10 Things to see in Bangkok

What’s in Bangkok for a Filipino traveler?

We hear about Bangkok. We hear about Thailand, but what’s to see when you’re from Manila or the Philippines? What’s to consider  when visiting Bangkok?

Clueless Commuter visits Thailand

I decided to join my parents during their trip in Thailand. It’s not everyday to you get to have a chance to.

Last July 2017, I stayed at Bangkok for four (4) days and three (3) nights. My parents attended a homecoming reunion hosted by one of my father’s college batchmates from Thailand.

I have a knack on going with loved ones and friends on trips, so I can spend time with them and benefit from the discount you get from group travels. I don’t plan group travels, I usually just join them unless I am very convinced it’s a place I have to be in (like my solo Japan trip last November 2016).

 

1. Shopping

Fashion

Too bad I wasn’t geared for this but I don’t have words enough to explain how Bangkok is ‘THE’ place to be if you want to go for a wardrobe overhaul. Converted to Pesos, you can get fashion finds as low as PhP 300.  All this already with the quality, fabric and style as what I see at Forever 21 stores.

Pastel dresses in Bangkok.

Flowing dresses priced somewhere around P2200 when converted to PhP.

Their fabric, cloth quality and cut are refined craftsmanship. They are comfortable to wear. They have the flair. They set the trends (you see in Manila). The clothes are flattering.

Bangkok printed skirt.

Exquisite prints and quality fabrics are used for Bangkok clothes.

Should I visit Bangkok, Thailand again, I’ll make sure to save up and bring home PhP 20,000 worth of fashion finds with half the cost.

If you plan to pay a visit, Platinum Shopping Mall is the place to be. If you have shopped in Hong-Kong or Korea, forget it. Bangkok. Is. The. Real. Thing.

Soaps, Incense, Essential Oils

Bangkok milk soap.

A novelty milk soap souvenir from Bangkok.

As Thailand is teeming with fresh produce, byproducts created also abound. Soaps, dried fruit incense, oils and balms are sold in bulk. Bring them to Manila and you’ll think your home as spa  when you get back.

Novelty soaps at Bangkok.

These scented souvenir soaps at Suvarnabhumi Airport look like what they smell like.

Branded Apparel

Compared to Manila, branded Bangkok outlets sell on discounted prices and sometimes are a bit cheaper– this is even after you convert to Pesos. There are also stocks and styles that are far newer than those available in Manila.

Once in a while, I still think of that preppy Swatch watch priced somewhere around PhP 2500 . I haven’t seen it anywhere here and if it does, it could range somewhere around PhP 3000-PhP 5000.

Local Handcrafts

Near to 50% of Thailand’s population are entrepreneurs. This means they usually own their small-medium businesses in the country.

As it is, local crafts are also sold at shopping centers. I find a lot of consumer products in Baclaran that are bulkly manufactured with China quality.

The crafts they sold there were refined and pleasant to look at even while they were similarly sold on stalls. As it was, I even brought back a handcrafted local fancy watch as a souvenir.

 

 

2. Food Trip

Thailand's common street food

Deep fried crab cakes look like this on the stalls of Thailand.

Thai’s food is, as it is, a daily routine. They’re usually a mix of sweet, chili, spicy, and sour experiences all at the same time.

The same goes true with street food in markets and city centers. You can pick anything, and it will be priced amply as when you’re in Metro Manila, or sometimes even cheaper, while still set in a very inviting manner.

Thai Spring Rolls

This snack is a mix of fish cakes, spring rolls, with greens on the side and a sweet, sour and chili dip.

4. Curry & Spices

One of the best things about Thai food is their wide variety of flavors. Being only a gulf accross India, and a land travel to the middle east, it’s no wonder they share a lot of trade goods, which includes curry and spices.

Being in Metro Manila, does not usually bring you a chance to taste something as vast. When I look back, I can still savor the flavour and the experience it brought during our stay. There’s one particular dish: The Thai Green Curry, which does not have an equivalent to the usual food available here.

Thai Green Curry

This mouth watering Thai Green curry is the first of its kind that I have ever tried.

So, as part of my experience, I made sure to bring home spices and curry at home. I liked Thai’s green curry the best. This way, I will enjoy the memory and the taste a little longer when I cook one of this week’s meals.

 

5. Milk Tea

Ochaya Milk Tea

This tea is very cheaply sold at a train station in Bangkok.

