Tokyo & Mount Fuji in 3 days

Only 3 days in one of the biggest city of the world left me bewildered. I had to prioritize.

1- Mount Fuji

2- Japanese cuisine & good addresses

  • Restaurants
  • Tsukiji Fish Market

3- Visits in Tokyo

4- Hotels

  • Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku
  • Keio Hotel in Shinjuku

Alone on Friday, I decided to go to Fuji Mont. It was a marathon to find the proper trains and companies. With the help of locals you can definitely find out the best transportation.

1- Mount Fuji

Transportation from Tokyo (Shinjuku) to Mount Fuji (Kawaguchiko):

Two possibilities:

  • Train
  • Bus

As I was not aware of the 2 ways of transportation so I took the train.

Train: From the main station named Shinjuku, go directly to the railway station counter. And tell them you want to go to Fuji Mont. It is the easiest way and will save your time.

They will give you different tickets to be used with different companies. If I well remember it will cost around USD 30 to arrive to the station called Kawaguchiko.

  • Budget: Around USD 30
  • Transit Time: About 2 hours

What to do in Kawaguchiko:

1- Buy your return ticket before they are sold out. The bus was a nice way to go back to Shinjuku. (Tokyo)

  • Budget: USD 20
  • Transit time: 2,5 hours (some traffic)

2- Get a map: There are different spots, you just have to take different buses, everything is very well indicated.

From Kawaguchiko, you can enjoy nice views, the lake Kawaguchi & peace. Note that going on Fuji Mont is not recommended in only one day. If you plan to hike you might stay one night at least.

I felt a bit spoiled when I realized the clouds will stay around its top all the day. Was a beautiful sunny day, unfortunately clouds were stuck.

3- Japanese cuisine & good addresses

First diner in Tokyo, near Shinjuku Station, very convenient

  • Sushi Tokyo Ten

Omakase japenese style restaurant. No need to order, the chef is preparing fresh sushi and japanese specialities based on fresh ingredients received the same day.

The quality, taste & quantity were perfect. We had pleasure to discover each dishes and flavours.

Highly recommended for a first time in Tokyo. Better to book a table as this restaurant is often fully booked.

  • Budget: USD 70 / person
  • Adresse : Japon, 〒151-0051 Tokyo, 渋谷区Sendagaya, 5−24−55
  • Phone number : +81 3-6274-8540

Lunch

  • Seiko tempura in Asakusa,

Another typical & yummy restaurant

Genuine & tiny restaurant in Asakusa. Very tasty, made in front of your eyes by a passionate chef.

  • Budget: I can’t remember, was reasonnable for the quality and experience
  • Address: 1 Chome-14-8 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japon

Morning breakfast

  • Tsukiji: Fish Market

Early morning explore the empty streets of the Tsukiji fish Market. Fresh & Yummy from the early morning selection, enjoy plenty of fishes, seashells & crustaceans.

Huge pieces of sushi, perfectly cut. The best I Ever tried

The thuna can be bought more than Eur 60,000.

Following the rules of the ancestral technique called « Ikejime ». This traditional method highlights the taste of the fish and its quality.

Ikejime, Is a method of slaughtering fish to maintain the quality of its meat. The technique originated in Japan. It involves the insertion of a spike quickly and directly introduce in their hindbrain, causing immediate brain death. This method is considered as the fastest and most human to kill fish.

3- Visites in Tokyo

  • Sensō-ji

Buddhist temple in Asakusa Area, it is the oldest temple of the capitale built for bodhisattva Kannon in 645 ap. J.-C.

  • Address 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japon
  • entrance Fee: None

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Try the destiny game 🙂

  • Tokyo Skytree
  • Streets around Shinjuku
  • Ginza Quarter

Perfect for shopping and dinner,

On Saturday afternoon they close the street so we could chill and sit on the chair in the middle of the road.

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  • Kōkyo or Tokyo imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Japanese Emperor

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  • Shibuya Crossing

The famous Hachiko crossing, it looks quite small on my picture actually

Useful tips:

  • If you can avoid to arrive let at night at the airport, the taxis fee are around USD 100 to get to the city center. There are bus and trains during the day time.
  • Enjoy the fish Market early morning.
  • Tokyo a vast city, commuting takes time, you should focus on a specific part of Tokyo and be organize.
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Paris in one day and a half: Fine Dining, Visits and Stroll

Late arrival in Charles de Gaulle on Friday night? You have only a short weekend before you?

