@GirlEatWorld’s adventure through Kyushu, Japan

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This week inspirational Instagrammer, and CheapTickets.sg‘s favourite food photographer @GirlEatWorld visited the Kyushu region of Japan.

Psst! From now until Monday 17th October you can enter to win flights for you and a friend to have your own Japan adventure. Enter now.

Here’s her story!

Whenever someone finds out I am visiting Japan, the #1 most common response would be asking if I am going to Tokyo or Kyoto. Those are two very lovely cities, however there are so, so much more to Japan! In this post, I will be introducing the “lesser known” areas of Japan – the Kyushu region, located south from Kyoto. I put “lesser known” in a quote because two of the cities in my itinerary should be familiar if you studied world history in High School 😉

Without further ado, let’s start!

From Singapore, I flew to Osaka to meet with my friend who had been traveling around Kyoto earlier that week. I didn’t join her because I had just been to Kyoto earlier this year, and while it was beautiful I would rather save my vacation days and join her for the later part of the trip.

Hiroshima

Technically, Hiroshima is part of Honshu so it does not count under Kyushu, but we made a pit stop from Osaka to Hiroshima since it is on the way! It was an easy 1.5 hours train ride by Shinkansen (the japanese bullet train) from Shin-Osaka station to Hiroshima station.

Hiroshima should not need any further introduction. It is one of the cities that was decimated by an atomic bomb during World War II, and effectively ended Japan’s world domination efforts. Today, Hiroshima has been totally rebuilt and is a very much a bustling modern city. However, the Atomic Bomb history still played a huge role in the city’s identity.

We reached by 11AM and wasted no time in exploring the city. The weather gods were not on our side that day as it was cloudy and raining the entire day. It makes for a somber mood for visiting perhaps one of the most tragic cities in the entire world.

Places to Visit:

  • The Atomic Bomb Memorial & Atomic Bomb Dome
  • Hiroshima Castle

What to Eat:

hiroshima-okonomiyaki-1

Okonomiyaki
When in Hiroshima, have Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き). “Okonomi” means “however you like” and “yaki” means “grilled”. So when ordering Okonomiyaki, you can really customize what you want to have inside! In Hiroshima, the okonomiyaki ingredients (cabbage, noodles and meat of choice) are layered rather than mixed, and comes with fried egg on top.

Where to have this:

  • Chinchinkurin
  • Okonomimura

Momiji Manju

hiroshima-momijimanju

Momiji Manju is a popular steamed bun snack shaped like Japanese maple leaf that can be found throughout Hiroshima. 🍁 It is filled with red bean jam.

Where to have:

Everywhere in Hiroshima! Even 7/11 or Don Quijote would have one.

Fukuoka

From a history-filled Hiroshima, we took a 1 hour ride with Shinkansen down to Fukuoka’s Hakata Station.

Unlike other Japanese cities I visited on this trip, Fukuoka does not offer much in terms of historic education. But what it lacks in one department, it makes up in another – Fukuoka is an absolute foodie destination. For one, Fukuoka is the home of the world famous Hakata Ramen, which should be familiar to all ramen enthusiasts out there. At night the city transforms into a street food lover heaven with the many Yatai stalls that lines the popular districts of Fukuoka.

Places to Visit:

  • Fukoka Castle Ruins
  • Tenjin Station
  • Nakagawa Seiryu

What to Eat:

Hakata Ramen

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Fukuoka Hakata ramen

Hakata-style ramen originated in Fukuoka, so it’s definitely a must-try whenever you are in the city. This ramen is characterized through the rich tonkotsu (pork bone) broth, straight and slightly al-dente noodles, and fried garlic toppings.

Where to have:

  • Ikkousha
  • Ichiran
  • Ippudo
  • Any Yatai stall!

Yatai Stalls

fukuoka-yataistall-2

Yatai stalls are Food stalls that pops up around Fukuoka when the sun sets. It typically opens from around 6pm to 2am, making it an excellent option for dinner or after-drinks snacks. Generally, all stalls offer the same dishes: Hakata Ramen, Oden, and Yakitori. I found that the ramen I had from the stall was even better than the famous ramen shops!

