Buying and booking in advance: 11 ways to have more time in Osaka
We all know the struggle to prepare trips in a different country. There are a lot of things to think of, and you will certainly miss something. But being unprepared often can lead to wonderful moments of improvisation that can make a trip shine and leave you with memorable stories. We really appreciate those moments, that’s why we tend not to plan meticulously our travels.
However, there are some things that we do prepare for the trips: the kind of things that will buy us time. See, we think maximizing our experience on site is really critical, and one way to do that is to maximize the available time. So we like to buy our necessary things online beforehand to optimize the time that we dispose. Here is a list of things we tried to buy/prepare before our arrival at Osaka to give you an idea.
But one advice, don’t prepare and plan too much, leave room for improvisation!
- 1 Buy a Sim card or a Wifi Egg
- 2 Buy a ICOCA
- 3 Buy a JR Pass if you plan to move a lot between cities
- 4 Plan for the transportation between the airport and the city
- 5 Buy entrance tickets:Universal studio, Kaiyukan Aquarium, Haruka 300 Observatory
- 6 Book day trips around Osaka
- 7 End of the list
Well, let’s be honest: getting lost and trying to find your ways is a very fun experience in any travel. However, in some cases (short travels, travel with kids, etc…), it might be a good idea to have the possibility to use internet easily. We do not think that buying anything for internet is a necessity in any cities in Japan: you will find free wifi pretty much everywhere. But we do prefer to have the possibility to use internet anytime we need in case of emergency.
You have two possibilities to get a mobile internet connection while traveling in Japan
- Buying a Wifi Egg: A Wifi egg is a little device where you can connect your phone and get internet. It’s very cheap and convenient! The only problem is the battery of the egg (a few hours), but you are not going to Osaka to be on the internet all day!
- Buying a SIM Card: This can be useful if you have a double sim card device. But you lose access to your original phone number if you don’t have a double sim card, and we find it quite expensive compared to the wifi egg, which is for us as good as a sim card.
We recommend the Wifi Egg, the price is really unbeatable, and you won’t need more internet than the batteries’ life
ICOCA is a contactless rechargeable payment card that allows you to pay for public transports in the Kansai region (like the SUICA in Tokyo). It’s very convenient as you don’t need to worry about getting tickets at all. It works in all major cities of Kansai, like Osaka, Kobe or Kyoto. You can buy it for 2000 yen (500 deposit + 1500 in the card that is usable). While you can easily buy this card at your arrival, we preferred to buy it beforehand online. It allowed us to get it in a separate counter at your arrival in Kansai Airport or at Osaka Namba Station! We found it very convenient to be able to ignore the queue on the official counter!
We didn’t buy this one, as our itinerary only involved 2 days in Osaka, one day in Nara, and 2 days in Kyoto. And we calculated the cost of transport, and we concluded a JR Pass was not necessary. But if you are planning a lot of inter-city travels, we recommend you to buy the JR Pass online (do the calculations yourself before though!). Train tickets can be quite expensive in Japan, and the JR Pass has a special discount when bought from a foreign country. Like the ICOCA, buying online allows you to get the card at your arrival at the Kansai Airport (and it’s cheaper than the original price!).
This is something we should have planned better. While it’s very easy getting somewhere from the airport by train or by bus (we always recommend the trains, they are very comfortable), it can be tricky to come back. We had an early flight back home, and we found ourselves looking for a way to get to the airport the night before the flight. We somehow managed to get in the first bus from Kyoto to the airport, but we were quite worried for a while (the taxis are ridiculously expensive in Japan). Overall a very fun experience 🙂
If you are a group and plan to take a taxi, don’t! They are really VERY expensive. Book a car online (you can find one here) it’s much cheaper than and as much reliable as taxis.
While being on the subject of the airport, some companies have an airport luggage service. For example, if you arrive at a not so convenient hour or your hotel is situated in a remote location, you could lose quite a lot of time getting your luggage there. In those occasions we use these services, who take your luggage and deliver them to your hotel (the same day of course). Remember, it’s all about time optimization! Here is the link for our preferred service in Osaka.
