I just got started on this blog but I’m actually leaving tomorrow for my first trip of the year! My friend and I are headed to Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea for a one and a half week trip! We actually did the same three years ago but for a shorter time so this will not be our first time in either city. In fact this will be my second time to Tokyo and third time to Seoul and my friend’s fourth time to Tokyo and second time to Seoul!
To give a little background, we originally had been thinking about planning a trip to Seoul because we love Korean food and love cosmetics shopping in Seoul. I’d been checking flights here and there from Los Angeles to Seoul but nothing really caught my eye as being a great deal. Back in November during Black Friday though, I received an e-mail from Singapore Airlines advertising a sale from Los Angeles to Tokyo for only $399 round-trip! Tokyo is not too far from Seoul so I checked a few dates, texted my friend and not long later we were both in possession of round-trip tickets to Tokyo!
But as I said, we actually had meant to plan a trip to Seoul but the Tokyo tickets were cheaper and who doesn’t love food in Japan! Instead we built our Seoul trip into our Tokyo trip so that we’re flying
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT)
- Tokyo (HND) to Seoul (GMP)
- Seoul (ICN) to Tokyo (NRT)
- Tokyo (NRT) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Tokyo and Seoul both have two airports: a smaller one closer to the city and a larger one further from the city. It’s usually more convenient to fly from the smaller airports closer to the city such as Haneda Airport in Tokyo and Gimpo Airport in Seoul but for the leg back to Tokyo I wanted to fly Asiana’s A380 so we’re flying out of Incheon Airport in Seoul to Narita Airport in Tokyo.
As you can see above Haneda (HND) and Gimpo (GMP) airports are much closer to the city center then their counterparts Narita (NRT) and Incheon (ICN) airports.
I used mileage to redeem flights to/from Seoul so the additional cost was minimal, a little less than $100 for award ticket fees. If you’re redeeming award tickets, it’s only 7,500 miles to redeem an economy class ticket through Delta and 8,000 through United. With Delta, you can redeem Korean Air flights and through United you can redeem Asiana Airlines and possibly also All Nippon Airways (ANA) but there wasn’t any ANA availability when I was looking but quite a few seats for the other two airlines.
I’ve previously stayed at an Airbnb in Tokyo but this time around my friend and I decided to go the hotel route for both locations. We booked through Orbitz because they had a promotion code for an additional 15% off and I had some unused Orbucks. (Right now you can use the promo code “THAWOUT” to save 15% on Orbitz.) Our choice of hotels were
- Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku for the 1st portion of Tokyo
- L7 Myeongdong for our time in Seoul, and
- Park Hotel Tokyo for the last few days in Tokyo
Average prices per night before the 15% discount were about $198 for Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku for twin beds, $123 for L7 Myeongdong for twin beds and $125 for Park Hotel Tokyo for a double bed. Of course, this is during the winter and before cherry blossom season so it may be more expensive at other times. I’ve stayed at the L7 Myeongdong before and really liked the location and hotel aesthetic and friends recommended the Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku which is right by the Shinjuku Station. And the Park Hotel Tokyo is in the Ginza/Shiodome area and was recommended by my trip planner from Journy.
Speaking of Journy, I used them to assist me in my trip planning for this upcoming trip. Since my friend and I have both been, I wasn’t as inspired as to what we wanted to do while there so I decided to get some help. Journy helps you plan your trip from activities to food and will also recommend hotels for $25/day up to 4 travelers. If you’re interested, you can use my referral link and get a day free with a minimum 2-day itinerary here. I’ll probably go more into their services in a separate “trip planning tips” post.
I actually did a lot of my own tweaking after receiving my Journy itinerary so in the end I put everything into my TripIt after hashing it out in Google Sheets which is my preferred way of planning.
But I hope to have a lot to share in the upcoming few weeks and will try my best to post during the trip but I’m only bringing my iPad which is not my favorite device to write with. So if not during the trip, I’ll try to post about it afterwards. If you want though, you can also follow me on Instagram.