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Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: January 4th, 2012, 7:56 am
by Tom.Cole
My wife and I will be going on a cruise from Singapore to Tokyo this April. We will be taking shore excursions arranged by the cruiseline for all the one day stops, but we will be in several cities for two days along the way. I welcome any and all advice on what to do on our own during the extra day in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Osaka, and Tokyo. We will be staying at the St. Regis in Singapore before and the Peninsula in Tokyo after the cruise if that helps in suggestions for these two cities.

Thanks.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: January 4th, 2012, 8:39 am
by Danius Barzdukas
Tom,
What do you and your wife like to do when you travel? Eat, shop for clothes/art/souvenirs, look at buildings and go to museums, get massages, do some sort of physical activity, go nightclubbing, or something else? Also, how old are you and do you need to get any gifts for children, etc. This will affect the recommendations.

But here are some general thoughts. If there are specific things you like doing though, then I can give more specific suggestions.
Osaka- There are two major shopping areas in Osaka centered on transportation hubs, Umeda to the north and Nanba to the south. Umeda is a bit more upscale whereas Nanba is geared toward younger people. You can also drift north from Nanba into Shinsaibashi which has some more expensive shops. Either area is interesting to explore but I would suggest deciding your day based on what you want to get out of your trip (Shopping, eating, etc.) and where you are staying. There will be lots of eating and shopping no matter where you go, but what you can buy varies slightly depending on the place. Umeda has a number of department stores. Nanba has a lot of smaller shops in addition to some department stores.
A visit to Osaka castle may be interesting. I've never been there.
You can also take a day trip to Kyoto by the Keihan line if you feel adventurous and can plan well. I would almost recommend doing this if you will already have one day in Osaka with your cruise.

Tokyo
The other post has recommendations on what to do in Tokyo: visits Tsukiji,etc. You will be staying near GInza, so going shopping there would be easy. Lots of boutiques and department stores there. Department stores are good places to buy things like ceramics and laquerware and other Japanese nicknacks you may like. If you are younger (under 40), you may enjoy Shibuya/Harajuku/Omotesando or Shinjuku more.
Visits to Meiji jingu and the Asakusa area are also things tourists do in Tokyo. Also the Akihabara district for electronics.

Danius

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: January 4th, 2012, 9:16 am
by Michel Abood
Tom, for Japan, there's another thread in this Forum that has up-to-date info.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: January 4th, 2012, 9:46 am
by Tom.Cole
Danius Barzdukas wrote:Tom,
What do you and your wife like to do when you travel? Eat, shop for clothes/art/souvenirs, look at buildings and go to museums, get massages, do some sort of physical activity, go nightclubbing, or something else? Also, how old are you and do you need to get any gifts for children, etc. This will affect the recommendations.

Danius
For us, cruises are a way to quickly get a feel for possibly interesting extended stay locations. I enjoy exploring the food culture, cultural/historical sites, botanical gardens, museums, music, and out-of-the way sites. My wife enjoys these as well, with the one addition of shopping for herself and friends. I tolerate the latter.

We are both in our early sixties.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: January 4th, 2012, 10:31 am
by Danius Barzdukas
Tom.Cole wrote:For us, cruises are a way to quickly get a feel for possibly interesting extended stay locations. I enjoy exploring the food culture, cultural/historical sites, botanical gardens, museums, music, and out-of-the way sites. My wife enjoys these as well, with the one addition of shopping for herself and friends. I tolerate the latter.

We are both in our early sixties.
Tom,
I scribbled down some thoughts above but here are some additional thoughts.

For food, you will have too much to chose from. There will be good restaurants all over the place and it would be hard to make a specific suggestion. In the evenings you may want to choose one upscale Japanese restaurant and one 'izakaya' style pub. You may also want to consider going someplace to have Japanese tea with sweets, just as a kind of snack. I can't give any specific recommendations, but there are vast underground shopping areas in Osaka in both Nanba and Umeda, and they usually have little shops where you can have some tea. This will probably not be the tea used in tea ceremony, but it may be an interesting alternative to Starbucks. You'll have to have a good sense of direction or you will get lost in these underground shopping arcades.

