Enjoy Stunning Osaka Autumn Views at Hoshi no Buranko

Enjoy Stunning Osaka Autumn Views at Hoshi no Buranko

Autumn is the best season. The weather turns cool enough for jackets and sweaters and hot cups of coffee, dusk gets longer and shadows deepen, and leaves turn from green into stunning hues of reds and oranges.  

Some of our favourite holiday destinations are arguably at their most beautiful during autumn. Korea, with her fiery red autumn foilage comes to mind. As does Japan, where fall colours turn everything – from hyper-modern Tokyo to Imperial Kyoto and epicurean Osaka, with its gorgeous hiking trails – into fairy tale lands.

But there is one more location in Osaka to enjoy the Japanese autumn – a well kept one, and we dare say its the best spot of all.

Suspended 50m above ground, Hoshi no Buranko is a 280m wooden panel bridge that hangs over a thick verdant foliage of trees that make up the Hoshida Enchi Park. When autumn arrives, the canopy turns into a rich and fiery spectrum of red, yellow, and orange that is beautiful to say the least.  

Getting to Hoshi no Buranko 

Hoshi no Buranko is located within Hoshida Enchi Park, in Katano, Osaka. The nearest train station from Hoshida Enchi Park is Kisaichi Station which lies on the end of the Keihan Katano Line, a tangent train line off the Keihan Main Line. Hirakatashi Station serves as the connecting station between both lines. 

Once at Kisaichi Station, it’s about a 40 min walk to the entrance of Hoshida Enchi Park. The route towards Hoshida Enchi and Hoshi no Buranko are lined with beautiful scenery as well so it’d be crime not to take the scenic walk instead of simply driving up to the park. Do note as well that during koyo season, parking lots will be filled up fast due to the larger traffic of people so taking a car may not be the wisest of decisions.  

What to do at Hoshida Enchi 

Aside from the main attraction that is the suspension bridge, there’s a rock-climbing wall right at the entrance at the park. Unfortunately, those who want to ascend the wall have to go through a one-day safety lecture which is held several times throughout the year. On top of that, it costs roughly 700 yen to climb as well.  

Once you see the rock-climbing wall, the famous bridge is not that far ahead. It won’t be before long as you feast your eyes on the extensive suspension bridge. Cross Hoshi no Buranko and you’ll hit an observation deck that will give you sweeping views of the koyo leaves and the nearby cities of Osaka and Kyoto.  

Trust us, the hike is worth it as you stand on the deck and take in the natural beauty before you.  

Address 

5019-1 Hoshida, Katano, Osaka 576-0011, Japan 

Opening Hours 

Daily 9 AM to 5 PM  

Closed on Tuesdays and Public Holidays  

Top photo by osaka_bob via Instagram.

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Budget Japan Itinerary – 5D4N in Tokyo for Family of 5 for Under $7,000

Budget Japan Itinerary – 5D4N in Tokyo for Family of 5 for Under $7,000

So you’re gearing up for a family getaway and everyone’s keen on visiting Tokyo. Even your two sulky teenagers light up when they hear you and your spouse discussing the destination. And your six-year-old? He just can’t wait to catch Pikachu in the flesh.  

But wait, isn’t Japan terribly expensive? Will you have to break the bank bringing your family of five on this holiday? Well, not really. Like any popular destination in the world, Tokyo is suited to all kinds of travellers with all kinds of budgets.  

To give you an idea of how affordable Tokyo can be, we’ve put together a budget breakdown for a five-day vacation to Tokyo for a family of four adults and one child.  

(Note: We set the date for our imaginary getaway from 20 to 24 Sep. Travel during other periods may result in a higher or lower budget.) 

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash.

Flights – Approx $3,500 

Far and away the most expensive portion of your Japan getaway is the plane tickets to get there and back. Even on budget airlines, you should expect to fork out about $3,500 for round-trip plane tickets. 

Garner some savings on your flight by looking out for flash sales or two-to-fly promotions. If you have any discount vouchers, promo codes or air miles about to expire, now’s the time to use them.  