Paris has a lot to offers you. The best is to take a walk along the street.

Day 1:

You may start a walk from the Opera Garnier. A marvelous architecture.

Not far, the Galeries Lafayette worth a stop over, especially during Christmas Period. The decorations are stunning.

The roof top offers a magnificent panoramic view of Paris. The Eiffel Tour reigns on Paris like a Queen.

A refreshment in Hanoi Ka Fei will keep you fresh for a walk down the «Jardin de la nouvelle France» et le Louvre a symbol of culture.

The next step would be to pass by Notre-Dame de Paris.

For Diner

I would like to introduce, our favorite fine dining restaurant for now one year. Near the Cathedral, Notre de Dame de Paris.

L’Initial will offer you the French touch and the Japanese courtesy. It comes with a great service and high quality ingredients. You will be won over.

A light & Yummy 7 courses dinner

Budget: Aroud 47 Euros per person

How to book?

– Email

– Call

L’INITIAL

9 rue de Bièvre 75005 Paris
Tél : +33 (0)1 42 01 84 22
restaurantinitial@gmail.com

Access

Subway:

The closest: «Maubert- Mutualité»

If you want to arrive right in front of Notre Dame de Paris, stop at «Cité»

After diner I would advise to say hi to the illuminated Eiffel Tour and walk to the Trocadero.

Day 2:

My second day was brief

Starting from Notre Dame, stop over the Tour Saint Jacques and pass by La place des Vosges to arrive in Le Quartier Des Marais.

For a quiet, healthy and simple brunch, Le Pain Quotidien remains a good address. The one in the area called The Marais will leads you to a nice shopping area with «friperie» surrounded by beautiful historical monuments. The charm of the little streets will amaze you.

Adresse : 18-20 Rue des Archives, 75004 Paris, France
Numéro de téléphone : +33 1 44 54 03 07

Access

Subway: hotel de ville

Visa: Vietnam

One of the biggest advantage for this country,

The government allows most of the nationalities to enter the country for less than 15 days without Visa. You get the stamp for length of staying of less than 15 days in Vietnam and single entry/exit while passing through the immigration control.

I invite you to check your statut before going to Vietnam. Vietnamese government Website


Useful tips:

  • 15 days Visa (Single entry)
  • Passport valid at least 6 month
  • 1 month gap needed between 2 entries

« Please also note that after your 1st visa exemption period, you need to wait at least 01 month more to enjoy the next visa exemption period. You must apply to get Vietnam visa if this gap is less than 01 month, for your next entry to Vietnam after the first visa exempted entry. » Source

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Hanoi

A bit of history,

The capital of Vietnam, also named « The City in a bend of the River » by Emperor Tu Duc in 1831 was the Capital of the French Indochina in the first half of the 20th century. Hanoi is a mix of Southeast Asia and French architecture. The narrow streets, the long promenade along the lake of Hoàn Kiếm near the old quarter are the place to be. Plenty of local hustle and bustle will transport you through the Vietnamese culture.

IMG_20170624_121008_resized_20171126_104259129Where is Hanoi?

The capital of Vietnam is located North East of this long country, it takes about 3 hours to  get to the South Chinese border by bus. The flights from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh are regular, one way tickets are available for USD 35. Hanoi is surrounding by stunning destinations such as Ninh Binh, Cat Ba Island, Halong Bay or Sappa.

From Hong Kong it takes only 2 hours flight, the tickets are in general reasonable even at the last minute you can enjoy return ticket for USD 90.

From Hanoi Airport you can take taxi or bus to get to the city center. To avoid extra charge or scam ask your hotel to schedule a pick up. You can get the service for USD 10 (private driver). It takes around 30 minutes, depends on the traffic. 5fa567f739ee5bb7d7af5758bd1d977c

Where to stay in Hanoi?

I had the opportunity to visit Hanoi several times, I would recommend the following places for different purposes & budgets:

Plenty of hostels that offer comfortable stay are available in nerve center from USD 7 per night.

For a short stay that worth your money

Hanoi La Selva Hotel

  • The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly, well located this hotel is the place to be if you are looking for a great value.
  • The beds were comfy, the bathroom was spacious and the cleaning nothing wrong.
  • Including a nice breakfast in a roof top terrass or take away if tyou booked an early morning teparture tour, make sure to let them know the day before.

