Advice needed Newbie questions about Japan holiday

Heinz

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I have already paid the deposit, I assume the balance will be paid over the net too?? Although I am pretty sure it takes credit card.

Usually balance is paid when you check out. Website should say if CC is accepted, otherwise email. Hotels these days though normally take CC. It is mainly older pensions and some ryokans that are cash only. If cash only then just make sure you have that before you go.
 

Heinz

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Great info thank you. We will get it here.

I always run through the various expenses, find out what can be prepaid or paid by CC and what needs to be cash, so have a fair idea of how much cash to take and add a small buffer. Don't worry too much about carrying a large amount of cash - it is normally safe in Japan to do so.
 
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Slowpony

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PMG

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I stayed at Sardonyx this year. It was fine and in a great spot relative to the markets, and the supermarket, it's a 5 minute walk from the station. The included breakfast was pretty minimal though.
Tougenaya is a bit further away from the markets, and you either have to dodge traffic to get there from the station or deal with the elevated walkways. A bit of a PITA really.
Or go underground and come up on the other side of the road.
 

blowfin

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Or go underground and come up on the other side of the road.

I've never even figured out that was there, then again I've never used the subway either. But that's mostly due to having JR passes.
 

Deanski

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Actually, they do.... with Tokyo Snow Club, on a big weekend trip (150 people), at the Shiga Highland hotel at Maruike, they have 5 vending machines just outside of the party room, and they usually run out later in the night.
Ok here is another question for you seasoned Japan travellers:
Where is the best place to get a cash exchange?? From what I am reading, it seems we are better off taking aussie cash over there and exchanging it at Narita airport?? The rates seem better from the research I have done so far. Seems the exchange mobs here (travelex etc) are nothing but a rip off, including the banks. SO I am more than happy to take a few grand AUD and exchange it at Narita airport. My problem is this: we don't arrive until 6.30pm on a Sunday evening, where I imagine banks in the airport are closed. Or do they have those exchange desks open all night?? If not, from the airport we are going by skyliner to Ueno. So do the train stations have exchange places in them?? as in Ueno station (or whatever the station is called)?? because we are there for two nights and we can just wait until Monday morning to do the exchange.
 

LMB

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You'll get a worse rate exchanging cash there than at home.
 
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hatto

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Ok here is another question for you seasoned Japan travellers:
Where is the best place to get a cash exchange?? From what I am reading, it seems we are better off taking aussie cash over there and exchanging it at Narita airport?? The rates seem better from the research I have done so far. Seems the exchange mobs here (travelex etc) are nothing but a rip off, including the banks. SO I am more than happy to take a few grand AUD and exchange it at Narita airport. My problem is this: we don't arrive until 6.30pm on a Sunday evening, where I imagine banks in the airport are closed. Or do they have those exchange desks open all night?? If not, from the airport we are going by skyliner to Ueno. So do the train stations have exchange places in them?? as in Ueno station (or whatever the station is called)?? because we are there for two nights and we can just wait until Monday morning to do the exchange.
Noooo, Exchange here before you go. rates in japan are terrible
 
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skichanger

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You'll get a worse rate exchanging cash there than at home.
As said in many other places, get a Citibank Plus account with a debit card. Use this in 7/11 and post office ATMs. There are 7 Bank ATMs at both Narita and Haneda. You will get approx 1 yen off the official exchange rate at the time. Next best debit crd is the ING Orange card. They charge $2.50 per international transaction. This is ok for large withdrawals.

Other option is to go to one of the foreign exchange places in capital cities. Not my are of expertise but I am sure someone else will chip in with info on that. Alternatively search the forums for that info s it has been posted lots of times.

Other trick is to get 28 degrees credit card as they don't charge any international transaction fees.
 

Froff Life

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DO NOT exchange at the airport, you will get ripped off hard. Get a Citibank account for fee free atm withdrawals.
If you live in Sydney or Melbourne go to KVB Kunlun and exchange your AUD to Yen there, they have excellent exchange rates.
 
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Deanski

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As said in many other places, get a Citibank Plus account with a debit card. Use this in 7/11 and post office ATMs. There are 7 Bank ATMs at both Narita and Haneda. You will get approx 1 yen off the official exchange rate at the time. Next best debit crd is the ING Orange card. They charge $2.50 per international transaction. This is ok for large withdrawals.