Buy entrance tickets:Universal studio, Kaiyukan Aquarium, Haruka 300 Observatory
If you are going to Osaka, you are certainly planning to go to the Universal Studio, the Kaiyukan aquarium or the Haruka 300 observatory. We went to the aquarium and we certainly will go back one day to go to the Universal Studio! One thing you should know is that usually the queue for the entrance tickets are very long. It looked honestly ok at the Kaiyukan aquarium (maybe 20-30 min of waiting maximum), but we heard some monstrous things about the queues at the Universal Studio or the Haruka Observatory. And we tend to think that queues are the worst way to lose time while on travel! So we really recommend to buy this kind of entrance tickets in advance. Here are the links to buy tickets for:
Book day trips around Osaka
Unless you are going to Osaka for a week-end, you are surely planning for some day trips (or longer trips) around Osaka. Kansai region has a lot of things to offer, and it would be a shame to miss it! We highly recommend you do your researches and plan for the day trips, without having to go through agents (we will soon write an article about the best day trips from Osaka!).
However, if you have some tight time constraint (or you love convenience), you might want to book some organized day trip tours. Indeed, tours organized by agents is a great way to save time and effort, and especially do multiple things in one day (that you could not have not yourself for logistic reasons). Another reason you might want to book tour agents for day trips outside of Osaka is if you decided to be based in Osaka for your whole trip. It is certainly not recommended, but if you decided so, it’s a good idea to book day trips.
Here is a list of interesting day trip tours from Osaka! We tried to find day tours with reasonable prices, that you can do while based in Osaka.
You surely heard of Kobe, known for its heavenly delicious beef. Well Kobe is very near Osaka, and a day trip there is highly recommended. It is really not necessary to book a day tour for Kobe. So this tour is for those who really feel more comfortable in an agent organized tour. If you like to visit on your own, we highly recommend you to plan it yourself (it’s very easy). Just buy an entrance ticket for the Arima Onsen to experience the Japanese hot spring! For more detail, wait for our upcoming article about day trips from Osaka!
This tour is actually very interesting! It allows you to visit Kyoto while staying in Osaka (warning, it’s not enough to get the most of Kyoto! Read our 2 days itinerary in Kyoto), to experience the lunch of a sumo wrestler and to meet geishas! We think the price is not too excessive for this kind of package. It includes 2 of the most representative temples of Kyoto (Kinkaku-ji, the golden pavilion and Kyomizu-dera). What we like in this tour is that is proposes on top of that something that is difficult to plan alone. Indeed, trying a sumo lunch and organizing a meeting with Geishas is a very nice touch, and it’s quite uncommon!
You might have read our post about our day trip to Nara. We highly recommend to add at least Nara in your Osaka itinerary. Nara is absolutely stunning and easy to visit? Actually, if you are only planning Nara, we recommend you to go there yourself, there is really no need for a guided tour. However, what’s interesting in this tour is the inclusion of Arashiyama! Arashiyama is on the south side of Kyoto, and you might know it thanks to the very famous Bamboo Groove. Coupling Arashiyama and Nara is a very clever package, as you get to see a part of Kyoto! It’s something you wouldn’t plan in a Nara day trip yourself, as it would increase the cost and make the logistics much more complicated.
Mount Koya is located in the south of Osaka. There are over 100 Buddhist temples along the streets of Koya san. The best part of Koya-san is the part where you can experience the daily lives of Buddhist monks: you can share their meals or even have a temple stay for one night! It’s very easy to plan a day trip there with a temple stay. We personally would recommend that you book a temple stay and experience everything while you are there. Temple stays are really an amazing way to get a full experience of the Buddhist culture. However, if you don’t have much time, this day tour can be the right solution for you.
Like said above, we think that booking guided day trips is about doing something you couldn’t possibly do yourself (or it would be very difficult). That’s the case of a day trip to Hiroshima & Miyajima from Osaka. It’s logistically quite complicated to go there and come back in one day (and actually, not that recommended, it’s way better to stay longer if you have the time). But again, this list is to people wanting to max out their time optimization. So consider booking this tour if you have little time available or you are based in Osaka for too long!
End of the list
So, here is our list of 11 things you can buy and book before going to Osaka. We really recommend buying at least the entrance tickets and the ICOCA before hand, it really helps gaining time. For the day trip tours, it’s really up to your travel style! One advice would be to always look for tours that give an added value, compared to what you can do.
We sincerely hope that this article helped some of you planning for your trips. Planning is an exciting and enjoyable part of travelling but sometimes it’s difficult to find the right information! We tried to gather as much relevant information that we could find. If you have any questions / comments or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!
For those who are interested for day trips, but you would like to plan it yourself, stay tuned! Our next post will be about the best day / short trips from Osaka.
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