A Complete Guide to Huis Ten Bosch – A little Netherlands in Japan

Have you ever thought about visiting Holland in Japan? I guess not, right? No one visits Japan and thinks “Oh we should take a canal tour and observe the beauty of tulip field”. Honestly, I didn’t, either. I didn’t imagine that one day I would visit “Amsterdam” in Japan, but I went there. If you’re seeking for an alternative experience while traveling to Japan, I recommend 100% to visit Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki, Japan.

 

So, what is Huis Ten Bosch?

Huis Ten Bosch (ハウステンボス) is a Dutch theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan. It resembles the Netherlands by displaying life-sized copies of old Dutch buildings in Middle Age. Also, there are various attractions such as games, museums, windmills, wooden houses, beautiful canal, etc. With several restaurants located in every corner of the streets, you can enjoy delicious food from all over the world. The hotel systems in Huis Ten Bosch are impressive as well. You can choose to stay in Hotel Europe, Hotel Amsterdam, and Hotel Forest Villa. Huis Ten Bosch is famous for its outstanding light show at night as well.

Huis Ten Bosch is a small Netherlands

 

How to get to Huis Ten Bosch?

You can take a direct train from Hakata station, Fukuoka to Huis Ten Bosch station. The journey is around 2 hours, and it’s the final stop so you won’t get lost (If you get on the correct train of course). Hakata Train Station is huge, so make sure that you’re on the right train.

Here is the timetable from 04/03/2017 – 28/02/2018. You can download it here.

Also, you can check out the JR Kyushu Train.

You can use the JR Kyushu Rail Pass for this train as well. I recommend purchasing JR Kyushu Rail Pass if you’re in Kyushu. In order to buy this pass, you must fulfill these 2 requirements:

  • Hold a passport issued by a country other than Japan.
  • Reside outside Japan and are visiting Japan on a short-stay visa.

I’m a student at a university in Japan, and I purchased this to travel around Kyushu area. You can ride Shinkansen with this Rail Pass as well.

 

How much does it cost for Huis Ten Bosch?

There are different types of tickets that you can purchase. Here is the ticket price

Tips: Carry your ticket all the time

You have to show your ticket EVERYWHERE in this theme park. Because it’s divided into different areas, you need to show your ticket when you get to a different part. Also, you need to show your ticket at the attractions because Huis Ten Bosch offers different ticket package with and without attraction. So, my advice is NOT TO LOSE your ticket! You won’t able to move around or enjoy any activity here without a ticket.

 

Discovering Huis Ten Bosch

I was surprised to visit this place at the first time because it did not look like Japan at all. When you first arrived at the train station, you need to cross the bridge to the island.

Huis Ten Bosch station

Huis Ten Bosch station

Welcome to Huis Ten Bosch

 

Huis Ten Bosch gate

The gate to enter Huis Ten Bosch

 

Huis Ten Bosch building

When you pass through the gate, you will see this building

 

Canal Tour

Canal Tour

You can take a Canal Tour around Huis Ten Bosch and explore many beautiful Dutch buildings.

 

The Village

Huis Ten Bosch Town

The architecture resembles Amsterdam – the heart of Netherlands.

 

Huis Ten Bosch Windmill

Huis Ten Bosch Windmill

 

Huis Ten Bosch from above

Here is how Huis Ten Bosch looks like from above. You can take an elevator to the highest point of this theme park and observe the scene.

 

Foodie Guide

Yogurt

It’s time for something cold, and yogurt is a perfect choice!

 

Sasebo Burger

You cannot miss Sasebo burger if you visit Nagasaki. This burger is really famous, and it’s tasty too!

 

Ramen

Kyushu has the best ramen in Japan, and the restaurant serves amazing ramen soup with cheap price.

At night

Huis Ten Bosch at night

I specifically love the light show. At night, I was blown away by the illumination display. The whole park was light up with colorful lights and parade. The park had a magical and romantic atmosphere at that time, so don’t miss out the night there.

Huis Ten Bosch palace

Huis ten Bosch Palace is a royal palace in The Hague in the Netherlands. This Palace was built for Queen Beatrix in 1981, and it was the home of Princess Beatrix until early 2014.

 

Firework

Don’t miss the firework at 9 pm!

Note:

  • No Weed is Allowed: Even though it resembles Netherlands, it’s illegal to buy and smoke weed here. So, the atmosphere is a bit different from the “real” Amsterdam, where you can get high easily just by walking on the street.
  • No Red Light District: There’s no red light district in Huis Ten Bosch either. I was expecting something like that before I went, but Huis Ten Bosch was still a theme park for all ages.

I hope you will have a nice trip in Huis Ten Bosch! XO


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Expat Interview: What’s it like to live in Beppu, Japan as an expat?

Welcome to Expat Interview Series! In each week, you will get to know what it’s like to live in a city as an expat. The purpose of this series is to help YOU, yes YOU, to understand the city from an expat’s viewpoint. Therefore, you can make better decisions before moving to a new place. In this week, I will show you real life in Beppu by interviewing Lissie, a Swedish girl who is currently living in Beppu, Japan.

Where is Beppu?

Beppu is a small coastal city, located on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. The city is renowned for its abundance of hot springs, known in Japanese as onsen, and prides itself on the existence of different types of baths and hot spring experiences. The city is also the site for a university housing a large international student population. All in all, except for a high rate of hot springs and foreign students who have settled in the city for the purpose of studying, it’s a regular Japanese town, with vending machines around the corners and traditional buildings mixed in with newer apartment complexes.

 

Expat Interview: Living in Beppu, Japan as an expat

Firstly, let’s get to know a bit about Lissie.

Lissie’s background

My name is Lissie and I’m currently a senior student at a university in Japan. My favorite past times include taking two-hour-long naps and treating myself to some delicious dark chocolate. And not to forget, randomly exploring new places and vegetarian food restaurants.

 

1. Why did you choose to live in Beppu?

I moved to Japan, and to be more exact Beppu, about three years ago. Basically, I went through the common procedures for a student visa to Japan and subsequently found myself sitting in my university dormitory room about a year after I first decided to study in Japan.

The main reason I live in Beppu is that Beppu is where my university is located. I guess you can say I choose the university, but not the city really…

Statue of Kumahachi Aburaya

You will see the statue of Kumahachi Aburaya when you first arrive at Beppu

Photo courtesy of David Stanley

2. How did you prepare to move to Beppu?

Well, as I quickly realized that because of my limited (read non-existent) experience of Japanese society, it would be impossible for me to ever be totally prepared for the move. So, I mainly focused on sorting out my belongings at home and deciding on what to pack (as in finding out what I could not easily buy in Japan) and fill my suitcase with those kinds of things, while trying to teach myself some of the Japanese writing systems and reading up on university guidelines for getting to the dormitory.

 

Difficulties & Challenges

Here, you can find all the difficulties that you may have when you first live in Beppu, Japan.