Other option is to go to one of the foreign exchange places in capital cities. Not my are of expertise but I am sure someone else will chip in with info on that. Alternatively search the forums for that info s it has been posted lots of times.

Other trick is to get 28 degrees credit card as they don't charge any international transaction fees.
I think my wife has a citibank debit or credit card?? not sure which, but its definitely citibank. Might get her to add a plus account and just put the cash into it and withdraw at the airport ATM once we get there??. So are you saying that this card will give us a better exchange rate than exchanging cash at say a bank or travelex or other foreign exchange desks? As in when you say one yen off the official exchange rate......who is that exchange rate according to (if that makes sense??)........as in the official exchange rate given by say westpac bank or the official exchange rate given by travelex? I hope this makes sense?? My point being, we only need to exchange around 3 grand so we are happy to take the cash to get the best exchange rate. Most bang for our buck really.
 
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Vermillion

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As said in many other places, get a Citibank Plus account with a debit card. Use this in 7/11 and post office ATMs. There are 7 Bank ATMs at both Narita and Haneda. You will get approx 1 yen off the official exchange rate at the time. Next best debit crd is the ING Orange card. They charge $2.50 per international transaction. This is ok for large withdrawals.

Other option is to go to one of the foreign exchange places in capital cities. Not my are of expertise but I am sure someone else will chip in with info on that. Alternatively search the forums for that info s it has been posted lots of times.

Other trick is to get 28 degrees credit card as they don't charge any international transaction fees.

I've had a 28degrees card almost as long as i've been traveling to Japan. Their rates are really good and as above they dont have any transaction fees. I only use this card when overseas and when im buying things online from overseas sellers. I havent been able to beat the overall rate+fee.

The best way to get Yen is to go to the post office, 7/11 or any ATM that will accept your 28degrees card and take out as much cash as it will let you.
 

Vermillion

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DO NOT exchange at the airport, you will get ripped off hard. Get a Citibank account for fee free atm withdrawals.
If you live in Sydney or Melbourne go to KVB Kunlun and exchange your AUD to Yen there, they have excellent exchange rates.

I like the idea of the KVB, but for me it would be half a day to get there and get back, and when you calculate your own time into it, it makes more sense for me to just use the 28degrees card for everything. If you worked or lived really close to KVB then yeah, it would be OK.
 

skichanger

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I think my wife has a citibank debit or credit card?? not sure which, but its definitely citibank. Might get her to add a plus account and just put the cash into it and withdraw at the airport ATM once we get there??. So are you saying that this card will give us a better exchange rate than exchanging cash at say a bank or travelex or other foreign exchange desks?
Apart from KVB Kunlun mentioned above, this is definitely the best rate you will get at the time. Beats the exchange rate we get when we do business foreign exchange. The only downside is that it is the foreign exchange at the time you make the withdrawal. So if rates plunge you may be better off having gone into the KVB Kunlun in Sydney or Melbourne. But even with a significant movement in exchange rates it is better than exchanging cash in advance or travel cards or the various cards banks offer where you put money on them at a really bad exchange rate. And it is easy.

Just one thing to be aware of, if you do not use your card for a while, probably 6 months, they will suspend the card. Takes a phone call to get it re-activated. Trick is being able to make that phone call back to Aus. ;)
 

Froff Life

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I like the idea of the KVB, but for me it would be half a day to get there and get back, and when you calculate your own time into it, it makes more sense for me to just use the 28degrees card for everything. If you worked or lived really close to KVB then yeah, it would be OK.
Very true, I work in the CBD so it makes sense for me. But anyone not near to their offices it would be an impractical solution.

I think my wife has a citibank debit or credit card?? not sure which, but its definitely citibank. Might get her to add a plus account and just put the cash into it and withdraw at the airport ATM once we get there??. So are you saying that this card will give us a better exchange rate than exchanging cash at say a bank or travelex or other foreign exchange desks? As in when you say one yen off the official exchange rate......who is that exchange rate according to (if that makes sense??)........as in the official exchange rate given by say westpac bank or the official exchange rate given by travelex? I hope this makes sense?? My point being, we only need to exchange around 3 grand so we are happy to take the cash to get the best exchange rate. Most bang for our buck really.
Travelex, Westpac or any are not giving the official exchange rates for any currency they trade in, they are giving you their rate after taking a cut. Example:

Official exchange rate from the RBA today is 88.89 Yen to 1 AUD
Travelex = 84.79
Citibank= 87.30

Citibank is taking 1.7 Yen from each dollar you exchange as their cut, but as you can see its much higher than Travelex.
Then if you factor in they don't charge any foreign atm fees, AND no currency conversation fees, you are coming out with a much better rate.
 
