2017 In Review: Discovering The Known & The Unknown

In less than 2 days, 2017 will come to a close. Another great & memorable year will soon come to an end. Before we welcome 2018, let us look back how this year went. I do not consider this a major travel year because I think every year is a major travel year for me.

My solo travel adventures, which started in 2016, continued this year. I went to most places all by myself & then met amazing people whom I shared good memories with. I also had the chance to reunite & travel with good old friends.

Selfie with Broken Beach in the background 📷

In 2016, I went to places which are known to most of you (perhaps except Koh Lipe). These places gave me unforgettable experiences & different insights. 2017 was a bit different. I’ve been to known places like Coron, Taipei & Ubud, but I’ve also visited unknown places (to many Filipinos) like Port Barton, Nusa Penida & Komodo. 2017 was a year of discovering the known & the unknown.

Let us rediscover the the known & unknown places I visited for 2017.

Port Barton

Port Barton’s village beach

My first solo trip for 2017 happened in March where I spent a weekend in Port Barton. It is a small undeveloped village in the northeast coast of Palawan. It is a more basic version of El Nido.

Enjoyed the tour to untouched islands & pristine beaches 😍

Everything in the village is limited – from accommodation choices, restaurants, electricity to mobile network access. These limitations didn’t hinder me from enjoying a weekend away from the busy city life. I went on an island tour which took me to untouched islands & pristine beaches. I had my first close encounter with a turtle in German Island. I also made good memories with people I met on the tour & in the hostel.

Close encounter with a turtle in German Island 🐢

Blog: PORT BARTON: Palawan’s Secret Paradise

Coron

I had my second Palawan weekend trip for 2017 in Coron. I decided to go there during the Labor Day weekend (to save work leave credits) & booked my round-trip tickets using my GetGo (Cebu Pacific Air‘s loyalty program) points.

Met these amazing people in Coron

I walked around the town & hiked Mount Tapyas on my first day. I took the Ultimate Island Tour on my second day & the Island Escapade Tour on my third day. I flew back to Manila on the fourth day.

Coron’s crystal clear waters 😍

I prefer the escapade tour over the ultimate tour. I think Kayangan Lake, Siete Picados & Twin Lagoon were really beautiful; however, these places were super crowded. I enjoyed the relaxed & laid-back escapade tour to the jaw-dropping Malcapuya, Banana & Bulog Dos Islands.

Malcapuya Island – the highlight of this Coron trip 😍

Blog: CORON – Paradise Beyond Words

Taipei

Taipei was my first international trip for 2017. It was also my first time to use my renewed passport. I’ve been to this city in 2015 with my high school friends. This time, I went on another weekend trip with my work colleagues.

Taipei ’17 buddies – Rona & Shiela 😎

We went to the usual places like Taipei 101, Ximending, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Liberty Square, Shilin Night Market & 228 Peace Park. We also went up north to the countryside to visit Shifen & Jiufen.

Colorful vibe of Jiufen 😍

We loosened up a bit by joining TourMeAway‘s Pub Crawl Activity. It was a long fun drinking night with people from all over the world. Our pub crawl photo even made it to the activity’s Klook page. I also got my new HTC U11 during this trip – definitely worth the investment.

Got a new phone in Taipei -the HTC U11

BlogTAIPEI Revisited: 3-Day Weekend in the Heart of Asia (Less than ₱15,000 all in!!!)

Siquijor

I went on a last-minute weekend Siquijor trip with friends last July. I flew to Dumaguete with a friend & boarded the next ferry to Siquijor. We then met another friend in Siquijor & started exploring the island.

 

Reunion with Geof & JE in Siquijor

We had lunch at Larena Triad Restaurant overlooking the island, went exploring at the Guiwahon Mangrove Park, (they) had fish spa in the century old balete tree, walked around the Lazi Convent & Church, jumped off (a number of times) the famous Cambugahay Falls & enjoyed some lazy (except me who tried the cliff diving) afternoon at Salagdoong Beach.

Cambugahay Falls – the highlight of my Siquijor trip 💦

We had a short Dumaguete side trip; we stayed there for a night before our flight back to Manila. Our friend, who is based there, took us on a late night city tour (?? haha) just to see how it looks like.

