I’m now putting together cheap flights and travel suggestions for my clients. Here’s my latest post for my friend Joy….
September temperatures are 75-86 degrees in Okinawa, October about 5 degrees less, so either month is a good time to travel. The prices change constantly, so below are the lowest sample prices:
GETTING THERE: The least expensive option is this:
- Austin to Los Angeles $134 RT
- Los Angeles to Tokyo Sept 12-26 $550 RT (11 hours)
- Tokyo to Okinawa Sept 14 $52 (3 hours)
- Okinawa to Osaka Sept 18 $40
- All airfare is VERY reasonably priced at under $800 for 6 flights. The cheapest price to book Austin to Okinawa in the best search engine has a 4 hour stopover in San Francisco and a 3 hour in Taipei and is $350 more each person. Booking these flights ala carte saves you money and your sanity. Let me know if you like these dates and I’ll create links for you. The highlighted one is the main one that needs to be booked to save the most money. That price is unlikely to dip any lower.
ROUTE: My recommendation is to fly to LAX and spend the night at the RS Queen Mary. It’s currently under renovation, but it’s a piece of history and is not only a museum, but also a very reasonably priced hotel. You can’t book it at the moment because the construction crews are not sure when it will be ready, but it should be soon. The ship is listed as one of the most haunted hotels in America and the cocktail bar has old school cocktails that will make you feel like you’re having a drink in another era. There’s a nice restaurant there called Sir Winston. Churchill was a guest on the ship in earlier times. The website above has lots of information about this cool destination.
During the day, you can have lunch at Philippe’s, the sandwich shop that invented the French Dip. Yeah. The original is not from France. If you like museums, I can recommend several in LA. If you want to stay another day, you can go to Catalina island, visit Universal Studios or check out some of the secret bars in West Hollywood.
I’d catch the next morning flight to Tokyo (flying there instead of Okinawa saves another $450 each) (with the same exact stopover). Bad search engine! You arrive in the afternoon, so you can get a cool hotel in a trendy part of the city. If you ever saw “Lost in Translation” with Bill Murray, the Park Hyatt Tokyo was the hotel bar where a lot of the movie was filmed. You can have a drink there (great cocktail menu). I don’t suggest staying there unless you have $1000 burning a hole in your pocket or a free night with the Hyatt. If you want more LIT filming locations, click here. There’s plenty of reasonable hotels in Japan. You can see pricing, reviews, neighborhoods and book here. Hotels in Tokyo start under $50.
The following day I’d fly to Okinawa and visit with your family members for however long you choose. Okinawa is not huge, but it is full of beautiful spots. If you need a car, click here. Once you’re ready to explore Japan, fly to Osaka and use it as your base to explore Nara, Kyoto, Kobe, and Hiroshima and the other cities recommended below. These are Japan’s most popular destinations. You can’t take a Shinkansen to Mount Fuji, but there are local trains that will get you there.
THE REST OF JAPAN- the JR Rail pass is the best deal you’ll find NOT in Japan. You have to buy it here before you leave and take a physical copy to the station to be exchanged into a pass. The shortest time you can buy this pass is 7 consecutive days and it includes all the Shinkansen high speed trains so you can speed around Japan like you own the place. 7 days is $217. First class is $290. Both classes are great and it is my favorite train I’ve ever ridden anywhere in the world. They have outlets and food/drink service and most phones work the same there as they do here. I should point out that one rail ticket bought in Japan can cost as much as the entire pass. It’s a huge savings.
CITIES I RECOMMEND- Here’s my top picks. I’m happy to help you schedule your time in each:
- Osaka- for food, the best- You can try blowfish here….the world’s most dangerous meal. Here’s some of the top local picks
- Kyoto- famous for its temples and kimonos. Try the gold leaf ice cream and cherry blossom flavor.
- Hiroshima- beautiful pagodas and sobering museum of one of the earth’s deadliest bombings.
- Kobe- Try the world famous steak.
- Mt. Fuji- You can ski it in the winter or marvel at it any other time.
- Tokyo- full of crazy interesting restaurants and a world unto itself. Also there’s 2 Disney Parks.
- Sapporo- Northern Japan, but worth a visit to visit the brewery and see a different part of Japan.