3. How to deal with culture shock in Japan?

I think the one thing which has shocked me the most is a number of different types of packaging and plastic wraps and bags Japanese people tend to use, or in my personal opinion, waste, daily. As far as possible I’ve tried to limit my own usage by telling shop clerks that the small plastic bag for the tofu isn’t necessary, or ‘no I don’t need an extra plastic bag for the omiyage I just bought’…

 

4. What are the challenges of living in Japan?

The toughest part of living in Japan has definitely been the language barrier. I still remember one of the first days in Beppu, when I was going downtown alone and couldn’t understand a word of what was being said in the loudspeakers of the bus, or how to read the characters for the stops. That day, because I didn’t have a phone, I solved it by randomly getting off at a location that seemed suitable. Later on, I learned to make use of different apps to make not only traveling but also daily life in general, a bit smoother.

 

5. Have you experienced any discrimination in Japan?

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced direct discrimination or hostility. Most Japanese have made an effort to accommodate me, especially if I’ve also have been trying to communicate in Japanese. However, there are the small things which keep reminding me about being a ‘scary’ foreigner; the excessive spaces left on the train… a lack of eye contact or recognition of me being there, especially when I’m with a Japanese acquaintance…

 

About the city

Let’s get to know the real Beppu in Lissie’s eyes.

6. What do you like about Beppu?

Hot springs! Beppu is a hot spring town and I’m an onsen lover so being able to go to the local 100yen host spring whenever I feel like it is a wonderful advantage that comes with living here.

Blue onsen in Beppu, Japan

 

7. Is there anything that you don’t like about Beppu?

If I would have to point out something that I feel less enthusiastic about, it’d be the almost non-existent green areas. I grew up surrounded by a lot of greenery, both in and outside the urban areas. While Beppu is surrounded by mountains and forest, it lacks, in my opinion, parks and other green zones within the city. There are a few parks, but not by far as many as I’ve been spoiled with growing up, so the abundance of urban greenery is something I miss.

Beppu Park

Beppu park in Spring – Photo Courtesy of tomosang

8. What are your favorite things to do in Beppu, Japan?

My personal favorite is waking up before dawn, head out to the harbor and watch the sunrise from there. However, since I am a bit of a snoozer that doesn’t happen often enough. On the other hand, visiting the onsen doesn’t require any early mornings, so that’s something I love doing!

 

9. Cost of Living in Beppu, Japan

Food

It may cost you around ¥1,000 to ¥1,500 per day if you eat out three times a day. In case you cook at home, the price will be much lower.

Rent

With the rent, it will be around ¥25000 – ¥60000 depending on your accommodation.

Transportation

If you’re a student, you can get a yearly bus pass which offers 75% discount on April or October. There are triple tickets which cost ¥1,000.

Other Cost

You will pay ¥5000 for mobile service, and around ¥10,000 for extra things.

 

Building Relationship

Is it easy to make new friends when you first live in Beppu? Lissie will help you to answer!

10. Is it easy to make new friends in Beppu?

If you’re a university student and would like to make international acquaintances, you’ll find it won’t be too difficult by joining different activities, especially the ones connected to the university life. However, I think to make longer-lasting Japanese friends you might need to put a bit more effort into joining local activities and understanding their culture. Many Japanese people are a bit shy (or insecure) when it comes to speaking to foreigners, so taking the first step is of consequence!

On a regular basis, I hang out with my foreign friends, but there are occasions when I meet locals and partake in activities with them.

 

11. Where to hang out in Beppu?

I come from the country of Fika so coffee shops are a favorite, especially the smaller, hidden ones which are not part of the commercial chains. Also, because it would be such a shame to reveal the exact location of my very own ‘secret spot’ I’ll just let you know that it’s on a backstreet in Beppu.

 

Reflection

12. An Unforgettable Memory – Eating Udon

One of my first days in Beppu I was invited by some floor mates to go out with them for dinner. We ended up at 鳴門うどん – which is a popular udon restaurant among students in the area. This was my first time eating udon.

quan Udon

The Udon restaurant – Photo courtesy of joniuyen

While I was slightly concerned about my chopstick skills, I shrugged it off as unnecessary worrying. It was just noodles we were going to eat after all.

How wrong I was.

Upon seeing the menu, I realized that the noodles would arrive at our table served in a huge bowl – swimming in broth. With other words, I could not just mind my own business eating liquid-free noodles from a private bowl, but I would first have to fish the noodles out of the larger bowl and transfer them to my own. Now, I don’t believe this would have posed much of a problem if the chopsticks hadn’t been of the ultra-smooth, plastic kind, which allows just about anything to slip through if you haven’t got your chopstick skills down to perfection. Needless to say, I ended up spending the majority of the meal delicately gripping the noodles with my chopsticks, just to have them slip back into the broth seconds later. Splat, splat, and splat …

 

13.  Did you change your perspective after living here for awhile?

To be honest, at first, I found Beppu to be a bit small and dull. However, after living here for a while, I’ve found that it has an abundance of charm to share if you give it a chance. It might seem like you’ve seen it all after staying here for a year, but there’s always something new around the corner if you allow yourself the time to look for it.

 

14. Can you share tips & advice for living in Beppu?

Really consider whether or not you are a person who enjoys a bit more of a countryside life, or if you prefer a constant dose of urban adventures. If you fall into the latter category, Beppu might not be the optimal place to settle in.

Thank you, Lissie for your participation.

You can read other Interviews here:

Expat Interview: Expat life on the Marshall Islands

Expat Interview: Expat life in San Diego, CA

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Travel to Tokyo: How my first solo trip changed my life

A group of Female travel bloggers prompts me an interesting idea to write within 1 hour about a travel event that changed my perspective on life. ONE HOUR. Yes, you’re reading correctly! I normally need more than 5 hours for an article, so it’s surely interesting to challenge myself to write in a fast-speed. About the topic, I’ve had many memorable experiences during my trip, but my first solo trip to Tokyo was a total life-changing event. Let’s read my story below.

 

Background

Tokyo was actually not the first place that I visited in Japan. I first left my home country – Vietnam since I was 18 years old to study abroad. A flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Fukuoka was the first time that I ever got on an airplane, and Japan was the first country that I traveled abroad.
At that time, I didn’t start traveling alone or think about doing a solo trip. In Vietnam, I just visited some cities with my family, and in Japan, I did camping, field study trips, weekend trips, but I was always with a group of people. I was in my comfort zone and didn’t try to break it. With me, traveling alone was lonely and dangerous.

 

Why did I travel alone to Tokyo?

Tokyo – the capital of Japan with lots of interesting culture and beautiful places. Even though I live in Japan, Tokyo is totally different from my place, a small spa town in the South of Japan.

