Hello everyone and happy hump day! One of my last posts was my Winter Tokyo Travel Guide, and in it I talked about spending a day at Tokyo Disneyland which is what today’s post is all about. Since it had been over ten years since my family and I had all been to Disneyland, we decided to go again this Christmas in Tokyo. It was the best decision we made because it was so much fun! It was all decked out for Christmas which was done so beautifully and tastefully. Although everything is in Japanese, these days almost everything is in English as well and most of the workers also speak English. I highly highly recommend spending a day at Disney if you’re ever in Tokyo, especially around the holiday season.
I hear a lot of people who are skeptical about Tokyo Disneyland when they compare it to the original park in Anaheim, but there is honestly no difference. And if there is I would argue that the Tokyo one is much better. It has all of the same, original rides with the exception of the Matterhorn, including Space Mountain.
The tickets are currently selling for 7,400 yen (about 67 USD) which is extremely reasonable, especially compared to the Anaheim prices that can be well over $100. What I was really impressed by was how inexpensive the food was. We had gone expecting to have to pay and arm and a leg for dinner, but were able to get meals for about 1,000 yen (9 USD) each. It makes it easy to spend a whole day there without worrying too much about how much you’re going to have to spend on a whole day’s worth of food.
While it is a bit far from the central city, public transportation makes it so quick, easy and inexpensive to get there. There are multiple trains and buses that leave from big stations like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yokohama and even Narita Airport that take you directly to the park. From the city it takes, on average, 30 minutes to get out to Disneyland. Trains run from 6am to 11:55pm everyday, so you can spend as much time at the park as your heart desires!
Another thing I loved about Tokyo Disney was how clean and spacious it is. Sitting at 115 acres, it’s over 30 acres larger than the Anaheim Disneyland, and you really do notice the difference. And in true Japan fashion, everything was just so nice and clean. I mean everything from the sidewalks and the rides to the bathrooms, all just very well maintained.
We also decided to stay to watch the daily light show and the electric light parade which were so well done. It was jazzed up for Christmas as well which just made it even more magical. It really just made me feel like a little kid again which was very much needed. I’m so so glad we decided to go and won’t be surprised if we decide to go again next Christmas. That day really just was one of the most festive days this holiday season, I loved it!
1. Buy tickets online to get them at the best price (buy through the website).
2. Avoid Golden Week (usually around April 29-May 5), it’ll be insanely crowded.
3. If you don’t want to buy food in the park, bring your own. Tokyo Disneyland allows you to bring food in.
4. Bring water, it’s a bit hard to find water inside the park. And you’re going to want to stay hydrated, especially if you go during the summer.
5. If you’re going without young kids, the late afternoons/early evenings get fairly empty and quiet.
6. If you’re interested, check out DisneySea as well. I haven’t been personally, but have had a lot of friends who have been and say it’s super fun as well! It’s located right next to Disneyland.
7. If you’re going in the winter, make sure to pack/wear layers. It can be fairly warm during the day, especially with all the walking you’ll be doing, but can get much cooler in the evening.
8. If you’re wanting to stay at a hotel around the park, check out the non-Disney hotels like the Sheraton and the Hilton, they are typically much cheaper than the official Disney Hotel/Resort.
Good morning lovelies and happy Sunday. If you’re looking for some 2019 travel inspo, you’re in the right place! Today’s post is my second Tokyo Travel Guide, and this is going to be full of all the things to do in Tokyo in the winter. I wrote my first Tokyo Travel Guide in April, so be sure to check that post out if you haven’t already. But for now, happy reading and I hope you have lot’s of fun adventures lined up for the year!
What to eat:
Jojoen Yakiniku– Jojoen is our favorite yakiniku (translates to grilled meat) spot in Tokyo. With locations all over the city, their menu is full of various types of beef and pork, seafood, Korean side dishes and rice and noodle dishes. They also have super reasonable lunch sets that range from 1,500-3,000 yen that come with meat, rice, veggies/a salad, soup, a drink and dessert. With tons of locations, they each vary a little depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a more down-to-earth meal, I love the ones in Shibuya and Meguro. But if you’re looking for a nice locale, try the Jojoen on the 39th floor of Ebisu Garden Place.
Trattoria Mari e Monti in Roppongi- This has quickly become one of our favorite restaurants in Tokyo. Run by two Italian guys, the ambiance of the space makes you feel like you’re eating pasta and drinking wine on the streets of Italy. Their huge selection of produce, cheeses, meats, pastas and desserts are amazing and jaw-dropping. Some of my favorites are their truffle pasta, pappardelle with meat, grilled pork belly, literally all of their desserts and of course their homemade limoncello at the end of the meal.