Photo by Tony Yakovlenko on Unsplash.

Accommodations – Approx $1,500 

Next to flights, the other large expense in a holiday is accommodations. Surprisingly, accommodations for your family of five can be had rather affordably… if you know where to look.  

Did you know that Changi Recommends now has hotel listings too, and prices that give you savings beyond your expectations? Here, let us show you. 

For your Tokyo getaway, how about four nights in a triple deluxe room that comes with three twin beds, one bathroom and full hotel amenities – at only $1,300, taxes included. 

Or maybe you prefer a family-style apartment? Well then, check out this fully-furnished apartment that comes with two twin beds and a twin bunk bed,. There’s even a full kitchen that’s great for a cheap and easy breakfast or supper. Four nights for only $1,330, all in.  

There are many other great selections on the site so do check out www.changihotels.com. And here’s a tip: sign up for free on the site to unlock up to 60% savings!  

Photo by Moujib Aghrout on Unsplash.

Meals – Approx $1,200 

There is a great many options for travellers when it comes to meals in Tokyo. From top-end restaurants to mass market franchises, to even convenience store bentos, you’ll find plenty of mouthwatering and satisfying choices.  

An average budget of about $50 per adult per day (approx 4,000 yen) will allow you and your family to sample a large selection of Tokyo’s cuisine. Mix and match between chain restaurants, vending machine stalls, street food and izakayas (pub grub) and you won’t go wrong. 

WiFi Connection – Approx $10 or less 

Staying connected to a data network while on holiday is essential, as doing so will let you look up important information on the go. Additionally, you can use Google Maps to navigate to the best food haunts, look up places to visit, stay in touch via WhatsApp, and even perform a quick translation! 

But of course, the No 1 use for a data connection is to post selfies, wefies, #familygoals, #foodporn and livestream videos. Because if a holiday isn’t documented on social media, did the holiday actually happen?  

The good news is, staying connected while in Japan won’t cost you too much. ChangiWiFi lets you have a reliable and fast 4G connection, with unlimited daily data – from just $2.25 per day. 

And the best part? One ChangiWiFi router supports up to 5 connections, so no need to squabble over who’s hogging the data.  

Transport – Approx $200 

The most cost-efficient and convenient way to get around Tokyo is by subway. Thankfully subway rides are affordable, with each trip ranging between $2 and $4 (170 to 310 yen).  

If your itinerary involves many subway stops, pick up a Tokyo Metro 24-hour ticket, which gives you unlimited rides across the nine Tokyo Metro subway lines for around $8 (600 yen).  

Shopping – Approx $500 

The last part of your budget would go to shopping, attractions and miscellaneous expenses. This is the ‘fun’ part of the holiday budget, as you can use it to buy whatever you want.  

We recommend holding off splurging until you get a handle on the kind of souvenirs you want to bring back. A great many first-timers tend to overestimate the allure of Japanese snacks and candies, causing them to overspend. 

Total Budget for Five-day Tokyo Trip for Family of Five 

There you go – a five-day Tokyo holiday for your family of five, all for under $7,000! 

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Here’s Our Pick of the Best Things to do in Singapore – August 2019

Here’s Our Pick of the Best Things to do in Singapore – August 2019

If you constantly find yourself planted behind a desk or stuck in the car for much of your day, you’re not alone. Thanks to our urban lifestyle and the convenience of technology, people in Singapore are more inactive than ever. All that sitting down could be taking a toll on your health. Furthermore, in an era of instant communication and rocketing productivity, it is even more important to practice self-care. This month, we curated a list of invigorating experiences to get your body, mind and soul moving.

And congrats, you’ve made it more than halfway through 2019.

Circle of Life in Singapore Zoo (till 31st August)

Can’t get enough of The Lion King? How about a trip to the Singapore Zoo? Move to the jungle beats and spot animals that inspired Mufasa, Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, and the laughing Hyenas. Sing along to the tune of Hakuna Matata as mobile sets of iconic scenes from The Lion King move around the zoo. Tired of walking? Hop on the savannah themed tram for a musical performance as you ride through Singapore Zoo’s Wild Africa. Stay till the evening for a wild nocturnal experience at the Night Safari with drum and fire performances.