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skichanger

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I've had a 28degrees card almost as long as i've been traveling to Japan. Their rates are really good and as above they dont have any transaction fees. I only use this card when overseas and when im buying things online from overseas sellers. I havent been able to beat the overall rate+fee.

The best way to get Yen is to go to the post office, 7/11 or any ATM that will accept your 28degrees card and take out as much cash as it will let you.
I have a 28 degrees credit card. I use this as a credit card wherever I can. Saves heaps on international transaction fees. You can use this like debit card for cash withdrawals if you keep it in credit.

A few more places re beginning to have ATMs that take international cards, e.g Lawson re beginning to roll out TMs tht ccept intentional cards.

And for people who have not been to Japan, there are so many 7/11s that you are unlikely to have problem finding one. Post offices are next best only because they re only open for businesses hours.
 

hatto

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The only thing you have to way up is what will the dollar do over the next 6 months, If you think it will go down-exchange now.
If you think it will go up -wait
 
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Deanski

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Very true, I work in the CBD so it makes sense for me. But anyone not near to their offices it would be an impractical solution.


Travelex, Westpac or any are not giving the official exchange rates for any currency they trade in, they are giving you their rate after taking a cut. Example:

Official exchange rate from the RBA today is 88.89 Yen to 1 AUD
Travelex = 84.79
Citibank= 87.30

Citibank is taking 1.7 Yen from each dollar you exchange as their cut, but as you can see its much higher than Travelex.
Then if you factor in they don't charge any foreign atm fees, AND no currency conversation fees, you are coming out with a much better rate.
THis is what I was hoping was meant by official. Thats perfect then, because as you pointed out (and as per my checking of other exchanges) you lose on average 4 cents with most of them (banks, travelex etc), so anything close to the ACTUAL exchange rate is great. KVB, we dont live that close to Sydney city and hate travelling in there, so unless it looked as if the arse was going to drop out of the aussie dollar (which currently it is soaring), I wouldn't bother. I import from China, so I have the forex charts up on my screen all day, so I can see what the dollar is doing. Happy to wait for the moment, there might be more upside in this run. And yep if it looked like it was going to tank I would probably make the trip in to Sydney to lock the rate in. So it looks as though one of the two cards would be the best option. I can just open an account, get the card so everything is ready and leave it cashless until I am ready to lock a rate in. So which one guys....citibank or 28 degrees?
 
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hatto

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No, the card is debit so you cant lock a rate, you just get the rate of the day when you stick it in the machine in japan
 

Froff Life

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The is no real difference between the Citibank card and the 28 degrees card, except Citibanks is a debit card (you have to load cash into the account before you can use it) and the 28 degrees is a credit card.
I've only ever needed the Citibank card, as you can use it as a tap and go card when buying anything, and the same principles still apply (no international conversion fee).
 

Deanski

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Did you guys just jinx me??!! AUD just dropped its pants nearly a dollar against the yen!! as in right this minute
 

Froff Life

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Just to make sure guys.....you are talking about just this everyday savings account right??: https://www.citibank.com.au/aus/banking/everyday_banking/citibank_plus.htm
Yep that its, open an account online and then they send you the card. Just be aware their online banking system is a bit sh*t, and it takes up to 3 business days for funds from other banks to go into the Citibank account, so just pre-plan when you need cash.

If you're playing the currency exchange game, when you think the Yen-AUD is at its lowest go to KVB and exchange your $3,000. As you lock in the rate at the time. Citibank and the 28 degrees give you the rate on the day you use it.
 

Deanski

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Yep that its, open an account online and then they send you the card. Just be aware their online banking system is a bit sh*t, and it takes up to 3 business days for funds from other banks to go into the Citibank account, so just pre-plan when you need cash.

If you're playing the currency exchange game, when you think the Yen-AUD is at its lowest go to KVB and exchange your $3,000. As you lock in the rate at the time. Citibank and the 28 degrees give you the rate on the day you use it.
yep got it. Will open an account now. and yep will be keeping an eye on the currency.
 