BlogLast-Minute SIQUIJOR Weekend (For Less Than ₱7,000 Including Airfare)

Ubud

Explored Ubud with Mary Ann & Lyza

I spent half of my annual birthday month trip in Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been to Ubud in 2014 but I didn’t have enough time to explore the place. I went back for 3 full days to explore different temples, hike up & down the rice terraces, eat the famous crispy duck, walk around the town, tried the luwak coffee in a coffee plantation & go to the waterfall.

World famous Tegallalang Rice Terraces 😍

I also attended a cooking class with Paon Bali. I learned to prepare local dishes & ended up eating them as well after. This Paon Bali Cooking Class was the highlight of my Ubud visit.

Local food we ate after the cooking class 😋

BlogThe Wonderful Indonesia Series: UBUD – From Temples To Rice Paddies

Nusa Penida

Instagram-famous Broken Beach 😍

The other half of my week-long birthday trip was spent in a relatively unknown off Bali called Nusa Penida. For 2 straight days, I hopped on a motorcycle & explored this untouched island.

Atuh Beach – a cove between 2 cliffs 😍

I went to ‘Instagram-famous’ places like Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach & Kelingking Secret Point. I also went to the hidden Crystal Bay for swimming & relaxation. On my 2nd & last day, I spent the whole day in Atuh Beach, another ‘Instagram-famous’ cove that is between 2 high cliffs.

Another Instagram-famous – Kelingking Secret Point 😍

I stayed in Kuta for a night before my early flight back to Manila. I’ve been to this place in 2015 but I still walked around the crowded beach & waited for the beautiful Kuta sunset.

Kuta sunset – what a beautiful view to end this week long birthday trip 🌅

BlogThe Wonderful Indonesia Series: NUSA PENIDA – Hidden Paradise Off Bali

Komodo

Kanawa Island 😍

Two months after spending a week in Indonesia, I decided to fly back & sneak out a short weekend trip to Labuan Bajo. This small village / town is the gateway for the more famous Komodo National Park (Komodo Island).

Worth the 30-minute hike up the mountain 😍

I took the shared overnight boat trip to the islands. The islands were hours away from each other by slow boat. On the first day, we went snorkeling on Kanawa Island, swam with the manta rays in Manta Point & hiked up Padar Island for some amazing views. We parked somewhere near Komodo Island & stayed there for the night. The boatmen prepared all our meals while on the boat. We slept under the stars & clear skies.

Ha, once in a lifetime photo with a Komodo dragon 🦎

The following day, we walked around in Komodo Island to spot Komodo dragons, went snorkeling & swimming in Pink Beach & spotted some wildlife on Rinca Island (more Komodo dragons lol). Our boatmen allowed us to snorkel & jump off the boat in a random snorkeling point right before going back to Labuan Bajo.

Met up for dinner with the people I was with in the overnight boat trip

Blog: To Follow

Tokyo & Kawaguchiko

Dinner in Tokyo with Laura & Leon (former HTC people) & Kristin

The week-long trip to Japan was my last trip for 2017. It was not my first time (I’ve been there in 2015 & in 2016) so I decided to explore the not-so-famous areas like Kawaguchiko. I flew to Tokyo in the morning, then I met Laura & Leon (people I met in HTC Elevate years ago) in late afternoon until evening.

Picture-perfect Mount Fuji 🗻😍

The following day, I took the bus to Kawaguchiko where I stayed for 2 full days. I met good friends in the hostel which I went around the place with. We went up to Mt. Fuji 4th Station, walked around Kawaguchiko town & we even went cycling around Lake Kawaguchiko. I saw Mt Fuji at its finest (a lot of times!!) during my short stay in this quiet town.

Cycled around Lake Kawaguchiko with these guys 🚴

Blog: To Follow

Takayama & Shirakawa-go

Takayama Old Town 🏠

After spending 2 days in Kawaguchiko, I took a 5-hour bus ride to Takayama. Takayama is a city that is located in the rural, mountainous Hida region in Gifu Prefecture. Just like any other Japanese rural centers, the city retains traditional character. This is shown in the preserved old town. I walked around the old town & the city for one whole day. I was able to visit various temples & museums along the way. I also tried the famous Hida beef in one of the restaurants near JR Takayama Station.

Hida beef for lunch 😋

I went on a half day side trip to Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage site located at the foot of Mt. Haku-san. Located about an hour away from Takayama, this old village is characterized by gassho-style farmhouses. I spent 3 hours walking around the village, hopping from one house to the other.