I was thinking of visiting Tokyo for a long time but didn’t have a chance to do it. Eventually, I had to go to Tokyo because I had to apply a visa to Denmark for my exchange. (I studied at Copenhagen Business School for 1 year as an exchange student)

 

Preparation

Since it was my first time traveling alone, I decided to do something differently.

  • No Mobile Data during the trip
  • Using Maps and asking people if I got lost
  • Not booking any accommodation beforehand
  • Preparing a small plan for the first day about what to do, where to go, what to eat

That’s it! I took a small backpack which I used daily to school with me, and went on a solo trip to Tokyo 🙂

 

Travel on a budget to Tokyo

1st day

I was overwhelmed when I first got to Narita airport. “Wow! There are so many people!” – I first thought.

I decided to spend my first day at Ueno Park, which is a popular park with lovely walking paths and several museums. There were so many people at the park that day, so I had to wait in a long line to get into a dinosaur museum. It was quite weird at first when being alone and seeing only couples or friend groups around, but I had a good time exploring the museum and the park on my own.

Solo trip to see Dinosaur

My first time seeing a dinosaur

Spending an evening in Shibuya area, I visited the famous Shibuya crossing. It was crazy to see how many people were crossing at that intersection at once. At some point, I did not feel lonely anymore. Instead, I felt happy that I could explore a new place on my own.

Shibuya Crossing Street

There are so many people crossing at the same time at Shibuya intersection.

On that day, I also went to a restaurant alone for the first time and enjoy some Japanese food. It was actually okay because that sushi restaurant offered single chairs for solo travelers. I could enjoy my dinner in my speed and not worry whether I ate too fast or too slow.

A sushi restaurant where you can enjoy your meal alone.

So, how did I sleep at night?

Trying to catch free wi-fi at McDonald’s, I found out the nearest Internet Cafe to sleep. I paid for a small area (2×2 square meters) for 8 hours and spent my first night there. The Internet Cafe had a corner for female travelers, so I didn’t need to worry about the safety. I then planned for the following day’s activities while eating free ice-cream from this place. Yes, Internet Cafe in Japan offers free ice-cream and drink bar!

A room at Internet Cafe

 

2nd day

On the next day, I woke up early at 6 am, caught a train and visited Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, and Takeshita Street. Even though I got lost at first, I figured out where to go thanks to the help from a local man.

It’s an interesting part of traveling, right? Getting lost and let the road be your guide.

Takeshita Street in Tokyo

I accidentally came across Takeshita Street. This place was full of people!

At night, I chose to stay at the Internet café just like the previous day, but I couldn’t find the place. A Japanese girl offered to help me, and she even took me along the way to the Internet café. It was so nice of her to do so.

 

3rd day

I visited Shinjuku Gyoen in the morning and spent my time enjoy beautiful nature. Because I have a goal to try Vietnamese Pho around the world, I had my lunch at a Pho restaurant in Tokyo. I was surprised when the owner suggested me to visit a Vietnamese festival nearby. “Wow, what a coincidence! I’m in Tokyo and now there’s a Vietnamese festival”. I was so happy to attend my home country festival in this country since I missed Vietnam food a lot. Although it was a Vietnamese festival, there were food stands from all over the world, and many performances as well. I had a good time at the festival, talking with people and making new friends.

Vietnamese festival in Tokyo

Yummy food at Vietnamese Festival in Tokyo

 

My most memorable experience

I wanted to visit and buy cheesecake from a famous cheesecake store that I saw on Facebook many times. However, without the Mobile data, I got lost and couldn’t find the way. I tried to ask an old lady for the instruction, but she didn’t know the location. Luckily, a man nearby just offered to help me to find that store. We walked together in 30 minutes, crossed lots of street and buildings, and finally got to the place.

You know what, that mall has 7 floors and 5 underground floors! I was thinking about giving up but he still wanted to help me. We literally walked around the mall, went to 6 different floors, asking tons of people to find the place! We finally found this cheesecake stand on the 2nd underground floor after that.

That man asked me “How did you know about the place?”

I said “Ah… I saw the cheesecake on Facebook”

He was surprised by my answer and said that I knew more about Tokyo than him (haha!). He said goodbye to me because he had to get back to work. The cheesecake was really yummy, but 1-hour walking and finding were just too much!

Impression

I was so surprised by how nice people at Tokyo were.  They literally spent their time helping other people! That guy was a complete stranger, but he was willing to help. I heard the story from my friends that a guy went with them the whole way on the train to guide them to the correct place, and I kinda doubted it, but this experience made me believe in the kindness of people 🙂

 

How my first solo trip changed my life

Independence

Remember how I thought about a solo trip? I never expected that I would travel alone, and now I’m more than happy to do that. Now, I feel comfortable to travel everywhere on my own. Also, I know how to take care myself while on a solo trip.

 

Freedom

The freedom to decide where to go, what to eat and when to do it make my trip amazing. When traveling solo, I’m not tied to anyone’s plan or schedule and don’t need to worry about other’s feeling. Also, I can travel in my space, and enjoy the destination in my style. I’m growing my love for solo trip <3 

 

Communication & New friends

At that time, I was still super introvert and didn’t spend time outside my circle. When I traveled in a group, I just talked to my friends or family and didn’t try to communicate with anyone else or even local. I didn’t try to see the place in local eyes at all.

When I travel alone, I start to talk to different people on the road. I start making lots of new friends and learning how to interact with different people. I never thought that I could just talk to a random person and spend a good time with them.

 

Open-mindedness

Talking to different people out of my circle helps me become more open-minded. I started to accept the differences in people, and value the differences in cultures and living styles. Also, I tried different activities on my solo trip, rather than just being a “normal tourist”. I let the road be my guide 🙂

 

Now, I’m a big fan of solo travel. I’ve been traveling alone since then, and I’ve visited 25 countries on my own. Traveling alone gives me the power to do things that I cannot imagine of, and being a travel blogger is one of these. Now, I’m using my voice to encourage more female to explore the world!

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Skull Island Filming Location: Aboriginal village in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Have you watched the reboot version of King Kong franchise – Kong: Skull Island (2017)? You probably wonder where those amazing scenes were filmed, don’t you? Vietnam was proudly one of the selected filming locations for this movie. The Blockbuster Kong: Skull Island was shot in various famous destinations in Vietnam such as Ha Long Bay, Quang Binh Province, etc. Ninh Binh was one of the chosen places in this list as well! In this article, I will show you the Kong: Skull Island filming location in Trang An, Ninh Binh, Vietnam, with a special guide to the aboriginal village.

Are you ready to discover the Aboriginal village in the movie?

 

A little bit of background of Skull Island Vietnam

In case you haven’t watched the movie yet, you can check out the details here on IMDb

When the Kong: Skull Island crew finished filming in Vietnam, they left and cleaned up all the scene setting. Even though they left nothing back, the government took the chance and restored the filming location to attract domestic and foreign tourists. The plan works out and this place becomes one of the must visit when you get to Vietnam.