I drink milk tea. I have been intentionally trying and visiting tea places around Metro Manila for a while now. Do I love tea? I’m still on the move for the best one. What I have learned however is, milk teas make a good pairing with spicy food because it alleviates the sting chilis bring.

Thai Milk Tea

The distinguishable Thai milk tea has an orange color.

In Thailand, most of their dishes are mixed with chili. Milk tea and milk products bind well with the compound that makes chilis hot. This makes it easier to wash the hot sensation away from our mouth. This is also true and observable in Indian cuisine that take lots of spices as well.

Thai milk tea paired with chili snacks.

Thai milk teas pair well with spicy food. They have this distinct color and added flavor that distinguishes them from other Asian tea counterparts.

What’s more, Milk teas are sold cheaply for as low as somewhere around P45 in train stations and thorough-ways. I made sure I did not miss this, as a milk tea drinker myself.

 

2. Fresh Fruits & Veggies

A huge comparison with Manila would be, Bangkok is teeming with centralized fresh quality produce. Fruits in Bangkok are also priced in an all time low.

My parents enjoyed every bit of our trip  because Bangkok’s cultural cuisine always consisted of  fresh fruits and vegetables. You can easily tell how Thai people are being well fed and healthy. Majority of them are lean, due to their healthy diet.

What’s more, Bangkok has this gigantic harvest central marketplace. As a local reference, each market section is the size of a City of Dreams building in Pasay City. It was amazing.

As a tourist, it’s conceivable that their central government is making sure their food distribution is effective while every Thai-lander has adequate healthy food to eat.

 

6. Buddhist Temples & Ancient Ruins

We’re mainly a Catholic country. We are used to religious sites that are made of historic Spanish architecture.

When you visit Thailand, however, their central religious sites are roofed in gold. They also have a fusion of Hindu and Chinese religious architecture which is a cultural heritage on its own. This is something you should definitely spot away from your usual Filipino grind.

Thai Buddhist Temple in BKK

This is a Buddhist worship center at the heart of Bangkok.

During the trip, we were also able to drop by one of UNESCO’s Top 10 sites at the Historic City of Ayutthaya. Here, Siamese ruins from 1350’s meld the present and the past in one place.

I made sure I touched those olden bricks. They somewhat bring me a feeling I was looking into the past. It’s a similar feeling I had when I visited Kyoto in November 2016.

 

7. Cosmetic Surgery

One of the common stories we hear locally are our kababayans who go to Bangkok for certain cosmetic procedures. Think Vicky Belo’s business in a national demand. This one’s very true.

My cousin, who now decided to work and live there, shares that even their elite highschool  students go to cosmetic procedures for as low as P20,000.  A professional’s month-worth of wages.

 

8. Industrialization & Architecture

As I was able to visit Tokyo, I can’t help but think that Thailand is setting its base with it’s trajectory being like Tokyo eventually. Humongous buildings are lonely constructed on the outskirts of the main thoroughways. They were not just high but also boulder like buildings.

Massive Buildings in Bangkok.

Thailand is progressive, but, far ahead from what we know in Metro Manila.

 

Massive building in BKK

A massive building towering Bangkok.

Highways and interchanges have also been set in advance before the bulk of buildings start sprawling. Nonetheless, traffic is just as heavily bad. The massive population concentration in the city center makes midnight car queues observable.

 

9. Progressive Asian Blueprint

Compared to Metro Manila’s current progression, we are knots far away from Thailand by now. I have heard stories, how in the 80’s we used to be ahead our Asian neighbours. This is not the case anymore.

Like what we know about Manila, Bangkok is a continuously developing country.

In Thailand, industrialization and progression has already run far from what we know at home. Should I score it based of scale, industrialization and progress:

Industrialization and Personal Progress Scores

Philippines – 1
Thailand – 30
Hong-Kong – 50
Singapore -60
Tokyo, Japan – 100

Of course, no progress comes with social challenges and nationwide problems. As relating it to the home I know, they are almost similar, only that Thailand got a bit ahead while we squabble politically internally.

Thailand has it own economic, political issues. It’s still something to look out as you grow bigger as a country.

10. Economic Zoning

Lastly, here’s one of the most memorable things you have to see before landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. It’s a view only available through skyscape. If you can, book a flight that still allows daylight.

Thailand has a breath taking economic zoning skyscape. It’s something that’s even more awe-striking than Japan.