Shirakawa-go from the view point 😍

The visits to Takayama Old Town & Shirakawa-go were the highlights of my stay in Gifu Prefecture.

Gassho-style farmhouse in Shirakawa-go 😍

Blog: To Follow


The list above doesn’t account the number of times I went to my hometown in Albay for family functions & random weekends. I plan to continue going home (every few months) to my parents in 2018. There’s definitely no place like home.

Picturesque Mayon Volcano 🌋 There’s no place like home 😍

The trips above pretty much sum up my 2017. It was a year of discovering known places like Coron, Taipei & Ubud, to not-so-known places like Siquijor & Kawaguchiko & to relatively unknown places like Port Barton, Nusa Penida, Komodo & Takayama. It was another year full of memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. I already have a few trips planned for 2018 & I look forward to exploring more of what this beautiful world has to offer.

PS. Photos were taken using my HTC Re & HTC U11

Going Solo in Japan Series: FUKUOKA

After spending 3 days in Nagoya, 2 days in Hiroshima, 5 days in Kyoto & Osaka (including 2 separate day tours in Nara & Kobe), I took a 9.5-hour overnight bus ride to Fukuoka Prefecture’s capital city, Fukuoka.

Fukuoka is Kyushu Island’s most famous & populated city. This port city is Japan’s gateway & also the closest hub to mainland Asia. Just like any other Japanese city, it is characterized by developed infrastructure, modern transportation system & helpful & accommodating people. The city is also famous for beautiful cherry blossom sightings every spring season.

Beautiful sunny day in Ōhori Park 😍

I didn’t know about Fukuoka until I was searching for an affordable flight back to Manila. The city is not as famous as Tokyo & Osaka in the Philippine tourism market, but it’s definitely starting to gain attention in the past months. I spent the last 3 days of my 13-day Japan journey here. I will give more details below of how my stay went.

Trivia: Fukuoka is the birth place of tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen. It is also where my favorite Ichiran Ramen originated.

Accommodation

Just like my previous hostels for this trip, I stayed in Hana Hostel Group‘s local branch, Fukuoka Hana Hostel. The hostel is centrally located within the Nakasu-Kawabata Shopping Arcade. It is a 2-3 minute walk to the famous Canal City, 5 minutes walk to Nakasu-Kawabata subway station & about 15 minutes walk to Tenjin’s shopping area. The airport is 4 stops away (about 10 minutes ride) from the nearest subway station. Fukuoka’s main train station, JR Hakata Station, is 1 train stop away or about 15 minutes walk.

I stayed in a 3-bed male dormitory room with private shower & en-suite. Just like any other Hana Hostel branch, each bed includes its own reading light, pillow & sheets, curtains, curtains (for privacy), universal plug & a storage box (plus free Wi-Fi). I paid ¥2,800 per night (¥5,600 for 2 nights). It’s one of the cheapest rates I’ve seen during my stay. For those who do not want to stay in a dormitory room, they also have private rooms with affordable rates.

The staff were super nice & accommodating. They speak good English & they are always ready to help. The hostel stored my luggage before check in & after check out for free. It also has a spacious common area on the ground floor where you can meet other travelers. It also has a kitchen where guests can prepare their own food. I will definitely stay here again when I go back to Fukuoka.

Torii gates in Kushida Shrine grounds 😍

Tip: Fukuoka Hana Hostel accepts bookings up to 3 months before your desired stay. Make sure to book early as they as usually fully booked.

Going Around Fukuoka

Going around the city is easy. The subway system is not as confusing as that of Tokyo’s & Osaka’s. Fukuoka has only 3 subway lines – Kuko Line, Nanakuma Line & Hakozaki Line. Kuko Line is the main city line which starts in Fukuoka Airport Station, passes by Hakata, Nakasu-Kawabata, Tenjin, Ohorikoen, Nishijin up to Meinohama Station. Nanakuma Line starts in Tenjin-Minami Station & services up to Hashimoto Station while Hakozaki Station starts in Nakasu-Kawabata Station & ends in Kaizouka.

Saw this amazing view when I stepped out of Daizafu Station 😍

The city also has JR Lines connected to these subway stations making it possible to connect to nearby cities & towns. By the way, these subway & JR lines also accept IC cards. You can also go around the city by bus (one thing I didn’t try because I’m fond of subways).