Where to have:

  • Along the Nakasu island river

Nagasaki

From Fukuoka to Nagasaki, there is no Shinkansen service so we took JR Kamome, which was still just a short 2-hour ride from Fukuoka.

Much like Hiroshima, Nagasaki should be a familiar to all of us. Nagasaki was hit by an atomic bomb 3 days after Hiroshima and to this date remains to be last city to suffer the devastating effect of a nuclear weapon.

Today, much like Hiroshima, Nagasaki has been fully rebuilt. It is now a quaint and charming city with diverse cultural influences. I absolutely fell in love with Nagasaki – although we had originally planned to stay for only one night, we ended up extending one more night.

Places to Visit:

  • Nagasaki Atomic Bomb
  • Grovers Garden
  • Nagasaki Ropeway and Mount Inayasa
  • Hashima Island

What to Eat:

Champon and Sara Soba

nagasaki-sarasoba

The dish to eat in Nagasaki is undoubtedly Champon (ちゃんぽん). This clear pork broth noodle soup with pork meat, vegetables and seafood ingredients like fish cake and squid was an interesting one to have. It tasted like chinese food to me, and after looking it up online it does seem to have come from chinese roots. The name itself is Hokkien for “to eat a meal”. Sara soba is quite similar to Champon, but with gravy instead of soup and fried noodles.

Where to have:

  • Eirakuen

Kakuni

Kakuni is another result of the chinese influence in Nagasaki. This snack is a meat bun that taste exactly the same as Kong Bak Pao, a chinese braised pork buns. It consist of pork belly simmered in soy sauce until tender, and served between white buns.

Where to have:

  • Iwasaki Honpo

Castella

Castella is a Japanese Sponge cake brought into Japan by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. At that time, Nagasaki port was the only place in Japan that was open for foreign trading. Sugar was an expensive item back then and Castella became a luxury dessert to have. Nowadays, the cake is a specialty of Nagasaki.

Where to have:

  • Bunmeido Castella shop

Chirin Chirin Sorbet Ice Cream

nagasaki-chirinchirinChirinchirin is a popular treat in Nagasaki that has been around for 50 years. Sold my vendors at tourist places, this sorbet is famous for the way it is served – shaped like a rose. The rose shape is achieved by scooping the sorbet little by little and placing each scoop to mimic rose petals.

Where to have:

Various food vendors. I found mine near the Nagasaki Atomic bomb memorial statue

Kumamoto

Kumamoto is extremely close to Fukuoka – only 40 minutes by Shinkansen and perfect for a day trip. Except when we got there, we wished we had allocated more time to this city. Outside the Kumamoto train station, we rented a car for 80,000 yen for 12 hours and started exploring the city.

Kumamoto was unfortunate to be hit by two very strong earthquakes earlier this year in April 2016. That much is evident while we were driving around town – though most of the city has recovered, we saw disarrayed roof tiles and fallen buildings every now and then, especially at the Kumamoto castle. Although we cannot enter the Kumamoto Castle at the moment, we were still able to see the castle from afar and marvel at how this 15th century building were able to survive the strong earthquake.

Then, we continued our drive down Route 339 to a place called Daikanbo, to see Mount Aso and Kumamoto’s beautiful landscape.

Places to Visit:

  • Kumamoto Castle
  • Daikanbo
  • Kumamon

What to Eat:

Ikinari Dango

kumamoto-ikinaridangoIkinari Dango is a Kumamoto dumpling snack filled with red bean paste and sweet potato. Ikinari is Kumamoto slang for “sudden” so the literal translation of this snack is “sudden dumpling” or “instant dumpling” since the dumpling can be very easily prepared.

Where to have:

You can pretty much find Ikinari Dango all over Kumamoto. I got mine from the souvenir shops in Kumamoto station.
Travel to Japan with CheapTickets.sg

Getting to Japan from Singapore is super easy and affordable with special sale fares on flights and hotel rooms. Check out all our travel deals Japan such as sale fares on flights to Nagoya to check out the Chubu region and to Fukuoka for the Kyushu region that @GirlEatWorld explored as well as favourites Tokyo and  Osaka.