Budget: depends on the online offers (From USD 32 per night for double room with 2 single beds)

For a night before your flight

Hanoi Eternity Hotel

  • 5 minutes walk from my favorite restaurant « Quán Ăn Ngon Restaurant », this Hotel is near the old quarter as well.
  • The hotel is clean & peaceful, perfect for a last night in Hanoi before an early flight.
  • They arrange the car to the airport for USD 10, and take away breakfast. Better if you can enjoy their buffet.
  • The airport is about 30-40 minutes drive.
  • for international flight you can arrive 1 hour and a half before, the check-in is fast.

Budget: depends of the online offers (From USD 30 per night for double room with 1 double bed)

Weekend with your Lover:

From Hong Kong it is great to escape for a weekend

Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi MGallery by Sofitel

  • Nice swimming pool with outdoor sunbath and fitness club, always appreciated after long hours of visits. The rooms are spacious and 19th century France Decoration. You will find all the necessary for a relaxing weekend.
  • The Hoàn Kiếm Lake and old quarter are at walking distance

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Budget: depends of the online offer (From USD 130 per night)

What to do in Hanoi?

  • Take the time to walk around the old quarter, stop by the Cathedral, temple & Lake.edf

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  • Try the Egg Coffee & of course the Vietnamese coffee with milk which in my opinion by far the best.
  • Quán Ăn Ngon is a restaurant with colonial French architecture, near the old quarter, offering nice dishes.

 

 

  • Enjoy the tailor-made art, flowers, painting and the colorful larterns

 

 

  • Architecture and secret places

 

Where to go from Hanoi:

From Hanoi you can link most of the place in Vietnam by bus, train or flight.

  • Ninh Binh: 3 Hours by bus
  • Cat Ba Island/Halong Bay: 3-4 hours by bus
  • Sappa: Take the train to Lao Cai (Night train is probably the best option) then catch a bus down to  Sappa.
  • Ho Chi Minh: Direct flight for around USD 50

Tips

1- Never Leave Hanoi without drinking the Egg coffee and the Vietnamese Coffee with milk.

2- Take the time to have lunch or dinner in Quán Ăn Ngon and ask for « Ban Xeon », »Pho », « Grilled chicken », » spring rolls ». Their Vietnames coffee is one of the best I tried and a fresh coconut is always appreciated.

3- For girls, you can enjoy gel manucure and pedicure for USD 5-8

4- For Men, tailor-made suits,  great quality and design, the right tailor can make one in 24 hours.

Veneta Bestpoke

Address: 56 Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

+84 90 471 32 40

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Vietnam: 3 days in Cat Ba Island

Budget:

  • Duration: 3 Days – 3 Nights
  • Person: 2
  • Hotel: USD 33 for 3 nights (if on a budget rooms starts from USD 7 per night)
  • Food: USD 2-5 per meal included food and drink
  • From Hanoi to Cat Ba Island // From Ninh Binh to Cat Ba Island: USD 15 per person
  • Transportation: walking distance or rent a mortorbike for USD 8 per day
  • Tour and Visits: USD 26 for 2
  • TOTAL:  USD 120

Where is Cat Ba Island?

Cat Ba Island is located 150 km east of Hanoi and 160 km north of Ninh Binh.

How to get there?

From Hanoi: The easiest way is to book a direct bus to Cat Ba with an agency or your hotel. On your way to Cat Ba you will stop in Hai Phong to take a ferry as there is no bridge to connect the mainland and the island. Once you arrive on the island it’ll take around 45 mins to get to the main area where you will find the hotels, restaurants and activities. Make sure that the agency bring you to Cat ba city and don’t leave you at the pier. The journey takes about 4 hours. Prices range between USD 10-15.

From Ninh Binh: Same story from Ninh Binh, we wanted to avoid going back to Hanoi as it was time consuming. Our hotel arranged the transportation for us. They booked a taxi to take us to the bus stop. Then we drove to Hai phong and took the ferry. The Bus left us in the city center of Cat Ba. We paid USD 15 per person

Where to stay in Cat Ba?

We booked a hotel via booking.com app. I really recommend downloading it before traveling as you can find hotels everywhere and book anytime. Hostel World is an alternative as well.

When we arrived at the hotel (Cat Ba Central Hotel), the owner guides us toward the hotel next door (Gieng Ngoc Hotel) which was not the one we booked. It was a really strange feeling, big and empty, old style. The receptionist was not especially friendly and didn’t want to give our passports back if we were not paying the full amount for our stay. I have to admit that we did not feel comfortable staying in this Hotel.