How to get there?

The Kong: Skull Island movie was filmed in Trang An, a scenic area near Ninh Bình, Vietnam. Therefore, you just need to come here and take the boat tour. There are several boat tours daily, so you don’t need to book any tour in advance. You just need to go there and purchase the ticket.

Note: You must choose the 2nd Tour which includes the Aboriginal village. If you choose the first route, you can only see the caves and some temples.

 

How much does the tour cost?

You will be so surprised when you know this. The Film location tour price is already included in the whole Trang An tour, which is only 200 000 VND ($8.8). You will get a 3-hour-boat-tour around Trang An + a free time visiting the village. You can enjoy the view and explore this film set in 3 hours with a boat-rider.

 

What to bring?

  • Camera: A good camera is a MUST! The scenery is amazing, so you will miss a lot without a camera.
  • Hat: Vietnamese weather is so hot and humid, so sitting under the sun for 3 hours without a hat is not a good idea.
  • Water
  • Some snacks: You can buy in some area, but there is not many places or restaurants around.
  • Comfortable shoes: You need to walk around a lot, so it’s better to wear something comfortable.
  • Small cash: It will be a nice gesture to tip the boat riders around 50,000 VND ~ 100,000 VND. They work really hard to provide the service, so they deserve with all that rowling. Also, they cannot work every day, and they have to clean up the area for free when they’re not working. So, a bit tip is necessary in this case.

How about a life jacket? Do you need to bring one? No, you don’t have to because it is already included in a tour.

 


So are you ready to discover the Skull Island Filming location?

Because this’s a filming set, I edit pictures in movie vibe 🙂

The path

You will follow this path to the village…

The path to the village

Here is the path to the Skull Island Village. The road is quite long, so just take time to observe the nature around.

 

Discover the boat

Do you remember this place in the movie? Let’s discover the boat 🙂

 

Skull Island Boat

You can see this boat in the Kong: Skull Island movie.

 

the boat and nature

Another picture of the boat. The combination of the boat and nature is amazing

 

Skull Island Boat on the right

Let’s take a closer look at the boat. Do you feel like you’re in the movie yet?

 

Boat on the left side

Here is another side of the boat

 

Skull Island Village

Here you are! You make it to the village!

Skull Island Vietnam: Aboriginal Village

The village is so cute with many houses on the way. You can actually go inside each house and experience.

 

The people

Be careful, they may catch you!

People at the village

 

I’m just kidding!

They were super friendly when I was there. Those people acted in the movie, so the government offered them a job at this place. They will be happy to take some pictures with you, so don’t hesitate to ask them 😉

It’s time to say goodbye~~~

Leave the village

Here is the end of the journey. You will get on the boat to go back.

Read the experience on Trip Advisor


Discover more about Vietnam

10 Harsh but True things about Vietnam that you wish you had known

Hoa Trung Lake: Off the beaten path in Da Nang, Vietnam

5 Best places to go in Vietnam during Tet holiday

A Complete Guide to Ba Na Hills

Vietnamese Pho in different countries around the world

 


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Goodbye Vietnam…. and Hello Japan

It’s time to say goodbye to my sweet summer vacation in Vietnam and officially finished my exchange period in Denmark. I’m on the way to go back to Japan to continue my 4th year Bachelor at my home university. It has been a great year traveling around Europe and my home country – Vietnam. I will miss everything a lot for sure, but now it’s time to have a new experience! Besides studying, I will travel around many cities in Japan and learn more exotic cultures. Am I ready for it? 🤔

 

What have I prepared?

There are tons of things to prepare, but luckily I have planned things ahead and met my deadline. I have finished choosing my courses, bought necessary stuff for my trip to Japan. Also, I already have a new place to live, thanks to the help of my friend Youko (Yay!) It will be so difficult for me if I just start to look for a place after I get there, and have to buy lots of things for new places as well.

What will challenge me?

  1. Culture shock

The first thing I need to deal with is Culture shock. I will suffer from culture shock again, although I’ve already lived in Japan for 2 years. It’s difficult when you move around the world. Moving from Denmark to Japan is totally different, and having 2.5 months living in Vietnam in between won’t make things better. I will go all the procedures of culture shock again, feeling good and bad all again. The good news is that know how to deal with culture shock now, after moving around different countries and traveling intensively.

 

2. Japanese

Well, it’s kinda a nightmare to me! Probably I have already forgotten everything that I learned. I didn’t practice Japanese for 1 year, so my vocabulary, grammar and especially Kanji already said goodbye to me. Shame on me, huh? I finished the Pre Advance Japanese level before going to Denmark, and now I barely know basic words. So, I will need to learn everything again. I still love to travel around Japan and knowing Japanese is way better.

Back to old-time days with learning Japanese!

3. The Learning

Studying as an exchange student and a “real student” is totally different. All I needed was passing the courses and now I will need to do my best to get A+… Yep, things change if you are craved for high GPA.

4.My travel

Because it’s my 4th year, I need to focus more on my study and bachelor thesis. Does it mean I will stop traveling? Nope, not really. Since I live in a beautiful city, Beppu, which has everything such as mountains, hills, sea, and amazing hot springs, I still can enjoy my weekend by exploring the city and the surrounding area. However, I will need to plan things carefully in order not to crash all my schedules.

A beautiful place in Beppu, Oita, Japan

So how will it affect my blog? Any changes?

Guess what? You will see lots of beautiful pictures of Japan on my Instagram stories, and my Facebook page as well. So if you haven’t followed my accounts, don’t hesitate to do it!

Here is one of my recent pictures from my Instagram!

 

Also, you can expect my expat tips about living and studying in Japan, as well as inspiration and recommendations for traveling around Japan. Oh don’t worry, you will not be drowned with posts about Japan only, I still post about my adventures around the world. There will be tons of posts about my solo trips around Europe and Vietnam, so you won’t be bored. Do you want to be the first to read my post? Sign up for the email and you’re ready!

You can also check out some articles about Japan that I already wrote 🙂

Eat like a local: Top 10 Japanese foods to try!

7 Things you should try in Fukuoka

7 Ways to travel on the budget in Tokyo


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Hoa Trung Lake: Off the beaten path in Da Nang, Vietnam

Hello, my friends. How are you doing? I visited Da Nang, Vietnam at the end of July and discovered many beautiful places. One of those places is Hoa Trung lake, a hidden lake near Da Nang city. One surprising thing about this place is that not many people know about it, even locals. So, are you ready to discover this beautiful place?

 

How to get to Hoa Trung lake from Da Nang?

You can find on Google map: Hoa Trung Lake, Da Nang, Vietnam or type the geographic coordinates: 16.0787034, 108.0568266

The easiest way is to go along the AH1 street and then go into Tan Ninh street. You can find Hoa Trung lake by going straight from this street. Tan Ninh street is still a small street so it’s quite difficult to go, but still possible for a car.