Thailand's well zoned rice fields.

Thailand has vast and well aligned zones for fields.

A skyscene of Thailand's economic zoning.

Thailand also has well partitioned, and organized zones for yards and industries.

I think, this is mainly because, Thailand has well-built a centralized economic system. Vast lands are properly zoned and aligned. Well-partitioned farmlands, container yards, and factories: Goods are systematically assigned as to where they are produced, stored, shipped, and then distributed to the country and overseas.

 

I will go back

There were also experiences during our trip that were awkward. I can list some on my next post which could include topics such as: rude mishaps, animal cruelty, traffic (let’s not even go there for now), and socio-economic challenges.

But overall, I will come back for their produce.

I’d definitely consider how hoarding tons of fashion finds can be possible.

Kanto Freestyle in Makati Avenue

It’s a Filipino concept diner that brings you Pinoy local breakfasts, street style.

A few of my colleagues have repeatedly mentioned Kanto Freestyle.

I was only able to visit it this week when Ez and I needed a late dinner fix. Since Makati Avenue caters to night life and after party eats, Kanto Freestyle is also open until late. If I’m not mistaken it’s even open 24-hours.

Where is Kanto Freestyle in Makati?

Kanto Freestyle’s Makati  branch is located at the end of P. Burgos Avenue and Makati  Avenue, a few steps near J.P. Rizal Avenue. As far as I know they have a prior branch in Kapitolyo, Pasig City that actually started the buzz.

Kanto Freestyle location in Makati City

Kanto Freestyle in Makati is located at the end of P. Burgos and Makati Avenue. It’s already a few steps to J.P. Rizal Avenue.

People might get confused since Kanto is located at the corner of the two avenues.

P. Burgos and Makati Ave. meet twice: one near Jupiter Avenue and the other one near J.P. Rizal.

What’s special with Kanto Freestyle

I believe it’s positioned as a place to get meals after tipsy friends end the night out. That’s why, they’d be open until the wee hours in the morning.

But, more than that, their menu is designed so you can get a taste of Pinoy mix and match diner breakfast experience. You can get some bacon with a classic Pinoy Tinapa (smoked fish) topped with Herbed tomatoes, some eggs– name it and add it to your heart’s content.

… With which, I’ll make sure to take a photo of their custom menu when I go back, okay.

What we ordered

Ez was hungry. She decided to go for a rice meal. I was opting to be a bit more conservative, it was already late.I thought I needed something (subjectively) just enough for a midnight snack.

So my friend here orders crisped Kanto Freestyle Fried Pork Belly. What a Pinoy classic to stare at for a midnight snack.

Kanto Freestyle fried pork liempo

Ez orders Kanto Freestyle’s Fried Pork Belly (Php 110). It’s an everyday Pinoy street style classic.

After that, her Grilled Suman gets served. It’s a Filipino native snack dessert. It’s made of glutinous rice drizzled with chocolate and ube halaya (I missed the ube in the photo, sad).

Kanto Freestyle suman

She also decides on having a native grilled suman (Php 85) for dessert.  We shared them but boy, was that was h-e-a-v-y.

As I was saying, I was on the decoy to order something light. I didn’t want to drowse off while finishing off a website project when I get home. Apparently, it’s not what you go to Kanto Freestyle for.  Continue reading

Why are you Clueless Commuter?

Traveling without a specific destination seems to be in the genes.

For one, I just know that when I go to a place, there’s a lot to uncover. Then, you will know where to go.

clueless-commuter-on-a-bus

It’s nice hopping on a bus, and travelling a round trip ride.

There are also times when I’m faced with a difficult decision, I hop on a bus and wait for it to go for a roundtrip. By doing so, I find time to think; I learn a new route; and this assures me that in life, I will not easily get lost.

Also, Clueless Commuter does adventure traveling to relieve stress. Going to places one has never been to releases endorphins! I do it for the thrills, although, it could also be in the genes.

Maybe it started during childhood

I was raised to commute. We owned a car, but my father made sure we knew how to go about safely and independently. My father always told us that we’ll never get lost if we look for the main roadways. This was before Google Maps was up our fingertips.

Jeepney baby

Here’s Clueless Commuter chillin’ with my late grandma in a jeepney.

I grew up in Puerto Princesa City, in Palawan, Philippines. It’s a suburban city in a rural town. I wasn’t born there, it wasn’t my first home, but I finished elementary in Palawan.

