Why visit Saga? Just a 13-minute train ride away from Fukuoka, this small prefecture on the beautiful island of Kyushu is rich in nature and nestled between both sea and mountains. It offers a wide range of experiences from gourmet dining, deep cultural history, plenty of natural landscapes, globally famous potteries, hot springs and colorful festivals to name a few!
Here are a few reasons why you should visit Saga Prefecture…
When you think of Saga, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Yup, Saga Beef!!!
Saga is known for one of the most high-quality beef varieties in Japan, alongside Matsusaka and Kobe beef. Imagine a cow that never experienced stress throughout its lifetime, that has a BMS of 7 and above—the only kind that can pass as genuine Saga Beef. Have a taste of marbled perfection, buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture and, sweet beefy richness that can only come from one of Japan’s best Wagyu beef brands.
If you want to know more about Saga’s local specialties, here’s a list of our recommended dishes you must try on your trip…
When you think of Fukuoka, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Yup, Ramen!!!
Fukuoka is home to one of the best ramens you can ever taste in Japan, the birthplace of the tonkotsu (hakata) style ramen, known for its milky-white pork bone broth goodness that we are most familiar with in Manila.
But the Kyushu region has much more cultural and gastronomical feasts to offer. Situated in Japan’s third-largest island and close to Korea and China, Fukuoka has developed a unique interesting culture that has been influenced by Korean and Chinese cuisine.
These local specialties are probably best sampled at popular yatai street food stalls found around the city. Here are our top recommendations…
Fukuoka may be less known than Tokyo, Osaka Kyoto and Hokkaido, but it’s big enough for everything you would want to experience on a trip to Japan in a more budget-friendly setting. It is full of historical places and sightseeing destinations known for great local cuisine. Here, you’ll find yatai (food stall) dishes that can only be found in Hakata. And, of course, the best ramens you can ever taste in Japan! It’s the birthplace of the tonkotsu (hakata) style ramen, popular for its milky-white pork bone broth goodness.
Because Fukuoka is the gateway to Kyushu, my itinerary also includes nearby prefectures you can visit. Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island, is comprised of Fukuoka prefecture, Saga prefecture, Nagasaki prefecture, Oita prefecture, Kumamoto prefecture, Miyazaki prefecture and Kagoshima prefecture. Of Japan’s main islands, it is the closest to continental Asia, particularly China and Korea, and there has been notable cultural exchange as exemplified by Japan’s oldest Chinatown in Nagasaki.
11:25 AM Check-in at NAIA Terminal 3
02:25 PM Depart Manila to Fukuoka, via 5J 922
07:20 PM Arrive Fukuoka
08:30 PM Transit to Hotel
09:00 PM Meet at Hotel Lobby for dinner at Nurubon Yakiniku
09:00 AM Meet at Hotel Lobby, Leave for Ohori Park
09:15 AM Hang around Maizuru Park, Fukuoka Castle and Ohori Park
11:30 AM Leave for Hita(Oita Prefecture)
01:00 PM Lunch at Mamedamachi (Hitsumabushi)
02:00 PM Mamedamachi (Historic Preservation District )
03:00 PM Leave for Kurume
04:00 PM Persimmon picking (Migita fruit farm)
04:45 PM Leave for Hakata
06:00 PM Hotel check in at Nishitetsu Hotel Croom Hakata
Dinner at Canal City Hakata (Ramen Stadium)
07:00 PM Explore Hakata area (Free time)
08:00 AM Meet at Hotel Lobby
Leave for Nagasaki
10:15 AM Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
11:30 AM Megane Bridge
01:00 PM Lunch at Dejima
02:30 PM 26 Martyrs Museum
04:00 PM Nagasaki Peace Park, Hypocenter Park
Atomic Bomb Museum
05:30 PM Leave for Mt. Inasa(Rowpway)
07:00 PM Hotel check in at ANA Crowne Plaza Nagasaki
Dinner at Kyokaen (Chinatown)
9:00 AM Leave for Nokonoshima Island Park
10:00 AM Hurry and Buy ticket at the Meinohama Ferry Terminal!
10:15 AM Ride the ferry
10:40 AM Ride Bus going to the park
10:50 AM Arrive at Park Entrance (Free time)
3:30 PM Marino City Fukuoka Outlet Shopping
08:00 AM Leave for Yutoku Inari Shrine
09:20 AM Explore Yutoku Inari Shrine
10:30 AM Leave Tenjin area
12:30 PM Lunch at Tenjin (Mizutaki)
01:30 PM Shopping around Tenjin
04:30 PM Transit to Airport
5:30 PM Check in at Airport
08:05 PM Depart Fukuoka to Manila via 5J 923
11:05 PM Arrive Manila
Just wanted to share this experience I had, where I didn’t need to hike to experience the breathtaking sea of clouds atop mountains where I felt like I was on top of the world!