Special Travel Deals:

$30 flight discount:  Get a $30 instant discount on your booking when you use the code JAPAN2016 at the checkout when booking your flights before 31 October 2016.

$100 cash rebate: Get a $100 rebate when you book return flights to Japan and a minimum of 4 nights hotel accommodation when you book before 31 October 2016.

You are sure to have a good time on your trip to Japan. Start to plan and book your trip online now at www.cheaptickets.sg.

Special thanks to @girleatworld for taking all the gorgeous pictures featured in today’s blog and sharing her journey with us at CheapTickets.sg, be sure to follow her on Instagram for more travel inspiration. Happy travels!

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10 romantic places to visit from Singapore- near and far… on the cheap

J-Lo once quoted ‘Love don’t cost a thing’, whilst technically true, we like to think that a little bit of investment goes a long way, especially when it comes to travel. Are you looking for that ultimate romantic getaway with your Valentines, or maybe looking to take your loved one somewhere for that intimate break from city life? OK so not all of these destinations might be cheap in everyone’s budget- but if you are going to do them, we’ve have found the cheapest ways of doing getting there… Here are some of Carrie, the CheapTickets.sg travel gurus list of romantic places to travel to from Singapore.

1. Matala beach- Crete

Matala Beach at Sunset

Matala Beach at Sunset- from the bar!

A few years ago a boyfriend of mine (who incidentally is now my husband) took me to the island of Crete in Greece. This beautiful island nestled south of mainland Greece in the Mediterranean is host to both historic treasures and plentiful Greek hospitality, and of course great food. My favourite spot is the beach town of Matala in the south west of the isle, 1.5 hours drive from the airport, pick up a hire car at the airport from only $22 a day. The beaches unique artificial caves were created in the Neolithic Age. In the 60s they were occupied by hippies and even inspired a Joni Mitchell classic. Why here? The sunset from your front row seat in one the small restaurants along the beach can’t be beaten. Being a small town there are limited hotel rooms available- book ahead to secure a room in the summer months. Make the most of your hire car by exploring the islands villages and coastal towns. Tip: avoid Malia unless you are looking for an extreme night out with drunk 18 year olds. Return flights to from Singapore to Crete are only $1400.

2. Perth and surrounds- Australia

Rottnest island Perth Australia

Rottnest island Perth Australia

The city of Perth serves as a gateway to hundreds of kilometres of stunning coastline and beaches. The beaches that scream romance to me are those on Rottnest Island. A short ferry ride away from the mainland from Barrack Street Jetty you can reach the fine white sand beaches and dip your feet in the crystal waters. Staying overnight on the island is a breeze with rooms from only $53 per night for a beach side room. Return flights from Singapore to Perth are as cheap as $310 on CheapTickets.sg.

3. Venice- Italy

Bridge of Sighs- Venice

Bridge of Sighs- Venice

Venice is a old classic, and its only going to get older. Romance is embedded in the veins of this city in its alluring canals winding around the city. Hop aboard a classic private gondola or go cheap with a Venice city card and hop about on the public boats. Sweep your loved one off their feet and onto the land to abundance of cute little cafes and bars to meaner in and out of whilst glimpsing at the iconic architecture from the Doge’s Palace to the Rialto Bridge. With return flights from Singapore starting at only $997 all in, yes until $1000 its cheaper than you think to get to the romantic city of Venice.

4.San Francisco- USA

cheap flights to san franciscoSan Francisco might not be on the top of most people’s places to take a romantic trip but trust me, hire a bike from many of the bike shops along by Fisherman’s Wharf and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to the small town of Sausalito for a spot of lunch to recuperate from the cycle. I guarantee you will get some brilliant selfies, and a work out at the same time. The romantic part? The ferry ride back to the wharf (the cycle hire companies will sort you out with the tickets in advance) sailing past the famous Alcatraz and into sight of the famous split street skyline. Book cheap return flights to San Francisco from only $1099.