Continue reading

Pandan Island in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

Check out my snorkeling photo blog of Pandan Island, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

I visited Pandan Island last May 2016. We stayed there for one whole week. One thing I know, I should go back. Photos are courtesy of Sir Hanamel Viloria.

Pandan Island is a private owned island resort in the town of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines.

Clown fish at Pandan Island

Here’s a photo of Clown fishies near Pandan Island’s shoreline in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

Overnight stay at Pandan Island

If you plan on staying overnight, CALL PANDAN first. make sure to check Pandan Island‘s available Continue reading

24-hour Unlimited Tokyo Metro Pass

Unlimited Tokyo Metro pass costs only ¥600 = ₱300

If you’re on a Clueless Commuter tour in Tokyo, you should definitely purchase Tokyo Metro’s unlimited 24-hour Tokyo Metro pass. With the help of a tourist map or itinerary, you can hop on a subway, get lost, and explore your way around Tokyo.

How much does it cost

I used this unlimited pass during my Tokyo trip last November 2016. It only costs as low as ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for children. That’s less only around ₱300 for a Tokyo tour. (Persisting exchange is at .45₱/1¥).

Tokyo metro ticket.

Tokyo Metro 24-hr unlimited pass

Alternatively, Tokyo Combination passes are also available on Tokyo Metro stations. They cost at 1590¥ for adults, or 800¥ for children.

The Tokyo Combination pass includes other train and bus lines. As far as I know, this pass will include the JR lines within Tokyo metropolitan area. JR owns the lines that cut through Tokyo (JR Chuo-Sobu Line) and go around Tokyo (JR Yamanote Line).

Yamanote-Chuo-Sobu-Line

The main JR lines through and around Tokyo.

Where to buy your Tokyo Metro passes

Tokyo Metro station near Meiji Jingu.

You can spot Tokyo Metro stations around Tokyo.

You can purchase these passes at Tokyo Metro stations around Tokyo. You can learn about their other promo passes through their site.

Tokyo Metro logos are all around Tokyo’s main ward. You can recognize them through their blue cat ear-like logo.

Tokyo Metro entrance in Shibuya

Sometimes, there’s more than one Tokyo Metro in a city ward.

If you can secure a Tokyo Metro tourist map from train stations, tourist spots can be found in which nearest respective station. If you’re just in for an exploratory stroll, you can get off at a station and walk around the block. Usually, you might find more than two or three Tokyo Metro stations around the area.

Underground a Tokyo Metro subway station.

What it looks like underground a Tokyo Metro substation.

Lastly, if you ever need help while you’re in Tokyo, you can always chat Clueless Commuter so you don’t have to get lost.

Top 10 Tokyo walk route

Clueless Commuter takes you to a free time Tokyo walk with this list.

This post is ongoing with minor grammatical errs… I’ll get back to you the soonest that I can.
For the meantime, you can leave a comment below to keep this post going. 
Stay tuned!

Autumn trees along Meiji Jingu ouutskirts.

Autumn trees near Meiji Jingu outer garden.

Summary:

  1. Harajuku (原宿)
  2. Shibuya (渋谷)
  3. Shinjuku (新宿)
  4. Ichiran Ramen
  5. Ueno Zoo and Park
  6. Meiji Temple
  7. Asakusa Temple a.k.a. Sensōji Temple
  8. Roppongi Hills
  9. Tokyo Tower
  10. Tokyo Skytree
  11. Get lost in the Tokyo, walk.

“So you have some free time in Tokyo….”

A friend recently asked me for a list of possible free time go-to’s in Tokyo. So… Continue reading

Tien Ma’s at Makati Avenue

Tien Ma’s: Great Taiwanese food at Makati Avenue.

Tien Ma’s serves the usual Chinese oriental cuisine we love and know with quality more than what you pay for. It’s good, and the Xiao Long Bao experience was something that made us come back.

The restaurant is located across Union Bank, beside Angel’s Pizza. Just around Next Door North Park’s vicinity.

Tien Ma's opens its branch along Makati Avenue.

Tien Ma’s opens its branch along Makati Avenue.

We gambled on trying Tien Ma’s for the first time. We were usually North Park and Next Door North Park regulars but their quality and service have dropped through our visits. And Tien Ma’s: It did not disappoint. It’s a place worth going back to again.