Shibuya Parlor right by the Shibuya Crossing- My sister, mom and I stumbled across this place this past Christmas when I was on the hunt for a decadent fruit parfait. Located on the 7th floor of the Magnet building, the little cafe overlooks the famous Shibuya scramble crossing with the perfect birds eye view. To curb my craving, I ordered the strawberry brulee parfait which came with yoghurt, granola, vanilla ice cream, bruleed pudding and of course tons of strawberries.
Obica Mozzarella Bar in Roppongi Hills- We found this place this summer when we went out for lunch with some family friends and I’m actually obsessed with it now. The restaurants has a very modern vibe with shelves full of pastas and wine and huge floor to ceiling windows letting in so much natural light. I haven’t spent too much time looking at their dinner menu (every time I’ve been it’s been for lunch), but I can say that their lunch menu is incredibly reasonable and very extensive. For between 1500-2500 yen, you can get a lunch set with one main dish, one or two side dishes (depending on what you choose) and one drink. You can also add on a glass of red, white or bubbly for only 400 yen ($3.60USD). Some of my favorites are their pastas of the day, their grilled chicken salad and the lasagna.
Kushinobo in Roppongi Hills- Okay, I had heard my parents rave about this place forever and was always so skeptical until I went this Christmas and WOW. Kushinobo serves fried food on a skewer, but not greasy American fried food, elegant and refined Japanese fried food. It’s not too oily or heavy, it’s so light and delicious. My dad and I went for lunch and ordered the 10 piece set which came with 10 different kinds of skewers including salmon with roe, black pork, asparagus, and scallops, as well as a set of rice, an egg, miso soup, veggie sticks and dip and dessert. I don’t really know how to explain it, but PLEASE go try this place if you’re ever in Tokyo.
If you happen to be staying with a friend, at an Airbnb or anywhere with a kitchen, I highly recommend going to the store, getting some hot-pot soup (during the winter they have them everywhere in all kinds of delicious flavors), some shabu-shabu pork, tons of veggies and other fun treats and have a hot-pot night at home. It’s the epitome of winter meals in Japan and is so yum. And if you can’t do this, I would suggest going and walking around the supermarket anyway. Call me weird, but I think Japanese supermarkets are so fun.
How to get around:
Public transportation in Japan is absolutely the way to go. The trains and buses are everywhere and can get you anywhere you need. It can be a bit intimidating, but these days almost all signs for everything are in English as well. Don’t be afraid to go up to someone who works at the train station or bus stop and ask questions, most of them are able to have a conversation in English.
For the Shinkansen (bullet train), I would recommend getting the JR pass for either 7 or 14 days which allows you to get around the country on the bullet train conveniently and at a low cost. And seriously, riding on the bullet train is SO cool.
For the local trains, you can try and get a train pass/card which requires bringing your passport to a train station and going to an office to get it done, so I would only suggest doing that if you’re going to be in Tokyo for an extended period of time to save money and time. But if you’re only there for a bit, buying tickets at the machines are super simple and easy and, again, are in English as well.
If you’re trying to take the bus around, make sure you’re carrying coins on you to pay the buss fee (most are between 200-250 yen). Also look there are a couple of apps in English that will give you everything you need to know about the bus routes, including all the stops, their names and how to get from one place to another.
And while I always recommend using public transportation while traveling to really get to know the city you’re exploring, taxis are fairly easy to find and flag down. Simply look for the dark cars with a white sign on top and stick your hand out to flag it down. If the light in the bottom right hand corner is red, the taxi is available, and if it’s green it’s been taken or is on shift change.
Where to go:
This section could seriously drag on and on, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet with lot’s of links and photos.
1. Tokyo Disneyland– We decided to go this Christmas to see all the lights and since we hadn’t been in like a decade and it was amazing! Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland is a must (whole other post on this going up soon so keep an eye out for that).
2. Roppongi Hills Mid-Town lights- If you walk out around Roppongi Hills at night during Christmas, the streets and trees are all lit up with stunning lights (called イルミネーション or Illumination) that go on and off in beautiful patterns. It’s nothing tacky, just simple, elegant Christmas lights. And depending on where you are you can get a picture-perfect view of Tokyo Tower as well.