Places to visit in Fukuoka

Fukuoka may not have a long list of places to visit but it definitely has some unique places to see. Let me tell you which places I went to in my short 3-day stay.

Ōhori Park

Ōhori Park’s famous pavilion in the middle of the lake

Locally known as Ōhori-kōen, Ōhori Park is Fukuoka’s most famous park located in the center of the city. It features a large pond with a walking path around it & in the middle. The park is an ideal place for strolling, jogging & relaxing. Entrance to the park is free.

You can also find Fukuoka Art Museum a meters walk from Ōhori Park. However, the museum is closed for renovation & won’t be open until March 2019. Later I found out that the Fukuoka Castle Ruins / Maizuru Park were only a few meters away from the park. Unfortunately, I missed out visiting this place.

Access: Ohorikoen Station

Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome

Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome from the outside

Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome is the home of the locally famous Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks baseball team. The stadium can accommodate close to 40,000 spectators & is the world’s largest geodesic dome. It is also one of the popular places where local & international artists hold their concerts.

Access: 15 minutes walk from Tojinmachi & Nishijin Stations

Momochihama Seaside Park

This is a 1 kilometer stretch of man-made beach in the Seaside Momochi Waterfront. It is located a few meters walk from Fukuoka Tower. The beach was empty when I went there because it was almost winter & it’s too cold for people to swim.

Empty Momochi Beach on a cold but sunny autumn (almost winter) day

Access: 15 minutes walk from Tojinmachi & Nishijin Stations

Fukuoka Tower

View of Fukuoka Tower from the Seaside Momochi Waterfront 🗼

Fukuoka Tower is the city’s tallest building, also Japan’s tallest seaside building. It stands 234 m high & is located by the Momochihama Beach. Entrance to the building’s observatory costs ¥800. They offer 20% discount to foreigners who will show their passports.

Access: 15 minutes walk from Tojinmachi & Nishijin Stations

Robosquare

Robosqaure is robot showroom located a few meters walk from Fukuoka Tower. It is a place where you can interact & play with robots. I met a few interesting robots acts like humans. I also met a very cute dog robot who knows how to react for every hand gesture you make. There is also a shop where you can purchase & take home these robots.

One of the many robots you can play with in Robosquare 🤖

The showroom is located in the 2nd floor of the TV Nishi Nippon Building. Admission is free. As someone from the Philippines, I really enjoyed interacting / playing with the robots. It’s a must visit for kids & kids-at-heart.

Access: 15 minutes walk from Tojinmachi & Nishijin Stations

Tenjin

Dubbed as Fukuoka’s downtown, Tenjin is the city’s shopping, dining & entertainment hub. This is the place to go to if you want to shop for new clothes, dine in fancy restaurants, drink in bars & party in clubs.

Bake Cheese Tart is a must-try! 😋

Aside from the upscale department stores & shopping malls, it also has an underground shopping area which connects 2 subway stations & various buildings. This place is called Tenjin Chikagai. I think this underground shopping strip is a must-see place in Fukuoka. This is also where I found Bake Cheese Tart, the famous cheese tart chain that originated in Hokkaido.

Access: Tenjin & Tenjin-Minami Stations

Canal City – Hakata

A not-so-busy street of Fukuoka on my way to Canal City

Canal City is a large shopping & entertainment complex in Hakata. Characterized by more than 200 shops & restaurants, the 5 storey structure has a canal running through the complex premises. It also has 2 hotels in it.

What I found interesting in this shopping complex is Ramen Stadium on its fifth floor. This place has more or less 8 ramen restaurants coming from different places in Japan. If you’re a person who’s into ramen, then you should visit Canal City, particularly the ramen stadium.

Access: 10 minutes walk from Nakasu-Kawabata Station & 15 minutes walk from Hakata Station

Yatai

Yatai is a small mobile food stall found in random streets in Japan. These stalls are set up late afternoon / early evening & are packed up usually after midnight. These mobile restaurants serve almost all kinds of food – from ramen, to hotpots & grilled skewers. They also serve sake & alcholic drinks.

Post-drink snack in a yatai with YS, a friend I met in the hostel 🍢

These stalls are scattered all over Fukuoka, but you can find most of them in Nakasu Area. I went to one of these stalls with YS, the friend I met in the hostel for almost midnight snack. The food we had was really good!