More than dimsum and dumplings, they offer a fair variety of savoury oriental choices. So far we haven’t tried any rice meals yet.

So what’s our favourite at Tien Ma’s?

Tien Ma's Xiao Long Bao

Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao explodes inside your mouth.

Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao

Order their Xiao Long Bao. This dumpling is infused with pork broth soup inside. You have to eat it while it’s hot, otherwise you’re missing out the experience of the soup exploding inside your mouth. Also, don’t let it sit long, otherwise the soup gets absorbed by the flour.

It’s hot, be careful, but the infusing bite is worth the experience.

Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao comes in three flavors:

Mixed Xiao Long Bao

With the Mixed variant, you can try all of Tien Ma’s Xiao Long Bao variants.

Original – 8 pcs.; Php200; The most value for your buck.

Cheese – 8 pcs; Php240; We haven’t tried it personally, but our friends loved it and said it tasted great. So, we’re definitely going back for the cheese Xiao Long Bao.

Black Mushroom – 8 pcs; Php240; We didn’t taste much difference between the original and this variant. The mushroom bits were too tiny to infuse as strongly as the broth.

Mixed – 3pcs Cheese; 3pcs Black Mushroom; 2pcs Original; Php240

Oriental Offerings

More than dumplings, their Taiwanese offerings also include rice bowls, rice toppings, and savoury oriental recipes.

Their Three Cup Chicken caught my attention, but we haven’t tried it yet. That’s next on my to try list.

We have to go back to try them all.

No service charge

Since their fairly new on the Makati Avenue strip, I’m not sure if their price and no service charge policy will stay for long. As we have mentioned, their current quality is really good. We hope that it retains since right now, their really fairly new.

They have other branches across Manila, but bringing it near our Makati vicinity opens a new pool of regular customers. Not to mention, Makati Avenue is a nightlife strip where foreigners frequent.

Tien Ma's Makati Avenue branch.

Tien Ma’s Makati Avenue branch.

Operating Hours

Makati Avenue Branch is open from 8AM-2AM. They seem like they’re picking up popularity as the place usually gets 70% full.

We’ll definitely be back. This one’s for sure.

Millennials: What’s different with our parent’s generation?

millennials-in-japan

A group of ‘millennials’ stroll through a train station in downtown Nagoya, Japan.

Criticising the Millennial’s Critics

This post is a deconstruction of the millennials and their critics. It is a perspective coming from a millennial myself, not an anchor of what is universally right and sound. It is an observation. 

Articles are filled with millennials (M’s) whining about life, how true are they? Debates fire up as to which birth years do millennials come from: To what extent does this question matter?

We hear countless  stories of millennials cluelessly dealing with life. We know because they post their problems in social media. They post what they want to become, the bills they need to pay. They post what’s on their mind.

It has become a hot potato game. The ‘millennial’ term becomes a word to demean. They use it to set themselves apart from disliked individuals who get to their nerves, or their social feed.

Amidst this, when I step back: All of these issues don’t seem to be an exclusive case only with the millennial generation.

Older and younger ones exhibit similar behaviours. Regardless of which years they come from, It could just be a case of you reading the current generation’s posts just now: because the internet has evolved into an acceptable media for our gripes.

Millennials and the economy

The Millennials: for all we now, could have been started as a marketing initiative. We should be aware that, it could be a strategy to target the economically able of our time.

As Millennials become the working and earning… Continue reading

Best Matcha: Kyoto, Japan’s Arinco Roll

Arinco’s delectable Matcha experience in Arashiyama (嵐山) Park, Kyoto, Japan

I visited Kyoto, Japan last November 2016. This was one of the fanciest things I have stumbled upon during my day trip at Arashiyama (嵐山) Park, in Kyoto, Japan.

arinco-roll-kyoto-japan-002

If you look closely, the chocolate was made of delectable refined milk, sugar, and matcha powder. For some reason, it was really an unforgettable treat. The sensation of how it melted as I took my bite has not been paralleled by anything I know, yet.

As you can see here: This matcha chocolate was hand crafted right there and then at Arino.jp branch in Arashiyama (嵐山) Park, Kyoto, Japan.

arinco-roll-kyoto-japan-001

The lady right on the photo above is seen crafting the Matcha chocolate by hand.

arinco-roll-kyoto-japan-009

I wasn’t able to try this Kyo Roll on the photo. I know I’ll have to try it when I go back. It’s one of those things you’ll need a friend to share it with. Since I went to Kyoto, Japan alone, I decided to skip it during my last visit.

arinco-roll-kyoto-japan-004

I’ll tell you a secret. This Matcha chocolate, actually, fell on the cement floor.