When is a perfect time to visit Hoa Trung lake?

Hoa Trung lake is full of water most of the year, so the best time to visit this lake is in October when there is not much water. During that time, the grassland will reveal itself and you can camp there.

I visit this lake at the end of July and here are pictures from my visit.

Beautiful mountain view

A point view of the lake

On the other side of the lake

 You can take various pictures near the lake too!

This is a perfect spot to see the lake

 

Around the area

Near the lake, you can find a beautiful rice paddle field which is just around the area on Tan Ninh Street. Also, the area is very nice and not touristic, so you can enjoy the real lifestyle of Vietnamese people.

Beautiful rice paddle field

Located 20km from the North West of Da Nang, Hoa Trung lake is a hidden gem which is waiting to be discovered.  With a stunning mountain view, Hoa Trung lake is truly nature’s great masterpiece.

I hope you will have a great time traveling to Vietnam. You can also find more places in Da Nang such as Ba Na Hills. If you’re looking for more cool places such as Cat Ba, you can find things to do in Cat Ba Vietnam here.

Thank you for reading

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A Complete Guide to Ba Na Hills – A little Europe in Vietnam

With a stunning mountain view, Ba Na Hills has become a favorite destination for local Vietnamese as well as foreigners. Visiting Ba Na Hills, you not only enjoy nice landscape and great atmosphere but also participate in various entertainments. In this post, I will guide you to enjoy the best of this place.

How to go from Da Nang to Ba Na Hills?

Ba Na Hills is located in Da Nang, Vietnam so firstly you’ll need to fly to Da Nang International Airport. Then, you can get a taxi to Ba Na Hills for 600 000 VND both ways, or you can go by any type of transportation. Signing up for a Ba Na Hills tour is also an option. It is better to visit Ba Na Hills from the morning and leave all your belongings in the accommodation.

 

How much is the ticket at Ba Na Hills?

The price to enter Ba Na Hills includes the ticket for all cable cars and theme park entrance ticket.

  • Adult: 650 000 VND
  • Children ( 1m – 1.3 meters): 550 000 VND

This ticket price does not include the price for Wax Museum (100,000 VND/ adult, and free for kids), as well as food and beverage. You can read more about the ticket price here

 

What to eat in Ba Na Hills?

There are plenty of restaurants and food stands in Ba Na Hills. You can also choose buffet for 200 000 VND/ adult.

 

Ba Na Hills Tour

Many people book Ba Na Hills tour so it’s more convenient. A tour normally includes:

  • Pick-up and drop-off service
  • Buffet lunch
  • One bottle of water
  • Tour guide
  • Ba Na Hills Ticket

I also booked a Ba Na Hills tour for my family from a hotel I stayed. It cost me 920 000 VND/ adult. There are cheaper tours as well, from 780 000 VND/ adult, but I heard that there are more people in those tours. Below are the reviews from the tour I took:

Good points:

  • Do not need to line up to buy ticket
  • Know the way to get to the fastest cable car
  • Save money
  • Lunch is included

Bad points:

  • Transportation: Because it was a tour, the bus driver drove around the city for 1.5 hours to pick up all the passengers.
  • Limited time: You need to follow the time the tour guide listed. I think there is not much time to visit.
  • Food: A lunch buffet was not good in my opinion. There were not many choices, and the dishes were not delicious.

In brief, having a tour guide is much easier if you go on a vacation with your family. However, if you want to have more freedom, it’s better to consider going alone. It was tiring for my family to go after the whole group and could not spend much time exploring. If I go again, I will choose to go without a tour.

What to see in Ba Na Hills?

a) Cable car

Located 45 minutes from Da Nang city, Ba Na Hills has a scenic mountain view with a huge amusement park. In order to reach the top of the hill, you have to take the cable car. The fee is already included in your ticket.

Ba Na Hills’ cable car system is one of the most impressive ten cable car lines in all over the world. You should ask the staff for the fastest cable car line, which was used from 30/4/2017.  It shortens your waiting time, and it only takes 20 minutes to get from the foot of the mountain to the Garden. The view from the cable car is totally amazing!

The view from the cable car

 

b) Le Jardin d’Amour – Temple – Debay Wine Cellar

When you arrive at the station, take a walk to Le Jardin d’Amour to enjoy the beauty of flowers and statues.

 

There are various type of flowers in Le Jardin d’Amour

You can freely explore all the gardens, Linh Ung Temple, and Debay Ancient Wine Cellar as well.

A view of Linh Ung Temple

A look from the inside of Debay Ancient Wine Cellar. You can also taste wine here with 75,000 VND/glass

The French discovered Ba Na Hills area and built several works such as hotels, swimming pools, etc. However, everything was mostly destroyed during the war, and only Debay Ancient Wine Cellar was left. This place was built by French architects and was dug deep inside the mountain in 1923.

 

c) The French Village

After that, you can take a short cable ride to the top of the mountain. You can enjoy the lunch at any restaurants, then start exploring the French village.

It looks like Europe, right?

From another corner of the village

There were beautiful flowers around the French village as well

It was quite dark around 4 pm

The village is not too big, so 30 minutes to 1 hour is usually enough for photos. There are free performances on the stages as well.

 

d) Fantasy Park

After visiting the French village, let’s go down to a free amusement park. There are 3 underground floors for games only. There are lots of free games, but the queue is very long to get in. You can also enjoy the massages on the 2nd floor.

These games are free to play

 

Tips to enjoy the best of Ba Na Hills:

  • Bring light: You need to walk a lot so it’s better to bring at least at you can.
  • Clothes: It’s not too cold on the top of Ba Na Hills, so you only need to bring a light coat or jacket.
  • Shoes: You should wear comfortable shoes or slippers because you’ll need to walk a lot.
  • Ticket: You should book the ticket in advance because the ticket line is very long.
  • Time: It’s better to get there early from 8 am. It helps shorten the time waiting for the cable cars.
  • Don’t go in the summer or Vietnamese national holidays: It’s full of tourist. There are 10 000 – 20 000 people per day, so you will be stuck in the flow of people and cannot enjoy anything.

Is Ba Na Hills worth a visit? Locals say if you haven’t visited Ba Na Hills, you haven’t visited Da Nang. However, if you are used to seeing Europe and want something different, Ba Na Hills may be not your cup of tea. If you want to see the mixture between European architecture and Vietnamese temple, also hiding from the hot of Vietnam, don’t hesitate and just go! After taking a tour, I recommend going alone to explore freely.

Hope you will have a great time at Ba Na Hills -:)


Read more articles about Vietnam

 Best places to visit during Tet Holiday

Kong Skull Island Filming location in Trang An, Vietnam

Hoa Trung Lake in Da Nang, Vietnam

10 Harsh but True things about Vietnam

Vietnamese Pho around the world

Thank you for reading

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Eat like a local: Top 10 Japanese foods to try!

