When my friend opened up the idea of visiting Japan for our girl friend bonding, I got too excited and thought, why not we fly before the year ends?
It was November 2022. We only had less than a month to prepare for the trip. Our destination, Osaka, Japan. I previously traveled to Tokyo and Fukuoka, and I always wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios Japan). I felt I was ready to fly – broom or plane.
Pause for a moment and reflect: I am once again living one of my dreams ✨
We found the perfect travel dates that would fit our schedules. My friend #D and I concurrently booked our flights just to make sure we were on the same flight. I realized, planning trips with friends is one of my favorite activities. 💜
I have projects and commitments and when the flight date finally came, I felt like I still needed another week to just stay at home and “relax” before the flight. 😂 Reality is, traveling can be really tiring. When you get older, you just want to have a relaxed and comfortable trip.
I arrived early at Terminal 3 (4 hours before the flight), but I had to wait for my friend #D who was worried about the immigration process. She said that there is a higher chance to get approved in the immigration if you are traveling with friends/companion.
Terminal 3 Check-in Process
We lined up for more than an hour to check in. There were so many locals traveling at that time and there was only one line for the same airline (on different flights). During the check-in, you need to present your passport, Japan visa, and Vax Certificate (or Yellow Card or Vax Cards).
At the Immigration
As expected, there was a long queue at the Immigration. I was worried it would take us another hour to get through it. Thankfully, it was moving smoothly to ensure that passengers arrive on time for the boarding.
I previously traveled to 2 Asian countries, Malaysia (in August) and Indonesia (in September) so I was praying it would be an easy process for me. I realized now that I don’t usually bring proof of ties here in the Philippines.
The only questions that were asked of me were: my return date and my purpose of travel.
After the immigration and security check, I went straight to the lounge for a quick snack. This is always part of my “flight routine” and a way to save money. 😀
En Route to Osaka | Manila to Osaka
We booked the fastest and cheapest flight via Cebu Pacific Air. It was at Php 29,000+ but you can get flights to Japan as low as Php 5,000 during Seat Fest!
Manila to Osaka is 3.5 hour flight and I pre-selected a seat so I have more leg room. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have a window so I decided to just take a nap. 😂
For those who want to save on fare, you may remove add-ons like seat selection, meals, and insurance. I personally prefer to have meals on board (it is much cheaper to buy pre-order hot meals – and knowing myself, magugutumin ako haha 😂). It was my mistake that I removed the meals from my fare so I had to buy during the flight (which is much more costly).
I like the afternoon flight because I got to sleep at night before the flight.
Arriving in Osaka
When we landed in Osaka, we just presented and scanned our QR codes (COVID-19 vaccine, Immigration and Customs) and we were off to our adventure.
Unlike my recent trips wherein we had “welcome cards” and ground transporation waiting for us, we had to navigate our way to our hotel. Although I really enjoy the convenience of arranged trips, I like going on personal travels – including the challenges of dragging your luggage while checking Google Maps. I think it is really a life skill.
Sharing more travel tips:
- Travel Insurance: as a Financial Advisor 😂, it is a must to travel with insurance. We found the cheapest travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage via Pacific Cross.
- e-SIM: I booked via Klook.ph. I was so happy when I chanced upon this offer in Klook. The Japan SIM/Data Wifi was sold out and I didn’t want to carry a pocket wifi around. I just booked it a day before my flight and I got the e-SIM QR code via email. I simply activated it via my phone and as soon as I landed in Osaka, I got instantly connected. Staying connected online helped us in navigating the subway system in Japan to get to our hotel.
- IC Subway Card: I bought one in the Terminal for JPY 10,000 (around Php 5,000). After the trip I was able to return and get a refund of the remaining balance.
- FOREX: I just withdraw money from the ATM and use my credit card for store purchases. I find it more convenient than going to the bank/mall to buy Foreign Currency.
Our Hotel in Osaka | Hotel Mystay Midosuji
We found our home for 6 days and 5 nights at the Hotel Mystay in Midosuji. It is a 7-minute walk to the nearest subway station and has a Family Mart nearby. It is complete with the usual room amenities and toiletries are available at the Front Desk Lobby (including basic skin care products). A set of pajamas is also free to use (which they fold neatly everyday).
We booked our hotel via Klook and we paid Php 5,100 per night. I just presented the voucher and our passports.
After we checked in and settled, we walked around the area to familiarize ourselves. We found a restaurant and had our first Japanese dinner.
I remember the feeling of sitting on the stool – tired and sleepy – part of me wanted to just catch up on sleep, and another part was excited for the start of the adventure.
I felt like I was dragging myself back to the hotel, to the shower and to my bed that night.
My sleep seemed like a nap and when I woke up, it was time to head to Hogwarts. ⚡
To be continued…