Yes. I ate it. It costed gold– and even if other tourists saw me, they’ll never remember who I was. Plus! It makes a great story now. Clueless Commuter's LOL smiley

arinco-roll-kyoto-japan-003

The set comes with hot matcha milk. The drink didn’t quite made as much impact compared to the matcha chocolate, but they definitely blended memorably as a pair. The drink also became memorable as it was warm during the chilly November autumn weather.

The matcha drink is actually available in a hot or cold variant.

arinco-roll-kyoto-japan-006

A few high school students seemed to have also been enjoying another local treat from Arashiyama (嵐山) on these photos.

arinco-roll-kyoto-japan-007

Try Arinco’s matcha chocolate and goodies if ever you get to visit Arashiyama Park in Kyoto, Japan. It’s just a delectable as how it looks. It was so refined and delectable, I can vividly recall how it the sensation of melting matcha felt inside my head.

Meanwhile, leave a comment below if you’ve got a similar matcha experience to share. Until next time!

(:

 

Japan: How to get budget internet for tourists

Get a budget internet data sim card when you visit Japan

If you are looking for cheap internet in Japan, a budget travel sim card is just the right internet for you. I got one myself during my trip to Japan last November.

Looking for more budget tips in Japan? Chat us here.

I went to Japan alone as a tourist, but with a lot of help from friends who lived there, the experience was one of its own.

gps-internet-data-sim-card-in-japan

I got myself an internet data sim card during my stay in Japan.

Internet access for tourists

When I visited Japan, I knew that getting internet access would be challenging. With research, I came to know how Japan has many internet service providers, so, apart from leeching WiFi from shops or hotels, you can get internet access by either:

  1. Renting a pocket WiFi

    Although convenient, this option can be a little pricey. Kiosks can easily be found in airports, but I wouldn’t recommend this, especially when you’re on a budget trip or there’s only one or two of you.

    If you’re traveling alone, it’s better to get a data SIM card with your own open-line smartphone.

  2. Go on roaming

    When you do not have an open-line smartphone, you’ll need to ask your telephone service provider’s help before you travel. I’m biased against getting roaming services. I think of them as overly expensive. Telco fees vary, plus you’d need to seek approval from your ISP. I can’t vouch for roaming, really, as I’ve never tried it before.

    An open-line smartphone, for those who need to know, is one that will accept any carrier SIM card. They are not locked to one network and can work with a Japanese telco SIM. A closed phone line will be of no use in Japan unless it was set to roaming before the trip.

    Which brings us to a third option.

  3. Buy a data SIM card

    This is the cheapest option for getting travel internet in Japan. A data SIM card is available for tourists who are staying in Japan for a limited time. You will need to bring your own open-line smartphone during your travel.

    My data SIM card only cost me around 1700¥ + 10% tax during my week-long stay. That’s around‎ ₱822 then. Again, you have to be a tourist to get this SIM. The cashier will ask for your passport upon payment.

    internet-sim-card-in-japan

    A full section of internet data sim cards are sold in Japan.

Free FB, Viber, WhatsApp, etc.

Some data SIM cards offer free messaging apps, which is a must if you get lost and need to chat Clueless Commuter while in Japan.

Nonetheless if you have decided that the data SIM card is what’s right for you, here’s a few tips.

Things to bring when you buy your data SIM card

In Japan, I strongly recommend that you get yourself a data SIM card when you visit as a tourist. Make sure you bring the following during purchase:

  1. Your money in Yen.

    yen-currency-in-japan

    Don’t forget to bring Yen in Japan stores and shops.

  2. Your Passport and Japanese Visa (if applicable)

    Travel SIM cards, as far as I know, are only for tourists. You have to be identified as a temporary visitor in Japan to be able to buy them. You will also need to prove you are eligible to do transactions.

    Also, a number of shops promote TAX FREE Shopping.