3. Takeshita Dori, Harajuku- Of course this is a must-do any time of the year, but I love walking down the crazy crowded streets right before Christmas to scavenge for last minute gifts and stocking stuffers. I found so many fun little gifts for my family and friends (especially for all the beauty and skincare lovers) by just walking around and popping into a bunch of little stores.
4. Mega Don Quijote, Shibuya- I don’t know if you’ve heard of this store, but it’s actually heaven on earth. This huge one in Shibuya is 6 floors and has absolutely everything you could ever want or need. Literally from Louis Vuitton bags to Japanese junk food and cleaning supplies to makeup. It’s crazy busy and insanely packed.
5. Ginza- If you’re looking for some higher end shopping or some luxury, head out to the Ginza area and walk around the malls and streets that are filled with tons of high end brands and boutiques. Perfect if you’re looking for a nicer gift for a loved one or honestly even yourself (you deserve to get yourself a Christmas pressie too!). And if you’re as in love with Kate Spade as me, there’s a huge 3-story store right by the station that is beyond adorable.
6. Backstreets of Harajuku- Of course Takeshita Dori will always draw in the crowds, but during the winter months the backstreets are absolute stunning. Their often really empty and the trees all turn a beautiful golden color giving the whole space a very old and classy vibe. Just spend a few minutes walking down the streets, taking pictures and taking in the natural beauty.
7. Odaiba Spa World– Okay, I have to admit that I’ve never been BUT I’ve always wanted to go and have done so much research on it (and my sister has been so that counts, right?). This place is a completely indoor onsen and spa “world” full of different baths and other fun activities. It’s a bit tacky and touristy, but I honestly love that sometimes. And what’s better than going to the hot springs during a cold winter day.
8. The Westin Hotel in Ebisu and Ebisu Garden Place- During Christmas, The Westin and Ebisu Garden Place are decorated to beautifully. Ebisu Garden place is lined with Christmas trees, bright lights and a huge annual crystal chandelier. It’s the perfect place to have a coffee or a drink with your loved ones and take a few pictures. And after that you can walk underground to The Westin to see their traditionally decorated but absolutely breath-taking tree and decorations. Also, if it’s in your budget, The Westin is my favorite hotel in Tokyo to stay at.
9. Combini- Go to any convenient store in the city (you’ll find one every 10 steps) and relish in the magic of Combini in Japan. I really don’t know what else to say, just do it and you’ll thank me later. PS, convenient store coffee and donuts are the bomb!
How to dress:
It does get fairly cool during Christmas in Tokyo, and by fairly cool I mean an average of 38-50 (that’s freezing to me!), but it’s also usually really clear and sunny. You will for sure want to have at least one pair of good sunglasses and one solid coat. For me, jeans are for sure the way to go for pants, it’ll keep you warm but not too warm if you’re going to be walking around during the day.
If you do start to find yourself getting cold, find a Uniqlo (there’s seriously one on every corner) and get some heat-tech long underwear and that will keep you warm for the rest of your life (haha- not really but my family swears by it!).
Tokyo, generally, dresses quite conservatively so try not to dress to scandalous when you’re visiting. I think everyone should dress how they want to all the time, but I also think there’s something to be said about respecting the culture.
I hope you have all the wanderlust vibes now and are ready to go and explore!! xx
I can’t believe we’re already at Day 7 and less than two weeks away from Christmas! As this post is going up, I’m in an Uber on the way to LAX ready to hop on a plane and head back to see my family for the holidays. Since traveling is something that almost everyone does during the holidays in one way or another, I thought I would share my holiday travel guide/tips for today’s post. I’ve done some other “travel tips” posts in the past (be sure to check those out!), but this one will be my updated one specifically for the holidays. Enjoy and happy traveling! xx
– As we all know flights during the holiday season book up SO early and quickly, so be sure to get those tickets booked far in advance (or as soon as you are able to nail down dates).
– Check different airlines and airports for the best deals and times. This is something that’s good to do any time you’re planning a trip, but especially during a time when everyone is trying to go everywhere. You might find better deals at a smaller airport or with an airline you don’t normally fly with.
– Leave early enough so you give yourself PLENTY of time at the airport. While traffic may not be your biggest concern, driving into the airport and getting checked-in, through immigration and security can be an absolute nightmare during the holidays.
– If you have the means to do so, get TSA pre-check. It will save you so much hassle and time at the airport. You don’t have to worry about taking off your boots and sweaters and taking out your laptops and tablets, which can make a really stressful situation just a little less stressful.
