lake. The battery died on our GoPro here so we didn’t get any photos, Typical!
  • A climb to the summit of Ti Top island followed by a swim to cool off, which was defiantly needed after all those steps.

Cons: Being Vietnams number 1 tourist attraction means crowds! There are dozens of ships out in the bay at any one time, and as Vietnams tourism industry grows, HaLong Bay is at risk of becoming completely over run with tourists. Our advice is don’t wait, get there as soon as possible!

I would recommend HaLong bay to anyone visiting Vietnam, it’s not a sight to be missed and is up there as one of my best experiences ever.