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Beerman

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Cash is king in Japan. Use the above mentioned cards as recommended, to obtain cash and pay for purchases that accept card, which in Tokyo, is quite a few. However, rural Japan you need cash. It is very unusual for a card to be accepted for anything except maybe accommodation.
 

skichanger

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Cash is king in Japan. Use the above mentioned cards as recommended, to obtain cash and pay for purchases that accept card, which in Tokyo, is quite a few. However, rural Japan you need cash. It is very unusual for a card to be accepted for anything except maybe accommodation.
It is slowly changing. Some restaurants, some lift tickets, most supermarkets accept credit cards.
 

Deanski

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Cash is king in Japan. Use the above mentioned cards as recommended, to obtain cash and pay for purchases that accept card, which in Tokyo, is quite a few. However, rural Japan you need cash. It is very unusual for a card to be accepted for anything except maybe accommodation.
Yep sorry that was my plan. I only want it to withdraw all our cash not to actually use the card for any reason. Reason being we are staying in a remote section of shiga and we need cash only
 

Deanski

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Open both accounts. Then you have a back up and can use the credit card wherever you can - train tickets, some lift tickets, some restaurants etc.
I have a Westpac visa and the wife a citibank credit card. THey would be ok for backup with just the citibank plus yes??
 

Sandy

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Ok here is another question for you seasoned Japan travellers:
Where is the best place to get a cash exchange?? From what I am reading, it seems we are better off taking aussie cash over there and exchanging it at Narita airport?? The rates seem better from the research I have done so far. Seems the exchange mobs here (travelex etc) are nothing but a rip off, including the banks. SO I am more than happy to take a few grand AUD and exchange it at Narita airport.

As others have said, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

Current official rate is about 88yen/AUD.
If you exchange at the airport in Australia you will get around 84-85yen/AUD
At Narita you will get 78yen/AUD. If you go to a Japanese bank, you will get maybe 76.

The exception to the rule is USD. You will get better rates for USD in Japan, than in the US. When I've done that, for an official rate of 112yen/USD, I can get 114 at the airport.
 
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Deanski

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As others have said, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

Current official rate is about 88yen/AUD.
If you exchange at the airport in Australia you will get around 84-85yen/AUD
At Narita you will get 78yen/AUD. If you go to a Japanese bank, you will get maybe 76.

The exception to the rule is USD. You will get better rates for USD in Japan, than in the US. When I've done that, for an official rate of 112yen/USD, I can get 114 at the airport.
Yeah....When I went back over the posts I was reading on tripadvisor I realised I was reading about people with USD...sorry
 

Deanski

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Yep as a back up because you will get charged international transaction fees on those.
Yep only as backup which we dont plan to use....we will be using cash mostly, so the citibank is what we will probably do if the exchange rate stays pretty good. We will put more in it than we need and just withdraw when we get back. Credit cards are purely for absolute backup, I would just prefer not to open yet another account.
 

croanster

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G’day Deanski,

There is a post office just up from Yudanaka Station that has an international ATM if you get in a jam and need some extra cash. It’s a good day checking out the snow monkey’s and having a stroll through Shibu Onsen if you feel like a break from skiing (not that any normal rational person actually needs a break from skiing) :)

Citibank debit card worked great for us.

Have a brilliant time – Shiga is awesome!! There was a young Aussie guy working at the Okushiga Hotel last year making coffee. Well, pod machine coffee, but he said he was working on them to get a proper espresso machine.
 
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Crispy013

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I've had a 28degrees card almost as long as i've been traveling to Japan. Their rates are really good and as above they dont have any transaction fees. I only use this card when overseas and when im buying things online from overseas sellers. I havent been able to beat the overall rate+fee.

The best way to get Yen is to go to the post office, 7/11 or any ATM that will accept your 28degrees card and take out as much cash as it will let you.
I would avoid using the 28 deg card to take out cash from an ATM. In this case, because it is a CREDIT card, you will be slugged with cash advance fees. Unless I am missing something. There use to be a loophole whereby you put money onto the card to put it into credit and then you could withdraw transaction free but I'm sure this has been closed.