In terms of gardens, I definitely think that you would have to make the effort to go to Kyoto to get the best experience. I have been to a garden or two in Tokyo, but haven't been all that impressed. Even the gardens at the imperial palace aren't really worth the visit, although it looks nice from the outside.

There are all kinds of museums in Tokyo (Ramen museum, wind chime museum, etc.) . I would really recommend getting a guidebook and deciding what you want to see. I'm sure Osaka has some musuems worth going to, but I haven't been to any. Any good guidebook can give suggestions.

Historical sites might be harder in Tokyo and Osaka, but Osaka castle might do the trick. If you go to Kyoto you won't have time for that, but Kyoto will more than make up for it.

In terms of music, this will depend on what is happening when you go. It may not be possible to see anything without buying tickets in advance. You might find a decent jazz club, or some place that may have a traditional shamisen, koto, or taiko drum performance.

Ginza would probably be the place to go shopping. As I mentioned above the department stores often have one floor devoted to Japanese things, and there are a lot of small shops in GInza that also sell 'Japanese' style things your wife would enjoy.

I think you could easily explore out of the way sites in both Tokyo and Osaka. A travel guide might have some ideas.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: January 4th, 2012, 12:16 pm
by Matthew Brown
Some general thoughts on Shanghai from a trip there in late October/early November. If you want some more specific info let me know and I can get it from my home computer:

Overall, very comfortable and modern city, visually striking with all the skyscraper architecture (apparently there are more 30+ story buildings here than the entire eastern USA). Not a lot of inherent history but the Shanghai museum has a lot of great exhibits on Chinese clothing, pottery, etc. that's well worth setting aside 2 hours or so. The Jade Buddha temple is famous and fairly beautiful, but could be a bit tricky to get to on your own, especially if you are on your own (You are likely to be staying downtown around the Bund/Pudong areas, and there is a lot to see there, so hopping a cab here may not be worth it). Plus the statues themselves are fairly modern (@120 years old) and don't feel as culturally important as most of what you will find at the museums. An evening boat trip with the Bund and Pudong all lit up is very memorable and worth doing if you get a few people together to share it with.

Shopping is absolutely out of control here. If you are a bargain hunter, leave a lot of room in your budget for your time here. Remember EVERYTHING is negotiable, and everyone is looking to sell you something. If you aren't a big shopper, like me, you get to a point where you start to feel a little violated by wave after wave of attempted commerce. Our group hit 3 areas: Nanjing Road (famous, moderate prices, and an absolute assault on the senses), Yu Gardens (a famous private garden with mazes of small knock-off stores to explore) and a knock-off mall whose name I can't find (China doesn't like Google maps...) but is located beneath a plaza outside the Shanghai technology museum about 2km east of the Shanghai Finance Center skyscraper (which has a great observation deck if you are into tall buildings). I was wary of the knock-off clothing, but the bags and portable technology items were incredibly good deals. Our hotel was out in the French Concession area West of downtown, which was a lot more casual, relatively speaking, and offered more relaxed boutique shopping experiences.

Food was great, but we had to do restaurants that could take larger groups, so you may have more success exploring for yourself. Our last night we ate at a fairly large place just at the foot of the Oriental Pearl Tower with a great view of the river and was one of our best meals of the trip, but I'm sure there are thousands of others.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: February 9th, 2012, 4:03 pm
by Danius Barzdukas
Tom, posting this here as well. The Peninsula is mentioned.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... lenews_wsj

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: February 9th, 2012, 4:20 pm
by Mark Y
Hong Kong - There's 2 things to do in HK. Shop. Eat. Repeat.

There are no sights that will be impressive.. I'd hit TST area.. see the harbour.. Eat. Go up Victoria peak.. Eat..
before you board the boat.. Eat some more

Osaka - immediately hit a train station and 20 mins later you're in Kyoto. Visit a few of the big sights in the city - Golden pavilion, Kiyomizu Dera (temple), Nijo Castle, Silver Pavilion, etc.
Sure Osaka can be cool but it's really just a modern day town with shopping. and In Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, all you see is shopping. :) So get some culture in is what I'd recommend.

