Monday, December 28, 2015

Japan, Here We Come ~ From Air Tickets to Hotels Booking!

Preparations Diary 1 (Hotels) ~

1 March 2015 –

We have finally booked our air tickets to Tokyo, Japan! This round we chose to fly with All Nippon Airways (ANA). Reasons being, at that time of booking, they were having some promotions to promote their first direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo, Japan, from September 2015 onwards. The air fares were at a reasonable price but however, at our time of booking, it got a little bit higher, perhaps due to the high demand in December. Tickets were grabbed quite fast too! We booked it at MYR3,718 round trip – 2 pax. Surprisingly, the airfares were cheaper compared to 5 years ago when we flew with MAS to Tokyo.

Well, tickets were booked with nothing in plans. We were unsure on where to visit and which cities to go. Of course, not to forget the person who realises this dream holidays for me... I was really excited as Hubby fulfilled his promise to bring me go to Japan again, and this round with a longer stay! Thank you, Hubby ^^ I have a White Christmas Dream and you make it in reality for me, although I know you don't like Winter at all! Hehe... I sincerely thank you for this!

I have 10 months to wait, at the same time 10 months to prepare...

After readings on some travelling blogs, I have decided to include Shirakawa-go and Takayama in this trip. Hubby is fine with my ideas as this whole Japan holidays, he is leaving it to me to decide, from where to go to where to stay throughout the trips. I can choose as long as it is within our travelling budgets.

March 2015 –

As it was still very early to reserve our Ryokans so nothing was done until end of May. So we started off with bookings our hotels in Kyoto and Tokyo first. All I knew at that moment was I must reach Tokyo on the Christmas Eve so that I can celebrate Christmas there with Hubby. Haha…. Sounds romantic right? So, with this excuse, I got myself a one-night stay at the Courtyard by Marriott @ Tokyo Ginza! Luckily I booked the room very much earlier, otherwise, a couple of months later when I checked it out again, it was fully booked!

Courtyard by Marriott @ Tokyo Ginza -
Booked – 24 March 2015
Rate per room per night: JPY31,882

“Located in the world-famous Ginza District on Tokyo's premier Showa-Dori Avenue, the Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza Hotel is surrounded by shopping, commercial, sightseeing and cultural attractions of Japan's capital. At the doorstep is Ginza's exciting shopping and entertainment scene.”
- Description extracted from the hotel’s website.

Hotel Monterey Ginza, Tokyo –
Booked – 2 April 2015
Rate per room per night: JPY15,000
Total = JPY30,000 (2 nights)

“Hotel Monterey Ginza is a classic boutique-style hotel nestled in the heart of Ginza. The location is ideal for shopping, sightseeing and business, while from the moment you enter the relaxed interior of the lobby you will be able to forget the hustle and bustle of the streets outside. We hope you will take advantage of this "little hideaway" in the middle of Ginza.”
- Description extracted from the hotel’s website.

18 April 2015 –

Hubby managed to sit down and spared a bit of time to help me draft the schedules on where to go. I have nothing in plans besides telling him on the hotels which I had recently booked in Tokyo, then to remind him to include Shirakawa-go and Takayama in the travelling lists. So he roughly came out with a schedule and told me to settle the rest of the hotels bookings. 

The Japanese agent, which I had contacted to assist me in making the Ryokans reservations, could only do the reservations from 1 June onwards as the Ryokans only opened up for booking 6 months before the travelling dates. However, I have heard about the limited availability of the Ryokans at Shirakawa-go, so reminders were sent to the Agent as early as middle of May to make sure she did my reservation on the 1 June!

Shirakawa-go – Hisamatsu Ryokan
After went through all the hassles, my first choice of Ryokan was not available at Shirakawa-go due to the owner of the Ryokan was sick and they had decided to close down the Ryokan temporary. So I went ahead to book another one to avoid disappointments again.
Booked – 2 June 2015
Rate per person per night:
JPY 9,800 (Including TAX; Dinner & Breakfast)
Total = JPY19,600

Takayama – Sumiyoshi Ryokan
This went a little bit smoother as I managed to get the contact of the Ryokan’s owner. Luckily they have a simple English website for me to get the information and I can book it without going through any agent. Anyhow, to book through Japanese agent, I believe the price will be around the same too, with very minimum difference.
Booked – 27 May 2015
Rate per person per night:
JPY14,040 (Including TAX; Dinner & Breakfast)
Total = JPY28,080

To be continued….!

Currency Exchange Rate @ JPY10,000.00 = RM358.00