Fall in love with dance at da:ns festival 2019

Image of da:ns festival 2019 Footwork courtesy of Esplanade

How’s your new year’s resolution progress? Have you acquired a new skill? Calling all the dance lovers and the curious, Esplanade presents da:ns festival 2019, featuring an exciting line-up of performances and workshops from August to October. Switch up your weekend routine and discover the joy of movement with Esplanade’s Footwork for beginner.

For more information about the workshops, visit the official page here. 

Baybeats 2019

Image of Baybeats 2019 courtesy of Esplanade

Get ready to rock your weekend away at Singapore’s biggest independent music festival, Baybeats 2019! Featuring an eclectic mix of music artists, ranging from hip hop to doom metal, the three-day festival from 23 Aug to 25 Aug turns Esplanade into a music playground, which is free for all to attend and sway along to every tune. In case you didn’t know, Baybeats was founded in 2002 as a platform to nurture budding musicians and raise the profile of Singapore’s music scene. Today, it is one of the highly anticipated music festivals in this region.

For more information and the latest updates of Baybeats 2019, visit the official page here.  

Singapore Night Festival 2019

Singapore’s ever popular after-dark art festival returns from 23 Aug to 31 Aug. Make the entire Bras Basah and Bugis district your runway. For those serious about levelling up their Instagram feed, there is no better time to put on your hypebeast gears and snap away at epic neon-lit art installations.

The annual street festival will take place over two weekends in August and you can expect bigger and brighter whimsical art installations as it’s the Singapore Bicentennial this year. Apart from the insta-worthy art installations and when you’re tired of queueing to get the best shot, take a break at the Festival Villages at Dhoby Ghaut Green and Armenian Street Park. The two villages feature dozens of street food kiosks, so get yourself some tasty grub and watch the streets come alive with roving art performances!

For more information and the latest updates, visit the official page here.

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Zen-like Resort in Kyoto’s Countryside – Park Hyatt Kyoto to Open Late 2019

Zen-like Resort in Kyoto’s Countryside – Park Hyatt Kyoto to Open Late 2019

As the cultural and historical heart of Japan, inundated with temples and shrines that have histories stretching back as far as the 8th century, Kyoto is a must-visit for anyone who loves Japanese history.

Visitors can opt for a full -fledged  experience, starting with a variety of traditional accommodations on offer – from Ryokan (guest inns originating from the Edo period) to Machiya (traditional wooden townhouses). Then, for those with more conventional notions of comfort, there are of course modern hotels to choose from.

But what if you desire a mix of both?

Enter Hyatt Hotels and Resorts with their latest (third in Japan) luxury accommodation in Kyoto with Park Hyatt Kyoto, a zen-like resort which seeks to provide an immaculate and enriching cultural experience.

Slated to open towards the end of the year, Park Hyatt Kyoto may prove to be one of the best hotels in the world. With a blend of tradition and a touch of modernity, coupled with the Japanese’s signature omotenashi (Japanese hospitality philosophy), many are waiting with bated breaths for what could be an unrivalled hotel experience in Kyoto.

Modernity Meets Tradition

The Hyatt Kyoto site is actually a historic location, the home to the Suiko-kan Hall, a villa that was part of the Hongan-ji Temple. In 1863, the samurai and imperialist revolutionaries gathered at this very location to plot and overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Over a 150 years later, the site is making way for the new hotel project of Hyatt. Featuring 70 guest rooms, the concept and design of Park Hyatt Kyoto is rooted in nature and the changing seasons of Kyoto. The luxury resort features three different types of suites and two different types of rooms.

