7 DAYS IN OSAKA: My Travel Guide and Itinerary

August 31, 2017


7 DAYS IN OSAKA: My Travel Guide and Itinerary


WHAT YOU WILL VISIT IN THIS ITINERARY

4 World Heritage Sites of Kyoto and Nara namely: Nijo-jo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine

Other sites in Kyoto and Nara: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Nara Park

Osaka Castle
Umeda Sky Building
Dotonbori
Suntory Yamazaki distillery
Universal Studios
Kuromon Market
Shinsaibashi
Museum of Housing and Living
Tennoji Temple

Food tripping at Dotonbori: Kokuru Takoyaki, Ichiran Ramen, Melon Pan, Chibo Okonomiyaki

Food tripping at Namba: Takoyaki Wanaka, Isonoryotaro (conveyor belt sushi)

Food tripping at Kuromon Market: Kobe beef at Maruzen butcher, grilled scallops, fresh uni, otoro (fatty tuna), sushi, grilled unagi, Cremia ice cream

Shopping at Don Quijote discount store


WHAT TO BOOK OR BUY IN ADVANCE

1. Suntory Yamazaki distillery tour
Book Yamazaki distillery tour at least 2 months in advance, when reservation opens to ensure you get your desired date. The tour is always fully booked. For example, if you're going to the distillery in May, they open reservations at 8:00 AM on March 1. For the best chance to get your desired date, especially a weekend date, reserve on the 1st day of the month when reservations open. 

Suntory Yamazaki distillery tour reservations: CLICK HERE
PRICE: 1000 yen per person

If the Yamazaki distillery tour is fully booked and you want to taste the rare Yamazaki whisky, like the 25 year old Yamazaki, make reservations at the Whisky Museum instead. Entrance is free. You only pay for the tasting fee of the whisky you wish to taste.

Suntory Yamazaki whisky museum reservations: CLICK HERE
PRICE: FREE, but you pay for the drinks you taste.

2. Universal Studios ticket
It's a bad idea to buy Universal Studios tickets at the entrance of the park because of the long line. If you buy it in advance, you go straight to the turnstile entrance, scan the QR code on your voucher then immediately allow entry to the park.

Klook.com is one of the official ticketing agents of Universal Studios Japan (USJ). USJ will not honor your voucher/ticket unless it comes from their official ticketing agent. Of all the official ticketing agents listed in their site, Klook.com is the easiest site to use. They also offer promo discounts so you get the tickets for less than the price of the ticket at the USJ entrance.

If you wish to buy tickets at the Universal Studios Japan site, you have to choose the Japanese site, not the English site. The Japanese site is the only one offering tickets for sale.

You don't have to exchange the vouchers bought at Klook.com for Universal Studios tickets. The vouchers are the tickets themselves. You enter Universal Studios by presenting the vouchers with the QR code at the turnstile. They scan the QR code on the vouchers then allow entry to the park.

PRICE: 7600 yen, but I got it at 6550 yen at Klook.com because of a promo.

3. Osaka Wonderloop
It's a 2-day hop-on- hop off bus which you can use to explore Osaka city. We bought it in advance at Klook.com because it's 50% off the price in Osaka Wonderloop website.

We claimed the ticket, which is actually a tour booklet which you present when riding the bus, at the HIS stall at the arrival lounge of Kansai airport.

PRICE: 3000 yen at Osaka Wonderloop site, but I got it at 1500 yen at Klook.com 

4. Icoca card
This is a reloadable smart card that you can use on several networks like the JR train, subways, private railways and buses. This is the best smart card to use because:
a. It's reloadable. 
This means you load only the amount you need then surrender the card at the airport to claim the remaining amount loaded in the card.
b. You don't need to buy train tickets using cash. You can go straight to the gate each time you enter the rail station. 
c. You don't need to buy separate tickets when you change lines from the subway to the private railway. You only need to tap the card at the turnstile when you change lines. 
d. You can use the card to make purchases in stores like 711.

The most convenient place to buy the ICOCA card is at the JR Kansai station at the airport. But you need to go up the 2nd level where the JR Kansai station is located. The arrival area is at the 1st floor. 