– Get all of your travel documents together and organized using a travel organizer. I always have a passport case/cover (I’m obsessed with the Kate Spade ones), which I keep my passport and boarding pass in, but I’ve also started using a travel organizer to keep my flight confirmation, check-in documents and all those other things. I’m not naturally a very organized/neat person, so having a case where I know all of my important things are prevents me from having to desperately rifle through my bag looking for my boarding pass.
– Have a portable phone charger and extra cords. Chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time in waiting around in lines and you’ll most likely whip out your phone to pass the time. There’s nothing worse than traveling or being on a flight and realizing your phones about to die. Be prepared, have portables and chargers with adapters so you can charge your phone wherever and whenever you need to.
– Don’t waste time or money on airport food. I know this is common knowledge, but seriously. The number of times I’ve dropped insane amounts of money inside the airport on food is crazy. Try to be prepared and have food/snacks with you so you don’t end up waiting in long lines or spending $15 on a small sandwich. Also try to have some healthy snacks for the flight as well (veggie sticks in a little baggie is so easy).
– Check in online and get a digital copy of your boarding pass, if possible. These days a lot of airlines allow you to not only check-in, but check your bags in and get your boarding pass on your phone. If you’re given the option to do this, do it! It’s going to save you so much time at the airport, especially during the holidays when everybody is going somewhere.
– Give yourself enough time. I’ve always been one of those people who wants/needs a lot of time at the airport. I’d much rather sit there and be bored than end up missing my flight. Especially during the busiest travel time of the year, you never know what’s going to get you held up. So be prepared and get there with plenty of time.
On the flight:
– Have a change of clothes (top, pants, undies and all). You really never know what’s going to happen when you’re traveling but I would hate to be in a situation where something spills on you or maybe you leak a little (ladies…) and you having nothing to change into. I also just like having a extra clothes on longer flights/trips to change into half way so I don’t feel so gross.
– Have all your favorite shows, music and movies downloaded on your computer, iPad or iPhone. The night before a flight I always make sure that everything I’m going to want on the plane is downloaded so I don’t have to worry about it the next day. I forgot to do that the night before once and tried doing it at the airport, but the s****y airport wifi was not having it. Do it ahead of time and you’ll be glad you did.
– Have a pillow or blanket and a neck pillow and eye mask. Seriously, it’s the best thing ever. I love having my own pillow or blanket with me on the plane (as annoying as it may be to carry around) because it helps me feel comfy and safe. And as far as the neck pillow and eye mask go, it’s just a must-have. You don’t want to fall asleep on a flight only to wake up unable to move your neck, it’s awful. And since you can’t control the lights on the flight an eye mask will help you sleep at any time.
– This is one of my golden rules of traveling, but HYDRATE. I can’t emphasize this enough, when you’re up in the sky with the air circulating throughout the cabin you get so dehydrated. Not only do you want to be drinking a ton of water (but seriously though, like a ton), you also want to make sure you have moisturizer and face lotion easily accessible.
Happy traveling, see you for Day 8! xx
Happy Thursday loves!! Being back in LA for my sophomore year of college, it’s really hit me how much I miss Asia and Singapore. I knew I was going to miss it, but I had no idea how much. So for today’s post, I thought it would be fun to put together a small collection of my absolute favorite photos of my beautiful home. If you’re looking for some SG travel inspo, I have it right here for you!
What’s the number one place you want to visit right now? I get asked that question all the time and it’s so hard because the answer is: EVERYWHERE. I would love to not have to worry about school or working or money and just travel the world experience all the different cultures. But since that’s not reasonable, I thought I would sit and put together the 5 places that are at the top of my travel bucket list right now. What do you think of my list? What’s on your list?
*All photos courtesy of Creative Commons*
1. New York City, USA- NYC, I don’t even know what to say. Everything from the yellow taxis, the bright lights of Times Square and the quaintness of Central Park draws me to the city. I could get lost looking at pictures of New York for hours dreaming of everything I would do when I finally get to go. And it would be even better if it were Christmas. The tree at Rockefeller Center, hot chocolate at Serendipity (just like the movie!!) and New Years Eve in Times Square, ugh it would be so magical!
2. Sydney, Australia- I honestly don’t know how I lived in Singapore for over 18 years and never visited Australia, but it’s very high up on my wishlist. Not sure what it is, but I always just get such a chill/relaxed vibe from Sydney and the people seem so incredible warm and welcoming! And the growing food scene doesn’t hurt either.