The three suites are perfect for families and each offer different experiences. The Park Suite fully immerses one in nature, with a concept design that is inspired by the mountains surrounding it. Inside you’ll find tamo wood and local materials that give the suite an ancient feel in a largely modern space. Both the Higashiyama and Pagoda Suites feature sweeping views of the Higashiyama neighbourhood, with the Pagoda Suite taking the upper decks of the property. Being the signature suite of Park Hyatt Kyoto, the Pagoda Suite looks out to the best and picturesque views of the famed Yasaka Pagoda.

At Park Hyatt Kyoto, exclusivity is the name of the game and elegance, its core.

Prime Location

When it comes to location for a luxury resort, it probably doesn’t get much better than this.

Located near the famous Kodaiji Temple and a short walk from Kiyomizudera Temple, Park Hyatt Kyoto presents a tranquil escape with unparalleled views of the historic district of Higashiyama.

Though the hotel is nestled in the heart of the Higashiyama neighbourhood, it’s sufficiently isolated that it’s quite a bit of distance from most railway lines, though we’d imagine that for the customer base at Park Hyatt Kyoto ($700/night), taxis or private cars are their choice of transport.

But if a fancy a walk, the plenty of historic and stunning paths surrounding Park Hyatt Kyoto, will make it well worth your while. 

If you’re looking to visit Kyoto at the end of the year, Park Hyatt Kyoto could very well deliver that rare mix of luxury living set within a truly historic backdrop.

Address

360 Kodaiji Masuyacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan, 605-0826

Telephone

075-531-1234 / +81 75 531 1234

Top photo by Jørgen Håland on Unsplash

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Tread Off the Beaten Path and Explore Sinchon – Seoul’s Hidden Youth Hub

Tread Off the Beaten Path and Explore Sinchon – Seoul’s Hidden Youth Hub

Tired of frequenting Myeongdong and Dongdaemun and eager to explore more of what Seoul has to offer?

Coming alive in the late afternoon as students stream out of universities, Sinchon’s streets are lined with energetic dancers and talented musicians performing their hearts out.

This combined with the vast number of fun activities, cafe options and shopping areas, make Sinchon a truly vibrant youth hub that deserves to be on your radar!

Don’t take our word for it. Read on for must-dos and must-sees in this eclectic town!

1. Underrated Sinchon Attractions You Must Visit

(Credit: Bryant Tay)

Yonsei University

What’s an energetic youth hub without a gorgeous university campus? As one of the three most prestigious universities in South Korea, Yonsei University is a must-visit. Featuring a sprawling 250-acre campus and over a centuries-old history, you’ll need hours to fully take in Yonsei’s captivating campus. As you stroll through the various trails, be sure to admire how the entire campus seamlessly blends in with the surrounding greenery. Campus highlights include towering statues honouring notable alumni and Gothic-style buildings adorned with ivy that vary in colour with the seasons!

You know a place is worth making a trip to if movies have been shot there and Yonsei University doesn’t lack in this department. It made for a beautiful backdrop for scenes in many Korean films including the popular “My Sassy Girl” and “Reply 1994”.

Annual Sinchon Water Gun Festival

(Credit: Republic of Korea/Flickr)

Summers in South Korea can be unbearable as temperatures soar upwards of 35°C! It’s no wonder hundreds of youths gather at Sinchon every year to participate in the Water Gun Festival. Voted as Seoul’s most iconic festival, each year features a new theme that attracts participants from all around the world. Whether you’re an EDM fan or just looking to blow off some steam, you’ll surely have a blast as you rock out to the live DJ sets or participate in the water gun fights.

Admission to the festival is completely free! Simply bring your own water gun and come with your game face on. However, if you’re looking to get yourself equipped, event organisers offer package deals that grant you perks like changing room access and locker rentals!

Ansan Mountain

(Credit: Chensiyuan/Wikimedia Commons)

Need a break from all that socialising? Go for an evening hike up Ansan mountain and take in dazzling nighttime views of Seoul! Ansan mountain is a hidden treasure compared to mountains like Bukhansan and Gwanaksan! As one of Seoul’s smallest peaks, you won’t have to worry about bringing specialised outdoor equipment. Rather, ascending Ansan mountain is a great way for beginners to ease themselves into the hiking habit without worrying about navigating steep slopes or rocky steps. There are plenty of gentle steps and well-marked paths to ensure you don’t get lost along the way.

