Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Japan 2023 Winter Itinerary

Travel details

Dates: 28 Nov 2023 - 19 Dec 2023
Group: 2 adults, 3 kids (3, 5, 8 YO)

Flight details

Singapore to Fukuoka

Singapore Airlines SQ 656
SIN 01:20 - FUK 08:10
Total travel time:  5hrs 50mins
Boeing 787-10

Tokyo to Singapore

Singapore Airlines SQ  635
HND 22:55 - SIN 05:15
Total travel time:  7hrs 20mins
Airbus A350-900

Pre travel Arrangements

  1. Immigration QR Code https://vjw-lp.digital.go.jp/en/
  2. Travel insurance
  3. Pack luggages to be forwarded to the different locations upon arrival
  4. JR Passes (7 days via Klook)
  5. Disneyland & Sea tickets via Klook
  6. Book car rental (via Toyota)
  7. Fill up check in details for accommodations


GRAND BASE Hakata Haruyoshi. Location is not very accessible

Day 1 - Canal city. Hakata station 
Day 2 - Marinoa City 
Day 3 - Uminonakamichi Seaside Park 
Day 4 - Marinoa City (Another option was to view Gundam here: https://maps.app.goo.gl/Ri6nHr8Q8KwsLUzT8)



Day 5 - Train to Osaka 
Day 6 - 
Day 7 - 
Day 9 - 
Day 10 - 
Day 11 - 
  • Shopping at Don Quijote. 
    • Had to buy extra an luggage
    • You could also get free cardboard boxes from supermarkets
  • Travel to Hakone via JR


Day 12 - Open air museum. Lunch at Sushi place. https://maps.app.goo.gl/SmpMXq6mgwCmDPcX7
Day 13 - Hakone Kowakien Yunessun. Must do.  https://maps.app.goo.gl/r5bLvWUbd3K83sH28
Online price is cheaper: https://www.yunessun.com/global/en/spa/
Day 14 - Ropeway & pirate ship. Travel to Tokyo. https://www.hakonenavi.jp/international/en/transportation/hakone-ropeway


Tokyo Bay Tokyu Hotel 

Day 15 - Disneyland 
Day 16 - Disneysea 

You can only buy/get the passes upon arrival and you need to buy them early as there are limited slots available.

Tokyo Disney Resort 40th Anniversary Priority Pass

Complimentary pass. You can book it multiple times. But you can only book another one after you complete the ride of your existing booking.

Disney Premier Access

We bought it for Beauty and the Beast and it was worth it. The queue for this ride is probably the longest and the ride was an amazing experience. 

Hakuba, Nagano

T Square Hakuba 
Snow equipment rental: https://centralsnowsports.com.au/

Day 17 - Drive to Hakuba 
Day 18 - Snow play. Settle equipment, ski pass and classes 
Day 19 - Kids Lesson at Happo One, Snowboard at Hakuba47
Day 20 - Kids Lesson at Happo One, Snowboard at Hakuba47
Day 21 - Snowboard at Tsugaike, Dinner at Yakiniku Miyama https://maps.app.goo.gl/1dVK76VNJYwVXYEb8
Day 22 - Drive to Haneda. Stops at SA. Udon restaurant with nice mountain view: https://maps.app.goo.gl/BY1STtPmxuk1RpG36 . SA with nice lake view: https://maps.app.goo.gl/cLY51NHTUkqxsKkVA

Monday, November 2, 2015

Personal tips for exploring Europe (Part 1)

I made my first trip to Europe in 2008 when I embarked on a one year NOC internship program to Stockholm during my time in my time in NUS. As a Computer Science student, I initially applied to do my internship in Silicon Valley, but due to the high demand, I was offered a place in Stockholm instead. Although I was extremely disappointed, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The IT community was very vibrant in Stockholm, the Swedish people are friendly and VERY beautiful, and Europe is an awesome continent to travel. Crossing borders in Europe would bring me to a different country, with different cultures, food and architecture. As compared to America, you could be driving for hours and still end up eating burgers and fries and visiting American museums. I'm not saying America is inferior to Europe, but I was just glad that it wasn't a bad thing that I was posted to Europe  instead of America for my one year internship during my time as a student. America is definitely on my list of places to travel and I'm looking forward to an amazing road trip there someday.