In any case, my advice is:

28 degrees card = CREDIT (where possible - lift tickets, accom, etc, etc)
ING or Citibank = DEBIT (i.e. ATM withdrawals)
 

MadPow

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Totally agree with Crispy, dont take cash out with 28 degrees, just credit card purchases. Use ING/Citibank for cash withdrawals from ATM's.

Have been using this combo for the last two seasons in Japan and works a treat. I dont think its worth buying any Yen cash here in Australia before going because the rates are atrocious compared to the rates using above cards in japan (reckon 4% difference best case!).

I just take some AUD cash in case of emergency as well as my normal credit card I use here at home, but have not needed to use them in an emergency yet.

As soon as I arrive at Airport, I withdraw about $1000 AUD equivelant yen and use credit card where possible. Cash probably lasts a few days depending on area/resort.
 
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skivet

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Yep sorry that was my plan. I only want it to withdraw all our cash not to actually use the card for any reason. Reason being we are staying in a remote section of shiga and we need cash only
Okushiga Kogen Hotel does accept credit card and all their meals can be charged to room, so also can use credit card for that. If you ski rental from hotel also can add to room so can use credit card at the end of your stay. However mountain cafes for lunch will need cash. Will save on the amount of cash you will need though
 
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Deanski

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I would just like to say another big thank you to all the contributors her.....absolutely invaluable info you guys put up and its very much appreciated.
Just to update, we have decided on the citi card to get cash from ATM's and our regular credit cards as absolute backups (but we will plan pretty well and wont need them). "skivet" I emailed the lodge and he said we can use credit card, and our accom price included brekkys, lift tickets and ski hire and 3 dinners so we can put ALL of that on our cards. However in order to try and get the best exchange rate using our credit cards I might continue to track the AUD/JPY and if it hits a good high, ask them if I can pay the balance at that time online even if its prior to the holiday (the lodge seems well run and a reputable business and I don't envisage any problems doing that.....although please advise if you believe otherwise or if you think its a bad idea).
With the help of you guys and girls I cant see us being stuck for anything...cash included, because you have all allowed us to completely pre plan everything and feel comfortable with the arrangements. The wife has printed this entire thread so we can go over it just prior to the trip and ensure we have everything organised. We are only there for 7 nights, so we want to ski as much as possible and don't plan on wasting time having to catch buses or transport to ATM's and the like. We can watch a david attenborough show if we want to see monkeys:). All in all what we have planned look unreal and it could never have been done without your help. We knew nothing initially....now it feels like we are seasoned Japan travellers with everyone helping out form transport to accommodation, to flights, right down to preferred alcohol and the vending machine frenzy that Japan has running.......awesome!! ....so again thank you everyone.
So for those of you who are not yet bored reading all of this drivel......a full update of our trip would be as follows:
Leaving 14th of Jan really early morning with Jetstar. WE arrive in Narita around 6.30pm that night. Get cash out of our citi card. Jump on the skyliner to Ueno and stay for two nights there. Check out some nice eateries and general look around that night and the next day/night, maybe go to that zoo that is nearby, then the following day do some wine/beer shopping near the train station. Jump on a shink to Nagano, then bus transfer from there to Okushiga Kogen Hotel. Staying there for 7 nights, including all brekkys, 3 dinners, ski hire and lift tickets. Plan to have cash for the slopes and buying grog from vending machines along with our other dinners. Then shink back to airport and home. Our budget thus far for everything including travel insurance is only around $6,500.00 ....actually less than you would pay for 7 nights 9two people) accom in a commercial on snow lodge in perisher once you include lift tickets. And its only that much because we want to spend our first time there in a bit more of an "upmarketish" kind of lodge where english is readily understood (we dont speak or read the local language at all), and they have card facilities and some western style bedding etc (I have some shitty, niggling hip problems when I sleep so no futons on the floor for me). ITs not because we are snobby or ignorant, we love the idea of different cultures and experiencing them, its more that we don't want to get bogged down with things like language barriers and wasting time finding banks etc....they can be holiday ruiners. Being first timers I just want it to be organised and comfortable and a mix of cultures we believe is the best road to take for us. PLUS its my wifes 50th birthday present, so I want it to run smoothly. So we are really happy with our choices and the budget and again thanks to all.
 

Vermillion

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Think about getting yourself a prepaid portable wifi while you're over there, so that you can always have internet and can access things like this thread or any threads on here if you need to refer to them. It's a simple thing but it can make everything so much easier.
 
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