Tōchō-ji Temple

Beautiful colors outside Tōchō-ji Temple🍂

The Tōchō-ji Temple is one of the central attractions in Hakata, Fukuoka. It is the Buddhist temple that houses the great statue called Fukuoka Daibutsu. This 10 m sitting Buddha wooden statue was carved for a few years.

Cameras were not allowed inside the hall so I was not able to take a photo of it. The status was really huge; it’s definitely a must-see when in Hakata & Fukuoka.

Access: 2 minutes walk from Gion Station

Kushida Shrine

Fukuoka’s famous Kushida Shrine ⛩️

Kushida Shrine is a Shinto Shrine located in Hakata Ward. Every July, a big festival called Hakata Gion Yamakasa, is celebrated. All the events & activities held at the festival is centered on this shrine.

Access: 5 minutes walk from Nakasu-Kawabata & Gion Stations

Dazaifu Tenman-gū Shrine

Entrance to the main shrine ⛩️

Dazaifu Tenman-gū Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, an important figure during the Heian Period. The shrine was built over Michizane’s grave. There are other structures & places located in the area; that includes the Dazaifu Tenman-gū Museum, Kanko Historical Museum & the Kyushu National Museum.

Entrance to the shrine grounds is free; but the museums charge a few yens.

Crowded Dazaifu Tenman-gū main shrine ⛩️

Access: From Tenjin Station, take the Nishitetsu-Tenjin-Omuta Line train towards Nishitetsu-Yanagawa. Get off at Nishitetsu-Futsukaichi Station & transfer to the Nishitetsu-Dazaifu Line towards Dazaifu. From Dazaifu Station, head right. Follow the crowd & walk for 5-7 minutes to the shrine.


Aaannd this concludes the Going Solo in Japan Series. It’s definitely a trip for the books – solo travelling at its finest. If you haven’t read the previous blogs in this series, just check the following posts: Nagoya, Hiroshima, Kyoto & Osaka & Nara & Kobe. I also blogged about how I managed to overcome the ₱50,000 x 13 days & 7 cities challenge for this trip. Flying to Japan soon? I’ve also blogged about my previous trip to Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka & I made a 4-step guide on how to apply for your Japan tourist visa.

One last photo about Fukuoka! Empty Momochi beach 🏖️ 

Japan will always be one of my favorite countries. I have visited the country for 2 years in a row & I am looking forward to my third, fourth & upcoming visits. It’s a country I won’t get tired of coming back. 💗

Is there something you want to know more about Fukuoka or anything you want to ask about the places mentioned above? Is there topic / content you want to see in this blog in the future? Feel free to comment below or send me an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. You can also send me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Arigatou gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) 🇯🇵 😃

PS. All photos above were shot using my HTC Re & HTC One M8.

Going Solo in Japan Series: NARA & KOBE

A week ago, I posted a blog about my stay in Kyoto & Osaka. I mentioned in my post that I went to Nara & Kobe for 2 separate day trips. These 2 cities, plus Himeji, are usually visited by tourists taking day tours from Osaka.

I was with my friend, Rona when I went to Nara while I was all by myself when I walked around Kobe. Let me discuss below how both day trips went.

With Rona on the way to Nara

NARA

The last time I went to Osaka, I didn’t have enough time to visit Nara. I felt bad I haven’t interacted with the roaming deer in Nara Park. I promised to myself that when I go back to Osaka, Nara will be number 1 in my list. And so it happened…

1, 2, 3, say Nara! 📷

Disclaimer: We did not spend the entire day in Nara. We had to go back to Osaka because Rona needs to get her bags for Tokyo plus we already have tickets for the Umeda Sky Building Floating Observatory.

How we went to Nara

Using our IC cards, Rona & I took the Midōsuji Line from Shinsaibashi Station (nearest station to our hostel) to Tennoji Station. From the red subway line, we transferred to the JR Yamatoji Line to Nara. This line to Nara starts in JR Tennoji Station so you can choose your seats inside the train.

One random walkway somewhere in Nara Park 😍 🍂

Journey takes around an hour & you pay ¥790 per way (¥230 from Shinsaibashi Station to Tennoji Station & ¥560 from Tennoji Station to JR Nara Station). An alternative route to Nara would be through the Kintetsu Nara Line from Osaka Namba Station. IC cards can also be used in this train line.

What to see in Nara

Upon arrival at Nara Station, Rona & I immediately went to the tourist information center to get maps & coffee. The walking adventure begins…

Tip: The best way to explore Nara is by foot. Yes, most sites are walkable from the main train stations.