Gröna Lund in Stockholm, Sweden 2008

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lausanne, Switzerland 2015

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and Lausanne was the last leg of our Switzerland trip before we completed our winter holidays for 2014. We made a decision to use Lausanne as our base, from which we would travel to visit the surrounding regions: Gruyères, Montreux and Martigny.

We found a nice cosy country-side house on Airbnb. As it was located in the country-side, the roads were not very well lit, rather bumpy and the exact location wasn't easily found on the maps. To add to the challenge, we were driving at night in pitch darkness. We were literally the light shining in the darkness! After ending up in a few wrong locations, some detours and off-road driving, we completed our drive from Geneva and arrived at our country home for the next 3 nights. 

Our Airbnb host, Corinne, is a semi-retired midwife and while cooking our dinner for the night that we arrived, we got to know her and her other longer-term tenants. One of them is a midwife-in-training who's understudying Corinne. We learnt from them that it's very common to do home delivery without the need for a gynaecologist. Even when deliveries are done in a hospital, a midwife would suffice. We have always been interested in having home birth or water birth and so, it was intriguing conversation for us. Of course these situations are for low risk pregnancies.

Bressonnaz Dessus Vulliens Switzerland (kennethstephanie.com)
Our country-side home and 4WD Mitsubishi 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Interlaken, Switzerland 2015

We have heard so much about Interlaken and how it is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland, so  after our time in Zurich we decided to stay here for 2 days & explore it with the car we have rented. As with most of the accommodations, we booked a room through Airbnb & it was a very nice & cosy studio apartment connected to the main house but with our own entrance. The view outside the glass doors was that of mountains but we didn't really get to enjoy it because of the thick mist that hovered in the mornings when we were leaving the apartment.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Geneva, Switzerland 2015

When we first arrived in Switzerland, we flew in via Geneva but left immediately for Zurich for our first leg of the trip. You can read more about our Zurich section here.

Getting to the city

But for those that fly into Geneva and are going straight to the city, you can make use of the free train ride to the city.

"Since 2008, you can pick up a free ticket for public transport from the machine in the baggage collection area at the Arrival level. This Unireso ticket, offered by Genève Aéroport, allows you to use public transport in the canton of Geneva free for a period of 80 minutes."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Zurich, Switzerland 2015

Zurich was our first destination upon arriving in Switzerland. Although our flight was to arrive in Geneva, we decided to leave that city for a later part as we had a friend there but he wasn't around during the time we arrived. As per our predictable habit of traveling, we still have yet to decide on how we would travel from Geneva to Zurich when we touched down.

At a park beside Lake Zurich

Traveling to Zurich

We were considering the option of traveling by train or driving. After speaking to the staff on the ground of the various transport departments and considering the cost of the Public Trains (SBB), Swiss Travel Pass and Hertz Car Rental, we decided to rent a car for 24H, drive to Zurich and then return it there. It was actually cheaper to rent a car (including petrol, insurance, different return location charge... etc) than traveling by train. Actually for most travel within Europe, trains are generally costlier, but in some scenarios they are more convenient, timely and scenic. But in our current situation, it was more convenient with a car as it would bring us direct to our accommodation together with the 2 suitcases and 2 backpacks that we had. And since it was cheaper, it was quite a no-brainer option for us. The other considerations we had were flight fatigue, night time driving and snowy road conditions; We had just arrived from a long flight and it was actually snowing & raining.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Switzerland & France 2015

For the winter of 2014/2015, we were planning for our snowboarding trip as it's actually been a while since we last did snowboarding. I first picked up snowboarding during my one year in Stockholm while I was doing my NUS NOC internship. It was definitely a rough and late start to the sport but the beginning of a highly addictive hobby. Since then, I've snowboarded in Romme Alpin (Sweden), Sälen (Sweden), Les Gets (France), Nanshan (China) and Yongpyong (South Korea). 

Snowboarding in Les Gets, France 2009 (kennethstephanie.com)
Snowboarding in Les Gets, France 2009

For this trip, we were planning to go somewhere near, preferably in Asia so it wouldn't be too costly. With those considerations in mind, we decided to head back to South Korea. Over there we could find good food, nice people and decently priced places for snowboarding. But as I researched on, it didn't seem as value-for-money as compared to snowboarding in Europe. The prices of the ski-passes and snowboard rental between Korea and Europe were almost the same but the ski domain is significantly larger in Europe. We are talking about 29km of ski runs in Yongpyong and 600km of ski runs in Val Thorens!