Osaka’s two airports: Kansai and Itami

Last update:2018-02-07 22:47:15

Being the second largest cosmopolitan area in Japan after Tokyo, over 9.4 million foreign tourists visited Osaka in 2016. As it can get quite confusing for travelers when booking a flight to the city, let’s quickly go through it’s two airports: Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Itami International Airport (ITM).


Located 50km south of Osaka, the Kansai International Airport opened in 1994 and took over all international flights from Itami Airport, as well as some of the domestic flights.

The airport has two terminals, with Terminal 2 being exclusively for low-cost carriers. However, it has fewer bus connections and no train station, but is connected to T1 with free shuttle buses.

As for the transportation to Osaka, you can either take the airport limousine bus or the train, which is the relatively cheaper and quicker option. There are three different trains: Nankai Railways that goes to Namba and Shinsaibashi (area for shopping and nightlife), JR Haruka train that goes through Osaka, Kyoto… etc, and JR airport rapid train that also connects the airport to Osaka.

ITAMI (OSAKA) International Airport

Located about 10km north of Osaka, Itami International Airport is no longer the international airport of Japan, but the name was left unchanged after being taken over by Kansai International Airport. It is classified as a first-class airport and is now entirely domestic, with 30+ destinations across Japan.

To reach Osaka from Itami Airport is quite simple: you can either take the airport limousine bus, or the Osaka Monorail for a slightly cheaper option. With the monorail, transfer at the next station Hotarugaike to the Hankyu Takarazuka Line for Umeda Station.

To summarize, you will be flying into Kansai Airport if you’re arriving from another country, and probably into Itami Airport if you’re just flying from another Japanese city!

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Your trip in Taiwan has come to an end, and you have one last day to buy a little something for your friends and family back home. But there is a problem: there are way too many things to choose from!

So we decided to make it easier for you. Here are a few must-buy souvenirs that you would only find in Taiwan and nowhere else in the world.

  1. Pineapple cake                                                                                                                                                              

First on the list is pineapple cake, no surprise there; it is the most famous and popular snack that tourists buy when they visit Taiwan. Its sweet pineapple filling is appealing to most, but they also come in other flavors like mango and blueberry.

Best brands: SunnyHills, Shun Chen Bakery, Chia Te Bakery

2. Fine tea leaves

Tea has always been Taiwan’s main agricultural product, and of the many tea varieties Taiwanese Oolong is one of the best in the world, and Ali Mountain tea is a must-try as well especially for tea lovers. You can even buy some of those cute fish-shaped tea bags (the brand is called Charm Villa)! When you make the tea, it’s as if a goldfish is swimming in your cup. It will be a huge hit!

Best varieties of tea to buy: Teiguanyin, Alishan Hight Mountain, Dongfang Meiren

3. Kavalan whiskey

Bottles of single malt whisky of Taiwanese distillery Kavalan are offered at Glen Fahrn liquor store in Zurich, Switzerland June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann - RTX2INKC

Bring a bottle of Kavalan whiskey for your coming-home party! Known for its tropical-fruit style (with hints of grape, green apple and sweet pineapple), it has been named the 2015 world’s best single malt, and was even featured in Time Magazine.

4. Oilpaper umbrellas

Why not buy something a little bit more special? For Taiwan’s 4.2 million ethnic Hakka people, the brightly colored umbrella symbolizes good fortune and prosperity. Originally used for protection from rain and sun, and in wedding ceremonies as a rite of passage, they are now mainly bought as decorations.

Best places to buy: Huaxi Street night market, Meinong Prosperity Paper Umbrella Store

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How to use onsen in Japan

Last update:2018-01-15 10:11:55

Enjoying a Japanese bath (known as onsen) is a unique cultural experience and a must-try when visiting Japan. Bathing in an onsen is known to be relaxing and therapeutic, and while it may be a bit intimidating at first, most tourists will end up considering it as the best highlight of their visit.

However, there are some quite strict rules to follow when using an onsen. Continue reading this article, you will become an onsen master in no time!

  1. Before onsen
  • Undress completely and put all your belongings and clothes in your locker. At any onsen, they will provide you a large and small towel; only bring the small one with you.
  • Shower first: this is probably the most critical step, always wash yourself before entering the onsen.

  1. During onsen
  • Put your small towel to the side or on your head (like most locals do), and tie up your hair so that it doesn’t touch the water.
  • Watch your body temperature and try not to get too hot. If you start to feel dizzy, get out slowly and take a few minutes to cool down.
  • No cameras, food or drinks are allowed.
  • No swimming or shouting.                                                                                                        
    1. After onsen
    • Use your small towel to dry off, and go wash yourself again.
    • Wipe off as much water as possible before re-entering the changing area.
    • Remember to drink water after you bath, it is important to rehydrate!
    • There are generally relaxing rooms outside for visitors to lay down or sit after onsen.                                                                                                                                                               


  • Something you should know…

    Tattoos are very often forbidden in onsens, as they are uncommon in Japan and are usually associated with the Yakuza mafia. You could be refused for having even the tiniest tattoo… But you can always try to hide it with a waterproof bandage.