The lines at the JR Kansai station is very long so I purchased my ICOCA card at Klook.com. If you purchase the card at Klook.com, you can claim the ticket at the 1st floor arrival area, at the HIS stall, which is the same stall where you collect the Osaka wonderloop ticket. There is no line at the HIS stall so you can leave the airport immediately after claiming your card and ticket.

Price of ICOCA card: 2200 yen, but I got it at 2000 yen at Klook.com

5. Kyoto-Nara Tour
I purchased my Kyoto-Nara Tour at viator.com instead of JTB Sunrise Tours or Japanican because viator.com offers it at 10% discount.

PRICE: JTB Sunrise tours/Japanican: 17600 yen, but I purchased it at viator.com for15840 yen per person because of a viator promo

6. Flytpack Pocket Wifi
It is essential to bring a pocket wifi in Japan so it will be possible to navigate the subways and private railways. Lines change depending on time. If you have a pocket wifi, when you arrive at the station, you can start searching for your destination at google maps and google maps will tell you the next train you can ride to go to your destination. Others use hyperdia.com to navigate the trains but I find it easier to use google maps. Japan trains arrive exactly on time. So it's essential that you do an online google map search again once you arrive at the station to make sure you'll ride the correct train at the correct time.

PRICE: 280 per day x 7 days = 1960 pesos rental fee. Plus 2800 pesos deposit, which they return after you return the unit. I added 550 pesos router insurance just to be safe.  


DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN OSAKA (MONDAY)

3:30 AM
Leave house

4:00 AM
Park car in Park n Fly
Fee for 6 days and 12 hours parking: 2475 pesos

4:30 AM - 6:00 AM
Go to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1
Check-in
NOTE: Check in counter at Jetstar opens 3 hours before the flight contrary to the email information that it only opens 2 hours before the flight. 
Immigration
Breakfast at MIASCOR Lounge

6:00 AM
Boarding

6:55 AM - 11:50 AM
Manila to Osaka flight via Jetstar 3K 763

NOTE: Japan is 1 hour ahead of the Philippines so from this point of the itinerary, I'm using Japan time.

11:50 AM-12:55 AM

Check out this video. This is the one I viewed to familiarize myself with Kansai airport

Credits go to Cliff Kimura for making this video

You take a short train ride from the airplane embarkation area to immigration
Immigration is at the 2nd floor, baggage claim is at the 1st floor

After claiming your baggage:
1. Claim the tickets bought at KLOOK like the Osaka Wonderloop and ICOCA card at HIS 1st floor arrival floor
2. Buy roundtrip ticket for Blue Kate limousine bus at window A to bus stop 11 (OC) (extreme right), 
PRICE: Kate bus is 1850 yen roundtrip per person
NOTE: TICKET MACHINE IS NEAR BUS STOP 11. Don't go to any other ticket machine except the one near bus stop 11 going to Namba (OCAT)
While waiting at Bus Stop 11 of Kansai Airport


12:55 PM - 1:45 PM
Bus ride from airport to Namba OCAT (Osaka City Air Terminal)
Arrive at gate 5, 2nd Floor of Namba OCAT


This gate 5, 2nd floor of Namba OCAT
(Photo courtesy of Google Maps)



1:45 PM - 2:00 PM
Go down the elevator near bus stop 5.


Take the escalator at the right
(
Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
This is what you will see at the end of the escalator.
Proceed to the door near the Real Tree store.
That's where you can get a taxi.
(
Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Estimate of taxi to hotel : 1100 yen per taxi,  maximum capacity is 4
Actual price paid: 660 yen

2:00 PM
Check in at Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba


At the lobby of Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namaba
A robot welcoming us at the lobby


2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Lunch at Dotonbori, which is a short walking distance from Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba.
First stop is at Takoyaki Kukuru
Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)


10 pieces at 750 yen


Then we transferred and lined up at Ichiran ramen, the restaurant beside Takoyaki Kukuru
NOTE: Don't get intimidated by the line. Waiting time is not too long.
Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)


Basic ramen at 890 yen


Browsed at Don Quijote discount store after lunch. Don Quijote is beside Ichiran Ramen.


5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Rest at the hotel

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
We visited another Don Quijote at a different location, but also walking distance from our hotel.