Sanjo-Dori Street

Sanjo-Dori Street is the long, busy street that you take going to the temples & the deer park (if you are coming from JR Nara Station). It is full of restaurants, cafes, hotels & local souvenir shops. You will find almost everything you need on this street. The street has a very wide sidewalk which makes it very safe for everyone to walk.

Jokyoji Temple

Jokyoji Temple – too bad it was closed when we passed by

Jokyoji Temple – we saw this small Buddhist Temple while on our way to Kōfuku-ji. The temple had beautiful flower displays near its gate. Too bad it was closed when we dropped by.

Kōfuku-ji

Kōfuku-ji is one of the ‘Big 3’ must see temples of Nara. It was once part of the powerful 7 Great Temples in Nara. There are a number of buildings & structures around the temple grounds, but the notable ones are the following: the 5-level pagoda (one of the tallest pagodas in Japan), the National Treasure Museum & the Eastern & Central Golden Halls.

Kōfuku-ji’s Eastern Golden Hall & the 5-level pagoda 

Note: The Central Golden Hall is undergoing a major renovation. It is expected to be completed sometime in 2018.

Tōdai-ji

Tōdai-ji is Nara’s iconic & most famous Buddhist temple. The temple is also part of the 7 Great Temples of Nara. Its main hall houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue.

Entrance to Tōdai-ji Temple via the Nandaimon Gate

You know you are already inside the Tōdai-ji Temple grounds when you pass by the large wooden gate structure called Nandaimon Gate. Don’t forget to make friends with the tame deer roaming around the temple grounds.

Nara Park

Nara Park is the end point of the Sanjo-Dori Street if you are coming from the JR Nara Station. This park is home of the hundreds of freely roaming deer. This animal is considered sacred in Shinto religion.

The deer sittin’ like a boss 🦌

One funny thing you’ll notice is each deer knows how to bow. That also means they’re asking for food (you can buy deer crackers for ¥150 in the nearby shops). The interaction with the deer was the highlight of that day. I was also impressed that these deer know how to pose for a photo.

The autumn colors of Nara Park 😍 🍂

Aside from the deer, the park also offered beautiful autumn views. I wonder how it looks like during spring; could also be lovely. There were other halls & places to visit around the park like the Kasuga-Taisha & the Nara National Museum, but we had to rush back to Osaka. We also missed visiting Hōryū-ji (the temple to complete Nara’s Big 3 Temples) in Ikaruga. This gives me a reason to go back in the future & explore more.

What a view from Nara Park! 😍 🍂

KOBE

It was my last day in Osaka. At 9:30 pm on that same day, I will board a night bus to my last destination in Japan, Fukuoka. It was around 7:30 in the morning, I was contemplating on whether I should just stay & walk around Osaka for the last time or I go for another day trip to either Kobe or Himeji.

I didn’t want to waste another day lying in my bed or walking around Shinsaibashi, Dōtonbori & Osaka (this happened the day before – I was really lazy that day!) so I decided to go for a day trip. Himeji was a bit far from Kobe so I went for the latter.

How I went to Kobe

Random beautiful park in Kobe 🍂

Since I only have an IC card (and not the JR Pass), the only station I can arrive in Kobe is Kobe-sannomiya Station. JR Pass holders usually get off at Shin-Kōbe station. The 2 stations are about 2 kilometers away from each other. Later I found out, getting off at Kobe-sannomiya Station was actually a better idea because everything was near the area.

From Shinsaibashi Station, I took the Midōsuji Line to Umeda Station (¥230) then transferred to Hankyu-Kobe Line to Hankyu Kobe-sannomiya Station (¥320). You can also board the Hanshin Line to Hansin Kobe-sannomiya Station for the same price of ¥320. Journey from Umeda to Kobe is roughly 40 minutes.

What to see & do in Kobe

I went to Kobe with no itinerary or anything. I only have my phone & pocket Wi-Fi with me. I also had the mindset that I need to be back in Osaka by 4:00 pm to prepare for my night bus to Fukuoka. What I did was just to walk from one street to another & visit the places along the way. Luckily, I came across the following places:

Ikuta Jinja

Ikuta Jinja’s main shrine

Ikuta Jinja is a Shinto shrine located in the middle of the very busy Sannomiya area. This shrine is believed to be one of the oldest shrines in Japan. The shrine has torii gates in all entrance & exit points & even has a small garden at the back of the main temple.