Not keen on climbing the peak? Check out the seven-kilometre-long Jarak-gil path that circles Ansan mountain instead. If you’re a nature lover, you’re going to love the herb garden, waterfall and blooming cherry blossoms in spring!

2. Fill Your Tummies at Sinchon’s Must-try Food Joints

Homilbat (호밀밭)

(Credit: Bryant Tay)

As a youth hub, Sinchon has no shortage of cafes and food places. If you’re a bingsu lover, Homilbat should be on your list of must-visit food places in Sinchon. With prices starting from ₩5500 (~6.40 SGD), skim through their wide array of specialised menu options ranging from coffee bingsu to their seasonal strawberry bingsu. The unique thing about Homilbat is that it prepares its own red bean paste instead of relying on canned red beans. This gives the cafe an edge over other bingsu cafes.

During peak periods, the place is packed with patrons clamouring to get their hands on the cafe’s signature milk bingsu! Serving customers ultra fine shaved ice and fresh toppings with homemade red bean paste and rice cakes on the side, nothing quite matches the experience of having Homilbat’s refreshing milk bingsu on a hot summer day. It’s also a nice pit- stop for anyone seeking respite after a long day of visiting arcades and karaoke rooms!

Chak Han Pig (착한돼지)

(Credit: Bryant Tay)

Located above Zzang Arcade, Chak Han Pig should be your go-to-place for affordable food in Sinchon! As a hotspot among cash-strapped undergraduates, you’ll appreciate the outlet’s commitment to offering an incredible value-for-money Korean BBQ spread. From ₩9900 (~11 SGD), enjoy a variety of meat cuts that include pork belly (삼겹살), beef loin (우삼겹) and our personal favourite, the skirt meat (토시살). 

There’s also plenty of ready-to-eat food like fried chicken, tteokbokki and fresh fruit to keep you filled as you patiently grill your meat. If you’re feeling thirsty, simply fork out an additional ₩1000 (~1.20 SGD) for free-flow soft drinks. Open till 1am, it’s the perfect spot for that late night supper buffet with friends!

Gosami (고삼이)

(Credit: StudioEgo/Flickr)

Huge fan of saba fish? Ask any long time Sinchon resident where you can get the best seafood and they’ll likely point you towards Gosami. The ambience here resembles quaint restaurants you often see in K-dramas with the place filled with long tables and warm yellow lighting to emphasise the cosy atmosphere. Known for their expertly prepared grilled mackerel, expect nothing short of perfection when you order one!

Beneath the crackly skin lies extremely moist and succulent mackerel meat that definitely lives up to the hype. Gosami’s grilled mackerels are also minimally seasoned so you can rest easy knowing a meal here won’t ruin your healthy diet plans! Delicious fish aside, don’t miss out on their other equally yummy dishes like stir-fried spicy squid and an assortment of stews. 

3. Sinchon’s Shopping Haven: Hyundai U-Plex Department Store

(Credit: Bryant Tay)

No youth-centric town is complete without a smorgasbord of trendy shops. With over 100 stores, Hyundai U-Plex Department Store is the place to shop till you drop. Within the massive building, you’ll find all sorts of popular brands like Uniqlo and Levi’s alongside luxury brands like Gucci and Prada. Given the huge number of stores to check out, we’ll highlight a couple that are definitely worth visiting!

If you’re hunting for gifts to bring back home, make sure to check out the Kakao Friends store! Given how KaKaoTalk is used by the majority of South Koreans, multiple stores have popped up across the nation selling all sorts of merchandise featuring the cuddly Kakao Friends characters. Choose from a myriad of gifts including adorable plush toys and stylish tote bags that will surely tickle your fancy!