The we tried another takoyaki place, Takoyaki wanaka (see map above).


Takoyaki Wanaka



Takoyaki Wanaka in original sauce
15 pieces of 700 yen

8:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Dinner at Isonoryotaro (conveyor belt sushi), 2f swing building (See map above)

100 yen sushi




9:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Bought breakfast items at 711
Returned to the hotel


DAY 2. KYOTO - NARA TOUR (TUESDAY)

The Kyoto-Nara tour is courtesy of viator.com.
Photo tour at viator
Highlights of the tour:
Price of the tour

Here are the details of what transpired during the tour.

6:00 AM - 6:15 AM
We walked from Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba to  SwissĂ´tel Nankai, the meeting place of the tour nearest to our hotel.

6:45 AM - 7:15 AM
Transported by bus from Swissotel Nankai to Hotel Granvia to pick up other tour participants.

7:20 AM - 8:00 AM 
Bus ride to Kyoto

8:00 AM -8:10 AM
Restroom stop

8:10 AM - 8:40 AM
Bus ride from the restroom stop to Nijo castle

8:40 AM - 9:45 AM
Nijo castle
Photo

9:50 AM - 10:50 AM
Kinkakuji Temple
Photo

11:10 AM - 11:50 AM
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Photo

12:00 PM - 1:10 PM
Japanese / western buffet at Kyoto Handicraft Centre 

We changed bus and tour guides after lunch. Our other companions took the Afternoon Kyoto tour while we took the Nara tour.

1:20 - 2:20 PM
Travel to Nara. The guide gives a short background of Nara.

2:30 PM - 3:40 PM
Todaiji temple and Nara park
Photo

3:50 PM - 4:20 PM
Kasugai taisha shrine
Photo

4:40 PM - 5:00 PM
We visited Nara nagomikan for souvenir shopping

5:00 PM -5:40 PM
We were brought to Kintetsu Nara station to ride the train back to Osaka. A guide accompanied us in the train to Osaka

5:40 PM-6:20 PM
Kintetsu nara station to Osaka namba

6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Visited Takashimaya food hall at the basement of Namba OCAT to buy dinner
Returned to the hotel.
Bought breakfast at 711 store near the hotel 



DAY 3. SUNTORY YAMAZAKI FOR THE ADULTS/UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FOR THE KIDS (WEDNESDAY)
We separated on this day. My husband and I went to Yamazaki Distillery while my kids went on to Universal Studios

My tip: If everyone in the group wishes to go to Universal Studios, the best time to go is on a Wednesday. Based on my children's experience, although they went in with a huge crowd, they were able to ride all the major rides.

crowd calendar

Itinerary of those who went to Universal Studios

6:30 AM 
Leave hotel

7:00 AM - 7:30 AM
Train from Nipponbashi station to Universal Studios

8:00 AM Opening of Universal Studios. Everyone ran to Harry Potter World when the gates opened!

Show crowds and those who ran

8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Universal Studios Japan. 

MUST SEE

MUST RIDE


Itinerary of those who went to Yamazaki Distillery

8:30 AM: Leave the hotel 

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Travel by train to Yamazaki from Nipponbashi station to Oyamazaki station

11:30 AM -12:00 PM
Sandwich lunch at Daily convenience store, beside JR Yamazaki station

12:20 PM - 1:40 PM
Yamazaki distillery tour

1:40 PM - 2:30 PM
Tasting room

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Travel by train from Oyamazaki station to Nipponbashi station

4:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Late lunch at Kuromon Market
Kobe beef at Maruzen Butcher
Grilled scallops and Fresh uni

5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Rest in the hotel

8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
We ate okonomiyaki at Creo ru. We were disappointed so we went to Don Quijote and lined up at Ichiran Ramen again.


DAY 4. KUROMON MARKET, REST DAY OR FREE DAY SHOPPING (THURSDAY)

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Lunch at Kuromon Market
Grilled scallops
Sushi
Otoro
Cremia
Grilled eel

My tip: If you want to buy freshest catch, best time to go to Kuromon market is at 9:00 AM. However, you have to deal with a lot of people, especially if it's a Saturday. Best time to go to avoid crowds is at 1:00 PM, when the lunchtime crowd is done eating.

2:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Rest in the hotel or shopping at Shinshaibashi

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Dinner at Matsuya
Bought breakfast at 711 near the hotel.


DAY 5. OSAKA CASTLE, UMEDA SKY (FRIDAY)

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Ride the Osaka Wonderloop to Osaka Castle

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Osaka Castle
Lunch at stalls outside Osaka Castle

12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Ride the Osaka wonderloop to Umeda Sky

1:00 PM - 3:00
Umeda Sky building

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Ride the Osaka Wonderloop to Shinsaibashi
Walked from Shinsaibashi to Dotonbori
We ate Melon Pan at Dotonbori while waiting for a seat at Chibo.
Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)


Melon Pan food truck

Melon Pan ice cream at 500 yen


4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Late lunch at Chibo for the okonomiyaki
Check out my post for more details: MUST TRY FOOD AT DOTONBORI (WHAT WE LIKED)

My tip: Go to Chibo off hours, meaning not during lunchtime or dinner, to avoid the long line. This restaurant serves the best okonomiyaki that's why it has a long line.



We ordered Dotonbori Okonomiyaki.
It has pork, beef tendon and konjac, shrimp, squid and cheese.
Price is 1674 yen.


6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Rest in the hotel

9:00 PM
Late dinner at Matsuya across the hotel


DAY 6. Museum of Housing and Living, Tennoji temple, Dotonbori (SATURDAY)

9:30 AM -10:00 AM
Leave hotel
Ride the train

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Museum of Housing and Living
You see a recreation of an Osaka village during the Edo period. You can rent a kimono and walk around the village and imagine what it's like to live in Osaka during the Edo period.

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM
Ride the train from Museum of Housing and Living to Tennoji temple.

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Tennoji temple

2:00 PM -2:30 PM
Ride the Osaka wonderloop from Tennoji temple to Dotonbori

3:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Rest at the hotel
Shopping

8:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Explored Dotonbori and Shinshaibashi

9:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Dinner at Gyu-Kaku, Dotonbori, Japanese Grill


DAY 7. DEPARTURE FROM OSAKA (SUNDAY)

7:30 AM
Check out of Hotel Sunroute Osaka Namba

8:00 AM 
Get taxi in front of the hotel
Ride the taxi to Osaka City Air Terminal to ride the Kate limousine bus to the airport

9:10 AM - 10:00 AM
Ride the Kate limousine bus to Kansai Airport

10:30 AM - 12:00
Check in at the Jetstar counter
Dine at Kansai airport food court before immigration
Return the ICOCA card to JR Kansai station at the 2nd floor of the airport
Immigration

Map photo

11:50 AM
Boarding

12:50 PM - 4:05 PM
Departure from Osaka via Jetstar 3K 764

4:00 PM
Arrival in Manila





EASYTRIP RELOADING VIA BDO: How to do it

August 16, 2017


EASYTRIP RELOADING VIA BDO:
How to do it


What is Easytrip?

"Easytrip is the exclusive tag issuer for Class 1, 2, and 3 vehicles at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX)....With the Easytrip electronic tag, motorists can have cash less and queue-less transaction as they pass through Easytrip dedicated lanes or mixed lanes at all NLEX toll plazas. Each Easytrip lane has a unique sensor that reads the tag, automatically lifting the toll barrier" (source: http://www.easytrip.ph/faqnlex.html)

As you can see from the announcement, you cannot reloadat the NLEX-SCTEX lane anymore.You need to do it in advance in another way.


HOW TO RELOAD OVER-THE-COUNTER AT BANCO DE ORO:

NOTE: I recommend using Banco de Oro (BDO) because of the number of branches they have, with mall-based branches also open Saturdays and Sundays.

1.  Go to any Banco de Oro branch. 

2. Fill in the blue deposit slip (not the bill payment slip) with the following information :


Account name: Easytrip Services Corporation  
Account number: 0015-3011-7826 
Reference Number: 12 digit Easytrip Customer Account number and Customer name


3. Make the deposit. 

4. After making the deposit, make sure to do any of these two things. If you don't, your easytrip will not be reloaded. 


A. Email the copy of the validated deposit slip to vds@easytrip.ph or support@easytrip.ph.
OR 
B. Fax to (+632) 6357752 or (+632)555-7575 (option 3).