Booking customer service was adorable and answered us within 10 min to solve the issue. We could leave the hotel and make sure they will not use my credit card details.

We walked few meters to check other hotels and found a perfect place, USD 11 per night with sea view, private room & bathroom, lovely owner and great location. The name of the Hotel was Cat Ba Dream Hotel. We made direct booking but you can find it on Booking.com as well. So comfortable that we stayed for 3 nights.

The receptionist will provide you a map of the island along with an explanation of the surroundings.

The Following day we booked a boat tour with LTravel, comprehensive and friendly person, you can ask for Luc. They arranged our boat tour and bus back to Hanoi.

  • hongluc.cb@gmail.com

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Must-see attractions:

Boat tour: Cat Ba, Lanha Bay, Halong Bay, Monkey Island, Kayaking:

  • Real monkeys on the island, so take care of your personal belongings as they like to steal them, they can be aggressive as per our experience. A panoramic view is accessible through the jungle, better to be equipped. Mosquitoes, sand flies are au rendez-vous. Shoes will be necessary to climb as the ground is sharp & slippery. The view worth the bites 🙂
  • Kayaking for 1 hour in the middle of Halong Bay

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  • Super Yummy Lunch
  • Boat tour = VND 300K per person, including lunch. (bring your own drinks or buy them on the boat directly for reasonable price VND 10K for bottle of water)

Beaches: relaxing time

Cat Ba National Park: Unfortunately heavy rains prevented the hike, however we heard very good feedbacks from back packers (scenery, swimming, cave, English guide)

2 days and 1 night in tour in Halong Bay: if you have enough time before you, the experience worth it.

Evening Massages: Better to go before 9pm as they stop around 10pm.

Tips

1- Same story, better to withdraw enough cash before coming.

2- From Cat Ba Island the boat tours, Hotels and activities are cheaper; the place is not as crowded as Halong bay. Less tourists.

3- Check different hotels at your arrival and enjoy special offer (avoid this in peak season).

4- 3 days were enough in our opinion to enjoy the activities

Vietnam: 2 days in Ninh Binh

 

Budget:

  • Duration: 2 Days – 2 Nights
  • Person: 2
  • Hotel: USD 60 for 2 nights (if on a budget rooms starts from USD 7 per night)
  • Food: USD 2-5 per meal included food and drink
  • From Hanoi to Ninh Binh: USD 15 per person
  • Transportation: Free if you hotel provide the bicycles
  • Tour and Visits: USD 26 for 2
  • TOTAL:  USD 151

 

Where is Ninh Binh?

Ninh Binh is located about 100 Km south of Hanoi.

How to get there?

You can get there either by bus or train. Our Hotel in Hanoi arranged the transfer by bus for us for USD 15 per person. I guess you can still negotiate the price if you have the patience and willpower. The transit time: 3-4 hours to get to your destination.

Where to stay in Ninh Binh?

I would recommend staying out of the city. Purely and solely in the middle of the water and mountains to experience the best of this place.

We stayed at Lotus Field Homestay, lovely, clean with nice food. Enjoy your own bungalow and fell asleep lulled by the sound of the nature. They provide bicycles for free, so that you can enjoy the surroundings.

What to do?

Take the bicycles to reach the points of interests, you have several. We chose for one day to ride around without specific goal and we discovered the local life. Many goats, cows and water buffaloes are in total freedom. Their shepherds are nearby to ensure their safety.

Must-see attractions:

Tam Coc Boat tour is as touristic as peaceful, clear water & lush nature will be « au Rendez-Vous. »

  • boat tour = VND 150k per boat + entrance fee VND 120K per person

Mua Cave allowed a panoramic view on the river, rice fields and will leave you speechless. Some efforts are necessary to reach the peak (500 steps) but the scenery worth it, prepare you cameras.

  • Entrance fee VND 100K per person

Tips

1- If you want to avoid riding to the city (about 14 km), better to withdraw enough money for your stay as there is only one ATM (near the points of interest) and you will hardly find money in it. A smarty-pants withdraws all of it and asks you for additional fee (8%)

2- The lady from Tam Coc Boat tour will kind of oblige you to buy her some food and give her some tips. If you do not give enough they will react badly. Be careful with the scams.

3- From Ninh Binh, take a morning bus to Cat Ba Island and enjoy Halong Bay, beaches, Fresh coconuts.

 

LOTUS FIELD HOMESTAYcof

NINH BINH MAP

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FIRST DAY

TAM COC BOAT TOUR

MUA CAVE