View from the outside of the shrine grounds

I just accidentally saw this shrine in Google Maps while I was looking for a place to go from the train station. Beautiful shrine!

Kobe Motomachi Centre Gai Shopping Street

In my previous posts about Nagoya & Osaka, I said something about Japanese cities having a shopping street / arcade. If Nagoya has Osu Shopping Street & Osaka has Shinsaibashi Shopping Street, Kobe has its own – it’s called Kobe Motomachi Center Gai Shopping Street.

Inside Kobe Motomachi Shopping Street~

You will find all sorts of goods in this place – from clothing, to shoes, bags & even food. I found the cheapest dark chocolate & strawberry Kit Kats in one of the tax free shops here.

Meriken Park

Meriken Park is Kobe’s most famous waterfront park. It is the home of the Kobe Port Tower, Kobe Maritime Museum & the Earthquake Memorial Park. It also features a big public open space where events & special functions are held. On an ordinary day, visitors & locals normally walk or run around the park.

Meriken Park from the other side of the port

Note: There were significant improvement works being done with the Meriken Park when I visited last November. These works are in preparation for Port of Kobe’s 150th Anniversary this year.

Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park

In 1995, Kobe was devastated by the Hanshin Awaji Great Earthquake. It made significant damages to both public & private infrastructure & even to houses of the locals. The pier was also severely damaged.

The government has decided to preserve a part of the pier’s damage to remind the people (both locals & visitors) of the damages caused by the strong earthquake.

Note: This earthquake memorial park is different from the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum. The museum is near the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.

Kobe Port Tower

Kobe Port Tower

Located within Meriken Park, the Kobe Port Tower is considered as one of Kobe’s iconic landmarks. This 108-meter uniquely shaped structure is made of red-painted steel structure. Just like any tower, it has an observation deck which I didn’t go into. It also has souvenir shops & restaurants / cafes in some of the levels.

Kobe Beef

Kobe Beef is the most famous regional specialty food in Japan. The branding came from where the cattle are bred & raised – in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. The Wagyu beef is known for its tenderness & unique flavor.

The oh-so-good Kobe Beef for lunch!~ 😋

Kobe beef is expensive. Yes, expensive. I had second thoughts of not trying it because of the price. A few minutes after, I decided to make the most out of my visit & have Kobe beef for late lunch. Who cares about the price, eh? Kidding.

The chef prepared preparing our food~

I went to Steak Land & ordered their Kobegyu Steak Lunch Set. I forgot how many ounces of Kobe beef were in the meal, but the set also included salad, miso soup, a cup of rice, grilled vegetables & a glass of juice (can be changed to coffee or tea). The chef cooked the beef in the hibachi table in front of me. I tell you, the beef was so good it melts in your mouth. It was so tender & the flavor was something I haven’t tasted in my life.

Steak Land’s Kobegyu Lunch Set 😋

I paid around ¥3,000 (₱1,300++) for whole Kobegyu Steak Lunch Set. I believe the price was reasonable. Honestly, I don’t mind spending that amount for such a good meal. This was definitely the highlight of my Kobe day trip. It’s definitely something one should try when visiting the city.

This pretty much sums up my quick day trip to Kobe. There were still a lot of nice places to visit but I had to go back to Osaka to prepare for my night bus to Fukuoka.


To be fair, I actually had really memorable times in Nara & Kobe. The day trips were definitely worth-taking. Going around these 2 cities, even just in the centers, gave me basically the idea of how beautiful these places are. I wish I had more time, but I won’t mind going back to explore more.

Before going to Nara & Kobe, I went to Nagoya, Hiroshima, Kyoto & Osaka. Make sure to check out the individual posts linked above. The final installment of this blog series will be about my last 3 days in Fukuoka. Watch out for it!

This lovely deer knows how to pose for a photo 🦌 😍

Did you know that I only spent less than ₱50,000 for this 13-day trip in 7 Japan cities? Click here to know more. If you are planning to apply for a Japan tourist visa soon, I also posted a blog about the 4 easy steps in applying for it.

Do you have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to comment below or send me an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. You can also send me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Arigatou gozaimasu (ありがとうございます) 🇯🇵 😃

PS. All photos above were shot using my HTC Re & HTC One M8.