5. After sending the email or the fax, call  (+632)555-7575 (option 4), to confirm that they received the fax or the email. 

6. Your easytrip will be reloaded 24 hours after you confirm that they received your fax or email. 

MY EXPERIENCE RENEWING MY PASSPORT AT DFA ALI MALL

August 15, 2017

MY EXPERIENCE RENEWING MY PASSPORT AT DFA ALI MALL



WHAT YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE GOING TO THE DFA OFFICE:
THREE MONTHS BEFORE:

1. Create a valid email address.
2. Get an appointment online at passport.com.ph
3. Choose a date and fill up the application form.
4. Verify your appointment by clicking the link sent to your email address.
This is very important. If you don't verify your appointment and clicking the link, your appointment will be dropped.

DAYS BEFORE YOUR APPOINTMENT:

Prepare to bring the following:

a. the old, expired or expiring passport.
b. the printed application form
Download your application form from the link emailed to you, then print in A4 size paper. DO NOT SIGN THE APPLICATION FORM. The link will also include the printout of the date of your application. 
c. the printout of the date of your appointment
You will need to present this printout to gain entry to the DFA office on the date and time of your appointment.
d. the xerox copy of the data page (where your information and picture can be found) of your passport.


ON THE DAY OF THE APPOINTMENT:

Dress properly. No sleeveless shirt/blouse.


There are no instructions as to the dress code.
But the requirements for photo states there should be no sleeveless shirt/blouse.

The instructions can be found at the encoding section.



MY APPOINTMENT IS ON A SATURDAY AT 1:00 P.M AT DFA ALI MALL:

12:30 PM: Arrival at DFA Ali Mall. 
I presented my application form and printout of the date of my appointment. I was allowed to enter at once, even if my appointment is at 1:00 PM.
The line in the middle is where you enter and present the printout of your appointment


12:30 PM - 12:40 PM: Evaluation, Signing, Payment
Evaluation: The DFA personnel reviewed my application form to find out if it's complete. 
Signing: The DFA personnel verified my information and asked me to sign my application form. He also gives the receipt for presentation to the cashier for the payment of passport fee. 
Payment: I presented the receipt and paid 1,200 pesos. Only cash is accepted.
NOTE: If your appointment is on a Saturday, you pay 1,200 pesos rush processing fee. You cannot choose to pay the regular processing fee. 
There is a special window for senior citizens, persons with disabilities,
minor children and pregnant women.
This means they do not interfere with the regular line.


In case you forget to photocopy the data page of your passport,
there's a photocopy section and notary public available inside the DFA office.


12:40 PM - 1:10 PM: Lined up for Encoding
The waiting time is 30 minutes. There are only 3 of the 6 encoding counters open. I'm presuming it's because it's lunchtime. When 1:00 PM arrived, other counters opened.
This is the long line at encoding.

1:10 PM- 1:20 PM: Encoding

Encoding and Data Capture: Taking of passport photo, finger printing of thumb and index finger, checking of accuracy of data encoded, signing.

Average time for actual encoding is 4-5 minutes. 


The encoding section

There is also a special line at encoding for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, minor children and pregnant women.


1:20 PM - 1:30 PM Courier section

My tip: Have your new passport delivered by courier to save time and expense. Why?

1. The date indicated in your receipt is just a TENTATIVE DATE of release. So if you arrive on the date indicated, you cannot be sure that your passport is ready for release.
In my case, tentative date of release is after 7 working days.

The receipt showing tentative date of release.

They make you sign a waiver, which means they cannot commit to the release of your passport on time.


2. Date of release is limited to weekdays, 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM. 

3. The line at the releasing section is long.

4. Courier fee is only 150 pesos.


The courier section is beside the encoding section

1:30 PM: Departure from DFA

We were given this reminder after encoding.

_________________________________________________________________________


TENTATIVE DATE OF RELEASE IS JUNE 28, 2017
ACTUAL DELIVERY OF PASSPORT: JUNE 29,2017


MY PASSPORT ARRIVED ON TIME!!!

Check out my Post: Walk-In Passport Applications at the DFA: Is it Allowed?