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Japan is an amazing country, with endless fun activities to do and beautiful places to see. But we all know one thing: eating there can be very expensive...

So, we’re giving all you fellow backpackers a secret tip on how to eat cheap in Japan: visit a local supermarket just before its closing time!

Not only do Japanese supermarkets sell groceries, they also sell proper food like bento boxes, sashimi and side dishes. Those kinds of ready-made products usually go on sale after 8pm, when closing time draws near. When you see the staff going around sticking discount stickers, that is your call to start shopping!

Different kinds of ready-cooked rice for you to pick,

Side dishes such as fried tempura, potato salad, vegetables…

Even the meat gets discounts!

And don’t miss the delicious bentos!

The discounts can get as high as 50% off, and sometimes even up to 70%. And don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe to eat, just make sure you don’t leave it overnight.

Now that you know our secret tip, next time when you visit Japan, remember to keep an eye out for those yellow discount stickers in supermarkets!


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Dazzling Ginza for Shoppers

Last update:2016-11-23 13:45:35

Prior to Ginza, we stop by at Ueno to check out Ameyoko. The bustling shopping street is crowded with stores offering a bit of everything from clothes, sporting apparels, shoes, chocolates, fruits, seafood to dried food. I read somewhere that Ameyoko is one rare place in Japan which allows price bargaining (negotiating) wow…

WingShark's Note:
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But don’t quote me, we didn’t try and we didn’t buy anything.

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Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

Last update:2016-11-23 13:44:59

After the delightful sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market, we made our way to Asakusa district (pronounced as Ah-sock-sah) to visit the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. Asakusa Sensoji (金龍山浅草寺), also commonly known as Asakusa Kannon Temple has a rich history dated back to the 7th century.

The charismatic temple built in 645 A.D was one of the few places in Tokyo which survived the air raids during World War II. This means we are treading a sacred place serving the same purpose today as it did more than a millennium ago! Amazing!

WingShark's Note:
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Magical DisneySea on a Rainy Day

Last update:2016-12-26 17:35:36

I visited Disneysea on a 100% forecast rainy day; thinking that the rainwater would make the Disneysea experience more authentic. yea right. Well, the truth was that we couldn’t change any of the planned itinerary; but on a hindsight, every cloud has a silver lining!

WingShark's Note:
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Advantages of a Rainy Day

  • The queues are shorter for rides
  • The queues are shorter for the cafes/restaurants
  • You can take really cool photos with an umbrella (just kidding)

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The Magnificent Todaiji of Nara

Last update:2016-11-23 13:41:26

Todaiji Temple (東大寺), situated at a short walking distance from Kofukuji, is probably the most famous Buddhist temple in Nara. The imposing temple and its massive Daibutsuden (The Great Buddha Hall) house one of the largest bronze statues in Japan to honour the Buddha Vairocana. Todaiji Temple is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For some reason, the Sika deer will not venture passed Nandaimon gate.

WingShark's Note:
From Kansai International Airport(KIX) to Nara, the journey is approximately 2 hours, operated from 7:40 am to 9pm. So don't forget to add Nara to your itinerary of visiting places around Osaka!
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UNESCO Listed Todaiji

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Oh Deer Nara !

Last update:2016-11-23 13:40:52

Nara (奈良) was once the ancient capital of Japan and it is today a famous tourist destination, well known for its temples, shrines and gardens. The compact city can be easily reach via the efficient transportation network from either Osaka or Kyoto under an hour. Hence there is no reason to skip Nara when you are visiting Kansai region.

WingShark's Note:
From Kansai International Airport(KIX) to Nara, the journey is approximately 2 hours, operated from 7:40 am to 9pm.
Flights from Singapore to Kansai Now:
Flights from Kuala Lumper to Kansai Now:

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9D8N Tokyo + Hokkaido: Self-Drive

Last update:2016-11-23 13:39:42

Never did I expect that I will be visiting Japan again this year, 3 months after my previous trip to Osaka.

Before I start, I would like to share my awesome all-time-low exchange rate (100Y = 1.088 SGD) changed in end June 2015. As I type, the exchange rate is surging back up to 1.15 range due to the crisis in Greece.

Well, this trip has been pretty different from all my other trips free&easy trip to date as I was more flexible on the budget whereby we did not choose the cheapest option, especially for accommodation.

The budget of SGD $3,000 was set for this trip (actual figure: $3,315) – with $941 being set aside for my air tickets. Another $1,136 was for 7 nights accommodation and 7 day car rental where my friend chose all the accommodation which turned out to be an average of $126/night per person. For the second time ever, (with the first being at Sofitel Krabi last year), I stayed in a 5 star hotel with L’occitane toiletries.

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