Lived in Japan for 2 years and worked in Japanese hospitality and tourism industry, I’m in love with Japanese cuisine and culture. Japanese culinary is not only special for its delicious dishes but also for the decoration and service. In this article, I will introduce 10 Japanese foods that you cannot miss.

1. Sushi(寿司)

Sushi is probably the first dish that people will mention about Japanese foods. It has become a symbol of Japanese cuisine, and you can find sushi restaurants in many places around the world.

Trying sushi in Japan is by far the most delicious place in my perspective. In Japan, you can try sushi from different prices, from Running sushi stores with 100 Yen, to expensive sushi dishes in luxury restaurants. If you have a chance to visit Fish Market in Tokyo, you should try the freshest sushi with the ingredients taken directly from the market.

100 Yen Running Sushi – Each dish is from 100 Yen (0.9$)

2. Ramen(ラーメン)

Ramen is a familiar dish to the ones who love Japanese culinary. It presents the beauty of Japanese cuisines and culture because it requires the patience in cooking, and also presents the beauty of each region.

Ramen and Gyoza

a) Ramen noodles

Ramen noodles are made of wheat flour, water, salt and salt water (Kansui).

b) Ramen soup

Ramen soup is not only sophisticated but also varied according to the creativity of the region. Salt, water (shio ramen), tunnel boned pork (tonkotsu ramen), Japanese soy sauce (shouyu ramen) and miso (miso ramen) are important ingredients to make a delicious ramen broth.
A ramen bowl will always contain vegetables (green onion, bean sprout), Chashu pork, dried bamboo (Menma) and Japanese Marinated Soft Boiled Egg (Ajitsuke tamago)

c) Ramen in different regions

You can try different Ramen style in each part of Japan: Sapporo Ramen, Hakata Ramen from Fukuoka, Hiroshima Ramen, Kitakata Ramen from Fukushima, and Toyama Ramen.

d) Service

You can try a different way of ordering Ramen in Fukuoka. There are some machines placed outside the restaurants, and you can choose the dish and pay there. Then you just wait at the table for the waiter to bring a delicious ramen.
There’s a ramen theme park in Japan named Aqua City Odaiba. You can try different ramen in booth stands there.

 

3. Udon(うどん)

With the Udon noodles, Japanese cook can make different types of Udon. The most popular Udon is Cold Udon, Udon and Yaki Udon.

a) Cold Udon

With Cold Udon, Udon is put in cold water first and then put into a bowl, served with sauce and chopped scallions. You can choose the topping to make your dish more delicious.

b) Udon

The simplest form of Udon (Kake Udon) is served hot with Udon noodles and broth (Kake Udon), with thinly chopped scallions. You can choose different toppings to eat with, such as Tempura or meat.

It’s normal to order udon with rice as a set 

c) Yaki Udon

Yaki Udon, or Fried Udon, is stir fried with vegetables, sauces, and different ingredients according to your choices (meat, eggs, etc.)

 

4. Okonomiyaki(お好み焼き)

Another Japanese food that you should try is Okonomiyaki. It’s a Japanese style of pancake and made of eggs, water, flour, cabbage, and meat. You can choose the topping as your preferences but commonly are dried fish and okonomiyaki sauce.

 

5. Yakiniku(焼肉)

Yakiniku, which is a combination of 2 words: Yaki (Grilled) and Niku (Meat),  is generally used for grilled meat in Japan.

If you visit Japan, you can try Yakiniku buffet, where you pay for the buffet according to the amount of time such as 1 hour, 1.5 hours or 2 hours. Also, you can choose your favorite meats and vegetables based on your favorite choices. Sometimes in Yakiniku buffet, there are sushi, udon, ramen, soba, and free drinks as well. Eating the hot delicious Yakiniku in cold weather is one of the best experience in the winter in Japan.

 

6. Soba (そば)

Soba noodles can have yellow colors, or gray or green (if it’s made from broccoli). You can eat soba with some toppings or try Yakisoba (Fried soba). Ingredients for Yakisoba are usually Soba noodles, cabbage, meat (chicken, pork or beef), and sauce. Although it’s so easy to make Yakisoba, its taste is amazing.

 

7. Takoyaki(たこ焼き)

Takoyaki is Japanese octopus cake. You can make your own Takoyaki with Takoyaki machine, by mixing Takoyaki flour, eggs, water, and octopus. Furthermore, you can add green onion and cheese according to your preferences. Takoyaki is normally served with fried fish, Takoyaki sauce and chopped green onion.
On the other hand, you can just simply buy Takoyaki in Japanese restaurants. In Japan, you can find Takoyaki stands many places in the festival.

 My homemade version of Takoyaki

 

8. Fried food

a) Karaage(からあげ)

Karaaage is a Japanese version of fried chicken. There are various types of Karaage with different ways of cooking, but commonly is marinated and then coated in potato starch. Biting a piece of karaage, you can feel the crispiness outside and soft, juicy and yummy chicken inside.

Crispy and juicy chicken

b) Tempura(天ぷら)

Tempura is a common name for Japanese fried dishes of seafood or vegetables, and you can try it alone or with udon.

 

9. Japanese rice

With the same base, you can try different Japanese rice dishes such as Curry Rice, Tamago Rice (Rice with Egg), Takikomi Gohan (Japanese mixed rice), etc.
Japanese curry tastes amazing. When I first visited Japan, I loved this dish so much that I ate it every day. Takikomi Gohan is made of Japanese rice dish, dashi (Japanese fish stock), soy sauce. You can try with different vegetables, meat or fish.

You can also order a rice set like this

 

10. Japanese Bakery

a) Japanese Cheesecake

You can find cheesecake in every supermarket, restaurant or souvenir shop. Japanese cotton cheesecake is so soft that you can feel it melted in your tongue in your first bite.

b) Mochi(餅)

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake which is not only delicious but also cute. There are various types of Mochi such as strawberry mochi, matcha mochi, mochi ice-cream, but the most popular ones are with red bean.

c) Matcha related products(抹茶)

As a healthy and delicious green tea powder, Matcha is used in various products in Japan, especially in baking industry. There are matcha tea, matcha ice-cream, matcha cake, matcha caramel, matcha mochi, etc.

 

There are other Japanese dishes such as Gyoza (Japanese dumplings), Tonkatsu (Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet) as well, but I focus on introducing most popular Japanese foods in this article. If you have a chance, let’s try all those yummy Japanese foods!

You can also read more about Japan here!


10 Harsh but True Things about Vietnam that you WISH you had known

Vietnam is a common destination for travelers thanks to its beauty and attractiveness. Though it’s known as a friendly country, there are bad things about Vietnam which can interfere with your trip. Some foreigners do not want to return to Vietnam because they have had a bad experience. The 10 bad things about Vietnam that I listed below may sound negative, but don’t let them stop you visiting, or coming back to my country. In order to help you still love Vietnam, and avoid bad situations, I am here to provide the best tips for you.