3. Sicily, Rome and Amalfi, Italy- Isn’t this pretty much a staple on everyones bucket list? If I could spend a chunk of time exploring every single city in Italy I think I would die. But these three cities are the top three on my list for sure. I’m so intrigued by the contrast of the bustling city of Rome and the pure, calm, breathtaking Amalfi Coast. And then I would just love to move to Sicily and live on a winery and eat all the seafood I want all day.
4. New Orleans, USA- New Orleans is definitely a recent addition to my list, but it’s so intriguing to me. Obviously it would be amazing to go during Mardi Gras, but any time would be incredible. The atmosphere just seems to laid back yet fun and old school funky. I would love to stroll through the French Quarter and spend the afternoon eating beignets at Cafe du Monde.
5. Island Hopping in Greece- Although I’ve been to Athens and the island of Sifnos, I’d love to go back and just spend time on a bunch of different islands. I love everything about Greece, the food, the people, the scenery, the oceans, it’s spectacular. The dream is to spend a month island hopping and spending the evenings sipping on wine and gorging on spanakopita and baklava. Wouldn’t that be amazing!
As we are quickly approaching the last couple weeks of (official) summer, I just wanted to put together a quick little blog post of my highlights from the summer. I’ve been back at school for a week and a half now an reminiscing about all the fun times and wishing I was still sitting by the beach and soaking in the sun. I hope you all enjoy this post and please comment some of your favorite summer moments down below!
1. Internship in Singapore- I was extremely lucky to be able to go back to my high school in Singapore for the last 5 weeks of their school year and intern with one of the programs I fell in love with. I was able to work directly with teachers and was even given the ability to run a few of my own classes and activities. Being a teacher is something that means a lot to me and this opportunity only made me realize my dream even more. It was amazing to be able to work directly with students and to learn so much from the teachers who were gracious enough to mentor me. I started my internship the day after school ended, and although it was difficult at times it was also an incredible experience.
2. Food adventures back home- While I was working, I also had so much time to relax in Singapore and spend time with my family. And of course, a lot of our time was spent eating at our favorite places (and some new places) around the island. I only put 5 photos in this post because if I put all the photos in you would be here forever. As you can see (here and on my Instagram: @swimeatlove) I had a lot of Asian food simply because I was craving it SO MUCH after being back in LA for a semester. I honestly can’t pick a favorite or highlight meal because everything I had was so good. But I loved that I was able to enjoy a fine dining meal (at Level 33) as well as a simple food court meal of chicken rice.
3. Beach getaway in Phuket- I wrote a whole big post on my trip to Phuket, so I’m going to keep this one short and sweet (but go check out the other post if you want to see more!). Most people already know this about me, but I’m obsessed with the beach, so getting to spend a few days in one of my favorite places with my family was definitely a highlight for this summer. We were all able to just chill and lounge around by the beach or pool sipping on mojitos and pina coladas- it was perfect! We stayed at our favorite resort (Le Meridien, Phuket) and loved the food, the spa and of course the private beach and sprawling pool. We got to go out to the town each evening and explored the area and ate at some of our favorite places around Phuket. It was the perfect summer getaway.
4. Lake days- After all of the fun times in Singapore, and a chaotic international move, we finally got back to some stability by spending over a month at our family lake house, which we do every summer. Nestled in between the mountains, the serene lake is by far one of my favorite places to be. There are so little distractions (we just got a flushing toilet last year and wifi this year!) and it’s just so peaceful. I spend the days lifeguarding and hanging by the lake, and then we spend the afternoons looking for the best and freshest summer produce which we then use to make fun, summery meals. We have game nights, do BBQs and have fun with fireworks and sparklers and it’s seriously the best thing ever. I look forward to being back at the lake the day after I leave. It’s the absolute epitome of summer.
5. Adventuring Tokyo- After leaving the lake for the summer, I was able to spend a full week back in Tokyo (which also happens to be our new home). While we spend time in Tokyo every summer, this year it was all about finding the comfort and familiarities of the city that would help to make it feel like home. We did some of the things we love to do (shopping in Shibuya, eating at our favorite restaurants), but we also did some things we’d never done before. Of course we discovered some new restaurants that will definitely be added to our go-to list, but we also did some fun new things like going to the summer festival (matsuri) in Azabu Juuban and exploring the neighborhood around our new house. I loved being able to spend my last week of summer with the people I love doing what I love (basically eating and traveling, haha!).
I hope you all had as good a summer as I had. It was by far the best one yet. Enjoy the last little bit of the warm weather and I hope ya’ll are getting excited for fall!