5. The Maldives

Aeriel view of Bandos Island resort and spa maldives cheap hotel

Aeriel view of Bandos Island resort and spa maldives cheap hotel

The Maldives aka honeymoon headquarters isn’t reserved by the newly weds. Bask in the natural romance of the hundreds of islands on offer with peace and mind this isn’t a budget blowing trip. Return flights to Male are now as cheap as $410 and hotel rooms from as low as $120 per night. Cheap romantics beware, the cost of the sea plane transfers from the airport can end up costing as much as your flight from Singapore. Check out which resorts can be accessed by boat transfer such Bandos Island resort (fr $300 per night).

6. Halong Bay- Vietnam

Cruising along Halong Bay with a yellow sail above on your ship cruising amongst the iconic limestone islands whilst taking afternoon tea on deck… romantic? I think so! This unfortunately still remains a dream of mine since when I went last August a cyclone had blown into the bay making it unsafe for the boats to sail out. We still had a fun day out and made friends on the journey with our other disappointed comrade travellers… because of this try and avoid travelling to the bay in July and August. You can easily arrange a cruise from the many vendors in Hanoi, just realise you get what you pay for. Expect to pay at least $120 per person per night to be in some comfort. Flights from Singapore to Hanoi are now available from as cheap as $255.

7. Fukuoka, Japan

Amazing Ramen restaurant in Fukuoka

Amazing Ramen restaurant in Fukuoka

The romance of Fukuoka starts in the Onsen spas and ends in food, and lots of it! The town of Beppu  is famous for its hot spring spas but if you don’t have the time there are plenty in the surrounds of the city. My romantic day in Fukuoka started with a trip to a hillside onsen spa in the Fukuoka countryside. Taking a 30 min free shuttle from outside the main station enjoy 2 hours in a private spa hut with outside bath from only $20 per person then have access to the baths. English is limited at the spa but your hotel can help. In the evening a foodie paradise opens up with ‘Yatai’ the given name for street food in Fukuoka being the most attractive fare. There are over 150 stalls spread over the city. I recommend to head to the Nakasu Yatai along the riverside to mix with the locals. There is fantastic food all over the city but the fun is finding it! Cheap flights from Singapore to Fukuoka, Japan are available to book from only $504 return all in.
8. Borobudur, Indonesia

Borobudur Temple Indonesia

Borobudur Temple Indonesia

From sunrise to sunset the temple of Borobudur is a towering sanctuary in the sky, heaven on earth for romantics. To visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site Book a cheap flights from Singapore to Yogyakarta from only $174 all in return and take the 40km drive into the hills for a mesmerising experience. Stay at one of the countryside retreats nearby for a truly out there experience. Best to avoid visiting during Vesak since this is a pilgrimage destination.

9. Nurwara Eliya- Sri Lanka

Heritance Tea Factory Hotel rooms, Nurwara Eliya

Heritance Tea Factory Hotel rooms, Nurwara Eliya

Journey into the tea plantations of central Sri Lanka to experience serenity, and a perfect cup of tea. Take long walks with your loved ones through the manicured trails through the tea and enjoy the cool weather of the hills during the winter months. For a heritage experience check in at Heritance Tea Factory, a converted hotel offering colonial style rooms amongst the rolling tea plantation hills from only $250 per night. Return flights from Singapore to Sri Lanka start from only $320 all in.

10. Singapore

What? You can stay in Singapore and have a romantic break? Yes! There are so many deals to enjoy when you book a staycation in Singapore (think of all the money you can save on airfare!

With Valentines around the corner this weekend its not too late to book a romantic break in a 5* hotel in Singapore. We have some fantastic deals for rooms in Singapore on 14th Feb
5* Swissotel Stamford fr $165
5* Pan Pacific fr $300
5* Carlton Hotel fr $176
5* Grand Copthorne fr $168
5* Grand Park Orchard fr $252

Happy Valentine’s to all our CheapTickets.sg travel lovers!

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