10 Bad things about Vietnam

1. Airport – stolen checked luggage

So… You just arrived in this lovely country, and you figure out that your checked luggage was opened and something was stolen? You will feel really mad at that time. I know. Don’t be so surprised and shocked because it’s quite common in Vietnamese airports.

I, as a local, still suffered from this similar situation. After the trip from Japan to Vietnam, one of my bags was clearly opened at that time. Fortunately, nothing valuable was stolen because I just put clothes and some candies in my checked luggage.

airportYour luggage and bag may be opened!

This situation was once very popular, and I could read about it everywhere in the newspaper. The airport officers are trying to prevent it, but still, we should take care of ourselves first, right?

 

Tips to avoid stolen luggage in Vietnam

Having your things stolen in checked luggage will definitely ruin your trip! So, what is my tip for you?

Never, ever put any valuable things in your checked bags. You may be confident that you have a lock, but they can still somehow open it (as in my case), and your things will be gone. You can complain about it with the airport service, but they will pay back a very low rate per kilogram. Per kilogram? Can you imagine that? I bet that everything in your luggage is much more valuable than that, so the compensation is basically nothing!

You can try wrapping your luggage to protect it, but if there’s something wrong with your luggage, you will need to open it again and again, and that takes time.

So, just put whatever valuables into your handbag, and you will have a good trip to Vietnam.

 

2. Overpayments

The second bad things about Vietnam is the overpayments. This situation is quite common for travelers, isn’t it? You visit a different country, you look different, and you are charged more than the locals. I heard many cases that foreigners are overcharged, but to be honest, you’re not the only ones. Even Vietnamese people are still overcharged.

Saving

Recently, I heard from my friend that her Japanese friends paid 200 000 VND for a Bánh xèo, which is Vietnamese “sizzling cake”, and it’s an unacceptable price. I feel sad that foreigners will have bad opinions about Vietnam due to these overpayments.

Again, this situation is very common in Vietnam, and it happens to both foreigners and locals. So, take some tips below to avoid this.

 

Tips to avoid Overpayments in Vietnam

If you want to be ripped off, you can enter a restaurant with no price sign. Don’t do that, especially if you are a visitor. Even some restaurants have a menu, they may charge you to sit… Sounds terrible, right?

You need to ask clearly about the price before you order anything. It’s the same with eating street food, remember to ask the price before buying it. If you feel that you are paying higher than locals, leave that place and go to another place. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from 🙂

 

3. Taxi scams

Almost the same with the overpayments, taxi scams are common in Vietnam and they happen to everyone. The taxi driver will try to drive you around and around to charge more money. Some foreigners will just pay for it without knowing that they are being scammed. In the other cases, the taxi drivers fix their measurement, so the total cost is double or more than the real price.

 

Tip to avoid Taxi scams in Vietnam

  • Check Google map/ or Maps.me to calculate the distance of your final destination. Then, you can multiply the distance with the money per kilometer.
  • Ask the taxi driver how much you need to pay before starting the trip.
  • Choose taxi companies which have a good reputation such as Mai Linh or Vinasun. You can also order Grab or Uber as well. However, Grab and Uber are only available in specific cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh or Da Nang.

UberUber is my life-saver in Ho Chi Minh!

 

4. Robbery

Robbery happens everywhere in Vietnam, and the most popular cases are robbing your phones/ bags.

Imagine that you are riding your bike/ motorcycle or walking on the street with your phone/ bag, and in 1 second, it’s gone. You only see 2 guys on a motorbike going really fast, and you don’t see their faces. What you can do then is to say goodbye to your things 🙁

BagHolding handbag like this will make you become a target!

I once saw a foreigner who had her phone robbed. She cried a lot, but nothing can be done in that case… I also read in the newspaper that some foreigners had their bags robbed with all the necessary documents, so they had a hard time getting all documents again.

It sounds scary, but you have ways to prevent this!

 

Tips to avoid being robbed in Vietnam

  • Phone: Don’t listen to your phone when you are on the street. If you need to listen to a phone call, you should choose a corner and listen to it. Be careful when using your phone on the street as well.
  • Bag: I suggest to use a cross-body bag. The robbers have skills to take other bags really fast.  Be careful, and leave your necessary things in your accommodation if you don’t need to bring them outside.

 

5. Pickpocket

Pickpocketing can happen anywhere, anytime. My father got pickpocketed twice when we went to a festival together. It happens a lot in crowded places.

Ha Noi - Tran Phu StreetPickpocket can happen everywhere, especially in crowded areas

Tips

Take care of your own things. I always put money in my first pocket, not in the back. Therefore, I can check it from time to time to make sure it is still there.

 

6. Hygiene food safety

Vietnamese food is amazing! There are so many types of food for you to choose from, but food safety is a big problem in Vietnam. Street food is really delicious, but most of the time it is not clean and healthy. The sellers may not prepare them carefully, or because of the climate, the food may have some problems. I didn’t really realize how unsafe it is until I came back to Vietnam after staying in Japan. I had a stomach ache and felt bad after eating. How to avoid that?

street foodThe quality of food and the cleanness are your main concerns!

 

Tips

To be honest, it’s really hard to avoid this situation 🙁 Hygiene food safety has become one of the most concerns in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese government is trying to improve it.

For me, I usually go to some favorite restaurants, so I know where to avoid, and where to go. However, as a foreigner, you can also read the reviews about the restaurants. You can choose to eat in a restaurant which looks clean and has many visitors. Don’t eat in one where there’s no one inside.

Anyway, just buy some medicine in case you have diarrhea or problem with your stomach.

 

7. Traffic accidents

According to the Traffic police department, in 2016, there were more than 21 000 traffic accidents and almost 9000 people died. So, there are around 24.5 people die per day because of traffic accidents in Vietnam. This number doesn’t include injured people. I do not want to scare you with those numbers, but I must admit that traffic accidents happen regularly in Vietnam.

Traffic in VietnamTraffic accidents happen a lot in Vietnam

I also had some traffic accidents every year when I was in Vietnam, and it took me at least one week to heal. Fortunately, they were not that bad, so I can still sit here and write some advice 🙂

Traffic accidents can happen anyway. You can get hit when you cross the street, or when you are riding a bike, or in a car, even in your house. I hope some of my tips can help you have safe travels!

 

Tips to be safe on the road in Vietnam!