(Credit: Kakao Friends)

Looking to cool down after a round of shopping? Head to the department store’s basement and order a cone of  Baekmidang’s organic soft serve ice cream! Fans have fallen in love with the rich milky flavour and velvety smooth texture made possible with Baekmidang’s use of 1A grade 100% organic milk. Given their attention to detail and strict standards on using organic ingredients in all their ice creams, Baekmidang has attracted a flock of fans who aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!

(Credit: 1964백미당/Facebook)

Another brand that’s renowned in South Korea is O’sulloc! Featuring some of the best tea Korean culture has to offer, this brand’s splendid reputation precedes itself with a dedicated tea museum in Jeju. From floral tea sets to green tea milk spreads, you’ll be spoilt for choice while navigating the catalogue of products they have to offer! It also helps that O’sulloc products come in travel-friendly packaging and make for the perfect gifts for family and friends back home.

(Credit: OSULLOC 오설록/Facebook)

Unbridled Energy and Youth Culture at Sinchon

As a place filled to the brim with things to do and food to try, you’ll definitely be missing out if you sleep on the idea of visiting Sinchon! If you’re tired of heading to locations flooded with tourists, Sinchon will offer a much needed breather as you’re experiencing everything present in a youth hub, minus overbearing crowds.

This article was produced by Shopee.

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Top image credit: Bryant Tay.

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Roll Your Own Sushi at Nonono in Osaka

Roll Your Own Sushi at Nonono in Osaka

Japanese cuisine, strange and inscrutable as it can be, is nevertheless universally beloved. Case in point – sushi. Who would have thought that vinegar, rice and raw fish would end up a such a winning combination, producing a sublime symphony of taste that is at once decadent, wholesome and satisfying?

So masterful is the dish that people actually pay good money for the experience of watching a 30-year veteran of the craft preparing and serving the carefully hand-pressed pieces. According to whisphered accounts from those fortunate enough to be friends with the 1%, a proper sushi ceremony is a once-a-lifetime experience, akin to taking a dip in a virgin sea, to be reborn on pillowy clouds.

Ok see, this is what happens when you’re forced to use your imagination to make a living. But fortunately for us (and the true-blue sushi fans), there’s a restaurant in Osaka you can go to for a bonafide roll-your-own-sushi experience. And at down-to-earth prices too!

Near the famous Kuromon Market in Osaka, there lies a rather nondescript shop with a simple noren (traditional Japanese curtain) hanging on the storefront. Located in the Osaka Nihonbashi area, Nonono Hand-rolled Sushi offers a truly unique dining experience. It is here that you get to hand-roll your own sushi, with the freedom to customise and innovate with various fresh sashimi and vegetables to create your very own sushi roll.

As you enter Nonono, you’ll immediately notice a chef preparing platters filled with a smorgasbord of beautifully coloured sashimi and ingredients.

Coming in at 3,240 yen per set, each set features fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, Japanese tempura, and fresh sashimi from the local markets.

Each set comes with high-quality white rice from the Nara Prefecture, miso soup, and of course nori (seaweed) to hold it all together.  

After a short tutorial and guidance by the chef, you’re free to let your creative juices flow. Take a piece of seaweed, add a little pinch of rice, and top it off with the protein of your choice (meat, fish, or tempura).  

Here comes the fun part, when adding fruits and vegetables feel free to go wild, but do take note that some of them have their original sauces and flavour pairings which come highly recommended. 

We hear that the sake and special fruit wine pair amazingly with the sushi as well. The fruit wines are sourced from traditional farmhouses which grow their own fruits, so be sure to give them a try (520 yen per cup)! 

If you’re looking for a fun and new way to experience a time-honoured tradition, we must say Nonono Hand-rolled Sushi fits the bill to a tee.

Immerse yourself in the intricacy and charm of sushi making, having a dining experience like no other.   

At Nonono, it’s all yes, yes, yes from us.  

Address: 

1-18-4 Nihonbashi Chuou-ku Osaka-shi Osaka 

Opening Hours: 

Daily 11:30 AM to 1 PM, 5 PM to 9:30 PM 

Top image by zuke.trip via Instagram.

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