Tokyo - if this is your end destination you can probably spend 2 days here.. see another thread in this forum.

Singapore - avoid Santosa.. at least imho. it was boring. Eat.. :)

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: February 9th, 2012, 5:37 pm
by Patrick Friel
For Singapore, check out Peranakan/Straits Chinese food. Binjai Park is a street a bit out of the way (which is no big deal, Singapore isn't that big) would be a reliable destination for that. Ivans is a good Peranakan place that's been there a long time. There is also a relatively new, good wine bar there called Taberna that I have yet to visit but Lisa Perrotti-Brown suggests it. She covers Asia for Wine Advocate. There are also a couple of good antique shops there your wife can browse.

http://www.ivins.com.sg/index.htm
http://www.taberna.sg/

I like the the Asian Civilizations Museum. Beautifully done, imo.
http://www.acm.org.sg/home/home.asp

If you like zoos, check out the Night Safari. Nice to be able to view animals when they are active. And besides, you might be jet-lagging anyway. [snort.gif]
http://www.nightsafari.com.sg/

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: February 12th, 2012, 1:01 am
by Bob Wood
I recommend the KFC buffet in Ho Chi Minh City. Delicious and low-fat.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: March 31st, 2020, 9:28 am
by Ittachi_Kawasaki
It seems difficult to travel right now due to Covid-19 disease but when it ends, and you have a chance to come to Japan, don't forget to try some best japanese snacks (https://questionjapan.com/blog/food-and ... se-snacks/), they are very famous and easy to try ^^ such as: mochi, kitkat, nama chocolate and some biscuits. [cheers.gif]

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: April 2nd, 2020, 2:46 pm
by Jay Miller
Tom.Cole wrote:
January 4th, 2012, 9:46 am
Danius Barzdukas wrote:Tom,
What do you and your wife like to do when you travel? Eat, shop for clothes/art/souvenirs, look at buildings and go to museums, get massages, do some sort of physical activity, go nightclubbing, or something else? Also, how old are you and do you need to get any gifts for children, etc. This will affect the recommendations.

Danius
For us, cruises are a way to quickly get a feel for possibly interesting extended stay locations. I enjoy exploring the food culture, cultural/historical sites, botanical gardens, museums, music, and out-of-the way sites. My wife enjoys these as well, with the one addition of shopping for herself and friends. I tolerate the latter.

We are both in our early sixties.
Definitely try to visit the new Botanic Gardens in Singapore. They are gorgeous. I hear the old Botanic Gardens are also well worth visiting but I haven't been. Skip Sentosa unless you are a beach person.

I second the people who recommend a quick trip to Kyoto rather than a day in Osaka. I could easily spend a month in Kyoto but a day in Osaka was more than enough. It's a modern city with good food and that's about all there to say about it.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: April 3rd, 2020, 5:21 am
by Sarah Kirschbaum
Jay Miller wrote:
April 2nd, 2020, 2:46 pm

I second the people who recommend a quick trip to Kyoto rather than a day in Osaka. I could easily spend a month in Kyoto but a day in Osaka was more than enough. It's a modern city with good food and that's about all there to say about it.
Jay is asserting his preferences as blanket reality and, as usual when one does this, he is wrong. I have spent weeks and weeks in both cities and, while Kyoto has my heart, there is far more to Osaka than immediately meets the tourist eye. If you are looking for Old Japan, or think learning about a city involves taking a Segue tour, by all means - go to Kyoto or Kanizawa, but if you love to immerse yourself to discover the underlying identity of a city, Osaka is fascinating. The character of the different neighborhoods is totally different from Tokyo. It's a young city, and the culture reflects that - more playful, more open. Access culturally is easier. I feel I've been shown more about what it means to be Japanese in Osaka than in other major cities, especially Kyoto, ironically. It's not a beautiful city, no. It has an incredible bar scene, second only to Tokyo and right up there with Sapporo, a wonderful music scene. Comedy, too, though that's hard if you don't speak the language. There are plenty of touristy things to do, if you like those - a terrific aquarium, for instance, but if you're willing to do a little work in exploring, and a little work is looking beyond the obvious, Osaka has a lot of offer.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: April 3rd, 2020, 5:47 am
by Mich@el Ch@ng
I like both cities but am a very big fan of Osaka. It's a fun city with immense food options and much more laid back.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: April 3rd, 2020, 11:19 am
by Jay Miller
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
April 3rd, 2020, 5:21 am
Jay Miller wrote:
April 2nd, 2020, 2:46 pm