  • Using public transportation such as bus: I know that public transportation in Vietnam can terrify foreigners, but I feel much safer when I’m on the bus. It’s safer when you are in a bigger vehicle. Think positively, you are protected by a big box :D. So maybe accidents can happen with some motorbikes, you can be still safe.
  • Using taxi: I also feel it’s safe when using a taxi. However, I’m not that rich to use taxis all the time, so I use the bus instead.
  • Walking: It may be dangerous. I know someone who was killed when walking on the street :o. However, in Vietnam, there are cases that people are killed when they are in their home, just because a truck hit and crashed into their home… so I still consider walking is a safe way 🙂

 

8. Bad service – bad manners

Many people complain about bad service in Vietnamese restaurants. It’s true. I think one part of the reasons is that it’s really crowded, but the employees cannot use those excuses to serve badly. Also, not many Vietnamese can speak English, so it may be difficult to communicate.

Feedback

Tips to get the best service in Vietnamese restaurants

You should learn body language or learn some basic Vietnamese to use to order food or service. The best way is to have Vietnamese friends, so they can show you good places to eat! I suggest you try Couchsurfing, or even if you just walk around, maybe some Vietnamese will want to say hello and talk to you.

 

9. Fraud

a) Short returned money

Some people are shocked when some places in Vietnam return candies instead of money. They feel cheated and scammed. It’s very common recently, even with locals. You can still eat some candies and be happy, right? If the amount is too large, you should ask again if there’s a mistake.

It’s very common actually, even with locals. You can still eat some candies and be happy, right? If the amount is too large, you should ask again if there’s a mistake.

b) Fraud

It happens especially with tour companies and famous restaurants and stores. In Ha Noi, Vietnam, you can find more than 100 similar The Sinh Tourist, but actually, there’s only one real. Those fake tour companies just try to gather as many tourists as possible, then send them on another tour to get some commission. In those fake tours, you cannot experience the best service that the real one brings. Interestingly, those fake tours are usually cheaper than the real ones.

Fake

Tips to avoid fake travel tours in Vietnam

  • Make sure that you’re using the correct website of the company to look for tours. There are several fake websites which claim them real, so you need to check them carefully
  • Visit a correct address of the tour company. In one street there can be more than 10 shops with the same name, so you must make sure that you’re going to a correct one.

 

10. Crossing streets in Vietnam

And yes, be careful when you cross the street!

I’m sure it’s an interesting experience for a non-Vietnamese. There are not many road markers in Ho Chi Minh city, so it’s quite scary to cross the road.

Crossing street in Vietnam

Tips for crossing streets in Vietnam

I usually go to the middle of the street, facing lots of motorcycles, buses, cars, etc. First, I wait a bit and continue, and wait and continue, and keep doing that while watching all the vehicles. You need to keep your eyes on vehicles at both sides because some people violate the rules and go in a different direction.

Be confident and you can do it!


More articles about Vietnam

Where to go in Vietnam on Tet Holiday?

The Ultimate Guide to Ba Na Hills

Skull Island Filming location in Trang An, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Discover Hoa Trung lake – A hidden gem in Da Nang, Vietnam

Vietnamese food review: Pho around the world

Thank you for reading

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7 Things you should try in Fukuoka

Last week, I had a short 2-day trip to Fukuoka with my friends. Although it’s not my first time to this most populous city of Kyushu area,  Fukuoka surprises me every time with its charming and beauty. If you have a chance to visit Fukuoka, here are  7 things you definitely should try.

 

1.Motsunabe

With the history of more than 1000 years, Motsunabe is a Hakata’s well-known specialty dish. It’s a kind of hot-pot made of beef or pork offal (mostly beef intestines), lots of veggies like cabbage and garlic chives, and filled with soy sauce based soup. It is the perfect food to eat during cold weather.

The restaurant where I ate Motsunabe is called Rakutenchi. It’s a small yet one of the most famous places for this dish, so you should check it out!

Address: 2-5-23 Hakataekimae, Hakataku, Fukuoka

It may look kinda “too green”, but it tastes better than it looks.

 

2. Shrines

During my trip to Fukuoka Prefecture, I had a chance to visit the two most famous shrines there which are Dazaifu Tenmangu and Kushida Shrine.

Dazaifu Tenmangu is located in Dazaifu city, and it is one of the main shrines in Japan dedicated to Tenjin- the “God” of literature and scholarship. The shrine is very large and includes several structures, so it would take you around 1 hour to visit all the places.

On the contrary, Kushida shrine is located right in the center of Hakata, and since it is a village shrine, it is much smaller than Dazaifu, and this spot will only take you 20 minutes to visit. As the oldest shrine in Fukuoka city, it attracts lots of foreign tourists so you can get the information sheet and even the omikuji (paper fortunes) in English.

 

3. Canal City

My favorite place for shopping in Fukuoka!

Canal City is a major shopping complex at 2.5 million square feet, including about 250 shops, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, game center, theater, etc. It even has a canal flowing inside (which explains its name), and a large fountain that has a water show every 30 minutes.

Because the mall is so large, it may take you a whole day to discover everything. If you come to Canal City before May 18th, you can also enjoy the 3D projection mapping show with the popular anime “One Piece” theme, which is quite epic you won’t want to miss it.

 

4. Ohori Park

A beautiful scenery park with a large lake., many trees and resting spots. Local people come here to exercise, run on the track around the lake. Sometimes, they let their dogs go for a walk or simply go sight-seeing.

Although it’s a famous spot in Fukuoka, everyone there is so quiet. It creates the peaceful and dreamy atmosphere, and the natural scenery is beautiful as a picture. You can also pay 190 yen to visit a Japanese garden in the park, which worths the money I believe.

 

5. NHK Fukuoka

As some of you may know, NHK is the Japanese national public broadcasting organization. It has a kind of “museum” in Fukuoka, which is located very near to Ohori Park.

You can visit the studio of some TV shows, collect the stamps of NHK mascots. Furthermore, you can see the gallery about the history of NHK, and even experience becoming a news reporter and get on the air! Even if you can’t care less about Japanese TV, you will have a lot of fun there and you know what’s the great part? It is free of charge!

The model of a news studio where you can get on-screen for real

6. Ramen

Of course, no one visits Fukuoka without trying the well-known Hakata Tonkotsu ramen. The broth of Tonkotsu ramen is made by melting out the pork bone, which gives it a strong and unique taste.

Hakata is known as the best place in the country to enjoy this food. Two places I would recommend are Ramen Stadium on the 5th floor of Canal City, where you can try different types of ramen from different locals in Japan or Ippudo Ramen in Amu Plaza (Hakata Station).

Yummy Hakata Ramen!

7. Line Friends Cafe and Store

Line Cafe in Fukuoka is the third one to be opened in Japan. It is located in the vibrant area of Tenjin.

The first floor is a souvenir shop. Here, you can buy lovely items inspired by the famous Line characters like Brown or Cony. The second floor is a cafe that sells drinks and cakes also inspired by these characters. Also, it has extra seating areas on the third floor. Even if you don’t buy anything, you are free to visit and take pictures, so this place is often crowded with people. Believe me, you will just scream “Kawaii~~” to everything there!


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