There is a breathtaking spot in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu where you can see unkai (sea of clouds) just by taking a gondola. Japanese as well as foreign visitors come to visit during the peak season to enjoy this fantastic phenomenon that is unique to Hokkaido!
At long last, travelers will have more affordable options to fly directly from Manila to Osaka on Air Asia’s new route!
AirAsia, the world’s best low-cost airline for 11 years running, launched its daily flights from Manila to Osaka. The gateway to many of Japan’s largest cities, namely Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, the Kansai Region is home to many tourist attractions, including the famed Osaka Castle, Dotonbori, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and Universal Studios Japan!
Hokkaido is surely popular as a winter destination, but you might just change your mind after seeing this autumn itinerary we’ve prepared…
Traveling around Hokkaido is one of the best things you can do in Japan in autumn. Due to its northern location, Hokkaido sees the autumn leaves before anywhere else in Japan. The area is packed with a number of famous fall foliage spots, including many exciting bucket list-worthy attractions such as the Sea of Clouds in Unkai Terrace, Blue Pond, the flower fields of Biei and many more!
It may not be the first choice for many travelers going to Japan, but for most who have been to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Hokkaido is exactly the next Japan adventure we are all looking for! Good thing, you can now conveniently fly from Manila to Sapporo in less than 6 hours! No more stopovers in Tokyo, unlike my previous trips.
And, of course, this guide won’t be complete without the local dishes that are in season. Check out our list from sights, to autumn foliage spots, to incredible landscapes, to food and even shopping!
There is a good number of great cities in Central Japan such as Toyama, Nagano and Gifu, which are full of history, culture, nature and quiet countryside scenes. Join us as we visit the oldest castle in Japan, stay overnight at a 200-year old gassho-zukuri homestay with a local family and even try one of the best places for affordable high-grade sushi in the land of the rising sun! The area is specially recommended for second-time visitors to Japan who have already been to major cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.
And if, like me, you love discovering hidden gems in Japan, there is a region I would highly recommend to you, the Chubu region which is also called Central Japan.
Check out our awesome 5-day itinerary to make the most of your trip…
Day 1 (Toyama City- Nanto City)
9:40-10:40 Flight Haneda-> Toyama Airport (NH315 ANA)
11:20-11:40 Toyota Rental (Take Free Shuttle From Aiport)
12:30-13:30 Lunch: Ayuryourinomiseayunosato (鮎料理の店 鮎の里)
13:40-15:25 Shogawa Gorge Cruise 庄 川 峡 遊 覧 船)
14:30-15:00 Shogawa Water Memorial Park (Eat Yuzu Soft Cream) 水記念公園 (ゆずソフトクリーム)
15:50-17:30 Kokiriko Traditional Songs and Dances「世界遺産五箇山合掌集落」
17:40 Gokoyama (Nanto City) 五箇山:与茂四郎 泊 Yomashirou Homestay
Day 3 (Toyama City-Omachi City-Azumino City-Matsumoto City)
7:30-8:30 Tateyama Station 立山黒部アルペンルート
8:16-8:40 Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
8:16-8:47 Tateyama-Bijodaira Cable Car
9:00-9:50 Bijodaira-Murodo Bus
11:50-11:57 Daikanbo-Kurobedaira (Tateyama Ropeway)
12:00-13:10 Restaurant Kurobedaira
13:20-13:25 Kurobedaira- Kurobe Dam
15:05-15:21 Kurobe Dam- Ogizawa
17:40- 18:30 Matcha Making Workshop
18:40-20:00 Drum, Ninja & Samurai Workshop
20:00 Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu
Day 4 (Matsumoto City- Gero City)
8:40-9:30 Matsumoto Castle 松本城
9:35-10:20 Kaichi School 旧開智学校
11:30-12:30 Kamikochi Gosenjaku Hotel
12:30- 16:30 Kamikochi National Park 上高地
17:30-18:00 Gero Onsen: Suimeikan 【下呂温泉：水明館 泊】
Day 5 (Gero City-Nagiso Town-Seki City-Toyama City)
8:30-9:30 Gero Onsen Gassho Gassho Mura 下呂温泉合掌村
9:40-11:00 Tsumago-juku 妻籠宿 & Magome-juku 馬籠宿
14:50-15:40 Seki Traditional Swordsmith Museum 関鍛冶伝承館
18:00-18:30 Toyama Airport -> Haneda (NH322)
Kansai or Western Japan is an area that includes Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Mie.
In spring, the region transforms into this beautiful destination filled with a sea of cherry blossom trees awash with all shades of pink.
Besides cherry blossom viewing, our itinerary also included other attractions in each city we passed by. We skipped Kyoto for this trip, mainly because we’ve been there several times, but if you haven’t been to Kyoto, I strongly suggest you add it to your itinerary.
Here’s how you can make the most of your Kansai Pass and save money on your travel budget.