We are visiting Japan & general region, Which is better: package deal or ???

Question by ewr750: We are visiting Japan & general region, Which is better: package deal or ???
I feel it would be better to get in on a tour package so we would have english speaking guides and fellow american travelers. This may include the hotel reservations, airfare & all taxis, trains etc.
My girlfriend assures me that we “can take the road less travelled” the majority in China, Japan Thailand etc. speak plenty of english to help us navigate.
We can just show up at the airport, taxi to hotel, and go it on our own.
I’m not sure this is a good idea for the first time.
What do you think? Is english speaking prevalent enough?
(i think she is overconfident from recent trips she made to England, france & italy I think Asia will be different from Europe)

Best answer:

Answer by TokyoE
If you sign up for a tour package, odds are not everyone in the group is going to be American. If it is an “English tour” people can be from Canada, England, any English and non English speaking countries as well.

Whatever you do DO NOT, and i have to repeat DO NOT take the taxi from the airport to the city, any of the major international airports that is.

Not because you will get ripped off that is not likely to happen, but because none of the airports are really centrally located near the city.

For example from Tokyo to the Narita International Airport, it takes 1 hour by fastest train, now imagine the taxi fare going on streets, in traffic and tolls!!

In Japan and urban areas the vast majority of people use public transportation, eg trains and buses.

The rail system in Japan is fantastic, most trains and train stations have signs that are bilingual in Japanese and English and so are some announcements.

So if you needed to get to a major hotel from the Airport, yes there is English assistance at the airport to direct you to which train or bus you should take.

I wouldn’t say English speaking is prevalent enough, I would say assistance in English is out there where anyone could plan a trip before hand and get around without a lot of trouble if you stick to the main cities and visit major sights used to seeing tourists.

There are pros to tours, but I find more cons to tours. Eg, I don’t like tours, I like to explore on my own, and not where the tour goes.

If you do your research beforehand, have things written down and directions, and you’re aren’t going toooo far off the beaten path (eg sticking to major cities or tourist spots), then I don’t htink you will run into any MAJOR problems.

They key is proper planning, so getting a book like Frommers Japan (which is a good travel guide) and visiting online resources is a great place to plan and do your own trip.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

3 thoughts on “We are visiting Japan & general region, Which is better: package deal or ???”

  1. A lot will depend on your travel experience and how adventurous you want to be. I think you are right in being a bit apprehensive in terms of not being able to get around as smoothly as your girlfriend believes.

    First of all, it is a mistake to lump SE Asia and China/Japan together in terms of English communicative ability. The simple reason is that SE Asia sees A LOT more tourism from European and American travelers than Japan and the locals are used to speaking English in order to make their livings.

    Secondly, unless your hotel is in Narita city, you don’t want to be taking a taxi into central Tokyo unless you’re rolling like Bill Gates. It’ll cost you over 20,000 yen, or roughly $ 200. Traveling through Europe will give you/her confidence in terms of taking trains (there are signs in English) but the train system is so extensive and there are so many lines (public and private) that in some cases it may be confusing even though there are indeed English signs. People will be willing to help you but it is unwise to expect that the same level of English that is spoken in Europe will be spoken in Japan.

    Now, with that being said, it is very possible to get around on your own although things might not go as smoothly compared to a package tour. That’s one important thing to consider. If you’re the type that relishes both the good times and the bad (makes for lots of good stories afterwards), I’d say go for it. If you want to really relax and be comfortable with a low level of stress, go with the package tour the first time.

  2. It depends what you expect for the trip. A guided tour is more efficient, if your goal is to cover more tourist destinations in limited amount of time. If you don’t like to go place where the many tourists are, then you have to take the hard way.

  3. As it’s your first visit to Japan, I suggest you book a tour package through your travel agent. The tour guide will speak English and explain everything as you travel through Japan.

    You will also be met at the airport and driven to your hotel on arrival and the tour guide will tell you what time to be ready for the next day.

    The price you will pay for the tour includes flights, hotels, coach travel and some meals. It will not include all the meals or tips for the driver and tour guide.

    Taxis are very expensive in Japan so don’t take one if you are going on a long journey. Plus, not many people speak English in Japan

    Hope this helps and have a good trip.

Comments are closed.