Travel Magazine

Roam Around Japan with a Swagger

By Mustachio @mustachio2011
With a swagger, a portable WiFi in my pocket, and these apps, I roamed around Japan like I owned the place...at least that's how I imagined myself. The point is, with the help of these apps, I didn't look like a lost puppy in the streets of Japan. Or so I hope.
Booking.com
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
I didn't sleep in streets or alleys or subway stations in Japan like a homeless person thanks to Booking.com. I love this website/app because:
  • it is easy to use – I just enter the location, date, number of persons, and click search. And because I have a maximum budget, I filter it by price and choose from the list.
  • it has a map – it shows the exact location of the hotel/hostel and also shows other nearby hotels (and the corresponding price).
  • it encourages guests to leave reviews – guest reviews are important!
  • it offers free cancellation – most accommodations on Booking.com offer free cancellation up to a certain number of days before the trip.
  • it requires no downpayment – most accommodations on Booking.com will only ask for credit card details to confirm the booking but won't charge it (unless you cancel the booking after the free cancellation period). There are also accommodations that don't require credit card details to book! Payment will be upon check in.
Download Booking.com app here:Android | Apple
Google My Maps
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
In Japan, time is gold. And transportation fares are as expensive as gold! Before the trip, I pinned all the places I wanted to visit. Doing so helped me save time and money. How? During the trip itself...
  • I didn't have to search for places and reorient myself every time. Minutes saved.
  • I could change around my itinerary based on my energy level, weather, and the location/proximity of the sites I was interested in. Bus/Train fares saved.
  • I could find shortcuts or take less trodden paths, like alleys or through residential areas (an added adventure).
  • If I find something new and interesting that wasn't part of the plan, I could pin it on my map to remember its location in case I wanted to go back. Minutes saved from searching again and/or racking my brains in trying to recall the location.
Download Google My Maps app here:Android
Japan Trains
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
Japan's rail network is impressive that it can get impressively confusing. Even locals get confused! (I have seen it with my own eyes!) There are many different rail operators. There are many types of trains: shinkansen (bullet train), express, limited express, local, etc. In short, there are many choices to get from point A to point B anywhere in Japan! The Japan Trains app will pare down the options depending on the information you have entered. The results will show the departure time, arrival time, fare, and number of transfers. Click on one of the options to find out more about the route: which lines and connections to take, the arrival and departure times for each connection, the fare for each connection, time it takes to transfer/walk between stations.
Download Japan Trains app here:Android
Arukumachi Kyoto
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
In the city of Kyoto, Arukumachi Kyoto app trumps the Japan Trains app. Although there are subway lines and railways in the city of Kyoto, most of the city's attractions can be reached by bus, and obviously the Japan Trains app is only for trains. For Arukumachi Kyoto app, just enter the departure and arrival areas (street or tourist spot) and it will give more specific suggestions (station, bus stops, or spots). Search results will give you several options to get to your destination, showing the departure and arrival times, total bus fare (and if the 1 day bus pass can be used), number of transfers, and what modes of transportation to take. Click on one of the options to find out more about the route: which bus/subway/rail to take, the arrival and departure times for each connection, the fare for each connection, time it takes to transfer/walk between stops. Click on a connection to view the map. What I love about Arukumachi Kyoto's map is that it shows your current location, so when you're on the bus and have no idea if your stop is approaching, just check the map and watch the dot (you) move. Don't forget to press the bus stop button nearest you lest you miss your stop.
Download Arukumachi Kyoto app here:Android | Apple
Weather
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
With the guidance of the weather app, I could strut around the streets not looking like a fool for not wearing the right clothes, for not being caught in the rain mid-strut without an umbrella, for not shivering while strutting on a windy day.
Japan
Know Before You Go
Single Entry Tourist Visa for Japan
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger (you're here!)
From Tokyo to Hiroshima (2015)
(soon!)
Concentrate on Kansai (2016)
(soon!)

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