    NOTE:  The tax free policy only applies to (A) Single receipt consumable items (make-up, food, etc.) worth ¥5000 or (B) Single receipt non-consumable items (clothes, gadgets, toys, etc.) worth ¥5000. Only tourists are eligible for this so they ask for your passport when you avail of tax free shopping. NOT all shops exercise this just like the one in this post.

    japan-visa-approved

  3. Your open-line, data-capable smartphone

    The store will need to configure it for you, so it’s better to bring the device when you buy. You can configure it by yourself when you go back to your hotel but I don’t recommend you do this. Even if the SIM pack comes with a manual in English, it’s better to have your internet working ASAP before you go.

  4. Determination, patience and understanding

    Japan is a non-English-speaking country. They understand key English words but locals will have to use sign language to get a message across. There will be English speaking staff, but, most likely, the one who approaches you first will be a local speaking staff. Just remember to respectfully and nicely ask, especially as you are the tourist here.

    Most importantly, you will need patience. You will have to wait for your turn since there are fewer English-speaking staff and a number who might be tourists. They are doing you a favor by helping you with your internet needs.

How and where to buy your internet data sim card

In Japan, the electronic stores such as Yodobashi and BIC / BIG Camera will be located around the city or train central stations. So, what you’ll need to do is:

internet-data-sim-card-in-nagoya

I found an electronic store near Nagoya Station’s vicinity, in Nagoya City Center. There, I bought my internet data sim card.

  1. Go to city centers or central train stations

    Electronic shops can be found there.

    electronic-stores-in-japan

    I got my internet data sim card from BIC Camera store in Nagoya City Center.

     

    They’re just lying around there, waiting to be discovered. You will find them by walking around. If they have appliances, cellphones or electronic devices displayed by the entrance, it’s most likely going to be an electronic store. You won’t be able to read much since the characters will be in Japanese too.

    internet-sim-card-store-in-japan

    The electronic shop signages are in Japanese, so take note of this brands in their store entrances.

  2. Communicate

    Ask where the internet SIM Cards are. Say keywords such as, “English” to let them know you do not speak Japanese. They will find an English-speaking sales person for you. Or you can directly say “Internet Data Sim Card.” As I have mentioned, staff can understand basic English words. They just won’t be able to reply back. By saying this, they can lead you to the isle full of internet sim cards!

  3. Choose your sim card

    Take your pick from the wide variety of telco sim cards. Read the packaging while taking these considerations:

    • Length of stay
      Some sim cards are packaged for 7 days, 14 days, while some are good for up to 30-60 days. Just check the package details.
    • SIM Card size
      Make sure it will fit your smart phone or the device you will use it with. That’s why it’s important to bring the device you will be using with you during your purchase.
    • Coverage
      Make sure it will work if you plan to go to Neko Island or other far-flung destinations in Japan. Ask your English-speaking crew about the internet company handling your chosen sim card for coverage.
    • Freebies
      The sim card I got had free Facebook, Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, etc. with it. It meant more data for searching in Google.

    sim-card-options-in-japan

  4. Have it installed

    As I mentioned, It’s better to have it installed before you leave the shop. Some of the sim cards might need additional fees for installation. I did not pay extra since my manual had an English translation with it. Pay the minimal installation fee instead of risking the chance of going home and not successfully installing your sim card.

Bring your own device during your trip

You will need to bring a separate open line smart phone if you plan to do this. I assure you– as a budget traveller, this will cover your basic internet use. It might be slower, but it will cover basic GPS, maps, Google search queries and sometimes, free messaging Apps. There will be a lot of carriers to choose from. Others have better Sim Card networks which may be a bit more expensive with 4G or LTE capabilities. Just ask your English-speaking sales person.

Also, since the Sim Cards are for tourists, you may also read the packaging since they are usually in English.

Just the right internet for the basics

During your Japan trip, your internet data sim card will meet your basic internet needs. It will have a decent GPS for maps. It will have a decent internet coverage for doing quick searches. And for starters, you will most likely just roam around known tourist places where there’s always going to be internet coverage.

Better brands will have better GPS accuracy and internet speed. Just ask the English-speaking sales person on this. At the end, I just bought this since I will only stay there for 9 more days.

cheap-budget-internet-sim-card-in-japan

I got this data sim card since it was cheap, and it was all that I would need.

It’s the internet for tourists

Internet data sim cards are really for Japan tourists to discover. For me, finding myself a cheap internet sim card was an experience on its own.

I also found it fascinating how my friends from Japan did not know of this. They also do not frequent the shops I have mentioned here since their telco providers usually offer and deliver electronic services in package deals.

After all, it has to be for tourists.

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