I second the people who recommend a quick trip to Kyoto rather than a day in Osaka. I could easily spend a month in Kyoto but a day in Osaka was more than enough. It's a modern city with good food and that's about all there to say about it.
Jay is asserting his preferences as blanket reality and, as usual when one does this, he is wrong. I have spent weeks and weeks in both cities and, while Kyoto has my heart, there is far more to Osaka than immediately meets the tourist eye. If you are looking for Old Japan, or think learning about a city involves taking a Segue tour, by all means - go to Kyoto or Kanizawa, but if you love to immerse yourself to discover the underlying identity of a city, Osaka is fascinating. The character of the different neighborhoods is totally different from Tokyo. It's a young city, and the culture reflects that - more playful, more open. Access culturally is easier. I feel I've been shown more about what it means to be Japanese in Osaka than in other major cities, especially Kyoto, ironically. It's not a beautiful city, no. It has an incredible bar scene, second only to Tokyo and right up there with Sapporo, a wonderful music scene. Comedy, too, though that's hard if you don't speak the language. There are plenty of touristy things to do, if you like those - a terrific aquarium, for instance, but if you're willing to do a little work in exploring, and a little work is looking beyond the obvious, Osaka has a lot of offer.
well, as always with things Japanese I'd take Sarah's advice over mine any day.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: April 5th, 2020, 2:03 am
by PCLIN
Yes. I agree with Sarah’s view on Osaka. We will be using Osaka rather than Tokyo as the entry point into Japan in future travels.

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: May 22nd, 2020, 2:23 pm
by Michael O'Brien
Keep it coming. I am following this thread and using the old copy and paste method to capture ideas. My wife and I will be on a cruise that takes in quite a bit of Japan but not until 2022. Unfortunately Osaka is not one
of them. In Japan, our ports are:
OKINAWA (NAHA), JAPAN
AMAMI OSHIMA (NAZE), JAPAN
TOKYO, JAPAN 2 days, overnight
SHIMIZU, JAPAN
KYOTO (KOBE), JAPAN 2 days, overnight
HIROSHIMA, JAPAN
NAGASAKI, JAPAN
AMAMI OSHIMA (NAZE), JAPAN, 2nd visit
OKINAWA (NAHA), JAPAN, 2nd visit
ISHIGAKI, JAPAN

Also, like Tom's cruise we will be going to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xiamen, and 4 ports in Viet Nam. We have a lot of time to plan but is is monumental job. So flood the thread with information because Tom is not the only one that needs it.

Thank you,

Re: Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Japan recommendations

Posted: July 18th, 2020, 10:39 am
by Marshall Gelb
Tom.Cole wrote:
January 4th, 2012, 7:56 am
My wife and I will be going on a cruise from Singapore to Tokyo this April. We will be taking shore excursions arranged by the cruiseline for all the one day stops, but we will be in several cities for two days along the way. I welcome any and all advice on what to do on our own during the extra day in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Osaka, and Tokyo. We will be staying at the St. Regis in Singapore before and the Peninsula in Tokyo after the cruise if that helps in suggestions for these two cities.

Thanks.


Tom: Great start to the thread! Can you elaborate a bit on your cruise as we are going on a very similar cruise in November of 2021. Ours is a Regent cruise which reverses your path and goes from Tokyo to Singapore. Lots of good info so far.
( I realize this is an old thread so any additions would be helpful)

Cheers!
Marshall champagne.gif